What We’re Made Of
It was a crowning moment in my 15 year career. I can tell you exactly how the play developed, how each opponent reacted, even the way I felt when I heard the fans explode. What I cant begin to explain is how graceful it was.
For years I trained to be more skillful, faster stronger, and have better field vision, but awareness and instinct are uncoachable. They come from a deeply rooted desire for the game and a will to win.
The ball struck the goalpost and plucked it like a tuning fork. It careened off and took a hurtling angle at a point 6 feet parallel to my right side. At it’s breaking point it would be waist high. The ball had a lazy spin, and I honed in on the patch chasing the needle hole. It was perfect. There wasn’t a defender within 15 feet of me. I could have cautiously side-stepped, trapped the ball and fired an 18 yard prayer-set-shot. Instead, I went airborne, thus committing myself to ultimate success or complete failure.
Before Tivo and DVR; I’ve had this play recorded and I replay it, usually in my dreams, in very slow motion.
As my feet left the ground, I became perpendicular to the blades of grass wrapped around the fingertips of my left hand like tinsel. My right arm was pointed to the heavens for balance and navigation. First the left leg kicked out with a snap, then the ball was struck with a walloping right boot. The point of contact was the laces. I bit my tongue and it bled almost instantaneously. My follow through turned me over onto my stomach, flat on the ground; my eyes still following the patch of the ball adjacent to the needle hole. Slipping just beneath the post, the first tremor of tickled twine sent a chill chasing beads of sweat down my neck. The ball danced down the knots of netting fluidly, with the patches still twisting over the white ball surface. The goalkeeper stood akimbo, disgraced like the foolish cheating moron that I thought he was. My teammates began to celebrate before I got to my feet.
As cliche as it may sound; you can leave the game, as I have for the past 5 years, but the game never escapes you. When nobody is looking, I’ll take a few swings of the golden right foot. I can still crack a shot with it. I know I can.
His condition was deteriorating by the week. Already fair complected, Steve looked mummified in low light. Sunken eyes and twitching hands may have signified dysentery or Hodgkin’s. It was neither; though he certainly acted the part after 30 beers. He was (and most likely still is) a bonafied lush. Beer was his life and way to cope with being a complete idiot. His idiocy is questionable now that I recall more open-mindedly He may have been a pretty okay guy, but I never knew him without 10 drinks in his system. Thats of which he would drink before attending work. On his big nights out, he would shower, get dressed up, and sit on the couch with a cube of the Rocky Mountain goodness. I’ll be damned if he didn’t finish the cube 9 of 10 times. I can’t think of another human that wouldn’t be dead after tirades like his.
It wasn’t easy being his roommate. Working such dramatically different hours found me walking into the living room halfway through his sessions. It was all lunacy; almost everything out of his slobbering mouth: ‘The Washington State quarterbacks can’t get the starting job without taking it in the ass’, ‘Salt is the best remedy for crotch rot’, and my personal favorite, ‘you guys are lucky to have me around’.
Worse though…much worse than the lunacy was his smell. As a distinguished career drinker will attest, some nights you simply can’t control your bodily functions. Steve could not, nearly once a month. It would smell like he was mining sulfuric feet on the good days. In the morn, as I prepared for work after enduring nights of his rampant chuckling and carrying about in the living room, I’d be forced to walk from my room through his green mist of voodoodoo fumes, shower, only to return to my room for clothing and feel like I need another shower after swimming back through the fog.
I was disgusted by him, in some manner, almost everyday. He was canned from his job at a local resort as a security guard for popping-off to the regional VP, hammered of course. Shortly after, his Dr. assured him that at his pace, he should be prepared to add his name to the ‘I need a kidney’, list. Though, he kept plugging away; as if on a mission. One night after the next, cans clinking, retarded whistling chuckles, and pants pissing with sometimes shitting.
The mind will rationalize when it doesn’t understand things. Now and then Steve would bring a girl over. And in fact it would be a different one nearly every time. I guess it makes sense that a girl wouldn’t want to hang around that mess more than once. But how and why once? Somehow he even managed to get them into the cave of green fog. My mind finally rationalized that he must’ve been a hypnotist.
He had one particular girl over on a Tuesday evening. WHORES have midweek one-night stands (if you didn’t already know). Her name was either Trampoline or Gasoline, or maybe something completely different. She was Persian and had earrings tattooed on her ears and penciled-in eyebrows. Her face was hairy like an arctic fox. Small scrunchy bristles of facial hair at the base of her jaw and forehead were gray. Either it was some sort of Iranian pedicure or she was a coal miner; her fingernails were oozing tar. I would have thoroughly inspected them…but I decided not to.
