Jim Trainer

Too Skinny, Too Small by Don Bajema Chapter 2

In Uncategorized on October 6, 2013 at 10:43 am

Most if not all of them are invested in a team, most if not all of them are going to watch the next play-off game (You Win or Go Home!) in bars, or from their elliptical machine, or at parties in the ghettos over real-bad pizza, or at the mansion with iced salmon, bagels, and from beer and coke to scotch and Perrier they’ll yell, jump, rock back on the filthy dog haired couch, fritos flying, or in the entertainment room in deep chairs and movie screens, all with hands in the air, yelling insults at the screen and jumping up and down in each other’s arms at a lead change and then sitting awe struck, mouths open in astonishment, eyes popped wide and then narrowed in rapt examination of the violence made a kind of-porn in slo-mo replay of some poor son-of-a-bitch getting his spine compressed like an accordion by a giant coming at his vulnerability with the weight and impact of a Volkswagen at high speed.
The helmet spins in the air, he’s out cold in his cleats, collapsing like a puppet to the turf, head bouncing on the grass, ball released flying a moment in the air over a swarm of colliding shoulder pads setting off in front of five million screens-exploding like a psychic hand grenade rolled under the coffee table, bounced against the jukebox, causing exercisers to gesture wildly at one another in mute conversation from their elliptical machines, hands flipping, strides going awkwardly as they balance themselves on the handles of their treadmills trying to keep their awkward balance.
The big question:
“Did the ball come loose at the impact or was the carrier on the ground?”
Every bar in the world will have an asshole hollering,
“The ground can’t cause a fumble!”
Is the ball carrier hurt? What happened to his brainpan? Why is he unconscious? These thoughts never enter their minds. At issue is “Whose Ball?”
While the players’ shorted out Central Nervous System determines if it can reroute signals to keep vital organs functioning or is this Lights Out?-Meanwhile he’s roundly disparaged as a Fucking Fumbler who Can’t Be Relied On, who Failed To Hang Onto The Ball.
Determining this burning question, Ball Possession, permits Replays of the Legal Hit. On the third viewing the emphasis changed from how the refs should call the play; to how bad is he hurt?
But not for long.
Zoomed in on three angle slow-mos of the instant of impact, the shudder of his body having reversed its direction as though he’d run into truck. Number 32 in one moment is in a low fast moving crouch as though his body were a fist flashing through a gap between the giant lineman’s chaos when a rocket appears at the edge of the frame and flies into him like a wrecking ball. His hands lose their grip, the ball flips into the air, his helmet flies out of frame, his whole body collapsing like a steer in the slaughter chute.
Stopped mid-stride he is inert, out, falling backward through flying bodies toward the ground, then stomped in the stampede for the loose ball.
Everyone in the bar is howling, hooting like baboons groaning in unison, climbing into the screen, feeling all they can of that vicarious impact, a fire-hose infusion in their ball sack, a surge of energy charging through their spine, a clamping down at the jaw and a fresh-from-the-kill unbearable urge to punch someone’s face, to throw someone through a window, to slam their own head on the bar, but instead they stand legs spread, arms in the air like Rocky, flexing from the waist up screaming,
“Fumble! Our ball!”
Commercial break. Hands slap the bar, bills wave in the air, the beer taps are all running over pint glasses. Rows of shot glasses are filling in a long pour down the bar. Shoulders bang around shoulders, glances are exchanged, vibes floated, then everyone turns to drink.
Back from Commercial.
The tone has changed the cameras are mid shot of the announcers’ booth. The shot includes the gurney rolling off the field, then cut to the ball carrier strapped forehead to ankle, one thumb raised gamely on the camera side.
The announcers are family now, their voices moderated,
“Helen Blackstone is on the field. Helen what have you seen and heard?”
Helen holds her hair out of eyes in the wind gusts,
“Jackie Reynolds we are relieved to say appears to have no serious symptoms of injuries to the spinal column although of course an MRI will give everyone a better picture.”
“He’s able..”
A big cheerleader smile as she turns to watch the ambulance pull away,
“Yes, feeling in both arms and legs, no trouble with respiration. We think he’s in pretty good shape….”
She’s turned to face camera, settled in, ready to make a statement,
“…after seeing that devastating tackle…of course our thoughts turn to the Chad Washington tragedy but…”
“..Thanks, Helen..”
The camera cuts to the coaches on the sidelines gesticulating at the players.
“The teams are back on the field and it looks like we’re ready to go!”
Having a national audience reminded by Helen Blackstone, who just brought the topic up, she didn’t get the memo, thought it didn’t pertain to on field injuries, or was trying to make a move up, despite a network gag order on the subject so that Half-Hour Specials and Serious Deep Couch Discussions can front Concern for the Players and Future of the Game with far flung cultural figures, rappers, movie stars, former players, politicians, the President and anyone who can photo bomb the scene and get a word in; some take the sensitive pose choosing to criticize the Brutality of the Game, others more pragmatic calling it just that-a game-and seeing it as a healthier outlet for the pent-up aggression and the dark urges of these times as better than trailer park, shopping mall, elementary school Gun Violence and then some entirely insincere pat statements from medical experts skirting the issue and laying out the NFL position that Progress is Being Made for Player Safety. As if men who can bench press your SUV and run faster than your cat blasting into head-on collisions will ever be safe.
“That’s just the point! Right there! See, the league outlawed helmet to helmet contact years ago! And the referees enforce it diligently! We’ve come a long way from the ‘Shaken up on the field’ and ‘Has had his bell rung’ mentality! The game is safer now than ever! At least the pros, college game?, yeah, they still go with all that boola-boola crap- and throw the pussy in the air bits. Can we say that on the air?”
Anyway, the League and the Networks want a ‘Huge Exclusive Recording-Breaking ‘Event’ Investigative Broadcast’ cleared so a nation of Pro-League and Anti-League viewers will tune into Football! Without a Football Game to watch, to hear ‘Experts and Former Coaches’ pick the game apart in every aspect, but getting The Right Message Across for the sponsors and PR of The Game Itself, and Not Have It Diluted by some pip squeak on the sideline in some regularly scheduled game. Helen is being fired right now.
On the field an electrician is rolling up her field microphone cord, he looks up into the announcer’s booth and draws his hand across his throat as Helen’s camera crew moves toward the end zone to get a goal post shot of any sudden death kick that might end the game.
The bar is filled with muttered rumblings and within the run-on words you can hear my name as part of questions and musings.
Then everyone shrugs ‘fuck it’ and stares open mouthed at the screen while the commentators try to sanitize the whole thing with Insight That Points at Compassion until the camera goes live to the huddle,
“First and ten. And there’s a time out. We’ll be back in a minute.” Car commercial.

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  1. […] Too Skinny, Too Small by Don Bajema Chapter 2 | Going for the Throat 10 October 2013 at […]

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