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*Know who your friends are and why they are your friends*
After my parent’s divorce Mom and I moved around a good deal. I tried to get involved in school activities but all I was ever good at was computers and football, and football was how I normally got a foot in the door because I was more into weights and cross country running than being a geek.
At my new school I opted to try out for quarterback for my senior year. I was fast and accurate and had a powerful arm. Unfortunately I wasn’t tall, blonde and the popular senior. The coach liked the guy and if the other back-up quarterback had been able to hit a guy at fifteen yards I would have ended up as a half-back.
I was a bit bitter. My mood wasn’t improved by being assigned a tutor because the new school system didn’t feel my old school’s curriculum wasn’t up to par for their Gifted Program. By day two, everyone at school knew about by need for a tutor too. My tutor turned out to be a lanky anti-social nerd with glasses and a perpetual slouch. She’d done some kind of infraction (I suspected smoking weed) at the end of last year so she got the duty.
Our first day together she was pleasantly surprised to see that I wasn’t an idiot jock. We blew off the rest of our study period talking the merits of processor speeds and graphic cards. When she pulled her hair out of her eyes she was actually quite cute. When I told her so she blushed. Something told me she was a late bloomer.
“So,” I asked, “what do people do in this town on Friday nights?”
“Oh, outside of football I guess they go to the movies or hang out at the Dairy Queen,” she suggested.
“Do you want to go out Friday?” I inquired. She looked stunned and stammered without saying anything.
“Yes?” she got out.
“Fine; what is your address. I’ll pick you up at six-thirty,” I said in an off-handed manner. She remained speechless for some time after she told me where she lived.
So that was how Jamie Watts went out on her first date with me, Craig Dawkins. People made little snickering motions behind their hands at us so I countered them by putting my arm around Jamie. She didn’t know how to take that. When she started to get upset by the attention we were getting I got her talking about her favorite Web comics. Ménage a 3 duked it out with Sluggy Freelance and I couldn’t shut her up after that.
Saturday we went down by the lake and talked over blogs and who was who in the local geek community. We spent the rest of the afternoon going to the few electronics stores building our dream system in our heads. Jamie kissed me when I dropped her off. It turned out that when she stood up straight we were the same height (5’10”). She had really clear emerald green eyes. I don’t think any guy had told her she was pretty before.
Monday at practice I was teased about dating the ‘Lich’ as Jamie was known. I took it good-naturedly. I’m not one to force my preferences on other guys, no matter how stupid they act. Teasing me was fine. During the scrimmage I tried not to show Blair Woods, the star QB of our team, up to much because I still harbored the hope that I might play in the last quarter of our first game.
Coach Ingersoll informed me that he would consider it since we were up against Hoover, the worst school in the league. The game was supposed to be a blowout, since we were considered one of the top three teams in the conference. I thought we had the talent, but I also thought we were sloppy. I had come from a much smaller school my sophomore and junior years where everyone had to play doubly hard to fulfill a roster.
I also got to meet Emily Parker, the head cheerleader who was so stereotypically blonde, smoking hot, and bubbly that I expected to find a made by Mattel label on her back. She was (drum roll please) Blair’s girlfriend. They were the ‘it’ couple and they had every reason to believe that all of high school life revolved around them. The only thing more stunning than Emily was that Emily was talking to Jamie when practice ended.
What can I say; Emily was basically a nice person and now that Jamie was dating a football player, even a second string one, Emily was trying to bring Jamie into the football cliché. Jamie babbled incoherently all the way to her house where we worked on homework until her Dad finally showed up from work around seven.
It was clear he didn’t know what to make of me either. I was a handsome man dating his daughter who he had resigned himself to being boy-free for all her high school years. When he found out my ‘social status’ at school he had to sit down. After making an excuse to get Jamie out of the room he leaned across the table in a conspiratorial way and said,
“Are you using protection?” I found that kind of sad. His daughter wasn’t a skank.
“We haven’t progressed that far,” I nodded sagely, “but if we do I’ll make sure to do the right thing.” The father gave me this eager nod which was the first time I could even imagine a parent asking me to screw their offspring.
