This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
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.
Us Dogs we called ourselves. We had scored as many touchdowns as the Rabbits. The Bulldogs.Page 1 . go!” “Eat Rabbit Stew!” It was the opening football game of my senior year in high school. The big wooden clock at the end of the field. read: HOME 22 VISITORS 18. We were only four point behind. 1957. home of the Rabbits. A terrible place. The rough-edged numbers below the round clock face. at the field they called The Hutch.Us Dogs “Ready set! Hut! One. said there were three minutes to go in the fourth quarter. its hands as palsied as those of an aging drunk. its black and white face peeling in the autumn breeze after a brutal summer of blinding sunshine. two three. were opening our season at Allendale. Dogs. and for us that was good. Texas. The difference in the score was that the Rabbits had made two of their three conversions Dogs to Men .” “Go. September. . Christian County. hanging limply from rusty nails. Us Dogs were in a frenzy. . I played six-man football for Demopolis High School.
run. Demopolis High had less than fifty boys. We had few strong points. We got four downs. The quarterback could hand off. We got two points for any kind of conversion. a center and two ends. the one the other team knew was going out for a pass. I was an end. The field was just eighty yards long. pass. Unlike the split end. Lots of little schools played six man back in the days before consolidation.and we had made none. the sitting duck. and we were lucky in a given year to field twelve players. six to play and five to sit on the bench and hope they were not called on to play. We usually put three men on the line. he made all the difference in the game. Six-man football. as the name implies. but we had to make fifteen yards to get a first. one to five in Dogs to Men . Otherwise we could place from one to five men on the line. a split end. was played with six men on each team. the one that lined up far off to the side. There was only one rule about lining up: stay on our side of scrimmage until the ball was snapped. do just about anything he wanted to do. though. Conversions were not our strong point. the one they keyed on. He was the other sitting duck. My senior year we had only eleven.Page 2 . Behind the center and tight end we put a quarterback shotgun style and a running back on either side and behind him.
the backfield. Our manager that year was a twenty-eight year old midget named Shorty Monroe. took a handoff from the quarterback. Anyone could receive a pass from anyone. He was a local boy who quit school after the eighth grade. Shorty quit school at sixteen to be a drunk. In August he showed Dogs to Men . then threw a pass back to the quarterback. He just put us out on the field and told us to play hard. A decade later. but he lasted out my junior year and was still there as I began my senior season. spent five years in the Navy. played second base for Fort Worth in the Texas League. he took over. Now he was back in school trying to learn to read well enough to be a preacher. when our coach one day just disappeared. but in football he was lost. and came back home at thirty to farm. We had one play where the center dropped back. Six man football was wild! Even wilder in our case because our coach. knew absolutely nothing about football. He knew his baseball and a little basketball. Anyone could pass to anyone. and midway through my junior year. When he failed at farming he took a job driving one of our school buses.Page 3 . Bubba Flood. after two near-fatal car wrecks. he went to a Pentecostal summer revival meeting and got saved. No one asked about any degree he might have.
We were crazy that afternoon because the score was close enough for us to win. “We gonna eat us some Rabbit Stew!” “Hey!” Dogs to Men . Our cheerleaders tried to rouse the tiny clump of fans who had made the eight mile trip with us. It had been a long afternoon. “Okay. ordering the clock to die at 2:45. The referee waved his stubby arms.up to watch us work out and we named him our manager. He knew more football than Bubba.Page 4 .” Dee barked at us “We gonna take this bunch. A round September sun sat on the dusty. but we had the scent of victory. He had lived in Dallas for a time. burned horizon as we huddled and bent together to listen to our quarterback Dee Reed. Us Dogs were tired. They were only mildly successful. Dogs. We called time out. My career record was 0-12. and he had seen high schools there play and even a few professional games on television. Both my sophomore and junior years we had lost all six of our games. whatchasay?” “Yeah!” we howled. and we had not won a game for two years. He told us that the boys on professional teams had arms as big around as our legs.
We all began to nod with it. We went growling and snarling toward the ball. All they had to do was frisk around and hang onto the ball and let the clock run out. who picked the ball out of the air and scampered toward the left side of the field. kicking dirt behind us. making little squeaky noises. His battered maroon helmet began to nod. They had the lead. Jonnie. whose nose twitched as he called numbers. R. Arms linked. yeah. “Git „im!” Dee commanded. We blocked the Rabbit‟s way. pitched out to a runner. and me--all Us Dogs--barking and howling. “Yeah. The trouble was we couldn‟t git it. He circled and headed back toward the other side. even for a bunch of blood thirsty Dogs. The Rabbits were too fast and tricky to catch. We circled and followed him and trapped him on the Dogs to Men .Page 5 . His enthusiasm was contageous. We gave chase--Herb. determined to git it. time was short. Jack. they were in our half of the field. yeah!” We broke huddle as if a bomb had gone off.“But we can‟t take „em „less we git the ball. and they were quick. we bobbed up and down with Dee. Their little quarterback. So le‟s git it! Whatchasay?” “Yo!” “Le‟s git it then!” Dee barked..C.
“Gotta git it! Gonna git it!” “Yeah!” Dogs to Men . he had lost two yards and used up forty seconds. Then they ran a reverse. Again Dee perked us up. and we huddled. Another twenty seconds gone. 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. We were desperate. “We kin do it!” The Rabbit quarterback took the ball and scampered in a wide sweep around my end.Page 6 . and we had to have the ball. Two minutes left. We had to have that ball. I chased him down and caught the tail of his jersey. Dogs. and the second one made five yards before Herb shoved him to the ground. “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. git it!” he yelped to each of us. but he lateralled back to a Rabbit following us.other side. Dee came around slapping us all on the seats of our pants. By the time we pushed him out of bounds. When we finally ran the second one to ground the clock read 1:03. Dee called time out.
they played fair and square. then. rode back and got off at the path. No one responded. Small as they were. No one had ever spent the night at his house. Dogs were honest and upstanding. caught the school bus. “Me. very well. Roberson. We were hungry. We weren‟t sure what he meant. He ran like a bullet. and disappeared. We broke huddle and went growling back to the line. went to school. Dogs to Men .C. No one knew much about his family. It was R. C never talked. We were surprised because R.” We looked around. He lived out in the woods north of town. who‟s gonna do it?” Dee looked from face to face. We knew he would get the ball. Every morning he appeared at the head of a foot path. But we had never before been this close to victory. Dogs didn‟t steal. The Rabbits were already there. We were stumped.“Okay. “You will?” Dee said. He was short and stocky with albino white hair. but he didn‟t blink. “Who‟s gonna steal it?” he made it clear. hot and hard and straight ahead. He had said all the intended to say.Page 7 . nodded. C. Sweat poured down his face. R. all without a word to anyone.C. This was a first for him. No one knew R.
He was all alone. huh?” We drooled as he looked at his crooked legs. then glancing all around him. pitched the ball away. He sat up. “Near-bout over. do it because a Rabbit threw himself at my legs and I went down.” We howled and threw dirt into the air. “Nearly over. but he was stumbling. We couldn‟t even intimidate a bunch of hares. “Forty-eight. Dog. twice.C. “Betcha‟d like a bone. But yes. he could score. hike!” I didn‟t see R. Their quarterback looked furtively from side to see to see if his cottontailed line was straight. Lord. I looked too. He looked at us. twenty-three.” he smirked and raised his twitching eyebrows knowingly. “Go. I let out a howl. He giggled and called out. It took me a second to untangle myself from him and get to my feet. “No. go!” Then I saw something was wrong. then turning to look upfield.” We snarled and pawed the earth. no!” I bayed. Dawgs. all by himself headed for the Rabbit goal. and began to retie the shoe lace that had tripped him. and fell face down at mid-field. he stumbled once. digging up dirt with his free hand. I remembered the Dogs to Men .Page 8 . with the ball. When I did the first thing I saw was the Rabbit quarterback staring at his empty hands.C. and there I saw R.they showed no fear. “Time t‟go on home for supper.
Dee‟s eyes fixed me in a gaze that kept me from fainting. I swallowed a groan. it‟s a bomb! It‟s yours. the one who always got the bombs. for want of a messenger the war. just grace. and I took the rainbows. He stood five feet six. They would be waiting for me. Dogs. Dee got our attention. For want of a horse the messenger. you know what we gotta do!” he barked.” Dee grinned. “Good. The Rabbits knew it as well as we did. and we were at the center of the field. Poetry made real.freshman class poem: For want of a nail the shoe was lost. We had to go forty yards in forty seconds. “Now. the score. no decoys. and there was time. His blue eyes were cool and clear. I would win or lose the game. Louie!” I felt blood rush to my face.Page 9 . The referee blew his whistle and waved his arms to stop the clock with the change of possession. every inch dynamite. I nodded. we did have the ball. No tricks. all block but Louie. which is what we wanted. on three. On the other hand. “It‟s a pass. Herb took the short. For want of a shoe. bullet passes. I was the wide receiver. “I‟ll be there. For want of a good double knot that great run. “Okay. Louie goes alla Dogs to Men . No wonder wide receivers are paranoid. which was better than we hoped.” I said. the horse was lost. the game was lost.
The two Rabbits sent out to guard me giggled and wiggled their noses. I could see Dee‟s lips moving. I pictured the Rabbits munching on it after each day‟s practice until he was gone.Page 10 . The goal line was a white mark. loose dirt all the way. R. I looked up the field toward the goal. There was so much noise on my side of the field that I couldn‟t hear the signals. I was close enough to hear one of their fans insult my mother. I could see exactly where I needed to be when Dee got the ball there. I went out to the left.way „n‟ scores. waddled up to the ball and bent over it. C. I had forgotten the snap number anyway. perfect to break a leg. Herb and Jonnie lined up close on either side of him. but two janitors kept the goal lines white. Yard markers. the biggest Dog at 185 pounds. had disappeared after the first trip up and down the field. so I would just wait for the snap and take off. I was a target both for Dee and for the Rabbits. dressed in long ears and cottontailed miniskirts. danced on the sidelines stirring up the crowd. No grass at all grew on the field. The Allendale cheerleaders. I growled Dogs to Men . Our center Jack. lime spread across the dirt. lined up back beside Dee in case a Rabbit got through the line.” He was so sure that I almost believed I could do it.
Yet Dee gave chase. goal to goal. The play was ruined. and I went upfield all alone. I jumped up and down and yelled. I would be dead by morning. I just hoped my little brother Andy would let me rest in peace. Fortunately it would be Saturday. The referee had called an injury time out. Rabbits and Dogs were peeling off. Rabbits chasing. Rabbits swarmed him. As I got to the scene of the accident. and I knew I needed to go. “Here! Dee! Throw it!” He saw me and raised his arm to throw. He was in one piece. He ran free of them all. Dogs to Men .Page 11 . So I ran. The two Rabbits had left me to chase Dee and the ball. but he was smashed flat. Dogs trying to block. It was a long time before he began to move and then struggle to get up. My arms and legs were heavy as I jogged back to the pileup. He went down on our ten yard line. Then he disappeared. 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. At long last Dee appeared. I got to the goal line and looked back. I was sixty yards from the action. We helped him to our huddle. and I knew he would get it and throw to me. like a cartoon character. Dee was running.at them. and they shook with mock fright. holding the ball above his head. I had seen him stand flat footed and throw eighty yards.
“You okay?” I said. as if to drain fluid. “We. “You?” “Sure I‟m fine. . Go alla way.Dee looked at us and began to wander off. and he swayed from side to side but didn‟t fall. . He wobbled and had to catch my shoulder to keep from falling. “A pass?” I said. I held him up until his knees were stiffer I took my hands away from him slowly. He could hardly stand.” “It‟s yours.” I said. “Yeah. I turned and looked at the clock.gonna. shaking my head vigorously. .” “Minues?” “No. .” “You sure.do. Dee?” He was punch drunk.Page 12 . “maybe thirty-one. . “We.” he grinned. but you. Pass. .” I said. .agin. “How much time?” he said. . This was insane. Without him we were lost. We grabbed him and pulled him back to us. Louie.” he said in a faraway voice. “Yeah. . His blue eyes were milky. “Seconds. His eyes were glazed. The little guy was indestructible. then held it sideways. “Thirty. We were seventy yards from the goal. .” I stared at him.” Dogs to Men .” He shook his head.
and we three went down hard in a tangle. I made a bluff circle toward the other goal and came jogging back. his authority returning. in slow motion. Finally three Rabbits scrambled up. One by one. Dogs to Men . I got there just as he was trapped. Then the Rabbits swarmed.” He was back. Once more I didn‟t know the snap number.His eyes cleared. The clock chugged to a stop at seven seconds. It was on the one.Page 13 . Every lane of escape was blocked. I looked in vain for Dee. He acted surprised when the ball came to him. his eyes. it‟s all upta you. Dee had the ball. The ball would get to the goal line. and there he lay. the Dogs came alive. his legs. face down on the goal line stripe. His recuperative powers were amazing. and I would have to be there. stretching the ball out as far as his short arms would reach. and two Rabbits went with me. this way and that. his voice. “Louie. frantically trying to call time. Allaway. I threw myself at the two Rabbits nearest him. He looked at me sharply. and he let it skip through his hands and go rolling toward the goal. I didn‟t think Dee had given us one. and it was a sure touchback. but he was in our end zone running for dear life. side to side. I broke the huddle and loped out to the left side. When I finally got free of them I saw Bubba Flood running out to the referee.
. “Al-len-dale. “In Allendale.Page 14 .” “Where?” he grinned. .We helped him up and gathered around him.we?” he moaned. “Whose one?” “Ours. Dee shook his head “No. Dogs to Men . “It‟s yours. “At the Hutch.” Herb said slowly. where on the field? Where‟s the football?” We all looked at the ball. “Where. It sat there sadly.” I said. “Go allaway. Allaway.” he said.” “Another pass?” “Pass.” “Louie. allaway!!!!!!!” “Okay.” I said.” Herb told him. I‟ll git it to ya. Allaway. He was gone again. Still grinning crookedly. “How much time?” “Seven.” “No buts!” he barked. “On the one. He swayed.” Herb said. .are. He was back once more. .” “But Dee. Seconds. . Louie. You jus‟ be there. . I mean.
but he did snap the ball before the gun went off. “You all believe me? We gonna go allaway! On three! Allaway!” “Hey!” we said.“You believe? You all believe?” We nodded. “On three. I thought the game was over. but that wasn‟t enough. I took off. “Got it? On three! Allaway!” “Yo!” Dee spoke so loudly that the Rabbits heard every word. and it was starting to move. Four. and they began to chant. “Snap the ball!” I never knew whether Jack heard me or whether he saw the clock moving. wait!” I yelled. It squirted back like toothpaste from a tube under pressure. I took my place and looked at the far goal.Page 15 . “No. I felt free Dogs to Men . 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. three. Then I looked at the clock. allaway. 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. I was at midfield and no one was near me. “Snap it!” I hollered.” as we broke huddle and came up to the ball. The scorekeeper raised his gun. The game was still on. “Not yet!” It was moving toward zero.
I got to my knees and it floated down and settled gently into my hands I had it. and we had won the game. It was a completion. I threw myself up and stretched out. I held the ball above my head and laughed. I knelt there as the Rabbits ran over me. The Dogs were walking slowly away toward our bus. and it still read 22-18.Page 16 . I looked back and saw Dee free of the mob and winding up to throw. The Rabbits were loping toward me. bleeding. on the way to their gym. as the Dogs made their way to our battered old muddy yellow bus. I couldn‟t figure it out. The goal was coming toward me. Upside down I saw it fly up and hit the crossbar of the goalpost. thinking. Then I looked around. The ball hit the tips of my fingers and jumped high in the air as I fell hard to the ground. It bounced into the air and came back toward me. and so was the ball. I lay there. 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. deflating the ball. down the field. and saw the referees leaving the field. I picked up speed. it was a touchdown.and light. The ball was in the air. swelling. It hadn‟t touched the ground. which in jest we called our Dogs to Men . I looked at the scoreboard.
The horn sounded again. and it rolled crazily across the field. Dogs to Men . I put my helmet on and snapped the chin strap. I knew I would keep on playing. Without me they couldn‟t field a team. a low moan. I got up and looked around and saw my helmet lying on the ten yard line. its disappointment. I hobbled over and kicked it. I picked it up and saw that it was dented. Things could only get worse. I let it hang loose and began my painful journey.Golden Chariot. Finally I realized it was our bus horn. I loved football. we were only four yards from victory. Through the darkening silence I heard a sound. made a fist. I was hooked.Page 17 . It snapped back off as always. I began to laugh. Allendale was the weakest team we would play all year. I thought what a good swift kick would do to my head in that peanut shell. over and over. its despair. I loved the pain. It was ridiculous to keep playing. the disappointment. over and over. the despair. but the game had once more broken our hearts. It was calling me The Dogs had missed me and wanted me to go home with them. trotting toward the Golden Chariot. I put my hand inside. with all its pain. We had almost won. and popped the dent out. like the mating call of a lost Canadian goose. I asked myself why I played football.
My birthday is in September. and so I was half way through my thirteenth year. with a regular court and a basket at each end and five men to a team. It was 1952. I was at a donkey basketball game. It was at Demopolis High School gymnasium. 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 .Donkey Basketball I remember vividly the night my love affair and adventure with football began. one of those cold. always sponsored by the Lion‟s Club. Notice that I said I was half way to thirteen. bright Demopolis nights. clear.Page 18 . but each man rode a donkey. Anyway. just before springtime. and it was at a donkey basketball game. Donkey basketball was basketball of a sort. and I was almost seven before I started first grade. It was a Monday night in late February. and the Lions always played the men high school teachers The proceeds went to buy glasses for poor kids. After the second game of my senior year of high school football I was eighteen. That will be a significant fact later in my story. We had one every year back then. and according to Texas law a man. It will mean someone was not guilty of a crime.
I have seen bones broken and teeth knocked out. He could be sure that each injured party would come to him for further treatment in the weeks to follow. and I have seen blood spilled on the floor by the pint. the fathers of children.donkey.Page 19 . On the day of a game a yellow truck arrived at the school about noon. All of which brought out big crowds and raised lots of money for spectacles. I have seen men of business. was held out of the game to render medical aid to the stricken. Ridiculed and abused both physically and verbally. whoever that was at the time. and he never charged for his work. bitten. fight an entire game just to mount up. On its sides were huge red letters: MCGOWEN DONKEY BASKETBALL. and mutilated. doctors and ministers. men of the cloth. stomped. Inside were Dogs to Men . He sat on a front row chair waiting for the inevitable. dignified men. teachers and policemen. thrown flat on their backs and heads on the hardwood. each little creature had just one goal in life: to maim any man who tried to sit on his back. The last thing he wanted to do was help his rider score a basket. I have seen the responsible husbands of wives. especially when the donkey is trained to be the meanest animal on earth. men of education. ridden into a hardwood floor night after night. I have seen grown men. The oldest doctor in town.
Dagwood. They wore little round tennis shoes and saddles with their names on them. Einstein. took them one at a time down the tailgate ramp and tied them to the school yard fence for all of us to tease. He tied the donkeys out in the sun or rain or sleet all afternoon for all the townspeople to drive by and see. The elements and our harassment made them irritable. as thin as a rail.twelve or so of the toughest little asses on earth. sickened and died and were replaced. McGowen. He carried an electric Dogs to Men . teeth black from chewing tobacco. saddles impossible to mount and stay on. but those three seemed to be immortal.Page 20 . McGowen was a showman of the old school. Other names came and went. Those three either lasted longer than others or there were successive animals with the names. wearing what appeared to be the same pair of torn jeans and greasy tee-shirt every year. I remember many of their names. Then he acted as referee for the riot that followed. He had not the slightest shred of decency or compassion. He introduced each donkey and assigned him to a rider. By 7:30 when the game began they were as mad as hornets and itching to kill. Just before game time he led them out onto the gym floor. and he never fed or watered them until after the game. He was a pure capitalist. Agamemnon. The bearded Mr.
