A Time When It All Went Wrong by Colin Kelly

They say everyone has a double, a doppelganger, someone who’s their mirror image. What if you just met your double? What if you were a thirteen-year-old kid who’s gay and you just met your double?

Chapter 37: Homecoming     Story Index >>

My dad complains that after a while each day teaching college classes blends into the next and it’s same-as, same-as, all over again. I think that’s what happened to me.

First, my classes were definitely on a same-as, same-as, all over again schedule. Homeroom? English? World Geography? Chorus? Algebra 2 and Trig? Spanish 3? Biology? PE/Football 1A? Creative Writing? Yes, all of them were Bleah! Yes, including Football 1A.

I first noticed it as we were getting ready for the Los Osos game. We’d barely squeaked out a win against Lehman. Los Osos had lost their first game against Riverview 27-0, then won three straight against Frontier, Del Rio, and Campo. They were scoring big, 18, 21, and 31 points. So I should have been focused on the Los Osos game. It was our Homecoming game and there’d be a lot of alumni in the stands for both the freshmen and varsity games. But I seemed to be focused on the Homecoming festivities and the Homecoming Dance on Saturday instead.

Yeah, I know, the Homecoming Dance. Scott and I knew we couldn’t go to the dance as each other’s date. We could go stag, and it would be easy enough to be dancing ‘together’ as long as the music was fast and loud and there were a lot of kids dancing. I came up with an idea and talked to him about it. He agreed, so now it would be our plan, not just mine. We decided to put our plan into operation during lunch on Wednesday of Homecoming Week.

Scott and I stood near the end of the lunch line and waited until Jay and Lisa came out with their trays.

I pointed out the window at the side of the room. “Let’s go sit at one of those small tables in the patio.”

 I sat next to Jay. Lisa sat across from Jay and Scott sat next to her. I nudged Jay with my arm.

“Hey,” I said.

“Hey, you too. Why are we sitting out here avoiding the noisy crowd and smelly food in the cafeteria?”

“Make that smelly food and smelly crowd,” Lisa interjected.

That made me chuckle, then I asked Jay, “I want to ask you a question. Are you going to the Homecoming Dance?”

“I don’t think so. I mean, I just got elected as the Freshman Class Secretary. Coming out to everyone might piss off some kids who voted for me. It’d be kinda strange going by myself and Lisa going by herself, but sort of together, too. How about you?”

“Scott and I are in the same situation. I don’t want to out myself to the whole school. But, I have an idea.”


“Jaymin Dodge, would you go to the Homecoming Dance with me as my date?”

She looked at me for about two seconds then started giggling. She had a cute giggle. When she recovered, she nudged me with her arm.

“Yes, Tony McKinley, I will go to the Homecoming Dance on Saturday night with you.”

Now it was Scott’s turn. “Lisa Washington, would you go to the Homecoming Dance with me?”

Lisa grinned. “As your date?”

“Yes, as my date.”

“Then the answer is an unqualified yes, I’ll go to the Homecoming Dance with you, Scott Sanderson. And I think Jay and I both understand what you mean, and I’d like to thank you for coming up with a great idea.”

“It was actually Tony’s idea,” Scott said.

I smiled. “Fantastic! Now what? I’ve never been to a dance with a date before. How do Scott and I dress for the Homecoming Dance, fancy or everyday?”

“Everyday clothes, maybe just a little nicer than what you’d wear to school,” Jay said.

“How nicer?”

“Maybe a solid color T with a button-down long sleeve shirt in a matching or contrasting color. Jeans are nice, but maybe a pair that doesn’t have a worn look. Nicer shoes than your Nikes, like Vans or Weems.”

“The jeans I’m wearing now have that worn look, don’t they.”

“Yes, and it’s great for school or something casual like going to a movie. Do you have some that aren’t so,” she looked down where my butt was on the bench, then continued, “well, you know.”

I grinned. “Yes, I have some jeans that aren’t all worn out looking in the butt and on the top of my thighs.”

