Kicking off halftime festivities, the Tannerville High School Band marched onto the field. After performing a series of asynchronous formations, the lead member began a circling measure while tossing a baton. As he rounded, now facing the stands, he slowed his pace so not to lap the trailing drummer, who adjusted his crown then hurried ahead to catch the trombonist. Then, when they were done, Holland's band took over, playing a rendition of their Jaguar team fighting song that sounded amazingly like Tannerville's terrible. Maybe that was why the stands emptied, as fans lined up at the hotdog stand, which served rubbery wieners, sludge called hot cocoa, and stale pretzels. Oh, and some went to relieve themselves.
And some led by Hank and the Henderson brothers, though not together went back to their cars for another fill. The keg was going warm; someone had to drink it.
Pausing momentarily, Hank and company stopped to check out what was behind the equipment shed, when Terrell and his brother passed by. "Hey, Jamal," Terrell commented rather loudly, "I guess the Jags beat the piss out of them Titans."
Hank, listening to filtered water splashing on a rock and draining under the shed, didn't find the comment very funny. He zipped his fly and stammered into the open. "Fuck you, asshole!"
"Oo-o-wie!" Terrell howled without turning back to look at Hank. "That's what I call white trash."
Hank's body tensed; his lower lip quivered. Sprawled across his face that was flushed a pigskin red was revenge. A crony held him back from further destruction. Retreating to his pickup, Hank retrieved a new plastic cup, filled it, and obligingly spread the wealth to the others, who were beginning to slur not just any words but white trash words. "We'll get them Niggers! One more word out of that black boy Nigger
" Hank, trying to think and speak at the same time, lost his thought. Absently he looked around until another invaded his mind. Grinning proudly, he held up his shiny new plastic cup. Suds spilled down the sides. He pointed out to every fan, "Red, Titan Red!" The pronounced veins in his eyes matched the color of the cup.
The concession stand back up by the gate resembled a checkerboard. Tannerville high schoolers sporting red team jerseys gathered in circles while interspersed around them in distinct groups were Holland students in black jerseys. It didn't take long until suspicious stares started between the two, as red moved a checker into the back row: King me! Black returned the evil looks with a double jump. But the game they were playing wasn't checkers. They weren't playing red verses black; they were playing white verses black, each town equally guilty.
The scoreboard clock ticked down to 1:30 indicating the second half would soon begin. Fans returned to their seats, but not without unspoken word hanging in the darkening sky.
Hank and his pals sloshed through the gate and waited on line to get into the stands. Once in, they stopped at the bottom and looked up at their seats on the top row that seemed to fade from their sight. The grim looks on their faces bore resemblance of the long trek to the top. Finally they started up, and as they did Hank took a detour, stopping to talk to a young blonde, who was a Tannerville High junior. The others stumbled passed. But without an invite to have a seat, Hank too continued on up.
Suddenly from the scorekeeper's booth, a foghorn sounded the start of the second half. Wobbly with too much bubbly, Hank startled. His foot slipped from the metal step and his beer flew from his hand. It splashed three rows down on an elderly black woman. Flustered, she turned around. Before she could lay eyes on the culprit, Terrell and Jamal jumped down from their seats. With a kick, Jamal landed a blow on Hank's back. As Hank fell to hands and knees, his drinking partners came to his protection. Within moments, students from each school, following suit of the adults, starting bickering, arguing, and, before long, fighting.
Sounding like a US air raid attack on Iraq, the foghorn from the scorekeeper's box blew repeatedly, and then a minute later crackled and blew dry air. Security broke the ruckus. They read Hank and Terrell and Jamal their rights. "Don't care what you gentleman do," one began, "just don't do it here!" Hank and friends promised to behave, Jamal agreed no more fighting, and Terrell bit his lip. Let the game go on. Security sat back snickering, hiking their pants, telling each other war stories of how they just broke up the biggest fight since
well, ever since. They hiked their pants again and awaited the second half.