Every Saturday I paid sixty cents for a Trailways bus ticket and rode the seventeen miles into Clarksville. by the end of the first quarter. a bosom man. directly across from me. There I window shopped. but even at 12 she had the bosom of a woman. an Italian woman. They were in the middle of a big glob of people. I went that night not so much to see the donkeys as to meet the love of my young life. Each shock led to a human injury of some kind. her chest impressed. the Christian County seat. for over six months. 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. and when the action slowed he ran up behind a donkey and shocked it into convulsions.Page 21 . but I saw no one but them. It was nearing halftime of the Donkey Game of 1952. I had known I was a man. Jackie was petite. and I was hungry. It looked good enough to eat. dreaming of new clothes and athletic Dogs to Men . I spotted her. a heterosexual man.prod. Jackie Jackson. I had been passionately in love with Jackie for about two months. Even in pinafores and overalls. I had seen donkey basketball three years in a row. the year I was in the sixth grade. the girl I knew I would marry. sitting with her big sister.
and met the most beautiful woman on earth. and I went to see a movie. I paid another sixty cents for a hamburger.Page 22 . Pepper machine at the end of the Dogs to Men . manfully screwing up my courage. the Avalon for adults and the Bloody Bucket for kids. that was me. transfixed. which I pronounced Mary Lynn. Bosom man. I turned a corner in my life. how much she was like Mary Lynn. and from looking at her photograph I knew I wanted to know her much better. Just after Christmas I began to notice Jackie. I usually went to the Bucket because it featured westerns and monster thrillers and because it cost only twenty-five cents. From the day I saw her I loved her. paid twenty cents more. and she was blonde. I watched fascinated.equipment. and a Coke. and she was after all a bird in the hand. Clarksville had two theaters. as Mary Lynn flirted with my burgeoning emotions and teased my emerging genitalia. I knew I would never be happy until I had one just like her. Entering the darkened theater that day. fries. but one Saturday I was attracted by the pictures out front of the Avalon. The star who attracted me and made me pay thirtyfive cents for a ticket was named Marilyn. Or might become one. At last I eased out of my seat and furtively edged around by the Dr. I waited on my side of the gym.
jumped up.building. and to the safety of the stage. through the door. but one night during a junior high school boy‟s game on the court. they just closed the curtain and posted a guard at the only set of stairs leading up to it. leaned back against the curtain as if it were a wall and fell stark naked down onto the court.Page 23 . the stage that on calmer nights featured music and drama but on basketball nights was used as a dressing room. and went running past the sentinel. but either she was held out of the game or she looked too different with clothes on for us to spot her. I would have to cross the stage end of the gym. It usually worked well enough. My motives would be stark naked. The crowd would look up and see me following my lust across the floor and begin to jeer. We all watched her team come out dressed in their suits to see which one it was. but beyond that point I would be out in the open. while she dressed. indistinguishable from the masses. I felt I might end up just as humiliated as she was if I ventured into that no-man‟s land. a moving target for the contemptuous ridicule of all who disdained young love. screamed. There I was still in the crowd. a high school girl basketball player from another town. There I stalled. The crowd sat stunned as she came to herself. But I had to go: Dogs to Men . highly visible. When it was a dressing room.
I could lust after her and talk to her at the same time. When I did steal a look.” she grinned.” “Noooo. four rows below Jackie and her sister Monica. Monica winked and grinned.my masculinity called.” “I. I couldn‟t do that. I found a seat down front.Page 24 . When one day I confided in her that I loved Jackie.” “Tell her what?” “What you feel. “Put a bug in her ear.” “Tell ya what then. when there‟s lots a noise.can‟t. afraid to turn and look up. “She‟ll be at the ball game Monday night. It still does. I sat petrified. Since she was sixteen and therefore too old for me. Dogs to Men . . . To my surprise no one seemed to see me. afraid to move. For some reason it always got to the girls when I hung my head and looked pitiful. I got my ass across to the other side while they watched the asses on the court. her answer was quick. . Monica was built just like Jackie.” I hung my head. You can tell her then. . except more so because she was four years older. “A bug?” “Tell her.” she said.
and she pointed toward the restrooms. Then she moved away. So here I was. There she was. Then I‟ll move.“Sure you can. . My legs were numb. I‟ll be beside her. stepping on hands and feet. falling to one knee. to speak.” she said with compassion. all mine. why not? No one would see me in all that chaos. I couldn‟t move. and I jumped to my feet as if to cheer and rushed up to the empty seat. I was scared to death. Monica winked again and stood up. right behind me. Out on the court old Dagwood threw the math teach high into the air. ripe for the picking. . Sure. Jackie asked her something. to blink. and you take my seat. and was I sweating. “She don‟t bite. I couldn‟t even swallow my own spit. for fear I might destroy the precious moment. Jackie didn‟t move or speak or blink Dogs to Men . the seat beside her empty. and bumped Jackie‟s bottom hard as I sat down. and the crowd let out a blood curdling scream of approval.Page 25 .” “Tell you what. her bosom bobbing in her sweater like a pair of heavy water balloons.” I thought about it. I was there! For an eternity I sat there like a stone--afraid to move.” “She might. The roar inspired me.
but the taxidermist had botched it. “Haul ass. .” Jackie‟s family had a tough reputation.Page 26 . even in my most curious phase.” I said. Dogs to Men . looking straight ahead. Her daddy.” She didn‟t reply. “Louie. dense woods all around them. and its skin hung rotting on an outhouse wall back toward the woods. What now? I pumped up my depleted courage one pump at a time. Still nothing. Her voice. when they said there were no more allegators in our part of the world. when it finally came. One of her older brothers had been to prison. They lived at the edge of town. “You know how to talk?” She turned ever so slowly and faced me. He just sat there. “But. . “Hi. woods I had never. “Hi.” she was reported to have said to him.either. covering my crotch with my cap. killed it with a knife. eye to eye. you git the hell outa my sister‟s seat. “Like the game?” Not a peep. had killed an allegator while fishing on the Sulphur River. was even and low. or I‟ll kick you in the nuts. been tempted to explore. known as “Stonewall” Jackson. It took three catastrophes on the court before I spoke to her.” I tried again. He had tried to get it stuffed. and her mother had once pulled a shotgun on a surveyer from the highway department when he got too close to their house.
trying to save face. and three high school boys came walking sheepishly out to him. as the riders went off to lick their wounds. Mr. At the half. I wasn‟t too proud to beg. I watched as they talked. but with her it didn‟t work. I felt like I had been set up for female amusement. his bald head shining brightly atop a big smile. but I was afraid they would see me go and laugh some more. They played basketball and baseball and boxed. but I could see it would do no good. J. as deliberately as I could. so I stayed in my seat. both bosoms bouncing gaily. As I crossed by the Dr.“Git!” she commanded. Boyd Otis. I knew and worshipped those boys. came out to mid-court where blood was still drying and called the crowd to a semblance of attention. and eased away from her. Pepper machine and started back to my old seat. dressed in his usual grey suit. I did try hanging my head. and then they both collapsed in uncontrollable laughter. Guy Lemon. C. waiting until I could edge out at halftime. I glanced across and saw Monica return. I wanted to leave right then. Medford.Page 27 . our high school principal. Stanley Waxman. He gestured to the sidelines. That night they were reserves for the Dogs to Men . So I go up ever so slowly. Halftime was when my life took another major turn.
It was played outside. I had been to a game with my daddy when I was little.” He waited for laughter. to learn the American Way of Life that football teaches!” That Dogs to Men . to teach our boys morals and good sportsmanship. They wore bubble hats. Forty dollars. Lemon was saying that we might play it again. I had heard of football. These fine young men before us wanted to bring back the days of glory. but none came.” she shouted. “I‟ll not mind a bit paying to have it re-blocked. like Flash Gordon when he walked outside his spaceship.Page 28 . Demopolis had played it once. and ones to come. that‟s all it took to revive our honor. You could knock people down without being kicked out of the game. Would we give if he passed the hat? “If your coins stretch my hat out of shape. like baseball. An old man near me said they had on football helmets. No hats in that crowd had ever been re-blocked. People still talked about football and the players from that golden age the way Athenians talked about the warriors of Troy. All they needed was forty dollars each for twelve boys to have suits. but you had to wear pads and those helmets. Now Mr. “I want to see football in Demopolis again! I want these young men.teachers‟ team because so many teachers had been hurt the previous year that they were low on players.
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.
Dogs to Men - Page 29
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.
Dogs to Men - Page 30
“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
Dogs to Men - Page 31
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.”
Dogs to Men - Page 32
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
Dogs to Men - Page 33
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.
Dogs to Men - Page 34
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
Dogs to Men - Page 35
“Yellah” was with cheese. It was the first visit to a cafe for most of us. dusty jeans. white buns. Even Satch. and turtle shaped green hard hats. The waitress looked none too happy to see them. greasy. who was almost as big as the smallest of them. “Well. they were wonderful: thick patties of ground beef. You frum Dee-mop-oh-lese. They wore oilstreaked armless tee shirts.” she called. chopped raw onions. It took them thirty seconds to order beers and cheeseburgers and spot us over in our corner. “Burn” was well done. mean looking. dirty-blond Vikings.Page 36 .” the second one said. terrified.” Dogs to Men .with her pencil eraser. “Looks like we got some vis‟ters. okay?” We began to talk in whispers. When the cheeseburgers came. But when we were about half way finished through the front door came three big. looked concerned. Bubba explained the waitress lingo to us. “Betcha come in that ol‟ beat up bus out there. boys. cheese and fat dripping out the sides.” the biggest of them said. “Bet I know whur y‟all come from. They leaned back against the counter and looked us over. an‟ make „em yellah. “Burn fifteen. “Hey Kate.” We all stopped chewing and sat still.
” the middle one snorted. “Whatchu?” the middle one said to Shorty. “Play hell. “Leastways the runt kin. The Vikings picked up their beers. and sauntered over toward us. I heard someone in our group gag. one in front of each table.By the tone of his voice. and it would still be a slaughter. “You gonna git chewed up t‟night. it was a challenge. “Ever‟body done?” she said as he rose. the slowest eater. Jack. We didn‟t. Fourteen to three. “Some kinda secret weapon?” “Manager.” the little one said. and all three laughed maniacally.” Shorty said shortly. It looked bad. “Hey. Bubba signaled for us to eat quickly. blocking the way out. “they kin tawk. His burger was gone. The waitress brought the beers and cheeseburgers and put them down on the counter. their muscled arms touching. pushed away from the counter. but Coach beat him to it. He wanted a fight.” He snickered. They stopped two paces from us. “Come t‟play our Cougars?” the smallest one said with a smirk. started to protest that he Dogs to Men .” Shorty started to stand up.Page 37 .” the big one said. and stood there each with a thumb in a belt loop.
snorted. 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. Then we got lost. The Vikings came out and stood on the front steps and hooted as Satch ground away.wasn‟t finished. Dogs to Men . We scampered across the pavement and got on the bus. Seeing that they were outmaneuvered. the Vikings began to snicker good naturedly. Beyond it were several new brick buildings. “Hey.Page 38 . the dopey lookin‟ one kin tawk too. “Le‟s go. We sat in shame until the engine finally caught. First the bus wouldn‟t start. but Bubba shook his head.” the middle one said. 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. thirty-five for the burger and a nickle for the drink. When they turned to see where he went we all sneaked through and headed for the door.” he ordered. It took us a long time to find Cougar Stadium. As we hurried out they were laughing. “All a you drop four bits apiece. but we figured our lives were worth a dime. died. and at long last got going. Each of us dug two quarters out of our jeans.” It was really supposed to be forty.
He wore a blue suit with a silver badge.” Satch said.” Bubba said.” “Yeah. He led us into the lot. where we couldn‟t leak Dogs to Men . “An‟ you ain‟t got hardly no brakes atall.” Bubba said. “Whur d‟we park?” The guard‟s frown slowly rose into a smile. He signalled us to park behind the garage in the grass. “Ya‟ll come a hunnerd miles in that?” “Tell us whur t‟park. and blew a whistle. He came around to Satch‟s window. red-faced.” he beckoned as he walked away. “Whur‟s the field?” “Good Lord Amighty. squinting at the side of the bus.Page 39 . “Tha‟s right. lighted area without a spot of oil on it and past a big garage. “Dee-mop-lees?” he said.” the guard said. and the man had to jump out of the way to keep from being run over. Satch‟s brakes were soft. out of sight. held up a hand. leaning out the window behind Satch. “Foller me. He stepped in front of us. Through its open door we saw a fleet of shiny new school buses. glancing back to make sure we weren‟t getting too close to him.A man in uniform met us as the Chariot came gasping through the gate. He looked toward a parking lot dotted with Cadillacs and Chryslers. We followed him through the paved. He chuckled to himself and shook his head.
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. and the one toilet was in the middle of the dressing room. but I assured her that was better than doctor bills for the diseases that lurked in our gym. clean. The whole world revolved around the blazing canopy of light. In our dressing room back home we had no lockers. and everything was new. As we piled out. perfect. he pointed to a onestory building. Dogs to Men . There were lockers. Us Dogs huddled with Bubba and Shorty and stared at it. toilets with doors. We stood at the door of the building a long time before we went inside. no benches. I never used it for fear of catching some fatal fungus. “Ya‟ll kin dress in there.” he said with a friendly grin. lavatories. benches. showers.Page 40 . Half a mile to the east. We could hardly believe our eyes. We went where he pointed. and when we emerged at 7:30 it was pitch black outside except for the field. My mother complained about all the sweaty clothes. We finally went inside. I waited until I got home to take a bath after practice. it looked like a giant torch.on the pavement. thinking how wonderful it must be to have money and what it bought. across a flat plain.
stepping in holes. “Haf-time show?” “We‟re Demopolis. the team we sposed t‟play?” Dogs to Men . “Look. still gleaming from a shower of sprinklers. Other end. “There‟s the gate.Page 41 .” People were flooding through it. drawn toward the field like moths to a flame. stumbling over mounds. Bubba scratched his head through his baseball cap. our eyes fixed on the light.” he admitted. We raced around the wall of bleachers and stopped. “You mean. “What are you?” he grinned. Finally we were running. A chain link fence ten feet high reached across the end of the field from stands to stands. There was no gate.At first we walked toward it. There was the playing field. “Whata we do?” somebody said. “We go in here?” Dee asked him. with grass as thick and lush as springtime. He wore the same suit and badge as the first one. “Dee-mop-lees?” the guard stared at us as though he suspected a hoax.” Bubba said.” Shorty said. There was the crowd. So we went loping around the far stands and came to a ticket window and a guard. Then we started to trot. filling both sets of stands. “I don‟ know. We had chosen the wrong side of the field.
We did make quite a sight.” The guard looked skeptical. but they were now six years old. since there were probably a thousand people there. 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.” Bubba said. Just then the Cougars came rushing out of their dressing room under the stands. and a couple were missing front numbers. We stared in awe at the thundering herd dressed in new oil black suits. and one jersey worn by a scrub was almost green.” he said. We were being ridiculed. if you say so. We stopped our warmup drills and looked up at them. each man carrying a freshly painted black helmet under his arm. “Demopolis Bulldogs.“Right. When they were new our uniforms had been a dark maroon. “Okay.Page 42 . Now we ranged from rust to pink. Almost every jersey had stitches. We knew they would be loud. Then he laughed and shook his head. “Go on in then. but we didn‟t know they would be laughing. Avenger fans thought we were a joke.” We filed through the gate and trotted out onto the field to warm up. At Dogs to Men . We stopped our exercises and went over to our bench.
like soldiers. This was the way to teach the American Way. R. The air quivered with their voices. At 8-0 we were beat. and it was tails. when they Dogs to Men . 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. all as big and tough as the Vikings at The Ideal Cafe. crisp orders. But then we fumbled on second down. they recovered. when he took the kick-off and slipped by four Cougars to take the ball to midfield. did surprise us all. but when I counted them I realized there were only thirty-six. himself included. The only thing we did right all night was call the coin toss.first I thought there must be a hundred of them.Page 43 . We chose to receive because we were afraid we would never get the ball back if we kicked to them. They never missed a block. The crowd laughed with glee to see such sport. The second and third times they had the ball. They peeled off into three groups of twelve and did their warmups in perfect harmony. Us Dogs were already beaten. Watching from our bench. On their very first play. We were a grade school against the NFL. Each group followed a drill leader who shouted out clean. and that was the game. The Cougars were perfect. We called tails. so they used the rest of the game for practice. This was how football should be played.C.
“Boys!” Shorty called to us.” We stopped and looked back. Team Six seemed as strong as Team One. They were on our six yard line. Their running back made the two and then stepped out of bounds to keep from scoring. They played every man. Then they made one yard at a time using various goal-line plays and finally scored on fourth down. a new team of six on each possession. Through the fence we saw the Avenger band marching out to play. As the big electric clock with the blood red letters counted down 3--2-1--bang. all to give the game a little suspense. facing a sure touchback. They scored all six times they had the ball. we took a false turn and headed toward a pine thicket. sprains and bruises and injured pride. pranced four clowns Dogs to Men . In front of them.made it 16-0 and 24-0. leaving us mired on our own three yard line. all thirty-six. Us Dogs ended the half with a net loss of 120 yards. we struggled off toward the gate. to the delight of the crowd. All six of us starters were hurt one way or another. working out bugs. and they needed two yards for a first. They even practiced making a first down. “This way. testing themselves. Outside.Page 44 . beyond the ticket box. It was the first game of the season for them. They never lost a yard. they ran a different play on each snap.
nursing injuries. Bubba waited for us to settle down before he pulled a chair into the center of the room and sat down. The school couldn‟t afford to buy them for us. safe from the ridicule of the crowd and the claws of the Cougars. heads in hands. He had dropped the only two Dogs to Men . Once inside. a red polka dot towel around his neck. knowing that they would have to play in the second half. the one he gave at each game.” he said.dressed in tattered football jerseys. We stumbled past the stands and made our way toward our Dog House. They looked like us. The scoreboard read Cougars 48 Visitors 00.Page 45 . then sighed. “Boys. There was Herb. holding their helmets. There wasn‟t much to say really. He was our tight end. We starting six sat in chairs. then fell silent. we drifted to different corners and sides of the room. The scrubs stood against the walls. We had done our best. wondering how long we could hold on. part of a set Mother earned by buying the same brand of gas for a year. The band struck up their fight song. My towel was an embarrassing yellow with pink roses. He started once or twice more but each time stopped. so we each brought one from home. each a different color and design. Shorty gave out the towels. It was time for his pep talk.
ready to sacrifice himself for the common good. His eyes were still crossed. his left ankle crossed over his right knee. and we would whip anyone who laughed at him.passes Dee had sent his way. just enough to fool the opposition. We laughed at him until he whipped each of us in turn. He had big. He was our captain. After that we were his friends. slightly crossed eyes. he more than made up for in determination. His hair was darker now and cut so short you could see his scalp. like those of a curious hound puppy. his left foot Dogs to Men . faithful. and in came this doppey kid to brighten our day. as white as cotton. and when you said something to him his droopy ears seemed to stand up just the slightest bit. He was what a good Dog should be: tough. and he called the coin toss. and shaped like an upside-down bowl.Page 46 . Herb worked harder and got better results consistently than any of us. sad. He looked like that little boy on the bathroom tub cleaner jar. He was a team player. I remembered the day he first came to our school. What he lacked in natural talent. in speed and size. and he loved to block as much as to catch a pass. On defense he was always the last to fall and the first to get up. determined. We were in the third grade. His hair was straight and long. He sat on a metal folding chair.
his fat face twisted out of shape by his hand.bare. He looked like the Lost Sinner in Michelangelo‟s Last Judgment. It was a thing of beauty when it worked. take a pass from Dee. Next to Herb sat our center Jack. They said he was sticky. like a hamster. Dogs to Men . He was our biggest Dog. Jack was integral to one of our plays. stand up and turn around instead of falling as usual. and he was fluid. and they found it hard to get free of him. the other staring into space. his big toe erect and red. They would jump on him to find they had tackled a bean chair and had handsful of amorphous goup. He knew another hour of the same punishment awaited him.Page 47 . and it worked most of the time because he had sticky hands and was as hard to knock down as a boxing dummy. leaning forward out of his chair. He would snap the ball. but Jack tripped and plowed up six inches of turf with his nose before he could turn around. He snapped the ball and fell down in front of the opposing rushers. He had spent most of the last hour flat on his face in damp green grass. A Cougar had just stepped on his ingrown toenail. one eye covered. Dee called Jack‟s play once in the first half against the Cougars. then hand off to one of the running backs coming by him. I have seen him hand off with three men trying to wrestle him to the ground. elbows on his knees.
