Responsibilities of Being a Man
by J. C. G. Goelz
Table of Contents|
1, 2 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8
The discussion about the football team went well. My curfew was extended until forty-five minutes after practice was over, and I could drive alone, as long as I came straight home from school. I had no driving privileges on weekends, though.
April didn’t say a word while the parents and I negotiated, other than agreeing to come home with Cindy Timmons. I knew that meant she would stay out of my business if I would stay out of hers.
My joining the football team meant my dad needed to hire another man during the harvest. We always hired custom cutters to come in with their big harvesters, but they didn’t do everything, and my dad couldn’t do as much as he used to, missing his arm and all. I guessed it would cost my folks five hundred or so for work they had counted on me doing. That pretty much meant I had to take football seriously, although I wouldn’t be doing anything other than practicing.
I really didn’t want to stay out of April’s business, but she didn’t ask the folks about her date on Saturday, and I couldn’t just up and mention it. What if she had changed her mind about Sterling?
After supper, I was helping my dad in the barn. One of our trailers had broken, and he needed to weld it, which was nearly impossible to do with one hand. I liked welding. You started with two pieces and you made them one. It gave you a sense of accomplishment.
I mentioned April and Sterling, but tried to avoid giving any details, and I tried to make sure he knew she would kill me if she found out I tattled. He said I did the right thing, and I thought I did the right thing, but I hoped everything wouldn’t blow up. I suspected April was asking Mom right now for permission to go on the date. I would know for sure when I came in, because Mom would be talking to April about hair and dresses and such.
After I went to bed, I heard Dad talking to April, in her room. Things got a little bit heated, and I heard April mention my name several times. I guess Dad didn’t forbid her from going on the date, because she didn’t sneak into my room later that night and slit my throat in my sleep.
* * *
April didn’t say one word to me on the drive to school, but I’m sure she was plotting against me the whole way. I don’t know if all women are conniving and vengeful all the time, but I think sisters are, at least when they aren’t talking. I think I might like women better when they are speaking, though I can’t believe I’ve come to that conclusion.
At lunch I talked to Jimmy.
Jimmy said, “Coach is going to put you in with the first team defense on the first play when the second team is on offense.”
“Right, first team, first play, of second team.”
“You’ll be playing strong safety, and line up just wide of the tight end on the left side.”
“My left or their left?”
“Your left. And there will be a screen play set up on your side. All you have to do is cut through everyone and sack the son of a bitch. He’s big; hit him low. Coach always says, try to turn his cup inside out.”
“Will I be able to make it to him before he gets the pass off?”
“Yeah, if you hustle. Sterling doesn’t have a feel for screen passes; he always waits too long. It drives Coach crazy. He wanted to start Sterling because he’s a senior, but we use screens a lot. Sterling also pisses his pants if he’s under pressure, and he sucks at running the option, so Coach made a good decision, if you ask me.”
“Do you know what Coach is going to have me do after that?”
“You’ll be on second team defense, cornerback. It’s the easiest thing to pick up since we play man-to-man, but I’ll tear you apart.”
“You think so?”
“My ends can run faster than you, they’re four inches taller, and about fifty pounds heavier. They’ll eat you up, but if one of them falls down, I’ll float one up for you to pick off.”
“Do your best to tackle me before I score a touchdown.”
Jimmy just smiled and punched me in the shoulder. I realized then that somehow Jimmy had become a good leader. He made you think he wanted you to do good. I was his friend, but the other players wanted to do good for him, too. That’s why the team was doing better than expected. That, plus he was smart. We’ve always competed against each other, but I was legitimately proud of him, and proud he was my friend. I woulda hugged him right then, if real men did that sort of thing. We fist-bumped.
“I’ll have to float it, because I know how bad your hands are,” Jimmy joked.
“Well, I do have smaller hands than those six-footers you have playing end,” I said as I looked down at my mitts.
“You know what they say about small hands.”
“I think it was something else,” Jimmy said and elbowed me in the ribs.
* * *
Copyright © 2019 by J. C. G. Goelz