don't touch vince.

this story is fiction.

Its a beautiful autumn day for most but today is the first football practice of homecoming week. The first leg of practice just ended and it was time for a break. Dustin the quarterback, is 17 and statuesque, walks along the sideline of the football field with his helmet in hand. He kneels down and rubs his fingers between the blades of grass. Vince, the same height as Dustin but twice the sides, drops his helmet then sneaks behind Dustin and picks Dustin up using his armpits. Dustin, furious, demands to be put down. Vince obliges and drops him. Dustin hops up but realizes it was merely Vince. Dustin gives him a friendly blow to the shoulder then they do their special handshake. Today Vince has labored breathing. Dustin grows concerned but Vince reminds Dustin that its homecoming week. Dustin locates the head coach from across the field. Dustin jogs over to Coach Bernie Johnson. Coach Bernie wears a dingy cap with an old windbreaker. A whistle hangs from his neck. Dustin asks the coach to take it easy on Vince, his friend and starting Left Tackle on the offensive line. Coach dismisses Dustin. It was his team, not Dustin’s. 

Now in the huddle, Dustin looks at each person as he recites the play. Vince is a little shaken. Dustin asks if he’s alright and Vince just says he’s tired. They break the huddle and line up at the line of scrimmage. The center hikes the ball and Dustin drops back. Dustin’s eyes are down the field looking for a receiver. He receives a shove from his blindside. A defensive end easily blew past Vince. Coach Bernie grabs Vince by the face-mask and yells at him about his missed blocking assignment. Dustin complains about Coach touching Vince. The coach says run the play again and again until he says stop. They run the play repeatedly and Vince looks worse and worse. The offense breaks the huddle again and line up on the line of scrimmage. Vince sways in his stance then falls backwards and passes out. Dustin walks over and kneels down. Vince isn’t responding to Dustin who keeps saying his name. Players begin to crowd around an unresponsive Vince. Everyone takes their helmets off and take a knee.

Dustin’s sadness has morphed into anger. The training staff asks the players to give Vince space. Dustin’s eyes locate Coach Bernie, whom stands about 20 yards away. Coach is talking to a coordinator while Vince is on the ground fighting for his life. Dustin begins to walk towards him. His walk turns into a jog then a sprint. He lowers his shoulder and knocks Coach Bernie on the ground. Dustin crouches over him with his helmet in hand. He strikes Coach Bernie with his helmet, breaking his nose. Players rush over to constrain him. He fights them off as they grab his jersey, his pads, and anything else they can get a hold of. After Dustin is escorted into the locker room, Vince is taken off the field on a stretcher by paramedics. The ambulance pulls away as the players watch.

Kelvin Hicks