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Green Hills Press Nashville, Tennessee www.greenhillspress.com
© 2007 James T. Baker Scribd Edition
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher. Cataloging-In-Publication Data Baker, James T. Dogs to Men ISBN 0966131711 1. Fiction 2. Football 3. High School Green Hills Press Editor-in-Chief: Dr. Francis Martin Published with the services of Grave Distractions Publications www.gravedistractions.com Cover and Interior Layout: Brian Kannard Scribd Edition Notes: Layout will differ slightly from the traditional print version of this text due to conventions suggested by Scribd. Electronic versions of this text are available. For more information visit: www.greenhillspress or www.gravedistractions.com
Also by James T. Baker
Thomas Merton: Social Critic, 1971 Faith for a Dark Saturday, 1973 Under the Sign of the Waterbearer (a play), 1976 A Southern Baptist in the White House, 1977 Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness, 1978 Eric Hoffer, 1982 Ayn Rand, 1987 Brooks Hays, 1989 Study Guide for Jackson Spielvogel’s Western Civilization,1991 Studs Terkel, 1992 Nat Turner: Cry Freedom in America, 1997 Eleanor Roosevelt: First Lady, 1998 Abraham Lincoln: The Man and the Myth, 1999 Andrew Carnegie: Robber Baron as American Hero,
Holidays with Sundae: Conversations with my Cat, Instructor’s Manual for Cannistraro and Reich’s The Western Perspective, 2003 Documents in American Religious History, 2005 Quest, 2007 Peter Peacock Passes, 2010 Prior Knowledge, 2010 Sex and Bondage in Three Colors, 2010 White Dogs; 2010
For more information about James T. Baker's other works, visit www.greenhillspress.com
Table of Contents
Us Dogs Donkey Basketball The Dog House Blood Sweat and Miss Lynne Dingos in the Dark Pigs, Bulls, and Rosemary John Wilkes Booth Lobo and Muss Lynne Again Jimmy Us Men About the Author 1 18 33 58 82 96 123 140 159 173 182
For Mary Ann Always an Optimist She loved all dogs. Even me.
We had scored as many touchdowns as the Rabbits. Dogs. two three. The big wooden clock at the end of the field.Page 1 . Texas. its black and white face peeling in the autumn breeze after a brutal summer of blinding sunshine. its hands as palsied as those of an aging drunk. said there were three minutes to go in the fourth quarter. The difference in the score was that the Rabbits had made two of their three conversions Dogs to Men . . at the field they called The Hutch.” “Go. and for us that was good. go!” “Eat Rabbit Stew!” It was the opening football game of my senior year in high school. I played six-man football for Demopolis High School.Us Dogs “Ready set! Hut! One. The Bulldogs. home of the Rabbits. hanging limply from rusty nails. 1957. Christian County. were opening our season at Allendale. Us Dogs were in a frenzy. read: HOME 22 VISITORS 18. September. The rough-edged numbers below the round clock face. A terrible place. . Us Dogs we called ourselves. We were only four point behind.
was played with six men on each team. the sitting duck. the one that lined up far off to the side. My senior year we had only eleven. but we had to make fifteen yards to get a first. We got four downs. a center and two ends. Six-man football. six to play and five to sit on the bench and hope they were not called on to play. There was only one rule about lining up: stay on our side of scrimmage until the ball was snapped. a split end.Page 2 . The quarterback could hand off. the one they keyed on. as the name implies.and we had made none. he made all the difference in the game. do just about anything he wanted to do. We got two points for any kind of conversion. Lots of little schools played six man back in the days before consolidation. He was the other sitting duck. We usually put three men on the line. the one the other team knew was going out for a pass. I was an end. Conversions were not our strong point. Otherwise we could place from one to five men on the line. though. run. Unlike the split end. The field was just eighty yards long. and we were lucky in a given year to field twelve players. We had few strong points. pass. Behind the center and tight end we put a quarterback shotgun style and a running back on either side and behind him. one to five in Dogs to Men . Demopolis High had less than fifty boys.
and midway through my junior year. Six man football was wild! Even wilder in our case because our coach. Anyone could pass to anyone. played second base for Fort Worth in the Texas League. he went to a Pentecostal summer revival meeting and got saved. When he failed at farming he took a job driving one of our school buses. No one asked about any degree he might have. He just put us out on the field and told us to play hard. but in football he was lost. Our manager that year was a twenty-eight year old midget named Shorty Monroe. Anyone could receive a pass from anyone. Shorty quit school at sixteen to be a drunk. He knew his baseball and a little basketball. In August he showed Dogs to Men . We had one play where the center dropped back. he took over. and came back home at thirty to farm. then threw a pass back to the quarterback. took a handoff from the quarterback. Now he was back in school trying to learn to read well enough to be a preacher. after two near-fatal car wrecks. when our coach one day just disappeared. knew absolutely nothing about football.Page 3 . but he lasted out my junior year and was still there as I began my senior season. He was a local boy who quit school after the eighth grade.the backfield. spent five years in the Navy. A decade later. Bubba Flood.
burned horizon as we huddled and bent together to listen to our quarterback Dee Reed. Both my sophomore and junior years we had lost all six of our games. It had been a long afternoon. Dogs. They were only mildly successful. “We gonna eat us some Rabbit Stew!” “Hey!” Dogs to Men . He told us that the boys on professional teams had arms as big around as our legs. and he had seen high schools there play and even a few professional games on television.” Dee barked at us “We gonna take this bunch. He had lived in Dallas for a time.Page 4 . We called time out. We were crazy that afternoon because the score was close enough for us to win. He knew more football than Bubba. and we had not won a game for two years. “Okay. My career record was 0-12. Our cheerleaders tried to rouse the tiny clump of fans who had made the eight mile trip with us.up to watch us work out and we named him our manager. A round September sun sat on the dusty. but we had the scent of victory. The referee waved his stubby arms. whatchasay?” “Yeah!” we howled. Us Dogs were tired. ordering the clock to die at 2:45.
time was short. yeah!” We broke huddle as if a bomb had gone off. Jack. and they were quick. The trouble was we couldn‟t git it. His battered maroon helmet began to nod. His enthusiasm was contageous.C. they were in our half of the field. making little squeaky noises. We gave chase--Herb. kicking dirt behind us. We all began to nod with it. We went growling and snarling toward the ball. “Yeah. who picked the ball out of the air and scampered toward the left side of the field. They had the lead. even for a bunch of blood thirsty Dogs. Jonnie. Their little quarterback. All they had to do was frisk around and hang onto the ball and let the clock run out. we bobbed up and down with Dee. “Git „im!” Dee commanded. R. The Rabbits were too fast and tricky to catch. We blocked the Rabbit‟s way. So le‟s git it! Whatchasay?” “Yo!” “Le‟s git it then!” Dee barked. Arms linked. and me--all Us Dogs--barking and howling. whose nose twitched as he called numbers..Page 5 . He circled and headed back toward the other side. yeah. pitched out to a runner. We circled and followed him and trapped him on the Dogs to Men .“But we can‟t take „em „less we git the ball. determined to git it.
and we had to have the ball. and the second one made five yards before Herb shoved him to the ground. he had lost two yards and used up forty seconds. Then they ran a reverse. We had to have that ball. Another twenty seconds gone. Dee came around slapping us all on the seats of our pants. When we finally ran the second one to ground the clock read 1:03. “Gotta git it! Gonna git it!” “Yeah!” Dogs to Men . “We kin do it!” The Rabbit quarterback took the ball and scampered in a wide sweep around my end.Page 6 . We were desperate. Dee called time out.other side. git it!” he yelped to each of us. and we huddled. By the time we pushed him out of bounds. I chased him down and caught the tail of his jersey. Two minutes left. but he lateralled back to a Rabbit following us. Again Dee perked us up. Dogs. “We gotta git it!” Dee barked at us over the noise of the small home crowd in the tiny stack of brown bleachers and the clump of our fans who had to stand along the side of the field. and we chased one of them all the way across the field only to have him hand off to a wide end waiting out there for him. “Come on.
very well. No one knew much about his family. rode back and got off at the path. No one knew R. hot and hard and straight ahead. C. nodded. But we had never before been this close to victory.” We looked around. Dogs to Men . This was a first for him. He lived out in the woods north of town. The Rabbits were already there. No one had ever spent the night at his house. went to school. “You will?” Dee said. Dogs were honest and upstanding. then. all without a word to anyone. caught the school bus.“Okay. who‟s gonna do it?” Dee looked from face to face.C. Roberson. C never talked. Every morning he appeared at the head of a foot path. We weren‟t sure what he meant. Sweat poured down his face. R. “Me. they played fair and square. We knew he would get the ball. “Who‟s gonna steal it?” he made it clear. We were surprised because R. He had said all the intended to say. It was R. Dogs didn‟t steal. We broke huddle and went growling back to the line. No one responded. We were hungry. but he didn‟t blink.Page 7 . He ran like a bullet. We were stumped. Small as they were.C. He was short and stocky with albino white hair. and disappeared.
digging up dirt with his free hand. with the ball.” We howled and threw dirt into the air. He sat up. He giggled and called out. “Go. “Near-bout over. I remembered the Dogs to Men . go!” Then I saw something was wrong.” We snarled and pawed the earth.they showed no fear. and began to retie the shoe lace that had tripped him. “Betcha‟d like a bone.” he smirked and raised his twitching eyebrows knowingly. and fell face down at mid-field. all by himself headed for the Rabbit goal. but he was stumbling. then glancing all around him.C. He was all alone. no!” I bayed. He looked at us. he could score. hike!” I didn‟t see R. “Time t‟go on home for supper. twenty-three. I let out a howl. But yes. “Nearly over. he stumbled once. Dawgs. It took me a second to untangle myself from him and get to my feet. When I did the first thing I saw was the Rabbit quarterback staring at his empty hands.Page 8 . Dog. “Forty-eight. We couldn‟t even intimidate a bunch of hares. do it because a Rabbit threw himself at my legs and I went down. then turning to look upfield. Their quarterback looked furtively from side to see to see if his cottontailed line was straight. I looked too. huh?” We drooled as he looked at his crooked legs.C. twice. pitched the ball away. Lord. and there I saw R. “No.
the score. No wonder wide receivers are paranoid. and we were at the center of the field. you know what we gotta do!” he barked. just grace. He stood five feet six. “Okay. for want of a messenger the war. For want of a good double knot that great run. “Now. which was better than we hoped. “I‟ll be there. and I took the rainbows.” I said. Louie!” I felt blood rush to my face. every inch dynamite. No tricks. Dee got our attention. the one who always got the bombs. The referee blew his whistle and waved his arms to stop the clock with the change of possession.Page 9 . “Good. no decoys. For want of a horse the messenger. which is what we wanted. On the other hand. it‟s a bomb! It‟s yours. and there was time. the horse was lost. The Rabbits knew it as well as we did. on three. We had to go forty yards in forty seconds. Louie goes alla Dogs to Men . I was the wide receiver. all block but Louie. Dogs.” Dee grinned. I swallowed a groan. the game was lost. bullet passes. I would win or lose the game. Herb took the short. His blue eyes were cool and clear. For want of a shoe. Dee‟s eyes fixed me in a gaze that kept me from fainting. Poetry made real. we did have the ball. They would be waiting for me.freshman class poem: For want of a nail the shoe was lost. “It‟s a pass. I nodded.
the biggest Dog at 185 pounds.Page 10 . I was close enough to hear one of their fans insult my mother. The Allendale cheerleaders. Herb and Jonnie lined up close on either side of him. C. No grass at all grew on the field. I had forgotten the snap number anyway. Our center Jack. so I would just wait for the snap and take off. had disappeared after the first trip up and down the field.way „n‟ scores. The goal line was a white mark. I could see exactly where I needed to be when Dee got the ball there. R. I looked up the field toward the goal. The two Rabbits sent out to guard me giggled and wiggled their noses. lime spread across the dirt. lined up back beside Dee in case a Rabbit got through the line. waddled up to the ball and bent over it. I was a target both for Dee and for the Rabbits. I went out to the left. I could see Dee‟s lips moving. but two janitors kept the goal lines white. loose dirt all the way. I pictured the Rabbits munching on it after each day‟s practice until he was gone.” He was so sure that I almost believed I could do it. danced on the sidelines stirring up the crowd. I growled Dogs to Men . There was so much noise on my side of the field that I couldn‟t hear the signals. dressed in long ears and cottontailed miniskirts. Yard markers. perfect to break a leg.
So I ran. I was sixty yards from the action. The two Rabbits had left me to chase Dee and the ball. He ran free of them all. As I got to the scene of the accident. “Here! Dee! Throw it!” He saw me and raised his arm to throw. We helped him to our huddle. and I went upfield all alone. At long last Dee appeared.at them. Dee was running. and I knew he would get it and throw to me. I looked back to the center of the field just in time to see the ball spurt between Jack‟s chubby legs and go flying over Dee‟s head. goal to goal. Yet Dee gave chase. He went down on our ten yard line. He was in one piece. Then he disappeared. I would be dead by morning. but he was smashed flat. I jumped up and down and yelled. The referee had called an injury time out. I got to the goal line and looked back. I just hoped my little brother Andy would let me rest in peace. My arms and legs were heavy as I jogged back to the pileup. and they shook with mock fright. like a cartoon character. It was a long time before he began to move and then struggle to get up. holding the ball above his head. and I knew I needed to go. Rabbits and Dogs were peeling off. Rabbits swarmed him. Dogs trying to block. The play was ruined. Rabbits chasing.Page 11 . Dogs to Men . I had seen him stand flat footed and throw eighty yards. Fortunately it would be Saturday.
. “Yeah. Louie.” Dogs to Men . We were seventy yards from the goal.” I said. “We. We grabbed him and pulled him back to us. . . “A pass?” I said. “We. . and he swayed from side to side but didn‟t fall. This was insane. “Yeah. His blue eyes were milky. “Seconds. I turned and looked at the clock. The little guy was indestructible. but you. “How much time?” he said. then held it sideways.” I stared at him. Without him we were lost. I held him up until his knees were stiffer I took my hands away from him slowly. He wobbled and had to catch my shoulder to keep from falling. “You okay?” I said.Dee looked at us and began to wander off.” he said in a faraway voice. Dee?” He was punch drunk.agin. “maybe thirty-one.Page 12 . . “Thirty.do. His eyes were glazed.” I said. .” he grinned. He could hardly stand.” “Minues?” “No. as if to drain fluid.gonna. . . . Go alla way. .” He shook his head. Pass. “You?” “Sure I‟m fine.” “You sure.” “It‟s yours. shaking my head vigorously.
his voice. The clock chugged to a stop at seven seconds. His recuperative powers were amazing. Once more I didn‟t know the snap number. I got there just as he was trapped. Then the Rabbits swarmed. and it was a sure touchback. stretching the ball out as far as his short arms would reach. face down on the goal line stripe. When I finally got free of them I saw Bubba Flood running out to the referee. I made a bluff circle toward the other goal and came jogging back. his eyes. his authority returning. I looked in vain for Dee. I didn‟t think Dee had given us one. Allaway. Every lane of escape was blocked. One by one. “Louie. Dee had the ball. but he was in our end zone running for dear life. I threw myself at the two Rabbits nearest him. I broke the huddle and loped out to the left side. frantically trying to call time. in slow motion. this way and that. Dogs to Men . it‟s all upta you. his legs.” He was back. It was on the one. and two Rabbits went with me. the Dogs came alive. The ball would get to the goal line. side to side. He looked at me sharply.His eyes cleared.Page 13 . and there he lay. and I would have to be there. and he let it skip through his hands and go rolling toward the goal. and we three went down hard in a tangle. Finally three Rabbits scrambled up. He acted surprised when the ball came to him.
Louie. Allaway.are.” he said.” “But Dee. You jus‟ be there. . “At the Hutch.” I said.we?” he moaned. I‟ll git it to ya.” Herb said. “In Allendale. “Whose one?” “Ours. Allaway.Page 14 .” “Louie. where on the field? Where‟s the football?” We all looked at the ball. . allaway!!!!!!!” “Okay.” Herb said slowly. It sat there sadly.” I said. Dogs to Men . “Al-len-dale.” “No buts!” he barked. “It‟s yours. “How much time?” “Seven. . . He was back once more. Still grinning crookedly.” “Where?” he grinned.We helped him up and gathered around him.” Herb told him. “On the one. “Go allaway. I mean. . He swayed. Seconds. “Where.” “Another pass?” “Pass. Dee shook his head “No. . He was gone again.
“Not yet!” It was moving toward zero. I thought the game was over. allaway. Four. “Got it? On three! Allaway!” “Yo!” Dee spoke so loudly that the Rabbits heard every word. but then I saw Dee running with the ball and Rabbits chasing him and a referee prancing around trying to stay out of the way. I took off. “No. The scorekeeper raised his gun. It hit Dee on the knee and bounced to the ground in front of him as the gun went off and echoed from the Oak trees on either side of the field. The game was still on.” as we broke huddle and came up to the ball. “Snap the ball!” I never knew whether Jack heard me or whether he saw the clock moving. wait!” I yelled. three. I was at midfield and no one was near me. and it was starting to move. I took my place and looked at the far goal.“You believe? You all believe?” We nodded. and they began to chant. I felt free Dogs to Men . It squirted back like toothpaste from a tube under pressure.Page 15 . Then I looked at the clock. but that wasn‟t enough. “You all believe me? We gonna go allaway! On three! Allaway!” “Hey!” we said. “Snap it!” I hollered. but he did snap the ball before the gun went off. “On three.
The goal was coming toward me. thinking. as the Dogs made their way to our battered old muddy yellow bus. swelling. deflating the ball. It hadn‟t touched the ground. The ball hit the tips of my fingers and jumped high in the air as I fell hard to the ground.and light. which in jest we called our Dogs to Men . I got to my knees and it floated down and settled gently into my hands I had it. I picked up speed. Then I looked down and saw that my knees were firmly planted two inches deep in the soft brown dirt of the four yard line. It bounced into the air and came back toward me. on the way to their gym. and it still read 22-18. I held the ball above my head and laughed. bleeding. I lay there. The Rabbits were loping toward me. down the field. Then I looked around. It was a completion. I looked at the scoreboard. and so was the ball. I knelt there as the Rabbits ran over me. and saw the referees leaving the field. I threw myself up and stretched out.Page 16 . and we had won the game. Upside down I saw it fly up and hit the crossbar of the goalpost. The Dogs were walking slowly away toward our bus. I looked back and saw Dee free of the mob and winding up to throw. I couldn‟t figure it out. it was a touchdown. The ball was in the air.
I put my helmet on and snapped the chin strap. trotting toward the Golden Chariot. The horn sounded again. I got up and looked around and saw my helmet lying on the ten yard line. made a fist. I knew I would keep on playing. Allendale was the weakest team we would play all year. It was ridiculous to keep playing. but the game had once more broken our hearts. I hobbled over and kicked it. Dogs to Men . a low moan. I was hooked. Things could only get worse. over and over. Finally I realized it was our bus horn. its disappointment. the disappointment. we were only four yards from victory. I asked myself why I played football. Through the darkening silence I heard a sound. I picked it up and saw that it was dented. its despair. I began to laugh. Without me they couldn‟t field a team. the despair. We had almost won. like the mating call of a lost Canadian goose.Golden Chariot. I loved football. I let it hang loose and began my painful journey. I loved the pain. It snapped back off as always. I put my hand inside.Page 17 . I thought what a good swift kick would do to my head in that peanut shell. with all its pain. It was calling me The Dogs had missed me and wanted me to go home with them. and popped the dent out. over and over. and it rolled crazily across the field.
clear. bright Demopolis nights. and it was at a donkey basketball game. but each man rode a donkey. It was 1952. always sponsored by the Lion‟s Club. and the Lions always played the men high school teachers The proceeds went to buy glasses for poor kids. and I was almost seven before I started first grade. That will be a significant fact later in my story. Donkey basketball was basketball of a sort.Donkey Basketball I remember vividly the night my love affair and adventure with football began. and according to Texas law a man. I was at a donkey basketball game. Notice that I said I was half way to thirteen. Anyway. It was a Monday night in late February. It will mean someone was not guilty of a crime. The final score was usually something like 10 to 6 because it‟s not easy to make baskets from the back of a Dogs to Men . one of those cold. with a regular court and a basket at each end and five men to a team. After the second game of my senior year of high school football I was eighteen.Page 18 . It was at Demopolis High School gymnasium. We had one every year back then. My birthday is in September. and so I was half way through my thirteenth year. just before springtime.
Ridiculed and abused both physically and verbally. was held out of the game to render medical aid to the stricken. the fathers of children. The last thing he wanted to do was help his rider score a basket. He sat on a front row chair waiting for the inevitable. dignified men. especially when the donkey is trained to be the meanest animal on earth. The oldest doctor in town. men of education. and I have seen blood spilled on the floor by the pint. Inside were Dogs to Men . men of the cloth. I have seen men of business. whoever that was at the time. ridden into a hardwood floor night after night. stomped. I have seen bones broken and teeth knocked out. and he never charged for his work. fight an entire game just to mount up. bitten. doctors and ministers. teachers and policemen. On its sides were huge red letters: MCGOWEN DONKEY BASKETBALL. On the day of a game a yellow truck arrived at the school about noon. and mutilated. I have seen the responsible husbands of wives. He could be sure that each injured party would come to him for further treatment in the weeks to follow. thrown flat on their backs and heads on the hardwood.donkey. I have seen grown men. All of which brought out big crowds and raised lots of money for spectacles. each little creature had just one goal in life: to maim any man who tried to sit on his back.Page 19 .
Other names came and went. McGowen was a showman of the old school. He carried an electric Dogs to Men . The bearded Mr.twelve or so of the toughest little asses on earth. but those three seemed to be immortal. saddles impossible to mount and stay on. They wore little round tennis shoes and saddles with their names on them. He had not the slightest shred of decency or compassion. McGowen. By 7:30 when the game began they were as mad as hornets and itching to kill. He was a pure capitalist.Page 20 . He introduced each donkey and assigned him to a rider. Then he acted as referee for the riot that followed. Just before game time he led them out onto the gym floor. The elements and our harassment made them irritable. took them one at a time down the tailgate ramp and tied them to the school yard fence for all of us to tease. as thin as a rail. I remember many of their names. wearing what appeared to be the same pair of torn jeans and greasy tee-shirt every year. Einstein. and he never fed or watered them until after the game. He tied the donkeys out in the sun or rain or sleet all afternoon for all the townspeople to drive by and see. Dagwood. Agamemnon. sickened and died and were replaced. teeth black from chewing tobacco. Those three either lasted longer than others or there were successive animals with the names.
her chest impressed. I had seen donkey basketball three years in a row. directly across from me. and when the action slowed he ran up behind a donkey and shocked it into convulsions. Every Saturday I paid sixty cents for a Trailways bus ticket and rode the seventeen miles into Clarksville. Each shock led to a human injury of some kind. the Christian County seat. I went that night not so much to see the donkeys as to meet the love of my young life. It looked good enough to eat. I spotted her. a bosom man. Even in pinafores and overalls. but I saw no one but them. an Italian woman. and I would have saved my quarter to buy a soft drink each day of the school week had I not been told by Jackie‟s sister that she would be there. They were in the middle of a big glob of people. a heterosexual man.prod. the girl I knew I would marry. I had been passionately in love with Jackie for about two months. Jackie was petite. dreaming of new clothes and athletic Dogs to Men . I had known I was a man. There I window shopped. sitting with her big sister.Page 21 . but even at 12 she had the bosom of a woman. by the end of the first quarter. Jackie Jackson. for over six months. It was nearing halftime of the Donkey Game of 1952. and I was hungry. the year I was in the sixth grade.
transfixed. and she was after all a bird in the hand. which I pronounced Mary Lynn. At last I eased out of my seat and furtively edged around by the Dr. Clarksville had two theaters. I turned a corner in my life. From the day I saw her I loved her. as Mary Lynn flirted with my burgeoning emotions and teased my emerging genitalia. and she was blonde. Just after Christmas I began to notice Jackie. that was me. how much she was like Mary Lynn. I knew I would never be happy until I had one just like her. paid twenty cents more. Or might become one. fries.equipment. I usually went to the Bucket because it featured westerns and monster thrillers and because it cost only twenty-five cents. the Avalon for adults and the Bloody Bucket for kids.Page 22 . and from looking at her photograph I knew I wanted to know her much better. Bosom man. but one Saturday I was attracted by the pictures out front of the Avalon. manfully screwing up my courage. I watched fascinated. and I went to see a movie. Pepper machine at the end of the Dogs to Men . The star who attracted me and made me pay thirtyfive cents for a ticket was named Marilyn. and a Coke. I waited on my side of the gym. and met the most beautiful woman on earth. I paid another sixty cents for a hamburger. Entering the darkened theater that day.