They usually went less than thirty seconds. He faced the wall. 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. On the roll of fat was the perfectly preserved print of a football shoe. But could he run! He was small and compact and hard to knock down.‟s never went more than one. He waded right in. and in several games he made more yards on his returns than we made on all our offensive plays together. and big roll of fat hung out over his waistband. Across the room from Jack sat R.Page 48 . After all these years he was still a stranger to me.C. the cleat marks spots of bright pink. The same in football: he either smeared or was smeared. His only weakness was that he was always being knocked cold. His jersey was hiked up. Jack‟s face had every color of the rainbow displayed across it. always in a hurry. He didn‟t seem to have a towel. but R C. He ran back the kickoffs.The ball hit him in the butt and bounced away. He either knocked his opponent out or he was knocked out. When you asked him a question he just nodded or shook his head. including the mandatory count of ten. knowing that he had to get in the first blow. He had a glass skull. Half the time the man who Dogs to Men . High school matches were supposed to go three rounds. all or nothing. This first showed up in boxing.
Army at fifteen. He was our deep back. Over in a corner. heavier than R.S.Page 49 . If he were shell shocked it was from target practice. but I could tell by the way he flexed his neck muscles that it was only a matter of time. Slower. He would be twenty-one in March. close to R. Jonnie‟s only problem was that even as tough as he looked he was prone to cry. C. So far tonight he hadn‟t been hit. I carried him off the field as often as I carried the ball. The scars on his face--we guessed from fights--frightened some of our opponents.hit him didn‟t get up. but not facing the wall. half the time he didn‟t.C. trying to graduate. Jonnie was the oldest Dog. Whatever Dogs to Men . but we all knew he was twenty. He was never knocked out. ready to knock out or be knocked out again. and he had been to Korea. He was preparing himself for combat.. but once he got started it was hard to pull him down. He ran away and joined the U. wiping his face with a faded red towel. Now he was back. not Cougars maybe but certainly Rabbits. three years behind. but Jonnie said he had never seen combat. Coach thought he had been shell shocked. was Jonnie. He only stayed out for a couple of minutes and then he was back in the game. it took him longer to pick up speed. Coach listed him on the roster that went to Austin as eighteen.
He would be absent on Monday and maybe even Tuesday. sometimes just when he got frustrated with a bad call or a busted play. He was always shaky through midweek but then ready to play again on Friday. he knew how to bent without breaking. his black curly hair falling over his face. The bright lights had cast a spell on him so deep that he didn‟t notice we were being stomped flat. he punted. Coach never reprimanded him. He was tuning up. and he called all our Dogs to Men . puzzled by our lethargy. He was an adult.the case. he kicked extra points. He kicked off. He always missed at least one day when we lost. He was still excited. and still he stood there biting his lip. Dee was the only quarterback I had followed into battle. smacking his white towel into his open palm. he passed. He was smart. Dee was the only one of the Big Six standing. In six months he could vote. I could always see it coming.Page 50 . and we guessed he went across the river to Oklahoma to drink. and he rarely got hurt. He had been sacked nearly thirty times. two when we lost really badly. looking anxiously from one comrade to another. and it was coming now. sometimes when he felt he had taken a low blow. He sat in his chair slumped over. his eyes hollow and cloudy. He had a car. he cried in almost every game. his mouth small.
but without Dee would have been nothing.” Herb said. was half raised. We all stared at Herb. head for home. He was glad someone had been. “Back?” Bubba looked to him for an explanation. His arm. “Coach?” Bubba stirred and looked around. “Forfeit. “What about?” His eyes showed that he would take any suggestion. He just let Dee run the team. “Back whur?” “Back to the game. his hand slightly moving.plays. “Fore we all git killed. Why not jus‟ forfeit?” “Forfeit. We‟re closer to the bus than to the field.C.” Dogs to Men . Coach never said a word to him. He was himself stumped.Page 51 . although flagging. “Whatcha say we don‟t go back?” Herb said with a sigh.” “Yeah?” Bubba said. We weren‟t much of a team. Le‟s just admit we been set up. get outa here.” several of the guys murmured. We were all intrigued. He had an arm like a catapault. It was Herb. Even R. “Whut?” “I been thinkin‟ y‟ know. more firmly the second time. “Huh?” Coach said. turned around to look.
and his fists were clenched.” He stood up and faced Dee. But le‟s face the truth and get the hell outa here. “Go home? When there‟s a haf t‟go? Forfeit? Sneak off with our tails between our legs?” “No. “What?” he said softly. You throw in the towel.” Dee looked dumbfounded.” he said.” “Walk off? You know what they‟d think about us if we did?” “I know what they think now. He looked shocked. Drive off. “They do it all the time in boxing. His face was red. I say le‟s throw it in. reasonably. His helmet hit the floor and went jerking toward the Dogs to Men . If you‟re about t‟git your brains beat out. “Walk off. cutting off several who were about to try. He was the only one of us who could stare back at Dee without blinking. “Dogs don‟t act like that. “Smart Dogs do. Make a lot of noise about it. let the bastards come out „n‟ look „n‟ laugh if they wont to. Well.Page 52 . Anybody wonta second me?” “No!” Dee snapped. you stop it.” Herb said calmly.Dee took a step toward him. Dogs that‟s whipped and know it do. His cleats clicked on the concrete floor. Circle the stands and honk.
hunting for enthusiasm. you Jack. “You gotta believe! You gotta believe we kin do it!” “Do what?” Herb challenged him. shirt tails out.C. you R. bark and bite. bruised and battered. his eyes keen. he said. We were a sorry looking bunch. “We gotta go back out there. Dee was telling us not only that we could survive but that we could win. no matter how we feel. you kin do it. “Stand up! Allayou. true. We had to fight to the death. “Win!” Dee shot back. shoes off. Believe! If you believe you kin do it. So we would.. true?” He made us nod our agreement. “You gotta believe. his finger waving. Jack stopped it with his foot.Page 53 . I said stand up!” He coaxed us all up. We were Dogs. “You gotta believe. “Now you-all lissen t‟me. wake up!” He sounded like one of those revival preachers. the way you watch a used car salesman. We couldn‟t quit. True? True? True?” He went to each of us and pressed home the question and wouldn‟t leave until we nodded. his cleats clicking. I looked Dogs to Men . When we were up. True. you Jonnie. You Louie. y‟ hear me. He walked around among us like a bird dog among dead trees. Sure. heads high.gleaming showers. “Now. you Dogs!” he barked. you Herb!” Herb eyed him warily.
“Forty-eight in the first haf. yeah yeah!” We began to chant “forty-eight. The rest of us would be.they made forty-eight points in a half. fortyeight. he would fight to the death. “Le‟s go. Even Herb had a shy grin on his face. . Forty-eight points!” “Yeah!” “Forty-eight. He would go back out there with us. “Now. We broke through the door and saw the eastern sky ablaze with light. so we know it can be done. all but Herb. “We gonna go back out there „n‟ take it to „em! Right?” “Yeah!” we said louder.Page 54 . “We gonna go back out there „n‟ win! Right?” “Ho!” we shouted. forty-eight. Dogs to Men .around and saw smiles. forty-eight in the second! So le‟s go do it!” Dee yelped. “So no sneakin‟ off in the night! Right?” Dee yelled at us. “Right!” we said. They did it. forty-eight. . but he wouldn‟t be stupid.” and it grew louder with each repetition. we kin do it. forty-eight!” “Yeah.” We all nodded.
Fifteen minutes later I woke up Dogs to Men . I would put an end to this embarrassment and put us back on the road to redemption. It was my man. “Forty-eight. I was closer to it than he was. “On three” And so they did--for thirteen yards. I saw an empty green field ahead of me all the way to the end zone. That‟s the last thing I remember. I caught the ball and headed toward it. Everything went black.Page 55 . I went downfield with the guy who was supposed to catch the pass. two mountain lions preparing to mate. I would grab history by the neck and turn it around. and they did what he said. I looked up and saw the ball coming toward us.” he said. fortyeight!” For the next five minutes we lived the American Dream--. We lined up on defense. On the next play he not only announced the route but pointed to the ball carrier. Their quarterback came up behind his center.before the second half began and we ran head-on into the American Reality. The Cougars took the kick-off back to mid-field and purposely ran out of bounds to keep from scoring. On the third play he announced a pass and even had the receiver raise his hand. I decided right then that he wouldn‟t catch it. I would give this American Dream a happy ending. forty-eight.We followed Dee toward it. and smiled at us with mock compassion “Comin‟ roun‟ left end.
The small crowd booed him for it. crying. “Coach?” He leaned over and shook Bubba‟s shoulder. I sat up. The game continued.V. Jack. lay unconscious next to me.” he said and turned and trotted back across the field. sat Bubba. “We got some J.s we‟d like t‟give some time. and looked out to the field. was Jonnie. The Cougar coach called time and came across the field. That awright with you?” When Bubba didn‟t answer. he took it as an affirmation. In fact he tackled a dwarf on the one-yard line as the final gun sounded. We were about to leave when a guard came to tell us it would be Dogs to Men . Then I noticed a group of tiny guys filing out to the Cougar bench. Herb and three scrubs went down time after time as the Cougar sixth team moved for another touchdown. In the fourth quarter Jack had to come out. sitting up. The team of dwarfs whooped with delight and ran out onto the field. but Bubba didn‟t answer. waving as he went. My back hurt.Page 56 . and at last Herb gave up and withdrew. Beside him.C. Dee. At the end of the bench. They had on uniforms.under our bench. holding my back. head in hands. R. The crowd was much smaller. “Coach?” he said to Bubba. but they were no more than twelve years old. Only Dee stayed to the end. moaning. rocking. “Thanks.
COUGARS 96 VISITORS 00 Dogs to Men . I thought my back was broken. boys. still ablaze.” the guard said.” “What about?” I groaned. “you kin go now. So?” “He‟s a prophet. feeling pain. “He said forty-eight points in the first half.” Herb said as we sloshed along toward the Dog House. The spray sent a rainbow into the dim light. We walked slowly though it. Even talking hurt. “Dee was right. We sat on our bench until all sound died out and the lights dimmed.” We struggled up. Dee looked up with damp eyes. As we started out the sprinkler system came on and sprayed us from four directions.” He helped me turn around.wise for us to wait until the crowd was gone before we moved. I looked at the scoreboard at the end of the stadium. Its blood red letters told the whole story. didn‟t he?” “Yeah.Page 57 . “Awright. so fortyeight in the second. Herb came to help me walk. “Well. Look.
Louie.” I moaned. not bothering to look up from his paper.Blood. “He‟s hurt. Look at how he walks. I was up earlier than usual for a Saturday. Daddy looked at me for a moment and went back to his paper.” Mother said when I came in to breakfast Saturday morning.” “You‟re not either. “And what is this?” she said as she grabbed my left arm and held it out. “You‟re crippled.Page 58 . he‟s crippled. “Crippled?” Daddy said. look at him. “I‟m okay. “Aw. but I didn‟t want her to start on why I had to quit football. Go on. early enough for Daddy still to be there. “Uh huh.” I obeyed. From my birth she had know whether I was okay or not. It hurt to walk all right. before he went to the barber shop. Sweat and Miss Lynne “Marvin.” she corrected me.” he said. Dogs to Men . because I hurt so much I couldn‟t sleep. Walk for „im. Mom. Come over here t‟me. walk over to „im” I limped toward Daddy. I could see my little brother Andy shaking with silent mirth. He loved to see me in pain.
” She looked at us both with disgust. .Page 59 . “What do you plan to do about this?” “What?” Daddy said. “His arm?” “Football! What are you. some dangerous women. He hadn‟t the faintest idea what we were talking about. “I didn‟t know it was there. Now it was starting again. . more than he could say for himself. at least I would die happy. . Daddy didn‟t seem to care. The next year she said that if I played she would hire a doctor to go to the games and watch me. .where we looked at a big bruise above the elbow.” I said honestly. He told her that all teenaged boys risked their lives for something stupid and that even if I got killed doing it. 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. some fast cars. Maybe I got it when I got knocked out. “I don‟t know.” “Knocked out! You got knocked out? Marvin!” “Huh? What?” Daddy looked up from his paper. Again thank God it never happened. Dogs to Men . He told Mother that some boys liked guns. the least dangerous of the lot. and that she should be thankful that all I liked was football. “What is it?” she demanded. the skin rippled and stained green. We had been over this terrain a hundred times.
She saw me as a good catch. Football had its demands. 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.” “But you got hurt bad!” “We all got hurt bad. “tell me what happened last night. By that night I was able to move with little enough pain that I could walk across town to visit Jackie. She was already pre-enrolled at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. . and there was always hair to cut.” mother said when she realized Daddy would not help her.” She made me walk some more. Andy laughed. and Daddy read the funny papers. Mother complained. I would probably be a barber like Daddy. We were now young adults. Meanwhile Rosemary had grown away from me.” “Well.” “We all got hurt.“Louie. Dogs to Men . a steady provider.Page 60 .” “You got hurt. . . In the American Dream every boy believed that with enough talent and effort. . Things had changed a lot in the five years since the Donkey Basketball Game. I couldn‟t see what the fuss was about.we got beat.pretty bad. I tried to hide my pain. by the age of 30 he would be rich and famous and crippled for life.
waiting for Jackie to get dressed and make some excuse for leaving the house. maybe he was reaching for a gun. It was beginning to turn cool at night. and he usually believed her. staring at me through amber plastic eyes. Maybe I would soon be hanging by my scrotum beside that allegator on the barn door. I edged closer.Page 61 . bred I assumed in Dover. so at least I knew she would be in her room alone. married. trying not to look at the allegator. car. the state pen. I retreated to an outhouse where the allegator hide hung. but maybe tonight he was suspicious. maybe he was making her confess. She usually told her daddy that she was going to study with a girlfriend. and appliance dealerships. Just before I panicked and ran for my life. a “Doverman” people called it. the curtain moved again. upside down.where there would be an even greater choice of boys ready to inherit furniture. England. I was scared to death of her daddy. She smiled and signaled for me to wait. There were rumors that he had a new mean dog. in the army. Jackie smiled and Dogs to Men . Jackie‟s brothers and sisters were all gone now. I pitched gravel against her window. and I stood out there shivering for what seemed like an eternity. After a moment she pulled back the curtain and peered into the darkness until she saw me. I sneaked around behind Jackie‟s house.
I buried my head in her bosom. looking out at Van Gogh stars. stroking my hair. and into the barn where we always went. Jackie laid her books aside and snuggled up to me. I gave the house a wide berth and went down the road and kept out of sight. despite a big open window that framed a full moon. so we were never interrupted. what you wonta talk about?” she said. After another five minutes she joined me. through some bushes. “Need t‟talk?” “Yeah. Dogs to Men . The man who owned it was about a hundred years old.nodded and signaled for me to go on down the road. This meant everything was all right. books in hand. It was warm up there.” I said and hung my head from embarrassment. We spread some hay and sat down side by side. “Now. that her daddy wouldn‟t be coming out to kill me. We slipped through a small side door and made our way up a ladder into the loft. and he never came out there at night. from the body heat of cows and mules below. smiling. Louie. She took my hand and led me off the road. across a pasture. 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.Page 62 . “Hi.” she cooed.
that I would never take a pacifier. “You feelin kinda low?” “Yeah. no. I would have to do some scrubbing when I got home. It felt urgent.” I moaned.” “I heard. “Oh. Mother never understood. still rubbing my back. the way I did the mornings after my dreams. By the time I realized what it was I couldn‟t stop it.” I sighed. no. “Oh. My leather jacket crackled as she moved her hands over me.” “Dogs got beat?” “Yeah. She had no idea what was happening to me. It started around my hips and moved forward. Jackie rubbed my sore back. I snuggled against her bosom. Mother always said I was a breast-fed baby.” I was crying. When I woke my head was in Jackie‟s lap.” I sighed and sniffled. that I went from her breast straight to a glass. no. Deep down I felt a strange sensation. This was heaven.Page 63 . Then I thought about the stiff yellow stain that would be on my shorts. I fell asleep for a time.“I don‟ know. not Dogs to Men . Bad. no. I also went from a glass back to a breast. and a cool breeze was drying the sweat on my brow. “What? Whatsamatter with my big ol‟ Dog?” Jackie said.
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.”
Dogs to Men - Page 64
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?”
Dogs to Men - Page 65
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.
Dogs to Men - Page 66
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
Dogs to Men - Page 67
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
Dogs to Men - Page 68
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
Dogs to Men - Page 69
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.”
Dogs to Men - Page 70
“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
Dogs to Men - Page 71
It was no easy task to bring culture to Demopolis. We would show her what she could do with her plays. An inexperienced girl. She didn‟t try to explain. and we would be her foot soldiers. she just told us to meet her after school for readings. She was a tiny thing. she made us read.Page 72 . especially the boys because we all thought the strage was for sissies. She was a one woman advance guard of a Demopolis Enlightenment. but she was determined to try. blond hair and big brown eyes. and we watched with open mouths as she took over. for the first time. Would we ever have fun with her. 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.consider as one of our elective activities. barely five feet tall. She kept order in class. We could barely conceal our smirks of contempt and our smiles of anticipation. What good would theater do us. Then she arrived. We were going to have a contest play. she looked younger than some of our seniors. and she twisted our arms. and we were going to excel. she made us listen. but she was all business and as tough as nails. we asked her. Dogs to Men . She had trouble getting us to try out. she made us learn. We resisted.
and now as an adult I can see that it did. to stretch our talents she said. My sophomore year we did “Hamlet. during the first week of classes. Ophelia walking around in a daze. the grave digger. but some choice bits Miss Lynne excised and stitched together: the scene with the ghost. marvelous place. even though they beat us with the stuff she called garbage. unlike the first two. the play within a play. I was Hamlet. We blamed our previous lack of success in part on the plays Miss Lynne chose for us to do.For three years. This year she told us that the contest would be at Kilgore Junior College. She was a genius.” of course. Three years I stumbled over my lines. it was all bizarre.Page 73 . Polonius giving advice to his son. Miss Lynne assured us that it all made sense. Then. She always came up with something really hard. the death of Hamlet.” which was head and shoulders above the competition but still didn‟t win. rich and magnificent. we were going to win. Not all of “Hamlet. though. a grand. Texas drawls reciting Dogs to Men . This year. I followed her orders and went to an empty room after school and read for the play. Three years I was cast in the lead. She wouldn‟t even consider letting us do “The Night the Ghost Got In” or “Aaron Slick from Punkin Crick” like some schools did. one of her two alma maters.
Nestled under the vast northern plain and the sets of mountains east and west. We looked at it and tried to read it. Tee-shirt necks enveloped in lace. “where Mr. Faulkner writes about. We came in sixth of seven teams. Little did we know that it would be crazy southern rednecks. Legs accustomed to jeans wearing leotards. “Is this English?” someone asked her. Faulkner lives and writes. it‟s just a day‟s drive from here. 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. they think and act like we do. Little did we know that it would be Delta slang.” 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. Miss Lynne tried to calm our apprehensions about itby taking us to a map and showing us Oxford.” she told us. Mississippi.” That made us feel a bit better. No more crazy Danish princes. “People there.Page 74 . No more Elizabethan verse. Dogs to Men . She gave us the script she had carefully typed during the summer holidays. My junior year we did something quite different. the ones Mr. “See. they looked like neighbors.Elizabethan English.
the way it‟s written. We didn‟t understand the stories.” So we did. We southerners were bilingual and didn‟t know it. We thought Oxford. we didn‟t understand the people.Page 75 . Mister Faulkner writes the way his people talk. we could speak it. “Is Faulkner still alive?” I asked Miss Lynne one day after our junior English class. Go on. I thought all great writers were dead. We learned from the first grade that written English and spoken English are two different things. She was pretty when she laughed. Miss Lynne laughed. like you talk. “It doesn‟t look like what you think English is supposed to look like.” she said. “Don‟t look like it to me. We could read it. Old Bill Faulkner combined them. the place where they sent crazy folks.” someone else said. I liked to stop by her desk and talk when I had time and got up my courage.” she nodded. Texas. We wrote one language and spoke another.“Of course it is. surprising us with her candor. must be like Terrell. Dogs to Men . “That‟s right. and she was right. Mississippi. but she spoke of him in present tense. Just read it out loud. The light began to dawn. He wrote it the way we spoke it. but we still couldn‟t figure out what it meant.
