The Water Boy
Paul Lawrence wrote his story for the:
Flash Fiction Challenge (August 2017)
The Water Boy
Glenn jumped up and down, cheering the team as they scored a touchdown. “Yeah. Yeah” he cried. “Way to go boys!” As the team headed for the sidelines, he turned and grabbed the five gallon water jug and a handful of cups. He hadn’t been on the team long, but he felt like he was a part of it now.
As the players walked by and grabbed cups of water, he slapped them on the back. “Great play!” “Way to score!” “I’m proud of you.”
Most of the players paid him little attention, but the fullback, Tom Davis, pumped his fist, and said, “Thanks, Glenn. I really appreciate what you do.”
Glenn’s face lit up. He grinned from ear to ear. Very few ever talked to him like that. He turned to Tom and said, “You’re the best. Go get ‘em!”
Ever since he’d been diagnosed with cerebral palsy, he felt different, set apart from the rest. When the coach suggested he might try being the water boy, he hesitated, unsure if he could do the job without spilling. And he didn’t want to spill. It would draw attention.
He spent hours and hours practicing, picking up the jug, carrying it over to the sideline, setting it on the table, and pouring cup after cup after cup of water. Eventually, he managed to coordinate his jerky movements with the sway of the jug, almost like a ballerina doing a pirouette.
Tom watched him after practice, admiring his persistence. Now that Glenn was the official water boy for the team, Tom made it a point to speak to him and encourage him. The truth was, Glenn inspired Tom to be a better player. Seeing Glenn work so hard to get the water dispensing right drove Tom to be a better player. He began staying late after practice and doing reps until Glenn finished his practice. Then, they would walk together to the locker room, talking along the way.
One day Tom decided that the next touchdown he scored, he would give the ball to Glenn. That night, the game was really tough. They were having a hard time moving the ball, and possessions were precious. The score was 7-3 against them when the fourth quarter rolled around. Tom looked over at the sidelines. Glenn was jumping up and down, cheering his heart out, willing the team to score.
The call was a trap play, a gambit usually good for two or three yards at best. As Tom hit the hole, he saw a linebacker headed his way. He lowered his head and bulled through the guy, coming out the other end, ball still safely tucked away. He ran hard, harder than he’d ever run in his life. Three broken tackles later, he had an open field to the end zone. As he crossed the line, the crowd roaring, he held up the ball and pointed at Glenn. “This is for you, Glenn!” he shouted. “This is for you!”
“plawrence (Paul Lawrence, pen name), is a retired computer security analyst. He has published technical articles for Securityfocus.com (and has been paid for doing so) and is a chapter author for AVIEN Malware Defense Guide for the Enterprise.
Paul is retired and lives in Richardson, Texas with his wife of forty-five years, two disobedient dogs; chick magnet Bentley and neurotic bone burier Jack, and lots of books”