Sugar Rush (Offensive Line #1)

By: Tracey Ward

Offensive Line Series




CHAPTER ONE


COLT





November 6th

CenturyLink Field

Seattle, WA





They’re shouting again. Wild, impotent shit that doesn’t mean anything. Sound and fury signifying a limited vocabulary and zero imagination.

“I’m gonna fuck you up!”

“You’ll never walk again, asshole!”

“Ate your mama’s pussy last night!”

Classic.

I blame the colleges. The leniency given to athletes on their academics. I’m not saying I never took advantage of that leniency, but I still blame it, especially when I’m watching Jeopardy. I feel the loss the strongest then. Although, seriously, what the hell was I going to do with classic literature?

To be or not to be; that is fucking confusing.

I bounce on my toes as I wait for the play to kick into action. I’m all adrenaline all the time, always ready. Always eager. I was made to run and nothing pisses me off more than a fat linebacker fuck getting in my way.

I watch them now, hunched down and panting. Waiting. Steam rises out the navy necks of their jerseys into the cold November air above them. It mingles with the fog from their mouths, from their rehearsed curses, and dissipates into insubstantial nothing in the clear, cold sky.

Suddenly their line shifts, massive men playing leapfrog.

I stop bouncing, going on the alert.

“Blue sixty-six!” Trey, our quarterback, bellows down the line. “Blue sixty-six!”

The Seahawk defense has spooked him, the change in their lineup tipping him off. They’re blitzing.

The play has changed, meaning suddenly I’m in the wrong spot. I take off at a sprint toward Trey just as he calls for the shotgun snap. The ball is in his hands but the play is already falling apart. Our offensive line can’t hold the Seahawk’s back. Seven men crash the box, grunting and shouting, screaming like savages at war. They’re coming for Trey, for the ball, and as soon as I take the handoff, they’ll be coming for me.

Good luck catching me.

Trey falls back three steps, his eyes downfield. He’s scanning for an opening but he’s also waiting. I blow past him, seamlessly taking possession of the ball and tucking it tightly under my left arm. That’s when I turn on the juice.

I downed a bag of Skittles before taking the field. I had a Snickers right after halftime because The Hotness, my agent, said I should. She wanted me to do it so the cameras could catch it and Mars Inc. would be happy about all of that money they gave me, because that’s my gimmick. My sell. I’m the sugar guy.

Does it really give me an edge? Can it honestly make me run faster, the way I claim?

I don’t know. With all the leniency, I wasn’t required to take a lot of science classes in college, but I took one psych class and I know this much; it doesn’t matter if it works, as long as I believe that it does.

Mind over matter. That I can understand.

I kick it into high gear just as the shit really hits the fan. The opening I was cutting toward disappears, two defensive lineman crashing together like ocean liners colliding at sea. I scurry on my feet, backpedaling out of their pull. I’ve lost two yards doing it. It’s chaos around me as the rest of the team, even Trey, tries to block for me, but it’s useless. Seattle is everywhere and I’m in the thick of it.

Just as I consider diving into the fray with a prayer that I make up the yards I’ve lost, I see a miracle. Fiso, our right tackle, has chiseled a crack in the wall of blue surrounding me. It’s nothing but a fissure, but it’s daylight. It’s an out, and I take it gladly.

With the grace of a greased seal, I slide behind Fiso. I narrowly escape the grasp of a Seahawk linebacker close on my heels. He falls behind me and his outstretched hand catches my heel. I stumble, thrusting my free hand out to catch myself. I run on my toes and my fingertips for two strides before getting it right, sidestepping another tackle, and diving behind Olynyk, our right guard.

“Go, baby! Go!” he shouts excitedly.

I go to the outer edge of the field, my feet coming down hard and fast on the white lines dashed out along the sidelines. They count the yards as I devour them like Pac Man eating up dots.

Nom. Nom. Nom.

I’m nearly out of bounds. One good shove by a linebacker and I’m done, but Olynyk is there blocking for me. Up ahead at the twenty yard line I see a Seahawk closing fast, cutting across the field to take me down. I tuck the ball in hard against my side as I prepare for the hit, but out of nowhere there’s our tight end, Matthews, throwing his body into the guy. They collide in a heap on the line. I’m boxed in by the sideline and Olynyk. I’ve got nowhere to go to get around them. Nowhere but up.

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