Sunday, October 28, 2007

Johnny Rumble:
Johnny's Folly part 2

*Authors note: This story is set in a reality where the NFL, Gridiron, as a sport does not exist. At all. Ever. Soccer, the true football, is the second most dominate sport in America after baseball and before basketball.*


I had some marvelous dreams that night. In them, I had graduated college, found a very good paying job, hooked up with that girl with the purple tipped auburn hair, and was surrounded by people who loved me and I loved them. But right now, I was traveling through a dark place. No lights at all, yet the colors were still as vibrant as ever.

“Hey Johnny!”

I looked around, and there was no one around me. Somebody had called my name, but I don’t know who.

“Johnny, wake up man.”

I wasn’t asleep. So why did they think I was? Suddenly, I felt like I was falling. Like the floor had given way to a vast empty nothingness. I closed my eyes and wanted to scream, but I hit something hard before I could.

My eyes fluttered open and I was staring at the piles in the carpet. Oh, I thought to myself, I was asleep. Why am I on the floor? I cocked my head to the side and saw the Romanian barman set the couch back on the floor. His voice deep voice boomed, “Wake up time devotchka.” I heard a couple of footfalls near my head. I rotated and looked up. Paul was standing above me.

“Morning laddie. Take it you slept well then? Come on, get up. Go wash up. Big day ahead of us.” I apparently didn’t move fast enough. “Come on! Move! Go, go, go!”

I managed to get on two feet and started down the hallway, but I still got a jesting kick to the rear. Groping down the walls, wiping the sleep out of my eyes, I stumbled into the bathroom and flipped on the lights. The harsh florescent lights caused me to yell in pain and squeeze my eyes shut.

“You didn’t fall in, did ya laddie?” Paul yelled. I heard the barman laugh heartily. Ha ha guys, I thought, real fucking funny. I placed my hands on each side of the small sink to balance myself and looked into the mirror. God damn. I rinsed my hands under the cold tap, and brought then to my face to shock the sleep out of me. I did the requisite morning routine on auto-pilot and thought about what that girl had said to me in the elevator.

“Sometimes our worst days lead to our greatest moments.” What did she mean by that? Damn though…she was pretty hot. I shook my head. No no, can’t think that. Even if she was. Damn it!

Paul interrupted by pounding on the door. “Come on! Hurry up! You’re slower than my ex-girlfriend! Jesus, I let you sleep in cause you were sacked out, and now you’re slowing us down!”

“Yeah, okay, damn, what’s the big rush anyway?” I called though the bathroom door. I flushed the toilet and proceeded to wash my hands.

“It’s Saturday Johnny. Football day. Come on, were already late!” I opened the bathroom door and stood in front of him in my boxers. “’Bout time.” He looked up and down at me. “You could go like that, but the boys will give hell for the rest of the day.” He looked back down the hall way, “Hey Danny, throw me the lads clothes.” My jeans from yesterday came flying down the hall and hit Paul in the face. Wrapped in them were my shirt, wallet, and shoes.

“What, no socks?” I asked. A ball of socks also nailed Paul in the face. Quickly donning the articles while hopping after Paul back to the living room, I found the barman sitting on the couch quite amused with himself.

Paul officially introduced us, “Johnny, the barman’s name is Danny. Danny, Johnny, Johnny, Danny. Can we go now?” I offered my hand in a shake, and Danny’s massive hand enveloped and crushed it. He had a friendly smile on his face, but I was still unsure about him. Paul was holding the door open and tapping his foot, “We’re fifteen minutes late! Let’s go!”

Danny took his exit and I was close behind him. Paul once again punted me in the butt. The creaky stairs seemed even worse this morning, and it looked like the bar had yet to open. Regardless, we piled out the front door and into Danny’s Nissan. Once we got going, I asked from the backseat, “What’s going on?”

Paul turned in the passenger to talk to me, “It’s football day. Today’s game day. Greensea verus Charleston.” I looked totally lost. Paul sighed, “We right now are going to a park to play some 5-a-side games with all the lads. Then it’s to the abbey for drinks, then the match and then back to the abbey till we drop from drink”

“Abbey?”

“The pub. The bar,” he explained. “Don’t they teach you kids anything in school now a days?”

“What’s 5-a-side?” I must have been looking like a total and complete idiot at that point. Even Danny took the time to give me a “How stupid are you?” look in the mirror.

Paul sighed even bigger this time and hung his head, “You know the basics of football right? Eleven players per side, two goals at each end, blah, blah, blah,” I nodded my head, “Well, 5-a-side is just that. Just like football. Only with smaller goals and five players per side.”

