By T F Rhoden
Head Coach Patterson leant into the crowbar, heaving his weight against the bar of iron until the drywall loosened slowly before yawing open. Flecks of chalky plaster clouded the stillness of the small, emptied-out bedroom. Wiping the sweat from his brow with the back of his arm, the man ambulated to the window and released the latch to slide open a pane of glass. Patterson looked up from the second floor of his newly bought house to see the stadium of Southern Methodist University. Thoughts of the previous weekend’s soccer game loss were rekindled.
Below a crash, a yell, and laughter sounded through the house. He could hear his wife’s voice reprimanding their two daughters. He laughed as well, wondering what the girls had broken. The sound had reverberated from the kitchen, through the halls, and up to the second floor. The coach hoped they were making him lunch.
Again Patterson doubted whether purchasing the fifty-year-old house was sensible. He liked that he could walk to the locker-room offices now and visit home during the lunch hours, maybe see more of his elementary-aged daughters.
With attempting to save money by making modifications himself, however, his free time was being chiseled away with remodeling. The coach was already regretting promising his wife that he could expand their bedroom. He surveyed the destruction he had wrought thus far. Patterson admitted that he would need to incur the cost of real carpenter at some point—but not today.
The coach could not help looking at the stadium again. The complex appeared more monolithic than it really was, overbearing from his vantage point. On fortuitous weekends, when Patterson was able to command the varsity team toward a win, the architectural tribune of tubular metal and blocked concrete was a welcoming sight. On weekends like the last, the building never escaped his view, suffocating his mood every time he dared turn toward a window. Every glassed orifice of his house offered a perspective onto the terrible structure.
Leaving the window, the coach brandished the hook end of the bar, hovering the iron in the air as if it were a bat. He swung violently at the wall. Bracing his foot against the crumbling plasterboard, he pulled at the crowbar recklessly. Too much leverage caused the man to place his foot through the aged wall. Losing his balance, he fell awkwardly, slipping to the floor. The crowbar, with a sizeable chunk of drywall, fell with him, showering the coach with a thousand snow-white particles of plaster.
Peeved, picking himself up, the man espied his daughters staring at him blankly from the door. The older girl held a bologna sandwich in her hand, the younger cupping a glass of water carefully so as not to drop it.
—Daddy, you’re white! his youngest yelped.
The girls giggled.
Patterson shook his head, shoulders, and body, spattering the room with dried plaster. The girls screamed playfully, running away from the flying specks.
—What are you two laughing at, their mother asked, halting them at the end of the hall and turning them back around to the room.
—Pat, the girls have your lunch. We have one more beer left in the fridge from…
The coach’s wife stopped speaking when she saw her husband. When she started to laugh, the girls followed.
—You look like a black ghost.
Patterson smiled[, mischievous]:
—Honey, I’d love a beer.
Copyright ©2012 T.F. Rhoden. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce in any form, including electronic, without the author’s express permission.
An American, T F Rhoden is an avid traveler. He enjoys good lit, cold beer, and learning new languages. Past publications include the literary fiction book called The Village, two languages guides on the Thai and Burmese languages, an edited epistolary account entitled Burmese Refugees: Letters from the Thai-Burma Border, and most recently a travel guidebook entitled Chiang Mai and Northern Thailand (Other Places Travel Guide). Rhoden is currently pursuing a PhD in PoliSci. He can be contacted at www.tfrhoden.com.