Blue skies of 2nd chances
Ben“Damn it Ben what’s the matter with you! Cut through the route, avoid the tackle and catch the ball. Get you head in the game, don’t think about the other guy down the field. Just worry about beating him to the ball!” Coach Farr yelled across the field.
“I hate that man, I hate football period.” I mumbled to myself as I jogged back to the line of scrimmage
“Red 49, red 49, set, hut!” The quarter back yells.
I’m off the line of scrimmage before anyone else. I have a good lead on the ball. I count my steps; and turn sharply waiting for Cooper to throw the ball. Only to be frozen like a deer in headlights and tackled. #56 knocks the wind out of me before thrusting me into the frozen ground. Something pops and it isn’t the collision of the pads either. When the whistle blows # 56 jumps off of me unhurt and runs back to the huddle. I’m not surprised he’s three times the size of me. I lay there a couple of seconds writhing in pain. Knowing I have to get up before coach comes over and chews me out again. I slowly stand up something’s wrong with my shoulder.
“Dislocated.” I groan to myself in pain. I take a deep breath and pop it back in, biting through my mouth guard. This time I walk back to the huddle, trying to forget about the pain in my shoulder. Coach is striding out on the field, right for me that stupid scowl on his face.
“Ben, what the hell was that?! If this was a real game you would have just given up an easy touchdown for the other team! God you’re turning as useless as your father!” he screamed smacking me up alongside the helmet.
Trying to keep my cool, “Coach it was an honest mistake. I’ll get it right next time.”
“Damn right you will. If you drop the ball one more time you are doing reps until I say stop. You understand me! Catch the ball and run for a few yards. Even if you have no one on you, do not run for a touchdown.” He says spiting black chew out from the corner of his mouth. Shoving me back into the huddle he mumbles something that I don’t catch. But I bet it’s something along the lines of how lousy of a football player I am.
“What I wouldn’t give to knock the snot out of coach.” I say fixing my mouth guard
“Take it easy Ben.” Cooper says slapping me on the back.
“Man, shut up and give me the ball.” I snap back lining up with everyone else.
Cooper ignores me “Falcon 2, falcon 2, set hut!” It’s a play designed just for me.
I’m late getting off the line, but make up for it when I see my gap and accelerate through it. This time I out run #56, and cut through mid-field. Just as I look over my shoulder the ball is floating endlessly in the air. I take a deep breath, eyes still on the ball and stick my hands out. I know that I caught it when I hear my teammates yell in excitement, even though its only practice. So I keep on running all the way to the end zone. “Touchdown Ben Thomas!” I think in my head. I take a deep breath to steady the adrenaline and pain that’s pumping through my body. Coach is standing on the sidelines, a smirk on his face as he stares at me. I nod back, the same cold gesture, practice is over he can’t touch me. I don’t have to look at the man for another 24 hours.
“That’s it for today boys, practice again tomorrow at 3 P.M.” coach says still staring at me. I start to walk off the field trying to put as much distance as I could between me and him, but it’s impossible. Coach is matching me step for step on the sidelines. He still has this sinister grin on his face like he has some type of surprise for me. Something tells me it’s one of coach’s secret punishments. I don’t know why the football players still call them secrets. We all know about them, at some point we’ve all been a victim of coach’s anger. He immediately cuts me off as soon as my feet hit the track which surrounds the football field.
“You need something coach?” I ask haughtily taking my helmet off.
He leans up against the chain linked fence “I’m just wondering why you ran in for a touchdown today when I told you not to.” He asks pulling off his baseball cap. Random tuffs of hair shooting out everywhere.
“I was just finishing strong for the day coach.” I say pulling my jersey off feeling the light breeze on my skin
He squints at me in frustration moving a little closer “So that’s what it was, huh?”
“Yeah.” I say taking a step back, keeping eye contact with him. I know what’s coming so I brace myself for a fight, hands balled up into fists.
Coach keeps slinking towards me; inch by inch he’s that much closer to me. And all I can do is stand my ground, someone has to put an end to this, why not me. I’m not going to put up, and shut up just for him. I’m not going to sit by and watch the affects of his anger and drinking problems be taken out on my football team. He may be my football coach but he isn’t my dad, he doesn’t know who I am, the hell I’ve been through.