Our living room was quaint, but very simple. Two separate futon couches adorned separate walls. One was black with black piped framed, and the other was textured tan with overstuffed pillows. On the opposing wall was our entertainment center, bustling with entertaining conduits. Our lone wall hanging was a fabricated deer head. It was a six-point stag and Trampoline was sitting below it. I wondered what she might look like with antlers, and to myself I decided ‘better’.
At that point in time Steve was nearly finished with his fifteenth beer, which meant that he was simply beginning to soften up his liver. Nevertheless, the hypnotism commenced, and an index pointer signaled to Trampoline the Persian fox-whore that she must follow Steve into the green room for hypno-rape. She smiled, all too willingly, with batting hairy eyes and smiling hairy lips.
I bid them both adieu as they retired. So that Steve would instantly know the level of his deserved ridicule; once the mounting progressed, I made the discreet gesture of sliding a hairbrush underneath his door. I slept, mildly amused.
The mighty Sequoia is the vagina-wielding Peter North of the natural world. Sitting high atop California preserves, these ancient monoecious conifers germinate rich seeds haphazardly across a hillside canvas. Many of the winged seeds perish before tasting soil. They can be found lying atop rocks, floating in streams, in animal nesting, and possibly on a sexually attractive canvas bag. In each knot and chiseled rivet of the Sequoia’s own trunk a seed can be discovered.
I began floating over the woodland fauna, lazily. The wind uncoiled my Greek God-like locks and I kicked my feet to gain speed. Women of the bush played innocently below me and I waved. The dreary sounds of the Blue Oyster Cult was my soundtrack, and I hummed their melody as the bush women danced.
Baby take my hand…don’t fear the reaper.
We’ll be able to fly…don’t fear the reaper.
The signature cowbell chime caught my attention and began slowly gaining volume. My dream faded as gently as it began and I awoke to the shallow knocking at my bedroom wall.
He was still entertaining the Fox-whore. I was desperately seeking a return to my woodland friends. Work would eventually wake me at 8.
The wall tapping silenced for just a moment and then a stirring became another series of wall taps, this time more feverish. They desisted once again, this time to the sounds of obscure barking from the Fox-whore.
All that remained was the chuckle. It intimated the tones of a demonically possessed clown. Steve continued laughing his maniacal laugh even as trampoline gathered her things, cursing. The house shook as the front door slammed behind her.
On the set of Three’s Company, Don Knott’s, (best known for his poetic Karate moves and comedic timing) supplied his signature style of gut-busting, time-and-space transcending humor. He entered his scenes wide-eyed taking lanky kidney jabs at Suzanne, John, and that other one. On and off the set, Don was the catalyst for the seven years of the show’s unbound successes. He was the gear that made the clock tick. Here’s a bit of trivia for you to stash away for ‘Trivial Pursuit: Hollywood Edition’, Don Knotts was on drugs…..and he was buying them from Don Rickles. But the point is that he was on drugs.
Steve, the mulched brain alcoholic, found himself baying at the mercy of the night. The fox-whore had arrived with a stash of sleeping pills and left sans two. She was upset by Steve; she then most likely hiked her furry leg on his clothing pile in the corner of his room, and upon slamming the door and walking to her car, hiked her furry leg on his car door.
Still chuckling callously, my roomie made his way to the living room and planted himself on the couch. He held the TV remote in his hands, sympathetically, as if it were a starving kitten. His bottom lip quivered. Unknown forces were disallowing him to do much else than stare at it. Carefully he moved the remote closer to his face, crossing his dilated eyes. His jaw jounced as he did so. Peering from him at the end of the hall; I then retired to my bedroom, quite content that he would fall asleep on the couch bundled up with his new pet. I nestled into my warm down comforter and let my eyes sink slowly.
“GET THE FUCK DOWN IT’S A FUCKING BOMB.”, Steve roared as he heaved the remote down the hallway. It fluttered in the air, short hopped, and shattered into a nerd-orgasm of electronic bits and plastic. The coffee table was flipped and slid against the living room tile. Assuredly, it was now being used as a barracade. One-by-one, our community remote controls were tossed with a looping hook shot down the hall. First was the CD player remote, then the DVD player remote, the dancing robot remote, and finally the dancing robot itself.
“If you guys dont come out of hiding, I’ll blow this whole fucking house up.”
