Extra point

football-goal-line“Touchdown!” The cry of jubilation came in a wave of recognition from left to right across the small living room. High fives and fist pumps were exchanged as this group of grown men exhibited the uninhibited joy born from their youth. The only thing flying around more freely than the testosterone levels was the assortment of tortilla chip crumbs and salt remaining on their fingertips. And this wasn’t even the big game – that was tomorrow night’s prime time event – when Bryce’s fan favorite team would be vying for the opportunity to play the winner of this game in the division championship.

This was the routine at Bryce’s place every Sunday during football season. His apartment was the quintessential bachelor pad. It was clearly evident where the priorities resided in his living space. The sixty inch widescreen television overshadowed the second hand couch. Its plaid threads were baring to reveal the foam cushion beneath it. The dining room table in the corner was purchased to fill the space. In the span of three years, it had yet to be used – except as a resting place for beer bottles while scurrying to the bathroom during commercial breaks. The kitchen was spotless, most likely because Bryce had ordered take-out more times in the past week than he had turned the knobs on his stove in the past two years.

He had always wanted to play college ball, but he never made it any further than high school graduation. Bryce’s focus in the classroom was never as good as his prowess on the football field. The attention and notoriety he received from the ability to accurately throw a football thirty plus yards into the waiting arms of a wide receiver – well, that was much more enticing than the prospect of solving a trigonometry problem. He could never quite figure out what practical use there was in calculating the rate of change in a shadow’s length over time. If he knew, however, what those shadows were hiding, Bryce may have been persuaded to pay closer attention to them.

What he didn’t have in the area of academic acumen, Bryce more than made up for in the social realm. His cell phone was overflowing with phone numbers, e-mail addresses, and text messages. He was an outgoing guy, always surrounded by those pining to be in his position. Formerly the star quarterback on his high school football team, Bryce had frequently been provided with opportunities to attract new followers – on the football field, at the local pizza parlor, and during school dances. He was the prototypical chick magnet. His classmates were simultaneously struck with awe and jealousy at Bryce’s charismatic personality.

He would have rather been watched on the television screen instead of the one doing the watching. But, the cards had been stacked against him despite his magnetic charm. Adopted at the late age of nine, Bryce had spent most of his childhood inside the foster care system. His biological parents had always been a mystery to Bryce, never to be located. His adopted parents, although well meaning, never really forged a connection with Bryce. The lacking support system at home along with the persuasive influence of peer pressure at school found him where he was today, living vicariously through the life of a professional football player that he would never have the chance to become.

He was wearing a professional football jersey at this very moment while exchanging celebratory hand slaps with each of his football buddies. The black charcoal grease smeared beneath his eyes was unnecessary, but it was all part of the ensemble. Bryce had football apparel lining his closet that he brought out with pride each and every week. And yet, there was something else in that closet that Bryce never let anyone see. He had a secret. It wasn’t the creepy or dangerous type of secret that would make you want to steer clear of him. But, Bryce thought otherwise, for what he thought was a good reason.

With the call of “hike!” the ball was snapped between the center’s legs and spotted by the holder. The place kicker, in perfect rhythm, drilled the ball end over end through the uprights. The extra point was good, the game had been won – the football game, that is.

false-evidence-appearing-realThe game inside Bryce’s head, however, was still being played. There was that extra point of his own looming in his consciousness – a nightmare of sorts that visited him each evening after he closed his eyes to fall asleep. It was always the same. He was trapped in the pocket. Defensive lineman almost twice his size were closing in on all sides, threatening to pulverize the bones beneath his protective pads. Although this dream was presented in the guise of a football play, Bryce understood that it represented something completely different. And, he knew that there was no amount of padding that could protect him.

Author’s Note: This is the first part of a three part short story. The second installment will be published next week. If you enjoy these stories, please connect with me on Facebook to share more inspiring reminders throughout the week. Thank you for reading and providing your thoughts – best wishes for an inspired day.

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14 thoughts on “Extra point

  1. Writing to Freedom April 7, 2015 / 12:04 pm

    Another clever story unfolding. First and 10 on the 30 yard line! 🙂

    • davecenker April 7, 2015 / 12:48 pm

      Thanks Brad, hopefully there will not be too many penalties incurred on this potential game winning drive 🙂

  2. Lynn April 7, 2015 / 12:18 pm

    Very intriguing! I look forward to the next installment!

    • davecenker April 7, 2015 / 12:49 pm

      Thank you Lynn! I appreciate you taking the time to read and comment. This story may not be going where most people expect it to, but that is sometimes the beauty of telling a story 😉 Best wishes for an inspired day!

  3. Dalo 2013 April 7, 2015 / 9:16 pm

    What a perfect time to be diving into your posts again after my travels. Loved the descriptions of this story. The “dining room table in the corner was purchased to fill the space. In the span of three years, it had yet to be used” is a perfect description of this great table I bought for my first place 🙂

    Very much look forward to see where this story is going… pieces of it fit the stories of so many people (and of just life in general) that I am genuinely excited about parts 2 and 3. I did like the description of Bryce vicariously living through his football heroes, for at times i think we are all vicariously living through someone we admire, I rather enjoy this about life… In a very loose definition of the word, they can be our mentors. Keep up the writing ~

    • davecenker April 8, 2015 / 8:35 am

      Thanks Randy – I feel the same way about the dining room table in my first place also. I suppose it’s sort of like a rite of passage for new apartment owners 😉

      I really like your description and analogy of living through someone we admire. It’s an inspiring idea, to follow the lead of another, but it is also a slippery slope – for me, at least. It is a delicate balancing act between soaking up inspiration for others while blazing your own path to do the same for others.

      Thank you for taking the time to read and comment with such kind words – best wishes for an inspired day!

      • Dalo 2013 April 8, 2015 / 8:24 pm

        Agree, I think by living too much through another we tend to become sedate in our own lives and dreams. Cheers to a great day.

  4. Mari Biella April 8, 2015 / 4:02 am

    Very intriguing, Dave. Looking forward to finding out more!

    • davecenker April 8, 2015 / 8:36 am

      Thank you Mari – I appreciate you taking the time to read and comment, best wishes for an inspired day!

  5. heraldmarty April 9, 2015 / 1:47 pm

    Gotta be honest Dave, my mind wandered a bit at the beginning because even though I’ve observed male bonding on many occasions, I’ve never truly developed an appreciation for the various rituals. But you definitely hooked me with the hints about Bryce’s secret so I’m looking forward to reading more. 🙂

    • davecenker April 9, 2015 / 4:27 pm

      Thanks Marty – as the final paragraph might suggest, this story (as well as Bryce’s) has less to do with football or male bonding, and more about that extra point inside all of us – stay tuned, and thanks, as always, for reading and commenting 😉

  6. roughwighting April 11, 2015 / 6:26 pm

    Interesting. Helps me understand why some guys get so ‘into’ the football games on TV, as if they have a huge stake in the game. In this instance, your character certainly does!

    • davecenker April 11, 2015 / 10:28 pm

      Thanks Pamela – I am happy that I was able to convey the male emotional bonding routines so convincingly in this story. Truth be told, I don’t even follow football 🙂 Now, on to that extra point …

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