My casino oyna week pretty much went downhill from there. The other jocks learned I wasn’t missing their classes; I was actually taking advanced classes which meant I actually knew some of the people they regularly look down on. I wasn’t much into hazing or using my position on the team to get things. To the majority of the kids at school though I was still a jock-asshole, but there was a small group that gave me credit for more than two brain cells to rub together. I was eighteen and not on the first string so I figured college would have to come from academic achievement.
Our game versus Hoover was nearly a disaster. We came to play the worst team in the conference. They came to destroy us and they damn near succeeded. The little bastards played their hearts out and had their running back been a second faster, they would have beaten us. As it was the game was seventeen to fourteen and wasn’t decided until the last play of the game when Hoover failed to get the ball into the end zone.
Our celebration was muted. Jamie and I went with the team out to the lake, but everyone knew we’d screwed up. Jamie took my hand and led me down to the water’s edge and put an arm around me.
“Don’t be so angry,” she told me. “Next time the coach will let you play.”
“Ha,” I growled. “The next game is versus Panther Hill and they are the team to beat this year, and they are going to clean our clocks. Even if we make only half the mistakes we made tonight, they are going to kill us. I’m not used to playing somewhere things are ‘good enough’. That’s why I want to build a computer with you. Any idiot can buy one off the shelf. I want one that’s going to do what I want it to do spending whatever I can give it.”
“Dad gave me a condom,” Jamie whispered. “I’m a virgin.”
“So am I,” I responded.
“Really?” Jamie sounded perplexed.
“Jamie, I’m eighteen and I’ve never stayed more than nine months in any given town. The only time I thought I might, Mom told me we were moving the next month so nothing happened.”
“I would have thought … you are handsome, and a jock …”
“If it is any consolation I’ve killed millions of sperm cells looking over internet porn,” I joked.
“Oh gross,” she giggled. “Remind me to never use your keyboard.” I laughed at that too.
The next Monday one of my team mates ragged on Jamie for being the Lich-slut. I stuffed him into the closest trash can and got sent to the Assistant Principal’s office. I got a lecture about school spirit, team camaraderie, and not taking ‘good natured’ ribbing so poorly. I agreed with his reasoning. I told him in a good-natured voice that his wife one fine looking whore which earned me a day’s worth of detention.
Like all good secrets it was all over the school by the time I got to lunch. No one knew what to make of me yet again. The coach called me over and made up some crap about me being on detention for Tuesday would render me ineligible for play that Friday night. I took the news without comment.
“What do you have to say about yourself?” he persisted.
“You are the coach. If you say I can’t play, I can’t play. Do you want me to suit up?”
“Suit up. Sitting on the sidelines might teach you something about being part of a team,” he remarked. I wanted to ask him why Jamie doesn’t deserve the basics of common courtesy and what that might do for my team spirit, and if that prick in the trash can had shown a little concern for me as a team mate we wouldn’t even be having this discussion. I wanted to play; that was the bottom line.
When I was walking back to the table that I shared with Jamie and some of the other advanced students Emily flagged me over. She was essentially the Queen of the school so I felt it is wise to obey.
“I think you did a very noble thing,” Emily declared loudly. “If someone called me a bad name I hope you would stuff them in a trash can too.”
Blair had his hand on Emily’s thigh right at the edge of her skirt; a typical property move.
“I’d do more than that to them,” Blair joked; “besides it was only the Lich and we all know why he’s dating her.”
“Take that back,” I said in a very deadly tone. Things start getting quiet around us as Blair stood up. He had three inches on me, but we weighed about the same — the weight lifting again.
“Stuff it, second-stringer,” Blair gloated.
“You have five seconds before you wear my lunch,” I growled.
“I’ll bust up your face pipsqueak,” he countered.
“I’ll settle for breaking your hand,” I sneered. That took him aback because he realized I was not kidding. I’d ruin his whole damn career over a girl he barely knew existed.
“No!” Emily insisted as she stood up. She picked up her tray in one hand and put the other on my bicep, steering me away from the confrontation.
“Babe,” Blair whined.
“No,” she repeated. “If you won’t apologize to Jamie then I’m going elsewhere. Craig, where is your canlı casino table? I’d like to finish my lunch in peace.” I took her over to the geek table, did some introductions and we all sat down. It was clear that Emily hadn’t talked to any of these people since grade school and equally clear they didn’t mind.
