The Latest Standings

by J. David Stevens


We went to see the big game.  We carried truncheons wrapped in razor wire.  The opposing fans had boards with nails.  The rivalry was older than any of us, though the other team had gained the edge the last few years.  We thought our luck might change.  Our boys were hungry.  They had hustle.  But the other boys could fly.  They could cut and burn.

Things were close early on.  Our boys pushed one way, their boys the other.  Replays were shown on the jumbo screen.  The opposing mascot came to our side of the field and, with gestures, told us what we could do with ourselves.  We admired the cheerleaders’ new tattoos.  Someone tossed our mascot a truncheon, and he let the other mascot have it.

There were the usual ruckuses: a dustup at the snack bar, a scrap near the scoreboard.  We’d been practicing with the truncheons all week, but those boards packed a wallop.  Whenever our boys scored, we did the victory chant: wazoo-wazoo-wazoo-way!  The mascots got into it again at halftime, a big ball of fur and feathers.

The guy sitting next to me said he’d dated one of the cheerleaders, a nice girl who’d lacked certain advantages growing up.  The beer man came around.  We’d been drinking heavily but really knocked them back at halftime.  We kept the bottles to throw at the other teams’ mascot.  The guy sitting next to me took off his shirt and waved at the cheerleader, who pretended not to see.

There was more scoring the second half.  We snuck around to the opposing side and pummeled the couples making love beneath the stands.  Some of them were ready for us, though, and gave as good as they got.  The other team was starting to come back.  We had to respect their moxie.  The crowd above us chanted: oogee-oogee-oogee-i!

The game ended inconclusively.  There was a problem with the referees.  As we left the stadium, the announcer assured us things would be reviewed over the next few days.  The ambulances lined up at the gate.  The hearses waited at the end of the western tunnel.  Over by security, they filled a box with contraband: some box cutters, some ice picks, a machete or two.  We decried the opposing fans’ inability to play by the rules.

In the parking lot, two guys talked about the game.  “Hell of a game,” the first guy said.

“I guess,” said the second.

The first guy shrugged.  “Probably better next year.”

“Yeah,” agreed the second guy.  “Just wait.”


Read J. David Stevens’ THE FIGURES and Ghost Story

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