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Crossing the Line: reading realistic fiction; Whatever It Takes 8

CCSSELA: RL.8.1, RL.8.2, RL.8.3, RL.8.4, RL.8.6


Read the story, then answer the practice question.

Whatever It Takes

  1. “Mr. Sandoval? Mr. Sandoval!” The judge’s insistent voice interrupted Eddie’s reverie. He’d been daydreaming again—about Ana and the night she’d announced her news. It was his twenty-fifth birthday, and she’d told him right after he blew out the candles on the cake she’d bought at the bakery down the street. His explosive joy had been unexpected, since they were struggling financially already and could hardly afford a baby. But he recalled the way her soft eyes had lit up and how . . .
  2. Eddie’s lawyer elbowed him in the side and he stood facing the jury that would decide—or had already decided—his fate. Holding his breath, he muttered a prayer as he waited to learn whether he’d be incarcerated during his daughter’s birth.
* * * * *
  1. “Look, Eddie. I don’t think you’re ready,” David told him. “We’re talking three thousand miles, here. That’s longer than the Tour de France, you know. A lot longer.”
  2. Eddie sighed patiently and waited for David to finish.
  3. “You’re fast, don’t get me wrong. But the Coast to Coast is all about endurance. Twelve days on a bike, man, I just don’t think you’re there yet. You need another year of training and some shorter races with mountainous terrain under your belt before you tackle this one. I promise, I’ll advocate to get you in some of the smaller elite races that you haven’t qualified for yet.”
  4. Eddie brushed David’s objections aside. “But I qualify, right?”
  5. David gave him a long, appraising look. “Yeah, you qualify. Barely.”
  6. “Sign me up. Whatever it takes.”
  7. Although Eddie didn’t relish the prospect of explaining his rationale to his coach, he had unimpeachable reasons for entering the Coast to Coast race. For starters, this was the competition Eddie had been fantasizing about for fifteen years, since he got his first bike when he was ten years old. Man, he remembered that secondhand Huffy and the way the wind had swept through his disheveled hair. Every time he climbed on a bike, he relived that first taste of freedom and remembered how desperately he’d wished he could keep riding out of his run-down neighborhood, past the closed factory, and just never stop. Leave that crummy neighborhood so far behind, he wouldn’t ever look back.
  8. Then there was the recognition the Coast to Coast could provide. Eddie wouldn’t even have to win; placing in the top couple hundred could guarantee him a spot in big, international ultracycling races. In his imagination, sponsors started lining up to pay his expenses and fly him to races all over the world. He could cut back his work hours, intensify his training schedule, maybe eventually save up enough for new gear.
  9. But above all, he was considering Ana and the baby and that $35,000 prize—more money than he could earn in a year at his night job cleaning restaurant kitchens. Ana could quit her job at the grocery store and stay home, rest, focus on her own health and the well-being of the baby. Maybe she could even start working on those night classes she wanted to take and get her degree.
  10. And they’d be able to give their baby the best start in life; they could make a down payment on a house in a good school district and stop renting. They could buy all the baby paraphernalia they’d need. If Eddie could earn $35,000 in twelve days, it would ultimately be worth any sacrifice he had to make.
  11. He didn’t tell David about his plan, but Eddie knew he could persevere through the epic challenge. He wasn’t sure how David felt about . . . performance aids, but he did know that if he got caught, he didn’t want to take David down with him. David couldn’t testify about something if he was in the dark. But Eddie wasn’t going to get caught. He had a foolproof source for what he needed, thanks to the cousin of a friend of a guy at work.
  12. The guy at work arranged the meeting through the friend who had the cousin who had the stuff. Eddie would’ve liked to buy from somebody he knew directly, but his coworker swore that this guy was solid. He charged more than Eddie was expecting, but he promised that this stuff would make him able to power through a month-long race if he needed to. Eddie knew Ana wouldn’t approve, so he didn’t mention the pills. Instead, they spent hours online checking prices and consumer reviews on the expensive jogging strollers and baby video monitors that a real winner could afford.
  13. Yep, everything was going perfectly. Right up until he showed up for the race, all his gear in tow, David by his side. A race official was going through the bikers in Eddie’s group, pulling a few of them out. Eddie didn’t even have the sense to panic when the guy tapped him on the shoulder, didn’t get scared until the guy handed him the cup and pointed to the Porta Potties.
  14. “Seriously, man? How come? I just went to the bathroom, so . . . ”
  15. “Sorry, buddy. Random drug testing; your number got picked. We’ll wait as long as it takes.”
* * * * *
  1. He tried not to remember the look on Ana’s face. She’d been at the starting line despite the heat and the morning sickness, had wanted to support him and cheer him on. Instead, she’d watched the police officer put a hand on the top of his head as he climbed into the backseat of the cop car. Now she wasn’t even in the courtroom, couldn’t bring herself to listen to his testimony, his own words about how stupid he’d been.
  2. His lawyer elbowed him again as the judge said, “Has the jury reached a verdict?” The foreman glanced at Eddie, then quickly averted his eyes as if he couldn’t bear to see Eddie’s response to the verdict. “We have, your honor.”

Practice Question

Match each incident from the story with its effect on Eddie.