I got some books down. There was something wrong somewhere. Keep thinking. Dogs to Men .Page 76 .” I could believe it. They say he drinks. “You think the things he writes about make him drink or drinking makes him write like he does?” I asked. . I‟m really proud of you. “You keep it up. I told her. Her eyes twinkled.” I admitted. and we received a standing ovation from the college crowd that saw it.and read.” “I. It was nice. She looked at me strangely. She dazzled me with her smile.” I kept thinking. “Louie. . An old woman beheaded by a man who didn‟t know whether he was black or white.” she said. feeling foolish.“He sure is. A college girl raped with a corncob. “How do you know all those things?” Miss Lynne asked.” she smiled up at me. We went to the local Teachers College to do the play. “They‟re not in our play. “He lives in a big old mansion there in Oxford. An idiot boy in love with a cow. but I never did understand Faulkner. Keep reading. and I kept reading. . “What makes you ask that.well. When we were disqualified for going over the forty-five minute time limit. Louie?” she said. .
and they Dogs to Men . Be in Room Eight Friday at 3:30. We were just relieved that we didn‟t have to go to higher competition with Faulkner‟s loony bunch of characters. “Well. simple lines.” “Good. . We had never seen playbooks. This year Miss Lynne caught me in the hallway the first day of classes and grabbed my arm. 1865. It was called “The Last Curtain. which said creativity and innovation had been thwarted. Her breath smelled like lilacs. We were written up in the college newspaper. This was a real play.Page 77 . She twisted it and came up to my face. “You‟ll read for the play. I guess. along with ten or twelve others. and we milled around sheepishly until Miss Lynne bounced in and started handing out playbooks. They sent a copy of the article to Demopolis.there was a furor. This play was made for you. on a stage. .” Her eyes were big and round and bright. right Louie?” she said urgently. We had always read from mimeographed pages. “This could be your year. You‟ll need to grow sideburns. The six characters had short. written to be performed in one forty minute episode.” I was there.” and it was about a group of actors and actresses in a dressing room backstage at Ford‟s Theater on April 14. We never knew what it was all about.
We read different parts. In previous years she waited a day or two to announce who would play what. Miss Lynne ordered him to let his flat-top grow out. but this time she seemed to have made up her mind immediately. Jackie was cast as his wife. a dandy. one who parted his hair down the middle. easy to follow. This gave Booth the chance to rant and rave and Dogs to Men . Miss Laura Keen. Dee was to be one of the actors. Since there was so little time. who was keen on John Wilkes Booth. It wasn‟t much of a part. but you could tell they were devoted to each other. drunk and armed. We couldn‟t believe Miss Lynne chose it. an actress. but it was easier than his Polonius in “Hamlet” and his idiot in “Faulkner. an obvious winner. They argued a lot.kept coming and going from a stage off-stage where they were performing “Our American Cousin” for President Lincoln. and at the end of the hour Miss Lynne read out the cast. Herb was a janitor. and collided with him. It was funny and sad. It really never did get long enough. he would have to use grease to make it lay down. and up close even on the day of the contest his head looked like a coconut with a stripe painted down the center. In this play he visited the leading lady.Page 78 .” so he was pleased. Booth staggered in. to warn her that Booth was on his way to the theater.
would be played by Rosemary Grouse. since he shot the president. She didn‟t know then about the kisses Miss Lynne planned to insert into my scene with Rosemary. Miss Lynne had us speak the play. Rosemary was now tall and dark and willowy. meet John Wilkes Booth. I looked at Jackie.generally show what a worthless scoundrel he was. 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. Later when she learned about them my love life came unglued. perfect for the part. they were all glad it was me and not them.” Again the group applauded politely. “That will be Louie. Everyone. It was appropriate. The three weeks were gone.” Miss Lynne smiled and looked at me. My stomach turned over. since she was a born leading lady. for the lead. Laura Keen. The boys weren‟t jealous. and the ten days were beginning. correcting our pronunciations and emphases as we went. We gathered on the gym stage that night without our books because we were supposed to know our lines by heart. Miss Lynne told us that the leading lady.Page 79 . We had three weeks to learn our lines. “Now. and then she Dogs to Men . as if the audience didn‟t know this already. then ten days to rehearse.
I was shocked. Toad and Tad waited to a count of five and then they whacked the board. Miss Lynne made us do it at least ten times.had us stand up and move to each place where a line was delivered. Tyrannis” as Rosemary fainted. “Do it now.Page 80 . to get used to it. short for Tadpole. Twice during my scene with Rosemary she interrupted to tell us that we should kiss.” she said. and he played it for us on his portable record player. I yelled “Sic. Toad Roden. With each kiss I dug my relationship with Jackie a deeper grave. Semper. something of a precybernetic technical whiz. had found a recording of “Hail to the Chief” to play at the time where Lincoln arrived for the performance off-stage. not from an angry Jackie. I worked myself into a rage. he and his little brother Tad. not from a smiling Miss Lynne. were forbidden. rigged up a pine board to slap down for the gunshot just after I ran off to do my foul deed. threw Rosemary aside when she tried to take my gun. Since real gunfire. and ran out to kill. During the next ten days I kissed Rosemary a hundred times. even blanks. Dogs to Men . not from the leering boys. We also set up our simple sound effects. I looked around for sympathy but found none.
After the first practice Jackie refused to let me walk her home. Dogs to Men . The next day she refused to help me with my homework. I was going downhill fast.Page 81 . The week after that she refused even to acknowledge my existence.
They were obviously the starting team. We dressed as we drove along. They were indeed few and small. The Dingos appeared from behind the far stands to polite but unenthusiastic cheers from a small. We noticed immediately how dark it was. big enough to play for the pros. with cars honking at our moons. We were going to play the scrubs. Now we looked out onto a field of twi-light shadows. the ones who had failed English. Satch drove to the edge of the field. We thought they were just saving electricity. We watched them warily. sauntered out and sat down on their bench. Knowing it was time for the game. ragged in their drills. Dogs to Men . We were late because along the fifty mile trip we had to stop to fix flats on three different bald tires.Dingos in the Dark It was almost seven-thirty Friday night when we piled off the Golden Chariot at David Crockett High School Field. A dozen giants.Page 82 . The week before we played in brilliant artificial sunlight. They never did. lethargic crowd that filled barely half the seats. that they would turn up the power for the game. and we came growling and snarling out into a dim light. known as The Alamo.
Their eyes were shifty. and we wondered how we would have managed to stop their A Team‟s tricks. but we caught on to it right away and stopped them after a two-yard gain. I saw it drift lazily downfield.Page 83 . Then they pulled a double reverse. The Dingos lived up to their name. In a double reverse that second back had to hand off to an end. We trapped him and brought him down. The whistle blew. In a single reverse the quarterback threw to a halfback. Not bad. who made a big circle and handed off to the other halfback coming toward him. and it worked pretty well in the dim light. Their Dogs to Men . a rarity in six-man football because it takes so many players. pulled it three times in a row. We lined up and got set. defying logic. their moves skittish. good guess work really. fondly hoping that the inexperienced kids might fumble in their own territory. each time with a different combination of players. their plays tricky. The Dingos. which wasn‟t easy. I saw their little receiver catch it. They started off with a reverse. We managed to stop them all three times. and come forward. It was the last play of the entire game that made any sense. I heard the usual “punk” as he hit it. pick it up. They pulled the old hidden ball trick at least five times. but it was mostly a matter of luck. and Dee came to the ball.We won the coin toss and elected to kick. drop it.
“Watch out!” “Ho!” The ball came up to the little kid. “Hey!” we yelled. not knowing what to do. We called time and huddled. They came to the ball. Once they needed a yard for a first down on our twenty yard line. and in came a tiny guy who stood about four feet seven and weighed maybe eighty pounds.C. long enough for their real quarterback Dogs to Men . Dee said. and like the ball they had a white stripe on each arm. and the referees didn‟t penalize us because they were as confused as we were. We hesitated for a moment. but their tricks began to wear us down. bent over.jerseys were brown like the ball. held it to his stomach. and R. Only once did a Dingo get through us. and the tiny boy stood in as quarterback.Page 84 . On one play all six of us tackled a different Dingo. and stood there like a wad of chewing gum with legs. to take our minds off the play. so we should ignore him. caught up with him at midfield. He caught it. “Heads up!” Shorty shouted to us from the sidelines. On two or three plays we lost sight of the ball completely and had to tackle runners we guessed had it. What was up? A decoy.
We made a few yards and kicked. grab the wad by the jersey and seat of his pants. but we made them. Our yards weren‟t as interesting as theirs. Second down. “Hey.to run up. First down. been pushed.Page 85 . We stood flat footed and watched him sail by us and land in the middle of the field. We were coming up to the half. It did absolutely no good. Time clicked off the dimly-lit clock. and we kept the Dingos from scoring. He could have run it. We yelled and shook our fists and argued long and loud with righteous indignation about the injustice of it all. First down! We rushed to protest to the referee. been thrown. which was a moral victory for us. The referee ruled that one of their players had carried the ball more than the distance needed for a first down. jumped up. uncoiled. and they got it back plus two. and throw him at us. and dropped the ball. and the score was still 00-00. Our confidence grew. They were on their own thirty yard line. maybe even block Dogs to Men . He didn‟t care how he was propelled. and they lost a yard. First down! So it went. but they still needed thirteen. He rolled over. it didn‟t matter. been carried. le‟s hold „em now!” Dee shouted to us as the last minute of the first half began. They made a few yards and kicked. We did. We could hold them.
maybe even score. but at worst we would have a tie at the break. The quarterback pitched out to a back. with a face that matched the ones on the wall at the Demopolis Post Office. men wanted for mail fraud in Michigan. just before he sneaked off. Their next play was a loser. The clock said eight seconds.Page 86 . He was a sneaky looking character. time for one more play. but now I saw something even Dogs to Men . “Two. and the rest of the team blocked for him as he headed straight for the sidelines and slid out of bounds into their bench.” we heard him hiss. he held up two fingers. This would be easy. At the end. Then I noticed something. They looked tired. He was forbidden by the rules to enter the huddle. not in my entire career. They broke their huddle and came to the ball. I was always looking for seven players so I could report it and get them for an infraction. A three yard loss. so they watched him from about ten yards away as he spoke to them through cupped hands. and it would likely be a kick. It wasn‟t a kick. They were in their third-down huddle when their coach came out onto the field. The Dingos looked at each other and grinned. I never saw seven.their punt. It looked like they would just run out the clock. I had a habit of counting the other team.
holding the ball above his head.better. The gun sounded. Their three linesmen fell.Page 87 . As we plunged forward I could still hear Shorty. To my amazement he threw the ball. He was about to be chewed up by a hungry Bulldog. I toyed with him. The ball snapped back. and they were all looking toward the other end of the field. but when he slowed down and stopped. I glanced across to Herb. The Dingos only had five. We charged. hoping he might waltz back into our end zone so I could tag him for two points. All I wanted was to cream a Dingo. I went in for the kill. I was vaguely aware of Shorty‟s voice coming from the sidelines. eighty yards away. Coward! He had dumped off. Their single blocker stopped Herb. and there would be no penalty because the time had run out. A little Dingo stood in our end zone. gave him a moment of freedom. screaming wildly. and their quarterback faded back. He had noticed it too. I glanced up at the small crowd. and he winked. and the quarterback was mine. I turned and squinted into the gloaming. A referee stood beside him holding up Dogs to Men . but I went on with abandon. Then I heard a big cheer. All I had to do was corner him and throw him down. but I paid him no attention. three on the line and two back. I glanced at Dee. Herb and I went for him.
. “What ith it?” he lisped. “It was the back. about to cry.they .” I said.” he said.two striped arms. “I‟m sorry. shaking his head. “On that other play. .we. He was hopping mad. jus‟ lined up way out there on the side whur you didn‟t see „im. nodding his yellow head. yes! A touchdown! It made no sense. . he just set there.” “Hid?” Jonnie joined us. all but the quarterback. Dee jogged up to me. didn‟t git up.” Shorty came out onto the field. didn‟t go to the huddle.” he moaned. They were still down except for the quarterback who danced around me in glee. . spitting blood.” “I don‟t know. yes.” Dogs to Men . . one whur they slid into the bench? Well. “He was hafway home „fore I saw „im. I saw that he had lost a front tooth. “He hid. When he spoke. “I don‟t know. you know.Page 88 . I had seen the Dingos go down.” “Hid?” Shorty nodded. Yes. Ball come right over me. “They say it‟s a touchdown.” “Toutshdown? How? We.
A player didn‟t have to go to the huddle to be in the next play. . I tried t‟tell ya” “Yeah. The rest of us stood flat footed. No one Dogs to Men . I heard „im yellin‟.” Shorty said. He just had to be on the field when the play was snapped.fair. “I know it. The dim scoreboard blinked and put up a big 06 beside David Crockett. but it was legal. and whispered directions to the dressing room to Coach Flood. and he was on-sides. fearing for his life. “That. . Jonnie went off crying. Bubba just stared blankly at him. Dee went to get some ice for his mouth. By Visitors there was still a 00.“But. “He was in plain open sight.that‟s not. . . refusing to move as the Dingos ran the ball in for two more points.” “Fair or not.Page 89 .” I felt my face turn red. . The Dingo coach sneaked across the field. .” So it was a touchdown.” another one said. It might not be fair. but we lost.” I said.” one of the referees said over and over.” We argued for ten minutes. The clock blinked again: 08-00. and the rest of us glared at him until he cowered away. in protest. “He lined up over there. and that one was. “You boys jus‟ didn‟t keep a sharp lookout Your midget there seen „im. “he done it.
We didn‟t want to go there. We followed Coach and Shorty out to our bus.Page 90 . but Herb‟s comment brought him awake. We‟re Bulldogth.” “Yeah.” we agreed. looking straight ahead. We looked at him. It was probably as dark and damp and foul as the rest of The Alamo.” His s‟s whistled through the hole in his teeth. and when we got there Bubba marched up the steps and closed the door behind him. “Gotta „member. his jaw twice its normal size.” he mumbled with obvious pain. Dee seemed almost asleep. but Bubba didn‟t respond. “Know what I think?” Herb said. waiting for him to open it and return to us. “Uh. We could see him sitting in one of the seats. We felt miserable It was a long time before Herb broke the silence. but they were on the bus. “I think we need t‟teach this bunch a few tricks of our own.cared where the dressing room was. He was looking up at the sky. We needed towels. “Wadden right. but he never did. out of sight. Dogs to Men . and sat down in the tall autumn grass.” we agreed. Shorty even knocked. uh. We all stood there for a time. propped up against a bus tire.” “Sure wadden. watching the moon sail between dark clouds. At last we gave up and went around behind the bus.
” he repeated for emphasis. “We‟re the Dogth of Demopolisth.” he said over and over. but he never wore it in games for fear he might swallow it. but in Dee‟s oratory it was a city set on a hill. The world depended on us. although as the games went by he learned to control it better.” he said with conviction. “We kin win thisth game. Again the whistle. “Bulldogth. The moon emerged from a cloud. honesty. “Righth?” “Hey!” we shouted. In reality of course Demopolis was a small. justh football!” We struggled to our feet and stood with our leader.No one laughed. and integrity. The whistle was with him the rest of the season. No tricksth. a light to the nations. no stuntsth. “An‟ we‟ll win it fair „n‟ thsquare. sad little town. but he stood up and harrangued us and inspired us and convinced us that Bulldogs were special. and he made it sound grand. tattered. “Lesth go out „n‟ kill some Dingosth!” “Ho!” Bubba heard our shout and came over to the window above us. The way he described us we were guard dogs truth.Page 91 . He got a false tooth. and Dogs to Men . 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.
He sat back down. Bubba did not. “Okay. came zipping by Dogs to Men . nervous as young pups on our first hunt.” The Dingos laughed at the lisp.he looked up at it. you Dingosth. “Okay. my end. two. R. Dee looked across at the enemy. They reluctantly took their places. We had to wait for the Dingos. . We growled at them as they sidled out onto the field. R. . The way was clear. As we came to the line for the first time. and Dee called the play that we knew would tie the game. but their laughter died away as we began our march.” I threw myself at a Dingo. we wisth to you. first losing two and then gaining six. “Huth! One. and we both went down. took the kickoff and ran it back to midfield. It took us seven minutes. R. We were lined up ready for the kickoff when they peeped around the stands. lesth go!” Dee ordered. We let out a howl and followed him around the bus and back toward the dim field. C would take the ball from Dee and come around left end. We huddled. They looked scared. but halfway through the third quarter we still had the ball. I lined up close to center and tried to look as if the ball would go the other way. His long nose and skinny neck made him look like a spook on Halloween.C.Page 92 . We beckoned for him to come out. and it was on their three yard line.C. Shorty followed us.
and we fell. looked down at his hands. and finally at Christmas I went to see the doctor. Only R.me and fell into the end zone. knocked silly by a flying heel. who rebroke and set it to be as straight as it would ever be. Jonnie was hysterical the rest of the night. He lay under two Dingos. I caught him at the twenty. A runner dropped the ball. I scrambled up and looked downfield to see a Dingo.C. I was the only Dog standing. It took us the rest of the quarter to hold off their touchdown. wasn‟t tangled up. regain our composure. a third tried to scoop it up but instead bumped it closer to our goal. They were empty. with it broken. another kicked it our way. and he was beating his fists on the ground in disgust. Both sides weakened as time ran out. “Louie! Thstop „im!” The order came from Dee. racing for the other goal.C. R. I gained on the little rat. and the rest of the season. I played the rest of the game. Most of the last quarter was played around midfield. Herb. and get decent field position. R.C. That‟s when I broke my right middle finger. I ran. That‟s also when we lost the game. I was one-handed.Page 93 . I let out a yelp. I was ready to settle for a 00-08 loss when with a minute to play the Dingos fumbled. with only his head free. was addled. like a brown rat. Dogs to Men .
“It‟sth a trick. “Like they pulled on usth. We lined up and ran the sweep out of bounds by our bench.fell on it at the thirty. got ith?” Herb smiled and nodded. I was about to protest. Dee grinned at him. but the huddle was breaking up.” Dee nodded and turned to Herb. What did he mean? “We run a fake play to our benchth. “I can‟t do anything but block. He was serving as coach in Bubba‟s absence. to remind Dee of what he said at the half.” he said in a weird voice. “Itsth yourth then. “We gonna do t‟them whath they done t‟usth. “Why‟d you do that?” he demanded. . “Stay outh there. something out of a spook movie. His freckles stood out like neon dots.” Herb looked around with a silly grin. holding up my red and swollen middle finger.” I said apologetically.” “Listen. Louie stayth outh. Dogs to Men .” Shorty said. all that stuff about canine honesty and integrity.” We shook our heads. and Dee called time out. I saw an odd gleam in his eyes. like th‟Dingoth.” he said. We huddled. Shorty came up to Dee. No one knew he was punch drunk. . Herb.” “You cain‟t fool „em with their own trick. “Awright.Page 94 .
Dee disappeared beneath an avalanche of brown shirts.” Dee said. From the ground I saw Dee scrambling. Herb went over and sat down on our bench. He was waiting for Herb to run clear. and he would have a clear run to the goal. We fooled ourselves. and we fell. Dee barked the signals. and I came down again on that middle finger. “Itsth tho obviouth it can‟t mith. All block and let Herb sneak down the sidelines for the score “On three. He looked puzzled.Page 95 . and Herb was standing on the sidelines. I looked toward the bench and there he stood. at the halfway point. For our season. In a moment he would line up out there. He faded. The gun sounded. a crooked smile on his face. no one would see him. We five went to our huddle. I glanced over. Dee just winked at us.“Oh yesth. They hadn‟t noticed we only had five. The Dingos were all in the middle of the field. I blocked one. The ball popped back and Dee took it.” He turned and trotted back to the field. we were 00-03. We went to the line.” Dee said. right where he had stood before the ball was snapped. Dogs to Men . then angry. We all knew the play. I looked downfield and saw no Herb. The score remained 08-00. the crooked smile still on his face. Dingos swarmed. then frightened.
Autumn showers were generally brief. and Rosemary The next week was a dream. By Saturday Dogs to Men . as Miss Lynne glowed with pleasure and Jackie glowered with anger. a rarity for us. We would be able to dress at our leisure. warm up at a lazy pace. and listen to a crowd cheer for us. we had a home game on Friday. I kissed Rosemary a hundred more times. This was one of two for the year. I was in a daze. and we had to work out in the gym in socks. trot casually across the road. no strange dressing room. and she refused to help me with my chemistry. but we hardly noticed. Now if it would only stop raining. Jackie refused to meet me at the barn.Pigs. It was sprinkling lightly late Friday night when we got back to Demopolis from The Alamo. No hard ride to another school. with slopes and potholes we knew. We would play on our own field. in front of our own fans and cheerleaders.” in typing drills. Bulls. a dream played out under water. and I failed two quizzes. My finger hurt. It rained all week.Page 96 . just across the highway from our own school and gym. On the bright side. making it hard to strike the “I” and the “k” and the “. a dream in which I couldn‟t run fast enough to keep up with the things people yelled at me to do.