It usually worked well enough. But I had to go: Dogs to Men . The crowd would look up and see me following my lust across the floor and begin to jeer. My motives would be stark naked. leaned back against the curtain as if it were a wall and fell stark naked down onto the court. and to the safety of the stage. indistinguishable from the masses. but beyond that point I would be out in the open. and went running past the sentinel. a high school girl basketball player from another town. We all watched her team come out dressed in their suits to see which one it was. jumped up. but one night during a junior high school boy‟s game on the court.Page 23 . the stage that on calmer nights featured music and drama but on basketball nights was used as a dressing room. There I stalled. I would have to cross the stage end of the gym. a moving target for the contemptuous ridicule of all who disdained young love. screamed. highly visible. through the door.building. When it was a dressing room. but either she was held out of the game or she looked too different with clothes on for us to spot her. I felt I might end up just as humiliated as she was if I ventured into that no-man‟s land. they just closed the curtain and posted a guard at the only set of stairs leading up to it. The crowd sat stunned as she came to herself. while she dressed. There I was still in the crowd.
” “Tell ya what then. “Put a bug in her ear. . her answer was quick. For some reason it always got to the girls when I hung my head and looked pitiful. It still does.my masculinity called.” “Tell her what?” “What you feel. When I did steal a look. afraid to turn and look up. . when there‟s lots a noise. I got my ass across to the other side while they watched the asses on the court. . Monica was built just like Jackie. Since she was sixteen and therefore too old for me.” “Noooo. Monica winked and grinned.” “I.” I hung my head. Dogs to Men . I sat petrified. afraid to move. I couldn‟t do that.can‟t. “She‟ll be at the ball game Monday night. I found a seat down front. I could lust after her and talk to her at the same time. . four rows below Jackie and her sister Monica. “A bug?” “Tell her. To my surprise no one seemed to see me.Page 24 . except more so because she was four years older.” she grinned. You can tell her then. When one day I confided in her that I loved Jackie.” she said.
her bosom bobbing in her sweater like a pair of heavy water balloons. Jackie asked her something. Monica winked again and stood up. falling to one knee. I‟ll be beside her. why not? No one would see me in all that chaos. Sure. “She don‟t bite. I was there! For an eternity I sat there like a stone--afraid to move. all mine. .Page 25 . and bumped Jackie‟s bottom hard as I sat down. and the crowd let out a blood curdling scream of approval. The roar inspired me. So here I was.” I thought about it. Out on the court old Dagwood threw the math teach high into the air. I couldn‟t move. to speak. and I jumped to my feet as if to cheer and rushed up to the empty seat. I was scared to death. . and you take my seat. the seat beside her empty. My legs were numb. Jackie didn‟t move or speak or blink Dogs to Men . stepping on hands and feet. There she was. to blink. and she pointed toward the restrooms. right behind me.” “Tell you what. and was I sweating.” she said with compassion. ripe for the picking.” “She might. I couldn‟t even swallow my own spit.“Sure you can. Then I‟ll move. Then she moved away. for fear I might destroy the precious moment.
had killed an allegator while fishing on the Sulphur River. What now? I pumped up my depleted courage one pump at a time. woods I had never. and her mother had once pulled a shotgun on a surveyer from the highway department when he got too close to their house. Her voice.Page 26 . dense woods all around them. Dogs to Men . been tempted to explore. even in my most curious phase. you git the hell outa my sister‟s seat. “Hi. It took three catastrophes on the court before I spoke to her. but the taxidermist had botched it.” Jackie‟s family had a tough reputation. “Haul ass. Her daddy. . covering my crotch with my cap. killed it with a knife.” I said. . “But.” she was reported to have said to him. “Louie. “Hi. He just sat there. known as “Stonewall” Jackson. “You know how to talk?” She turned ever so slowly and faced me. and its skin hung rotting on an outhouse wall back toward the woods. was even and low. when they said there were no more allegators in our part of the world. They lived at the edge of town. Still nothing. or I‟ll kick you in the nuts. looking straight ahead.either.” I tried again. “Like the game?” Not a peep. One of her older brothers had been to prison. He had tried to get it stuffed. eye to eye. when it finally came.” She didn‟t reply.
As I crossed by the Dr. but I could see it would do no good. Mr. Medford. and then they both collapsed in uncontrollable laughter. as the riders went off to lick their wounds. So I go up ever so slowly. and eased away from her. That night they were reserves for the Dogs to Men . I knew and worshipped those boys. our high school principal. Pepper machine and started back to my old seat. as deliberately as I could. Boyd Otis. but with her it didn‟t work. They played basketball and baseball and boxed. dressed in his usual grey suit. He gestured to the sidelines. his bald head shining brightly atop a big smile. J. At the half. Guy Lemon.Page 27 . so I stayed in my seat. both bosoms bouncing gaily. I wanted to leave right then. and three high school boys came walking sheepishly out to him. trying to save face.“Git!” she commanded. but I was afraid they would see me go and laugh some more. I glanced across and saw Monica return. waiting until I could edge out at halftime. I did try hanging my head. C. I felt like I had been set up for female amusement. I watched as they talked. came out to mid-court where blood was still drying and called the crowd to a semblance of attention. I wasn‟t too proud to beg. Halftime was when my life took another major turn. Stanley Waxman.
All they needed was forty dollars each for twelve boys to have suits.” she shouted. that‟s all it took to revive our honor. but none came.Page 28 . Now Mr. People still talked about football and the players from that golden age the way Athenians talked about the warriors of Troy. Would we give if he passed the hat? “If your coins stretch my hat out of shape.” He waited for laughter. “I‟ll not mind a bit paying to have it re-blocked. but you had to wear pads and those helmets. like baseball. An old man near me said they had on football helmets. like Flash Gordon when he walked outside his spaceship. They wore bubble hats. and ones to come.teachers‟ team because so many teachers had been hurt the previous year that they were low on players. These fine young men before us wanted to bring back the days of glory. Forty dollars. I had been to a game with my daddy when I was little. to teach our boys morals and good sportsmanship. You could knock people down without being kicked out of the game. It was played outside. “I want to see football in Demopolis again! I want these young men. Lemon was saying that we might play it again. Demopolis had played it once. No hats in that crowd had ever been re-blocked. to learn the American Way of Life that football teaches!” That Dogs to Men . I had heard of football.
sounded almost religious, and a murmur of reverence came from the crowd. “Here‟s my hat! I‟ll start it down this side! Give! Give „til it hurts!” The grey hat started around. People dug down and came up with money to drop in it. I put in an Indian head nickel, my first investment in football. That night they collected nearly two hundred dollars, more than the gate which would go for eye glasses, enough for five uniforms. There were fund raisers all that spring. By June we had the suits, and football was back. I then watched for three years, through junior high school, as a new age of heroes came and went, all the time chomping at the bit to be out there on the field with them. We played in a small school six-man league. One team we played had only eight boys suited out, and four of them played barefoot. We won games then. But by my first year, when I was in tenth grade, things had changed. Three of the small schools had closed. We were put in a new league where we were by far the smallest, poorest school. In my two years we had not won a game. After the Rabbits game, I was 0-13. But in 1952 I couldn‟t know that. By the end of the donkey ballgame I had forgotten about Jackies rejection. My mind was on other things.
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I wandered out of the gym in a daze. I didn‟t see Rosemary Grouse until she spoke. “Hi, Louie,” she said in as seductive a voice as a 12 year old could muster. I stopped and turned back. “Oh, hi,” I grinned. Rosemary was the closest thing Demopolis had to aristocracy. Her daddy owned the furniture store in town. Her mother gave teas. Rosemary had been to England. She had dark hair and was a bit chubby. Later she would be thinner, stretched out like a model, lithe and gorgeous. Then she wore glasses, later replaced by contact lenses, but she always wore expensive clothes and smelled like a morning in spring. She was sort of in love with me. “Like the game?” she asked. “Huh? Oh yeah,” I said. “You hear we‟re gonna play football again?” “Yes. Isn‟t that wonderful?” “I think I‟ll play.” “Great,” she giggled. Her giggle made me feel good inside. “You wanta walk with me, Louie,” she said. “Uh. . .now? Tonight?” “Yes, now, tonight,” she said, giggling again. She grabbed my hand before I could hide it in my coat pocket. People swarmed around us. Someone would see. “Come on,” she said.
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“Listen, Rosemary, I . .” “My mama‟s not here,” she pouted, a look of anguish in her eyes. “I got nobody to walk home with me. Please Okay?” “To your house?” “Of course. What do you think? Half way?” “Well. . .” At least we would soon be out of sight. “Okay.” “Goody.” She led me off down a dark street, and after two blocks we turned right into the ritzy part of town. Rosemary‟s house, like the other five big houses on her street, had luxuries no one else even dreamed of having. There were two full bathrooms. They had a television set; and with the aid of three “boosters” they could bring in some snowy shadows from stations in Dallas. I saw my first show there, Amos n Andy, a couple of years later when Rosemary threw a party for her friends, back when I was one of them. She hurried me through the downstairs and up to her room, pausing only to grab a plateful of cookies from the dining room table. I was amazed that a mother would let a child take what she wanted. Her parents were nowhere to be seen or heard. In her room she sat me down on her
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sofa; and we listened to records on her phonograph as we ate the cookies. “Le‟s dance,” she said, running her tongue over her front teeth to clean away the chocolate. “I don‟t know. . .” “I‟ll show you.” She did. She put on a slow tune, something by Doris Day, and showed me how to put my arms around her. As we moved to the beat I felt her small bosom against my chest. When the song ended she applauded us and led me back to the sofa. She kissed me and brought my head down into her lap. My heart beat fast. “Know what I wanna do?” I said, swallowing hard. “No, what?” she said and giggled. “I‟m wanna play football.”
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The Dog House
Rabbits are one thing; Cougars are something else. To chase around a field unable to catch a herd of frisky hares is humiliating; to be mauled by a pack of bloodthirsty cats is downright painful. It‟s like closing a car door on your foot; it‟s not fatal, but it hurts. The next week we played Avenger High School, the Cougars. All week Us Dogs ran up and down our field barking, howling, baying, the way Dogs are supposed to do it, without ever mentioning the Rabbits game. We were sore, but we could feel ourselves toughening up. We ran faster, hit the blocking bag with more authority, and left the field with more wind left than we had three weeks before when practice began. We didn‟t talk about the Rabbits; and we didn‟t talk about the Cougars. Avenger was a Money School, funded by the oil that spurted from the ground like artesian wells down in deep east Texas. Some schools had it, some did not. Avenger did, we didn‟t. Money Schools had new uniforms, bleachers on both sides of the field, and lights for night games. Four of our six games my senior year were against Money Schools. Only Allendale was as poor as we were. Of the
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Money Schools, Avenger was the richest. They were literally rolling in oil. Their team, their band, and their cheerleaders all wore black uniforms. A dusty, rusty September sun was setting on the flat western horizon as our rattletrap of a twenty year old school bus, marked with the fading black letters DEMOPOLIS INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT, rolled into Avenger. The fourteen of us who had made the eighty mile trip, eleven Dogs, Coach Flood, Shorty, and the driver Satch Sanders, stared wide-eyed through the dirt streaked windows at the town. It was actually small, four blocks one way and three the other; but every building, house or store, glistened; every street sign was freshly painted; every curb was straight, and every street had a sidewalk on both sides. All because every third or fourth lot, even downtown, was a small oil field. In the middle of each lot, at the center of a grassy square, its legs strapped to the ground, stood a pump, a metal bird, dip, dip, dipping into the soil to bring out oil. Dip, dip; money, money. We jostled along this Babylon like captives from Jerusalem until Bubba had Satch pull the Golden Chariot over and stop in front of a The Ideal Cafe. It was a neat little white building set in a congregation of pumps, causing me to wonder why the proprietor needed to sell food.
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Coach and Shorty led us down the bus steps, across a paved parking lot, and through a tinkling door. We sat down at three tables, looked over the menu choices, and all ordered cheeseburgers. “Cheeseburger,” the waitress said with a tired sniff as each of us ordered. At the end she said, “That‟s fourteen.” “Fifteen,” Satch corrected her. “Member, I said two.” Satch was a big bear of a man. We had never before seen him without his hat, and we didn‟t know until that night that he was bald. The only hair he had on top was a curly lock which looked like it had been twisted to point toward his nose. “You said two,” the waitress confirmed. She looked at Shorty. “How bout you? You take a haf?” She snorted with amusement. “I take a whole,” Shorty said curtly and smiled. Once, when he was a drunk, he would have responded to such ridicule with a line of profanity--or used the word “whole” to make a dirty insinuation. The Pentecostals had indeed wrought a modern miracle. The waitress clucked her tongue absently, nodded to us, and turned toward the kitchen, scratching her bottom
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dusty jeans. They leaned back against the counter and looked us over.Page 36 . boys. They wore oilstreaked armless tee shirts. When the cheeseburgers came.” she called. chopped raw onions. they were wonderful: thick patties of ground beef. white buns. and turtle shaped green hard hats. cheese and fat dripping out the sides.” the second one said.” the biggest of them said. “Well. greasy. “Looks like we got some vis‟ters. mean looking.with her pencil eraser. an‟ make „em yellah. okay?” We began to talk in whispers. “Bet I know whur y‟all come from. who was almost as big as the smallest of them. looked concerned. It took them thirty seconds to order beers and cheeseburgers and spot us over in our corner. “Betcha come in that ol‟ beat up bus out there. Bubba explained the waitress lingo to us. The waitress looked none too happy to see them. You frum Dee-mop-oh-lese.” Dogs to Men . “Burn fifteen. “Burn” was well done. It was the first visit to a cafe for most of us. “Yellah” was with cheese. Even Satch.” We all stopped chewing and sat still. “Hey Kate. terrified. But when we were about half way finished through the front door came three big. dirty-blond Vikings.
“Leastways the runt kin. and all three laughed maniacally.” Shorty said shortly. The Vikings picked up their beers.” the little one said. They stopped two paces from us. “Some kinda secret weapon?” “Manager. and it would still be a slaughter. Jack. the slowest eater. “Hey.By the tone of his voice. His burger was gone. He wanted a fight.” He snickered. The waitress brought the beers and cheeseburgers and put them down on the counter. We didn‟t. but Coach beat him to it.Page 37 . It looked bad. “Ever‟body done?” she said as he rose. pushed away from the counter.” Shorty started to stand up. “they kin tawk. started to protest that he Dogs to Men . “You gonna git chewed up t‟night.” the big one said. I heard someone in our group gag.” the middle one snorted. their muscled arms touching. and sauntered over toward us. Fourteen to three. “Play hell. “Whatchu?” the middle one said to Shorty. one in front of each table. Bubba signaled for us to eat quickly. it was a challenge. “Come t‟play our Cougars?” the smallest one said with a smirk. blocking the way out. and stood there each with a thumb in a belt loop.
It took us a long time to find Cougar Stadium. but Bubba shook his head. “Hey. died.” It was really supposed to be forty. snorted. Dogs to Men . Beyond it were several new brick buildings. We sat in shame until the engine finally caught. The Vikings came out and stood on the front steps and hooted as Satch ground away. We scampered across the pavement and got on the bus. But before he could finish his insult Bubba used the skills that had gotten him through the Navy and the Texas League and slipped past them. “Le‟s go. Then we got lost. but we figured our lives were worth a dime.” he ordered. Each of us dug two quarters out of our jeans.Page 38 . “All a you drop four bits apiece. As we hurried out they were laughing. First the bus wouldn‟t start. We wandered up and down the same streets a good half hour before the town constable found us and led us to a big silver gate with AVENGER HIGH SCHOOL on it. the dopey lookin‟ one kin tawk too.wasn‟t finished. Seeing that they were outmaneuvered. the Vikings began to snicker good naturedly.” the middle one said. When they turned to see where he went we all sneaked through and headed for the door. and at long last got going. thirty-five for the burger and a nickle for the drink.
“Dee-mop-lees?” he said. red-faced. Satch‟s brakes were soft.” Bubba said. He stepped in front of us.” “Yeah. “Foller me. “An‟ you ain‟t got hardly no brakes atall.Page 39 . He chuckled to himself and shook his head. and the man had to jump out of the way to keep from being run over. He came around to Satch‟s window. “Ya‟ll come a hunnerd miles in that?” “Tell us whur t‟park.” the guard said.” he beckoned as he walked away. “Tha‟s right.” Bubba said. and blew a whistle.A man in uniform met us as the Chariot came gasping through the gate. Through its open door we saw a fleet of shiny new school buses. He led us into the lot. out of sight. He wore a blue suit with a silver badge.” Satch said. lighted area without a spot of oil on it and past a big garage. glancing back to make sure we weren‟t getting too close to him. He signalled us to park behind the garage in the grass. We followed him through the paved. “Whur‟s the field?” “Good Lord Amighty. He looked toward a parking lot dotted with Cadillacs and Chryslers. where we couldn‟t leak Dogs to Men . leaning out the window behind Satch. squinting at the side of the bus. held up a hand. “Whur d‟we park?” The guard‟s frown slowly rose into a smile.
Page 40 . Our shower was a sunken garden with two raw nozzles that sprayed cold water and a hole in the floor that took ten minutes to drain the water away. no benches. lavatories. showers. The whole world revolved around the blazing canopy of light. There were lockers. and everything was new. and the one toilet was in the middle of the dressing room. I waited until I got home to take a bath after practice. We went where he pointed.on the pavement. I never used it for fear of catching some fatal fungus. thinking how wonderful it must be to have money and what it bought. As we piled out. Us Dogs huddled with Bubba and Shorty and stared at it. but I assured her that was better than doctor bills for the diseases that lurked in our gym. My mother complained about all the sweaty clothes. “Ya‟ll kin dress in there. Half a mile to the east. perfect.” he said with a friendly grin. We finally went inside. Dogs to Men . it looked like a giant torch. across a flat plain. In our dressing room back home we had no lockers. benches. clean. and when we emerged at 7:30 it was pitch black outside except for the field. toilets with doors. he pointed to a onestory building. We stood at the door of the building a long time before we went inside. We could hardly believe our eyes.
with grass as thick and lush as springtime.” he admitted.At first we walked toward it. “What are you?” he grinned.Page 41 . We had chosen the wrong side of the field. Finally we were running. So we went loping around the far stands and came to a ticket window and a guard. Other end. “Haf-time show?” “We‟re Demopolis. drawn toward the field like moths to a flame. He wore the same suit and badge as the first one.” People were flooding through it. stumbling over mounds. stepping in holes.” Shorty said. Bubba scratched his head through his baseball cap. “We go in here?” Dee asked him. “There‟s the gate. the team we sposed t‟play?” Dogs to Men . A chain link fence ten feet high reached across the end of the field from stands to stands. our eyes fixed on the light. filling both sets of stands. “Look. still gleaming from a shower of sprinklers. “Whata we do?” somebody said. “Dee-mop-lees?” the guard stared at us as though he suspected a hoax.” Bubba said. Then we started to trot. “You mean. There was the crowd. We raced around the wall of bleachers and stopped. “I don‟ know. There was the playing field. There was no gate.
since there were probably a thousand people there. and a couple were missing front numbers. but we didn‟t know they would be laughing. “Demopolis Bulldogs. We did make quite a sight. Just then the Cougars came rushing out of their dressing room under the stands. “Okay. We stopped our exercises and went over to our bench. When they were new our uniforms had been a dark maroon.Page 42 . We stared in awe at the thundering herd dressed in new oil black suits.” We filed through the gate and trotted out onto the field to warm up. We were so lost in wonder at the beauty of the place that it was some time before we realized how the crowd reacted to us. and they had faded and frayed. if you say so. Avenger fans thought we were a joke. We were being ridiculed. We knew they would be loud. each man carrying a freshly painted black helmet under his arm. but they were now six years old. Then he laughed and shook his head. At Dogs to Men .“Right. Now we ranged from rust to pink. and one jersey worn by a scrub was almost green. We stopped our warmup drills and looked up at them. “Go on in then.” The guard looked skeptical.” he said.” Bubba said. Almost every jersey had stitches.
so they used the rest of the game for practice. They peeled off into three groups of twelve and did their warmups in perfect harmony. when they Dogs to Men .C. At 8-0 we were beat. like soldiers. crisp orders. We chose to receive because we were afraid we would never get the ball back if we kicked to them. Each group followed a drill leader who shouted out clean. This was how football should be played. all as big and tough as the Vikings at The Ideal Cafe. they recovered. This was the way to teach the American Way. R. and that was the game. On their very first play. did surprise us all. They never missed a block.Page 43 . but when I counted them I realized there were only thirty-six. five of Us Dogs watched from flat on our backs as two Cougars leveled Herb on the ten yard line so that one of their backs could dance into the end zone. We called tails. The air quivered with their voices. when he took the kick-off and slipped by four Cougars to take the ball to midfield. himself included. The Cougars were perfect. The only thing we did right all night was call the coin toss. Us Dogs were already beaten. and it was tails. The crowd laughed with glee to see such sport. The second and third times they had the ball. But then we fumbled on second down. Watching from our bench. We were a grade school against the NFL.first I thought there must be a hundred of them.
a new team of six on each possession. Outside. facing a sure touchback. we took a false turn and headed toward a pine thicket. all to give the game a little suspense. Their running back made the two and then stepped out of bounds to keep from scoring. pranced four clowns Dogs to Men . we struggled off toward the gate. Through the fence we saw the Avenger band marching out to play. sprains and bruises and injured pride. All six of us starters were hurt one way or another. They scored all six times they had the ball. “This way.made it 16-0 and 24-0. beyond the ticket box. They played every man. to the delight of the crowd. They were on our six yard line.” We stopped and looked back. leaving us mired on our own three yard line. testing themselves. Us Dogs ended the half with a net loss of 120 yards. In front of them.Page 44 . They never lost a yard. Then they made one yard at a time using various goal-line plays and finally scored on fourth down. Team Six seemed as strong as Team One. all thirty-six. They even practiced making a first down. and they needed two yards for a first. they ran a different play on each snap. “Boys!” Shorty called to us. As the big electric clock with the blood red letters counted down 3--2-1--bang. working out bugs. It was the first game of the season for them.