Kevin (the roomie across the hall) and I continued to white-knuckle it, and ignore Steve from our respective rooms. Footsteps were barely identifiable, soon after the bombing ceased. Steve was making his way down the hall, towards my room. Assuming the worst, I leaped from my bed to batten down the hatches. Without door locks, the best battening I could do was snug a chair beneath the handle, tie shoelaces from the doorknob to my bed frame, and jam towels between the bottom of the door and the floor.
He shoulder bucked my door. It bowed in the places where the most pressure was applied. Besides minor cracking, I was grateful that my door withstood his vagrant rage.
“Open up asshole….DAN.” In his fragmented serenading, my name was slapped out of his mouth like flipper to pinball.
“I’ll fuckin’…I’ll fuckin, right now…DAN..break this door.” His voice was gaining desperation.
come on knock on our door
“DAN…someone’s…..DAN…..at the door here for you; at OUR door.”
I heard roughly ten paces down the hallway, some sort of unidentifiable parry, which scuffed the carpet, and then Steve returned to my door.
“Jose is….DAN…here to see you. It’s Jose, and he says ‘Me llamo Jose’….DAN. What should I say back?”
I was lying in bed, clenching my teeth silently. My face was completely buried into a pillow that would’ve ordinarily been comfortable. Another was being vise-gripped over my ears. The plan was to simply wait him out. How long could one man possibly stay awake or even ALIVE after 25 beers and 2 Ambien?
His broken ramblings in Spanish continued about Jose:
“DAN….Jose’s face-o es muy numb-o and he says ‘fucking me llamo Jose’.”
After singing La Cucaracha while bongo drumming my door, he gave up almost as quickly as he began, and focused his attention on Kevin. Who, much to his dismay, failed to shackle his door as I did. Steve walked right in as if he owned the place.
“Kevin, it’s time to go right now, get up. The girls are stuck on the ship….and DAN…you and me need to go get them and save them. They are stuck in almost every compartment…..DAN…Kevin….do you want just me to be a hero? We can get them right now if we want.”
…we’ve been waiting for you
According to Kevin’s recollection, he rolled over in bed perplexed at first, eyed Steve from head to toe, glanced at his clock, then back at Steve with eyes of terrible fury. Kevin’s glare could melt your fucking face off if you let it. With bulging veins in his forehead temples and the wrath of Khan in his eyes, the haphazard intruders attention was redirected. He exited quietly and slowly from exactly where he came.
Still on the offensive, He returned to his room and stopped at his door. I heard a re-adjustment in his footsteps and a grunt as he knelt down.
“What’s this….DAN? What do you use this tool for…DAN?” He picked up the hairbrush that I had left by his door earlier in the night when he was puppy humping that flea hound. He began combing the walls with it coarsely. My blood was beggining to boil. Minutes passed, and it seemed as though Steve was working out every knot of the wall’s hair. The brushing continued behind a chuckle, entertained by the great annoyance he must’ve been causing.
You’ll see that life is a ball again and laughter is calling for you.
Admittedly, my anger finally got the best of me, and I realized that there was only one way to put this night to rest. With the pragmatics of Macgyver, I removed each item from obstructing the door. To get the sleep molesters attention, I rattled my door knob. He took the bait and charged to open the door. I was crouched directly behind it in a 3-point stance. A college fight song kept my focus as I squeezed my fist to the ground and awaited the moment when he’d walk through the door.
It swung open and Steve howled my name as I bull-rushed him. My shoulder planted squarely into ribs, sending him flailing backwards into the opposing wall. Still chuckling, I kneed him in the groin and Judo hip threw him to the ground. His head struck the wall and he mumbled something intelligible before losing consciousness. The house had dormancy; finally. It took a firm ass-kicking, but I was relieved to have a peaceful 3 hours of sleep ahead. I snuggled back into my blankets, not particularly concerned if Steve would live through the night. As dreams of bare breasts and dancing buffalo wings erased all of my short term memories, I thought I heard a rustling from the hallway. Nah….it couldn’t be.
Down at our rendezvous, three is company, too.
“No he didn’t.”
“Yes, he did.”
“No, he fucking didn’t.”
“yes, he fucking did.”
And so went the tale
Of Steve each time
Inquiring ears inquired.
He took a chance
To pass the time
Mixing whore with chem and beer.
He had a time,
Lack of qualm inspired.
Though brush in ‘hand’
Vengeance did later adhere.
He was stirring in the hallway. The poison had made him invincible.
