We were in round five. It was cold, windy, and I, a self-esteemed intelligent man, suffered from the natural belief that on a Texas day in mid-April a jacket was unnecessary, and I was too proud to accept the Barry Lewis. sweater offered three times.
The Horned Frogs led 90-0. Or something like that. There were two numbers above a zero on the board.
“Barry, dear, I’m leaving. We’re ahead by a football score. And that’s not football.”
“You should stick around for the rest of the round. See what happens.”
“It could be midnight. And it’s not going to get any hotter.”
“As you want.”
“I wish I had adapted. A suit would have retained more heat than this thing,” I said, tugging on my white TCU gaming shirt.
“I’ve never seen you wear a t-shirt.”
“Yes. Laundry issues, long story, I don’t want to go into details. But damn the owner who came up with the idea of providing laundromats in the apartment complexes!”
“To say nothing of their tenants,” added the Barry, spirit that he was, (unnecessarily, if you ask me).
I stood there to please him – and I did, with every shudder, as he, sadistic that he was, smiled casually. But I felt I owed him something, because he had been magnanimous enough to lift my baseball ban – not yet sure about tennis.
At which point yet another of an endless line of our players approached the batter’s box.
“Who is this guy?” I asked.
“Well, since you’re so determined to read my articles . . .”
“. . . it’s Elijah Nunez.
“Sweet prophet! Let him rise in a chariot of fire!
And there was another hit and another run around the still, sandy ride we call a “diamond.” A dusty, chalk-edged diamond.
“So how’s it been in the rankings since we dusted off Tech?”
“Swept. Not dusted. And if you had read any of my articles, you would know that.”
“Honestly, dear man, if you broke my balls any more, I would have ovaries.”
“How was your day off?”
“Barry, it was a day off. I don’t have days off. I’m a novelist. If you want to know, I was reading Sophocles, a Greek playwright from the 5th century BC . . .”
There was a slap, another volley of firecrackers of handclaps, a few screams, a bray of cheers. Our guy hit what I was told was a “double”.
“I know who he was,” Barry said.
“. . .Oedipus to Column, about an elderly visitor to a great country called Athens. And this visitor happens to be the great Oedipus who gave his name to the play. . .”
“I know the story.”
“And he’s old and blind and just wants to sit where it’s been determined by fate to be his place of death, an old rock in Colone. But his brother-in-law/uncle (a long funny story, how that works) decides that he must return to Thebes because his presence promises victory in the war. And he refuses. And so the good king of Athens, Theseus, protects him and his daughters/sisters (also a long funny story) from being captured, and honoring this great old man, and causing him no harm, and respecting the rules of Greek justice, Athens is promised victory in all military affairs.”
“What are you getting at?”
“What I mean is that this game is obscene. They should throw in the towel, or we should voluntarily withdraw. A defeat of this magnitude tempts the gods. Our visitors are like Oedipus. We should treat them accordingly.
“Seven innings rule.”
“If we are ten ahead at the end of the seventh, the game is over.”
“So you say. What if we never get there?”
“We’ll get there eventually.”
And so on, another round, and I couldn’t take it anymore.
“Barry, dear man, thank you for the ticket and for lifting my ban on all TCU athletic activities…”
“Let’s not rush. The ban is lifted for baseball, effective immediately.”
“I’ll see you next week.”
“I am going to see you.”
So I returned to my car thinking about the article I hadn’t had time to write, for reasons soon to be cleared up, on the need for human intervention in the event of an irrecoverable deficit in college sports.
In the car I was now linked to Ye Old Bull and Bush on Montgomery 76107.
It wasn’t until I arrived that there was a round space in the darts room, which was odd considering Tuesday was darts night. It was also hot. 75 degrees or more. I found Mike Cocanower, aka The Cocaine Hour (although, to my knowledge, he had never used cocaine in his life), and asked him what the score was.
“None. We have a change tonight.”
” What ? »
“What you say!”
And I looked at a circle of big burly guys standing in a circle, shirtless, with leather gloves, bumping into each other.
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“Was bullfighting unavailable?”
“Some people thought it would be fun,” The Cocaine Hour said with a shrug.
“And are you among these people!”
“It’s nice to see a change from time to time.”
There were boos and screams. Some beers were blown, others were thrown away. Indeed, a woman, a dynamic young woman, took my Guinness in her hand and proceeded to down it, right there in front of God and everyone, and I spoke a litany of curses like no man in the world. history of Ireland.