She poked me. “You know I’m not knocking your jeans. You might even pay more for that worn look. My mom says they used to be called ‘stoned wash’ or something like that. Now they’re just there and mixed in with the ones that don’t have the worn look when you’re going through them in the store. I’m just saying, maybe some jeans that are a bit more dressy.”

“Yeah, I know what you mean. So nice dark color jeans or khakis and a long sleeve shirt.”

“Yeah, that’ll be perfect.”

“Hey!” Lisa said. “Enough about how to dress. How are we going to get to the dance?”

“I’m think my dad could drive us,” I said.

“Mine, too,” Scott added.

“We have a big SUV so we can all ride in the back and no one would have to sit next to my dad,” I said.

Scott rubbed his chin. “Why don’t we do it this way. Tony, you ask your dad, and if there’s some reason he can’t then call me and I’ll ask my dad.”

“How about my dad driving?” Lisa asked.

I shook my head. “No way. The guy’s dad always has to drive. It’s tradition.”

“What if neither of your dads can drive us?” Jay asked.

“I suppose if there’s no possible alternative it’s okay if the girl’s dad drives,” Scott said.

Lisa grinned. “It’d be a hell of a lot better than taking the bus, don’cha think?” We all laughed and agreed with her remark.

“I’ve got lots of questions,” I said. “What time does the dance start? What time should we be there? Is there an admission charge? Do we have to buy tickets before the dance? Should we go out and get something to eat first? Should Jay and Lisa dance together? Should Scott and I dance together? What do we do if someone spikes the punch?”

“What punch?” Scott asked. “This is high school, not middle school. They won’t have punch. They’ll have sodas in cans or plastic bottles. We’ll probably have to pay for them.”

Lisa answered some of my questions. “There’s some bulletins posted around school about the dance that have the time it starts and ends. We shouldn’t get there first thing. How about a half hour later?”

“That sounds good to me,” Jay responded.

“I think we should go out to eat before,” Scott said. “The guys should treat.”

“Absolutely not!” Jay said. “We’ll go Dutch. This isn’t a boy-girl date, it’s a boy-boy girl-girl date.”

I nodded. “Okay, I agree. Where do we want to eat? Somewhere nice?”

“Yeah, nicer than a burger place,” Lisa said.

“But not too expensive,” Scott added.

“What kind of food?” I asked. “I like almost everything, so how about you guys?”

“Mexican?” Lisa suggested.

“How about Italian,” I suggested. “Pasta Pastinaca is good, and the price is reasonable.”

Everyone agreed that would be good choice.

“So, if we want to get to the dance a half hour after it starts, what time should we go to dinner?”

“You two live close to each other,” I said. “How long do you think it’ll take to get to the restaurant from where you live?”

Jay looked at Lisa. “Do you think about, what, ten or fifteen minutes?”

“Yeah, I think ten minutes, we’re pretty close to that part of town. I think it’ll take about fifteen minutes to get to school from the restaurant. How about we arrive at the restaurant an hour and a quarter before we want to be at the dance? Now we gotta figure out what time to call Tony’s dad so he can pick us up at the restaurant and drive us to school.”

I grinned. “I have an idea about that. I’ll ask my folks if they can drive us, and if they can then I’ll suggest that they have dinner at Pasta Pastinaca. And sit as far away from us as they can.”

Everyone laughed at that last part. “I like it, boyfriend,” Jay said as she wiggled her eyebrows. That got us laughing again.

“Do you two agree?” I asked Lisa and Scott.

They both agreed, so now we had to figure out the time schedule. On the way back to the cafeteria to drop off our trays we saw one of the posters.

“Look, the dance starts at seven,” Lisa said. “We want to get there around seven thirty. Jay can come to my house and Tony’s dad can pick us up at quarter to six. Then it’s over to Main Street and a straight shot to the restaurant.”

“An hour to eat seems like a long time. What happens if we finish eating early?” Scott asked.

“All it means is we arrive at the dance early, sometime between seven and seven thirty. Even if we get there at seven it really isn’t a problem.”

I agreed with Lisa. “An hour to eat isn’t too long. We’ll have an appetizer and dessert, plus our main course.” I grinned. “And maybe I can get my dad to pay for our dinners. Then each of us can pay him for their part of the bill.”

