VOICES FROM THE FIRE: Harry McNabb

Harry McNabb

Volleyball Touchdown Get Beer Money

I was looking out over the waterpark that is bigger than planet earth with my boy Colton, thinking about the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and thinking that this was probably how they felt when they thought about California.  Like they were home.  And I was going to go down the slide at my own leisurely, reflective pace, but my boy Colton, as a goof, pushed me.  And I said, “whoa,” for a protracted length of time as I slid down the waterslide, and I felt grateful to Colton for pushing me because, though I was taking the time to appreciate a moment, I was not living in the moment and he had seen that and forced me into the tunnel of the slide.  Maybe that wasn’t his intention.  Maybe it was just a goof, but I have the power to create my own reality so I was okay with what was going on.  I said, “whoa,” for a long amount of time until my lungs were empty, and, when I refilled them with air, I said “whoa” again, again for a protracted amount of time.

I splashed in the water at the end of the slide – big time.  It was sick, like a barbecue with All Terrain Vehicles.

When I opened my eyes and took stock of where I was, I noticed that I had just interrupted a girl’s high school water volleyball game.

“Hey, you ruined our game,” said one of the girls.

“Yeah, where do you get off, you hunk,”  said another one of the girls.

The high school girls were so hot, and they were wearing uniforms with short shorts.  I was speechless for a moment.

“Uhhhhhh.  Uhhhhh,” I said.  I sounded like Beavis and Butthead, but I was not waffling because I was a degenerate like they are, I was waffling because I really wanted to make it up to these hot young ladies.

“Spit it out, chump,” said another one of the girls.

“Uhhhhh,” I said, “uhhhh.”

“Let’s ignore this lame-brain,” said one of the girls.

“No, wait,” I said, suddenly reclaiming my ability to speak.  “I’ll buy you all beer!”

“You and what wallet,” said the girl.  She had obviously seen the tattoo on my breast indicating that I was of the peasant class.  I had received the tattoo when I was five years old.

“I’ll-I’ll score a touchdown,” I said, “I’ll score a touchdown and buy you all beer!”

The girls didn’t quite believe me, but they were excited by the prospect of a full-grown man buying them beer.  They were not old enough to buy beer themselves.

“Alright,” said one of the girls, who seemed to be their leader, “you score a touchdown and get us beer.  We’ll be here until 5 when our parents pick us up.”

So, what did I do?  I hauled ass!

I hauled ass to the football stadium where you could make touchdowns.  I ran really fast and didn’t get tired because I was in good shape.  Those days, in my youth, I was toned like a Ford Mustang.

I ran really fast all the way to the football stadium.  I skipped everyone in line, and they were like whoa, dude, that’s not okay.  I ran to the ticket teller, and said, hey bro, you gotta get me in the game.  And he said, naw dude you gotta wait in line for your ticket, and I said, no dude, I don’t want to watch the game, I want to play in the game.

He had a disbelieving air about him, but when he looked me in the eyes, and saw the electricity of truth there, he believed me.

“Here,” he said.  He opened the window and after rummaging around underneath the ticket box, he pulled out a jersey, a helmet, some football pants, and a pair of shoulder pads.  “Knock ‘em dead, bro!” he said.

I bowed, as if he were my sensei, grabbed the gear and ran into the stadium.

When I walked into the stadium the crowd was standing up, cheering me.  It was the greatest feeling.  Like winning World War 9.  I saw players with two different jersey colors.  One group of players was wearing white and the other was wearing black.  My jersey was the white color, so I went over to where the white shirted players were congregated.  “What’s up fam?” I said.  They said hey back.  They were lined up in a row with their hands over their hearts, so I lined up with my hand on my heart too.  Through the speakers in the stadium they played a familiar song.  It was the national anthem long ago for a country on planet earth called America.  It goes like this:

Oh, say can you see by the dawn’s early light

What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming?

Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight,

O’er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming?

And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air,

Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.

Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave

O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

So, that was the song.  Everyone in the crowd cheered and I felt that, though I was a little ant in the fathomless universe, I had a key role in the marvelous machinery of the galaxy’s and all of its stars’ and planets’ revolutions and rotations, births and deaths.  A tear bloomed warm in my eye.  But, all emotions aside, I had to score a touchdown, convert it into money, and buy beer for a bunch of hot teenage girls.