He was our tight end. They looked like us. knowing that they would have to play in the second half. “Boys. Bubba waited for us to settle down before he pulled a chair into the center of the room and sat down. We starting six sat in chairs. so we each brought one from home. We stumbled past the stands and made our way toward our Dog House. a red polka dot towel around his neck. nursing injuries. part of a set Mother earned by buying the same brand of gas for a year. Once inside. safe from the ridicule of the crowd and the claws of the Cougars. then fell silent. He started once or twice more but each time stopped. then sighed. There wasn‟t much to say really. each a different color and design. we drifted to different corners and sides of the room. It was time for his pep talk. heads in hands. Shorty gave out the towels. He had dropped the only two Dogs to Men . the one he gave at each game. There was Herb. The scoreboard read Cougars 48 Visitors 00.Page 45 . The school couldn‟t afford to buy them for us. holding their helmets. My towel was an embarrassing yellow with pink roses. We had done our best.dressed in tattered football jerseys. The scrubs stood against the walls.” he said. The band struck up their fight song. wondering how long we could hold on.
just enough to fool the opposition. He looked like that little boy on the bathroom tub cleaner jar. He was a team player.passes Dee had sent his way. His hair was darker now and cut so short you could see his scalp. What he lacked in natural talent. We laughed at him until he whipped each of us in turn. I remembered the day he first came to our school. He was our captain. He sat on a metal folding chair. On defense he was always the last to fall and the first to get up. like those of a curious hound puppy. in speed and size. and we would whip anyone who laughed at him. Herb worked harder and got better results consistently than any of us. and in came this doppey kid to brighten our day. and he loved to block as much as to catch a pass. He had big. faithful. slightly crossed eyes. We were in the third grade. as white as cotton. His eyes were still crossed. his left ankle crossed over his right knee. his left foot Dogs to Men . determined. After that we were his friends. He was what a good Dog should be: tough. sad. His hair was straight and long. ready to sacrifice himself for the common good. and when you said something to him his droopy ears seemed to stand up just the slightest bit. and he called the coin toss.Page 46 . and shaped like an upside-down bowl. he more than made up for in determination.
He would snap the ball. and they found it hard to get free of him. He was our biggest Dog. one eye covered. and it worked most of the time because he had sticky hands and was as hard to knock down as a boxing dummy. Jack was integral to one of our plays. I have seen him hand off with three men trying to wrestle him to the ground. take a pass from Dee. He had spent most of the last hour flat on his face in damp green grass. He snapped the ball and fell down in front of the opposing rushers. They would jump on him to find they had tackled a bean chair and had handsful of amorphous goup. the other staring into space. like a hamster. but Jack tripped and plowed up six inches of turf with his nose before he could turn around. He looked like the Lost Sinner in Michelangelo‟s Last Judgment.Page 47 . Next to Herb sat our center Jack. his fat face twisted out of shape by his hand. stand up and turn around instead of falling as usual.bare. Dogs to Men . then hand off to one of the running backs coming by him. A Cougar had just stepped on his ingrown toenail. They said he was sticky. his big toe erect and red. leaning forward out of his chair. It was a thing of beauty when it worked. He knew another hour of the same punishment awaited him. Dee called Jack‟s play once in the first half against the Cougars. and he was fluid. elbows on his knees.
On the roll of fat was the perfectly preserved print of a football shoe. but R C. the cleat marks spots of bright pink. His jersey was hiked up.C. and big roll of fat hung out over his waistband. including the mandatory count of ten. They usually went less than thirty seconds. Half the time the man who Dogs to Men . He waded right in. This first showed up in boxing. and in several games he made more yards on his returns than we made on all our offensive plays together. all or nothing. When you asked him a question he just nodded or shook his head. After all these years he was still a stranger to me. His only weakness was that he was always being knocked cold.‟s never went more than one. High school matches were supposed to go three rounds. But could he run! He was small and compact and hard to knock down. Across the room from Jack sat R. He faced the wall. The same in football: he either smeared or was smeared. He had a glass skull. Jack‟s face had every color of the rainbow displayed across it. He either knocked his opponent out or he was knocked out. always in a hurry. knowing that he had to get in the first blow. He didn‟t seem to have a towel. He ran back the kickoffs. and all I could see of him was the back of his colacolored jersey with the pink number 8 and the back of his pure white head.Page 48 .The ball hit him in the butt and bounced away.
heavier than R. but I could tell by the way he flexed his neck muscles that it was only a matter of time. but Jonnie said he had never seen combat.C. but we all knew he was twenty. and he had been to Korea. I carried him off the field as often as I carried the ball. three years behind. C. He ran away and joined the U. was Jonnie. close to R. Army at fifteen.S. ready to knock out or be knocked out again. If he were shell shocked it was from target practice.. but not facing the wall. not Cougars maybe but certainly Rabbits. Jonnie‟s only problem was that even as tough as he looked he was prone to cry. He would be twenty-one in March. Now he was back. it took him longer to pick up speed. The scars on his face--we guessed from fights--frightened some of our opponents. He was preparing himself for combat. half the time he didn‟t. Over in a corner. He was never knocked out.hit him didn‟t get up. Coach thought he had been shell shocked. He was our deep back. Jonnie was the oldest Dog. trying to graduate. He only stayed out for a couple of minutes and then he was back in the game. Coach listed him on the roster that went to Austin as eighteen. Slower. wiping his face with a faded red towel. So far tonight he hadn‟t been hit. but once he got started it was hard to pull him down. Whatever Dogs to Men .Page 49 .
and we guessed he went across the river to Oklahoma to drink. He was tuning up.Page 50 . He was still excited. In six months he could vote. Dee was the only quarterback I had followed into battle. and he rarely got hurt. puzzled by our lethargy. and it was coming now. smacking his white towel into his open palm. and still he stood there biting his lip. he cried in almost every game. He had been sacked nearly thirty times. I could always see it coming. he punted. and he called all our Dogs to Men . he kicked extra points.the case. He was smart. two when we lost really badly. his black curly hair falling over his face. He was always shaky through midweek but then ready to play again on Friday. He would be absent on Monday and maybe even Tuesday. The bright lights had cast a spell on him so deep that he didn‟t notice we were being stomped flat. He sat in his chair slumped over. He was an adult. sometimes when he felt he had taken a low blow. Coach never reprimanded him. his eyes hollow and cloudy. Dee was the only one of the Big Six standing. he knew how to bent without breaking. looking anxiously from one comrade to another. his mouth small. he passed. sometimes just when he got frustrated with a bad call or a busted play. He had a car. He kicked off. He always missed at least one day when we lost.
Why not jus‟ forfeit?” “Forfeit. It was Herb. “Coach?” Bubba stirred and looked around. “Fore we all git killed. “Back?” Bubba looked to him for an explanation.” “Yeah?” Bubba said. We weren‟t much of a team. He had an arm like a catapault.Page 51 .” Dogs to Men . “Forfeit. was half raised. “Huh?” Coach said. We all stared at Herb. Le‟s just admit we been set up. turned around to look. although flagging. but without Dee would have been nothing. We were all intrigued. He just let Dee run the team. “What about?” His eyes showed that he would take any suggestion. get outa here. head for home.C. His arm. Coach never said a word to him. “Whatcha say we don‟t go back?” Herb said with a sigh. He was glad someone had been. his hand slightly moving. He was himself stumped. “Back whur?” “Back to the game. “Whut?” “I been thinkin‟ y‟ know.” Herb said. We‟re closer to the bus than to the field.plays. Even R. more firmly the second time.” several of the guys murmured.
let the bastards come out „n‟ look „n‟ laugh if they wont to.Page 52 .” “Walk off? You know what they‟d think about us if we did?” “I know what they think now.” He stood up and faced Dee. Dogs that‟s whipped and know it do. Well. You throw in the towel.” Dee looked dumbfounded. “What?” he said softly. His face was red. and his fists were clenched. He looked shocked. “Walk off. Circle the stands and honk. Drive off. He was the only one of us who could stare back at Dee without blinking. you stop it. If you‟re about t‟git your brains beat out. His helmet hit the floor and went jerking toward the Dogs to Men . But le‟s face the truth and get the hell outa here. I say le‟s throw it in. “Smart Dogs do. cutting off several who were about to try.” Herb said calmly. His cleats clicked on the concrete floor. “Go home? When there‟s a haf t‟go? Forfeit? Sneak off with our tails between our legs?” “No. reasonably.” he said.Dee took a step toward him. Anybody wonta second me?” “No!” Dee snapped. “They do it all the time in boxing. “Dogs don‟t act like that. Make a lot of noise about it.
Believe! If you believe you kin do it.gleaming showers. “We gotta go back out there. “Now. shirt tails out. he said. y‟ hear me. the way you watch a used car salesman. “You gotta believe. True. “Now you-all lissen t‟me. you Jack. you Herb!” Herb eyed him warily. You Louie. We had to fight to the death. “You gotta believe. When we were up. his eyes keen. you Dogs!” he barked. “Stand up! Allayou. hunting for enthusiasm. wake up!” He sounded like one of those revival preachers. He walked around among us like a bird dog among dead trees. Dee was telling us not only that we could survive but that we could win. bruised and battered. We were Dogs. true?” He made us nod our agreement. his cleats clicking. you kin do it. I looked Dogs to Men . Sure.Page 53 . his finger waving..C. We couldn‟t quit. Jack stopped it with his foot. you R. bark and bite. shoes off. you Jonnie. We were a sorry looking bunch. I said stand up!” He coaxed us all up. So we would. heads high. “Win!” Dee shot back. true. no matter how we feel. True? True? True?” He went to each of us and pressed home the question and wouldn‟t leave until we nodded. “You gotta believe! You gotta believe we kin do it!” “Do what?” Herb challenged him.
“We gonna go back out there „n‟ win! Right?” “Ho!” we shouted. all but Herb. . so we know it can be done. Forty-eight points!” “Yeah!” “Forty-eight. but he wouldn‟t be stupid. “Now.Page 54 . forty-eight!” “Yeah. “So no sneakin‟ off in the night! Right?” Dee yelled at us. forty-eight. We broke through the door and saw the eastern sky ablaze with light. They did it. “Right!” we said. fortyeight. Dogs to Men . “Forty-eight in the first haf. “Le‟s go. He would go back out there with us. we kin do it. he would fight to the death. Even Herb had a shy grin on his face.around and saw smiles.” We all nodded. forty-eight in the second! So le‟s go do it!” Dee yelped. The rest of us would be. . yeah yeah!” We began to chant “forty-eight.they made forty-eight points in a half. forty-eight.” and it grew louder with each repetition. “We gonna go back out there „n‟ take it to „em! Right?” “Yeah!” we said louder.
I caught the ball and headed toward it. Their quarterback came up behind his center. I went downfield with the guy who was supposed to catch the pass.Page 55 . We lined up on defense. I would give this American Dream a happy ending. The Cougars took the kick-off back to mid-field and purposely ran out of bounds to keep from scoring. “On three” And so they did--for thirteen yards. I would grab history by the neck and turn it around. On the next play he not only announced the route but pointed to the ball carrier.before the second half began and we ran head-on into the American Reality.We followed Dee toward it. forty-eight. “Forty-eight. It was my man. I was closer to it than he was. I saw an empty green field ahead of me all the way to the end zone. fortyeight!” For the next five minutes we lived the American Dream--.” he said. Fifteen minutes later I woke up Dogs to Men . and smiled at us with mock compassion “Comin‟ roun‟ left end. I would put an end to this embarrassment and put us back on the road to redemption. Everything went black. On the third play he announced a pass and even had the receiver raise his hand. and they did what he said. That‟s the last thing I remember. I looked up and saw the ball coming toward us. two mountain lions preparing to mate. I decided right then that he wouldn‟t catch it.
lay unconscious next to me. We were about to leave when a guard came to tell us it would be Dogs to Men . The game continued.C. holding my back. but they were no more than twelve years old. but Bubba didn‟t answer. sat Bubba. crying. and at last Herb gave up and withdrew. At the end of the bench. In fact he tackled a dwarf on the one-yard line as the final gun sounded. Jack. The Cougar coach called time and came across the field. “Coach?” He leaned over and shook Bubba‟s shoulder. Then I noticed a group of tiny guys filing out to the Cougar bench. “We got some J. The team of dwarfs whooped with delight and ran out onto the field. That awright with you?” When Bubba didn‟t answer. he took it as an affirmation. I sat up. Only Dee stayed to the end.V.Page 56 . sitting up. rocking. The crowd was much smaller.under our bench.s we‟d like t‟give some time.” he said and turned and trotted back across the field. My back hurt. “Coach?” he said to Bubba. moaning. and looked out to the field. They had on uniforms. Herb and three scrubs went down time after time as the Cougar sixth team moved for another touchdown. Beside him. waving as he went. R. “Thanks. In the fourth quarter Jack had to come out. head in hands. Dee. was Jonnie. The small crowd booed him for it.
Page 57 . We walked slowly though it.” We struggled up. feeling pain. “Well. didn‟t he?” “Yeah. The spray sent a rainbow into the dim light. We sat on our bench until all sound died out and the lights dimmed. still ablaze. Look. “Dee was right. Its blood red letters told the whole story. As we started out the sprinkler system came on and sprayed us from four directions. So?” “He‟s a prophet. Herb came to help me walk. so fortyeight in the second. boys.” “What about?” I groaned. I thought my back was broken. “you kin go now.wise for us to wait until the crowd was gone before we moved. Even talking hurt. “Awright. I looked at the scoreboard at the end of the stadium.” Herb said as we sloshed along toward the Dog House.” the guard said.” He helped me turn around. COUGARS 96 VISITORS 00 Dogs to Men . Dee looked up with damp eyes. “He said forty-eight points in the first half.
Dogs to Men . Louie.” I obeyed. “Aw. not bothering to look up from his paper. Daddy looked at me for a moment and went back to his paper. “I‟m okay. he‟s crippled. walk over to „im” I limped toward Daddy. “You‟re crippled.Page 58 . Walk for „im. before he went to the barber shop. but I didn‟t want her to start on why I had to quit football.” he said.” Mother said when I came in to breakfast Saturday morning.” she corrected me. Look at how he walks. Mom. “Uh huh. I was up earlier than usual for a Saturday. look at him. Go on. I could see my little brother Andy shaking with silent mirth. From my birth she had know whether I was okay or not.” “You‟re not either. “And what is this?” she said as she grabbed my left arm and held it out. because I hurt so much I couldn‟t sleep. early enough for Daddy still to be there. He loved to see me in pain.Blood. “Crippled?” Daddy said. It hurt to walk all right. Sweat and Miss Lynne “Marvin.” I moaned. “He‟s hurt. Come over here t‟me.
Page 59 . “What do you plan to do about this?” “What?” Daddy said. “What is it?” she demanded.” She looked at us both with disgust. some dangerous women. at least I would die happy. Now it was starting again. some fast cars. We had been over this terrain a hundred times. Maybe I got it when I got knocked out. The first year I played she threatened to come to the games and if I got hurt come out on the field to nurse me Thank God that never happened. “I didn‟t know it was there. . and that she should be thankful that all I liked was football. . The next year she said that if I played she would hire a doctor to go to the games and watch me. more than he could say for himself. He told her that all teenaged boys risked their lives for something stupid and that even if I got killed doing it. Again thank God it never happened. “His arm?” “Football! What are you.” I said honestly.” “Knocked out! You got knocked out? Marvin!” “Huh? What?” Daddy looked up from his paper. He hadn‟t the faintest idea what we were talking about. Daddy didn‟t seem to care. the skin rippled and stained green. He told Mother that some boys liked guns. “I don‟t know. .where we looked at a big bruise above the elbow. the least dangerous of the lot. Dogs to Men . .
By that night I was able to move with little enough pain that I could walk across town to visit Jackie. by the age of 30 he would be rich and famous and crippled for life. . Mother complained.” “You got hurt.” “We all got hurt. She dated boys from other towns whose daddies were furniture and car and appliance dealers like hers and who could keep her in the luxury to which she was accustomed.” “Well.we got beat. In the American Dream every boy believed that with enough talent and effort. a steady provider. . We were now young adults. Andy laughed.“Louie. I would probably be a barber like Daddy.” “But you got hurt bad!” “We all got hurt bad.” mother said when she realized Daddy would not help her.” She made me walk some more. I tried to hide my pain.pretty bad. . and Daddy read the funny papers. She saw me as a good catch. Meanwhile Rosemary had grown away from me. . and there was always hair to cut. Things had changed a lot in the five years since the Donkey Basketball Game. I couldn‟t see what the fuss was about. Dogs to Men . Football had its demands. She was already pre-enrolled at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.Page 60 . “tell me what happened last night.
I was scared to death of her daddy. trying not to look at the allegator.where there would be an even greater choice of boys ready to inherit furniture. Just before I panicked and ran for my life. After a moment she pulled back the curtain and peered into the darkness until she saw me. I retreated to an outhouse where the allegator hide hung. England. She usually told her daddy that she was going to study with a girlfriend. Jackie‟s brothers and sisters were all gone now. maybe he was reaching for a gun. upside down. married. a “Doverman” people called it. and appliance dealerships. I edged closer. but maybe tonight he was suspicious. and I stood out there shivering for what seemed like an eternity. car. staring at me through amber plastic eyes. the curtain moved again.Page 61 . bred I assumed in Dover. Jackie smiled and Dogs to Men . and he usually believed her. so at least I knew she would be in her room alone. Maybe I would soon be hanging by my scrotum beside that allegator on the barn door. maybe he was making her confess. waiting for Jackie to get dressed and make some excuse for leaving the house. the state pen. I sneaked around behind Jackie‟s house. There were rumors that he had a new mean dog. I pitched gravel against her window. in the army. It was beginning to turn cool at night. She smiled and signaled for me to wait.
despite a big open window that framed a full moon. We spread some hay and sat down side by side. Jackie laid her books aside and snuggled up to me. Dogs to Men . After another five minutes she joined me. so we were never interrupted.Page 62 . from the body heat of cows and mules below. through some bushes.” I said and hung my head from embarrassment. This meant everything was all right. We slipped through a small side door and made our way up a ladder into the loft. and into the barn where we always went. It was warm up there. what you wonta talk about?” she said.nodded and signaled for me to go on down the road. across a pasture. “Now. books in hand. smiling. “Hi. The man who owned it was about a hundred years old. “Need t‟talk?” “Yeah. I buried my head in her bosom. and he never came out there at night. My only fear was that old Stonewall would take his Doverman for a walk and find us there and take my nuts back to roast over his fire for a midnight snack. stroking my hair.” she cooed. She took my hand and led me off the road. that her daddy wouldn‟t be coming out to kill me. I gave the house a wide berth and went down the road and kept out of sight. Louie. looking out at Van Gogh stars.
Then I thought about the stiff yellow stain that would be on my shorts. Bad. and a cool breeze was drying the sweat on my brow.” I sighed and sniffled. “You feelin kinda low?” “Yeah. no.” I moaned. It started around my hips and moved forward.” “Dogs got beat?” “Yeah. By the time I realized what it was I couldn‟t stop it. My leather jacket crackled as she moved her hands over me. that I would never take a pacifier. Jackie rubbed my sore back. no. “Oh. It felt urgent. Deep down I felt a strange sensation. I fell asleep for a time.“I don‟ know. not Dogs to Men . When I woke my head was in Jackie‟s lap. that I went from her breast straight to a glass. “What? Whatsamatter with my big ol‟ Dog?” Jackie said.Page 63 .” I sighed. no. “Oh.” “I heard. Mother always said I was a breast-fed baby. She had no idea what was happening to me. the way I did the mornings after my dreams. This was heaven. I would have to do some scrubbing when I got home.” I was crying. I snuggled against her bosom. still rubbing my back. I also went from a glass back to a breast. Mother never understood. no.
even after Daddy explained it to her, and I never again wanted to hear her lecture on Onanism. But wash day was a week away, so I had plenty of time to tidy up. I relaxed. I felt good. Us Dogs were a sight as we limped into school Monday. Herb‟s arm was in a sling. He said he didn‟t know he had hurt it until he got home Friday night. R.C. had a stiff knee, which he said nothing about, but we knew from the way he walked. Jack had bruises all about his face, and he couldn‟t smile. Jonnie‟s condition was unknown because he was gone again. Monday afternoon‟s team meeting in the gym, as we huddled together against the chill, looked like a chapel service in a battle zone hospital. After Shorty served each of us a free bottle of cola, Bubba Flood came out of the dressing room and pulled up a metal folding chair, turned it backward, and sat down facing us “How ya‟ll feel?” he asked. No one answered. “Ready fer Fridy?” We all looked down at our shoes and colas. We sort of hoped Friday would never come. “Well,” Bubba said, looking toward one of the basketball goals, probably wishing football season was over, le‟s not worry bout Fridy. Take today „n‟ Tuesdy off Take it easy. Git well.”
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Two days off? Two days free? A burden rolled off our backs. Pain drifted away. The sun came out, and birds sang. We all smiled. “Reason is. . .we got ourseves an easy game this Fridy.” He pointed down toward the end of the gym where our schedule was nailed to the wall. We seldom looked at it because we didn‟t want to be reminded of what lay ahead. We looked down that way and saw that the first two games were marked off with India ink from a wide tipped pen. “We play Davy Crockett,” Bubba said when we couldn‟t read the name. "Dingos.” “Dingos,” we all echoed him. Bubba laughed. We took that as a good sign. “Petie Jackson saw their game las‟ Fridy night,” he said. Petie was a salesman, he was on the road a lot. “He stopped off at Lone Oak to see „em play. Said they only suit up sixteen men. Said they only play about nine. Said they‟re about our size.” He grinned. A small school at last! Only nine good players. All small. We might have a chance. We looked at each other and smiled. We took small sips of our cola, to make the moment last. Everyone was happy but Dee. He waited for us to calm down a bit and then raised his hand. “Coach?” he said, “how many games they won?”
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Bubba grinned. “Two,” he said. “Won two, lost one. Lost that one Petie saw.” Dee shook his head, a frown spreading across his face. “They‟re two „n‟ one? Who do they play then?” “Same teams we do,” Bubba said. “They play teams like the Cougars, but they‟re two „n‟ one?” “Right,” Bubba nodded. They were two „n‟ zero „til las week, when this English teacher caught the whole first „n‟ second teams cheatin‟ on a test. Got the whole bunch kicked off.” Their first twelve were gone. They were playing scrubs. We did have a chance. We began to laugh. What a break! But Dee held up a hand for us to stop the nonsense. He leaned over painfully and put his cola down on the floor. “We‟d better git t‟work then.” We groaned. Bubba had given us a holiday. “No game‟s easy,” Dee said. “If we don‟t work, we‟ll blow it.” He stood in front of us, waiting for us to get up and join him. No one did. We avoided his eyes. At last he turned away. “Okay then,” he said. He walked off toward the dressing room. We waited until he was out of sight and got up and hurried out. When he left to go home an hour later we saw Dee out on the field running laps.