“Sounds like we’ve got a plan,” Scott said. “The next step is up to Tony. Let me know tonight if your dad can’t drive us, okay?”



We became a lot more focused in our practices on Wednesday and Thursday. When Coach York told us about Los Osos win over Del Rio we realized they could be a tougher opponent than what we originally thought.

We shouldn’t have worried. Friday afternoon we were ahead of Los Osos 28-3 at halftime. I’d scored two touchdowns, Cameron had scored two, and Marjory’s PATs were all right down the pipe. Damn, she’s a good kicker. I wondered if she’d go out for the varsity team.

Our second stringers played the entire second half, with Mark Wicks and Jiago Garcia switching in and out at quarterback. At the end of the third quarter the score was 35-10. Jiago saw an opening in the Los Osos defense and ran 73 yards for a TD making the score 42-10. We played the rest of the fourth quarter with a mix of our second and third strings. Los Osos scored a TD making the score 42-17. Luigi Asuncion, who hadn’t been getting much game time, tackled the Los Osos quarterback in his end zone for a safety to make it 44-17, and Marjory kicked a field goal to end the scoring at 47-17.

In Coach Kavanaugh’s usual short after-game meeting he said not only did we play well, our second and third string players got a lot of playing time and great experience. He congratulated us, we did our usual hand-slaps and cheers, then showered and dressed.

A bunch of us sat together at the varsity game, including Scott, Todd, and Heather, and some of the freshman team including Jiago, Cameron, Marjory, and Ryan. Of course, there were a lot of our alumni at the game for our Homecoming. There were alumni ceremonies before the game and we were told there would be more during halftime, followed by our marching band that would put on a special performance.

Our varsity was in total control during the first half. The score at halftime was 21-0, and that was with our second string in the game most of the second quarter.

During halftime our group pretty much ignored the ceremonies on the field. Instead we talked about what our freshman team had accomplished so far this year and who our next opponents would be.

“We play Frontier next,” Jiago said. “That should be a win. Then we play a non-league team, Clayton Valley. They’ve won all their games so far. They play Monte Vista next week, another team with an unbeaten record. Both are in the Time’s top ten. That should be one heck of a game. Based on their record, and regardless of who wins their game with Monte Vista, Clayton Valley is going to be a tough opponent.”

Heather interrupted. “Jiago, is our freshman team in the top ten?”

“Yeah, we’re ranked number five by the Times.”

“Who are numbers one through four?” I asked.

“De La Salle is number one, Northgate is number two, Clayton Valley is number three, and Monte Vista is number four.”

“You think we have a chance at number one?”

“Only if De La Salle loses, which they might when they play Northgate this week. Then Northgate has to lose one of their games after that. Of course, that assumes that we’re gonna win all of the games we have left. After Clayton Valley I think College Park is going to be our toughest opponent. And Riverview is no slouch, either. So three out of our last four games are against very strong teams. By the way, our varsity is ranked number four by the Times.”

“Hey, Jiago, how do you remember all of these records?” Cameron asked.

“I like to study stats. I wrote an app that lets me compare all of the teams on our schedule and all of the teams on their schedules as well. It shows the scores of all the games and each team’s pre-game and post-game ranking in the Times or the Chronicle. Sometimes I have to find an out of area source where they are rated, like for Justin-Siena in Napa. Of course, you can’t really compare unless the source is the same. But I have to use what’s available.”

“Thinking about all of that data makes my eyebrows ache,” Todd said. “When do you have time to key in all of that stuff?”

“I don’t key it in. I have a program and a MySQL database on my laptop. The program scans the net and downloads the information into the database. Then the app I use on my tablet uploads the data from the database.”

“Man, you oughta sell that!”

“Nah, too much work, and how many high school kids have a MySQL database? Not many. What I did is show it to Coach York and installed the app on his tablet. It accesses the MySQL database on the website hosting service I use so he can have all the scores and standings.”

“You have that app with you?” Mark asked.

“No, like I said it’s on my tablet, and I don’t have that with me. It doesn’t work on a phone because to cram of those stats on the small screen on a cellphone means the text is too small to read, and there’s no practical way to divide it up in smaller hunks that you could read on a small screen.”

