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Fan Fiction Friday: Monta's Struggle, or, The Black Couch

In which we examine a little known part of Monta's difficult life off the court.

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Author's note: Today we have a guest Fan Fiction Friday post, and I'd like to personally apologize for the lack of Andy (the GOAT) Tobolowsky. I hope I can successfully fill his huge, creative, and wonderfully bizarre shoes. Enjoy.

"I'm here."

"I'm sorry."

"I'm trying."

"I did it again."

"I'm having some trouble."


The room was painted an uncomfortable, pasty shade of beige -- a color that was designed to go, somehow, actively unnoticed by the occupants, but instead only gave the room a stifling, medical atmosphere. The trademark dark oak shelves and desk contrasted strongly with the black leather couch, black metallic filing cabinets, and the wall in such a way that the walls exuded an oppressive presence as if the tacky beige was trying to swallow all the colors that made the room look wrong.

The long, low, black couch, famous in every room like this one, contoured almost perfectly to Monta's supine body. He knew that the added horizontality of the couch was supposed to make him more comfortable, but instead, he couldn't help but imagine the beige color of these walls coming to life and consuming him and the couch whole, letting him disappear into the infinite and forever-unknown depths of these unremarkable walls.

"So. Monta basketball."

Monta was starting to break out into a cold sweat, and he was a little flushed. He always hated these sessions after a major slip-up like this. His therapist just seemed so condescending, or so disappointed, he couldn't tell which.

"But...uh, you, uh....Monta just slipped up, doc!" Monta stuttered out.

His therapist sighed deeply. Monta was a tricky case. His combination of fame, stage fright, and tryslexia was a perfect storm for PR disasters, and his task was to mitigate the damage. It was not easy.

Most people weren't aware of Monta's tryslexia. Most people weren't even aware that the disorder existed. Nonetheless, Ellis' biological disposition to speak exclusively in the third person made Monta's public image impossible to maintain. Add in the stage fright, and Monta's tendency to regress when in the spotlight (which was often), and you had an almost constant disaster. He just couldn't stop saying his own name.

"Monta slipped up?" His therapist asked.

"What'd I just say? Monta messed up, man!"

"Monta slipped up?"

"Yes! You didn't slip up, I slipped up!"

"Right, you messed up, not Monta"

"Man, I am Monta! What are you on?!"

Monta suddenly caught his mistake.

"Oh. Sorry, doc. Monta didn't slip up, I did."

"That's right, Monta. You're all over the internet again, did you know that?"

"I'm trying doc, I just get those lights on me, and..." the memories flooded in, those ghosts of nerves past, "Mont- I - get so nervous."

This was always the hardest part for the therapist. He could see that Monta was killing himself over this. He hated it - being the butt of every joke. This seemed like the wrong time to get on Ellis for his mistakes, but what else could he do? Really, the therapist thought, he had no control over Monta other than the ability to tell him how to improve. Remind Monta that he had to improve. Implore him. Fight Monta, even, if he needed to, when he was most discouraged, if that meant that Ellis would never lose control again.

"What do you need to do Monta?"

"I need to get control."

"Then what?"

"Keep control."


"Just go out and play Monta Basketball."


"Wait. Shit."

Monta looked back away from his therapist and away from the ill-fitting, awkward, and grandiose oak desk that he leaned on, set out from the rest of the room by its pretention and the clear misfit of that pretention with the rest of the room. He looked back at the beige wall, and into the unyielding and well-understood nothing that it represented.


Opening night was a huge success. He had 32 points and 9 assists, and shot well, at that. This would show all those detractors - all those never-silent philistines who just can't understand - how valuable he really is. More importantly, even, they won.

Dirk galloped over to Monta on the way to the locker room, the ash gray concrete of the tunnel standing in stark contrast to the vibrant, powerfully present blue of the AAC court, like a dark, open maw.

"That's what I'm talking about Monta! We killed it."

"Yeah, I did."

"Uhh, Monta, I said We."

Monta was gone again, though, faded into his own mental world.

"I," he thought, with a gleam in his eye.

"...Monta have it all, huh?" Dirk sighed, exasperated already.

"Yes I do, Dirk. Yes I do."

Yes I do. I do.


And the two of them marched, together, into the tunnel, for the first time of the year, one head held high, triumphantly, starting the open maw of the tunnel in the face.

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