The game was close for two and a half quarters, but midway through the third, the Carroll High jv pulled away from Victoria Stroman to win, 49-28. The young man had played tight end on offense and free safety on defense, and now they are at a Golden Corral in Victoria, Texas, feasting before the two-hour bus ride back to Corpus Christi.
The young man sits with Roger, Ted, and Felix. “What was up with that one pass in the fourth?” says Roger.
“What’s that?” says the young man.
“Hit you right in the face mask and you don’t even react.”
“Oh,” says the young man. “The dude I was covering stopped for a curl, and I was so determined to kill him that I never saw the ball.”
Felix breaks up laughing. “You’re gonna catch hell in film tomorrow.”
Suddenly, they hear Terry’s voice from the next table. “Hey, Doc! You better come home over here. Sean’s messed up.”
“Dude, we forgot about Sean,” says Roger.
They all three hop to their feet and move to Sean’s table just as Doc Jimenez, the trainer, reaches him. Sean has his head in both hands, and he is sobbing.
“What’s going on, Sean?” says Doc.
He shrugs. “I don’t know.”
They’re all quiet. Then, Roger says, “Dude, Sean, you’re in Zimbabwe!”
“Shut the hell up, Roger!” Doc says.
Doc sits next to Sean. “Talk to me, buddy.”
“I don’t know how I’m getting home,” Sean bawls.
“The bus is taking you home.”
“No, the bus left me here.”
Doc looks up at the rest of guys. “Y’all go sit and finish your food. He’s gonna be okay. Don’t be a dick to him on the bus and confuse him more.”
The next morning in film, the young man sits next to Sean, who plays center. Midway through the third quarter, he elbows the young man and whispers, “This is the last play I remember. Middle linebacker blitzes and we crack heads, and I don’t remember nothing till next morning. Well, almost nothing.”
“What do you mean?”
“Tell you after.”
Two plays later, they see a nose tackle over Sean, and he blows Sean ten yards back. Coach Arledge says, “Sean, sorry to have to pull you, bud. It was a mercy killing.”
“It’s cool, Coach. I had no idea where I was. I don’t even know how I was snapping still.”
After film, they are in the locker room changing into cleats to run wind sprints. Felix, Roger, Ted, and the young man are gathered around Sean.
“So I remember two things,” says Sean. “I looked down at my bowl of ice cream, and I suddenly thought I was at Dairy Queen. I knew the team was supposed to eat at Golden Corral, so I thought y’all had ditched me at Dairy Queen and I had no idea how I was gonna get home from Victoria. So I started freaking out and the next thing I hear is Roger’s voice saying I’m in Zimbabwe.” He looks at Roger with a smile. “You’re such a dick, dude.”
They all laugh, and Roger says, “I wanted to see if you’d believe it.”
“I don’t know if I did. I don’t remember much after that.”