“Can you bring your tablet to school on Monday?” Mark asked. “I’d like to see it.”


“I’m interested too,” Cameron said.

“Anyone else?” Jiago said, grinning.

“Me!” I said.

Several others chimed in with a “Me, too!”

“How about we meet at lunch? I’ll find a room we can use, so text me before second period so I know how to text you back and let you know where we’ll meet. I’ll look for a room where there’s a USB connection to the room’s projector. That’ll make it easier to see my app and what data it displays. Make sure you bring your tablets and I’ll install the app and set up a connection to the database for you. It only works on a tablet with Android 5.0 or better.”

“What about for an iPad?” Marjory asked.

“I don’t have the time to rewrite the code for iOS. I don’t know squat about iOS and don’t have the time to learn it this semester.”

The marching band was playing some old songs. I figured they were songs that the alumni would recognize. Not that they were bad, just that I didn’t recognize more than a couple of them.

Heather asked, “You guys all going to the Homecoming Dance tomorrow night?”

Most of us said yes, but there were a few no responses too.

Then Heather asked, “Are you bringing a date or going stag?”

Most responded that they were going with a date. There were some “I’m going stag” responses too, including Jiago and Marjory.

Jiago told us, “I decided to give up dating this semester. Too much going on with football and classes and my job.”

“Where do you work?” Cameron asked.

“I work with little kids at the SuperSport gym. It’s a lot of fun.”

“How about you, Marjory? I thought you were going with Ryan Morris ever since eighth grade.”

“I was. We both moved on. I moved from Edison to Wilson. He moved to Seattle.” Marjory grinned. “I decided, like Jiago, that being on the football team would be pretty major, especially since I’m a girl and the only girl in our league. In fact, I don’t know of any others in Northern California. Jiago, you know everything that’s going on. Have you heard of any other girls playing football on a boys team?”

“No. That’s an interesting question. I think I’ll do some searches and find out how many there are nationally. I’ll bet it’s very few.”

“I’d have thought that the Times would send a reporter to talk to you about being a girl and playing on a football team that’s all guys.”

“They did. My folks said ‘NO!’ to them. I’m glad they did. I don’t want to become a celebrity. What’s important is the team and what we’re doing together. Anyway, I’m going stag to the dance. I hope there’ll be guys there who went stag and will want to dance.”

“Yeah, instead of just sitting around the sides afraid to ask a girl to dance,” Heather growled.

“Hey,” Mark said, “the way it works is a guy gets the courage to walk up to a girl who’s just sitting there and they say no to him, then when he goes back to sit with his buddies the girl looks like she’s talking about him with her friends and they’re all looking at him and laughing.”

“That was middle school,” Jeff said. “I don’t think it’ll be that way here. I went to the Welcome to School dance and they don’t have chairs along the side walls the way they did at dances at Edison. They set up round tables with chairs and the greeters walk around encouraging stag guys and girls to sit at the same tables. And it worked.”

“Sounds good,” Scott said.

“Who’s your date, Scott?” Jeff asked.


“Keeping the basketball player together, ‘eh?”

“Yup. Who’s your date, Jeff?”

“I’m going stag. How about you, Tony?”


“How about you, Todd?”


Whoa. Strange Todd didn’t tell me about that, I thought. I should have asked. Or maybe he should have told me. Whatever, it was cool that my cousin has a date too.

The second half got started. It was actually a yawner. Our varsity ended up controlling the second half like they did the first, this time playing the second and third strings. The final score was Wilson 44 Los Osos 0. I felt a little sorry for Los Osos, especially after they had been touted as one of the top teams in the Times, our local newspaper, before the season began.


Saturday morning as soon as I got up I asked Todd about Heather.

“I decided that if you and Scott were going with dates, then I’d better go with a date too.”

“What about Brian?”

“He’s going stag. He decided he’d rather do that than find a girl to ask.”

“Why didn’t he ask Heather?”

“Because I had a lock on that move!” Todd grinned.

That made me laugh. So much for Todd helping out his boyfriend.