When the bell sounded we jumped up and hurried down the dark hallway to the door. Once during a tumescent trance I got hit right in the mouth with one of Dee‟s passes.Page 97 . ready to get some fresh air. only to cower back like sad puppies as it started again.morning. that God would never again destroy the world with a flood. when I dragged myself and my finger out of bed in search of nourishment. and most of the week Coach Flood just watched us work out without saying a word. just long enough for me to have to go to Methodist Sunday School. glanced out at the heavy gray skies. We looked up from our books. which put me into a deeper trance. and smiled with assurance that it was over. twisting their buns in our faces. We did our drills on the gym floor. For an hour or two each day. Dogs to Men . 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. but it was noisy with the pep squad yelling in the stands and crowded with kids doing their pushups. the sprinkle had turned to rain. and then it started again. Shorty was out of school all week with bronchitis. it stopped. All week there was a steady patter on the roof. Sunday it cleared for a couple of hours. once in the morning and again at midafternoon.
Future Farmers of America. Mr.The Ag boys hoped the rain would keep us inside our classroom. His daughter Barbara.Page 98 . On most occasions we returned to history and literature classes dripping blood. but at Demopolis we called it F..A.. a field thickly littered with baby pigs. Doc made us choose partners and handed each of us a five gallon bucket. sweat. 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.P. went to our school. Webb here. a tall girl who wore glasses. and tears. Byron Webb. We spent most of our classes discussing the grand day when we would be running two hundred pound Poland-Chinas on our land.F. The national organization of high school Aggies was called F. “Boys. Future Pig Chasers of America. 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. At the edge of the field of pigs.A.” Doc introduced us to the pig farmer we had known all our lives. Doc was crazy about pigs.C. but on Tuesday Doc told us to dress in the filthiest of our filthy work clothes. Webb nodded a silent greeting and led us over to a 200 Dogs to Men . you all know Mr.
We dropped our eyes. although we had used it many times. “Come on. it was the dirtiest job of all pig jobs.” he shouted. The first hundred of so weren‟t too bad. Webb safely out of reach. we sank wearily into the open bed and let the rain wash off the collected refuse of our work: mud. and when it‟s raining and he‟s muddy it‟s harder. As Mr. pig feces. to the truck. moved over to the vat. We went at it for nearly two hours before Doc. called us off. the other poured.” We knew the routine. dead and dying lice. dipped our buckets. but there was no arguing with Doc about pigs.Page 99 . but after the first hundred it became an absolute nightmare. We were to run around the field and catch the pigs one at a time and pour the oil on them to kill parasites. and went out like soldiers to do our duty. “They all look about the same color to me. We chased and grabbed and lost our grips and fell into the mud. “This here‟s burnt oil. both dressed in slickers. We hated doing it. muddy. One partner held. standing with Mr. boys. Catching and holding a pig is never easy.” We dropped our buckets by the empty vat and staggered wet. but when he has rubbed against a friend and made himself greasy it is almost impossible.” Doc told us. Webb grinned and shook Doc‟s hand.gallon vat of black gunk. As we drove Dogs to Men . oily. “Use it liberally.
It was pouring rain outside. There was a strange gleam in Bubba‟s eyes. For three days he sat on a folding chair watching us exercise without saying a word.” We remembered that the last Dogs to Men . It didn‟t. He made no response when we said good night to him on our way home. but the smile was scary. Now as if his crisis of confidence had passed. The typing teacher opened a window so people wouldn‟t be sick. in the drizzle. I got me a feelin‟. after our fourth pathetic workout on the gym floor. Loud drips of water splashed into buckets scattered around the floor. “This here might jus‟ be our week. Bubba called us over to the bleachers. Back at school we dropped the soggy clothes on the storage room floor and struggled back into our school clothes.Page 100 . All the way home from The Alamo he sat by himself in total silence. as we went in and put away our suits. he smiled at us. hoping our underwear would dry out as we sat through classes. We must have smelled awful because other students kept moving away from us. the rain grew heavier until it whipped over us like a hurricane. On Thursday.back to school. “Boys.” he said. The cheerleaders and pep squad were leaving. He sat on the gym steps. and tumescence was subsiding. slipping and sliding in our socks. as if he had seen light at the end of his long tunnel of despair.
” He smiled again. You know. Something was wrong with our coach. Git it?” We stirred uneasily. They are completely different from the gentle creatures people around Demopolis milked. “Oh yeah. “This week we play Paul Pewitt. Them Mescan boys kin fool „em with a red tablecloth. “but member. they dumb. They are raised and slaughtered for their meat. they‟s what Bulldogs are bred t‟bring down. 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. They killed without provocation.” Dogs to Men . He got up. “We‟re at home.one was supposed to be our week.” Paul Pewitt. so le‟s bring-us-down-somebull. you kin outrun „im „n‟ outsmart „em. “Brimmers looks big „n‟ bad. They slow.” Bubba went on.” No doubt about it. We were about to play the Paul Pewitt Brahmah Bulls. Like a lot of locals. we got nothin‟ t‟lose.Page 101 . Not the man. the school. Brimmers. I got a s‟prise for ya at the game. the field‟s muddy. a tiny. Bubba called them Brimmers. “Bulls is like Dingos. he had gone around the bend. a lifelong bachelor. bald rancher who wore cowboy boots and big Stetson hats. and they looked at people as if they know it. Brahmah bulls are white and mean and all muscle except for folds of skin hanging from various muscles.
All week we failed. kissed her roughly. and pushed her down onto Dogs to Men . Rosemary and I were first on the verge of tears and then on the edge of nausea.” All week we tried to make the play congeal. all the struggling. all the shouting. all the kissing. “It‟s my alma mater. She made us bring our lunches to the stage at noon and go over our lines between swallows. so frustrated with our failure. and I want us to put on a great show over there. “We have to get ready for Kilgore. We were regressing rather than progressing. was the worst session we had.Page 102 . the last time we could practice because of the game on Friday. Performance Saturday promised to be as ill starred as the Friday night in 1865 when Mr.He laughed fiendishly. Thursday night. our stomachs churning. We just couldn‟t get it right. That night we went over our scene six times. The poor man. we rehearsed our play on the gym stage. Lincoln was shot. Miss Lynne took us out of classes to practice. The sixth time through it I was so anxious to have it done with.” she said over and over. All week. as we worked out on the gym floor. that I grabbed Rosemary. Football had driven him crazy. She hailed us back after supper to drill us until midnight. dreading to hear Miss Lynne say for us to try it again.
without feeling. She actually liked the way I kissed Rosemary.the sofa at the center of the stage.” I looked down at Rosemary. Dogs to Men . “You mind?” I said. That‟s what I‟ve been trying to get you to do” I was stunned. Her voice was husky too. anger. I failed. I couldn‟t get back that feeling of frustration. “Do it again. “That‟s it. “Guess it was an accident. Louie. trembling slightly. hating myself for losing control. roughly. Louie.Page 103 . and I went over to her and tried to do it again. with that same spirit. Something was gone. I looked down into the darkened auditorium for Miss Lynne‟s reaction. I glanced down at Rosemary. do it that way again. and she looked the same way. hatred. that same sense of brute masculinity. and I failed again. I was inhibited. Miss Lynne looked like one of those Elvis Presley fans we saw on television. ready to swoon. “Gosh no.” I said out into the auditorium. “Bravo!” she said. “Exactly the same way.” she said. wonder struck. bracing for a scolding.” Miss Lynne commanded. That‟s just how Booth would have kissed her. Immediately I regretted it. She got up. her voice husky. that same contempt. but when I found her white face she was smiling. We tried it a third time.
It was green and red.Page 104 . Grouse said Dogs to Men . and every time I touched Rosemary I heard her back stage suck in a throaty breath of air. She helped Rosemary put it on. It belonged in a museum.” Miss Lynne said with a sigh of resignation. She brought it that night. I was just not naturally rough enough to make rough love. reminded me of it about three hundred times. in a plastic bag. Mrs. She hovered in the curtains all evening to see that nothing happened to it. not even under the pressure of the contest that Saturday. I knew all about it because Rosemary‟s mother. “Guess so. I was rough enough. a large woman who looked like Kate Smith. our dress rehearsal. It had belonged to Rosemary‟s great grandmother before the Civil War.” Rosemary said with a sad smile. trimmed in ancient yellowing lace. South Carolina. In a word it was precious. It never did happen again. to tear Rosemary‟s priceless dress. I got up the courage to ask her why she let us use it in the play.“Guess so. and it reached to the floor. It came with the family from Sumter County. not like that one time. however. She kept saying that it she would never let anyone but Rosemary wear it. in 1886. She warned me over and over to be careful.
but that she wanted us to win the contest so much that she was willing to take a chance with it. My beloved Southland was in ruins. that‟s a. I pushed her away and saw she was smiling.that yes. But no. I had never been a convincing drunk in previous tries. She was supposed to wrestle me for it. I was too tired to care how the opening scenes went. I showed her my gun. and then I kissed her. I was in an alcoholic frenzy. I even nodded off a couple of times before I caught the cue for me to get ready. About eleven-thirty we finished a run through.Page 105 . “since I still count twenty-four weak spots in a forty-five minute play. I hated old Honest Abe. “This is it. She was tireless. I bumped into Herb and chewed him out. but this time my fatigue gave me a hand. not as roughly as that one time but not bad. and we were exhausted as Miss Lynne called us to the stage. let‟s do it one more time. We filed off the stage and took our places. I was angry. She came forward. kids.m. “So. yes it did.” We groaned again. to do it one more time. I stumbled to the fake back door and when my time came stumbled out onto the stage. No rehearsal after the game tomorrow.” she said. Saturday we leave here at five-thirty. and I grabbed her by the shoulders and started to Dogs to Men . We thought she might let us go. “Okay.” she said. I argued with Rosemary.” We groaned.
Her mouth dropped open.” I stared into Rosemary‟s eyes. beginning to shake her. I pressed her arms forward slowly.Page 106 . The gown was torn all the way down the back. was left to answer for his brutality. Grouse had said. was made of material Mother bought at Lowrey‟s Piece Goods. I despise your love. “Oh no.” I whispered. in 1886. and Miss Lynne expected me to make this look real. Louie Mulligan. I Dogs to Men .shake her. . This had always been a chore because I didn‟t want to hurt her or muss her up. “Oh no. don‟t you see?” I hissed at Rosemary. . I would rather. I turned loose of Rosemary and turned her around to look at the damage.” I shook her harder. “I don‟t want your love. Hers was. . which I was wearing for the first time. woven in 1957. “I hate. a frightened little boy. priceless. It makes me weak. R-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-iiiiiiiiiiii-p-p-p-p-p-p-p!!!!!!!!! “. R-r-r-r-r-iiiii-p-p-p. But I was John Wilkes Booth.rather die than . . South Carolina.” Rosemary moaned. John Wilkes Booth was gone. My own lacey shirt. from shoulder to hip. and tonight it was even worse because her arms were encased in white lace brought from Sumter County. . as Mrs.
I backed away from her. shrieking. soothing. ruined. crying. Ruined. Grouse was on the stage. “Leave Louie alone!” “But he. “Oh no.he.” I groaned.” Mrs. “How could you?” she shouted. “So if we‟re assigning blame. trying to make things better. you might take your part of it. word for word. . “I knew it! I just knew it!” Mrs. Miss Lynne was right beside her. . She was stopped cold by Miss Lynne‟s icy stare. She couldn‟t. apologizing.” Miss Lynne cooed. .” Mrs. . . matching her step for step. . .Page 107 . “We can. .could see Rosemary‟s straps and buckles and elastic bands. “You wanted us to use the dress. ruined. “You. Before Louie could faint or run away to hide. it‟s ruined. .don‟t you think?” “How? How? No. . Grouse.” Dogs to Men . . I stumbled and fell back onto the sofa. Grouse!” Miss Lynne said in her commanding voice.” Rosemary whimpered. . “I knew this would happen!” “But Mrs.he. . Grouse stood there sputtering.you. . “Oh no.” Miss Lynne snapped.fix it. I could see where her back side started to cleft. .little. . Grouse turned on me.” “Mrs. scolding. Grouse screeched. Mrs.
. “But that‟s only thirty-six hours. and we wrestled. She made us repeat it. trailing whisps of sulphur. “I‟ll have t‟wear this t‟night. “Mother won‟t let me have the dress again.” Rosemary said. she‟s used to it.” she said.” “I know it.” We all sighed and went back to our places. Her mother had left by the back door. but our nerves were shot. It‟s all right. She got more and more upset each time we tried. Miss Lynne didn‟t like what she saw. We weren‟t convincing to her. though. She says I‟ll have a new one.“Oooooohhhhhhh!” Mrs. She was wearing clumpy Dogs to Men . Finally she came rushing on stage. . Miss Lynne set the action back five minutes. and we started moving. Then toward the end. We all sat down on the stage and waited.Page 108 . just like it. Saturday. Finally Rosemary came back dressed in jeans and a baggy sweat shirt. We muffed our lines and stumbled over our feet. She wheeled and grabbed Rosemary by the arm and marched her off the stage and back toward the dressing room.” “Saturday?” Miss Lynne said. I showed Rosemary my gun. There was nothing we could do. just before I was to run off and shoot the president. Grouse puffed. “She‟ll keep Miss Johnson up all night.
“Show me that big bad phallus of yours. “Here. I waved it tentatively in the air. “Show it to me!” she shouted.wooden soled shoes. I heard the other kids snickering. “Rosemary.Page 109 .” I nodded. I reached inside my coat pocket and pulled out my gun. “try it again. “What?” “The gun. Show it to me. It looked smaller. less threatening than before.” Dogs to Men . and Miss Lynne moved in to take her place. Clomp. you watching?” “Yes ma‟am.” “What?” I said. “Show me that gun!” she hissed at me. “Come on. a funny grin on her face. clomp.” she smirked. Miss Lynne caught me off guard. and she made an awful racket when she walked. “The gun.” Her big brown eyes glowed. clomp.” she shouted.” she baited me. I‟m Rosemary. and before I knew what was happening--whoosh---she grabbed it from me and headed for the door. “Okay.” I took it and put it inside my coat. I watched her go. Rosemary backed away. She came back from the wings and handed me my phallus.
try to keep it. fight. I grabbed her arm.ma‟am. The gun came toward me. harder. . I reached inside my coat and slowly withdrew my gun. fight. Slowly I could hear.” “Yes. then feel things.Page 110 . I don‟t know how long I was out. We fought for it I was afraid I would hurt her. then I was afraid she would hurt me. so I got up and chased her down. Her eyes were wild. She looked crazy. I felt her weaken. Fight.” one of them said. then see. She turned and before I could dodge laid me flat out on the floor with a backhand slap.” the other one said. Herb and Dee had me on the sofa. We both dived for it. Go on. .” I grunted. I was afraid not to.“Come on Louie!” she yelled. She was halfway to the door and going strong before I got off my knees. and it fell to the floor. “Yeah. “Good. “you see that hook?” They Dogs to Men . but no wonder. “He‟s really gone. so I held on. My lights dimmed. The kids were laughing at me. Miss Lynne got it and rose to her feet. She was on it like a rooster on a bug. “You‟re learning. “Show me whatcha got!” I was kind of scared. I lost control of it. I felt it slipping away. “Hold onto it!” she ordered me.” she panted.
“You Dogs to Men . and ran out the back door. “Say something.weren‟t laughing. “You okay?” Herb leaned toward me. I looked back through the door to see Miss Lynne nod curtly. the president would never have been shot.” trying my best not to laugh. When we got to the door it was raining again. If Miss Lynne had been in Ford‟s Theater that night. I stood watching as they mouthed “one one thousand. The only thing left to do was practice the gun shot. “All right. three one thousand” and snapped the plank down smartly on the floor just behind the back curtain. You‟re gonna need it.Page 111 . and that left me with Rosemary and Miss Lynne.” It was after midnight. two one thousand. Old Booth wouldn‟t have had a chance in hell. I yelled my “Sic Semper Tyrannis.” That pretty much killed what was left of the night and the rehearsal. I‟ll say this. and we got it right the first time. “Okay. I snickered “Say something?” I laughed. Everyone heard my comment.” she said. good. “Go home and get some sleep. and after that no one could keep a straight face. “Louie?” Dee said as I roused. It sounded exactly like a gun shot.” Suddenly I found the whole scene funny. and the others went in all directions. not even Miss Lynne. Tad was holding up one end of the plank with Toad‟s foot on the other end. Jackie rushed away by herself.
“See ya tomorrow. all at once. At her door I mumbled an apology and Dogs to Men . you are. I looked at Miss Lynne. “what‟s wrong?” She sounded puzzled. the parasol was rolling around in the street.” “Yes. patting my hand.” Rosemary said. As we walked through the deserted playground and down the street I grew more and more disturbed. the rehearsal. I began to whimper. and aggravated. . Before I could stop myself I was in her arms.” she said. I‟m not.” she said as she raised her cherry red umbrella and headed out into the rain.” Rosemary said. “You‟re. “Come on then. and we were kissing in a way we never managed on stage. 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. The constant rain.” “No.” I said. . sympathetic. “Louie. trying to hide my pain.Page 112 .crying. My pain and sorrow and even my fatigue melted away as the rain fell on my head and clothes. “Nothing. the torn gown. and I had a headache from Miss Lynne‟s knockout punch. raising her own black and yellow polka dot parasol.wanta walk me home?” Rosemary asked me. you poor baby.
but I couldn‟t go home. I knew she probably wouldn‟t see me. and then I sneaked away and went home. It was perfectly quiet. at least something was different. just below the window. She tilted a big pot and sent its warm and soapy contents down on me. that she had forgiven me. she might even tell her daddy and his Doverman I was there. It had stopped raining. I woke at daybreak and lay still. I made an abrupt right turn and headed for Jackie‟s house.Page 113 . I hurried off before her mother saw me. that she had seen me. and she was the one I wanted to see. It was already Friday. Something was wrong. and I waited until I heard Mother‟s Dogs to Men . A window opened above me. I waited for her to shut the window. and the Dogs had to tackle the Bulls.left her standing there with that same look of awe on her face I saw earlier on the stage. I was soaking wet when I got to her house and eased around to the back. On the way to my side of town I began to feel empty. that she wanted to talk with me. luxuriating in the peace. but it had left me feeling terribly alone. Her warmth and acceptance had given me relief. I dropped back off to sleep. It was her mother. smiling to myself. I moved closer to the house. I thought it might be Jackie.
I set out for school. I followed her at a safe distance.Page 114 . Moisture crept into my jeans from the sodden wood. She came by and saw me and turned up her nose and walked quickly on. When we got to school I peeled away. I made another print and moved my shoe from side to side and the mud shivered like jello. I lifted it with a “schwuck” and left a permanent print. and I didn‟t want to disturb it. This would be my last time to sit on a bench until the season ended. No one had set foot on it for eight days. I dressed slowly. Dogs to Men . it looked like a plate of brown pudding. crossed the soggy grassy field behind the little store where kids ate their empty calories for lunch. and that was always a good sign. I stepped out onto what was probably about the twenty yard line.radio in the kitchen playing hillbilly music before I got up. The universe was resting. Water rushed into it. The western horizon was beginning to clear. saturated with rainwater. I looked outside. The sky was still dark and heavy with clouds. My shoe sank two inches. I took the long way around and waited by the barn down the road from Jackie‟s house. I sat down on the home bench and began cleaning my shoe with a stick. but nothing was falling. Grassless. and edged up to the football field.
yelling. 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. but ten minutes later the whole Dog team was there. a permanent red badge of courage. 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. laughing. Its jangle sang across the field like a plaintive love call. and I had just five minutes to get to history class. When English class finally ended at 2:30 I trotted across the soggy playground to the gym. I was the first to arrive.Page 115 . He reminded us that we were Bulldogs. 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. The bell rang again. Bring on the Bulls! Coach Flood gave us a better than average pep talk.The 8:20 bell rang. pushing each other around. 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 he admonished Dogs to Men . I was deep in thought.