From the most classic horror movie scene, his hand sprung forward through the grave, then dry-eyes burst open. His bulb had been severely dimmed, but the fuse was not broken in our fisticuffing. His will to live was steadfast.
I was asleep. I had beaten him to death, sleep, or coma, warranting a victory nap before going to work in the next few hours.
But, the zombie of Steve slowly animated. He groaned exuberantly as he lifted his head from the aluminum closet door track. I matched his groan and awoke to the sound of his slow nefarious chortle.
I had to lay quiet. If I was forced to get out of bed again I would’ve hit him with a baseball bat. It was in both of our best interests for me to maintain composure.
I wondered what kept this feeble man from simply allowing himself to slip into death, or sleep at the very least. The way he’s built is intriguing. I don’t have the same infrastructure. What portion of the remaining mass of usable brain in his state was steering the ship? If I drink 10-15 drinks I can pass out without issue, and wake up 10 hours later with a mild headache, a salty beat up piece of flesh between my legs, and bad breath. Let me rephrase that; I have enough sense to go to sleep after even an AVERAGE night of drinking. His inner drive was inhuman.
He slowly growled the word ‘Fuck’. By the pitch and refraction in his voice, I could tell he was struggling to get to his feet.
His hands were sliding back and forth over the glossy stucco walls, and by the sound of it, I realized that he still had the hair brush palmed.
Steve’s fettered mind dragged his rotting corpse to the kitchen. A series of shuffling, drawer opening and closing, and groanings resulted in some sort of satisfaction and he returned back to the hallway.
He was a boulder, rolling downhill; and crashed, stumbling through my door with the expectation that I would be crouched behind, holding it tightly shut.
I allowed this violent madness to continue without my violent intervention. Steve collapsed on top of my suitcase. The tool that he had retrieved from the kitchen was a Ginsu-style steak knife. He plunged the blade into the top of the bag (as easy as he could’ve also sliced open an aluminum can) and made a slash as long as the zipper in its side. I peered at him from the corner of my eye, noting that the slightest movement in my direction and I would commence a fight sequence ala Van Damme in Bloodsport. I was fuming, directly from the ear holes. Like a fucking pirate garnering booty, Steve jabbed the blade into the carpet. It hovered,after a wobble, at a 45dg angle. Then began the chuckling, as one-by-one, the contents of the canvas bag were removed and heaved at random in my bedroom. Boxers landed on the lamp shade, dirty jeans on the Lionel Ritchie vinyls, and a wrinkled t-shirt over my twitching face. Including each individual sock, nearly 30 items were tossed and chuckled about my room like some sort of down’s syndrome newspaper delivery.
When all of the items were gone, only the chuckling remained, for a moment, and then it too slowed and stopped. The incessant giggle was replaced by a dampened texture-on-texture noise, like a fine-grit sandpaper on Balsa wood, or like a weathered canvas bag on a hairy leg.
Steve was mumbling and I could barely hear him, until I rolled my good ear in his direction. I wish I hadn’t. Every word still haunts me.
“…You can stay with me if you want to….No, of course my parents wont mind….Let’s touch each other…Do I look like I’m kidding?….He’s not watching, dont worry….(chuckle chuckle)…That depends; do you like it when I do this?….How about now?….Yeah…..That feels good…”
My luggage was having flirty sex with Steve. This lewd passion continued well beyond my threshold of patience. I kicked off my sheets as if throwing aside a cape. Meanwhile, Steve was pumping his hips into a pouch of the bag and moaning softly. I lay on my back, poised, with flexed legs, in the corner of my web for the careless insect to enter the trap.
‘Something’ happened rather anti-climactically, and the pumping ceased. As awkwardly as he fell, Steve had no problem bounding to his feet. I noticed his basketball shorts protruding in the back. It looked like he had sprung a butt-boner.
What is it?
Something in his pocket?
No, it was making a very identifiable friction with the inside of his shorts. He had shoved the handle of my hair brush up his ass. As he took a few cautious steps, it wagged like a tail.
“CLEAN UP ON AISLE 4!” Steve proclaimed proudly.
As he opened his mouth to arouse another round of gangly chuckling, the room changed. His extremities were fading away slowly, my carpet splashed with green and then took on the grainy weaves of short Bermuda grass. The outline of my closet no longer housed a sliding glass door, but instead checkered white net sectioned a blue sky backdrop. I concentrated further and could see a crowd forming outside of my window. The lamp looked frantic and beaten. My right hand was touching a chalked line, the left was sky high. Patches of leather rolled over Steve’s face.
I aimed for the upper corner.