I looked at Paul, then at Danny, and back at Paul, “I, uh, don’t play football.”

“That’s alright. This is just for fun. You know, just so we can laugh at each other and run around and have fun,” he turned to Danny, “You bring the ball and the drinks?”

“Yeah, it’s all in the trunk. What, did you think I would forget it?” Danny shot back.

“You have before, I just wanted to make sure.”

I tuned them out as they conversed. I turned my attention instead to the passing buildings and people outside the car window. I watched an old lady struggle down the street with a bag of groceries, a couple of lovers on a street corner holding hands and a lady with purple hair jogging. Purple hair? I quickly turned in my seat to get a better view. It’s her! That girl! I watched her until she was no longer in sight. What is she doing in down here? Maybe she lives here! Which means that maybe…

“Johnny!” I snapped turned and found Paul looking right at me. “Jesus man, what has got you all big eyed and fidgety? Never mind, I don’t want to know. You said you didn’t follow football right?”

I looked right at him and considered my answer. I shrugged, “Yeah, I like basketball.” I thought Danny was going to bust a blood vessel he was laughing so hard.

“Basketball? You like basketball?” His Romanian accent was really coming through now, “Basketball is for weak people. Weak people who like to play weak sports. People from Hungary like to play basketball. That’s why they are so weak. I crush them with my thumb.” He laughed deeply and both Paul and I just had quizzical looks on our faces.

“Anyway,” Paul continued as Danny kept chuckling to himself, “How much do you know about football? Am I going to have to start from the beginning, or can I skip to explaining other things?” I just stared at Paul with a blank face. He sighed. “Alright, you know the basic rules right?” I nodded. “That’s good. I can move on to the league system. You see, football has leagues at every level. At the very top is the North American Premiership. Both Canadian and American clubs participate. You’ve probably heard of the Los Angeles United or Toronto F.C or Chicago Fire. Well those clubs are top flight clubs. Below that the Canadian system and the American split into their own systems.

“Here in the United States, tier two is the American League. Clubs like Boston A.F.C, Washington United, and Detroit Steel play in that league. It goes down from there. League 1, League 2 and on down to the local levels. Twenty-five tiers in all. Something on the order of 700 different leagues that make up those tiers. What most people don’t know is that all the teams and clubs can be promoted or relegated in system. So like those guys there,” he pointed out the window toward a group of guys in jerseys playing a game of football, “can make it all the way up to the Premiership. And clubs like L.A. United can fall all the way down to the local league in Los Angeles.”

I understood what he was saying, but I really failed to grasp the big picture. I decided I’d figure it out later. “What about Greensea? Where are they?” I inquired. I had never heard of them, so I figured they weren’t a huge club.

“Ah, Greensea F.C. The '9th Fleet' as they are known as informally. They are a League One side right now. Last year we were an American League team, but we got rocked by a scandal and AFA docked us points and subsequently relegated.”

“AFA? Who’s that? And the '9th Fleet?'”

“The American Football Association. The governing body of the leagues. The reason thiey are called the 9th Fleet is that with every manager we've had a distinct and different style of footie has shown itself on the pitch. Greensea is on it's ninth manager since the clubs resurrection in the modern era. Hence, the 9th Fleet.”

"The '3rd Fleet' was best Fleet Greensea ever had," Danny interjected.

“Oh.” I was amazed. I never knew how deep football ran in this country. My country. Promotion and Relegation? That was alien to me as well. Basketball didn’t have that kind of system. “Wow. I never knew about how deep that system ran.”

Paul looked out the front windscreen and said, “Yeah lad, it’s quite a way to go. Correct me if I’m wrong, but basketball doesn’t have that kind of league play, right?”
“No, it’s all franchises set up by the NBA. No lower leagues.”

“Much more interesting dynamic, football. Isn’t it?”

I had to admit it was. And I was hooked. I wanted to learn more. But it was too late to ask any more questions. We had arrived at our destination. Paul said we were going to a park. It looked more like a mowed field to me. There were several guys sitting around drinking what looked like 40 ounce bottles of beer. I recognized a few of them. Namely, the black guy from last night. The gun nut from Los Angeles I recalled. I couple of them shouted greetings at us. One shouted, “Where the fucks have ya been?” I placed his accent quickly as being French. Paul wasn’t kidding when he said that everybody was an exile.

