Synopsis: A tale told by Kevin Thompson, signifying nothing.
On the field, through the cheering crowd spaces, I could see them throwing. The team in training. They had already begun without me. As QB, that should have been me throwingthe ball. Yet they went on, without me being there. Time had passed too quickly. I continued walking and soon arrived at the field. While the team trained Coach spoke to me;
“Late again? What are you, some sort of moron?”
“Uh, sorry Coach!”
“Look at you, nineteen years old and still unable to pass high school.”
“Going on nine for ten years,more like.” added another angry voice.
“It’s not my fault”, I said, “Keeping track of time is really hard.” Then I began to run, to take my place. As I ran, the white lines passed beneath me in their routine order. One by one. The ball is in the air.
Running along the field, the ball began to drop... The ball landed in Mack’s hands and he scored, grinning broadly. My mouth also turned upright, smiling. I could feel the shouting, passing through the ground. There were lots of people there.
“Kevvie! Go team!” said Brittany and the squad. 21-17 said the board. My team was now ahead.
“Great pass” said a J.
“That’s why I’m the QB’, I said, my smile even larger. People dig my smiles, and like to copy them, I think. Everyone was smiling, bright faces all around me. The bell rang, and we shook hands and then I drank.
‘Well done Kevin! A match winning pass in your first game!” said Coach.
Coach… Sitting in my cold seat, frozen, I gave an answer, or tried to.
“No Kevin” said DeMartino, “Coach was not a rank used in the Vietnam War! Many men, good men died there,and this is all the respect you can give them?” Soon, I heard lingering laughter from all corners, but still sat there, smiling. I had tried my best, and could do no more.
My past is my present. Or is that ‘my present is my past’? Whatever. Like it really matters... History never came to me like some, like Daria and her friend, they know about that stuff, or Mack Daddy and Jodie, or even Brittany. Brittany.
She stood in the parking lot, looking hot like she always does. But something was wrong; her voice had an edge to it that usually wasn’t there. Was something wrong? I ask;
“Um, Brit... remember when you said you'd still be my babe, no matter where I went to school?”
Her look is still weird. She looks puzzled, which is weird, as I’m the one who gets puzzled. Not Brittany. Her silence makes me speak again;
“See, um, my grades were so good, they want to see if I can do it again!“
She doesn’t believe me. I’m not even sure if I believe me.
It had worked before, but DeMartino still talked, “Are you an idiot?” ‘Coach?” I said, still smiling. “Kevin! This is not football! Is that the only thing you know?”
“Um… Yes?” I respond, saying the truth. His eye comes forward out of his head. Looks pretty cool, if a bit gross. He is really angry. But I was only speaking what I thought. Is there something wrong with that? I get that look a lot.
About the only time I don’t get it is when I’m on the football field. There I know what I’m doing, and people look up to me. And not just the short dudes. I have seen players on the other team be scared. They don’t look like that when I’m not out there.
I’m still there. After three years, I am still the QB. I’m the QB! That sounds right. I wonder how long I can keep it up for? Will I still be here in a year? I really don’t know, that question is like the others, hard. Really hard! Makes me think like a little monkey and hey, they are cool. Especially thatone who got in trouble. I think his name was George.
George. It’s funny, another guy called George came to school yesterday. He didn’t look like a student though, dressed in brown and wearing metal medals. They were in a row, like a well-arranged pack. He walked up and began to speak;
“Kevin Thompson? I’m here to offer you an exciting opportunity.”
“You like football, right?”
“Sure! It’s like my favourite thing man!”
“Yes. Well, how would you like to join the team?”
I was puzzled.
“Uh what team?” I asked.
George looked happy, like he had scored the winning touchdown or had fun in the back of a car;
“Oh, the best team. The United States of America. We want to spike our opposition, but need recru…. Uh, volunteers, to join the team. Will you help?”
I must have made the national team.They wouldn’t ask me otherwise. Whoa! This is pretty cool. Better say something—
He shakes my hand and hands me papers. I’ve made the right choice.
The right choice. I am still running, and am happy, even if Coach shouted at me. It’s too late to change that now, and he won’t do it. I’m still the QB, whatever he says… Although I still have to tell him about George and the national team.
“Where will we go?” I think, looking at a paper. The paper has some country called Iraq onit. Where is that place anyway? Hope there’s a big stadium there, and good cheerleaders, or babe.
Babe. Brittany. She kisses me softly, but still looks funny. And for some reason, her hand is gone, like she’s hiding something. Then the thought goes away, as I start to kiss her and the shapes around me disappear leaving only us, us in the middle of lines passing everywhere in a blur. And then she left. The shapes returned to how they are when I’m not with Brittany.
It’s funny, but something still seems wrong. Why wasn’t she proud of me? Even Mr O’Neill said I couldgo to any college in the country!
I’m in a new country. The shapes are just one big lot of sand. This uniform isn’t what I thought it was meant to be. They didn’t even give me shoulder pads. Another lecture. The captain talks and keeps on talking.
People talk to me a lot. Even DeMartino would go on talking to me, saying loud words and shaking, looking angry. When they use big words, I try to listen, but they go through me like a dropped pass.
Dropped pass. As I walk up the field the ball goes to ground. This is easier to think about.
“You should have caught the ball!” I call out.
No one thanks me. Sometimes it makes me angry, but that red anger passes quickly, and I try to smile. Maybe that will help.
It isn’t helping, and some angry guy is shooting. All around me, the team is shooting. I never had to do this onthe football field, and now the sky is filling with sound and light, shells are flying and the sand is getting in my way. Someone sees a backpack near us, that seems to be making little noises, one by one,in some regular path. The noise keeps getting louder, until I can see the shaking;
A duck? Where—
I fall, and get put on a stretcher. It’s like when I broke my leg, only I don’t remember all this blood all over me. Ouch! The light is now swimming through the air, and getting darker, just as.. Just as.. I want to be somewhere else. Football never hurt like this. Maybe if I think I can go somewhere else, while the light keeps moving past me, and it won’t stop or slow—
Brittany is waiting for me, and smiling. She holds me tight, and I hold her back. Everyone is happy after my game tonight, even Mack Daddy. The shouting isn’t angry now. Soon I drift into a bed, and the light is gone, but Brittany is herewith me, breathing fast. The air is warm and I want to sleep like this now, for however long, until the sun wakes up again.
“Kevvy, I love you.”
“You too,Babe. We’ll be like, forever right?”
“Yes Yes Yes!”
This is where I want to be.