They were big all right. and ended up at the bottom of a pile of bodies. We entered the east end zone and began our warmups. barking. tiring them out. The Bulls were at the other end. I held my breath. finally moving in for the kill. Just before kickoff the sky blackened and the rain returned. until everyone rolled off me. howling. They would be primeval mammoths in a tar pit. At last we went bounding out the door. nipping at their heels.Page 116 . today we would make eunuchs of these football studs. On our first play I blocked for R. trying not to panic. I remembered the story in Life magazine about the boy who drowned on a wet football field.C. I came up snorting water out of my nose and Dogs to Men . Our cheerleaders in their maroon miniskirts called on them to whoop it up as we appeared. For the first time all year the crowd was on our side.us to go out there in front of our home crowd and make ourselves proud to be. We would run circles around them. I tried to breath and got a snoot full of water. In Ag class we had castrated bulls. throwing gravel into the air as we crossed the parking lot and the highway. 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. A small clump of people stood along the hardened trail that ran beside the field.
covered with mud. As we sloshed off the field. a player without a number. the small crowd began to drift away. their legs turning blue. their maroon dresses shrinking. After the next play. when I was smothered by two Bulls. we left a trail of slime behind us as we crossed the floor. got up and marched single file around the field and back to school. As the first half ended all that was left were the two teams and their coaches. there wasn‟t a sure foothold anywhere. we hadn‟t done . Like a herd of giant slugs. We went into the Dogs to Men . The fudge was stirred into a thick soup. the referees. Even our pep squad.Page 117 VISITORS 32 Even with the aid of six inches of slop. headed for the gym while the Bulls headed for their bus. I looked like a monster from a swamp. for them to score their first touchdown. After one trip the length of the field. BULLDOGS 00 much to bring down the Bulls. and the junior high boy up the pole hanging scores from nails. Finally even the cheerleaders waved sadly to us and left to seek shelter. I squinted through the mud on my face and read the scoreboard. As the rain came harder the temperature began to drop. After the third Bull touchdown. It was as dark and damp and quiet as a crypt in the gym.
” he said to Herb. Bubba came in carrying a big cardboard box. He was a clean cut.Page 118 . blue with red and white striped patches on each. he was soaked to the skin. It was beautiful. We didn‟t bother to remove our trunks or shoes or pads.dressing room and began pulling off our jerseys. He Dogs to Men . delicious maroon. and he wore jeans and a nylon jacket. but we held them in front of the flames anyway. and he was happy. We knew they wouldn‟t get dry in fifteen minutes. all-American type boy. It bore the big number 99. which meant he hadn‟t been at the game. He had blond hair and blue eyes. rich. Poor fool. He was dry. he was behind by 32 points. A tall kid stood over in a corner. He peeled back the lid and brought out a brand new football jersey It was a deep. He reached down and with a flourish broke it open. 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. We looked like drowned rats beside him. He dropped the box in the middle of the floor with a wham. He smiled at each of us as we nodded to him. He held it up and let it tall full length. We were afraid that if we did we might not get them back on. “This belongs to you. hoping that at least we would return to the field in warm wetness. grinning from ear to ear.
He threw it to me.” Yes. Bubba reached down Dogs to Men . and brought out another jersey. and I realized that the jersey had numbers both front and back. He threw another to Dee. Our new jerseys were simply another installment of her acquisition price “We not gonna wear „em today. It was a 96. “Save „em for when it‟s dry. Herb started to hand it back.” Bubba laughed. “Naw.” Bubba said. There were eleven in all. The number 99 was smaller than it was before. number 98.pitched it to him and Herb caught it and stood there looking embarrassed. hoping he would marry her and move out to manage her spread. Bubba laughed. who owned a big bottom land farm. see if it fits. keep it. Even the scrubs got new jerseys. ” Herb could see how jealous the rest of us were. 89 through 99.Page 119 . “It‟s yores. and we were already 32 points behind. Dismuke. Herb held the jersey up to his chest.” Bubba said. Outside it was raining. we would save them for a sunny day. He was too modest to take a new jersey when the rest of us looked like refugees from the Great Depression. reached down. “Hold it up. We would learn later that Bubba was courting a rich widow. Mrs. . She gave him anything he asked for. for a new beginning.
I knew that name. “Name of Jimmy Sharon. “Folks moved out west. The tall kid with the dumb smile was joining our team.and pulled out one last jersey.” Slowly the light dawned. shrugged. “Jimmy. He‟s gonna be a Dog.is it legal? Our incipient celebration stopped dead.” Bubba said.” My head swam. A skinny kid with a runny nose. He had a hard time learning to read. “Is.” Bubba said.” Bubba said. He kin kick. This could turn our season around. and shrugged. catch passes. and I thought his grin would crack his face. “He used t‟live here. “There‟s my really big su‟prise. now they‟re back.Page 120 . He puffed out his chest like a pigeon. “Coach?” he said. “Legal?” Dogs to Men . His family was dirt poor. So did everyone else. . The kid caught it. com‟ere. Bubba‟s eyes narrowed. He had been in our class in grade school. We began to chuckle. and pitched it to the big kid in the corner. “First team las‟ year. an 88. The kid grinned. . Gonna be livin‟ out on the old Dismuke place. and I knew that face. run. grinned. I remembered him.” Bubba beckoned to him.” We later learned that Jimmy was another installment. I smiled. As usual it was Dee who brought us back to earth. We were about to have a big Bulldog. “He‟s been playin‟ for Odessa. and came to him. Jimmy Sharon.
beaten. We were wet.” Bubba said. was the year before. and nodded.” he said. dirty. “That makes it legal. dripping. an‟ we could all jus‟.” Without a word we all picked up our wet jerseys and began to pull them on. We had ourselves a big Dog. our tails between our legs. lonely gym toward Dogs to Men . shook it again.“Yeah.” Bubba said. As we passed the box we dropped our new ones in it. . “He failed. Bubba grinned. looked at it. shrugged. “Yeah. “Musta stopped in the water. You‟re fifteen minutes late. “Hey!” we all shouted A referee stuck his wet head through the door. “It‟s legal. That right. Bubba looked around the room.Page 121 . Our smiles died away. “Yeah. won‟t he have t‟lay out a year?” Dee knew the rules. and Dee grinned back at him.” His eyes swept the room. . He stared at Dee until Dee nodded. I mean. “ya‟ll gonna forfeit?” “Forfeit?” Bubba said. We trotted out the door and went whooping through the empty. if he‟s been playin‟ out there. “Sure you don‟t wanta jus‟ forfeit?” the referee urged.” he said.” “We are?” Bubba shook his wrist watch. “Coach. Jimmy?” Jimmy grinned. without hope. It was legal. “It‟s comin‟ down in buckets out there. Wadden las‟ year he played. his chin jutted.
It was already history. We went all the way around the field.the dowpour. we laughed when the Bulls scored. The final score that afternoon was 72-12. waving his arms in glee. splashing water with his hush puppies. We laughed when we knocked down a Bull. we laughed when we scored. but we didn‟t care. it smelled like roses. The world no longer smelled to us like damp towels. The game was meaningless. jumping up and down. and when the gun sounded ending the melee he led us on our trot to the gym. and we were looking to the future. past where the Bulls waited to board their bus. hitting every puddle. stomping as hard as we could to make the water fly high. Every so often I brushed enough rain and mud from my face to see him walking along the sidelines. Bubba enjoyed it as much as we did. We were a happy pack of Dogs. The two times we slopped in to score he went wild.Page 122 . we laughed when a Bull knocked us down. a future with new jerseys and a big Dog and two more games in which to prove our manhood. laughing at them as they watched us mystified. We slogged through the second half in the slimy brown putty laughing and joking and acting like fools. Dogs to Men .
John Wilkes Booth Before dawn the next morning. home of Kilgore Junior College. still bearing mud splatters from the game. Since there were only twelve of us we scattered among the battered and hard seats and fell dead asleep. Kilgore. was the most fabulous city we had ever seen. It was a fantasy come true. We stared at the unfolding scenery in awe through our dirt streaked windows like Ostragoths entering Constantinople. There were signs with garnet and gold letters on every street pointing to it. We slept through sunrise and the breakfast hour and woke up at 8:45 as Satch pulled into the outskirts of Kilgore. Oil wells sucked black gold from every vacant lot. foreign looking letters tacked neatly to chimneys.Page 123 . Churches and public buildings had Greek domes and columns. Dogs to Men . Brick ranch style houses covered ten acre lots. We watched in wonder as our mud caked bus negotiated tree lined streets between Palladian residence halls with strange. Satch found the college easily enough. more asleep than awake. Texas. we thespians boarded the Golden Chariot and pulled out of the deserted school grounds on our way to a rendezvous with destiny. home of the Kilgore Rangerettes Marching Girls.
“Remember I told you I was looking out for a scholarship for you?” I remembered. I didn‟t understand.” she whispered conspiratorially. As we decoached we saw that our muddy bus sat squarely in the middle of six shiny new buses. but then neither did football.” She sat back. but it never crossed my mind that D R A M A would have anything to do with it. “Well. She had said it several times during the past year. each with its department‟s name printed on a neat sign in the front lawn.Page 124 . and when I looked around at her with a puzzled look. “That‟s where you and I are going in a little while. I could smell Ipana toothpaste.then past classroom buildings joined at their corners to form quadrangles. I sort of understood that a scholarship meant money to go to school. neither really did my life. “John Wilkes Booth is gonna send you to college.” she said. “this is where you‟re gonna get it. each with its own oil well. she leaned forward again. 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.” D R A M A slowly passed from view. They give them away like Santa Claus gives away apples and candy at Christmas. and I thought that the whole thing made no sense. We came to T H E A T E R and stopped. each one‟s name on its side Dogs to Men .
even more jeers. The first play would start on the hour at 10:00. do its forty-five minute play. Our name came out sixth of the seven. “David Crockett! he bawled. and no one jeered. She Dogs to Men . jeers from the other three. A sign that read DEMOPOLIS stood in front of ours. We collected our costumes and props and followed Miss Lynne through T H E A T E R‟s front door. The man reached in again. The middle where we sat was a no-man‟s land. On it sat pieces of furniture. but Miss Lynne explained that we could not have known that and we might have gone at 10:00. and clear off.matching the temporary signs designating the parking. We were afraid to cheer. but the stage was brightly lit. The auditorium inside was dark. The authorities would have to take us on faith. Each team had exactly an hour to set its stage.Page 125 . but our bus was so dirty you couldn‟t read our name on its side. We would go at 3:00. One reached into a fish bowl and drew out a slip of paper. and two men stood behind a table. More cheers. Cheers came from one corner of the auditorium. “Paul Pewitt!” he read in a loud bawl. We started to gripe about coming so early only to wait all day to perform. We were unknown and glad of it. and that was Pewitt. Miss Lynne told us they were choosing the order of the performance.
A smattering of college students sat in little bunches along the walls.” she said. She led us out into a bright morning.” She cleared her throat and looked us over. compliments of Demopolis High School. we in jeans and pullovers. and we briefly mingled with the kids from other schools. have a good time. “Louie! Hold on! You‟re going with me!” So I stopped and turned to her and waited while the others scooted away. and you have your minds on nothing but the play. When we finished swigging the last of our Pepsis. but before I could get away Miss Lynne called me.” we all nodded. but you be backstage not a minute after 2:00. I Dogs to Men . Miss Lynne told us we were free until 1:30. and I started out with the others. “so go out and see the sights. They watched us warily as if we were freaks from a circus. Miss Lynne helped us find the grill. We scooted our chairs away from our tables. all dressed in their neat suits and dresses.didn‟t know whether going late was good or bad. Another of life‟s mysteries. and the noise roused the college kids to look our way again. and we all ordered cheeseburgers for breakfast. take advantage of it all. I wanted to get out of their gaze. “Is that perfectly clear?” “Yes ma‟am.” she said. “This is a great place.Page 126 . “Then go.
” Miss Lynne laughed I didn‟t. Sweet S E C R E T A R Y smiled tolerantly and asked her if we had an appointment. At last Miss Lynne took my arm and led me out and across the grounds.” S E C R E T A R Y nodded politely. Inside a group of silver spangled. scholarships. “No. Then could she tell her what it was about please? “Yes. “One to fit every fancy. picked up her garnet telephone. and we looked through an open door to see a man sitting Dogs to Men . 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. We also stopped and looked into HISTORY and saw garnet and gold plastic chair-desks with human shaped bottoms. It really was cork. “This is it. I wanted to leave. Then we came to D R A M A.stood there for a long time as she paid our bill and got a receipt.Page 127 . A buzzer sounded in an inner office.” she whispered. but Miss Lynne said yes. She stopped to show me F I E L D H O U S E. garnet and gold clad dancers with batons pranced across a cork floor.” Miss Lynne said. 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. Miss Lynne made me kneel and touch it. The college gang stared at me. and pressed a button. we would like to see C H A I R M A N.
” S E C R E T A R Y said pleasantly. “What do they want to see me about. . “Scholarships.lady.Page 128 picked up a gold telephone. “A. brushed the pairings up into a Dogs to Men .” C H A I R M A N hung up. .” he groaned. We watched through the door as C H A I R M A N finished clipping his nails.behind a desk clipping his fingernails. He stopped the clipping and “Yes?” he groaned. 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. “Who are they?” he asked warily. sir. “Some people to see you.” S E C R E T A R Y told him. . “Have them wait a moment. .boy. do you know?” “Scholarships. S E C R E T A R Y hung up.” Miss Lynne said to him through the door. “Very well. then sighed deeply. C H A I R M A N looked wearily through the door at Miss Lynne and me.and a. On his desk sat the sign C H A I R M A N. He nodded. . sizing us up.” S E C R E T A R Y told him through the phone line. He looked at us again. . .
Show them in.Page 129 .” “Yes sir. because I hadn‟t been told to sit. A bright red light flashed on S E C R E T A R Y‟ s telephone. It got embarrassing really fast.” S E C R E T A R Y looked at us with a pleasant smile and announced as if it were wonderful news. took one step. “Yes sir.neat little pile. I was the greatest thing to come this way in a decade. “Yes sir?” “They still there?” C H A I R M A N asked her. To hear her tell it. Without even identifying us. Slowly he reached over and picked up the receiver again and pressed a button. distinguished man who looked very tired.” She stood up. She beckoned for us to go past her. and carefully swept them off into his trashcan. and she lifted her own receiver.” “Very well. Miss Lynne started right in talking ninety miles an hour---about me. I stood beside her. even though there was another chair. followed by a buzzer. “He will see you now. He didn‟t rise. “May I help you?” he moaned. I thought being C H A I R M A N must be a heavy burden. looking right at us. and we did C H A I R M A N was a middle-aged. Miss Lynne smiled and took a seat. and she was at the door. I was a diligent Dogs to Men .
He would never forgive himself if he let me get away. He is a potential genius. 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. but not an excessive amount. as though trying to locate the boy she was describing.” She stopped and waited for his response. and this temporarily stopped the harangue. and dramatically gifted. smiling to encourage him. Through her speech C H A I R M A N eyed her with dull cynicism mixed with vague contempt. When he didn‟t speak. “I am myself a KJC graduate. you will see that he is a diamond in the rough. however. Dogs to Men . Every so often he glanced at me and then somewhere on the wall behind me. 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.student. reliable. C H A I R M A N coughed. over my head.” she said. “and I know I would be proud to share a heritage with him. she went on. I needed financial aid.Page 130 . Not many high school seniors can do what he is able to do with that part. Miss Lynne went on. He had seen high school teachers and their pets many times. honest. “Our play shows at the 3:00 slot. He had to find a way for me to come to KJC. a hard worker.
rescuing me.” Dogs to Men . an actor‟s voice. I do” “Tell me then. 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. “There. “Yes sir. will there be anything else?” Miss Lynne assured him that there wasn‟t. “I think so.” I had to clear my throat. “Do you think it would be worth my time to come and see your play. He hadn‟t spent his whole life behind a desk clipping his nails. “Now Louie. “you‟ll know it was worth it. my dear lady. “I‟ll come.” Miss Lynne rushed in. We emerged onto the sunny campus. .” C H A I R M A N raised a hand. do you think?” When he spoke in complete sentences his voice was deep and cultured. He looked at me with tired eyes.” “Once you see him work. a Shakespearean actor‟s voice.” He sighed. I wondered what had taken him off the stage. and we went bowing and scraping out the door.C H A I R M A N moved his butt to one side. buttressing my wavering resolve. it‟s up to you. “Yes sir. I promise. .” Miss Lynne said. “Now. He‟s the. see you act? Would it be worth the effort. “You have a voice?” “Yes. .Page 131 .” I said. and the T H E A T E R door clanged shut behind us. .” he said.
We tried a couple of trouble spots in the script. but an omen is an omen. using his next line. and I turned away. and still nothing. I stepped on the hem of Rosemary‟s new gown and tore it. She said the next line. Dee just gave her a dumb grin. amid discarded props and costumes.She smiled at me devilishly. our emotions sky high. feeling sick at my stomach. We walked around in a group daze. leaned over Jackie to give her a peck on the cheek. For five long minutes Dee didn‟t say a word. a sure sign of trouble to come. and Jackie‟s yip made a zombie of him. Miss Lynne repaired it with a needle and threat. No answer.Page 132 . and watching from the wings I knew this meant trouble. Jackie quickly regained her composure and fed him the next line. All of the actors met Miss Lynne a little before 2:00 in a little room backstage. a question. The minute the curtain rose on The Last Curtain it was curtains for us. and his stiff white collar popped open and slapped her on the cheek. She answered her own question. He was Dogs to Men . and went on. his eyes as big as saucers. She cried out in surprise and pain. In our practices Dee had shown a tendency to forget his lines at the smallest distraction. Dee backed away. In the opening scene Dee walked out. but we made so many mistakes we finally gave it up.
that he was drunk and mad. and he would nod. so they thought. Miss Lynne had taught us that when disaster Dogs to Men . and they began to laugh. Herb came on as the janitor. Rosemary‟s expression changed from shock to embarrassment to disgust to determination as the crowd hooted. then. and a comedy hit the spot. Demopolis was doing a farce. They found us hilarious.no more than a warm body on the stage. in the middle of the next scene. at her own exit. and that she should be careful. as usual. He even forgot to exit and just stood there. Someone would say his lines. Finally. bringing Rosemary a message that Booth was on his way. Right at the beginning. but his zipper was dow. the student audience caught on. When I heard a loud snort of laughter from the audience. it was time to relax. Jackie took him by the arm and got him off the stage. I rushed back to my peep hole and saw what the audience saw: a large crescent of polka dot shorts showing through his fly. Most of them were done acting for the day. to the joke. He wore his baggy pants. not as usual.Page 133 . The others had to play around him. while the others talked about him. I walked down the hallway behind the stage. trying to think how to reverse the action. a parody of the presidential assassination. the pressure was off them.
I did not disappoint them. we were to keep our heads and act like the mistake was planned. to comfort her. yet she smiled. the audience was rolling in the aisles. the trip to Kilgore. The crowd roared with laughter and gave her a round of applause. The script was written to prepare viewers for a twisted. She was smiling. She looked like the Mona Lisa. but I couldn‟t think of a thing to say. the planning. as it surely would from time to time. wearing my lacey shirt and boots and spurs. When done as a comedy it prepared them to greet a bumbling fool: Johnnie the Joke. it was all sinking beneath waves of ridicule. I took it down with me for the third time. I was the star of the show. patted him on the shoulder. I couldn‟t watch I turned away and bumped into Miss Lynne. however. By the time John Wilkes Booth arrived on the scene. I wanted to say something to her. Rosemary remembered that. halfway through the play. All the work she had done. so she had reminded me every day. tragic figure. Instead of doing that. my scholarship. and zipped him up. She patiently listened to Herb‟s message and then walked over to him. I carried the action to its conclusion.Page 134 . the contest. drunken. thanked him for telling her.struck. Dogs to Men . the directing.
I had practiced wearing them only twice. The first time one of them drooped down in back and tripped me. but she insisted.Page 135 . Booth wore them that night in 1865. I also caught mine in the curtain. They were tied so tightly they couldn‟t come down. the audience growled and showed their teeth back at me. and couldn‟t get up. they cheered for her and jeered lustily when I took it from her. I begged Miss Lynne not to make me wear them. The second time.M. so there I was out on that stage in front of a stupefied crowd of high school kids wearing spurs. Miss Lynne wanted me to wear spurs. He had a horse waiting outside for his getaway. while I sat on the sofa during the scene with Rosemary. I fell out the back door. To cap it all off. I crossed my ankles. they hissed and booed me. I made it all right until the very end. He caught a spur in the curtain as he leaped from Lincoln‟s box to the stage and broke his leg.When I growled and showed my teeth. When I verbally abused Rosemary. the way kids responded to the M. lion that opened movies. When I wrestled her for the gun. and I almost broke a leg. so I did. so tightly that my feet Dogs to Men .G. The fight Miss Lynne had so carefully choreographed to look ferocious looked farcical. got them locked. Miss Lynne said I had to wear them too.
