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