They all knew who he was, of course. He'd blended into the woodwork after the disaster that was the Sugar Bowl, but not this time. He wasn't so sure Annabelle would have let him. Not that he wanted to this time. He'd made a comeback and he'd succeeded, even if it had only been four games.
Stepping onto the field, throwing the ball around said field, finding receivers, and even getting thrown on his ass by defensive linemen. They all left him with a taste for it. Something he'd thought had been beaten out of him that dreadful game that most people who knew him remembered him for. It was in his blood, the love of the game and years burying his head in the sand hadn't changed that.
That wouldn't be true any longer, at least here anyway. He'd be remembered now as one of the scabs, a player that crossed the lines. The lines that players like Martel were willing to cross when they realized it was in their best interest to do so.
And where'd that leave him? He knew it wasn't permanent, but it had left him with the need.
The need to what exactly? He mused over that question as he nursed the tap beer Annabelle had poured for him not long ago.
The game was on the TV. The picture was better than the one on his boat. Not just the size of it, because you'd be hard pressed to get worse than his little nine inch screen portable TV set. The picture and the sound were heads and shoulders above his. TV wasn't something he watched very often, certainly not football. So, he hadn't much time to think on what he might be depriving himself of.
Martel and the rest of the team were back in uniform, riding on the success that the scab players had enjoyed, getting them into the playoffs.
He had done that. He'd gotten over his fear of being pummeled, anyone who'd taken the beating he had in the Sugar Bowl would understand. Those who hadn't could criticize and question all they wanted. What was the saying? Walk a mile in someone's shoes? There weren't many who'd lay claim to knowing what it'd been like to be in his that day.
One of the regulars patted him on the back as Martel tossed a nice dump pass off to one of his receivers. He'd tossed it to avoid the sack, but someone had been there to catch it so the crowd in the stands erupted. There were some cheers there as well as boos being the away team.
Martel could do no wrong, even off his home field it seemed.
He glanced into Annabelle's eyes when she leaned over the bar, placing a hand over his. She'd gotten everyone their drinks so she had time to stand and talk to him for a minute. Or watch him sulk. He doubted the latter would appeal to her too much.
He just wished he knew what he was supposed to do now.
McGinty thought he'd been doing Shane a favor choosing him to cross the line. In a way he had been, his life was stagnant and getting him nowhere. He hadn't been on a date in he didn't even know how long. Out with buddies drinking? Couldn't remember the last time he'd done that either. He'd become a hermit and had come to enjoy it.
She smiled at him, a look in her eyes that should have scared him. A month ago it might have sent him packing. Now he wanted to prove to Martel and everyone else that he was better that he deserved her. He wasn't really sure how he'd go about doing that. He was never going to get a job as a player, he wasn't that good.
He'd rejoined the living, though, and he found in his short stint there he wanted to stay.
There were other things he could do. Maybe. He'd taken a team that had been a bunch of misfits used to doing their own thing. He had gotten them to work together. Granted, it took a bar fight to get them to do that, but he had a feel for it now.
Maybe he could put that to use somewhere. The idea of being a coach, carrying a clipboard around didn't sit well with him but he knew that cleaning boats for the rest of his life wasn't going to get him anywhere.
Not with him and his own mind.
And certainly not with someone like Annabelle.
He smiled back finally, eyes darting to the TV before offering her the tall glass of beer. She took it, taking a sip. It was an away game, thus her here working at the bar instead of on the field cheering.
"It's nice watching a game with you like this," he said simply.
She gave him a smile, taking another sip of the beer. Apparently, she'd already known he felt that way and was just waiting for him to realize it. That's probably how it was with most things at the moment. Despite the uncertainty of his future, he vowed not to do anything stupid in the present to make her run away from him.
No matter how smart that might be for her to do.
Story ©Susan Falk/APCKRFAN/PhantomRoses.com