My dad picked me up so I could have breakfast with my folks at our ‘former’ house.

Mom started the third degree interrogation. “So, you’re going to the Homecoming Dance tonight. Are you and Scott going on a date or are the two of you going stag?”

I grinned. “Scott and I are absolutely not going as each other’s date. I’m taking Jay Dodge and Scott’s taking Lisa Washington. We don’t want to have stories spread around school about us.”

“I don’t think we’ve met either of these girls, Tony. When will we meet them?”

I figured this would be a good time to ask Dad about driving us to the restaurant.

“Well, I’ve got an idea about that. Dad, would you be able to drive me, Jay, Scott, and Lisa to Pasta Pastinaca so we can have dinner before the dance? We’d have to pick up Scott at five thirty, then Jay and Lisa at Jay’s house at quarter to six. I thought that you and Mom could have dinner there too, then you could drive us to Wilson for the dance on your way home. That way you can meet them.”

“Sure, we can do that,” Mom responded. “I think having your dad take me to dinner at Pasta Pastinaca is a wonderful idea.”

Dad laughed. “You are very clever, Tony. But I owe your mom a nice dinner, so we’ll do that and then drive the four of you to school for the dance.”

“Would you do us a favor?” I asked Mom. “Would it be okay if you and Dad sit at a table at the other side of the restaurant. That way it won’t seem like we’re going with my parents.”

“When I was in high school the last thing we would have wanted was our folks sitting near us at a restaurant before a school dance,” Mom said. “We won't embarrass you at the restaurant.”

 “Dad, could you could pick us up after the dance is over and drive everyone home? Is that okay? If not, I think Scott’s dad could pick us up.”

“Yes, it’s fine. I planned on doing that anyway. Just be sure to call me about fifteen minutes before you want me to pick you up.”

I called Scott and let him know.

“Hey, Tony, what’s up?” He chuckled, and I could almost hear him wiggling his eyebrows.


“What? Here I am, Mister Innocent, and you, sir, are calling me a perv?” He laughed.

“Hey, I calls ‘em as I hears ‘em. I called to let you know my folks will drive us to the restaurant, then they’ll have dinner there too, but off in some distant corner away from us. Then they’ll drive us to school for the dance. After the dance my dad’ll pick us up and drive all of us home.”

“Excellent. So, what are you doing today?”

“Finishing up homework. It’ll take maybe an hour and a half or two hours. Then I don’t have anything planned. You have any ideas?”

“You want to play horse?”

“Against you? Fuggetit!”

I heard Scott laugh. “Actually, I was thinking about you and Todd and me and Lisa getting together and play a couple pick-up games.”

“As long as it isn’t you and Lisa against me and Todd. What time are you thinking to get together?”

“Let’s see. It’s ten thirty. How about one thirty?”

“Works for me, and that’ll give us time to eat lunch before. I’ll check with Todd to make sure he doesn’t have anything planned. Since you’re going to call Lisa about this afternoon, you can tell her that my dad’s doing the schlepping from place to place. I’ll call Jay and let her know about my dad driving.”

“Okay. Well, I have homework too. I’ll see you and Todd on the basketball court at Wilson at one thirty. Later, boyfriend.”

“Later, boyfriend.”

Next I called Todd.

“Hi, Tony. What’re you doing?”

“I’m about to ride over to your place and get into my homework. I talked to Scott. He wants to get together with Lisa and me and you at school to play a pickup game this afternoon. You game?”

 “Yeah, as long as it’s not him and Lisa against you and me. NOI, but we’re no good against two experienced basketball players.”

I laughed. “That’s exactly what I told Scott, but without the ‘no offense intended’ part.”

“What time?”

“Right after lunch. We’ll meet them at school at one thirty.”

“Sounds like a plan.”

“What’s Brian up to today?”

“He’s going to San Francisco with his folks to see some live play. I don’t remember what it is.”

 “That’s cool. We’ll have to talk to him and find out what it was. If he thinks it’s good, maybe you and I can talk our folks into taking us.”

“Okay, Brian is coming over tomorrow afternoon. We can talk to him then.”

