Halftime (flash fiction)

“Well, that was horrible,” said Maggie McClure, the quarterback’s mother, as she watched the crowd make its way to the snack bar. “They couldn’t even come close to scoring.”

“I don’t know why you’d think they would. They haven’t scored in three games,” answered Janice Avery, whose son Toby was a linebacker for the Jackson High School Wildcats.

Maggie, Janice and the other parents who sat together at every game (home and away), shifted uncomfortably on the cold metal bleachers.

“Did you see that kid score on the punt return? I swear nobody even touched him,” offered one of the linemen’s mothers, raising her voice to be heard over the marching band.

“They touched him plenty,” said one of the fathers. “They just can’t tackle.”

“Makes no difference, if they can’t score,” said Annie Gates; her boy was captain of the defense.

Maggie bristled. “Well, if they’d try throwing the ball, they might be able to do something. The coach only called three pass plays the whole half. Isn’t that right?” She looked up at her husband, who had just returned from the snack bar with a cardboard carrier full of coffees. He grunted and began passing the drinks around.

“And two of them were intercepted,” sniped the running back’s mother.

“Well, of course they were,” barked Maggie. “They don’t have enough pass plays in the book, so the other team always knows what’s coming. That’s the same reason your son can’t gain any yards. They know where he’s going before the ball’s snapped. He didn’t have a chance; they were all over him on those fumbles.” The running back’s mother didn’t respond, sulking.

Annie drew her blanket tighter around her shoulders. “They don’t teach the defense how to cover, either. I don’t think the other team dropped a pass yet.” A handful of other parents nodded.

“The guys shouldn’t have skipped that football camp this summer,” said one of the receivers’ fathers.

“That doesn’t matter if the coaches don’t coach,” Janice snapped. “You know, Toby and I saw Coach Smith out at the mall last Saturday. You’d think after losing like they did the night before, he’d be back in his office trying to figure things out. And he said hi to me like nothing happened!”

The group quieted as athletic director walked by in front of the bleachers. Smiling, he waved as he made his way past. “Glad you could make it out tonight. Sorry about the weather; we’ll try to warm it up next week,” he joked.

“No problem, Bob. Just keep the rain away,” Annie yelled back playfully.

“Did you see that,” Janice asked as Bob disappeared into the next section. “It was like he wasn’t even watching the game. If I were him, I’d be on the phone looking for a new coach.”

“Not going to happen. They’ve all been around so long, so they know they won’t be fired,” said Maggie. The band left the field and the team trotted back on to warm up for the second half.

“It’s just sad. You’d think somebody would take some responsibility,” Janice responded. Everybody answered in agreement.

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About daveallen

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