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On Wednesday after a light workout our agriculture teacher, Doc Wordell, took us on a field trip. Someone in the state capital seemed to think that all Texas boys would be farmers, and so instead of chemistry and physics, to get us ready for the industrial age, we took four years of agronomy and animal husbandry. Not a single boy in my class ever farmed, but we were all trained to do so if another depression made it necessary. On Wednesday Doc loaded us into his pickup truck and took us out to Dirk Vanderpool‟s farm---to dehorn cows. The day was clear and cool, “just right for a good dehorn,” Doc said. As we crawled down from the truck at the Vanderpool place, Doc took my arm, pulled me aside, and told me that I would do the honors. When I asked him what that meant, he handed me a long-armed cast iron clamp with sharp pinchers on the end. “Louie‟s gonna do the cuttin‟,” he announced to the group, “cause he‟s the strongest.” Which was true. I did have strong shoulders and arms, stronger than any other part of my body. I once scored ten on a strength machine at the State Fair. Mother always complained about how I split the seams out of shirts. Until that day I was self conscious about my outsized shoulders; but Doc made it seem that they set me
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apart for noble service. I stood on a box surrounded by a protective wood railing and waited for the other boys to lead--or in some cases wrestle--each cow to me. After they forced its head through an opening, shut the sides on it, and held it in place, I fitted the instrument onto a horn and with a big grunt squeezed. With each squeeze there was a cracking sound, a spurt of blood, and a snort of indignation from the animal. Yet the sound, the blood, the snort ended almost immediately, so I thought it really wasn‟t causing the animals much pain. The horns were almost hollow and looked like human finger nails, except that there were a few small blood vessels in them. So I thought all the resistance was just so much bovine vanity. The boys were forcing the last young animal up when I noticed my shirt. I was rubbing my sore shoulders when I saw that I had ripped the seam--and worse, that I had splotches of blood from neck to waist. I knew how to rinse yellow stains out, but blood might be harder. One more cow, though, and I was done. I fitted the instrument carefully over the right horn and made the cut. There was the usual crunch, and then I went blind. I thought my eyeballs had burst. I yelped. Then I blinked and could see, but it was through red gauze. I blinked again, and the red was gone. I dropped the dehorner and rubbed my shirt
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sleeve over my face. My sleeve came away soaked in blood. I could feel liquid dripping from my chin. “God awmight,” one of the boys whistled. “Lookit that.” He was looking at me. “Yeah, lookatit,” someone else said. He was looking at the cow. A fountain spurted from the cow‟s horn stump. “Turn it!” I yelled when I saw it rising and heading my way again. Someone got it turned just before it hit me, and we all watched in fascination as it reached a crescendo and began to subside. After a time it was just a trickle. “Le‟s go!” Doc yelled. “Come on, Louie, finish the job. Do the other one.” I stared at him. Do the other one with that one still spurting blood? Get hit again like that? The poor animal might bleed to death. Doc nodded. He meant to finish it now. I raised the dehorner and fitted it over the left horn. The cow shivered and moaned a sad lament. “God, please God, help me,” I muttered. I shut my eyes and squeezed. Another crunch, another splash in the face. I kept my eyes shut, waiting for the blood to roll off, but then I heard Doc say, “Go on, Louie, finish it!” I blinked my eyes open and saw that I had not done it thoroughly. The horn hung to one side, spurting blood, spraying all the boys, but it was attached by an inch of
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tough hide to one side. I squeezed the dehorner, but it wouldn‟t grip such a small object. “Pull it off, Louie,” Doc ordered. “What?” I choked. “Pull it!” he yelled. I saw what I had to do. I felt sick. I put the dehorner down and reached out and gripped the horn. I pulled. The cow let out a loud groan, but the horn held. I pulled again, harder, and still it held. I was crying. I closed my eyes and twisted and jerked with all my might. I heard a crunch, and I fell backward. I think I momentarily lost consciousness, and when I looked again the cow was loose and running free, shaking its head, throwing blood from side to side. The boys were brushing blood and gristle from their jeans. “Here ya go, Louie,” Doc said, laughing. He handed me a horn. “A keepsake.” “Oh,” I said, feeling sick “Thanks.” I took it. It looked like a dead snake. “You git an A for this.” “Right. Thanks.” At home an hour later, when I walked in the back door, my mother screamed. “Louie! Is that. . .you?” She held her stomach and swayed. “Yes, ma‟am.” “Is that. . .blood? Your. . .blood.” “It‟s blood, but not mine.”
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“From football?” “No. From a cow.” She just stared at me. “I got an A.” I took a quick bath, ate a quick supper, and hurried back to school. That was the night we opened rehearsals for our one-act play. I was in it again--for the third year. Conference rules allowed just ten days of rehearsal, and we needed all the time we could manage. Our coach was a tenacious little woman named Virginia Lynne. This was her third year to teach at Demopolis, the third to direct the oneact contest play, the third year to coach me. She was a ball of energy. She pulled us out of classes and football practices and any other activities that got in her way to have us read for her plays and practice them and go to the contests. She made sure we distinguished ourselves. She was wonderful. The older I get the farther from those day I roam, the more wonderful she seems. She didn‟t have a big bosom, but she had a big heart. Mature men know which is more important, and I was on the verge of maturity. We all scoffed when we heard she was coming to Demopolis Mr. Lemon told the freshman class at the end of the year that in the fall we would have a new lady teacher, twenty-one years old, just out of college. She would teach English and she would coach one-act plays, which we might
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she made us learn. she made us read. and we would be her foot soldiers. she just told us to meet her after school for readings. We would show her what she could do with her plays. she made us listen. and we were going to join her troup. She woke us from our intellectual stupor and got us onto the stage and made us proud of what we accomplished. and she twisted our arms. but she was determined to try. and we watched with open mouths as she took over. Would we ever have fun with her.Page 72 . It was no easy task to bring culture to Demopolis. She was a tiny thing. An inexperienced girl. Dogs to Men . We were going to have a contest play.consider as one of our elective activities. especially the boys because we all thought the strage was for sissies. She didn‟t try to explain. blond hair and big brown eyes. She had trouble getting us to try out. She was a one woman advance guard of a Demopolis Enlightenment. She kept order in class. we asked her. for the first time. barely five feet tall. but she was all business and as tough as nails. she looked younger than some of our seniors. and we were going to excel. We resisted. Then she arrived. We could barely conceal our smirks of contempt and our smiles of anticipation. What good would theater do us.
the play within a play. but some choice bits Miss Lynne excised and stitched together: the scene with the ghost.” of course.Page 73 . Texas drawls reciting Dogs to Men .” which was head and shoulders above the competition but still didn‟t win. unlike the first two. This year she told us that the contest would be at Kilgore Junior College. the death of Hamlet. marvelous place. Three years I was cast in the lead. I was Hamlet. one of her two alma maters. we were going to win. Three years I stumbled over my lines. This year. though. Then. My sophomore year we did “Hamlet. Miss Lynne assured us that it all made sense. She always came up with something really hard. it was all bizarre. and now as an adult I can see that it did. a grand. I followed her orders and went to an empty room after school and read for the play. during the first week of classes. Ophelia walking around in a daze. even though they beat us with the stuff she called garbage. She wouldn‟t even consider letting us do “The Night the Ghost Got In” or “Aaron Slick from Punkin Crick” like some schools did. She was a genius.For three years. the grave digger. Not all of “Hamlet. to stretch our talents she said. Polonius giving advice to his son. rich and magnificent. We blamed our previous lack of success in part on the plays Miss Lynne chose for us to do.
the ones Mr. a gathering of scenes from the novels and short stories of William Faulkner. The only team we beat had to ring down the curtain when one of their actors fainted half way through their performance. No more Elizabethan verse.Elizabethan English. “where Mr. Faulkner writes about.Page 74 . Nestled under the vast northern plain and the sets of mountains east and west. Miss Lynne tried to calm our apprehensions about itby taking us to a map and showing us Oxford.” That made us feel a bit better.” She put her forefinger on Oxford and reached her thumb over to Texas and put it down where Demopolis would have been had it been listed. She gave us the script she had carefully typed during the summer holidays. “Is this English?” someone asked her. Legs accustomed to jeans wearing leotards. Faulkner lives and writes. Tee-shirt necks enveloped in lace. they looked like neighbors. it‟s just a day‟s drive from here. “See. they think and act like we do. Dogs to Men . We looked at it and tried to read it. We came in sixth of seven teams. Little did we know that it would be crazy southern rednecks.” she told us. Little did we know that it would be Delta slang. “People there. No more crazy Danish princes. Mississippi. My junior year we did something quite different.
“Don‟t look like it to me.Page 75 . Go on. We learned from the first grade that written English and spoken English are two different things.” she said. She was pretty when she laughed. We wrote one language and spoke another. Dogs to Men . He wrote it the way we spoke it. we didn‟t understand the people. but she spoke of him in present tense. we could speak it. Just read it out loud.” she nodded. and she was right. the place where they sent crazy folks.“Of course it is. The light began to dawn. Old Bill Faulkner combined them. We could read it. “It doesn‟t look like what you think English is supposed to look like.” someone else said. We thought Oxford. We didn‟t understand the stories. must be like Terrell. surprising us with her candor. We southerners were bilingual and didn‟t know it. like you talk. Miss Lynne laughed. “That‟s right. the way it‟s written. but we still couldn‟t figure out what it meant. Mississippi.” So we did. I thought all great writers were dead. Mister Faulkner writes the way his people talk. Texas. I liked to stop by her desk and talk when I had time and got up my courage. “Is Faulkner still alive?” I asked Miss Lynne one day after our junior English class.
and read.” she smiled up at me. “He lives in a big old mansion there in Oxford. Louie?” she said. She looked at me strangely. Her eyes twinkled. . An idiot boy in love with a cow. feeling foolish.” I kept thinking. “They‟re not in our play. We went to the local Teachers College to do the play. A college girl raped with a corncob.” I could believe it. I told her.“He sure is. “Louie. An old woman beheaded by a man who didn‟t know whether he was black or white. They say he drinks. “You think the things he writes about make him drink or drinking makes him write like he does?” I asked. Dogs to Men . and I kept reading. There was something wrong somewhere. . I got some books down.well.” “I. She dazzled me with her smile. When we were disqualified for going over the forty-five minute time limit. It was nice. but I never did understand Faulkner. Keep reading.” I admitted.” she said. and we received a standing ovation from the college crowd that saw it. “How do you know all those things?” Miss Lynne asked. . . “You keep it up.Page 76 . I‟m really proud of you. Keep thinking. “What makes you ask that.
along with ten or twelve others.there was a furor. I guess. We were just relieved that we didn‟t have to go to higher competition with Faulkner‟s loony bunch of characters. . and we milled around sheepishly until Miss Lynne bounced in and started handing out playbooks. which said creativity and innovation had been thwarted. right Louie?” she said urgently. written to be performed in one forty minute episode. Her breath smelled like lilacs. . They sent a copy of the article to Demopolis. Be in Room Eight Friday at 3:30. We were written up in the college newspaper. This year Miss Lynne caught me in the hallway the first day of classes and grabbed my arm. This play was made for you.” “Good. on a stage.” I was there. and they Dogs to Men . You‟ll need to grow sideburns. “You‟ll read for the play. We had always read from mimeographed pages.Page 77 . We never knew what it was all about. “This could be your year. The six characters had short. It was called “The Last Curtain. “Well. She twisted it and came up to my face. 1865.” Her eyes were big and round and bright.” and it was about a group of actors and actresses in a dressing room backstage at Ford‟s Theater on April 14. This was a real play. We had never seen playbooks. simple lines.
but this time she seemed to have made up her mind immediately. In this play he visited the leading lady. who was keen on John Wilkes Booth. It really never did get long enough. and up close even on the day of the contest his head looked like a coconut with a stripe painted down the center. We couldn‟t believe Miss Lynne chose it. and at the end of the hour Miss Lynne read out the cast. Since there was so little time. This gave Booth the chance to rant and rave and Dogs to Men . an actress. Miss Laura Keen. It was funny and sad. a dandy. Booth staggered in. They argued a lot. but it was easier than his Polonius in “Hamlet” and his idiot in “Faulkner. one who parted his hair down the middle. he would have to use grease to make it lay down. easy to follow. an obvious winner.kept coming and going from a stage off-stage where they were performing “Our American Cousin” for President Lincoln.Page 78 . Herb was a janitor. and collided with him. Miss Lynne ordered him to let his flat-top grow out. In previous years she waited a day or two to announce who would play what. Dee was to be one of the actors. drunk and armed.” so he was pleased. to warn her that Booth was on his way to the theater. We read different parts. Jackie was cast as his wife. but you could tell they were devoted to each other. It wasn‟t much of a part.
The boys weren‟t jealous. they were all glad it was me and not them. since she was a born leading lady. The three weeks were gone.” Again the group applauded politely. We had three weeks to learn our lines. since he shot the president. It was appropriate.generally show what a worthless scoundrel he was. perfect for the part. and the ten days were beginning. My stomach turned over.Page 79 . “That will be Louie. meet John Wilkes Booth. Later when she learned about them my love life came unglued. as if the audience didn‟t know this already. correcting our pronunciations and emphases as we went. Everyone. for the lead. would be played by Rosemary Grouse. “Now. Miss Lynne had us speak the play. Laura Keen.” Miss Lynne smiled and looked at me. I looked at Jackie. Miss Lynne told us that the leading lady. We gathered on the gym stage that night without our books because we were supposed to know our lines by heart. She didn‟t know then about the kisses Miss Lynne planned to insert into my scene with Rosemary. then ten days to rehearse. Rosemary was now tall and dark and willowy. and she showed no resentment that she would play opposite Dee rather than me or that Rosemary would be my love interest. We all applauded her courteously. and then she Dogs to Men .
he and his little brother Tad. I yelled “Sic. short for Tadpole. Tyrannis” as Rosemary fainted. not from a smiling Miss Lynne.had us stand up and move to each place where a line was delivered. rigged up a pine board to slap down for the gunshot just after I ran off to do my foul deed. and ran out to kill. Dogs to Men . I looked around for sympathy but found none. were forbidden. to get used to it. not from the leering boys. I worked myself into a rage. something of a precybernetic technical whiz. and he played it for us on his portable record player. even blanks. I was shocked. not from an angry Jackie.” she said. threw Rosemary aside when she tried to take my gun. “Do it now. We also set up our simple sound effects. With each kiss I dug my relationship with Jackie a deeper grave. Miss Lynne made us do it at least ten times. During the next ten days I kissed Rosemary a hundred times. Toad Roden.Page 80 . had found a recording of “Hail to the Chief” to play at the time where Lincoln arrived for the performance off-stage. Semper. Toad and Tad waited to a count of five and then they whacked the board. Twice during my scene with Rosemary she interrupted to tell us that we should kiss. Since real gunfire.
After the first practice Jackie refused to let me walk her home. The next day she refused to help me with my homework. The week after that she refused even to acknowledge my existence. I was going downhill fast. Dogs to Men .Page 81 .
big enough to play for the pros. They were obviously the starting team. ragged in their drills. We were going to play the scrubs. Satch drove to the edge of the field. that they would turn up the power for the game. We thought they were just saving electricity. We were late because along the fifty mile trip we had to stop to fix flats on three different bald tires. Knowing it was time for the game. A dozen giants. sauntered out and sat down on their bench. Now we looked out onto a field of twi-light shadows. with cars honking at our moons. They never did. and we came growling and snarling out into a dim light. Dogs to Men . We dressed as we drove along. The Dingos appeared from behind the far stands to polite but unenthusiastic cheers from a small. We noticed immediately how dark it was. We watched them warily. They were indeed few and small. The week before we played in brilliant artificial sunlight. the ones who had failed English.Dingos in the Dark It was almost seven-thirty Friday night when we piled off the Golden Chariot at David Crockett High School Field. lethargic crowd that filled barely half the seats. known as The Alamo.Page 82 .
each time with a different combination of players. Their eyes were shifty. drop it. Not bad. and we wondered how we would have managed to stop their A Team‟s tricks. Their Dogs to Men . We managed to stop them all three times. but we caught on to it right away and stopped them after a two-yard gain. The Dingos. They started off with a reverse. who made a big circle and handed off to the other halfback coming toward him. pulled it three times in a row. In a single reverse the quarterback threw to a halfback. They pulled the old hidden ball trick at least five times. and Dee came to the ball.Page 83 . It was the last play of the entire game that made any sense. We lined up and got set. a rarity in six-man football because it takes so many players. I heard the usual “punk” as he hit it. Then they pulled a double reverse. I saw it drift lazily downfield. The whistle blew. and come forward. but it was mostly a matter of luck. fondly hoping that the inexperienced kids might fumble in their own territory. pick it up. I saw their little receiver catch it. We trapped him and brought him down.We won the coin toss and elected to kick. The Dingos lived up to their name. their plays tricky. good guess work really. their moves skittish. In a double reverse that second back had to hand off to an end. and it worked pretty well in the dim light. which wasn‟t easy. defying logic.
“Hey!” we yelled. Only once did a Dingo get through us. On two or three plays we lost sight of the ball completely and had to tackle runners we guessed had it. We hesitated for a moment. so we should ignore him. bent over. held it to his stomach. not knowing what to do. and stood there like a wad of chewing gum with legs. and the tiny boy stood in as quarterback. Dee said. What was up? A decoy. “Heads up!” Shorty shouted to us from the sidelines. “Watch out!” “Ho!” The ball came up to the little kid. and like the ball they had a white stripe on each arm.Page 84 .C. Once they needed a yard for a first down on our twenty yard line. He caught it. but their tricks began to wear us down. long enough for their real quarterback Dogs to Men . and the referees didn‟t penalize us because they were as confused as we were. They came to the ball. caught up with him at midfield. and R. and in came a tiny guy who stood about four feet seven and weighed maybe eighty pounds.jerseys were brown like the ball. to take our minds off the play. We called time and huddled. On one play all six of us tackled a different Dingo.
jumped up. We did. and they got it back plus two. and throw him at us.Page 85 . but they still needed thirteen. Our yards weren‟t as interesting as theirs. He rolled over. We stood flat footed and watched him sail by us and land in the middle of the field. Second down. He didn‟t care how he was propelled. and dropped the ball. which was a moral victory for us.to run up. We made a few yards and kicked. it didn‟t matter. They made a few yards and kicked. been thrown. “Hey. and they lost a yard. He could have run it. Time clicked off the dimly-lit clock. and we kept the Dingos from scoring. uncoiled. and the score was still 00-00. First down! So it went. It did absolutely no good. but we made them. Our confidence grew. grab the wad by the jersey and seat of his pants. been pushed. le‟s hold „em now!” Dee shouted to us as the last minute of the first half began. We yelled and shook our fists and argued long and loud with righteous indignation about the injustice of it all. been carried. maybe even block Dogs to Men . They were on their own thirty yard line. First down. The referee ruled that one of their players had carried the ball more than the distance needed for a first down. We were coming up to the half. First down! We rushed to protest to the referee. We could hold them.
The Dingos looked at each other and grinned. he held up two fingers. They looked tired. It wasn‟t a kick. He was a sneaky looking character. Their next play was a loser. just before he sneaked off. This would be easy. I was always looking for seven players so I could report it and get them for an infraction. men wanted for mail fraud in Michigan. I had a habit of counting the other team. He was forbidden by the rules to enter the huddle. time for one more play. The quarterback pitched out to a back. I never saw seven. They were in their third-down huddle when their coach came out onto the field. At the end. but at worst we would have a tie at the break. A three yard loss. Then I noticed something.their punt. but now I saw something even Dogs to Men . It looked like they would just run out the clock. not in my entire career. The clock said eight seconds. “Two. so they watched him from about ten yards away as he spoke to them through cupped hands.” we heard him hiss. and it would likely be a kick.Page 86 . with a face that matched the ones on the wall at the Demopolis Post Office. maybe even score. and the rest of the team blocked for him as he headed straight for the sidelines and slid out of bounds into their bench. They broke their huddle and came to the ball.
hoping he might waltz back into our end zone so I could tag him for two points. Their single blocker stopped Herb. I glanced at Dee. I turned and squinted into the gloaming. Their three linesmen fell. and there would be no penalty because the time had run out. three on the line and two back. Then I heard a big cheer. All I wanted was to cream a Dingo. Coward! He had dumped off. and the quarterback was mine.better. eighty yards away. but I paid him no attention. I glanced up at the small crowd. I went in for the kill. The Dingos only had five. The gun sounded. We charged. I toyed with him. and he winked. The ball snapped back. As we plunged forward I could still hear Shorty. and their quarterback faded back. All I had to do was corner him and throw him down. He had noticed it too. and they were all looking toward the other end of the field. gave him a moment of freedom. but I went on with abandon. screaming wildly. I glanced across to Herb. Herb and I went for him. I was vaguely aware of Shorty‟s voice coming from the sidelines. but when he slowed down and stopped. holding the ball above his head.Page 87 . A referee stood beside him holding up Dogs to Men . A little Dingo stood in our end zone. He was about to be chewed up by a hungry Bulldog. To my amazement he threw the ball.
yes. Ball come right over me.” “I don‟t know. They were still down except for the quarterback who danced around me in glee. jus‟ lined up way out there on the side whur you didn‟t see „im. Yes. I saw that he had lost a front tooth. “He hid. “He was hafway home „fore I saw „im. all but the quarterback. one whur they slid into the bench? Well.” he moaned. yes! A touchdown! It made no sense.we. about to cry. “They say it‟s a touchdown. “On that other play. . .” I said. didn‟t go to the huddle. “I‟m sorry. Dee jogged up to me.” “Hid?” Jonnie joined us. nodding his yellow head. didn‟t git up. . “It was the back. When he spoke.they .” Dogs to Men .” he said. he just set there. shaking his head.” “Toutshdown? How? We. spitting blood. I had seen the Dingos go down. . “I don‟t know.Page 88 . He was hopping mad.” “Hid?” Shorty nodded.” Shorty came out onto the field. “What ith it?” he lisped. . you know.two striped arms.
” So it was a touchdown. It might not be fair. The rest of us stood flat footed. . and he was on-sides. The dim scoreboard blinked and put up a big 06 beside David Crockett.” “Fair or not. Jonnie went off crying.that‟s not.fair. fearing for his life. but we lost. I heard „im yellin‟.” another one said. .” I felt my face turn red. “He lined up over there. and the rest of us glared at him until he cowered away. .“But. I tried t‟tell ya” “Yeah. Dee went to get some ice for his mouth. No one Dogs to Men . “I know it.Page 89 . By Visitors there was still a 00. . . “You boys jus‟ didn‟t keep a sharp lookout Your midget there seen „im. He just had to be on the field when the play was snapped. The clock blinked again: 08-00. and that one was. The Dingo coach sneaked across the field. Bubba just stared blankly at him. refusing to move as the Dingos ran the ball in for two more points. A player didn‟t have to go to the huddle to be in the next play. “he done it. . and whispered directions to the dressing room to Coach Flood.” one of the referees said over and over. but it was legal. “He was in plain open sight.” I said. “That.” We argued for ten minutes. in protest.” Shorty said.
looking straight ahead. but they were on the bus. “Wadden right. “Gotta „member.” we agreed. uh. but he never did. out of sight. “Know what I think?” Herb said. “Uh. We‟re Bulldogth. It was probably as dark and damp and foul as the rest of The Alamo. We could see him sitting in one of the seats. waiting for him to open it and return to us. propped up against a bus tire. and sat down in the tall autumn grass. his jaw twice its normal size. but Herb‟s comment brought him awake.cared where the dressing room was. We felt miserable It was a long time before Herb broke the silence. Dogs to Men . We looked at him. “I think we need t‟teach this bunch a few tricks of our own.Page 90 . We needed towels. At last we gave up and went around behind the bus.” he mumbled with obvious pain. Dee seemed almost asleep. and when we got there Bubba marched up the steps and closed the door behind him.” “Yeah. He was looking up at the sky. We all stood there for a time.” His s‟s whistled through the hole in his teeth. We followed Coach and Shorty out to our bus. We didn‟t want to go there. but Bubba didn‟t respond.” we agreed. watching the moon sail between dark clouds.” “Sure wadden. Shorty even knocked.