I heard a whistle and my name shouted behind me. “Catch!” Danny chucked a can at me and I caught it. A large Guinness. “Drink up man. We got a game to play!” He slapped me on the back when he walked past me while carrying the rest of the case of stout. I was a little nervous, so I popped the top and took a sip while waiting for Paul.

“Hey Johnny! Here!” Paul shouted. A football came soaring at me from behind the car and I caught that too between my chest and free hand. He jogged up to me, “Good catch. Come on, let’s introduce you to the rest.” I followed him into the field. I noticed what would be the goals made out of a couple of 4 foot tall poles stuck in the ground. Yeah, I guess that would work out.

Paul placed his hand on my back and pushed me forward. “Lads, this is Johnny. He just got kicked out of college and George sent him down to me. Johnny this is Sam,” pointing the black guy.

He shook my hand, “Wha’s goin’ on?”

Paul pointed to another guy, “That one is Jack.”

I recognized him as the French guy when he spoke, “A pleasure.”

I met the rest of the guys and they all gave me their warm greetings. There was Rick from Korea. He was Caucasian but he was born and spent the first 18 years of his life in Korea. There was James from Australia, and Keith from Detroit, Juan from Mexico and finally Mark. Mark was the only one of the bunch that grew up in Greensea, let alone in the south. And his accent was deeply southern to boot.

“Finish up your beer boys,” that was Keith, “We haven’t played a game since Jerry died, and I’m getting itchy to start.”

Rick looked me over and asked, “So what happened that you got kicked out of college?” I noticed that both Paul and Danny had pricked up their ears, and that everybody else had stopped talking to hear what I had to say.

I took a long pull out of my Guinness before I answered, “I stole the University President’s new Lamborghini,” Rick reeled the slightest bit and I continued, “The guy had been jacking up tuition rates to try and get the lower and middle class kids off the campus, leaving only the upper blueblood class. I guess that he was trying to turn the college into an Ivy League school. So I stole his brand-new bought and paid for with tuition hike money Lambo. I sold it to a chop-shop for two hundred large and gave the money to the students that were struggling in debt.”

Sam whistled, “Ya got some balls kid. Wha’ ya did takes a huge fuckin’ pair of ‘em.”

“Why you no in jail?” Juan asked in broken English.

I shrugged, “They couldn’t pin it on me. They knew it was me because it had my style written all over it, but they couldn’t prove it. Nobody was talking, and everybody was laughing. Instead, they kicked me out on one failing grade.”

Danny quickly changed the subject, “Enough of this pity fest over dirty punk.” I smiled at that comment. “We have something bigger to worry about. Like how you guys are gonna get your ass stomped in this game.” Danny swiped the football out of my arms and pulled Juan and Mark out of the circle. Keith and Jack threw their beers out toward where Danny had dropped the case of Guinness. The sidelines I guessed. Those two bottles were followed by everybody else’s. The group had split up into two smaller groups and Paul had pulled me into his group. Sam, Jack and Keith followed as well.

“Alright,” Paul started when our group had gotten together, “Johnny here has never played. Which means he’s going be our star goalkeeper.” I was taken aback and Sam and Jack just snickered. “Sam, you’re with me up front, and Jack and Keith will try to help poor Johnny as much as possible.” The snickering turned into full on laughter.

“Alright, alright, settle down. Danny thinks he’s going to beat us, and he probably will because Johnny’s going to look like a fool out there.” He smiled at me, and I couldn’t help but join in the riotous laughter. Sam had fallen backwards he was laughing so hard. “Okay okay, seriously now. Johnny, just keep the goals to as close to zero as you can. Nobody is going to keep count, and we’ll all laugh about your misfortune at the pub later.”

“We’re waiting, you pantywaists!” Danny bellowed out. He and his team were set to go. I got into my position and readied myself as best as I could.

Jack looked over his shoulder and winked at me, “You ready?” I nodded. “Then here we go.” He turned his head back around and yelled back at Danny, “You sure you want to do this Danny? I don’t think you know what you’re getting yourself into!”

Danny smiled. The game kicked off.



Johnny

2 comments:

  1. Looks like the story is going pretty good!!! Can't wait for the next part!!!

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  2. Oi Oi, this is suburb... really amazing...though this dude, please tell me he's not a hobbit :)

    But yeah um...abbey...very nice homage too super movie..and I see you changed bottom again.

    Can't wait for the next installment. way way cool...how long you plan on taking it? could see this turning to a fair length, with a long future...I hope.

    And in the real world: the Reds were lucky against Arsenal they should have rightly put more in...and city drew to sheffield, so fair enough my weekend went well.

    Trav

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