I got my ass handed to me at practice the Wednesday. It would appear that no one wants to block for me and the defense keeps forgetting this was a scrimmage. Blair was laughing it up, but Emily seemed beside herself. She ran water out to me twice as I was picking myself up off the ground; it seemed they also have forgotten to help me stand up after planting me in the field.
“I’m so sorry,” Emily said quietly. I laughed loud and hard.
“If this is the best our defensive line can do, Panther Hill’s offense is going to bury them in our end zone — repeatedly.” I wanted those pansies to hear me. On the next play they double-teamed my smack down so I made a point of leaping back to my feet.
I caught up with my assailants, patted them on the back, and wished them better luck next time. I ran the ball for fifteen yards on the next play. The coach screamed at me for not following the play he’d sent in. I agreed to be a good boy. Next play I ran for seven yards and got out of bounds — where they buried me; in a real game that would be a fifteen yard penalty, but who was counting. The coach benched me and Blair went back in. They handled him like he was porcelain.
At the end of practice Jamie helped me off the field. Emily stormed off the moment the cheer squad was dismissed causing Blair to shoot hate my way. Jamie got to see me in my underwear when she came to my house and rubbed me down. I was not thinking about sex and I hoped she wasn’t because at that moment breathing hurt.
The next day Emily made a point of finding me between classes and seeing how I was. Everyone else in the school was aware of my feud with the entire football team and treated me like I had the plague. When I got to lunch Jamie was shaken up and had been crying. Emily saw her distress and popped over to see what she could do.
It seemed that three of my team mates cornered Jamie between classes and touched her. Emily wanted to go to a teacher. I wanted to know who they were. Jamie described them and Emily gave them names. Emily told me I Iooked like a dark storm front moving across the horizon. Jamie didn’t deserve my grief and I had little trust in the facility to turn on the football team.
The coach unwittingly gave me my chance at the first SOB on my second play in during practice. The grinning buffoon came into the huddle and gave me a wink — idiot. I ran my play, which was short, sweet and painful for me. At least some of the players were trying to do their jobs today. I got the idiot back in the huddle and faster than most of them can see; I stepped up and nailed him in the nuts as if I was trying to kick a fifty yard field goal.
The idiot grunted and stumbled forward once his feet touched the ground again. I grabbed him by his face mask and kept him from falling over.
“This bastard touched Jamie. If any of you have a problem with this, I’ve got more were that came from,” I snarled like a cornered wolverine. No one said anything.
“You are going to run this play and then you are going to leave the field,” I told the idiot. “Until you beg Jamie for forgiveness in a public place, don’t get into a huddle with me — clear!” He nodded weakly.
Two plays later, asshat number two came within my sights. I accidently stiffed armed him in the throat so hard he temporarily lost the power of speech. The next play I hit the lead assailant so hard in the head with the football it knocked him off his feet. I still got buried though this is again a penalty in normal play. I nailed him twice more before the coach figured out that there was nothing wrong with my aim.
On the sidelines with the guy who had trouble talking I gave him the same speech; I’d keep coming for him until he publically apologized to Jamie. Before the end of practice Mr. Football-to-the-Head wobbled over to me.
“You fucker, you are going to pay,” he said as he punched a finger into my chest. I noted the coach caught this but was doing nothing.
“You’ll find me a bit tougher than a scared little girl, you cocksucker,” I seethed. “I see you are already feeling fucked up. I’ve been taking your shit, and everyone else’s shit for two days now and I can’t wait for tomorrow. Do you really think I’m afraid of someone who can’t even face me in public but has to hide behind the coach?”
I glared unmitigated malice at him. For the first time since he laid eyes on me the bastard was uncertain. “Apologize publically to Jamie and I will stop kicking your ass. Get some of your buddies to jump me in the parking lot and I will take particular pleasure in busting your knee.”
I grabbed him by the face mask and shook the bigger man’s head.
“There are forty-seven of you and one of me; kaçak casino what have I got to lose?” I let go of his helmet and he walked away muttering.
