HOMECOMING 2007 • by Rebecca Nazar

Rusted tin dusk. Smell of town, wet dog. Fourth quarter. Home is down 27 to zip. Their fans line the weathered wood bleachers.

Curtis Drummond, Class of 1990 — quarterback–and Frank Gregory, Class of 1992 — running back — sit together.

“Christ, he’s fast. Too bad he plays for them,” Frank chuckles.

Curt nurses whiskey from a plaid thermos. He’d be synchronizing a tug on a Camel right now, but it’s a smoke-free zone. He gets a whiff of weed farted from the bowels of the bleachers. He smirks.

“They start them young up there. The little bastards suit up and are scrimmaging at six, at six. They got all new fields and all new equipment. I did a tile job for a guy up there, and it cost him eight thousand dollars for a mudroom, a mudroom. He works administration at the new plant. You looked for work up there?” Frank says.

Curt swats at the cold in his legs. A gulp of whiskey this time. A jab to his chest; his nostrils flare. Rocking forward, he ties his work boot and peers down between the boards. Sees: shadows, skeletons, innocence, glory.

“They’re good in soccer, baseball, basket ball, lacrosse, golf.” Frank folds down a finger for each sport until he has a tight fist. “I’m looking to buy a house up there.”

Curt ties his other boot. He sees a crown of dirty blond hair, a red-headed pate. Someone on their knees? A zip, a shudder, a moan? A sly grin flushes his chapped cheeks.

Something, a miracle, ignites the field. A sharp inhalation of hope lifts the townies onto their thick feet. They’re one. They love this team. This town. This pit.

Score, boy, just whittle away some of our humiliation: they pray.

Their pride stumbles and splays.

Ooooohhhhhh, the big, fat losers deflate. The bleachers groan and bow.

Frank — who sat through the whole thing — now rises. “Well, that’s it. I’m going to beat the rush to get out of here.”

Asshole: Curt thinks. He waits. The bleachers slough off the disappointed from above, the deflowered from below. Once alone, he stands and tests the spring in the weary boards. They give. They take.

Curt loves his team, his town. It’s no pit to the most valuable.

Rebecca Nazar has been published in Toasted Cheese and The Shine Journal. Her horror stories will appear soon in Champagne Shivers Magazine and Bewildering Stories.

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