A Bull in Rome

Here is a sports related prompt for Friday. I based it off of an alleged quote from Julius Caesar.

Prompt: “I would rather be the first man here than the second in Rome.” -Julius Caesar (according to Plutarch)

Fallen leaves and scattered branches, the harbingers of winter, littered the dew chilled football field at Heckler High in the crisp evening air of our first practice since I made quarterback – starting line.

I played some ball at El Toritos High in my sophomore year, but I didn’t even make the actual team. I was something like eighth division kicker, so I quit. I tried out my Junior year and played a few games as second string quarterback and I did pretty good. I mean, I threw the damn thing good and straight. I could sink that egg gently into a receiver’s hands at forty yards no problem – except for the defense.

You see, I did good with the Bulls, but something about my physic, or the terrified meekness of my demeanor, must have singled me out from my surrogate herd and I found that I could not cope as well with the physical rewards that come along with being the first guy with the ball. They knew I was no bull though. I only played when Almar, the first string quarterback, was drunk and couldn’t throw straight, or too damn hungover to even puke straight.

I had just ran a tight play where I hit a receiver in a tight corner. The guy got hammered pretty bad by Thom, a monstrous boy who seemed to never be able to find the right size jersey and so his stomach hung low and free, but the onlookers approved and gave their hoots and hollers. Thom was peeling the receiver off the turf when some rail of a kid came up to me with troll-red hair and brown spots painted on his sweating face.

“Whew, that was a hell of play you ran man,” he said, wiping the sweat from his brow and breathing deep. “It’s good to have someone who knows what they’re doing.”

“Hey, I hear you come from El Toritos? That true?”

I looked around to see if we were huddling up again, but Coach and a few other guys were attending to Thom’s victim and I had no where to go. “Yeah,” I said.

“Whoo-wee, they got some great ball players at Toritos.”

“We took state five years in a row until two-thousand-six.”

“That’s right, you guys got some great ball players.” He smiled at me and nodded profusely. “So … What the heck are you doing here with the Starlings?”

I watched Thom, who was sobbing into his oar-like hands as two last stringers took the limping receiver from the field and Coach patted his vast shoulders. “Yeah,” I said, “but I don’t live up there no more.”

“No shit?”

“No, my parents moved here for work and I wasn’t making first string with the Bulls.”

“Whoo-wee! You’re what El Toritos rejected?”

“Watch it, bud,” I said.

“I just mean that we’re doomed this season is all, if you’re their worst. You want to play college ball?”

I looked back to the scene; Thom had ceased crying and was warming up his legs, Coach clapped and shouted as the players retook the field. “No offense man,” I said, “but I’m trying to focus.”

The red haired kid bit at his lip and rolled his helmet lazily against his leg. “Sure, sure. You got it pal, you got it. But geez! Good play man, nice throw.”

“Thanks,” I said. As the kid hopped off I tried to work out if he had been sincere or not. I didn’t care about the kids back at El Toritos, I didn’t care about their skill or strings. I’d rather be the first Starling here, then the second Bull there. But before I had the proper chance to think about it anymore, Coach’s whistle blew and I hustled back to the game.






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