by Jake Christie


a story.

Coach stared at the scoreboard like it was a living thing, like if he waited long enough it would change colors or change positions or maybe even get up and walk away. The lifeless little bulbs just started back at him: 24-20, they said. Fourth down, they said. Only seconds left in the fourth quarter, they said. Coach spat on the field.

“Listen up,” he said. The team gathered around him, shoulders together. “I want all of you to know that even if our season ends here, I'll still be proud of each and every one of you. I know this year hasn't been easy.”

The team lowered their heads. They held their helmets tightly, like they were afraid to drop them.

“Jeremiah,” said Coach, putting his hand on the young man's shoulder, “I know that you took it hard when that plane crashed and killed the entire football team. But we rebuilt.”

Jeremiah raised his head. “Coach?” he asked.

Coach stood between two white players. “Avery and Brett,” he said, “I know you struggled to overcome institutional racism when your schools were integrated, but now you're stronger for it.”

“That's the plot of Remember the Titans,” said Avery.

“And you, Bruce,” continued Coach. “Bruce, Bruce, Bruce. After your parents were killed you were reckless and lost, until you devoted yourself to fighting crime on the streets of Gotham as--”

“Batman?” said Bruce.

Coach squeezed his lips together tightly and nodded. “As Batman,” he said. “Coach,” said Bruce, “are you just using the plots of popular movies to try and inspire us?”

Coach lowered his own head. He let out a long, jagged sigh. “It's the only way I know,” he whispered.

The lights reflected off of his eyes, where tears had begun to collect, and the whole field took on a Technicolor glow. The players returned to the field. The play started. Coach watched the seconds tick away.

“Forget it, Coach,” he said to himself, looking back up at the scoreboard. “It's Chinatown.”

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