“We kin win thisth game. I won‟t reproduce the speech he gave us because it‟s hard to capture his lisp and whistle and without it the speech wouldn‟t sound authentic. honesty. He got a false tooth. a light to the nations. “We‟re the Dogth of Demopolisth. “Lesth go out „n‟ kill some Dingosth!” “Ho!” Bubba heard our shout and came over to the window above us. tattered.” he said over and over. and he made it sound grand.Page 91 . sad little town. No tricksth. justh football!” We struggled to our feet and stood with our leader. Again the whistle. and integrity. although as the games went by he learned to control it better.No one laughed. The whistle was with him the rest of the season.” he said with conviction.” he repeated for emphasis. and Dogs to Men . “Bulldogth. “An‟ we‟ll win it fair „n‟ thsquare. but he never wore it in games for fear he might swallow it. no stuntsth. In reality of course Demopolis was a small. The world depended on us. but he stood up and harrangued us and inspired us and convinced us that Bulldogs were special. The way he described us we were guard dogs truth. The moon emerged from a cloud. but in Dee‟s oratory it was a city set on a hill. “Righth?” “Hey!” we shouted.
took the kickoff and ran it back to midfield. my end. We were lined up ready for the kickoff when they peeped around the stands. R. came zipping by Dogs to Men . We beckoned for him to come out. . and we both went down.” The Dingos laughed at the lisp. C would take the ball from Dee and come around left end. We let out a howl and followed him around the bus and back toward the dim field. We growled at them as they sidled out onto the field. two. . We had to wait for the Dingos. As we came to the line for the first time. lesth go!” Dee ordered. and Dee called the play that we knew would tie the game. “Okay. “Huth! One. They reluctantly took their places. R.C. They looked scared. He sat back down. and it was on their three yard line. but halfway through the third quarter we still had the ball.C. Bubba did not. I lined up close to center and tried to look as if the ball would go the other way. R.Page 92 . we wisth to you. you Dingosth. “Okay. It took us seven minutes. but their laughter died away as we began our march. Dee looked across at the enemy. nervous as young pups on our first hunt. first losing two and then gaining six. Shorty followed us.he looked up at it. The way was clear.” I threw myself at a Dingo. His long nose and skinny neck made him look like a spook on Halloween. We huddled.
racing for the other goal. and we fell. Most of the last quarter was played around midfield.me and fell into the end zone. Herb. I let out a yelp. I gained on the little rat. Jonnie was hysterical the rest of the night. I caught him at the twenty. and the rest of the season. “Louie! Thstop „im!” The order came from Dee. I played the rest of the game. Only R. A runner dropped the ball. I ran. a third tried to scoop it up but instead bumped it closer to our goal. They were empty. another kicked it our way. Dogs to Men . I was one-handed. wasn‟t tangled up. Both sides weakened as time ran out. I was the only Dog standing. was addled. That‟s also when we lost the game. It took us the rest of the quarter to hold off their touchdown.C. like a brown rat. That‟s when I broke my right middle finger. with it broken. I was ready to settle for a 00-08 loss when with a minute to play the Dingos fumbled. looked down at his hands.C. with only his head free.C. R. who rebroke and set it to be as straight as it would ever be.Page 93 . R. knocked silly by a flying heel. and he was beating his fists on the ground in disgust. I scrambled up and looked downfield to see a Dingo. and finally at Christmas I went to see the doctor. regain our composure. He lay under two Dingos. and get decent field position.
like th‟Dingoth. “Why‟d you do that?” he demanded. His freckles stood out like neon dots. I saw an odd gleam in his eyes. “We gonna do t‟them whath they done t‟usth. all that stuff about canine honesty and integrity.Page 94 . No one knew he was punch drunk.” Shorty said.” Herb looked around with a silly grin. but the huddle was breaking up. and Dee called time out. to remind Dee of what he said at the half. something out of a spook movie.” Dee nodded and turned to Herb. holding up my red and swollen middle finger. “Like they pulled on usth. “Itsth yourth then. Louie stayth outh.” We shook our heads. “It‟sth a trick. got ith?” Herb smiled and nodded. “I can‟t do anything but block. Dee grinned at him. We lined up and ran the sweep out of bounds by our bench.” “Listen. I was about to protest.” “You cain‟t fool „em with their own trick. We huddled.” I said apologetically. . Dogs to Men .” he said in a weird voice. “Stay outh there. “Awright.” he said. Shorty came up to Dee. What did he mean? “We run a fake play to our benchth. He was serving as coach in Bubba‟s absence. Herb.fell on it at the thirty. .
then frightened. In a moment he would line up out there.Page 95 . we were 00-03. at the halfway point. right where he had stood before the ball was snapped. We went to the line. “Itsth tho obviouth it can‟t mith. and we fell. We all knew the play.” He turned and trotted back to the field. For our season.” Dee said. I looked toward the bench and there he stood. no one would see him. All block and let Herb sneak down the sidelines for the score “On three. I looked downfield and saw no Herb. The ball popped back and Dee took it. He faded. Dingos swarmed. Dee just winked at us. Herb went over and sat down on our bench. and Herb was standing on the sidelines. and I came down again on that middle finger. the crooked smile still on his face.” Dee said. Dogs to Men . Dee barked the signals.“Oh yesth. He looked puzzled. He was waiting for Herb to run clear. From the ground I saw Dee scrambling. I glanced over. and he would have a clear run to the goal. We fooled ourselves. then angry. The score remained 08-00. a crooked smile on his face. The gun sounded. The Dingos were all in the middle of the field. Dee disappeared beneath an avalanche of brown shirts. I blocked one. They hadn‟t noticed we only had five. We five went to our huddle.
On the bright side. a dream in which I couldn‟t run fast enough to keep up with the things people yelled at me to do. as Miss Lynne glowed with pleasure and Jackie glowered with anger. I was in a daze. and I failed two quizzes. trot casually across the road. in front of our own fans and cheerleaders. By Saturday Dogs to Men . and Rosemary The next week was a dream. It rained all week. I kissed Rosemary a hundred more times. a dream played out under water. Bulls. making it hard to strike the “I” and the “k” and the “. Autumn showers were generally brief. No hard ride to another school. and we had to work out in the gym in socks. just across the highway from our own school and gym.Page 96 . a rarity for us. Now if it would only stop raining. It was sprinkling lightly late Friday night when we got back to Demopolis from The Alamo. we had a home game on Friday. We would play on our own field. and listen to a crowd cheer for us. My finger hurt. warm up at a lazy pace. Jackie refused to meet me at the barn. We would be able to dress at our leisure. and she refused to help me with my chemistry.Pigs. no strange dressing room. with slopes and potholes we knew. This was one of two for the year. but we hardly noticed.” in typing drills.
We did our drills on the gym floor. Sunday it cleared for a couple of hours. which put me into a deeper trance. We looked up from our books. For an hour or two each day. but it was noisy with the pep squad yelling in the stands and crowded with kids doing their pushups. It was hard to concentrate when we had to avoid running over little kids and when rapidly maturing girls were clapping and dancing all around.morning. glanced out at the heavy gray skies. and most of the week Coach Flood just watched us work out without saying a word. Shorty was out of school all week with bronchitis. and smiled with assurance that it was over. and then it started again. ready to get some fresh air.Page 97 . Dogs to Men . it stopped. when I dragged myself and my finger out of bed in search of nourishment. just long enough for me to have to go to Methodist Sunday School. All week there was a steady patter on the roof. once in the morning and again at midafternoon. When the bell sounded we jumped up and hurried down the dark hallway to the door. twisting their buns in our faces. only to cower back like sad puppies as it started again. that God would never again destroy the world with a flood. Once during a tumescent trance I got hit right in the mouth with one of Dee‟s passes. the sprinkle had turned to rain.
A.The Ag boys hoped the rain would keep us inside our classroom..P. Future Pig Chasers of America. Mr. Doc made us choose partners and handed each of us a five gallon bucket. On most occasions we returned to history and literature classes dripping blood. We spent most of our classes discussing the grand day when we would be running two hundred pound Poland-Chinas on our land. and tears. At the edge of the field of pigs.A. The national organization of high school Aggies was called F. sweat.Page 98 . went to our school. a tall girl who wore glasses. Byron Webb.. “Boys. Webb nodded a silent greeting and led us over to a 200 Dogs to Men . His daughter Barbara.F. but at Demopolis we called it F. Future Farmers of America.” Doc introduced us to the pig farmer we had known all our lives.C. but on Tuesday Doc told us to dress in the filthiest of our filthy work clothes. Almost every week we went off to the pen at the lower end of the school grounds to help a mother pig have her latest litter or to treat piglets for lice or to castrate adolescent boars. you all know Mr. He loaded us into the pickup truck and took us in the rain six miles out of town over muddy roads to a soggy field on the farm of Mr. Doc was crazy about pigs. Webb here. a field thickly littered with baby pigs.
We chased and grabbed and lost our grips and fell into the mud. the other poured.” We dropped our buckets by the empty vat and staggered wet. oily. pig feces. “Come on. standing with Mr. and when it‟s raining and he‟s muddy it‟s harder. The first hundred of so weren‟t too bad. Catching and holding a pig is never easy. We dropped our eyes.” he shouted. muddy. but there was no arguing with Doc about pigs.” We knew the routine. and went out like soldiers to do our duty. “They all look about the same color to me. both dressed in slickers. to the truck. we sank wearily into the open bed and let the rain wash off the collected refuse of our work: mud. boys.Page 99 . although we had used it many times. “This here‟s burnt oil. dipped our buckets. but after the first hundred it became an absolute nightmare. it was the dirtiest job of all pig jobs. “Use it liberally. As we drove Dogs to Men . called us off. We were to run around the field and catch the pigs one at a time and pour the oil on them to kill parasites. One partner held. We hated doing it. As Mr. moved over to the vat.” Doc told us. Webb safely out of reach.gallon vat of black gunk. We went at it for nearly two hours before Doc. dead and dying lice. Webb grinned and shook Doc‟s hand. but when he has rubbed against a friend and made himself greasy it is almost impossible.
Bubba called us over to the bleachers. It was pouring rain outside.Page 100 . There was a strange gleam in Bubba‟s eyes. “This here might jus‟ be our week. the rain grew heavier until it whipped over us like a hurricane.” he said. as if he had seen light at the end of his long tunnel of despair. All the way home from The Alamo he sat by himself in total silence. hoping our underwear would dry out as we sat through classes. slipping and sliding in our socks. He sat on the gym steps. Loud drips of water splashed into buckets scattered around the floor. The typing teacher opened a window so people wouldn‟t be sick. On Thursday. It didn‟t.back to school. he smiled at us. He made no response when we said good night to him on our way home. For three days he sat on a folding chair watching us exercise without saying a word.” We remembered that the last Dogs to Men . and tumescence was subsiding. “Boys. as we went in and put away our suits. in the drizzle. Back at school we dropped the soggy clothes on the storage room floor and struggled back into our school clothes. I got me a feelin‟. after our fourth pathetic workout on the gym floor. The cheerleaders and pep squad were leaving. We must have smelled awful because other students kept moving away from us. Now as if his crisis of confidence had passed. but the smile was scary.
He got up. They killed without provocation. the field‟s muddy. Something was wrong with our coach. Bubba called them Brimmers. and they looked at people as if they know it. They are raised and slaughtered for their meat.” Dogs to Men . “Bulls is like Dingos. they‟s what Bulldogs are bred t‟bring down. “We‟re at home. a lifelong bachelor.” No doubt about it. We were about to play the Paul Pewitt Brahmah Bulls. Them Mescan boys kin fool „em with a red tablecloth. “This week we play Paul Pewitt.” Bubba went on. They are completely different from the gentle creatures people around Demopolis milked. had built a nice school on a corner of his huge ranch when several small districts agreed to consolidate and name it for him and their team for his herd. “but member. They slow. “Brimmers looks big „n‟ bad. bald rancher who wore cowboy boots and big Stetson hats.Page 101 . Brahmah bulls are white and mean and all muscle except for folds of skin hanging from various muscles. I got a s‟prise for ya at the game. You know. a tiny.one was supposed to be our week. “Oh yeah. you kin outrun „im „n‟ outsmart „em. he had gone around the bend. they dumb. so le‟s bring-us-down-somebull. we got nothin‟ t‟lose.” Paul Pewitt. Not the man.” He smiled again. the school. Like a lot of locals. Git it?” We stirred uneasily. Brimmers.
Lincoln was shot. we rehearsed our play on the gym stage. was the worst session we had.He laughed fiendishly. Performance Saturday promised to be as ill starred as the Friday night in 1865 when Mr. The sixth time through it I was so anxious to have it done with. We just couldn‟t get it right. the last time we could practice because of the game on Friday. that I grabbed Rosemary.” All week we tried to make the play congeal. Rosemary and I were first on the verge of tears and then on the edge of nausea. All week we failed. all the kissing.Page 102 . She made us bring our lunches to the stage at noon and go over our lines between swallows. dreading to hear Miss Lynne say for us to try it again. All week. all the struggling. That night we went over our scene six times. and pushed her down onto Dogs to Men . so frustrated with our failure. and I want us to put on a great show over there. Miss Lynne took us out of classes to practice.” she said over and over. Football had driven him crazy. The poor man. as we worked out on the gym floor. Thursday night. kissed her roughly. We were regressing rather than progressing. “It‟s my alma mater. “We have to get ready for Kilgore. She hailed us back after supper to drill us until midnight. our stomachs churning. all the shouting.
I was inhibited. Louie. Dogs to Men . She got up. wonder struck. “Do it again. Her voice was husky too. with that same spirit. I couldn‟t get back that feeling of frustration. I glanced down at Rosemary. but when I found her white face she was smiling.” she said. “That‟s it. That‟s just how Booth would have kissed her. that same sense of brute masculinity. that same contempt. I looked down into the darkened auditorium for Miss Lynne‟s reaction. “You mind?” I said. “Bravo!” she said. hating myself for losing control. her voice husky. We tried it a third time. and I went over to her and tried to do it again.Page 103 . ready to swoon. bracing for a scolding. Miss Lynne looked like one of those Elvis Presley fans we saw on television. and I failed again. hatred. I failed. and she looked the same way. Immediately I regretted it. She actually liked the way I kissed Rosemary. Louie. “Exactly the same way. trembling slightly.” Miss Lynne commanded. do it that way again. “Guess it was an accident. anger. Something was gone. roughly. without feeling. “Gosh no.” I looked down at Rosemary.” I said out into the auditorium.the sofa at the center of the stage. That‟s what I‟ve been trying to get you to do” I was stunned.
I was just not naturally rough enough to make rough love.“Guess so. to tear Rosemary‟s priceless dress. It belonged in a museum. It never did happen again. in 1886. a large woman who looked like Kate Smith. It had belonged to Rosemary‟s great grandmother before the Civil War. I knew all about it because Rosemary‟s mother. She brought it that night.Page 104 . In a word it was precious. “Guess so. She warned me over and over to be careful. our dress rehearsal. Mrs. It came with the family from Sumter County. trimmed in ancient yellowing lace. It was green and red. I got up the courage to ask her why she let us use it in the play. and every time I touched Rosemary I heard her back stage suck in a throaty breath of air. and it reached to the floor. She helped Rosemary put it on. not even under the pressure of the contest that Saturday. however. Grouse said Dogs to Men . not like that one time. in a plastic bag. She kept saying that it she would never let anyone but Rosemary wear it.” Rosemary said with a sad smile. South Carolina. I was rough enough. She hovered in the curtains all evening to see that nothing happened to it. reminded me of it about three hundred times.” Miss Lynne said with a sigh of resignation.
She was supposed to wrestle me for it. I argued with Rosemary. yes it did.m.” We groaned again. and then I kissed her. that‟s a. Saturday we leave here at five-thirty. to do it one more time. let‟s do it one more time. My beloved Southland was in ruins. I hated old Honest Abe. but this time my fatigue gave me a hand.that yes.” she said. I bumped into Herb and chewed him out. We filed off the stage and took our places. but that she wanted us to win the contest so much that she was willing to take a chance with it. I pushed her away and saw she was smiling. I was in an alcoholic frenzy. She came forward. kids. I showed her my gun. But no. and we were exhausted as Miss Lynne called us to the stage. I was angry. I was too tired to care how the opening scenes went. and I grabbed her by the shoulders and started to Dogs to Men . She was tireless.Page 105 . “since I still count twenty-four weak spots in a forty-five minute play. We thought she might let us go. I had never been a convincing drunk in previous tries. “Okay. “This is it. No rehearsal after the game tomorrow. not as roughly as that one time but not bad. About eleven-thirty we finished a run through. I stumbled to the fake back door and when my time came stumbled out onto the stage. I even nodded off a couple of times before I caught the cue for me to get ready. “So.” We groaned.” she said.
. But I was John Wilkes Booth. “I hate.” Rosemary moaned. I turned loose of Rosemary and turned her around to look at the damage. It makes me weak. which I was wearing for the first time. R-r-r-r-r-iiiii-p-p-p. and Miss Lynne expected me to make this look real. .” I whispered. R-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-iiiiiiiiiiii-p-p-p-p-p-p-p!!!!!!!!! “.Page 106 . a frightened little boy. in 1886. . “Oh no. .” I stared into Rosemary‟s eyes.” I shook her harder. beginning to shake her. Louie Mulligan. Her mouth dropped open. “I don‟t want your love.shake her. I pressed her arms forward slowly. was left to answer for his brutality. I would rather. John Wilkes Booth was gone. as Mrs. and tonight it was even worse because her arms were encased in white lace brought from Sumter County. woven in 1957.rather die than . I Dogs to Men . don‟t you see?” I hissed at Rosemary. was made of material Mother bought at Lowrey‟s Piece Goods. The gown was torn all the way down the back. “Oh no. My own lacey shirt. priceless. Grouse had said. . Hers was. from shoulder to hip. South Carolina. This had always been a chore because I didn‟t want to hurt her or muss her up. I despise your love.
fix it. “I knew it! I just knew it!” Mrs.” I groaned.he. crying.” Dogs to Men . . word for word. .don‟t you think?” “How? How? No. you might take your part of it. ruined. Grouse turned on me. Mrs. it‟s ruined. shrieking.you. I backed away from her. Grouse screeched. She was stopped cold by Miss Lynne‟s icy stare. Before Louie could faint or run away to hide.Page 107 . soothing. .little. Miss Lynne was right beside her. Grouse. I stumbled and fell back onto the sofa.” Miss Lynne cooed. . “You wanted us to use the dress. . Ruined. . ruined. “Oh no. apologizing. .” “Mrs. “You. I could see where her back side started to cleft.” Miss Lynne snapped. . “We can.” Mrs. . “So if we‟re assigning blame. scolding. trying to make things better. “I knew this would happen!” “But Mrs.” Rosemary whimpered. “How could you?” she shouted. “Leave Louie alone!” “But he. . Grouse!” Miss Lynne said in her commanding voice. .he. . She couldn‟t. “Oh no. Grouse stood there sputtering. Grouse was on the stage. .could see Rosemary‟s straps and buckles and elastic bands. matching her step for step. . . .” Mrs.
She wheeled and grabbed Rosemary by the arm and marched her off the stage and back toward the dressing room. She was wearing clumpy Dogs to Men . “I‟ll have t‟wear this t‟night. We all sat down on the stage and waited.Page 108 . She made us repeat it. Finally Rosemary came back dressed in jeans and a baggy sweat shirt. Finally she came rushing on stage. she‟s used to it.” We all sighed and went back to our places.” she said. Miss Lynne set the action back five minutes. There was nothing we could do. just before I was to run off and shoot the president. “But that‟s only thirty-six hours. . It‟s all right.” “Saturday?” Miss Lynne said. Saturday. She says I‟ll have a new one. trailing whisps of sulphur.” “I know it.” Rosemary said. We muffed our lines and stumbled over our feet. Grouse puffed.“Oooooohhhhhhh!” Mrs. She got more and more upset each time we tried. just like it. “Mother won‟t let me have the dress again. Her mother had left by the back door. “She‟ll keep Miss Johnson up all night. and we wrestled. though. I showed Rosemary my gun. and we started moving. We weren‟t convincing to her. Miss Lynne didn‟t like what she saw. but our nerves were shot. . Then toward the end.
It looked smaller. Clomp. I reached inside my coat pocket and pulled out my gun. I‟m Rosemary.” I took it and put it inside my coat.Page 109 .” “What?” I said. Miss Lynne caught me off guard.” she baited me. clomp. I heard the other kids snickering. “The gun. less threatening than before. and Miss Lynne moved in to take her place. and she made an awful racket when she walked. Rosemary backed away. “Show me that big bad phallus of yours.” Dogs to Men .” I nodded.” Her big brown eyes glowed. “Come on. “Show me that gun!” she hissed at me. clomp. “Rosemary. “Show it to me!” she shouted. I waved it tentatively in the air. you watching?” “Yes ma‟am.wooden soled shoes. “Here. Show it to me. a funny grin on her face. “Okay. “What?” “The gun. “try it again.” she shouted. and before I knew what was happening--whoosh---she grabbed it from me and headed for the door. She came back from the wings and handed me my phallus.” she smirked. I watched her go.
and it fell to the floor. “He‟s really gone.” she panted. My lights dimmed. Go on. The kids were laughing at me. I don‟t know how long I was out. so I held on. Her eyes were wild. I grabbed her arm. then see. I reached inside my coat and slowly withdrew my gun. We both dived for it.” “Yes. “you see that hook?” They Dogs to Men .Page 110 . .“Come on Louie!” she yelled. “Yeah. Herb and Dee had me on the sofa. so I got up and chased her down. We fought for it I was afraid I would hurt her.” one of them said. “Hold onto it!” she ordered me. fight. “You‟re learning. She was on it like a rooster on a bug. The gun came toward me.ma‟am. She turned and before I could dodge laid me flat out on the floor with a backhand slap.” I grunted. I felt it slipping away. I felt her weaken. try to keep it.” the other one said. fight. “Good. Slowly I could hear. I lost control of it. then I was afraid she would hurt me. She was halfway to the door and going strong before I got off my knees. Miss Lynne got it and rose to her feet. harder. Fight. I was afraid not to. “Show me whatcha got!” I was kind of scared. She looked crazy. then feel things. but no wonder. .
“You okay?” Herb leaned toward me. The only thing left to do was practice the gun shot. Everyone heard my comment. not even Miss Lynne. I‟ll say this. You‟re gonna need it. It sounded exactly like a gun shot.Page 111 . the president would never have been shot. “All right. I stood watching as they mouthed “one one thousand. Jackie rushed away by herself. “Go home and get some sleep. “Louie?” Dee said as I roused. and after that no one could keep a straight face. “You Dogs to Men . two one thousand.” she said. I looked back through the door to see Miss Lynne nod curtly. I snickered “Say something?” I laughed.” trying my best not to laugh.” It was after midnight. and that left me with Rosemary and Miss Lynne. and the others went in all directions. and we got it right the first time.weren‟t laughing. “Okay. If Miss Lynne had been in Ford‟s Theater that night. Tad was holding up one end of the plank with Toad‟s foot on the other end. When we got to the door it was raining again.” Suddenly I found the whole scene funny. I yelled my “Sic Semper Tyrannis. good.” That pretty much killed what was left of the night and the rehearsal. three one thousand” and snapped the plank down smartly on the floor just behind the back curtain. and ran out the back door. “Say something. Old Booth wouldn‟t have had a chance in hell.
and I had a headache from Miss Lynne‟s knockout punch. “You‟re. I‟m not. At her door I mumbled an apology and Dogs to Men .” Rosemary said. the rehearsal.crying. It went on for a long time before we came to our senses and pulled apart and found the parasol and went on to her house. trying to hide my pain. the torn gown. I looked at Miss Lynne. “Come on then. all at once. the parasol was rolling around in the street. My pain and sorrow and even my fatigue melted away as the rain fell on my head and clothes. “Louie. sympathetic. you are. . Before I could stop myself I was in her arms. . I began to whimper.wanta walk me home?” Rosemary asked me. patting my hand.” Rosemary said. and we were kissing in a way we never managed on stage.” “Yes. “See ya tomorrow.” she said. you poor baby. “what‟s wrong?” She sounded puzzled. “Nothing.” “No.” I said. The constant rain.Page 112 . As we walked through the deserted playground and down the street I grew more and more disturbed. and aggravated. raising her own black and yellow polka dot parasol.” she said as she raised her cherry red umbrella and headed out into the rain.
I made an abrupt right turn and headed for Jackie‟s house. I knew she probably wouldn‟t see me. I woke at daybreak and lay still. and the Dogs had to tackle the Bulls. and I waited until I heard Mother‟s Dogs to Men .Page 113 . I moved closer to the house. luxuriating in the peace. and she was the one I wanted to see. at least something was different. I hurried off before her mother saw me. On the way to my side of town I began to feel empty. I waited for her to shut the window. She tilted a big pot and sent its warm and soapy contents down on me. but it had left me feeling terribly alone. It was her mother. It had stopped raining. A window opened above me. and then I sneaked away and went home. but I couldn‟t go home. I was soaking wet when I got to her house and eased around to the back. Something was wrong. just below the window. It was already Friday. Her warmth and acceptance had given me relief. I thought it might be Jackie. It was perfectly quiet. that she had forgiven me. she might even tell her daddy and his Doverman I was there. that she wanted to talk with me. I dropped back off to sleep. that she had seen me. smiling to myself.left her standing there with that same look of awe on her face I saw earlier on the stage.