“Okay, I’m going to truck. I’ll see you in a few.”

“See you, Tony.”

Before I left for Todd’s — my temporary home — I called Jay and gave her the game plan for how we would get to the restaurant, then the dance, and then home after. We chatted for a few minutes, then we both begged off because we had homework. Seems everyone had sort of accidentally on purpose forgotten to finish their homework and it was left over to do today.

We had a lot of fun at school playing our pick-up game. By the time it ended I was all sweaty and really ready for a shower. Besides, it was time for me to start picking my shirts and jeans and shoes for dinner and the dance.


How I’d dressed turned out to be a problem when my folks picked me up at Todd’s house to go to dinner. Dad and Scott were waiting in the car while Mom came in to get me. When she looked at me she wasn’t happy.

“Tony, you look like you’re wearing the same things you’d wear to school. This is a more important occasion. You should put on nice clothes.”

I stood there and held my arms out. “But these are nice. I talked to Jay and she agreed that what I’m wearing would be perfect.”

“Of course, she’d say that. She didn’t want to embarrass you because of what you picked to wear.”

“No, I guess I didn’t say it so you’d understand what I meant. I asked Jay what I should wear, and she told me exactly what to wear. A solid color T with a matching or contrasting long sleeve button up shirt, new jeans that didn’t have that worn out look, and comfortable shoes like my Vans. So that’s how I’m dressed, with new jeans and the contrasting color thing for my T and shirt. Everything is color coordinated, including my Vans and my socks.”

Mom seemed to take a long time looking me over. I didn’t know why. I thought that I looked totally mint when I’d checked myself out in the mirrored closet door in my bedroom. I hoped she’d agree and we wouldn’t have to argue about it.

 “Well, if that’s what the girl you’re taking to the dance told you to wear, then that’s what you’d better wear.”

I let out a deep breath. “Thanks, Mom.”

After that discussion we left to pick up Jay and Lisa for the ride to the restaurant.

Our dinner at Pasta Pastinaca was great. We started with salads instead of an appetizer because we didn’t want to overeat. I had the veggie lasagna and so did Scott, and Jay had butternut squash ravioli. Lisa had pasta pastinaca, a dish named after the restaurant. Lisa asked the waitress what pastinaca means, and when she told us that it’s the Italian word for parsnip all four of us burst out laughing. So like my mom likes to remind me, ‘you learn something new every day.’ How valuable learning the Italian word for parsnip might be, I didn’t know.

For dessert we all had the chocolate crème brûlée. It had a big pile of fresh whipped cream on top of the usual melted sugar crust. It was fantastic.

When the waitress brought our bills she told us my dad paid for our dinners, and that it was on him. That was really nice of him. He also told her to tell us that we were to pay the tip, and we were generous because she’d done a great job of treating us like adults instead of high school freshmen. Besides, we expected that we’d be paying the whole bill so a twenty percent tip was a good deal. When we got back together to ride to school we all thanked my dad and my mom, too. It could have been her idea.

What can I say about the dance? It was a school dance, even if it was our Homecoming Dance. It was like the dances we had in middle school, except everything was better. There were cans of all kinds of sodas, and our admission cards had numbers they’d punch for up to four cans for free. More sodas cost fifty cents each, and that was a good deal. There were a lot of snacks and sweets and they were good. There was a real live DJ, and he was excellent. He made great choices about what music to play and in what order, and almost none were for slow dances until around the time everything was about to shut down. I don’t — or more correctly, can’t — do slow dances.

We had a lot of fun. Jay’s a great dancer, and so are Scott and Lisa. I’m so-so. But how can anyone tell when everyone’s just moving around on the dance floor and they’re like doin’ — or trying to do — their moves and so are you. At least I didn’t embarrass myself. Jay and I kissed at the end of the dance, and that was nice. She made sure that I understood that it was a thank-you kiss for inviting her to be my date. That made both of us laugh.

