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THE MAD SEASON

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IN WHICH OUR HARD-BOILED ANTI-HERO MISSES MACTION

[a nameless man is slumped in a desk chair in a dimly lit office, his face obscured by shadows]

It's a brutal business out there this time of year. T.S. Eliot might try to tell you that April's the cruelest month, but I ain't never seen no poet sweatin' his prose off in the dead of July, when a man'd sell his own mother for even an NBA game or a tax refund or a cool breeze. No, this time of year'll drive even a Buddha bonkers.

[wipes sweat from brow]

Man, it's a hot one.

[stares out window, onto the cacophonous streets of College Football City]

So hot in here.

It makes them mad, and it makes them mean. The unwashed hungry hordes at State U Tech blister like burgers at a barbecue. It turns the boosters into blasters when the games are only on paper, Kansas is undefeated and it's any day but Saturday in your heart. The dead of summer, you start to wonder if you're even alive or if your card got pulled and hell's production values weren't what you thought they'd be.

I need a drink.

[pours a glass of Pappy Van Winkle]
[drops in six ice cubes]
[tops with Pepsi]

They need meat, those dogs out there. The hunger rises in their bellies and they need something to tear into, even if it's just the sight of some Mormons punting their way through a Thursday night in Orlando.  Without that, they turn on each other. Hmm. Speaking of hunger, where's that dang sandwich?

[opens lunchbox]
[pulls out a hot dog swimming in ketchup]
[crushes up a mixture of Wheat Thins and Triscuits on top]
[takes a bite]

That's the best damned burrito in town, if you ask this gumshoe.

[wipes mouth]

When the recruits are all committed and the Media Days drag out their last pointless breath, where are you left? It's a biblical flood of boredom and you've got forty more days to drift without football. You're just hopin' the giraffes keep their neckin' PG 'til you get there.

This time of year, I don't know nothin'. Nothin' but a loaded pistol in my desk, a fire in my gullet, and the sand-blastin' truth that half the teams in the ACC don't have a single player who'd start for Florida State.

[a knock at the door]
[reaches for pistol]

It'll come for you too before it's over.