Water rushed into it. I sat down on the home bench and began cleaning my shoe with a stick. I followed her at a safe distance. The universe was resting. I lifted it with a “schwuck” and left a permanent print. it looked like a plate of brown pudding.radio in the kitchen playing hillbilly music before I got up. This would be my last time to sit on a bench until the season ended. The western horizon was beginning to clear. Grassless. No one had set foot on it for eight days. crossed the soggy grassy field behind the little store where kids ate their empty calories for lunch. and I didn‟t want to disturb it. Dogs to Men . My shoe sank two inches. I set out for school. Moisture crept into my jeans from the sodden wood. but nothing was falling. I took the long way around and waited by the barn down the road from Jackie‟s house. I stepped out onto what was probably about the twenty yard line. I looked outside. I dressed slowly. The sky was still dark and heavy with clouds. When we got to school I peeled away. and that was always a good sign. She came by and saw me and turned up her nose and walked quickly on. I made another print and moved my shoe from side to side and the mud shivered like jello. saturated with rainwater. and edged up to the football field.Page 114 .
Bring on the Bulls! Coach Flood gave us a better than average pep talk.The 8:20 bell rang. When finally I stretched and got up and crossed the highway to school I had to admit that football and history were just part of the great mystery of life. When English class finally ended at 2:30 I trotted across the soggy playground to the gym. Why did I play football? Why did I put myself through the misery time after time? Did I really believe it was teaching me the American way? Did I do it seeking a life long injury. yelling. pushing each other around. He reminded us that we were Bulldogs. but ten minutes later the whole Dog team was there. laughing.Page 115 . to prove my manhood? Was I merely afraid that if I quit I would be branded a coward? Did I keep playing because otherwise life would be too easy? These were tough questions. and I had just five minutes to get to history class. a permanent red badge of courage. I was the first to arrive. I was deep in thought. Its jangle sang across the field like a plaintive love call. and he admonished Dogs to Men . The bell rang again. Why was history always taught first thing in the morning? Was it so we could learn it before anything more happened? Why did we study history at all? I had read somewhere that Henry Ford said history was bunk.
A small clump of people stood along the hardened trail that ran beside the field. They would be primeval mammoths in a tar pit. On our first play I blocked for R. For the first time all year the crowd was on our side. They were big all right. today we would make eunuchs of these football studs.Page 116 . nipping at their heels. The Bulls were at the other end. howling.us to go out there in front of our home crowd and make ourselves proud to be. Just before kickoff the sky blackened and the rain returned. but we told ourselves that their weight would slow them down in the mud. and there were more of them than there were of us. I remembered the story in Life magazine about the boy who drowned on a wet football field. I came up snorting water out of my nose and Dogs to Men . We entered the east end zone and began our warmups.C. I tried to breath and got a snoot full of water. trying not to panic. At last we went bounding out the door. and ended up at the bottom of a pile of bodies. In Ag class we had castrated bulls. We would run circles around them. until everyone rolled off me. I held my breath. Our cheerleaders in their maroon miniskirts called on them to whoop it up as we appeared. barking. tiring them out. finally moving in for the kill. throwing gravel into the air as we crossed the parking lot and the highway.
their maroon dresses shrinking. I looked like a monster from a swamp. their legs turning blue. there wasn‟t a sure foothold anywhere. Like a herd of giant slugs. As the first half ended all that was left were the two teams and their coaches. It was as dark and damp and quiet as a crypt in the gym. headed for the gym while the Bulls headed for their bus. a player without a number. Finally even the cheerleaders waved sadly to us and left to seek shelter. the referees. After one trip the length of the field. we hadn‟t done . After the next play. After the third Bull touchdown. we left a trail of slime behind us as we crossed the floor. We went into the Dogs to Men .covered with mud.Page 117 VISITORS 32 Even with the aid of six inches of slop. The fudge was stirred into a thick soup. As we sloshed off the field. I squinted through the mud on my face and read the scoreboard. Even our pep squad. for them to score their first touchdown. got up and marched single file around the field and back to school. BULLDOGS 00 much to bring down the Bulls. the small crowd began to drift away. As the rain came harder the temperature began to drop. when I was smothered by two Bulls. and the junior high boy up the pole hanging scores from nails.
One by one we went over to wash our jerseys out under the shower spout and came back to stand by one of the three butane heaters that roared full blast along the wall. He was a clean cut. He smiled at each of us as we nodded to him. he was soaked to the skin. He Dogs to Men . but we held them in front of the flames anyway. He dropped the box in the middle of the floor with a wham. which meant he hadn‟t been at the game. all-American type boy. hoping that at least we would return to the field in warm wetness. “This belongs to you.” he said to Herb. He had blond hair and blue eyes. We looked like drowned rats beside him. A tall kid stood over in a corner. blue with red and white striped patches on each. He reached down and with a flourish broke it open.Page 118 . He was dry. He held it up and let it tall full length.dressing room and began pulling off our jerseys. We knew they wouldn‟t get dry in fifteen minutes. We didn‟t bother to remove our trunks or shoes or pads. he was behind by 32 points. Poor fool. Bubba came in carrying a big cardboard box. He peeled back the lid and brought out a brand new football jersey It was a deep. and he wore jeans and a nylon jacket. delicious maroon. and he was happy. grinning from ear to ear. It bore the big number 99. We were afraid that if we did we might not get them back on. It was beautiful. rich.
reached down. “It‟s yores. for a new beginning. Dismuke.Page 119 . Herb held the jersey up to his chest. There were eleven in all. “Hold it up. We would learn later that Bubba was courting a rich widow. . Herb started to hand it back. Bubba laughed. Outside it was raining. and I realized that the jersey had numbers both front and back. number 98. He threw another to Dee.” Bubba said. who owned a big bottom land farm. 89 through 99.” Yes.pitched it to him and Herb caught it and stood there looking embarrassed. Even the scrubs got new jerseys. Bubba reached down Dogs to Men . we would save them for a sunny day. see if it fits. Mrs. “Save „em for when it‟s dry. and brought out another jersey. The number 99 was smaller than it was before. keep it. ” Herb could see how jealous the rest of us were. He was too modest to take a new jersey when the rest of us looked like refugees from the Great Depression. “Naw. It was a 96. hoping he would marry her and move out to manage her spread. Our new jerseys were simply another installment of her acquisition price “We not gonna wear „em today. He threw it to me.” Bubba laughed.” Bubba said. She gave him anything he asked for. and we were already 32 points behind.
“Folks moved out west. I remembered him. The tall kid with the dumb smile was joining our team. com‟ere. “Coach?” he said. This could turn our season around. His family was dirt poor.” Bubba said. “There‟s my really big su‟prise.” Bubba said. . We began to chuckle.” Bubba beckoned to him. “Name of Jimmy Sharon. I knew that name. He had been in our class in grade school. He had a hard time learning to read. He kin kick. grinned. “First team las‟ year.is it legal? Our incipient celebration stopped dead. Jimmy Sharon. “Is. Gonna be livin‟ out on the old Dismuke place. Bubba‟s eyes narrowed. The kid caught it. “He‟s been playin‟ for Odessa.” We later learned that Jimmy was another installment.” Slowly the light dawned. catch passes. shrugged. A skinny kid with a runny nose. He puffed out his chest like a pigeon. and I thought his grin would crack his face.” My head swam. and came to him. “He used t‟live here. So did everyone else. and pitched it to the big kid in the corner.and pulled out one last jersey. and I knew that face. . I smiled.” Bubba said. “Legal?” Dogs to Men . As usual it was Dee who brought us back to earth. and shrugged. He‟s gonna be a Dog. run.Page 120 . We were about to have a big Bulldog. “Jimmy. now they‟re back. The kid grinned. an 88.
shrugged. Bubba looked around the room. beaten. Our smiles died away. Wadden las‟ year he played.” Without a word we all picked up our wet jerseys and began to pull them on. “Sure you don‟t wanta jus‟ forfeit?” the referee urged. “Yeah. won‟t he have t‟lay out a year?” Dee knew the rules.” Bubba said. He stared at Dee until Dee nodded.” His eyes swept the room.“Yeah.Page 121 . You‟re fifteen minutes late.” Bubba said.” “We are?” Bubba shook his wrist watch. an‟ we could all jus‟. We were wet. That right. dripping. As we passed the box we dropped our new ones in it. Jimmy?” Jimmy grinned. without hope.” he said. We trotted out the door and went whooping through the empty. if he‟s been playin‟ out there. “That makes it legal. “Musta stopped in the water. and nodded.” he said. It was legal. “He failed. and Dee grinned back at him. our tails between our legs. “It‟s legal. shook it again. “ya‟ll gonna forfeit?” “Forfeit?” Bubba said. “It‟s comin‟ down in buckets out there. I mean. his chin jutted. . “Hey!” we all shouted A referee stuck his wet head through the door. Bubba grinned. “Coach. was the year before. We had ourselves a big Dog. “Yeah. lonely gym toward Dogs to Men . dirty. looked at it. .
we laughed when the Bulls scored. and when the gun sounded ending the melee he led us on our trot to the gym. It was already history.Page 122 .the dowpour. We laughed when we knocked down a Bull. hitting every puddle. it smelled like roses. waving his arms in glee. Every so often I brushed enough rain and mud from my face to see him walking along the sidelines. We slogged through the second half in the slimy brown putty laughing and joking and acting like fools. Bubba enjoyed it as much as we did. splashing water with his hush puppies. jumping up and down. The two times we slopped in to score he went wild. and we were looking to the future. we laughed when we scored. laughing at them as they watched us mystified. The game was meaningless. past where the Bulls waited to board their bus. we laughed when a Bull knocked us down. We went all the way around the field. The world no longer smelled to us like damp towels. The final score that afternoon was 72-12. We were a happy pack of Dogs. but we didn‟t care. stomping as hard as we could to make the water fly high. a future with new jerseys and a big Dog and two more games in which to prove our manhood. Dogs to Men .
still bearing mud splatters from the game. We watched in wonder as our mud caked bus negotiated tree lined streets between Palladian residence halls with strange. we thespians boarded the Golden Chariot and pulled out of the deserted school grounds on our way to a rendezvous with destiny. Brick ranch style houses covered ten acre lots. foreign looking letters tacked neatly to chimneys. more asleep than awake. We stared at the unfolding scenery in awe through our dirt streaked windows like Ostragoths entering Constantinople. It was a fantasy come true. Dogs to Men . Texas. Kilgore. There were signs with garnet and gold letters on every street pointing to it. was the most fabulous city we had ever seen. Satch found the college easily enough. Since there were only twelve of us we scattered among the battered and hard seats and fell dead asleep. Churches and public buildings had Greek domes and columns. home of Kilgore Junior College. Oil wells sucked black gold from every vacant lot.John Wilkes Booth Before dawn the next morning.Page 123 . home of the Kilgore Rangerettes Marching Girls. We slept through sunrise and the breakfast hour and woke up at 8:45 as Satch pulled into the outskirts of Kilgore.
They give them away like Santa Claus gives away apples and candy at Christmas. We came to T H E A T E R and stopped. she leaned forward again. each one‟s name on its side Dogs to Men . “this is where you‟re gonna get it. “Remember I told you I was looking out for a scholarship for you?” I remembered. “Well. She had said it several times during the past year. When we passed the one marked DRAMA Miss Lynne leaned forward and tapped me on the shoulder. but I never knew quite what she meant.then past classroom buildings joined at their corners to form quadrangles. and when I looked around at her with a puzzled look. “John Wilkes Booth is gonna send you to college.” D R A M A slowly passed from view. neither really did my life. “That‟s where you and I are going in a little while. I didn‟t understand. each with its own oil well.” she whispered conspiratorially. I could smell Ipana toothpaste.” She sat back. As we decoached we saw that our muddy bus sat squarely in the middle of six shiny new buses. but it never crossed my mind that D R A M A would have anything to do with it. I sort of understood that a scholarship meant money to go to school. each with its department‟s name printed on a neat sign in the front lawn. and I thought that the whole thing made no sense.” she said.Page 124 . but then neither did football.
Page 125 . The first play would start on the hour at 10:00.matching the temporary signs designating the parking. One reached into a fish bowl and drew out a slip of paper. We would go at 3:00. but our bus was so dirty you couldn‟t read our name on its side. Each team had exactly an hour to set its stage. Miss Lynne told us they were choosing the order of the performance. A sign that read DEMOPOLIS stood in front of ours. The man reached in again. “Paul Pewitt!” he read in a loud bawl. We collected our costumes and props and followed Miss Lynne through T H E A T E R‟s front door. “David Crockett! he bawled. The auditorium inside was dark. We started to gripe about coming so early only to wait all day to perform. and clear off. On it sat pieces of furniture. The authorities would have to take us on faith. and no one jeered. She Dogs to Men . We were unknown and glad of it. and that was Pewitt. but the stage was brightly lit. We were afraid to cheer. Cheers came from one corner of the auditorium. The middle where we sat was a no-man‟s land. More cheers. but Miss Lynne explained that we could not have known that and we might have gone at 10:00. even more jeers. jeers from the other three. and two men stood behind a table. Our name came out sixth of the seven. do its forty-five minute play.
have a good time. all dressed in their neat suits and dresses. “Is that perfectly clear?” “Yes ma‟am. A smattering of college students sat in little bunches along the walls. “This is a great place. and we briefly mingled with the kids from other schools. Miss Lynne helped us find the grill. We scooted our chairs away from our tables. we in jeans and pullovers.” she said. compliments of Demopolis High School. I Dogs to Men . When we finished swigging the last of our Pepsis. and I started out with the others. I wanted to get out of their gaze. but you be backstage not a minute after 2:00. “Louie! Hold on! You‟re going with me!” So I stopped and turned to her and waited while the others scooted away. and the noise roused the college kids to look our way again. and you have your minds on nothing but the play.” she said. and we all ordered cheeseburgers for breakfast. Miss Lynne told us we were free until 1:30. They watched us warily as if we were freaks from a circus.” She cleared her throat and looked us over.Page 126 . but before I could get away Miss Lynne called me. take advantage of it all. “so go out and see the sights.didn‟t know whether going late was good or bad.” we all nodded. Another of life‟s mysteries. “Then go. She led us out into a bright morning.
picked up her garnet telephone. but Miss Lynne said yes. “One to fit every fancy. and we looked through an open door to see a man sitting Dogs to Men . “No. Miss Lynne made me kneel and touch it. Then we came to D R A M A. I wanted to leave. We also stopped and looked into HISTORY and saw garnet and gold plastic chair-desks with human shaped bottoms. Then could she tell her what it was about please? “Yes. A lady sitting at a desk behind the plate S E C R E T A R Y asked us sweetly if she could be of help to us.” S E C R E T A R Y nodded politely. we would like to see C H A I R M A N. A buzzer sounded in an inner office.” Miss Lynne said. Sweet S E C R E T A R Y smiled tolerantly and asked her if we had an appointment. garnet and gold clad dancers with batons pranced across a cork floor.stood there for a long time as she paid our bill and got a receipt. It really was cork. Inside a group of silver spangled. She stopped to show me F I E L D H O U S E.” she whispered. scholarships.Page 127 . At last Miss Lynne took my arm and led me out and across the grounds. “This is it. We went through a clanging metal door and down a long sterile hallway and into an office marked C H A I R M A N. and pressed a button.” Miss Lynne laughed I didn‟t. The college gang stared at me.
lady. “Some people to see you. “Who are they?” he asked warily. . We could hear his voice coming through the door and a miniature version of it coming through S E C R E T A R Y‟s telephone.” S E C R E T A R Y told him through the phone line. “What do they want to see me about. “Scholarships. . C H A I R M A N looked wearily through the door at Miss Lynne and me. On his desk sat the sign C H A I R M A N. .” he groaned. then sighed deeply. sir.” C H A I R M A N hung up. sizing us up. “Have them wait a moment. brushed the pairings up into a Dogs to Men . do you know?” “Scholarships. . He nodded. . We watched through the door as C H A I R M A N finished clipping his nails. He looked at us again.and a. S E C R E T A R Y hung up.behind a desk clipping his fingernails. “Very well. “A. . He stopped the clipping and “Yes?” he groaned. .boy.Page 128 picked up a gold telephone.” S E C R E T A R Y told him.” Miss Lynne said to him through the door.” S E C R E T A R Y said pleasantly.
She beckoned for us to go past her. and she lifted her own receiver. I was the greatest thing to come this way in a decade. distinguished man who looked very tired. He didn‟t rise.” “Yes sir. Show them in. and she was at the door. because I hadn‟t been told to sit. I stood beside her. even though there was another chair. Miss Lynne started right in talking ninety miles an hour---about me. Slowly he reached over and picked up the receiver again and pressed a button. I thought being C H A I R M A N must be a heavy burden. and we did C H A I R M A N was a middle-aged. followed by a buzzer. and carefully swept them off into his trashcan.” “Very well. “Yes sir?” “They still there?” C H A I R M A N asked her. To hear her tell it.neat little pile. looking right at us. “He will see you now. “Yes sir. I was a diligent Dogs to Men .Page 129 .” She stood up. Miss Lynne smiled and took a seat.” S E C R E T A R Y looked at us with a pleasant smile and announced as if it were wonderful news. It got embarrassing really fast. “May I help you?” he moaned. Without even identifying us. took one step. A bright red light flashed on S E C R E T A R Y‟ s telephone.
I needed financial aid. Every so often he glanced at me and then somewhere on the wall behind me. When he didn‟t speak. as though trying to locate the boy she was describing. honest. and dramatically gifted.” She stopped and waited for his response. He is a potential genius. but not an excessive amount. however. “Our play shows at the 3:00 slot. you will see that he is a diamond in the rough. C H A I R M A N coughed. over my head. reliable. and this temporarily stopped the harangue. He would never forgive himself if he let me get away.Page 130 . she went on. Dogs to Men . and it would be money well spent because a person like me would pay it all back a thousand fold with the prestige I would bring to the school lucky enough to have me as a graduate. His enthusiasm for helping these kids had died long ago.” she said. Miss Lynne went on. Through her speech C H A I R M A N eyed her with dull cynicism mixed with vague contempt. He had to find a way for me to come to KJC. smiling to encourage him. He had seen high school teachers and their pets many times. and all you have to do is walk over to the T H E A T E R and see his John Wilkes Booth and you will know what I mean. “and I know I would be proud to share a heritage with him. a hard worker. “I am myself a KJC graduate. Not many high school seniors can do what he is able to do with that part.student.
C H A I R M A N moved his butt to one side. “Now. buttressing my wavering resolve. I wondered what had taken him off the stage. “you‟ll know it was worth it.” “Once you see him work. and the T H E A T E R door clanged shut behind us. “I‟ll come. will there be anything else?” Miss Lynne assured him that there wasn‟t.” Miss Lynne said. “You have a voice?” “Yes. “Do you think it would be worth my time to come and see your play. . We emerged onto the sunny campus. . . “I think so. rescuing me.” C H A I R M A N raised a hand. He hadn‟t spent his whole life behind a desk clipping his nails. an actor‟s voice. a Shakespearean actor‟s voice. “Yes sir. I promise. “Yes sir. He looked at me with tired eyes. it‟s up to you.” Dogs to Men . “There.Page 131 .” I had to clear my throat.” Miss Lynne rushed in.” I said. see you act? Would it be worth the effort. “Now Louie.” he said. He‟s the. . and we went bowing and scraping out the door.” He sighed. C H A I R M A N and S E C R E T A R Y disappeared from view as we backed into the sterile hallway. do you think?” When he spoke in complete sentences his voice was deep and cultured. my dear lady. I do” “Tell me then.
leaned over Jackie to give her a peck on the cheek. The minute the curtain rose on The Last Curtain it was curtains for us. feeling sick at my stomach.Page 132 . and I turned away. She answered her own question. his eyes as big as saucers. For five long minutes Dee didn‟t say a word. and Jackie‟s yip made a zombie of him. but we made so many mistakes we finally gave it up. In the opening scene Dee walked out. using his next line. our emotions sky high. and went on.She smiled at me devilishly. All of the actors met Miss Lynne a little before 2:00 in a little room backstage. and still nothing. Jackie quickly regained her composure and fed him the next line. He was Dogs to Men . We tried a couple of trouble spots in the script. but an omen is an omen. Miss Lynne repaired it with a needle and threat. Dee just gave her a dumb grin. No answer. and watching from the wings I knew this meant trouble. She cried out in surprise and pain. We walked around in a group daze. I stepped on the hem of Rosemary‟s new gown and tore it. and his stiff white collar popped open and slapped her on the cheek. amid discarded props and costumes. a question. In our practices Dee had shown a tendency to forget his lines at the smallest distraction. a sure sign of trouble to come. She said the next line. Dee backed away.
to the joke.Page 133 . it was time to relax. He even forgot to exit and just stood there. Someone would say his lines. in the middle of the next scene. and that she should be careful. I rushed back to my peep hole and saw what the audience saw: a large crescent of polka dot shorts showing through his fly. and he would nod. I walked down the hallway behind the stage. trying to think how to reverse the action. at her own exit.no more than a warm body on the stage. while the others talked about him. Finally. Herb came on as the janitor. Most of them were done acting for the day. so they thought. but his zipper was dow. Demopolis was doing a farce. then. Miss Lynne had taught us that when disaster Dogs to Men . and a comedy hit the spot. Rosemary‟s expression changed from shock to embarrassment to disgust to determination as the crowd hooted. Right at the beginning. that he was drunk and mad. as usual. the pressure was off them. bringing Rosemary a message that Booth was on his way. Jackie took him by the arm and got him off the stage. He wore his baggy pants. When I heard a loud snort of laughter from the audience. a parody of the presidential assassination. The others had to play around him. They found us hilarious. and they began to laugh. the student audience caught on. not as usual.
She patiently listened to Herb‟s message and then walked over to him. my scholarship. All the work she had done. the contest. halfway through the play. Dogs to Men . yet she smiled. Instead of doing that. By the time John Wilkes Booth arrived on the scene. thanked him for telling her. The script was written to prepare viewers for a twisted. as it surely would from time to time. When done as a comedy it prepared them to greet a bumbling fool: Johnnie the Joke. the trip to Kilgore. the audience was rolling in the aisles.struck. we were to keep our heads and act like the mistake was planned. I did not disappoint them. Rosemary remembered that. but I couldn‟t think of a thing to say. however. The crowd roared with laughter and gave her a round of applause. it was all sinking beneath waves of ridicule. so she had reminded me every day. She was smiling. I wanted to say something to her. to comfort her. the planning. I carried the action to its conclusion. patted him on the shoulder. the directing. tragic figure. wearing my lacey shirt and boots and spurs. I took it down with me for the third time. I couldn‟t watch I turned away and bumped into Miss Lynne. and zipped him up.Page 134 . drunken. I was the star of the show. She looked like the Mona Lisa.
but she insisted. I begged Miss Lynne not to make me wear them. the way kids responded to the M.Page 135 . and couldn‟t get up. they cheered for her and jeered lustily when I took it from her. They were tied so tightly they couldn‟t come down. The second time. so tightly that my feet Dogs to Men . He caught a spur in the curtain as he leaped from Lincoln‟s box to the stage and broke his leg. When I verbally abused Rosemary. When I wrestled her for the gun. Miss Lynne wanted me to wear spurs.When I growled and showed my teeth. To cap it all off. The first time one of them drooped down in back and tripped me. Booth wore them that night in 1865. the audience growled and showed their teeth back at me. they hissed and booed me. He had a horse waiting outside for his getaway. I had practiced wearing them only twice. Miss Lynne said I had to wear them too. while I sat on the sofa during the scene with Rosemary. I made it all right until the very end. I crossed my ankles. lion that opened movies.M. I fell out the back door. I also caught mine in the curtain. so there I was out on that stage in front of a stupefied crowd of high school kids wearing spurs.G. got them locked. so I did. and I almost broke a leg. The fight Miss Lynne had so carefully choreographed to look ferocious looked farcical.
