End Zone

End Zone by Don DeLillo

Book: End Zone by Don DeLillo Read Free Book Online
Authors: Don DeLillo
    “It’s my set, John.”
    “I don’t care if it was a gift from your grandmother who knitted it herself.”
    “John, I’ve never hurt a man on purpose in my whole life.”
    “And you ain’t tonight, shitfinger.”
    Jessup was standing in front of the set now, guarding it. Raymond began to ease himself from the chair. I moved my head in order to see what the Lions would do on fourth and one inside the Minnesota 5. The field-goal team came on and I reached over and grabbed Raymond’s arm.
    “Go easy,” I said. “We’ve got a hard week ahead of us. You’re both tense. It’s the tension. I feel it. Coach feels it. We all feel it. We’re all tense and knotted up. Let’s save the combat for Saturday. It’s bound to be a long hard week. Toony, shake the man’s hand.”
    I was right about the kind of week it would be. We did everything wrong in practice and the coaches raged at us. I spent a lot of time with Myna. Nothing helped very much. Wednesday’s practice was the worst of the year and when we were only slightly better the next day, Creed issued word that Friday’s light workout would be canceled. He also called the team captains in and suggested we have a beer party that night, Thursday, no coaches, no females, no time limit. The throwing of the beer cans started half an hour after the party began. It went from there to fights, to mass vomiting, to singing and comradeship. A defensive end named Larry Nix kept punching a door until he busted through. A few people fell asleep in their chairs or on the floor. There was a pissing contest with about twenty entries trying not for distance but for altitude — a broom held by two men being the crossbar as it were, the broom raised in stages as contestants dropped out and others progressed. It was the most disgusting, ridiculous and adolescent night I had ever spent. The floor of thelounge was covered with beer, urine and ketchup, and we kept slipping and falling and then getting up and getting casually knocked down again by somebody passing by. Clothes were torn and there was blood to be seen on a few grinning faces. There were tag-team wrestling matches, push-up contests, mock bullfights, and other events harder to classify. A bunch of men jumping repeatedly in the air with their hands at their sides. Seven people in a circle spitting at each other’s shoes. Lloyd Philpot Jr. ate nine hamburgers in twenty-five minutes. Link Brownlee chugged a bottle of ketchup. Jim Deering and his brother Chuck traded ten quick bolo punches to the midsection, apparently reviving a boyhood tradition. It was a horrible night. They took off Billy Mast’s clothes and threw him out the front door. Somebody pushed Gus de Rochambeau and he skidded past me over the beer and piss and put his hand through a window. I took out my handkerchief and bandaged him. Then we sang one of the school songs, Gus and I, and I didn’t know whether I was singing seriously or making fun of the song and in a very short while I didn’t know whether I was singing at all or just listening to Gus sing. I thought I could hear my own voice but I wasn’t sure and so I stood there with Gus, not wanting to leave if I was still singing, and I watched my teammates slip and fall into the beer and get up sick and laughing.
    Since there was no workout scheduled for Friday, I thought it would be a good idea to end the week as it had begun, a picnic with Myna and the Chalk sisters. The cyclic redundancy might be beneficial. I needed a feeling of restfulness, of things content enough in themselves to begin again, and I thought the warm drawling chatter of an identical picnic might put me at ease. Myna was available and so was Esther Chalk. Vera had a class but we talkedher out of it and assembled behind the Quonset hut. I lay on the blanket with my arms over my face.
    “We could all live somewhere,” Myna said. “I have all this money that’s in my name. We could go to Mexico. A friend of mine knows where

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