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Jocking, The: Third Quarter
|“I hear you’re pretty easy?” Brock lifted an eyebrow and stared at Adam who was sitting on the floor, his legs spread wide, with his hands behind his back.
“Briggs is such a gossip.”
“Hey, he just cares about his boys.”
“Is that all you are? One of his boys?”
“Now, now,” Brock shook his finger at Adam. “We both know that appearances are deceiving. It’s not good to go all in until you know that you won.”
“Unless you’re bluffing.”
“And I’m not.”
“Didn’t think so.”
“Did you try to warn Briggs?”
“I gave him a fair hint. It’s his life, I can’t make him do anything.”
“Do you think he’s worse than me?”
“I don’t know that there is a big difference. In the end, it all seems the same to me.”
“That’s because you don’t know anything.”
“I think I know a lot.”
“Not about this. Not about me.”
“Does this have anything to do with the prophecy?”
“Oh! You heard.”
“No, but these things... there always seems to be some prophecy.”
“Indeed, it has a lot to do with that.”
“What is it?”
“The reason. For everything. All of this, is merely cogs in a wheel. The paths that create the road.”
“The road to hell?”
“You might call it that. Some people will. I myself, call it the path to glory.”
“....I don’t trust you.”
“You shouldn’t. You don’t really have to. But, unless you do this with me, I’m not sure that I can succeed.”
“Sorry, I stand my ground.”
“I hear. Apparently, you’ve given Kai ground to stand on too.”
“Yeah, he got a real attitude with Briggs. I hear he’s off the team. Pity.”
“Yeah, I want everyone. The more the merrier.”
“I don’t know. I don’t care. Briggs will do what he does. I, on the other hand, will continue down my path.”
“It’s something else. Anyway, if you refuse...”
“...which I do...”
“....then I have to go. Find another way, another path.”
“When will I see you again?”
“When I’ve won.”
“What, you won’t see me until our showdown?”
“Maybe once before....but now I’m going for the future.”
“Fight you later!”
Aiden Kline was a congenial young man, just finished with his own schooling. The kids adored their thirty-something Psychology professor. He had just moved out to the district in the middle of California. The school year had started off calmly enough, meeting students and getting to know a new town, but the success of the football team was causing quite a stir throughout the school. Suddenly, everyone was only concerned with the football team, and the climbing number of dominating wins. Some classes seemed to have frozen altogether, allowing the athletes to focus entirely on the game.
Aiden was not that man. His class was college level, and he expected the students to perform as college students, maintaining at least passing grades while upholding their other obligations. But no one seemed to mind. He only had a few football players in the class- star linebacker Brute and fullback Rick, who for some reason Aiden constantly wanted to call Patrick.
It was a Wednesday before a game when Brute approached Aiden after class. He had just discussed learning theories and his belief on the importance of presentation and organization in learning new material.
“Hey, Coach Kline?” “Yes, Brian? What can I do for you?” “Brute, Coach, call me Brute.” “Call me Aiden then, or Mr. Kline. I’m not a Coach.” “Sorry, man. I wanted to talk to you about what you said today, proper organization of reading and shit.” “Yes, what about it.” “Could you look through our playbook?” “What?” “I wanna make sure that the new guys can learn it easily, that it’s organized well.” “A football playbook isn’t exactly what I was talking about.” “What man? What’s the problem.” “Well, it’s...too...simple. I mean...” “Dude, it ain’t that simple.” “I’m not sure Brute.” “Come on Aiden, give it a try.” “Well, sure. Alright.” “Thanks man!”
Aiden watched the muscular man swagger out of his classroom, and stared at the playbook in his hand before throwing it into his bag to head home.
Aiden sat down in the quite privacy of his den. A warm fireplace sat across from his oversized leather chair. Combined with the wood panels, it looked like a film set for some old man who lived alone and read constantly. That was, after all, Aiden’s personal life. The room was littered with books, each of which he read with keen interest. Before saddling up with tonight’s novel, he opened up the football playbook Brute had given him. It was a mess of random X’s and O’s with arrows pointing in various directions. It made no sense to him, and he tossed the book aside, focusing instead on some scientific report.