But as I ran to the back door with my gun and turned to say my best line.were numb. and when the curtain mercifully fell on our chaos there was thunderous applause We all came out on stage to comfort Rosemary. The 4:00 team came out to move our things away and put theirs in place. but one of them turned loose of the plank a split second before the other.” said another. The audience loved it. in plain sight. The crowd howled and cheered. tried to exit. Deafening laughter.” said a third. while I kicked three times before I got free. I was careful when I sat down to keep them separated. They did their slow count as usual. All of which upset Toad and Tad. even though it meant I sat straddled on the couch. and fell out the door. I whirled from my line. tripped.” one boy said. and as I crawled away to kill Lincoln. who was crying. Rosemary had to jump aside to keep it from hitting her on the leg.Page 136 .” We edged aside to let them Dogs to Men . “ Cowards did a thousand times--a hero dies but once. “Funny. which inspired catcalls of “Elvis. “I laughed „til I cried.” my left spur caught in the curtain. “Great job. I lay on the floor. and it hit the floor at an angle and went flying. Elvis” from the audience. the spur hung in the curtain. “Yeah. The spur came off the boot. They were smiling. It hit the back curtain and splashed out onto the stage.
all of it for nothing. you can count on it. good. and it fell back to my side.” C H A I R M A N said. At first I didn‟t recognize him.” Once more he grabbed and pumped my hand. he‟s got the scholarship. He turned to Miss Lynne. he was so transformed. Miss Lynne.” He turned to me and smiled. We can give him tuition. “You were right. “Sen-sational!” he said as he grabbed my limp hand and shook it the way a dog shakes a rat. accompanied by a large. “Sweetheart. retaining her Mona Lisa smile with great difficulty.have the stage. “He‟s raw. I‟ll send him some forms to fill out. of course. It‟s purely a formality. “Good. and books. handsome man with a big smile on his face. “Then it‟s settled. Louis.” he said with his Shakespearean voice. that‟s for sure. board.” he emoted.” Louis. “See you next August. what an actor! It was the best parody by a seventeen year old kid I have ever seen. “but you were right to call him a diamond in the rough.” he said. but then I saw that he was my old friend C H A I R M A N. as dead as my brain. “Could be you will take the whole play with you to victory. all that effort. “You‟ll get top actor. Miss Lynne came on stage. He has a great natural comedic gift. Dogs to Men . nodded sagely.” He let go of my hand. All that work. can you do your own laundry?” I nodded. We were too sick to respond. dear.Page 137 . room.
“For promised joy.Page 138 . “The best laid plans. but she forced a smile. Miss Rosemary Grouse won Third Prize for Costuming. C H A I R M A N went off laughing. shaking his head. For his parody of John Wilkes Booth. Louis Mulligan won First Prize for Male Acting. A long distance telephone call came to Demopolis High on Monday morning. Lemon turned on the intercom and spoke to the entire high school. For overall performance.” I responded.” She had a strange gleam in her eyes. We had won three prizes. “An‟ lea‟ us naught but grief „n‟ pain. I looked around and found Jackie by my side. Lemon why we left before the awards. C H A I R M A N was right. Mr. “of mice and men. Miss Lynne stood next to her. For her gown.” Miss Lynne smiled sadly. I smiled at her. and she smiled at me. I glanced over my shoulder and found Miss Lynne smiling after us. the first she had given me in ten days. recalling the Robert Burns poem. Mr. She had tears in her eyes. My college name. “Gang aft aglee.” she said. The caller asked Mr. Demopolis High School‟s comedy had won Second Prize. We put our arms around each other and walked away from the scene of the crime.not Louie. His first words.” Jackie finished the line. after his usual “Let me have Dogs to Men .
and in a moment we heard laughter and then cheers coming from other rooms.your attention.” were: “In all my years.Page 139 . and it spread to the rest of the class. . H S. Dogs to Men . We started laughing.I have never been so proud. remembering how depressed we had been for two days. We were winners at last.” Most of the cast were in history class when we got the news. had something to celebrate. and that got the rest of us tickled. For a time we sat there in silence. . For several minutes the entire building was alive with applause. . It was the first time in years D. . Then someone snickered.
All that week as we watched him perform his feats of grandeur our hopes of victory mounted. We lined up as usual. he couldn‟t be cornered.Page 140 . both ready to run forward and catch the ball. threw out their chests. but with Jimmy on their side. and Jimmy Sharon was our Messiah returned to redeem the earth He was magnificent. when the field was finally dry enough for practice. we scrimmaged. with two men back on the ten yard line. Seldom in our league did a kicker get it past the twenty. and came at us like a pack of German Police Dogs. and he couldn‟t be knocked down. Jimmy kicked off for them. he could cut from side to side in the blink of an eye.Lobos and Miss Lynne Again Us Dogs were nearing the Millennium. On Tuesday. Bubba motioned for us to Dogs to Men . spectacular. The Starting Six took on Jimmy and the Scrubs. He was strong and fast. our ninety-eight pound weakling scrubs became a team of Charles Atlases. stupendous. Those Chihuahuas hitched up their pants. One of our problems as a team was that we had no reserves good enough to help us get ready for games. He could outrun every man on the team.
The ball went forty yards beyond us. every time his team got the ball to him without fumbling. to catch one in the end zone and run with it. shaking our heads. We watched it rise higher and higher into a perfect arc.C. Jimmy beat us 56-22. Good Lord! We lined up again. farther and farther down the field. before he got to the thirty. We noticed that the “punk” of the ball was louder. and by that time we Dogs to Men . He scored another four times from scrimmage. a field goal on a kickoff. but we just grinned at him. He came up on the ball sort of sideways and caught it with the inside of his foot. Jimmy waved and we all waved back.Page 141 . We had never seen anything like it. We later learned that a foreign exchange student at his school in Odessa had taught it to him. We didn‟t even score until we started sending three men out to block him. We faded back. but he did it again. Jimmy ran three of Dee‟s wobbly punts back for touchdowns.back up.C. emptier than usual. He made three hundred yards without a single decent block to help him. thinking it was a fluke. That time Jimmy fought his way through five of us to tackle R. then we just stopped and watched. right through the uprights He did it that way six times before he weakened enough for R. He scored all 56 of their points. right through the goal posts.
” Dee said. Not to Demopolis.” “Yeah. He was a Dog. and he took it in stride. He blocked one of our extra point attempts. because there were stars in the past. and that was something new to us. just new to my generation of Dogs. We had ourselves a star. “Yeah. we had seen some great players. grinned shyly. when I was too young to play. When Bubba and Shorty finally called the riot to an end. We Dogs to Men . In games with other schools he would be with us. In the years between taking up the sport again and the time I got to play. We edged closer to him. That was a consolation. He had heard such praise before. sometimes when three tried to stop him. not against us.” “Welcome to the Dogs. great.Page 142 . Jimmy just grinned and shrugged.” Herb agreed. “He‟s good awright. good game. we Starting Six stood there in an exhausted circle and watched the scrubs gather around to praise their new God. “Least he‟s on our side. “Man. He alone caught us for losses time after time.were behind by 30. He shook his head modestly.” I added.” Jimmy beamed down on us. and shrugged.
and still he tore through falling bodies to inflict punishment and Dogs to Men . Kelly Lafferty. Willie Patterson. all the time. Cleats didn‟t make a mark on him. He played barefoot. He was a country boy who plowed in hot sand all summer without shoes. He was a quarterback. The opposition shook in their boots when he spoke. where he played “killer” linesman. but he made up for those effeminacies by being just plain mean. He chewed tobacco. He was the only Dog known to be tougher than Kelly. on the field and off. His bass voice shook the field when he called signals. He could throw the length of the field and knock his receiver to his knees. He was an offensive center. but the kept it down and finished the game. He passed for two more touchdowns while he digested it. we won games. but his love was defense.had good teams. Kelly---our Zeus.Page 143 . he turned a dark shade of green. Kelly‟s arm was a steel trap. Once when he got knocked down during a game he swallowed his cud. Willie did wear shoes. The other team got so desperate that they ran every play away from him. and he didn‟t chew while he played. He could strike matches on his bare soles. One game he got twenty-five unassisted tackles and crippled four opposing players. We had Dogs to remember.
In the spring he was mended well enough to run more 8.Page 144 . unable to sustain any more injuries. but I swear it‟s true-in under nine seconds. scored four times. Sidney was a running miracle. He should never have been allowed to play football because without it he would have become an Olympian.pain. “Kill. That fall he started the first game again. The fourth time he was buried and came up with a broken leg. they punted on first down. The problem was. He came out his sophomore year to impress his girlfriend. was buried again. That spring his speed was reduced. hoping to have enough players left to field a team the following week. He was a tragic hero. He was never officially timed. his bones were matchsticks. and his hundred were a modest 9. Willie. When he broke both an arm and a leg in the first game of his senior Dogs to Men . Twice toward the end of that game. and he never went to college where it could be done. and broke the other leg. He could run the hundred yard dash--I know this sounds impossible.5. Our crowd chanted. kill!” Willie---our Hercules. He was the fastest Dog of all time.5 hundreds. He started the first game and ran the first three punts back for touchdowns. Sidney Garton. but I saw him run it in under nine by the coach‟s stopwatch three time in a row one sticky April afternoon.
year. We were so optimistic about our Canine potential that we hardly griped at all when Doc took us out on Thursday to castrate a stableful of baby pigs. We just dabbed their back sides with the same gooey disinfectant we used on the castrated ones and let them go on to a life of masculine adventure. Later that year he ran away with the senior class treasury. Brewer sat on the back porch and drank Pepsis while we worked. People in the future would remember his exploits in their mythology. “Well then. We sang the whole five miles out to Ed Brewer‟s farm. and since they didn‟t watch us we let a few of the wigglers get by without the surgery. have a tall cold drink. “Yep. and to escape probation he joined the army. and his name was Jimmy Sharon. Sidney---our Mercury. We finished up and came to the porch. come on over. It only remained to see what god he would resemble. Brewer smiled. he dropped off the team and out of school. “You boys done?” Mr.” we nodded.” Dogs to Men . We did a pretty sloppy job of it. but by the time Mr.Page 145 . It meant they would grow up wild and horny and their meat would taste gamey. Now we had a contemporary hero. Brewer caught on we would be out of school and gone. Doc and Mr. one for our own age.
“He‟s our secret weapon. Then he‟ll be a shock when we turn „im loose on Dogs to Men . Nobody knows „bout „im. mean outfit. rough. “Wonted t‟tell ya somethin‟. tough.” he said when he finally got us settled down. The Golden Chariot left Demopolis at 2:00 Friday afternoon. Cause this time we got Jimmy. and submerged bottles. They hungry for a win.Page 146 . stood in the aisle and led us in rousing choruses of popular songs.There was a tin tub full of ice. “Boys. Don‟ get hurt. Hang loose. Don‟ worry. water. “So I jus‟ wontcha to relax. Big. they play teams from up aroun‟ Dallas. Have a good time.” Don‟t worry? Don‟t get hurt? Worry and pain was what football was all about. Thought you‟d better hear it now. “Member. but we were thirsty and so we swallowed our guilt along with our colas. we‟re plannin‟ fer next week. So we gotta keep it thataway. and Jimmy grinned and shrugged.” It sounded serious. This made no sense at all.” It was serious. We were almost ashamed to take his drinks after what we had just done to him. When we play the Rabbits agin.” We looked at Jimmy. fully recovered from his bout with bronchitis. “T‟night we play the Lobos. We got louder and louder until halfway to Linden Bubba got up at the front and called for order. We almost beat „em before „n‟ this time we will. Shorty.
” He gave it a moment to sink in. and keep Jimmy a secret. Not that night. Yet to our amazement we caught most of his short darts and long rainbows. “Jus‟ have a good time. when we knew we were beaten and had to go back and get beaten some more. Dogs to Men . no one was ever likely to know he had played in our isolated part of the woods. This was fun. keep „im a s‟prise. Most half times are vivid in my memory. but I can‟t tell you where.Page 147 . if not. Even if there was some doubt about Jimmy‟s eligibility. and we may have just stood along the side of the field waiting for the whistle to blow so that we could have more fun. dark nights of the soul. Dee passed on almost every down. tragic moments suspended in space. Just get through this game. If someone caught it. The Rabbits game was at home. It did make sense. which was probably already lost anyway. We were giddy. Coach saw that we got his meaning. We scored an incredible 54 points. we played loose and crazy. fine too.” Which is what we did. Decked out in our new jerseys. but we didn‟t care. I don‟t remember half time.the Rabbits. We probably went off someplace to rest. The Lobos scored 88. So we gonna hold „im out t‟night. fine. just horsed around.
The Lobos thought we were insane. We cheered every touchdown, theirs as well as ours. When the final gun sounded they hurried off the field to their dressing room, careful to avoid us, the way you avoid a drunk man or a hydrophobic animal. Dee and I walked together toward our bus. The public address address announcers told the departing crowd that Dee had completed thirty-three passes, a field record. Dee didn‟t seem to hear it. We were about fifty yards from the stands when he said, “Don‟ theem right.” He had left his false tooth in the bus, afraid he would lose it. I stopped and looked at him. “What?” His voice was deep and distant, like approaching thunder. “Don‟ theem right. Nighsth I really try I get creamed. Thith one time I don‟ care, just throw it up for grabth, I bat over five hunnerd.” He walked on, and I had to hurry to catch him. “Yeah,” I said. “Like that scholarship I got. I got it for makin‟ a complete ass of myself.” Dee nodded. “Yeah Don‟ theem right.” We were almost to the bus when we heard shouts. It was Bubba Flood, back near the field, standing with Shorty. Next to him was a tiny bald man dressed in green-suit, tie, even his shoes--and a yellow shirt. “Dee!” Bubba called. “Here! Comere!” He waved him back. Dee turned
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and trotted to them, his helmet bumping against the side of his leg. I went on to the bus with the other guys. Satch opened the door for us, and we went inside where it was warm. Each of us found a seat and stretched out. I fell asleep immediately. Satch woke me grinding the engine alive. I roused, sat up, and chased away my sleep. Bubba and Shorty were taking their places up front by Jimmy. Dee was coming down the aisle. He saw that I was awake and sat down by me. He sat there in silence for a long time, until we were out of town, on the highway home. “Don‟ seem right,” he said at last. He had put his tooth back in. “What?” I yawned. “You know that little man? Ball headed? Green suit?” “Yeah.” “He‟s from Baylor.” “Baylor? Baylor University?” “Uh huh. Wonts me t‟play.” “Play what? Football?” “Quarterback.” Quarterback. . .for Baylor? No one from Demopolis had ever played college football. Only one
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person, the son of a banker, had ever gone to Baylor. It was beyond belief. “He really liked me,” Dee said. “Said he come t‟see that big center on the Lobos, but said this was his lucky night. He wonts us both.” “Great,” I said. I tried to hide my jealousy. KJC didn‟t look so grand compared to Baylor. Yet I was happy for Dee. Behind that big center, given time to throw, he would be a star, maybe an All-American. “You figger it?” Dee said. “All that dippy stuff we did t‟night? If we‟d been serious „n‟ played straight football, he wouldn‟ta give me a second look. Don‟ seem right.” He thought about it. “I tried t‟tell „im, all I know how t‟do is pass. He said that‟s all I have t‟do. I said I‟m too little. He said behind that big center I won‟ be. I said I‟m dumb. He said they‟d get me a tooter, whatever that is. He said I got flair, said I‟d draw a crowd.” The little green man believed Dee would make a good Baylor quarterback because he had a great arm and good luck with receivers. He had flair. C H A I R M A N believed I would make a good college actor because I could fall out the back door of stages. Dee was a natural football player, I was a natural actor.
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I looked across the aisle to where Jack was sleeping, his mouth open, sucking air like a fish. Jack had no natural gifts, and he would never leave Christian County. “Well,” I whispered to Dee, “let‟s not tell anyone it don‟t make sense. They might agree with us and take back the offers.” Dee thought about it. “Yeah,” he said. “Yeah,” I said. We fell silent, staring ahead of us, lost in thought The only light in that dark landscape came from the bus headlights. They were feeble, but they were all we had, and with our luck holding, they took us home. It was after midnight when we reached Demopolis. A lopsided moon hung limply in the eastern sky. When the bus stopped we sat up and blinked at the one street light meant to keep away vandals, and got out. That was the last time I was on the Golden Chariot, the last time I rode to a game. I didn‟t play basketball. To me it was a game for sissies. D. H. S.‟s girls team was better than its boy‟s. As Dee and I put away our suits, Jimmy walked by, shrugged, and grinned. We shrugged and grinned back. I realized I had never heard him say a word. He didn‟t look very smart. Maybe the story about failing in Odessa was true. Dee and I left the gym, jumping down from the porch rather than taking the steps. When we came to the street where he went right and I went left, we stood facing each other,
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digging our shoe toes into the loose gravel. “Don‟ seem right,” he said. “No, don‟t,” I said. We started off. “But don‟t tell,” I said over my shoulder. “I won‟t,” Dee said back to me. I headed home, but I didn‟t make it home, not then, and when I finally got there I was a different person. When I sneaked into my bedroom at daybreak, just before Mother got up to fix breakfast, I was no longer a boy. I was lucky not to get caught. On the other hand, maybe I did get caught, for better or worse. Sex was the last thing I on my mind when I left Dee that night. I was going home to bed. But half way there I felt so sad and lonely and scared that I sat down on a curb and started to cry. I don‟t know how long I sat there or what time it was when I got up; but I do remember that my face was wet with tears and that the chilly wind made me feel cold. I remember that as I walked I wondered about life after death: Was it happy? Was it damnation? Was it just darkness? Then I realized I was near Jackie‟s house. The two front windows and the door looked like eyes and a mouth, an angry face. I stood there paralyzed, wishing I had the courage to throw pebbles at her window, knowing I didn‟t. Now that the play was over, she was kinder to me, she was helping me with chemistry, and I
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wished I could see her, go with her to the barn, bury my head in her bosom; but it wouldn‟t happen that night. Then I heard a low growl, like an injured bear, and I knew it was Stonewall‟s Doverman. I edged away, made my way down the road, and left that part of town. I crossed Main Street and went into Silk Stocking. My mind was no longer on death; now I was beginning to think of sex. Rosemary. Her kisses. I no longer hated them; now I needed them. But when her house came into view my stomach sank. It was hopeless. She was having a party. Her house, set back in a grove of Pine trees, was awash with light. I could hear music. Rosemary‟s parents held a party almost every weekend for the sons and daughters of merchants in surrounding towns, people on their social level. At Southern Methodist University, where she would matriculate the following year, she would meet more of her kind, boys who could keep her in the style to which she was accustomed, girls who could serve on charity committees with her. I wasn‟t welcome at her parties, but I crept up to a living room window and peeked in. I saw food and drinks on a table and couples dancing. I didn‟t see Rosemary. I went to the next window. More young couples but still no Rosemary. The next two windows were dark,
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and the next one was too high for me to see in, but the next one was low and lighted, and I could see through a partially drawn Venetian blinds. Rosemary sat alone at the foot of a bed. She was crying. My heart went out to her. I wanted to take her hand and hold her close to me and kiss away her perfumed tears. I reached out and my hand touched the screen. Instinctively I scratched. Rosemary sat up with a jerk and stared wide eyed all around her. I scratched again, to show her where I was, and she looked in horror at the window. To show her who I was I moved my face close to the screen. She screamed and ran from the room. I followed her progress toward the living room; but when I saw the rich kids look at her in shock as she came rushing into the living room, I panicked. She thought I was a prowler, a Peeping Tom, and they would come out looking for me, and I would have a hard time explaining myself. Mrs. Grouse hated me because of what I had done to that dress and because I was poor, and if she had a good excuse like this she would probably have me indicted. Then there was my face. I remembered how scratched it was from the game, how it had shocked even me when I saw myself in the dressing room mirror. Rosemary probably thought I was Frankenstein‟s Monster. I ran for the Pine trees.
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From there I just wandered. but she always kept a boarder. Wilder‟s husband fell from an oil rig in Houston and left her the house free and clear. I really couldn‟t miss it because it was the only light on the block. Wilder‟s place. and I didn‟t go home. usually a faculty member. I was on Mulberry.The well-dressed kids came to the front porch and looked out over the lawn. Deep down I knew this was wrong: I might scare some old person who would either scream and expose me to the neighbors or shoot me. It was probably after two when I saw the light. and touched a switch. In fact she lived in that house. I was in Dogs to Men . A light mist was falling. People who lived there were mostly old. but I didn‟t take shelter. I knew they wouldn‟t come looking for me because they might dirty their clothes and because they assumed I would be dangerous. I eased up to the lighted window and peeped around the shade.Page 155 . Then I remembered that Miss Lynne lived on that street. I waited until they went back inside and then went through the trees and came out at the end of the street. went over to the wall. dressed in pajamas. to help her pay the taxes and insurance. Miss Lynne. put down a book. I wondered why one of them would have on a light that bright that late. I moved toward the light. It was Mrs. Mrs. I kept going.
She made a funny face. “you‟re all cut up. and in another moment I was in her room.” I assured her. At Linden. wait. Just like the time when I kissed Rosemary roughly. it‟s just from the game. and pointed to the door next to her window. well. Take this towel. but I was soaked.” I touched my face. The shade slowly rose. I was never in another woman‟s room at night. “Yeah. “Louie. You must have had a horrible time.” “Game?” she said. No.” I hadn‟t really noticed. I had never seen a Dogs to Men .” Miss Lynne said. It was warm there. I‟ll dry you off. I started to shiver. “This one was fun. “Oh. and she busied herself on my back and chest. But you‟re all wet.” I meekly skinned out of my shirt. I nodded. looking me over after she switched on a reading lamp. the footbal game. In a moment I was in a hallway.pitch darkness. I was never before barebacked in front of any woman but my mother.” “No ma‟am. she appeared both surprised and pleased “Louie?” I read her lips.Page 156 . it‟s nothing. “Miss Lynne?” I said softly. I saw Miss Lynne‟s face appear. take off that shirt. No response. shrugged. Instead I leaned near the screen. “Here.” “Oh. It was all I could do not to run for dear life. She thought for a moment. “Miss Lynne? You there?” I said louder. I knew I should go.
don‟t.well.know. .” “What?” “Any of it. Lately Chatting Slover. She didn‟t know I had places there that hurt more than on my face. . You wander around in the rain and cold at 3:00 in the morning. It was by someone named Lawrence. .seem right.” When I didn‟t respond. .” she smiled. When she was done she sat herself on the bed facing me. . Life.well.I sort of.” “Oh. . I guess. . you sneak up to an elderly lady‟s window. All of it. . . . . you give yourself pneumonia. she leaned forward. .know. . She was gentle when she dried my face. “Is that all?” Dogs to Men . Wilder or herself? “. What then?” “I don‟t. .it just don‟t.” “Good. . “tell me about it. nearly touching my face. “Now.woman in pajamas. “Come on. spill it. .and you don‟t know?” “I. . What‟s wrong?” “I.” she said. but with my hair she was playfully rough. Her little bottom twisted around like a bunny rabbit when she moved. . .” “You don‟t know?” She fell back in mock exasperation. . As she worked on me I saw on her bedside table the book she had been reading. The whole thing.” Did she mean Mrs.Page 157 .
“What‟s Jackie gonna think?” “Jackie?” “Or Rosemary. . Then.” She stared at me intently for a long time. and sprinted on swollen legs across town to my house. then to a kiss. .girls.“My scholarship. .” “Rosemary?” When I awoke the sun was peeking over the trees. I followed.for. first to the bed. under my covers. seemingly weighing options. and listened to the usual Saturday morning sounds from the kitchen. “My poor baby. then to an embrace. She took my hand and pulled me toward her. Finally she nodded curtly. I left Miss Lynne sleeping. . Jackie. she said. .Rosemary. . threw on my damp clothes. I got to my room without detection and lay in bed. . . .” she said. You know.what we did. the same way. I felt guilty and afraid. Tears came to her eyes.football. to play football. Dogs to Men . This time there was no yellow stain. I was a man. when she had made me comfortable. but I also felt happy. Dee got one. and finally the rest of the way. When it was over. after a long silence. deciding what to say and do. . and I nearly died of heart failure.Page 158 . .