Jamie wasn’t there, but Emily made a point of pissing Blair off by walking me to my car. I imagine she thought she was some sort of protection. No one showed up to teach me what was what. I stopped by Jamie’s house and we talked about normal kid stuff. No one talked about the serious events of the day.
The next day a football player in a raspy voice came up to Jamie and apologized for whatever in the hallway between classes. Nut-shot guy didn’t show up for school, or for the game. The last guy was being a dick. Jamie sat behind me at the Spirit Rally and put a hand on my shoulder while Blair and Emily acted the role of King and Queen.
Our game started out almost as bad as I feared. Panther Hill got the ball first and drove into our end zone in seven plays. Blair got everyone psyched up and led the Offense onto the field. On the first play they nearly got him but Blair got the ball away. We ran it on the second down for a grand total of one yard.
On the third down we went for a screen play but someone blew through the lines and hit Blair low and hard right as he gave the ball up. They recovered the fumble and the crowd was moaning. Things immediately got worse. Everyone with eyes could tell that a leg wasn’t supposed to bend to the side like that. Blair was screaming and even before the coach could move the EMTs were scrambling to get Blair.
Emily and two of her cheerleader friends went onto the field but the coach had the presence of mind to have some players pull them back. Blair was taken away, the game settled down into some semblance of order, and the penalty was assessed. Most of the fans on our side thought it was a deliberate move on Panther Hill’s part. Coach came back, glared and tossed me the ball.
“Don’t lose the damn game,” he snapped. Considering I hadn’t even been allowed to warm up, I found small comfort in his sterling opinion of me. The coach sent in a play-action fake, right out of our playbook. I groaned because I had a feeling Panther Hill knew what I knew and that was never a good thing.
I stood at the line, took one look at the defense and went audible. Several of my players shifted uncomfortable. It was a miracle we didn’t get called for ‘off-sides’. Panther Hill was ready for the ‘play action’ with only five men rushing and all my wide receivers and corner backs running hell for leather down field. My center was really good at his job.
I cradled the ball and cut through the middle. One defenseman almost got me then I was free for eight or nine yards. I’m fast, just not running back fast. Two of their secondary fell on me like a ton of bricks but after that week’s practice I was used to it. They clubbed me to the ground at the eleven yard mark. I was pulling grass out of my helmet, but I’d done the job.
With the next play the coach sent it was a lethal warning to stick to the game plan. The coach wanted as to run because we always ran at first and whatever when we were at mid-field — always. I drilled a wide-receiver with a pass on the right side which he dropped. Had he kept it, it would have taken us over to Panther Hill’s side of the field.
The next guy who came in told me the coach was apoplectic, and I was not even sure the football player or the coach knew what it meant. We were to do a pass to the right side. Second and nothing, we always pass. I passed but put it right up the middle. I hit the guy so hard he fell over, covering an extra two yards. Now we were at third and two.
When the coach’s guy came in I didn’t even bother. I dropped it into Mark Quantrill’s hands at twenty-two yards out and he ran in for the touchdown. When I got to the bench the coach told me I was done. He warmed up the replacement-replacement, Wilcox. A series of downs later the score was 21-7 against us and the coach put me back in. The coach had the sportsman’s ethics of a weasel.
When I got back in the huddle everyone was grinning at me.
“Gentleman, let’s go to war!” I declared. Of course, it sounded cool, but all of us could only do so much. In the end, it was our defense that won the game. After half-time they only gave up three points. We scored three more touchdowns because we really did have the talent this year, not because my ego carried the day.
When the clock wound down, our fans flooded the field. The first person to me was the coach who warned me that if I was to have any future with the team I had to see him first thing in the morning. He didn’t like the smile I gave him. I didn’t care. I was looking for Jamie. I noticed that Emily wasn’t around but I figured she was on her way to the hospital to see Blair.
Jamie found me and threw her arms around me. It was the heady aphrodisiac of martial conquest, or so I told myself. Right after my first French kiss with her, I large hand touched my shoulder. It was Mr. Football-to-the-Head.
“Sorry,” he muttered. Jamie nodded her understanding then returned her attentions to me.
“Let’s get out of here,” she shouted. I looked at my crummy, sweaty football gear but followed along anyway.
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