Casualties of War
For the rest of his life, he’ll tell people this was the first Super Bowl he remembers.
by Dave Nash
For the rest of his life, he’ll tell people this was the first Super Bowl he remembers. The one where the New York Giants played the Buffalo Bills because he’s from central New York. He’ll have told the story enough times before he left his single A town that its contours settle in his mind. So he’ll omit the real reason. His brother, Chris, was over there in the Marines, somewhere in Desert Storm. At home Chris was a hero, the only one in his town serving, although all the old men at the VFW pancake breakfasts did in the past. Now there’s yellow ribbons and bows all over his front yard. And throughout town. A clipper dropped three inches of new snow overnight, covering up the black sandy residue exposed by the January thaw. When he tells his story he wants people to know what he remembers most is Whiney Houston because everyone cheered for her. How many times did he hear the anthem down the street at their minor league baseball games? No one before or after had the power, range, control - the soul really - as Whitney did that night. Never before was the crowd holding American flags and posters for the troops instead of the hometeam, no they were the hometeam and Whitney reigned supreme.
He’ll tell people his aunt, uncle and cousin Lindsey came over to watch the game. His parents weren’t football fans, but they were watching tonight. Maybe they needed the company. His aunt Janet brought a fresh set of color pencils. He brought down his Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle books he got for Christmas, but she surprised him with a new coloring book - The Toxic Crusaders. He didn’t have a hard time figuring out that Dr. Killemall and his endless supply of radioactive rangers were the bad guys and he had to help Prozone and Major Cleanup win the war to protect the planet. Lindsey had a Tiffany coloring book, the like the lamp not the singer he’ll joke. He won’t say that when aunt Janet went back into the living room with the adults, Lindsey asked,
“Who are you rooting for?”
“Giants, I guess.”
“Yeah me too, so have you heard from Chris.”
“Is going he to be on TV?”
“I don’t think so, we don’t watch it anyway.”
“What does he do?”
“I think he’s building roads.”
“So he probably won’t be on TV, they only show bombs dropping on buildings.”
“It’s not like he’s a General.”
“He’s going to be alright, my dad said.”
“Yeah, he’ll come home just in time for baseball this summer.”
Sometime after that, his mom called them in to watch the last play. The Bills just have to kick a field goal to win and all the fields goals he’s seen always go through the uprights. He won’t tell people that at that moment he regretted picking the Giants or that he really picked them because Chris liked them and now his team is going to lose on top of Chris not being home for Christmas. He’ll tell people about the relief the whole room felt when the kick sailed wide right and then they all cheered and hugged each other.
And he’ll stop the story there. He won’t say how he followed the story of the kicker after that. That he needed to know the kicker found redemption. He finds out the kicker never made a kick from that far before. That things on TV don’t look the same as on the ground. He finds out the guy who held the ball with his fingertip like Lucy lined the stitches up wrong - to the right. The kicker does not miss a kick the whole next year and then loses his job and never kicks again. It’s important for him to know that the kicker is all right. He didn’t die. The kicker becomes a realtor in Buffalo of all places. He’s glad the kicker has a less stressful job than the fate of a Super Bowl on his right foot. He’s relieved that the kicker’s life didn’t spiral out of control after that night. He can still cheer for the Giants.
But can you imagine buying a house from the guy who cost your team the Super Bowl? It’s not like you won one the next year or the year after. Actually your team became a joke about losing the Super Bowl every year like Dr. Killemoff loses every episode just to come back for more.
Dave Nash enjoys long walks the city on rainy Mondays. Dave is the Non-Fiction Editor at Five South Magazine and writes words that can be found in places like Bivouac Magazine, Atlantic Northeast, The Airgonaut, Roi Faineant Press, and Boats Against the Current. You can follow him @davenashlit1.