16)  Sunday, February 3rd – “Comeback Kidz!”


          By the weekend, Grape Street was back to normal… for February, that is… temperatures in the mid-thirties, walks clear (courtesy of Swee’ Pea Tarleton and his shovel), money in pocket (courtesy of FRECOC, Uncle Raoul’s amazing thirty-dollar converters and Social Security) and the twelve-point underdog Redskins were hanging tough in Green Bay.  Westy, Miz Lottie, Raoul and successive generations… granddaughters Earline and Rima and their niece, Nicole (here for the duration while her father was a guest of the state of Virginia) and Raoul’s three-year-old son Jeff.  His grandson Trevor was sleeping in the kitchen, no doubt stirring as the whole gang rose up, cheering, when Portis broke through the Green Bay line for six yards and another first down.

          “Might do it!” Raoul dared to hope.  “Sons-a-bitchers just might do it…”

          “Watch yo’ mouth!” Miz Lottie warned, between sips of diet Pepsi from a jelly glass.

          “Sorry!”  Raoul put his hand over his mouth, as much to stifle a laugh as to comply, a gesture that broke Jeff and Nicole up.  (Westy and the older girls had seen it too often before.)  On the venerable analog screen bolstered by its indomitable Apex conversion box, Biff McLaine and Puson Snead, heavily bundled for the trip up to Lambeau, breathed steam from their mouths like a couple of fat dragons as they speculated on the possibilities of an upset…

          “Comeback kids comin’ back again…” Biff said.

          “Right.”  Westy could only speculate, himself, what Snead… whose knees were more plastic and chrome than gristle, muscle and blood… really thought of his pale, bloated sidekick.  “First and ten at the fourteen.  Blitz on – Frear fires a quick shot over the middle and Kennedy drags two Packers to the eight.”

          “Another second and short…” Biff chimed in.

          Miz Lottie leaned forward in her chair, a posture that General Westmoreland knew was precursive to pronouncing judgment.  “That Green Bay, that’s cold up there…”

          “Sure is,” Westy agreed.  “Worse than Chicago…”

          Nothin’ worse n’ Chicago,” Raoul disagreed.

“Green Bay is.  They all white up there, too.”

          Miz Lottie, having made her point, lowered the jelly glass and glared at the men on the couch.  “Shush up, you boys…”

          So they watched Portis grind out two hard yards to the imaginary yellow line delineating first down and, when the pile unpiled, a Washington lineman stayed down…

          “Skins can ill afford to lose Collins,” Snead observed, “they’re already thinning on the bench…”

          “Like you must be upstairs,” Biff joked as trainers and coaches surrounded the fallen lineman.  There was no comeback from Puson Snead, so McLaine added, “And we’ll be back after these messages…”

          And the game footage gave way to a Western-garbed, highly-caffeinated, bepodiumed Big Sonny Sonnenschein, towering over a bevy of beautiful models.   

          “Big Sonny here, and have I got news for all you Yankee folk between Boston and Washington… arriving at a Giga-Plex near you on Lincoln’s Birthday, February 12th, just nine days off, and just in time for the Superbowl… the Dominator.  Ninety-two inches of pure mega-modulated high def Heaven, that’s sixteen inches larger than any other model, at any other retail outlet.”

          An actor dressed like Abraham Lincoln… though shorter than the pitchman… crept up on tiptoes behind Big Sonny, beseeching…

          “You know, I’ve got a birthday coming up…”

          “You and plenty of others.  How about Georgie?  Martin… well, a little after the fact, but still… how about that special someone in your life… even yourself!  With the low, E-Z terms at Giga-Plex, there’s no need to settle for second best, right Abe?”

          The Lincoln impersonator, distracted and fondling two of Big Sonny’s beauties, one to either side, did a double-take.  “Honest!”

          “So it could be your loved one… or you!… cheering on the Skins come Super Sunday!  We’re taking advance orders… but quantities are limited.  And the first fifty people ordering who say ‘Honest, Sonny!’ well, they’ll get a free microwave for any MHDTV over fifty inches… not just the Dominator, but Panasonics… Sony… Apuku, even European-made Sievers… only at your local Giga-Plex.  Right, Abe?  Abe!”

          The camera had panned back to show Lincoln entwined with the two models, top hat off – and there went his beard!  Big Sonny shrugged and mugged for the camera and dissolved into a car commercial… scowling, Miz Lottie pointed at the plain, fuzzy TV with rabbit ears feeding into the Apex (and, on top of it, a black cardboard box, one of Raoul’s backseat converters, ready to be plugged-in for the day of becoming) as if the set itself were to blame.