The spur came off the boot. “Yeah. I whirled from my line. They did their slow count as usual.” We edged aside to let them Dogs to Men . The 4:00 team came out to move our things away and put theirs in place. which inspired catcalls of “Elvis.” said another. But as I ran to the back door with my gun and turned to say my best line. Deafening laughter. I was careful when I sat down to keep them separated. and as I crawled away to kill Lincoln. the spur hung in the curtain. tried to exit. The crowd howled and cheered. “I laughed „til I cried.were numb. The audience loved it.” one boy said. Rosemary had to jump aside to keep it from hitting her on the leg. in plain sight. while I kicked three times before I got free. All of which upset Toad and Tad.” my left spur caught in the curtain.” said a third. They were smiling. tripped. I lay on the floor. and when the curtain mercifully fell on our chaos there was thunderous applause We all came out on stage to comfort Rosemary.Page 136 . “ Cowards did a thousand times--a hero dies but once. even though it meant I sat straddled on the couch. but one of them turned loose of the plank a split second before the other. Elvis” from the audience. and it hit the floor at an angle and went flying. “Great job. who was crying. “Funny. It hit the back curtain and splashed out onto the stage. and fell out the door.
“Then it‟s settled. all that effort. accompanied by a large. all of it for nothing. I‟ll send him some forms to fill out. “See you next August. room.Page 137 . that‟s for sure.have the stage. “Good. but then I saw that he was my old friend C H A I R M A N. At first I didn‟t recognize him. board. “but you were right to call him a diamond in the rough.” he emoted. he was so transformed.” he said. We can give him tuition. good. Miss Lynne. what an actor! It was the best parody by a seventeen year old kid I have ever seen. you can count on it. All that work. He turned to Miss Lynne. “You‟ll get top actor. dear. He has a great natural comedic gift.” He turned to me and smiled. Miss Lynne came on stage. “He‟s raw. It‟s purely a formality. “Sweetheart. of course.” C H A I R M A N said. Dogs to Men . We were too sick to respond. “Could be you will take the whole play with you to victory. as dead as my brain.” Louis. handsome man with a big smile on his face. nodded sagely. and books. retaining her Mona Lisa smile with great difficulty.” He let go of my hand.” he said with his Shakespearean voice. “Sen-sational!” he said as he grabbed my limp hand and shook it the way a dog shakes a rat. he‟s got the scholarship. and it fell back to my side. “You were right. Louis.” Once more he grabbed and pumped my hand. can you do your own laundry?” I nodded.
We put our arms around each other and walked away from the scene of the crime.” she said. Louis Mulligan won First Prize for Male Acting. I glanced over my shoulder and found Miss Lynne smiling after us.” Miss Lynne smiled sadly. I smiled at her. My college name.” Jackie finished the line. the first she had given me in ten days. recalling the Robert Burns poem. For his parody of John Wilkes Booth. “Gang aft aglee. Mr.” She had a strange gleam in her eyes. A long distance telephone call came to Demopolis High on Monday morning. His first words. “An‟ lea‟ us naught but grief „n‟ pain. shaking his head. Miss Lynne stood next to her. “For promised joy. Mr. I looked around and found Jackie by my side. For overall performance. “The best laid plans. Miss Rosemary Grouse won Third Prize for Costuming.Page 138 . C H A I R M A N went off laughing. Lemon why we left before the awards. after his usual “Let me have Dogs to Men . C H A I R M A N was right. “of mice and men. Lemon turned on the intercom and spoke to the entire high school.not Louie. but she forced a smile. She had tears in her eyes. and she smiled at me. Demopolis High School‟s comedy had won Second Prize. For her gown. The caller asked Mr.” I responded. We had won three prizes.
Page 139 . For several minutes the entire building was alive with applause. . Dogs to Men . and it spread to the rest of the class. remembering how depressed we had been for two days. .your attention. had something to celebrate. and in a moment we heard laughter and then cheers coming from other rooms. We started laughing. For a time we sat there in silence.I have never been so proud. . Then someone snickered.” Most of the cast were in history class when we got the news. .” were: “In all my years. H S. and that got the rest of us tickled. We were winners at last. It was the first time in years D.
and came at us like a pack of German Police Dogs. spectacular. and Jimmy Sharon was our Messiah returned to redeem the earth He was magnificent. Those Chihuahuas hitched up their pants. He could outrun every man on the team. but with Jimmy on their side. He was strong and fast. One of our problems as a team was that we had no reserves good enough to help us get ready for games. Seldom in our league did a kicker get it past the twenty. our ninety-eight pound weakling scrubs became a team of Charles Atlases. threw out their chests. All that week as we watched him perform his feats of grandeur our hopes of victory mounted. and he couldn‟t be knocked down. On Tuesday. with two men back on the ten yard line. he could cut from side to side in the blink of an eye. We lined up as usual. Bubba motioned for us to Dogs to Men .Lobos and Miss Lynne Again Us Dogs were nearing the Millennium. when the field was finally dry enough for practice. he couldn‟t be cornered. Jimmy kicked off for them. both ready to run forward and catch the ball.Page 140 . we scrimmaged. The Starting Six took on Jimmy and the Scrubs. stupendous.
We watched it rise higher and higher into a perfect arc. shaking our heads. Jimmy beat us 56-22. That time Jimmy fought his way through five of us to tackle R.C. emptier than usual. but we just grinned at him. The ball went forty yards beyond us. Good Lord! We lined up again. but he did it again.back up. He scored another four times from scrimmage.C. to catch one in the end zone and run with it. He came up on the ball sort of sideways and caught it with the inside of his foot. a field goal on a kickoff. right through the uprights He did it that way six times before he weakened enough for R. farther and farther down the field. Jimmy waved and we all waved back. and by that time we Dogs to Men . every time his team got the ball to him without fumbling. He made three hundred yards without a single decent block to help him. He scored all 56 of their points. right through the goal posts. We had never seen anything like it. We didn‟t even score until we started sending three men out to block him. before he got to the thirty. We later learned that a foreign exchange student at his school in Odessa had taught it to him.Page 141 . thinking it was a fluke. then we just stopped and watched. We noticed that the “punk” of the ball was louder. Jimmy ran three of Dee‟s wobbly punts back for touchdowns. We faded back.
“He‟s good awright. He was a Dog. we had seen some great players. He shook his head modestly. We edged closer to him. sometimes when three tried to stop him. and shrugged. He blocked one of our extra point attempts. We had ourselves a star.” “Yeah.” Herb agreed. In games with other schools he would be with us. and that was something new to us. just new to my generation of Dogs. Not to Demopolis.were behind by 30. grinned shyly. “Man.” I added.” Dee said. In the years between taking up the sport again and the time I got to play. and he took it in stride. good game. not against us. Jimmy just grinned and shrugged. because there were stars in the past. He alone caught us for losses time after time. we Starting Six stood there in an exhausted circle and watched the scrubs gather around to praise their new God. “Yeah. We Dogs to Men .” “Welcome to the Dogs. When Bubba and Shorty finally called the riot to an end. That was a consolation. when I was too young to play.” Jimmy beamed down on us. “Least he‟s on our side. great.Page 142 . He had heard such praise before.
We had Dogs to remember. Kelly---our Zeus. He could strike matches on his bare soles. Willie did wear shoes. and he didn‟t chew while he played. He played barefoot. and still he tore through falling bodies to inflict punishment and Dogs to Men . where he played “killer” linesman. on the field and off. The other team got so desperate that they ran every play away from him. He could throw the length of the field and knock his receiver to his knees. Kelly‟s arm was a steel trap. The opposition shook in their boots when he spoke. we won games.Page 143 . One game he got twenty-five unassisted tackles and crippled four opposing players. He was the only Dog known to be tougher than Kelly. He was a quarterback. His bass voice shook the field when he called signals. but his love was defense. He passed for two more touchdowns while he digested it. he turned a dark shade of green.had good teams. all the time. He was a country boy who plowed in hot sand all summer without shoes. He was an offensive center. Willie Patterson. but the kept it down and finished the game. Cleats didn‟t make a mark on him. He chewed tobacco. Once when he got knocked down during a game he swallowed his cud. Kelly Lafferty. but he made up for those effeminacies by being just plain mean.
5 hundreds. and broke the other leg. kill!” Willie---our Hercules. but I swear it‟s true-in under nine seconds.Page 144 . Willie.pain. Sidney Garton. unable to sustain any more injuries. He was the fastest Dog of all time. The problem was. Our crowd chanted. In the spring he was mended well enough to run more 8. and he never went to college where it could be done. they punted on first down. “Kill. He could run the hundred yard dash--I know this sounds impossible. He was a tragic hero. He should never have been allowed to play football because without it he would have become an Olympian. and his hundred were a modest 9. his bones were matchsticks. hoping to have enough players left to field a team the following week. He was never officially timed. He started the first game and ran the first three punts back for touchdowns. That spring his speed was reduced. Twice toward the end of that game. scored four times. That fall he started the first game again. He came out his sophomore year to impress his girlfriend. When he broke both an arm and a leg in the first game of his senior Dogs to Men . The fourth time he was buried and came up with a broken leg. Sidney was a running miracle. but I saw him run it in under nine by the coach‟s stopwatch three time in a row one sticky April afternoon. was buried again.5.
We sang the whole five miles out to Ed Brewer‟s farm. It meant they would grow up wild and horny and their meat would taste gamey. 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. come on over. “You boys done?” Mr.year. People in the future would remember his exploits in their mythology. and to escape probation he joined the army. It only remained to see what god he would resemble. 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. have a tall cold drink. one for our own age. We did a pretty sloppy job of it. “Well then. Sidney---our Mercury. he dropped off the team and out of school.” we nodded. “Yep. and his name was Jimmy Sharon.” Dogs to Men . Now we had a contemporary hero.Page 145 . but by the time Mr. Later that year he ran away with the senior class treasury. Brewer smiled. and since they didn‟t watch us we let a few of the wigglers get by without the surgery. Doc and Mr. Brewer sat on the back porch and drank Pepsis while we worked. Brewer caught on we would be out of school and gone. We finished up and came to the porch.
Hang loose. stood in the aisle and led us in rousing choruses of popular songs. “T‟night we play the Lobos.” We looked at Jimmy. rough.” Don‟t worry? Don‟t get hurt? Worry and pain was what football was all about. We got louder and louder until halfway to Linden Bubba got up at the front and called for order. Shorty. tough. “Member. Don‟ get hurt. “So I jus‟ wontcha to relax.” he said when he finally got us settled down.There was a tin tub full of ice. Cause this time we got Jimmy. mean outfit. We were almost ashamed to take his drinks after what we had just done to him. fully recovered from his bout with bronchitis. Nobody knows „bout „im.” It was serious. Don‟ worry. and submerged bottles. we‟re plannin‟ fer next week.Page 146 . they play teams from up aroun‟ Dallas. “Boys. Then he‟ll be a shock when we turn „im loose on Dogs to Men . We almost beat „em before „n‟ this time we will.” It sounded serious. This made no sense at all. “He‟s our secret weapon. When we play the Rabbits agin. and Jimmy grinned and shrugged. Have a good time. “Wonted t‟tell ya somethin‟. So we gotta keep it thataway. Big. Thought you‟d better hear it now. water. The Golden Chariot left Demopolis at 2:00 Friday afternoon. They hungry for a win. but we were thirsty and so we swallowed our guilt along with our colas.
fine. keep „im a s‟prise.” Which is what we did. I don‟t remember half time. we played loose and crazy. The Lobos scored 88.” He gave it a moment to sink in. no one was ever likely to know he had played in our isolated part of the woods. which was probably already lost anyway. “Jus‟ have a good time. and keep Jimmy a secret. Even if there was some doubt about Jimmy‟s eligibility. The Rabbits game was at home. Coach saw that we got his meaning. 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. Yet to our amazement we caught most of his short darts and long rainbows. We were giddy. Decked out in our new jerseys. Most half times are vivid in my memory. just horsed around. Dogs to Men . but I can‟t tell you where. Not that night. So we gonna hold „im out t‟night.the Rabbits. if not. Just get through this game. This was fun. Dee passed on almost every down. We scored an incredible 54 points. tragic moments suspended in space. but we didn‟t care. dark nights of the soul. We probably went off someplace to rest. If someone caught it. when we knew we were beaten and had to go back and get beaten some more.Page 147 . fine too. It did make sense.
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
Dogs to Men - Page 148
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
Dogs to Men - Page 149
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.
Dogs to Men - Page 150
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,
Dogs to Men - Page 151
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
Dogs to Men - Page 152
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,
Dogs to Men - Page 153
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.
Dogs to Men - Page 154
but I didn‟t take shelter. to help her pay the taxes and insurance. but she always kept a boarder. Wilder‟s place. I kept going.The well-dressed kids came to the front porch and looked out over the lawn. I knew they wouldn‟t come looking for me because they might dirty their clothes and because they assumed I would be dangerous. It was Mrs. I really couldn‟t miss it because it was the only light on the block. usually a faculty member. I eased up to the lighted window and peeped around the shade. dressed in pajamas. A light mist was falling. and touched a switch. 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. In fact she lived in that house. I was in Dogs to Men . Mrs.Page 155 . I moved toward the light. From there I just wandered. It was probably after two when I saw the light. Wilder‟s husband fell from an oil rig in Houston and left her the house free and clear. I was on Mulberry. went over to the wall. and I didn‟t go home. put down a book. Then I remembered that Miss Lynne lived on that street. People who lived there were mostly old. I waited until they went back inside and then went through the trees and came out at the end of the street. Miss Lynne. I wondered why one of them would have on a light that bright that late.
In a moment I was in a hallway. She made a funny face. and pointed to the door next to her window. I‟ll dry you off. wait. No. “Here. “This one was fun. looking me over after she switched on a reading lamp. She thought for a moment. take off that shirt. but I was soaked.” “Game?” she said. she appeared both surprised and pleased “Louie?” I read her lips. I was never before barebacked in front of any woman but my mother. “Miss Lynne?” I said softly. it‟s nothing. “Miss Lynne? You there?” I said louder. I started to shiver. At Linden. No response.” I assured her. But you‟re all wet. and she busied herself on my back and chest.” I touched my face. shrugged. I nodded.” Miss Lynne said. “Yeah.Page 156 . I had never seen a Dogs to Men . Just like the time when I kissed Rosemary roughly.” I hadn‟t really noticed. well. “Louie. It was all I could do not to run for dear life. It was warm there. I knew I should go. it‟s just from the game. the footbal game. I was never in another woman‟s room at night. “you‟re all cut up. “Oh. The shade slowly rose.pitch darkness. Take this towel.” I meekly skinned out of my shirt.” “Oh.” “No ma‟am. I saw Miss Lynne‟s face appear. Instead I leaned near the screen. and in another moment I was in her room. You must have had a horrible time.
I sort of.it just don‟t. spill it.” “You don‟t know?” She fell back in mock exasperation. Wilder or herself? “. “Is that all?” Dogs to Men . . The whole thing. As she worked on me I saw on her bedside table the book she had been reading. “Come on.” “Oh.seem right. .well. . she leaned forward. You wander around in the rain and cold at 3:00 in the morning. . . . She didn‟t know I had places there that hurt more than on my face.” she said. .know. . “Now. . you give yourself pneumonia. She was gentle when she dried my face.and you don‟t know?” “I.” Did she mean Mrs. Life. but with my hair she was playfully rough.know. . . What‟s wrong?” “I. . What then?” “I don‟t. . you sneak up to an elderly lady‟s window. . .” “What?” “Any of it. “tell me about it. I guess.Page 157 .” When I didn‟t respond.don‟t. . Her little bottom twisted around like a bunny rabbit when she moved.woman in pajamas. . It was by someone named Lawrence. . nearly touching my face. .well. .” she smiled. Lately Chatting Slover.” “Good. All of it. When she was done she sat herself on the bed facing me.
. “My poor baby. but I also felt happy. . “What‟s Jackie gonna think?” “Jackie?” “Or Rosemary. she said. when she had made me comfortable. Dee got one.football. . under my covers. When it was over.“My scholarship. I felt guilty and afraid. . I was a man. This time there was no yellow stain. I left Miss Lynne sleeping. Then. . Finally she nodded curtly. and sprinted on swollen legs across town to my house. first to the bed. the same way. I got to my room without detection and lay in bed. . . Jackie. and finally the rest of the way. to play football. . You know.Page 158 . Dogs to Men . and listened to the usual Saturday morning sounds from the kitchen.what we did. threw on my damp clothes. Tears came to her eyes. I followed.” she said. seemingly weighing options. . then to a kiss. . and I nearly died of heart failure. She took my hand and pulled me toward her.for. after a long silence. then to an embrace. deciding what to say and do. .” She stared at me intently for a long time.girls.Rosemary.” “Rosemary?” When I awoke the sun was peeking over the trees.
He probably figured that with Jimmy on the team we could get along without him. No one saw him after we left the gym early Saturday morning. He may well have concluded that military combat was less dangerous than six-man football. he was halfway to California. We learned later that he re-enlisted in the army. By the end of October. I forgot how badly my finger hurt. Even the clouds moved off and the sun shone on us. People in town heard about him and came to watch us work out. Friday dawned bright and dry. All that week it was blissfully numb. It was our time to win. By the time we took the field Monday afternoon for scrimmage. We planned to end the year with a sweet victory. he was in Korea. We planned to have Rabbit Stew for dinner Friday night. for good this time. We knew that with him we couldn‟t lose. We were sure of it. Jonnie was gone. So we barked and howled and scratched the earth and threw dirt into the air. the next week was a dream. Jimmy looked great.Jimmy As for football.Page 159 . Dogs to Men . He carried the ball and caught passes and blocked and tackled to perfection.
his muscles filling out all the spaces. On Friday you could recall each days‟ lunch because its remnants were right there swimming in your bowl. plus chili powder. After English I hurried over to the gym to get dressed. Dismuke. A shadow crossed my mind. I never saw him in a classroom. I put my doubts aside. and side by side we strolled over to look at the field. He saw me. “I feel good. I skimmed through my classes.I stopped for Jackie at her house that morning. and grinned. shrugged. probation. He was already there and dressed every afternoon. He looked terrific in his Number 88. About the game. so was I.” I said. If Bubba was willing to take a chance. About life. 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. Dogs to Men . “About today. hired by Mrs. suspension. I wondered what he was taking--if anything.Page 160 . She was always a bit grumpy in the morning. Jimmy was already there. already dressed. I smiled at her. I did the same to him. “About what?” she said. just to win a game. Maybe Bubba was willing to risk a forfeit. I never told her or anyone else about last Friday night. Maybe he was a ringer. Who cared if Jimmy was legitimate? Who cared if after we won they took it away? We wanted to win.” I said.
shaped like a sun. We could tell when school was dismissed for the game because a wild gaggle of kids went surging out across the playground. we did our warmups on the gym floor in our socks. Cars and trucks were backed up a quarter of a mile waiting for them to cross the highway. and the Rabbits furtively appeared. chased by a gang of Demopolis kids laughing and shouting and threatening it with rocks.Page 161 . It made a circle around the end zone. bigger than we had ever seen. and looked across the highway to the football field. Each of us rubbed a spot clean. Our janitor Spinx Baker carried a bucket of lime around the field. until the Rabbits finished their drills and anxiously began looking for us. There was no charge to see our games. each at his private peep hole. far removed from the spectacle. touching up the yard markers. gathering along the sidelines. Without a fence. Their little coach looked at his watch and then across the road toward our Dogs to Men . We saw the crowd.When Us Dogs were all dressed. The Rabbits bus came slowly around the big curve in the highway and pulled in at the field. We climbed up to the top row of bleachers and looked out the big dusty window. We waited. It stopped near a clump of trees. it was impossible to collect. out where the wash house drain gobbled up fouls during baseball season.
