Before I get into the heart of this creative writing post, behold the bunny ears. C’est aujourd’hui le bon vendredi.
Two years ago, when i had long hair and bangs vs. today with shorter hair and no bangs:
Note the different spectacles as well.
And now for your regularly scheduled blog post:
I sat on the iridescent bar stool at the end of the bar closest to the Felix the Cat clock on the wall. Its eyes flicked back and forth as the seconds passed. Waiting for someone who is predictably punctual is deceptively stress-free. The certainty-of-moment in which the person will walk through the door, tap your shoulder, or apparate suddenly next to you enables you to stop checking your time piece. But, when they haven’t appeared, your mind begins to twitch with news headlines.
Office worker kidnapped by a gang of middle schoolers.
Security guard mauled by feral cats.
Widower goes an entire day without cellphone but neglects to tell friends and family.
Devout Christian falls into trapdoor leading to Valhalla and not the Kingdom of Heaven as promised.
Just as you’re about to consider a turn for the nefarious, the person walks into the blues club without a crown of sweat or a beleaguered breath, plops down onto the turquoise bar stool beside you and orders a beer.
“Good Lord, help me, Jesus,” Coach Walter Flint sighed.
“What happened this time?”
“You remember Chuck Bottoeiger?” Coach Flint asked as he took a mighty gulp of the beer.
My face must have given away my memory and impression of Chuck because Coach Flint chuckled.
“Yeah, that’s the one.”
“What about Chuck?”
“He showed up at practice and said he made a mistake and he wanted back on the team.”
W o W. I only had the pleasure of witnessing Chuck’s antics once, but based on what Emily told me about his propensity for self-promotion and hyperbole, I count my lucky stars that I never had the chance to see more. That I even knew Chuck left the team two practices away from the state championship game was due to Emily’s concern over her uncle’s mental state. He displayed a stoic exterior but inside it could’ve been sinners-at-the-hands-of-an-angry-god for all she knew.
Coach Flint ate a handful of raisins and cashews and lamented that he didn’t know what to do.
“How to tell Bart Hoolbacs that I’m putting him back on back-up duty.”
“You finally gave him a shot at starting? Or, were about to?”
Coach Flint took another gulp of the beer. He reached into his back pocket, put his phone on the bar top, and turned to me. He blinked a few times, looking intently at me, as though waiting for me to impart great wisdom from a millennium of observing and guiding human experiences.
“Chuck was the best cornerback I’d seen since Clinton first took office. The turnovers that boy produced…I honestly don’t know where he got those reflexes from, and in the two years he played for me, he never once got called for pass interference or holding…and then one day he just up and quit. Walked right off of the field and into what I believe was a white Honda Civic. I didn’t get a good look at the driver but the other players told me it was a girl. That Shelley Marfunkle girl.”
Shelley Marfunkle…the girl who wouldn’t know how to say a kind word to anyone even if it was written down for her. The bartender refilled my ginger ale as I turned to Coach Flint.
“You don’t need a sacrificial lamb to help you; you just need a friend. I am your friend.”
Coach Flint laughed and nodded.
“Did Chuck say why he quit or give you a good reason to take him back?”
“Not quite in the way you’re thinking. He said he was stupid and didn’t know what he had till he had it no more. He wanted a second chance.”
“What do the other players think?”
Coach Flint finished the beer and ordered another one.
“You owe it to yourself and to your boys to consider the full scope of the repercussions of his re-admittance.”
“I feel so bad for Bart; he won’t forgive me.”
And now I see what Coach Floyd meant when he told me that Coach Flint was a black-and-white cookie. You either won or lost, no middle earth.
“You can’t think of a win-win situation here?”
Coach Flint raised an eyebrow.
“Do you still want Bart as part of the team on the field, taking hits, fulfilling his potential as a player? Does he have the talent, skills and drive for that kind of performance? If you aren’t sure, you better find out and the sooner the better. Everyone deserves a second chance, but everyone also needs a first chance period.”
“Bart has an eye for the plays, he sees things I don’t see, Coach Floyd doesn’t see, but now that you mention it, there was a reason he was a back-up, back-up.”
“So get the full story from Chuck with your team in tow, including Bart. Get him to watch more game film and study the opponents. If he realizes that he likes the playbook more than making the plays, then whether or not you let Chuck come back and stay, you will have the respect and gratitude of one very socially awkward young man.”
Coach Flint swallowed a mouthful of beer. I smiled at him.
“What would I do without you?”
“Annoy the hell out of your wife and niece.”
I told Coach Flint the beer was on me and reminded him that there’s always a middle earth. You just have to be open enough to see it.