On Sunday Brian came over for a late breakfast and the three of us watched pro football. I’d learned enough to tell what each of the players in the backfield was doing to make yardage when they had the ball, and how to block the runner when they didn’t. I thought that I learned a few tricks, but I’d have to try them in practice before our game. Because Frontier didn’t have a strong team, I’d have an opportunity to see what moves I could make in a game situation and if they worked or not. If not, I didn’t think it would change the outcome of the game. The first real test would be against Clayton Valley.

We asked Brian about the play he saw yesterday.

“It was a musical, Annie. It was good. Have either of you seen the movie?”

We both shook our heads meaning ‘No.’

“You oughta get your folks to take you. It’s a lot of fun, the songs are old-fashioned but good anyway, and the story is about Little Orphan Annie.”

“Maybe I could get my folks to take me,” I said. “I’ve never seen a live musical or play, just movies. How about you, Todd?”

“Same as you. Let’s gang up on our folks?”

“Sounds like a plan. Maybe we can get Brian to tell them how good it was.”

“I could do that,” he said.


Monday started off the new week just like last Monday had started off last week, same-as all over again. Except this week we didn’t have the distraction of Homecoming. Jiago got a teacher to let us use a classroom during lunch, and he demonstrated his app. In my opinion it was as professional as any app I’d ever seen. He helped us install it on our tablets, but when it finshed installing it didn’t have any data. “Make sure you have an internet connection, then press the ‘Load Data’ button,” he said. I pressed the button, and watched as the data loaded from the server at Jiago’s hosting service. I thought it would take five or ten minutes, but it only took about ten seconds. I planned on playing with it when I had a chance.

In Football 1A Coach York talked about Frontier. On Friday they lost their game to Riverview 45-0. His talk about the game seemed to focus more on what Riverview did than what Frontier did. Probably because there wasn’t much to tell about Frontier that we couldn’t figure out from the results of the game. He said Riverview used the game as a way to get their second and third string players a lot of time on the field, and to rest their first string players for their next game against Campo. We spent the rest of the period in the weight training room, then showered and went to our eighth period classes.

Tuesday was a repeat of Monday except in Football 1A we were outside practicing on the field without our uniforms. Wednesday was same-as except we did weight training. Thursday was again same-as except for practicing on the field in full uniforms. It was hot and after the practice session, which was more intense than an actual game, we came in to shower and we all seemed to collapse in the locker room.

I asked Coach Kavanaugh for a pass so I could skip Creative Writing. I told him I didn’t have anything to do in that class because we were supposed to use the time to finish editing a short story with from twelve hundred to fifteen hundred words. I finished editing it at home and submitted it to Ms. Porzio on the school’s Blackboard system, so I didn’t have to be in class. He gave me a pass and told me I had to give it to Ms. Porzio to have her release me to go to the library or a Study Hall. I couldn’t leave campus unless I was sick and a parent or guardian came to pick me up from the nurse’s office. He explained that this was because of rules all public schools in California had to follow.

Ms. Porzio released me to go to the library, and I went there and read a story, Wayward Son by David Fox-Schreiber, using my tablet’s Kindle app. I normally don’t read paranormal-fantasy-horror kinds of stories, but this one had both a gay protagonist and his wizard boyfriend, so that’s why I decided to read it. It sure grabbed my interest, but while I read I kept yawning. Not because it was dull or boring, but because I was bushed.

When school let out Todd and I walked to his house and I went to my room and laid down on my bed and immediately fell asleep. Todd had to yell it was time for dinner and shake me until I finally woke up. After dinner I went to my room, took all of my clothes off, climbed into bed, and fell asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow. I didn’t wake up until my alarm went off Friday morning.

I’d been mostly lethargic all week, but when I got out of bed I felt energized and ready to go. I showered and got dressed and was sitting at the kitchen table finishing my breakfast when Todd finally came downstairs.

He stared at me for a few seconds, then grinned. “It’s good to see you awake and aware of your surroundings this morning. Yesterday you were a basket case. Mom thought you caught something and might have to miss the game today.”

“I was just real tired. If I caught anything it was a case of terminal boredom because most of my classes were so boring. I’m good to go this morning, and looking forward to our game with Frontier.”

“Do you think we’ll win the game today?”

“Yeah, I do. I think it’s going to be a lopsided score. They don’t have a very good freshman team this year.”

