Sports Fiction posted November 11, 2015

This work has reached the exceptional level
Short Story-Part 1

The Solitude of Success

by michaelcahill

From The Sport's Desk Contest Winner 

"They're goin' straight up the middle--it's a wall of angry Bears waitin' for Grodin … wait, no! … it's a lateral to The Jet. The Jet has the ball lookin' for room. Kelso lays a perfect cross body on the charging linebacker. The Jet has running room. He's off, two defenders to beat. He's to the ten. Thurston has him by the … he breaks the tackle, one man to beat. He drives towards the end zone, Haverstrand attached like glue. TOUCHDOWN! TOUCHDOWN! The Jet has done it again. No time left on the clock. Vikings win. Vikings win. Super Bowl 37 is history. The Vikings are champions of the world!"
The Jet celebrated for a few moments before the pain and the reality of his mangled leg kicked in. All 284 pounds of defensive lineman Haverstrand had come crashing down on the halfback's leg. The victorious roar of the crowd blessed many with deafness that day. Those nearby on the field will never forget the snap of his femur. It didn't seem possible so loud a sound could emanate from a human body.
In moments, the pinnacle of victory plummeted past the shock of a career threatening injury to a desperate race to save his life. The shattered femur had severed his femoral artery. As the celebration reached a frenzy, his life ebbed out on the field, a field all considered his. The gravity of his plight went unrecognized.
His wife and two young daughters jostled in the throng storming the field.
"This celebration is a long time comin', Terry, twenty-eight years to be exact. There's joy in Mudville. The Vikings have won the Super Bowl!
"Joe, The Jet hasn't moved. The paramedics are trying to get to him, but the crowd … Fran, can you hear me down there? It's Terry, up in the booth, can you get to the end zone?"

"Joe, Terry, this is Fran Tarkenton near the end zone as the celebration continues. Corey London remains on the ground in the end zone. He's not moving. Haverstrand's holding his hand waving frantically for the medical personal. His leg's bent under him and has to be broken, there's no way to know from here. I'll try and get in closer. Sanders! Sanders! I have middle linebacker Forrest Sanders here. What can you tell us Forrest?"
"His leg, Fran, snapped like a tree branch. Sickening … could hear it twenty yards away. I gotta get in there, Fran. Dammit! Move out of the way. Let the medics in, injured man on the field."
"Sanders is trying to clear a path for the medics, Joe. I get glimpses of London. He's unmoving, it doesn't look good. But I don't know anything. C'mon people, make way!"

The medics finally reached Corey The Jet London on the field. They found him unconscious with unstable vital signs. He teetered on the brink of death while medics pumped fluids and plasma into him. His wife and daughters stood blocked by the crowd, left to their own devices as the ambulance whisked him away. Haverstrand luckily spotted them on the field and drove them to the hospital.
Threats of terrorism proved to be a lucky break for The Jet. Plenty of medical aid and transportation stood at the ready. The ambulance soon carried him on his way to Parkland Memorial Hospital, yes, the very one where John Kennedy once fought a losing battle for life. Dallas played host to Super Bowl Thirty-Seven this year.
A team that should have been giving interviews and doing cartwheels in celebration crowded into the waiting room at Parkland Memorial anxiously awaiting news of their friend and teammate. Celebrating their victory in Super Bowl thirty-seven had to wait. The hero of the game might not be around to join them.
Haverstrand showed up in uniform with London's wife and kids. At the same time, several Chicago Bears crowed into the waiting room as well. London played for the Bears for five years before signing with the Vikings. He had a lot of close friends on the team.

London's wife drifted into a sea of Viking players who offered comfort. At some point, the purpose of being there became lost and the difference in uniforms became the issue at hand.
"A cheap shot, Haverstrand. You've got nerve showin' up here."
Truth be told, Sammy Kartoonian, the Viking placekicker, had the nerve at a hundred fifty pounds soaking wet. The throng of Viking players surrounding him gave him bravado no doubt.
Haverstrand looked stunned. "I didn't mean for … it was an accident … we just … the momentum …."
Letourneau chimed in, "Momentum hell, you rode him fifteen yards into the end zone and body slammed him. Accident hell."
"It wasn't like that, man. I was trying to bring him down and we … we just fell forward … that's all, we just fell forward into the posts, man. An accident."
The appearance of Doctor Stuckey may have prevented a brawl right there in the waiting room. "Mrs. London?" Mrs. London stepped from the throng and approached the doctor. "He's conscious now and stabilized. He's going to be okay. I don't know about his leg, but he's out of the woods, he's gonna live."
Players began slowly filing out seeking Super Bowl celebration parties and long painful flights home respectively.
The doctors told him he would never play football again. He told them stoically he would. He spent the next two years trying to reclaim what he had lost in that one play.
Painkillers became a way of life for him along the way. It turned out to be a lifestyle his wife found not to her liking or conducive to raising their daughters.
Still, Corey London pushed that leg, willing it to heal, enduring the pain of his efforts. His love of football was a fortunate thing for after two years nothing else remained in his life.
Coach Flanders stood by him all the way. No one else did, his obsession with a comeback left little within him for anything or anyone else. Coach had his reasons and they weren't all friendship and love of a comeback.
Coach Flanders didn't plan to beg, but he'd use every favor he had coming to get his friend a shot to play. That's all he asked for, a chance.
"What about The Jet, Boss? Re-habbin' two years. He's ready".
"London? You kidding? He's washed up. Damn, Coach, you're getting soft."
"Invite him to camp. Good story, right?"
"You want him, fine, but you're the one who cuts him".
Corey London stood outside the coach's office rubbing his hands together. Minnesota Autumns seemed cold even to a native after two years in sunny Southern California. Winter, well, he hoped to reacquaint himself with that. It meant makin' the team. Yep, Playin' the Bears in a fourteen-degree blizzard sounded pretty good to him after a two-year layoff. He looked up as his friend and coach came out of the owner's office. The question on his mind needn't be verbalized.
"It's all up to you now, Jet. I got you on the roster."
"Thanks, coach. You won't regret it. I'm not done yet."

-to be continued-


From The Sport's Desk
Contest Winner


This is a story about American football. The Vikings are a football team from Minnesota. The Bears are a team from Chicago. The names are all fictional except for Fran Tarkenton. I add him as he had a career ending broken leg that is well known to American football fans. He did become a broadcaster and it wouldn't be unlikely to find him on the field as we did in this story.

Should I continue? What would you like to see happen? What issues might be interesting to explore?

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