Part of our strategy was to make them wait.U. That day she was just beginning to make her mark on history. second runnerup to Miss Texas in 1962. to scare them.Page 162 . before we took Jimmy out with us and gave „em hell. gave her a peck on the cheek. Miss Greater Dallas.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. Lemon put the crown on her head. and toward the end of the week I began to wonder if anything had. Mr. “Ready for some Rabbit?” We got up and faced him. We made faces at him and laughed. 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.S. Bubba came up behind us.gym.H.. the only woman in slacks. We waited while Rosemary was crowned Miss D. “Ho!” “Wonna put a notch in our belts?” Dogs to Men . I saw Miss Lynne among the teachers. In class and in the hall she acted like nothing had happened. Miss Lynne helped me adjust by benevolently ignoring me. and led the crowd in a big cheer for our Girl of the Year. “Okay boys?” he grinned. to make them tense. knowing he couldn‟t see us.
I was wrong. then me. The little blond girl on its side. We went around and around the jump circle. though. I guess I assumed that all the Dogs were smart enough to look out for traffic and avoid it. we would be wearing Rabbit skins. I guess I saw the bread truck coming. We felt on top of the world. We tore across the playground toward the highway. The crowd saw us coming and let out a roar. then came Herb and Dee and a couple of scrubs. I guess it was far enough away that I assumed it would slow up and let Us Dogs go across. growling. snapping. If this kept up. We went across the road. ten degrees below what it was when we went to the gym an hour earlier.Page 163 . it would be freezing by the end of the game. By then. barking. I looked back and saw Jimmy closing the gym door. Shorty led us in a snake dance across the gym floor. a loud thud like a sack of feed hitting an empty barrel. about Dogs to Men . I turned and looked back and saw the bread truck pulling off the road. and a loud screach of tires. I just reached the edge of the friendly crowd when I heard a loud pop like a bottle breaking. We went through the front door and into the autumn air with a long howl It was surprisingly cold.“Hey!” We went bouncing down the bleachers. Bubba and Shorty led the way.
He looked at me and flashed a pained smile. When I got to the scene of the accident I found Jimmy lying along the gravel shoulder of the highway. It was the bread truck driver. . so I come on. Bubba and Shorty passed me.” “Oh no. “Then he jus‟.at me. I started back slowly. Something was wrong. were teeth. Bubba loping. “Oh no.Page 164 . afraid to see what it was. .lunged. “Guess you did. In the middle of the road. scattered from one side to the other and thirty feet in each direction. I felt sick.” he repeated the sad sound. White and sparkling and perfect. “Jimmy. “He slowed up „n‟ grinned at me. y‟know. “Did I do that?” “Yes sir. Human teeth. Shorty and Bubba were squatting by his side. His teeth shone straight and white. Shorty scampering. . “You still have your teeth. .” I said.to bite into a buttered slice. perfect teeth. He pulled off his yellow cap and mopped his wet forehead with a damp shirtsleeve. He still had them. smiled gaily. kinda shrugged.” I left him to his agony and went over to where Jimmy lay in the gravel. sparkling. He came up to me and looked out at the highway.” I assured him. Jimmy‟s white.” a voice moaned.” Dogs to Men .” he said with a sob.
“Then. “Jimmy.” he said. “Jimmy. you mean t‟say. “Diddn you see „im?” “Yeah. Bubba pieced the puzzle together.” “Yeah. “Look at that. We were all astounded by his strength---and stupidity. Dismuke and give up coaching.“Yeah.” he said.” “Oooohhhh.” he said.why?” “Dunno. “Look at the truck. . Bubba just stared at him.” Jimmy grinned and shrugged. Guess all the excitement. “that was awful dumb.” “Yeah. “Well then. but they weren‟t made by brakes They went sideways. . my shoulder.” Dogs to Men .Page 165 .” The shrug hurt.” Jimmy agreed.you hit that truck?” “Yeah.” he groaned. .” “Then why? You didden do it on purpose. That was probably the moment he decided to marry Mrs. He pointed to the highway. . . There was a big dent just below the little girls‟s elbow.” Jimmy had hit the truck broadside and moved it eighteen inches sideways. East of the teeth were tire marks. “Oh. . .” Jimmy grinned and shrugged.
“That those are not Jimmy‟s teeth. The lady. “Anyone here seen any teeth?” she asked. The lady drove. The man.” In the excitement Jimmy had blocked the first thing to cross his path. When it got to the scene of the accident it came to a halt. a stubby man with warts on both sides of his nose. I never wanted to get old. Dogs to Men . her abundant white hair set in perfect waves across her head. who wore a black suit and a baseball cap. leaned out her window. but whose are they?” I was searching for an answer when a big black Buick. I never wanted to wear a bill cap.” “Yeah. the old lady driving. the old man sitting beside her looking like he was at the end of the world. I turned to Herb. Old couples like that were always passing through town. The bread truck driver.“But Jimmy. sat beside her looking unhappy. a new 1958 model with huge tailfins. “Think we ought to tell him?” “Tell him what?” Herb said.” “Okay. it was jus‟ there. leaned against the truck sobbing.Page 166 . An old couple sat in the front seat. It slowed as it came up to us. She spoke with a commanding tone. a truck. came around the curve. Well. I never wanted to travel like that.
Page 167 .” So they were false teeth. The tiny little man sat up and stared out. “Oh for heaven‟s sake. has for years. His nose and chin almost met. I remembered the pop and then the thud. but I only put two of them in Coach‟s hat. The bread truck ran over the teeth just before Jimmy hit it. I tell people it‟s from an animal I killed on an African safari. Dogs to Men . that‟s why I humor him so. and who knows how many times we‟ll get to come back. I put it in my pouch pocket and that night took it home with me. at our age.” the woman said. Papa. With a brutal snort he acknowledged the array of shining enamel. all the way from Sherman. I still have it on a chain I sometimes wear. Bubba ordered us to pick up the teeth.” she said. She stared through her front window. The one I dislodged from the tire I kept. I found three. look at that.We all swept our arms out toward the road ahead of her. “He‟s been sick to his stomach all day. he hates to ride in the car. every time we make this trip he gets sick. you know how it is. I saw a tooth lodged in the bread truck‟s rear tire tread.” She stopped as if embarrassed to admit what happened to strange boys in football suits. “They‟re his. but anyway he leaned out the window as we came along here. “He lost his teeth out of the window.
“It‟s over. We helped Jimmy up and led him to the field and set him down on the bench. Shorty let the big arm down easily and jumped down from the bench. faced ahead again.” Over it was. but they had improved since the first game and we had not. “Ooooooooooooooooooooooouuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu uuuuucccccccccccccccchhhhhhhhh!” Jimmy yelled. His voice shook the field. The lady cranked the car and drove slowly away. took his hand.Bubba took his hat over to the Buick and poured the teeth into the man‟s cupped hands. headed east. “Jimmy can‟t play.” he said. and pulled. Jimmy sat on the bench all afternoon. snorted. as the temperature dropped and the crowd dwindled down to our cheerleaders with their blue legs and a few longsuffering dads. He nodded primly to the coach and then to all of us. Shorty climbed up beside Jimmy. Bubba turned to us with tears in his eyes. We clawed and fought and even managed a growl or two. braced one foot against the edge of the bench and put the other on Jimmy‟s ribs. and nodded curtly. We never saw them again. The final Dogs to Men . He looked at Bubba and shook his head.Page 168 . The crowd and the Rabbits waited. People cowered back in fear. as the Rabbits led us on a merry chase from one end of the field to the other.
“Herb. Bubba and Shorty were on the way to take Jimmy and his shoulder to see a doctor. Dee stirred. It was just Us Dogs. I tell you.” His voice trailed off. We sat around the room exhausted. 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. At long last Herb spoke. you‟re not stupid for playin‟it. “Know what I think?” Herb said to all of us but no one in particular. get scarred and crippled for life---all for a stupid game.” He dropped in the other sock. “No. By the second Rabbits game of 1957 in my diary there‟s a blank space. it ain‟t worth it. We felt a gentle rumble.score was something like 40-14. That‟s a guess because it‟s the only score of all the games I played that I failed to record. “Knock yourself out like this. Neither is Dogs to Men .” he said gently.Page 169 . “You can say that again. We went into a silent dressing room. . soggy jock‟s sock and dropped it into a trash can. There were no cheers. And you Herb.” I agreed. knowing exactly what he meant. “I think we‟re stupid for playin‟ this game. get kicked silly week after week.” He pulled off a dank. “I tell you. it‟s not a stupid game. together for the last time. Neither am I. .
week after week. standing up. he had a point. never! We never made excuses. never. it‟s life. ever one. decked out in fine suits. but he was right: we never gave up.” “Yeah?” Dee said.” “No!” Dee‟s voice dripped pain. Herb. All right. rougher. but it‟s all over now.” “Well. Herb. that was bigger.” “What?” Dee said. never! In my book that‟s called winnin‟. an‟ tha‟s what we‟ll do in life. Maybe we got outscored by three hundred points.” Herb said. “What‟s that? What are we?” “Losers. Whatever you did in this game you‟ll do in life.” “Come on. we are not losers. “We may not look like much. we never quit. We played teams. an‟ we never quit. “One thing we are not. “I know what you mean. All Us Dogs do is get beat.” I sighed. You never got beat. The rumble grew louder. I‟ve got an awful bleak future. It‟s time to end the big talk and admit what we are. Dee. Maybe we came out on the short end every game. We may not Dogs to Men . Herb. We‟ll win!” He let the words soak in.” Dee‟s voice was rising. It‟s time to be honest. “All you do is what? You know better than that. “if this is life. All I do out on that field is get my brains stomped out. we never made excuses.anybody here. “You won „em all.Page 170 . It‟s not even a game. better coached.
” “Scared? What of?” Dogs to Men . Jackie waited for me outside the gym.” Dee was tired. she whispered. and we clapped our hands to each sentence. Dee preached us a sermon about The Game of Life. laughing. shouting. “No!” “We keep acomin‟ back!” “Yeah!” “ Dogs don‟t quit!” “Ho!” We were going around in a circle. Even Herb gave in and joined us. we‟re somebody!” He finally got all of us up. slapping each other.” He nodded and said it over and over again. Along the way to her house. “Us Dogs don‟t quit!” he said. She looked small and frail. He got us nodding and repeating it with him. We‟re somebody. “Hey!” We were winners who never won a game. I put my arm around her and we walked away together. We‟re not nobody. with her head on my shoulder.sound like much. “But don‟ let nobody tell you we‟re not much. “We‟re somebody. I could see lines around his mouth and red in his eyes. Wearing a long blue coat over her tiny cheerleader uniform.Page 171 . “Louie. we really were. we‟re somebody. I‟m scared. We were somebody.
The next September.” “Come on. Not the Jackie and me “us” anyway.that‟s not fair. I lied and told her that it was great and that we would always be together. Dogs to Men . .” She stopped and faced me. and we walked on in silence. “us”was no more. .” “When you go.” “No.” “See. The future would separate us.” She lowered her eyes. and we tried to bring things back. really. “I mean us. I mean more than that. looking into each other's eyes. .“It‟s over.” “Naw. I can‟t go t‟college. The next night we met and went to the loft. There won‟t be any more „us‟. but we both knew better.” “Us?” I gulped. my face was fading for her and hers for me. but we failed. Even as we said good night. “There‟s not any money. when I left for Kilgore. “Naw.” “Yes.you‟re a lot smartern me.” I put my arm around her.” “But.” “Football? Yeah. that‟ll end it. .Page 172 .” “No. . .
white for the girls.” Dogs to Men . about 6:30 that Thursday evening. Had we fought we might have been killed. I noted the Demopolis postmark and set it aside to read after rehearsal.Page 173 . Twenty years from the spring we graduated in our maroon and white gowns. When I did read it. We knew how to keep going and never quit. but we would never have surrendered. I know about it. Cougars. I took it home and showed it to my wife. Dingos.Us Men In time Us Dogs became men. a letter reached me at the Playhouse in Dallas. but the idea sounded like Rosemary.” she said. We knew how to fight the adversities of life because we had fought Rabbits. Bulls. We knew how to be knocked down and get up for more. We knew how to play without making excuses. maroon for the boys. “Mine came yesterday. I always did that when I knew a letter came from home. “Yes. I learned that the Class of „58 was planning a reunion. Dogs don‟t. and Lobos. We never went to war. We were too young for Korea and too old for Vietnam. In America that meant we knew how to win. Who the mastermind was I couldn‟t tell from the letter.
Bubba and the former Mrs. This was a nightly ritual for us.” I went every fourth weekend. “I also wanted you to think about it for yourself and decide what you wanted to do before you talked to me.Page 174 . coming to sit by me. He had risen to the level of superintendent. and they helped him get it. and she followed me. “Stand to see all of them. now that Mother lived alone. I saw him occasionally drinking a soda at the filling station by the highway. Dogs to Men . bought a new Chevy every two years. “I do it every month. He weighed over two hundred pounds. now Mrs. Flood.” “Decide what?” I took two Yorkshire Bitter Importeds out to the patio. sipping. She reached over and rubbed my leg.” she said with a wink. all in one place.” she said.” “Stand it? Stand to go home?” I said. “Whether you could stand to go. Dismuke. Jack worked at the Defense Arsenal over past DeKalb. contributed nice sums to the Democratic Party. and boasted of owning an 48inch color television set. I thought about it. I wondered who would actually be there.“It did? Why didn‟t you tell me?” “I wanted it to be a surprise. again. Jimmy was Demopolis postmaster.
The Grouses already had plane tickets to Atlantic City. Grouse had a nervous breakdown when Rosemary came so close but failed to win the Miss Texas contest. Another said that he was dead: stuck by lightning while mining in Mexico. One rumor said that he was a cowboy out west someplace. and she married a Hunt.C. He still grinned and shrugged when I spoke to him. I still wondered if he could read. They lived in Africa. they were shocked.” Dogs to Men . and while working in Dallas met and married a French medical student. “What about you?” “Me? Why should it bother me?” “You‟ve forgotten the way they talked about us?” “Well. She lived in a gated suburb of Dallas with her Republican husband and their three children. Rosemary met a lot of rich people. R. and I wondered how he found the right boxes for the mail. He hadn‟t been home for ten years. wouldn‟t be there. a Lion. “I think I can stand it.” I said. and a Baptist deacon. Jackie wouldn‟t be there either. She trained as a dental hygienist. But by being a Near Miss.Page 175 . Mrs. where he was one of the Doctors Without Boundaries. Her children had a hard time with English on the rare occasion when the Boudreaux got home.He was a Mason.
but I assured the producer that I would only be gone for the weekend and that. At the Playhouse I first acted. there was a telephone line to Demopolis. then I even did some writing. Our wedding. but we made it last. After college I drifted to Dallas and signed on with the Playhouse.“True. mostly comedies. Demopolis had changed little over the years except to get emptier. Reluctantly he gave me leave. then I produced. Houses long abandoned and rotted down were cleared and not replaced. That didn‟t surprise me. was a shock to everyone in Demopolis. Now I mostly directed. as she said. I always did the comedies. People no longer walked along the streets or sat on their porches in the Dogs to Men . still together. a Moliere play. I was praised by instructors and directors and reviewers for my “bulldog” tenacity. We were in production.” I said We went. then I directed. and we were at a critical point.Page 176 . Both at college and at the Playhouse people admired me for taking impossible jobs and making a success of them. no children. I had to arrange things with the theater. yes. We worked together at the Theater Center. 1978. one of those brutally hot Texas summer days. Comedies. She went with me all the way. We pulled our Porsche into Demopolis just after noon on July 19.
stooped. Amid the pageantry I spotted a man with square shoulders and a bald head. He had been to Korea and then Vietnam. and the place where D. He seemed embarrassed when he nodded at my wife. which he was sure we would have won had Governor Reagan been President. He had finished twenty years and was signed up for another ten.Page 177 . all of them older. Even if he had not been talking with Rosemary Grouse Hunt I would have recognized him.evenings.S. The reunion was scheduled to coincide with the annual town gathering. I got most of Jonnie‟s story. asquint. “Jonnie. Demopolis kids were bussed twenty miles to high school. As we Dogs to Men . He didn‟t know what he would do if he retired. We parked and walked up Main Street. Between Rosemary‟s tales of life at Southfork. There were displays of garden vegetables and canned fruit and bright quilts to make it all seem like the old days. He was still in the Army. “Louie? Is that you?” he said I guess I was as altered as he was. when Demopolis people came from all over the nation to rediscover their roots.” I said as I extended a hand. Bulldog Field was a cow lot. They called themselves Wildcats. stood was a corn field.H. maybe more so. greeting people who looked vaguely familiar.
with a slap on the back to each of us. and now he was at peace. he often made the newspapers. To which his wife smiled and nodded. kept him on medication. sparkled in the sunlight. Jonnie said he met her at a dance in Seoul. It was a hundred degrees. Dogs to Men . claiming that he saw visions and heard voices. He saw me and came over with a big smile. I spotted Dee. and gave off a strong odor of garlic. For a time he was hospitalized. polite. but he stood there in the broiling sun in the middle of the street wearing a blue suit and red tie. until they discovered that his many concussions had caused brain damage.talked his wife came up. dark. like Rosemary. He became a Baptist Youth Evangelist and preached all over the south. She was small. Jonnie said he didn‟t speak Korean. He preached in England and even in Japan. I gathered she didn‟t speak much English. Dancing around her feet were five little mixtures. front and center. I knew Dee‟s story because. They fixed it. He shook hands all around. She was Korean. and I wondered how they communicated. A gold tooth. pretty. In three years of varsity football at Baylor he had thrown 89 touchdown passes on teams that averaged winning four games a year. They both loved the Army.Page 178 . Maybe they didn‟t need to While we were smiling and nodding.
That day he wasn‟t. don‟t you. and my wife got me some coffee. and she comforted me as always. She sat with me at the dinner table as I drank it and regained my senses.” “Good. travels all over the Gulf Coast from Texas to Florida.“Still preaching?” I asked him. Still playin‟ for Jesus. “That‟s good. I met up with him again. Louie?” she said. He‟s a salesman for a big shoe company. I go all over. by arrangement. Alla way for Jesus.” “Where?” “All over. After I took my wife to my mother‟s house. stroking my head. He‟s been married three times. I met up with Herb. Dogs to Men . We pretended we were wearing white sports coats with pink carnations as we drove our Chevy to the levee. hardly able to walk. We talked about our exploits on this very field so long ago. and we sneaked away down to the river where we shared a bottle he had brought from New Orleans.Page 179 .” I said. We ended up at Dog Field at two in the morning singing old 50's love songs. after barbecued pork and potato chips with root beer. I shed a few tears. We cried some. I made it to my mother‟s house near sun-up. “Yep.” At long last. We laughed more. “You miss the old days.
Page 180 . and I wouldn‟t have been able to seduce you and show you that you couldn‟t live without me. “You think it‟s a crock. I wouldn‟t have found you. “Hey. I‟m proud you were a Dog. We were now history.H. you wouldn‟t have come to my window.” she said. Us Dogs survived too. We survived. 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.” Dogs to Men .” I responded.” she said softly but firmly “Ho. and she smiled. The Dogs.” “Me? No.” “What?” “D. If you hadn‟t been pounded into mincemeat that night. following a deep groove in my memory. Faulkner‟s immortal human story. “Long live the Dogs.S. Yet in spirit and in memory we would go on forever.” I looked at her. isn‟t that right?” It was. they said it wouldn‟t last.“I guess I do. If you hadn‟t been a Dog. People thought it was a horrible mistake. but we showed them all. In our tragedy and in our comedy we were Mr. “Dogs don‟t quit.
“Yeah.“Bulldogs forever. Yeah.” she said with a smile.Page 181 . Dogs to Men .” I smiled back.
China. Commonweal. authoring 22 books and over 60 articles. He often appears in a one person show-presentation of industrialist-philanthropist Andrew Carnegie.About the Author Author James Baker and his cat Sundae James Baker developed his passion for history and religion while in high school. and other Asian countries. Italy. Throughout his career he has been a prolific writer. James directs the Canadian Parliamentary Internship Program. Korea. He has delivered addresses and papers in the United States. In addition to his teaching duties.Page 182 . Dogs to Men . His creative talents and his unique points of view and insights have also made him a highly sought after speaker. Taiwan. during his days as a Bulldog. His articles have appeared in such places as Christian Century. He is a graduate of Baylor and Florida State Universities and has for many years taught at Western Kentucky University. The Chronicle of Higher Education. and The American Benedictine Review.
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
We've moved you to where you read on your other device.
Get the full title to continue listening from where you left off, or restart the preview.