My team lined up to kick the ball away and I followed.  The other team lined up to receive the kick.  I did what my team was doing.  I put my hands on my knees.  I knew that when that guy kicked the ball to the opposing team’s player, I had to get that ball, take it to the endzone, and score.  Time was running out.  Soon, the girls’ parents would come to pick them up and they would be gone, and I would not be able to hold their hands or kiss them.

The guy on my team who was responsible for kicking the ball ran forward and kicked it.  The ball sailed through the air and was caught by a player on the opposing team.  I tried to run towards him, to get him, but his team-mates were in my way, attempting to stop, or block me.

It was time.

Time to unleash the beast!

I floated into the air and was struck by a red bolt of lightning from the clear blue sky.  My body shook vigorously as the demon entered me.  To pay for things in my life, I had rented out my body to the demon, Amon-Ra.  Back then, he fully inhabited my body for two hours out of each day and paid me for the privilege.  You may believe that I resented Amon-Ra, but I didn’t.  He and I were cool, and sometimes when I needed help, he did me a favor.  Like at that moment.

Propelled by the super-strength of Amon-Ra, I tore through the opposing team’s blockers.  They flew out of the way like popcorn kernels.  Pop-pop, Pop-pop.  The player with the ball was scared and ran in the opposite direction, away from me, but I closed on him and took the ball from his clutches.

Amon-Ra retreated into the sky and the referee signaled a touchdown as I sprinted into the endzone.

The crowd roared.  I really wanted to party with them, but I had another party to get to.

I went over to the referee and asked him for my Touchdown Money.  He smiled, pulled out his wallet, and gave me fifty dollars for scoring the touchdown.  “Nice work out there, bud,” he said, patting me on the shoulder.

“Thanks, Ref,” I said, and I ran out of the stadium to thunderous applause.  Everyone was so happy, you’d think that earth hadn’t been destroyed.

I ran to the beer stand, which was occupied by a fat, friendly man.  “Hey, Touchdown Boy,” he said, “why didn’t you stay for the game?”

“Oh, I’m on a mission,” I said, “I need two cases of beer!”

He rang me up.  “That’ll be 51 dollars,” he said.

“What?  51?” I said.

“That’s right, Touchdown Boy,” he said.

“I’m a dollar short,” I said.  I was crestfallen.  I did not have enough beer to get the teenage girls drunk.

“Hey, what’s this mission you’re on?” he said.

I sighed, then looked at him, “I made a promise to some young women that I would make it up to them for spoiling their game twenty minutes earlier, and I thought that, I don’t know, maybe we could get to talking, and one of them, maybe two, or three of them, would make the Oath of Intent, to copulate exclusively with me when they turn 18.”

We paused for a moment.

“Man, that’s beautiful,” said the beer man.

“Yeah,” I said, “it’s just a fantasy now.  There’s no way they’ll warm up to me if they see I only have one case.”

“You can have that second case,” said the beer man.

“What?” I said.

“As long as I can get in on that party, man!” he said.

We high-fived and both said, “that’s what I’m talking about!”

We made our way back to the girls playing volleyball, carrying our two cases of beer.  As we came into view, the girls pointed at us and made excited noises.

When we reached the pool, the leader, the captain of the team said, “we didn’t think you’d make it!  That is so gnarly, to say you’re going to score a touchdown and use the money to buy beer, and then actually do it?  Oh my god!  I have to say, I am already seriously considering taking the Oath of Intent with you.”

So, we had a big party of beer.  Colton came down the slide and joined in.  He had been standing at the top of the slide, looking at all the waterslides on the planet, admiring them.  Lost in the moment.  He had fallen into the same trap he had helped me avoid.  I sometimes wonder, when you live in the moment, is it the thing you’re doing now, or the thing you’re doing next?  I have no idea.

It was a great party.  The girls enjoyed the beer.  When the parents arrived, I shook their hands and offered them beer.  While the girls played drunkenly in the pool, I had a serious discussion with the parents about their daughters’ futures.

I’m not going to tell you if anyone signed the signed the Oath of Intent with me.  A gentleman does not kiss and tell.  Go ask my wives!

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