(While looking through Under The Lights for a #1linewed line for tomorrow, I skimmed through this scene and remembered how much I loved writing it. There was no single line to fit the “1line” criteria, so I’m sharing the opening of the scene here. The Boys of Fall series follows three men who were high school football stars who return to their hometown fourteen years later to help raise funds to save the football program. In this scene, the alumni team is practicing for their exhibition game against the current high school team.)
The next morning, Chase sprawled on his back on the high school football field and stared at the sky, waiting for the wind that had been knocked out of him to come back. He was seriously too old for this shit.
Deck loomed over him, hands on his wide hips and blocking out the sun. “You dead?”
“You’re supposed to pull up in practice, not bulldoze me.”
“Hell, I didn’t even hit you, man. You ran the wrong way and hit me.”
“And bounced,” Sam added.
“You should try running the right route next time,” Alex suggested, extending his hand to help Chase to his feet.
“I don’t remember that play. Maybe because I’m supposed to be the running back and Briscoe’s the wide receiver?”
“I can’t catch all the balls,” John protested. “We don’t even have a tight end. You need to step in and catch some, too.”
“What about Dan?” He was the custodian, who’d been in the band during high school, but he met the criteria for the alumni team. Except for the football part.
Dan shook his head. “Last time I tried to catch a ball, I was eleven and it broke my glasses. I’m going to stand in the line and try to knock down anybody who doesn’t look old enough to drink.”
“That’s actually a good plan,” Alex said.
“I go that way,” Sam said to Chase, pointing to his left, and then he pointed off to the forward right. “And you go that way. I throw the ball. You catch it.”
“I thought I went that way.” Chase pointed straight down the field.
Sam put his hands on his hips and looked up at the sky as if praying for a lightning bolt to shoot down and end his misery. Then he waved a hand toward the end zone. “You just run somewhere and I’ll throw the ball to you. If you catch it, try to fall down before they hit you.”
“Sliding’s for pussies and quarterbacks.” Chase pointed straight down the center. “I’m going that way.”
“Brilliant play calling. Those kids will never see what’s coming,” Briscoe muttered before going to take his position.
Chase thought of PJ, Coach’s secret weapon, and laughed. He wasn’t sure what the kid would make of this, although he was positive PJ wouldn’t be shy about telling him. The other guys looked at him when he laughed, but he just shook his head and lined up. PJ really had to be experienced to be believed.
He made it barely ten yards before the ball hit him in the back of the head and he stumbled, tumbling to the ground again. “What the hell?”
“Ball slipped,” Sam called.
It took Chase a few seconds to realize there was laughter coming from the sideline as well as the field, and he sat up to see Coach laughing and shaking his head. “You boys look like a bad movie out there.”
“This is where you give us that inspirational speech about being in our prime,” Chase said, “and how pride and perseverance and maybe some other P-words will overcome adversity and . . . stuff like that.”
“Son, the only P-words that come to mind right now are perspiration and prayers that none of you need an ambulance before this is over.”