          “How do that man know we’re for the Skins,” she challenged Big Sonny, “…there’s Giga-Plex stores all over America, right?  Worldwide!  What about those people in Oakland, up in Green Bay?”

          “Bet that man made three different commercials, maybe more.  He did say something about the East Coast,” Westy remembered.  “One for here, one for those other teams and maybe somethin’ else for them without a team to root for…”

          “He allowed to do that?” Miz Lottie asked, offended.

          “Why not?”

          “And, you know…” Raoul broke in with a wink.  “I gotta boy I know out in the Maryland store… tells me Big Sonny ain’t so big, he’s short, wears lifts!  So them girls, they gotta be midgets, Lincoln too…”

          Ain’t right, makin’ fun of Mr. Lincoln like that.  He disrespectin our emancipatin’…” the matriarch shook her head.

          “Man don’t care.   Who roun’ here got money for one of those big-ass… sorry…” Raoul corrected himself quickly, “one of them… large… television sets from Dracula-land?”

          “I could check it out,” Westy volunteered.  “Been to Giga-Plex, goin’ back, maybe, for a converter, just in case…”

          “Just in case what, man?” Raoul bristled, “…my conversion boxes are solid, man, they golden.  They just ain’t gonna work until midnight on the seventeenth, the guy tells me, it’s science…”

          “It’s the eighteenth, man, Friday the Eighteenth!  Like them movies,” Westy scoffed, “it’s horror…”

          “You talkin’…” Raoul wound up for a fight, then glanced at Miz Lottie, eyes boring into his skull like two electric drills as an ad for the Army wrapped and the injured Redskin was helped off the field, limping, “…don’t know what you talkin’ about.  Trust me…”

          “We’ll give you an update on Shadrach Collins as soon as we hear from the Washington trainer,” said a subdued Puson Snead, “meanwhile it’s third and two on the Green Bay six…”

          “It’s Portis… no, Vargas,” Biff McLaine corrected himself, “he’s down, he’s at least a yard short…”

          “They’re not even gonna measure…” Snead rebuked.

          Over the Maryland line, the Eppert house in Dempstertown erupted in a chorus of obscenities from the four spuds on the couch – Tom, Nat Silstrom, Lenny Witcher and Stretch.

          “Zorn’s an idiot…” proclaimed the host.  “Worse than chokin’ Atlanta!  Worse n’ Pete Carroll in Superbowl forty-nine.”

          “Conservative,” Nat deduced, before waxing historical. “Worse than Bum Phillips, remember… back in that last century…”

          “Never pass on third and fifteen?” Lenny remembered.  “That Bum?”

          “That Bum!  Worse n’ those guys at Giga-Plex what lost your order…” Nat seized the opportunity to needle Witcher.

          “They didn’t lose it,” Lenny whined, “they ran out.  I’m on back order… some kinda trouble in Latvia, fer Chrissakes!  They won’t fuck with me, I got a receipt.  They don’t deliver, I sue Big Sonny’s fat ass…” he rubbed his chin.

          “Meanwhile,” Tom groaned, “we’re watching here, again, on my same crap set that we won’t be watching on Super Sunday…”

          “I said…” Lenny began, but the others shushed him.

          “So we’ve got fourth and a long yard on the Packer five,” Biff said, as if reading off the pop-ups onscreen, “two thirty-eight remaining in the half and Green Bay up by thirteen…”

          “Field goals ain’t gonna cut it with Rodgers tossin’ touchdowns.  Why couldn’t he break his arm this year?”

          “Yeah,” McLaine admitted, “but three’ll give ‘em some confidence, goin’ into the locker room with at least a few more points on the board…”

          “Unless… well, looks like Washington’s gonna go for it…” Puson Snead exhibited mild surprise.

          “Looks like Coach Zorn grew a pair…” Stretch noted.

          Tom nodded.  “Had to.  And ‘bout time…”

          “Portis, you’d think…” Biff predicted, “Packers think so, too, nine men up…”

          “And it’s Por… no, a fake…” Snead’s voice rose, “… it’s Frear making for the sidelines, Randle’s in the end zone, open as a can o’beans in a hobo village…”

          “Touchdown, Skins!” Biff whooped.  “Touchdown, Skins!  Twenty-thirteen pending the extra point.  The Comeback Kidz come back!”



¾  ¾  ¾  ¾  ¾  ¾  ¾  ¾  ¾  ¾  ¾




THE GOLDEN DAWN                      THE INSURGENCE of CHAN SANTA CRUZ!                           BLACK HELICOPTERS