The Gift of the Magi, by T. Henry
Five-hundred and fifty thousand dollars. That was all. And thirty grand of it was in unmarked hundreds. Money saved game after game, play after play. Freddy had Richard Motzkin count it at least three times. Soon it would be Christmas.
There was nothing for it but to scream, which Freddy did. He stood at his window and watched as the rain soaked the streets of DC. A battered BMW rested in the driveway. Soon it would be Christmas, but all the money in the world wouldn't be enough to find the right present. Many-an-hour he had spent visualizing the perfect gift for Peter in his head. Goals of staggering beauy when he would take the ball on one touch, maneuver around Jay Heaps and slide the ball neatly by Matt Reis beyond the far post. A goal worthy of his coach. But the season had not rewarded him -- the cool, imperious woodwork had denied him too often.
He called his agent Richard. "Will Salt Lake buy my contract?"
Motzkin's tone expressed the neat calculations he could perform in his head. "I can make Ellinger buy anything."
"Do it quick." The next hours dragged on like Clint Mathis trying to take someone on the dribble. He made his way to RFK, the faxed contract in his hand. Peter might laugh at him. "Why do you want to go to that hospital?" he might say. But Freddy felt it was the only way, and he sat in the conference room outside Kevin Payne's office.
Peter stepped inside the door, as immovable as Tony Meola at the near post. His eyes were fixed upon the faxed contract, and there was an expression in them that Freddy could not read, and it terrified him. It was not anger, nor surprise, nor disapproval, nor horror, nor any of the sentiments that he had been prepared for. He simply stared at him fixedly with that peculiar expression on his face.
"Peter," Freddy said, "Don't look at me that way. I arranged a trade to Salt Lake for you for Christmas. I know I've been a pain, and a source of frustration. It was the only thing I could think of for you. Now you don't have to worry about me being a distraction anymore."
Peter stared at the contract, his stupor slowing lifting. He pulled out a cigarette, struck a match off his chin, and took a deep drag. "Freddy," he sighed, "it has been a long three years. But I felt that somehow I was to blame. Perhaps I was too hard on you, or standing in your way, or something. I just told Kevin that I'm resigning from DC, and I'll be going to work for Bob Bradley with the US Men's Team." He smiled. "Put your contract away, it will be long after Christmas before we know how either of us did with our presents."
The magi, as you know, were wise men--wonderfully wise men--who brought gifts to the Babe in the manger. They invented the art of giving Christmas presents. But in a last word to the wise of these days let it be said that of all who give gifts these two were the wisest. O all who give and receive gifts, such as they are wisest. Everywhere they are wisest. They are the magi. But even such as they are clueless about what to do with that franchise in New Jersey.