Jimmy looked great. All that week it was blissfully numb. he was halfway to California. Even the clouds moved off and the sun shone on us. We planned to have Rabbit Stew for dinner Friday night. We were sure of it. By the end of October. Dogs to Men . Jonnie was gone. People in town heard about him and came to watch us work out. By the time we took the field Monday afternoon for scrimmage. the next week was a dream. he was in Korea. So we barked and howled and scratched the earth and threw dirt into the air.Page 159 . He probably figured that with Jimmy on the team we could get along without him. We planned to end the year with a sweet victory. He may well have concluded that military combat was less dangerous than six-man football. We knew that with him we couldn‟t lose. It was our time to win. I forgot how badly my finger hurt. We learned later that he re-enlisted in the army. No one saw him after we left the gym early Saturday morning. for good this time.Jimmy As for football. Friday dawned bright and dry. He carried the ball and caught passes and blocked and tackled to perfection.
Page 160 . “I feel good. already dressed. I put my doubts aside.” I said.” I said. He looked terrific in his Number 88. If Bubba was willing to take a chance. After English I hurried over to the gym to get dressed. his muscles filling out all the spaces. She was always a bit grumpy in the morning. I smiled at her. and grinned. “About today. plus chili powder. Maybe he was a ringer. I skimmed through my classes. Maybe Bubba was willing to risk a forfeit. probation. so was I. “About what?” she said. About life. A shadow crossed my mind. He was already there and dressed every afternoon. Jimmy was already there. I never told her or anyone else about last Friday night. I did the same to him. He saw me. Dogs to Men . About the game. hired by Mrs. and side by side we strolled over to look at the field. suspension. On Friday you could recall each days‟ lunch because its remnants were right there swimming in your bowl. I ate the usual Friday lunch room soup: as every Friday a mix of all the meats and vegetables left over from Monday through Thursday.I stopped for Jackie at her house that morning. just to win a game. Who cared if Jimmy was legitimate? Who cared if after we won they took it away? We wanted to win. Dismuke. I never saw him in a classroom. shrugged. I wondered what he was taking--if anything.
it was impossible to collect.Page 161 . We could tell when school was dismissed for the game because a wild gaggle of kids went surging out across the playground.When Us Dogs were all dressed. bigger than we had ever seen. We climbed up to the top row of bleachers and looked out the big dusty window. and looked across the highway to the football field. far removed from the spectacle. Each of us rubbed a spot clean. until the Rabbits finished their drills and anxiously began looking for us. Our janitor Spinx Baker carried a bucket of lime around the field. we did our warmups on the gym floor in our socks. The Rabbits bus came slowly around the big curve in the highway and pulled in at the field. shaped like a sun. Their little coach looked at his watch and then across the road toward our Dogs to Men . touching up the yard markers. and the Rabbits furtively appeared. We waited. each at his private peep hole. It stopped near a clump of trees. gathering along the sidelines. Without a fence. It made a circle around the end zone. chased by a gang of Demopolis kids laughing and shouting and threatening it with rocks. out where the wash house drain gobbled up fouls during baseball season. There was no charge to see our games. Cars and trucks were backed up a quarter of a mile waiting for them to cross the highway. We saw the crowd.
before we took Jimmy out with us and gave „em hell. Part of our strategy was to make them wait. and toward the end of the week I began to wonder if anything had.U.gym. second runnerup to Miss Texas in 1962. Bubba came up behind us. It was hard all that week to keep my mind on the subject as she taught us “The Rape of the Lock” when I kept thinking about Friday night. to make them tense. gave her a peck on the cheek. I saw Miss Lynne among the teachers. That day she was just beginning to make her mark on history.H. Mr.S. We waited while Rosemary was crowned Miss D. “Okay boys?” he grinned. the only woman in slacks.. “Ready for some Rabbit?” We got up and faced him. Miss Lynne helped me adjust by benevolently ignoring me. and led the crowd in a big cheer for our Girl of the Year. We made faces at him and laughed. Miss Greater Dallas. “Ho!” “Wonna put a notch in our belts?” Dogs to Men . Lemon put the crown on her head.M. I read in newspapers and clippings my Mother sent me through the years how Rosemary went on to be Miss Management in her department at S. knowing he couldn‟t see us.Page 162 . to scare them. In class and in the hall she acted like nothing had happened.
growling. We felt on top of the world. The little blond girl on its side. then me. and a loud screach of tires. barking. snapping. I just reached the edge of the friendly crowd when I heard a loud pop like a bottle breaking. By then. We went across the road. about Dogs to Men .Page 163 . I turned and looked back and saw the bread truck pulling off the road. I looked back and saw Jimmy closing the gym door. We went around and around the jump circle. though. If this kept up. We tore across the playground toward the highway. Shorty led us in a snake dance across the gym floor.“Hey!” We went bouncing down the bleachers. I guess I saw the bread truck coming. ten degrees below what it was when we went to the gym an hour earlier. a loud thud like a sack of feed hitting an empty barrel. we would be wearing Rabbit skins. The crowd saw us coming and let out a roar. We went through the front door and into the autumn air with a long howl It was surprisingly cold. I guess it was far enough away that I assumed it would slow up and let Us Dogs go across. I was wrong. it would be freezing by the end of the game. then came Herb and Dee and a couple of scrubs. I guess I assumed that all the Dogs were smart enough to look out for traffic and avoid it. Bubba and Shorty led the way.
“Did I do that?” “Yes sir. y‟know. Bubba loping. He looked at me and flashed a pained smile.lunged. His teeth shone straight and white.” “Oh no. perfect teeth. In the middle of the road.to bite into a buttered slice.” I said.” a voice moaned. He came up to me and looked out at the highway.” Dogs to Men .Page 164 . Human teeth.at me. When I got to the scene of the accident I found Jimmy lying along the gravel shoulder of the highway. . kinda shrugged. He still had them. “Oh no.” he repeated the sad sound. “You still have your teeth. “He slowed up „n‟ grinned at me. afraid to see what it was.” he said with a sob. White and sparkling and perfect. . sparkling. I started back slowly. .” I left him to his agony and went over to where Jimmy lay in the gravel. He pulled off his yellow cap and mopped his wet forehead with a damp shirtsleeve. Shorty scampering. Jimmy‟s white.” I assured him. “Jimmy. . Bubba and Shorty passed me. smiled gaily. “Guess you did. so I come on. Something was wrong. “Then he jus‟. Shorty and Bubba were squatting by his side. scattered from one side to the other and thirty feet in each direction. were teeth. I felt sick. It was the bread truck driver.
“that was awful dumb.” “Oooohhhh.” he said. There was a big dent just below the little girls‟s elbow.” Jimmy had hit the truck broadside and moved it eighteen inches sideways.” “Yeah. my shoulder. “Diddn you see „im?” “Yeah. “Jimmy. “Jimmy. He pointed to the highway.” The shrug hurt. “Well then. “Oh. “Then. That was probably the moment he decided to marry Mrs. . but they weren‟t made by brakes They went sideways. . East of the teeth were tire marks.” “Yeah. .“Yeah.” he said. .” Jimmy agreed. Dismuke and give up coaching. .” he groaned. . Bubba pieced the puzzle together. Bubba just stared at him.” Jimmy grinned and shrugged. you mean t‟say.you hit that truck?” “Yeah.” “Then why? You didden do it on purpose. “Look at that.” he said. “Look at the truck. We were all astounded by his strength---and stupidity. Guess all the excitement.why?” “Dunno.Page 165 .” Dogs to Men . .” Jimmy grinned and shrugged.
” In the excitement Jimmy had blocked the first thing to cross his path. it was jus‟ there. the old man sitting beside her looking like he was at the end of the world.Page 166 . The man. came around the curve. She spoke with a commanding tone. Old couples like that were always passing through town. “That those are not Jimmy‟s teeth. I turned to Herb. her abundant white hair set in perfect waves across her head. but whose are they?” I was searching for an answer when a big black Buick. Well.“But Jimmy. a stubby man with warts on both sides of his nose. I never wanted to get old. sat beside her looking unhappy. I never wanted to travel like that. When it got to the scene of the accident it came to a halt. Dogs to Men . a new 1958 model with huge tailfins. The lady drove. the old lady driving. “Anyone here seen any teeth?” she asked. leaned out her window. I never wanted to wear a bill cap. The bread truck driver. The lady. who wore a black suit and a baseball cap. It slowed as it came up to us. An old couple sat in the front seat. leaned against the truck sobbing. a truck.” “Okay.” “Yeah. “Think we ought to tell him?” “Tell him what?” Herb said.
I still have it on a chain I sometimes wear. With a brutal snort he acknowledged the array of shining enamel. all the way from Sherman.” the woman said.” So they were false teeth. look at that. I saw a tooth lodged in the bread truck‟s rear tire tread. Bubba ordered us to pick up the teeth. and who knows how many times we‟ll get to come back.Page 167 . has for years. “They‟re his. you know how it is. His nose and chin almost met. I found three. The one I dislodged from the tire I kept.” she said. Papa. Dogs to Men . I tell people it‟s from an animal I killed on an African safari. The tiny little man sat up and stared out. “Oh for heaven‟s sake. “He‟s been sick to his stomach all day. at our age. that‟s why I humor him so. but I only put two of them in Coach‟s hat. he hates to ride in the car. I put it in my pouch pocket and that night took it home with me.” She stopped as if embarrassed to admit what happened to strange boys in football suits. but anyway he leaned out the window as we came along here.We all swept our arms out toward the road ahead of her. I remembered the pop and then the thud. every time we make this trip he gets sick. She stared through her front window. The bread truck ran over the teeth just before Jimmy hit it. “He lost his teeth out of the window.
braced one foot against the edge of the bench and put the other on Jimmy‟s ribs. Shorty climbed up beside Jimmy. and nodded curtly. snorted. “Jimmy can‟t play. His voice shook the field. We helped Jimmy up and led him to the field and set him down on the bench. “It‟s over.Page 168 . He nodded primly to the coach and then to all of us.Bubba took his hat over to the Buick and poured the teeth into the man‟s cupped hands. “Ooooooooooooooooooooooouuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu uuuuucccccccccccccccchhhhhhhhh!” Jimmy yelled. The final Dogs to Men . took his hand. Shorty let the big arm down easily and jumped down from the bench. as the Rabbits led us on a merry chase from one end of the field to the other. as the temperature dropped and the crowd dwindled down to our cheerleaders with their blue legs and a few longsuffering dads. The crowd and the Rabbits waited. He looked at Bubba and shook his head. People cowered back in fear. headed east. but they had improved since the first game and we had not. We never saw them again.” he said. Jimmy sat on the bench all afternoon. We clawed and fought and even managed a growl or two. Bubba turned to us with tears in his eyes. The lady cranked the car and drove slowly away.” Over it was. and pulled. faced ahead again.
By the second Rabbits game of 1957 in my diary there‟s a blank space. We felt a gentle rumble. “You can say that again.” He dropped in the other sock. Neither is Dogs to Men . . . That‟s a guess because it‟s the only score of all the games I played that I failed to record. you‟re not stupid for playin‟it. “Know what I think?” Herb said to all of us but no one in particular. It was just above freezing at 4:30 when we trudged back across the highway to the gym with our tails tightly between our legs. He wouldn‟t need it any longer. “I tell you. get kicked silly week after week. “No. knowing exactly what he meant. At long last Herb spoke.Page 169 .” His voice trailed off. soggy jock‟s sock and dropped it into a trash can. “Knock yourself out like this.score was something like 40-14. Dee stirred. Neither am I.” he said gently. it ain‟t worth it. it‟s not a stupid game. There were no cheers. We went into a silent dressing room. “I think we‟re stupid for playin‟ this game. “Herb. We sat around the room exhausted. And you Herb.” He pulled off a dank.” I agreed. It was just Us Dogs. get scarred and crippled for life---all for a stupid game. Bubba and Shorty were on the way to take Jimmy and his shoulder to see a doctor. together for the last time. I tell you.
that was bigger. week after week. never! In my book that‟s called winnin‟. All right. but it‟s all over now. We‟ll win!” He let the words soak in. “We may not look like much. “What‟s that? What are we?” “Losers.” “Well. ever one. Herb. Maybe we got outscored by three hundred points. standing up. an‟ we never quit. Herb. All Us Dogs do is get beat. it‟s life. “if this is life. Herb. The rumble grew louder. It‟s time to be honest. It‟s not even a game. I‟ve got an awful bleak future. Maybe we came out on the short end every game.Page 170 . an‟ tha‟s what we‟ll do in life. All I do out on that field is get my brains stomped out. You never got beat. rougher. “All you do is what? You know better than that.anybody here. It‟s time to end the big talk and admit what we are. better coached. he had a point. Whatever you did in this game you‟ll do in life. never. we never quit.” “No!” Dee‟s voice dripped pain. “You won „em all. We played teams.” Herb said. we never made excuses. but he was right: we never gave up. We may not Dogs to Men . “I know what you mean.” “Yeah?” Dee said.” “Come on. never! We never made excuses. “One thing we are not. decked out in fine suits. Dee. we are not losers.” Dee‟s voice was rising.” “What?” Dee said.” I sighed.
“Hey!” We were winners who never won a game. I put my arm around her and we walked away together. “Louie. with her head on my shoulder. “Us Dogs don‟t quit!” he said. We were somebody. “No!” “We keep acomin‟ back!” “Yeah!” “ Dogs don‟t quit!” “Ho!” We were going around in a circle.” “Scared? What of?” Dogs to Men . Dee preached us a sermon about The Game of Life. We‟re somebody. we‟re somebody!” He finally got all of us up. “But don‟ let nobody tell you we‟re not much. He got us nodding and repeating it with him. I‟m scared. laughing. We‟re not nobody. Jackie waited for me outside the gym. Even Herb gave in and joined us. she whispered. we‟re somebody. “We‟re somebody.” He nodded and said it over and over again. shouting. we really were.Page 171 .sound like much. Along the way to her house. and we clapped our hands to each sentence. She looked small and frail. Wearing a long blue coat over her tiny cheerleader uniform. slapping each other. I could see lines around his mouth and red in his eyes.” Dee was tired.
The next September.” “When you go. .you‟re a lot smartern me.” “Come on. Even as we said good night.” I put my arm around her.” “Us?” I gulped. . looking into each other's eyes.” “Football? Yeah.that‟s not fair. and we tried to bring things back.” “But. I can‟t go t‟college.” “No. “Naw. that‟ll end it. “us”was no more. . I mean more than that. when I left for Kilgore.“It‟s over. . really.” “See. but we both knew better. Not the Jackie and me “us” anyway. .” She stopped and faced me. Dogs to Men . There won‟t be any more „us‟. and we walked on in silence. but we failed.” “No. I lied and told her that it was great and that we would always be together.” “Yes. “I mean us. “There‟s not any money. The future would separate us. my face was fading for her and hers for me. . The next night we met and went to the loft.” “Naw.Page 172 .” She lowered her eyes.
Bulls.Us Men In time Us Dogs became men. “Yes. white for the girls. Dingos. I took it home and showed it to my wife. In America that meant we knew how to win. We knew how to keep going and never quit.Page 173 . about 6:30 that Thursday evening. maroon for the boys. I learned that the Class of „58 was planning a reunion. Dogs don‟t.” Dogs to Men . We were too young for Korea and too old for Vietnam. Twenty years from the spring we graduated in our maroon and white gowns. We knew how to be knocked down and get up for more. We never went to war. and Lobos.” she said. “Mine came yesterday. but the idea sounded like Rosemary. I noted the Demopolis postmark and set it aside to read after rehearsal. I always did that when I knew a letter came from home. We knew how to play without making excuses. Cougars. but we would never have surrendered. Who the mastermind was I couldn‟t tell from the letter. a letter reached me at the Playhouse in Dallas. We knew how to fight the adversities of life because we had fought Rabbits. I know about it. When I did read it. Had we fought we might have been killed.
“I also wanted you to think about it for yourself and decide what you wanted to do before you talked to me. I saw him occasionally drinking a soda at the filling station by the highway.” I went every fourth weekend. Jimmy was Demopolis postmaster. “I do it every month. I thought about it. now that Mother lived alone. now Mrs.Page 174 . Dismuke. He had risen to the level of superintendent. She reached over and rubbed my leg. He weighed over two hundred pounds. again. This was a nightly ritual for us. coming to sit by me. Flood. and boasted of owning an 48inch color television set.” “Decide what?” I took two Yorkshire Bitter Importeds out to the patio.“It did? Why didn‟t you tell me?” “I wanted it to be a surprise. Jack worked at the Defense Arsenal over past DeKalb. and she followed me. bought a new Chevy every two years.” “Stand it? Stand to go home?” I said. “Whether you could stand to go. sipping. “Stand to see all of them. all in one place. contributed nice sums to the Democratic Party. Dogs to Men . I wondered who would actually be there. Bubba and the former Mrs.” she said with a wink. and they helped him get it.” she said.
“What about you?” “Me? Why should it bother me?” “You‟ve forgotten the way they talked about us?” “Well. “I think I can stand it.C. and while working in Dallas met and married a French medical student. I still wondered if he could read. they were shocked. He still grinned and shrugged when I spoke to him. They lived in Africa. Jackie wouldn‟t be there either. and I wondered how he found the right boxes for the mail.Page 175 . One rumor said that he was a cowboy out west someplace. Mrs.” I said.” Dogs to Men . The Grouses already had plane tickets to Atlantic City. a Lion. Grouse had a nervous breakdown when Rosemary came so close but failed to win the Miss Texas contest. Rosemary met a lot of rich people. and she married a Hunt. wouldn‟t be there. He hadn‟t been home for ten years. Another said that he was dead: stuck by lightning while mining in Mexico. But by being a Near Miss. She lived in a gated suburb of Dallas with her Republican husband and their three children. She trained as a dental hygienist. Her children had a hard time with English on the rare occasion when the Boudreaux got home. where he was one of the Doctors Without Boundaries. and a Baptist deacon. R.He was a Mason.
People no longer walked along the streets or sat on their porches in the Dogs to Men . mostly comedies. We were in production. but I assured the producer that I would only be gone for the weekend and that. Both at college and at the Playhouse people admired me for taking impossible jobs and making a success of them.” I said We went. Demopolis had changed little over the years except to get emptier.Page 176 . Houses long abandoned and rotted down were cleared and not replaced. That didn‟t surprise me. 1978. then I produced. We worked together at the Theater Center. Now I mostly directed. and we were at a critical point. one of those brutally hot Texas summer days. but we made it last. After college I drifted to Dallas and signed on with the Playhouse. Our wedding. a Moliere play. as she said. Reluctantly he gave me leave. still together. She went with me all the way. At the Playhouse I first acted. yes. there was a telephone line to Demopolis. then I even did some writing. no children. I had to arrange things with the theater.“True. We pulled our Porsche into Demopolis just after noon on July 19. was a shock to everyone in Demopolis. I was praised by instructors and directors and reviewers for my “bulldog” tenacity. then I directed. Comedies. I always did the comedies.
Demopolis kids were bussed twenty miles to high school. all of them older. which he was sure we would have won had Governor Reagan been President. and the place where D.evenings. As we Dogs to Men . when Demopolis people came from all over the nation to rediscover their roots. He had finished twenty years and was signed up for another ten. They called themselves Wildcats. He seemed embarrassed when he nodded at my wife. He didn‟t know what he would do if he retired. There were displays of garden vegetables and canned fruit and bright quilts to make it all seem like the old days. Bulldog Field was a cow lot. “Jonnie. “Louie? Is that you?” he said I guess I was as altered as he was. maybe more so. The reunion was scheduled to coincide with the annual town gathering. stooped.” I said as I extended a hand. I got most of Jonnie‟s story.H. greeting people who looked vaguely familiar. stood was a corn field. Between Rosemary‟s tales of life at Southfork. He was still in the Army. Even if he had not been talking with Rosemary Grouse Hunt I would have recognized him. We parked and walked up Main Street. asquint.Page 177 . Amid the pageantry I spotted a man with square shoulders and a bald head.S. He had been to Korea and then Vietnam.
They fixed it. He preached in England and even in Japan. polite. In three years of varsity football at Baylor he had thrown 89 touchdown passes on teams that averaged winning four games a year. until they discovered that his many concussions had caused brain damage. kept him on medication. dark. Jonnie said he met her at a dance in Seoul. I gathered she didn‟t speak much English. For a time he was hospitalized. and I wondered how they communicated. It was a hundred degrees. I knew Dee‟s story because. He shook hands all around. She was Korean.talked his wife came up.Page 178 . He saw me and came over with a big smile. Dogs to Men . pretty. sparkled in the sunlight. He became a Baptist Youth Evangelist and preached all over the south. I spotted Dee. he often made the newspapers. with a slap on the back to each of us. and now he was at peace. front and center. They both loved the Army. and gave off a strong odor of garlic. claiming that he saw visions and heard voices. A gold tooth. To which his wife smiled and nodded. but he stood there in the broiling sun in the middle of the street wearing a blue suit and red tie. Dancing around her feet were five little mixtures. She was small. Maybe they didn‟t need to While we were smiling and nodding. like Rosemary. Jonnie said he didn‟t speak Korean.
stroking my head.“Still preaching?” I asked him. and my wife got me some coffee.” At long last. Louie?” she said. I made it to my mother‟s house near sun-up. don‟t you. She sat with me at the dinner table as I drank it and regained my senses. I shed a few tears. and she comforted me as always. I met up with him again. After I took my wife to my mother‟s house. after barbecued pork and potato chips with root beer. hardly able to walk. We ended up at Dog Field at two in the morning singing old 50's love songs. Alla way for Jesus. We cried some. I met up with Herb. We talked about our exploits on this very field so long ago. by arrangement. Still playin‟ for Jesus. Dogs to Men .” I said. That day he wasn‟t. travels all over the Gulf Coast from Texas to Florida. “You miss the old days. We laughed more.Page 179 . We pretended we were wearing white sports coats with pink carnations as we drove our Chevy to the levee. He‟s been married three times. He‟s a salesman for a big shoe company. and we sneaked away down to the river where we shared a bottle he had brought from New Orleans.” “Where?” “All over. “That‟s good. I go all over.” “Good. “Yep.
The Dogs. If you hadn‟t been a Dog. Us Dogs survived too. but we showed them all. In our tragedy and in our comedy we were Mr. Yet in spirit and in memory we would go on forever.” I responded. isn‟t that right?” It was. Faulkner‟s immortal human story. and I wouldn‟t have been able to seduce you and show you that you couldn‟t live without me. following a deep groove in my memory.” Dogs to Men .” I looked at her.” she said.” “What?” “D.Page 180 .” “Me? No. I wouldn‟t have found you.S. “Dogs don‟t quit. “Long live the Dogs. We were now history. If you hadn‟t been pounded into mincemeat that night. I‟m proud you were a Dog.” she said softly but firmly “Ho. and she smiled. There was a lot of talk when my high school English teacher followed me to college and helped put me through school and married me the day I graduated.H. We survived. “Hey.“I guess I do. People thought it was a horrible mistake. “You think it‟s a crock. they said it wouldn‟t last. you wouldn‟t have come to my window.
” I smiled back.” she said with a smile.“Bulldogs forever. Yeah. Dogs to Men . “Yeah.Page 181 .
He is a graduate of Baylor and Florida State Universities and has for many years taught at Western Kentucky University. China. and The American Benedictine Review. Commonweal. The Chronicle of Higher Education. and other Asian countries. His creative talents and his unique points of view and insights have also made him a highly sought after speaker.Page 182 .About the Author Author James Baker and his cat Sundae James Baker developed his passion for history and religion while in high school. James directs the Canadian Parliamentary Internship Program. He has delivered addresses and papers in the United States. authoring 22 books and over 60 articles. His articles have appeared in such places as Christian Century. Taiwan. during his days as a Bulldog. He often appears in a one person show-presentation of industrialist-philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. Throughout his career he has been a prolific writer. Italy. In addition to his teaching duties. Dogs to Men . Korea.
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