He couldn’t believe that Brute had expected him to find that book interesting.
“It’s a picture book for dumb jocks. No matter had intelligent he may be, Brute is still a little dumb. Honestly, what’s in there isn’t even worth my time. I mean, really, what did he expect me to find.”
And so, Aiden engrossed himself in the novel, passing page after page with the elegance of an experienced reader. And yet every once and again he would laugh to himself as he thought about the strange playbook. The fact that football players spent hours of their life committing the pages to absolute memory. Reading, no looking at the symbols, and running the drills over and over again on the field. Really, it was quite nonsensical.
Still, it was interesting that something so simplistic and idiotic could consume so much of anyone’s life. Those boys talked about the sport all day, practiced it that evening, and watched it on TV that night. Aiden hadn’t seen a football game in years; hell, he didn’t even own a television.
Sighing to himself, and admitting his curiosity, Aiden laid the leather bound novel on a table and carefully lifted up the paperback playbook. It was still just a collection of X’s and O’s but this time he noted the descriptions at the top of each page. I-Formation, Ace, and Shotgun.
“So, these X’s are the players, huh? Oh, I-formation. The players are standing in an I-shape. That’s obvious I guess. Now I feel stupid for not noticing before. And I guess that would be the Ace. And shotgun . . . someone stands far back. Oh! It’s the quarterback, isn’t it? Yeah, that makes sense. Oh, and the arrows point the way the players are suppose to go. That’s easy. But, holy crap, there are a lot of variations of each form. And they color code them. I-Red, I-Blue, I-Green. Well, I guess that would take some memorization. And it would be shitty to run the wrong play. Guess there’s more to this than I thought.”
He turned back to the front of the playbook and started looking through the plays from the first page. It started with Ace formation. First, the fullback- “Rick,” Aiden said aloud- ran to the left, the next to the right. Then a fake, with three receivers running straight down the field. The next had two of the receivers run short, while the third ran straight down. Each play had yet another slight difference, from the number of receivers to the directions of the run. Each one cleverly designed to the fool the defense and move the ball down the field.
Deep inside, a part of Aiden that hadn’t been awake in years was very excited. He envisioned each play vividly, recounting in his mind the various instantaneous decisions that would be made by each player. His breathe quicken as he imagined the quick-paced, aggressive actions of the men. He saw one rather robust linebacker throw himself toward the fullback, who spun to the left, sending the air bound neanderthal tumbling into the turf. But a cornerback caught the running player by his left leg, causing him to slam into the ground, his arm stretching out to move the ball as far as possible. Finding himself huffing madly, Aiden blinked in confusion at the vivid images assembling in his mind. Shaking his head in awkward realization, he tossed the book onto the table and walked toward the kitchen. His frame seemed to amble along, as he marched slowly towards the refrigerator. His khaki’s felt a bit constricting, highlighting a rather large ass beneath the tan color. His feet stood just about shoulder’s width apart with each stride, as though his hips were setup more like a horse than a human.
The kitchen had a simple, classic look. Fine wooden cabinets and an oak table. Polished to perfection, a few small artifacts scattered about to provide cosiness. Aiden paused in the doorway of the room, eyeing the contents suspiciously. He felt disoriented from the walk, and resting a sweaty palm against his forehead. Tiny beads of perspiration formed right beneath his hair. His eyes shifted around the room, quickly absorbing his surroundings. He opened the refrigerator and quickly emptied out the contents. He took the full carton of eggs and set it on the counter. From the top counter, he pulled out an insulated mug that had sat up there for years. The strange deliberation, he carefully cracked the eggs on the counter top, and dumped the egg yolk into the mug. Once all twelve were inside he took a long spoon and stirred the contents until it formed a thick yellow liquid. Quickly, he added some instant coffee to make a mocha colored drink. Disgusting to look at, but part of Aiden knew he would love the mixture. Finished with the drink, he lumbered back into the living room. He sat down in the well worn chair, his large shoulders sinking into the permanent wear and tear marks that were so comfortable.