“The bets have been made !”
In a moment of inspiration, I took all the cash on me, ten bucks, lifted it high in the air, and in revenge for last Saturday’s tab, I screamed in the air : “I have ten dollars on the Stubbs against all suitors!”
And everyone in the room clapped, except one, and that was dear Stubbs himself.
“Are you ever going to stop making me a punch line?
“What’s there to worry about? You’re a stocky guy. You knocked that guy out, we’re making a few bucks and we’ve got a week of tabs.”
“But who is the adversary.”
It was the Ned who announced our fate. “Bobby Stubbs vs. Little John!”
Out of the shadows came the only man I know who could fight a gorilla with his bare hands without breaking a sweat. The man weighed 500 pounds if an ounce, and with every step the tables wobbled. He wore a purple shirt and black shorts, and his bulk threatened to burst at the seams. I’ll put it this way: if King Kong and Godzilla voluntarily entered a handicapped match against the Little John, aka the Gentle Giant, my money would go to the John. Fortunately, he was a very nice man.
Meanwhile, the Bobby, wearing a hunter’s cap, was shivering in his jacket.
“What did you do to me?” Bobby asked, going for a cigarette.
“Save it for later. We do not have the time !
“So you say. What am I going to do!”
“Bobby, do you want my opinion?”
“Start the fight.”
“Good idea. I quit!”
“What is that?” asked the Ned.
“Bobby gives in! He’s forfeiting! He’s giving John the ring!”
“No forfeits. The fight will end by TKO, KO or decision.”
“But the Stubbs has already made up his mind!”
“It’s not up to him to do that.”
“Well Bobby, it looks like the gods, aka the Neds, have spoken and they’ve determined that you’re going to be royally screwed.”
“What do I do now!”
“You’re fine. Kick him in the balls. He drops to his knees, you asshole, kick him. Never seen Mannish Cassidy?”
” Yeah. But Paul Newman had the Sundance Kid in his corner. And what do I have, huh, T? What do I have ?
At that point someone tapped a glass of Guinness with the brindle handle of a knife and the fight began.
I say fight. The Stubbs took off his jacket and shirt with his gloves on and mumbled something and the John started laughing and at that point I thought I had underestimated the Ol Stubbs. Then he jumped as high as he could and punched John’s jaw as hard as he could, I’m sure, his arm fully extended.
The John stood still for a moment, dazed, then shook his head and inhaled through his nose, and the effect on the room was as if there was a great vacuum threatening to suck anything and everything into its vortex. near him.
At that point, the Stubbs decided it was a good idea to take my advice: run.
He took five steps but the John gently placed an arm the size of a tree trunk over his shoulder. For a moment I saw the panic on his face, his arms outstretched as if to grab me five feet away. Then, in a flash, he was in the hands of the only man I know who could level Kong and all I can say about poor Stubbs is that his arms were where his legs should have been and vice versa. He stood up and there was a punch and I closed my eyes and felt what I was certain was his head land at my feet. I opened my eyes, relieved to see it was just his hunting cap. Meanwhile, the Stubbs lay, eyes closed, arms outstretched, on the floor.
” Oh my God ! He is dead !
How he started to get up. And then I knew what I had to do. I took off my shirt and waved it frantically in the air, then threw it in the middle of the floor.
“We’re throwing in the towel! We’re throwing in the towel! Dear Big Giant John, have mercy!”
“I don’t have to,” John said smiling. “Ned counted to ten.”
“John is the winner!” announced the Ned (somewhat redundant, I thought).
“I’ll buy you a drink,” John said. “You have punch, Bobby. I didn’t know you had it in you.”
“Ugggggggggghhhhhhhhhh!” the Bobby succeeded.
John picked up my shirt from the floor, swept it over Bobby’s face once, and threw it at me.
“Here’s your homecoming shirt,” he said, as I grabbed it, heavy in my hands, dripping red.
“Drink on me,” he said. “I won a lot of money tonight. Amy, a double for me and Bobby. What about you?” he asked looking in my direction.
“A Guinness for the guy right there.”
Amy handed me a Guinness, and just before I could take the first sip, it was nicked, stolen by the young woman who had teased me before.
So I made my sad way to the parking lot. Then pause. On the windshield, a piece of paper flapped like a flag of defeat, a parking ticket.
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