“That’s a load of s*** if I’ve heard one. You knew damn well what you were supposed to do. You blatantly went against me, just for a few moments of recognition from your teammates. And look where it’s gotten you. You want to be a show off, fine go ahead and do it somewhere else. But you will not do it on my field. So since you made a fool out of me in front of the team and the coaches guess what, you now have 350 reps to do for me, you have two days to finish them. I’ll make a football player out of you yet, hell by the time I’m done with you. You just might be a better than you’re waste of talent father.” Coach sneers, spiting a wad of chew on my cleats. “What do you have to say about that, Ben?” he slaps me hard on the face. We stare at each other for a little while longer, before Coach losses his nerve and begins to walk away laughing to himself. It takes every living piece of me to not go after the man and beat him into a coma.
“Hey coach.” I yell at him, running up from behind. He spins around; he too must be waiting for a fist fight to break out between the two of us. I wonder if he wants it as bad as I do, to turn him into the victim this time. I don’t even care if I get suspended for it, at least I will have my revenge.
“Just so you know, I won’t be doing any of those reps. I quit” I say throwing my equipment at his feet
“So that’s it, you are just going to quit because the big bad coach is being too hard on you, huh?” he says looking down at the equipment.
“Yeah I am.” I shoot back walking down the hill I’ve beat him at his own game.
“You are just like your old man. A waste of talent.” He yells down too me. It’s this that gets me to turn around and walk back up the hill to where Coach Farr stands.
My hands clenched into rock hard fists, the muscles in my arms locked up tightly.
“No I’m really not, you want to know why?” I ask. Before he gets the chance to even sputter out the question I swing at him and my fist connects with his jaw. And just for everything he has put me and my ex-teammates through I throw in a lower punch to his stomach. He double’s over and drops to the ground in defeat. I stand over him watching as he gasps for air.
“That’s why.” I say and walk away for the last time
After punching coach in the face I go and take a nice cold shower. Silence engulfs the darkness of the locker room I’m the only here. I stand in the shower, thinking about the fight with coach, not feeling guilty about anything. “He got what he deserved.” I say water dripping off of my face. After the shower I throw on a pair of khaki shorts and walk across the hall to the training room. I take a good look at my shoulder. It has swollen up to the size of a basketball, and bruised as black as a raven. I decide to wrap it and swallow four viccodin, even though the recommend dose is only two. I know what I’m doing is wrong, but the urge to have viccodin in my system is so great that it’s hard to resist so I grab another handful and shove them into my jean pocket. I’ve been addicted to viccodin ever since I broke four of my ribs during a JV football game. Coach slipped me some viccodin during halftime in the training room, there was instant relief, and after that I ran out to the field with everyone else ready to play, ready for my revenge.
I throw the jar back onto the shelf, leap over the table, and quietly close the door of the training room when I hear the locker room door squeak open; “could it be coach. Maybe it’s another player.” I think to myself. I stand in the hallways holding my breath, listing for a voice. But there’s nothing so I sneak out to take a look. It’s the last person I expect to see in the locker room my boy Jay. He has a pair of baggy jeans that hang low on him like always, and a white cropped muscle T-shirt that is one size to small. He still has the small diamond stub in his ear from a couple of weeks ago. His golden blonde hair flattened underneath his worn out Twins baseball cap. And his latest addition, a freshly lit cigarette hanging out of his mouth
“Haven’t you taken up enough of my time today?” he asks blowing a ring of smoke out
“What’s the big rush? You have a hot date tonight?” I ask jokingly throwing on an old T-shirt from my locker and shoving the rest of my things into a duffle bag.
“Yes, for your information I do have a hot date tonight. And so do you Now can we please get out of here!” he whines walking out of the locker room letting the door slam behind him. I look around the locker room remembering all the good and bad times, knowing that when I walk out the door, a part of me is going to die. I take a deep breath, hit the light switch and walk out of the locker room for the last time , leaving no regret.
“So how did you know that I was still here?” as we walk
Jay laughs to himself “I’ve been your best friend since first grade. It wasn’t hard to figure out that you would be sitting in the locker room going through every single problem you have had for the day. And by the way I saw you punch Coach Farr up on the hill.” He says motioning with his eyes, a smirk of victory on his face. “So how did it feel punching Coach in the face?” he asks all too excited.
I stare at the top of the hill, the sun just beginning to set. “Damn good.” I say laughing giving him a knuckle touch. “So how about you, you doing okay” I ask throwing my bag into the back of my old beaten up truck.
“I’m good now.” He says kicking his shoes through the dirt.
“Are you sure?” I ask suspiciously getting into the cab of the truck.
He gets mad “Yeah I’m sure, now enough with this gushy talk. We have dates tonight; meet at Rack’s Bar around 11:00 PM. Don’t be late!” he yells as he revs up his mustang and speeds out of the parking lot onto the highway.