This time around, the book seemed interesting, indeed important. The plays were carefully designed and each one had to be analyzed for errors and mishaps. It was essential that everything go as planned. Since it was organized by formation, that was a simple start. After that, the plays proceed from runs to passes to options. Aiden absorbed it all with newfound interest, carefully noting the distinct differences in every variation. He sipped on his drink the entire time, enjoying the intense flavor it offered.
He had run through the entire playbook, and finished his coffee drink at the same time. Letting out a satisfied belch, the man closed the book and set it on the table next to him and reached over and grabbed the remote control. He had a massive, flat-panel TV in the center of the living room, equipped with the latest in audio/visual technology. Switching the station, he found a college football game. Staring intently at the teams, he analyzed each play that the teams ran. He quickly found that he could identify most of the them off the bat, years of experience there. A few caught him off guard, new tricks and traps were always developing and he wanted to be prepared. Glancing off for a second, he noticed his framed jersey from his days playing ball in college. The other side of the television had another framed jersey, this one from his year in the NFL. God, he missed the good-ole days. He rubbed a hand under his shirt and scratched his abs. He may not play anymore, but he kept in shape as he could still feel the hard ripple of his abdominal in six well developed blocks.
He relaxed back in the chair, allowing his body to slouch in the recliner. Reaching down, he pulled a lever causing the feet to lift off the ground. Leaning back, Kline absorbed himself in the game. His huge shoulder muscles were slowly sinking into the back of the chair, while bulging arms sat on the armrests.
A few hours later, the game had ended and Kline got up to go to bed. Stripping off his khakis and polo, he stared at the image of himself reflected in the mirror. He looked about 25, buff chest and shoulders with huge arms. Huge legs covered in light hairs. A rather large nose on a gruff face, with high cheekbones. It was bizarre, Aiden felt like he had never seen his body like this before. But of course, it had been. He had to be huge to play professional, even for just a year. Yeah, he played pro for a year before deciding to become a coach. His true purpose, was to help other guys become jocks. Yeah. But he had been an awesome strong safety, he set a couple college records and started in the pros. But, yeah, he like, really needed to help other guys be jocks. He nodded his head while staring in the mirror.
He was such a Cali surfer boy. Bleach blond hair that was cut short. Overly tan muscles that one might mistake him for a Latino boy. Slabs of muscle that seemed like they were covered by a sheet of skin too small, forcing ever ridge to stand out painfully. Kline’s hand rubbed down the side of his oblique, feeling the huge cleft formed above his hip bone. Yeah, he was smokin’ hott. Dude, it was, like totally, sweet. Fucking awesome man. He slumped over to his bed feeling exhausted and passed out on the sheets.
It was 5am the next day when Dan Kline got out of bed. His pecs bounced as he strutted to the shower. He walked out completely nude and looked around his apartment for something to wear. A white jockstrap was lying on the floor nearing the closet. Picking it up, he took a sniff and decided it was clean enough to wear. He found a pair of track pants and a grey T-shirt with “FOOTBALL” in black letters on the front. Out the door, in his small living room with his monstrous TV and surround sound, not a bookshelf in sight, he picked up the playbook from the coffee table. Poured himself a cup of coffee with egg yolk and drove to school.
It was early morning practice today, and Dan had to arrive early, like all the coach’s. He strutted right into the office and smiled at the head coach.
“Hey, yeah, man, S’up dude?” he said to the other coach. “Dan the man! How’s it hanging?” “Good Dobson, fucking awesome man.” He said as he adjusted his package. “Did you, like, look over the playbook?” “Oh hell yeah, dudes. I got it all worked out. Sweet.” “Awesome!” Dobson said as he high-fived the other man. “Well, the guys’ll be getting here soon. Better get ready.”
As the team sauntered in, they were greeted by the new defense coach, who specialized in the backfield. As Brute walked by Dan Kline, he greeted the man warmly.
“Hey Coach Dan!” “Yo, Brute! What the fuck is up man?” he replied as he slapped the younger man on the shoulder. “You like the playbook?” “What?” “Nothing.” “Get suited up man! We, like, gotta fucking practice some football!” “Fuck yeah!”
8:00 remaining in the quarter . . .
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