“Well, I’m coming to this game anyway. The next two are away games at Clayton Valley and Riverview. I won’t get to go to those games because I don’t have any way to get there and back here after.”

“Yeah, I know. The only away game we’ve had so far this year was Lehman. We’ve had it pretty easy, mostly playing games here at home.”

“I better eat my breakfast,” Todd said. With that I went upstairs and got everything I needed ready to take to school. When I came back downstairs Todd was ready to go.

“Man, that was quick. What did you do, swallow your breakfast without chewing?”

“All I had was a bagel with peanut butter. I finished eating it while I pulled my stuff together for school. I made two more, one for me and one for you. We can eat them as we walk to school.”

“Thanks, Todd.” The bagel was good, even though I really didn’t need it. Mostly empty carbs, you know.

My classes and lunch all flew by until seventh period. We had our team meeting and reviewed our game plan and everyone’s individual assignments. By the time school was over we had our uniforms on and were out on the field doing warmup exercises.

For some reason we had a really big crowd for the game. Heather asked why.

“I don’t really know,” I said. “Maybe they want to see the slaughter of the Frontier freshman football team, sort of like the ancient Romans watching the lions eat the gladiators.”

There’s not much to tell about the Frontier game. Our first string was pulled after the score in the first quarter was 21-0, and the rest of the game was played with the second and third string guys getting a lot of experience. They did a good job, obviously, because the score at halftime was 35-0. With approval of both coaches and the officials, the entire second half was played with the non-stop clock. Marjory kicked a field goal to start the third quarter. The final score was 52-0.

When the game ended Heather joked, “I think we should consider changing our mascot from the Knights to the Lions.”

As we left the stadium Cameron and Jiago were talking about our next game, a non-league game at Clayton Valley High.

“This is probably going to be our toughest opponent this year,” Cameron stated.

“Maybe,” Jiago said, “but the team that worries me the most is College Park. They’ve been real inconsistent but when they’re good they could probably beat anyone, including us. When they’re bad they’re real bad, like almost losing to Del Rio in their opening game. Then they lost two games in a row, Northgate and Riverview. But then they came back to beat Campo and tonight they’re playing Lehman.”

“You know the score of that game?” I asked.

“No… but I can go on the Times website. They have a play-by-play text-only stream of major plays in each of the major games, and College Park versus Lehman is a major game. Hang on, lemme take a look at that feed.”

We stood around for a while, and finally Jiago reported that there was no feed of that game, maybe because it was a freshman game.

“Hey, here’s the final score. College Park freshmen beat Lehman 13-3. That was only Lehman’s second loss, and by a bigger margin than when we played them. Check out their defense, allowing Lehman only a field goal. Guys, we’re going to have to be at the top of our game if we have a chance to beat those guys.”

“I agree,” I said. “But I’d like to quote Coach Kavanaugh, ‘We only play one game at a time, so we should focus on one game at a time, the game with our next opponent.’ So let’s focus on Clayton Valley. They are a much bigger school than Wilson, they have big-time creds, their freshman team has won all of their games so far this year, and this game is their homecoming. If we beat them it will help us in the rankings but most important it will be a major accomplishment for our team and we’ll get some major creds. So does everyone agree, we’ll focus on Clayton Valley?”


Thanks to Cole Parker for editing A Time When It All Went Wrong

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There are a lot of American football terms in this story. Not everyone, especially those of you who don’t live in North America, will understand them. Fortunately, the internet can come to your rescue.

There’s a quick introduction to American football with pictures at http://myfootballmentor.com/category/football-basics/.

Wikipedia has a glossary of American football terms at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glossary_of_American_football and I recommend it as a source to reduce confusion.

There’s an image of a American high school football field with dimensions at http://www.sportsknowhow.com/football/field-dimensions/high-school-football-field-dimensions.html.

If you're not interested in football, you can skip these links. Tony would understand, and Todd might even agree with you.

To return to Chapter 10, Football 1A, if necessary to see this link press your browser's Back button, then follow this link: https://www.codeysworld.com/colinian/atwiaww/atwiaww-10.php.

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