Football

An old man was at his table eating his meal. Eventually he finished eating, and wiped himself down.

He was reading in the newspaper about politics and how they were doing. Politics are doing well, he thought. Good. Politics are important.

He finished his meal. His mouth was smeared and amazed with it. He sipped his beer. He did not want it all. Someone else could finish that beer.

“Hello!” he said. “Hello! Will somebody finish my beer!”

Nobody finished his beer.

This man was a widower. At this restaurant the man would sit at this table with his old wife and read the paper, any section. If she were here now, he would not read the paper, and he would share his meal. But she could not be here now because she is dead.

“Here, have this!” he would say, lifting forkfuls.

What happened in the paper did not really concern him.

Maybe he would still read the paper if his old wife were here. He held a great respect in him for this wife. Maybe they would read from separate papers to each other. Maybe papers from different cities.

He peered out the window of the restaurant. Everything was great outside. The weather was bright and inviting. The rolling clouds were poked with some holes. I want to climb inside of there, he thought.

He came outside. This man tucked the paper in his armpit. Sharp wind tried to blow it away.

He walked around the downtown. He remembered going to these different places to get certain things with his wife and his girlfriend. He didn’t get things with both his wife and his girlfriend together, but at different times in the day. As he passed each place, it was a different memory. This way was the way he saw places now. There were places for his girlfriend, and places for his wife. In truth he had not seen so many different places recently. Each place was mostly the same. There were, of course, different races and ethnicities, but not much else beyond that.

This man could feel his father and his mother thumping in his breast. His father had a different life than him. For instance, his father never did read the paper. For instance, he had many books in the house and he was by his wife when she stopped her living.

But these two were crowded out by his old wife in his breast, beating. She beat, wagged through the swale of his heart, and then he bought a Coke from a vending machine in the park by the movie theater.

He found a bench without anybody in the park near the movie theater. It was a nice, grassy park with plenty of vending machines and honey acacia shrubs. He lay there for a short while and died. Nearby, a group of children played football. One was the worst football player among them. It was tackle football and he was slow, and he struggled. He was never getting the ball but still he was the object of so many tackles. He did not speak to any of the other children. He flopped around. After one tackle he lay on the ground and whimpered and did not move for many minutes. The children yelled at him to move. Still he would not move. The other children became scared. Someone said he would call the parents of the child who was not moving. The child stirred, knelt, and rose to his feet. He said something, and kept going with the football game.

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