Fallen Fourth Down

Page 97

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Seeing the bag that Nate was holding, he held it up to me as Logan made another teasing comment. I took it and went over to the couch to look at what he brought. He’d gone with the directions to grab his stuff and get out of there. If he had something for me, there was a reason. As I started looking through it, aware of the other three watching me, I wanted to see what he had gotten for me first. And knowing this, Logan kept making offhanded comments. He was stalling for me. Well, they were all just waiting, but I knew the other reason for his jokes.

He and Sam had gotten close over the year. Now this shit of their ‘could’ve been love’ wasn’t going to help me feel at ease, but he was breaking the tension. In his way, he was trying to reaffirm that everything would be fine. I knew this. Still. The sight of them talking together, standing so close was permanently etched in my brain. I didn’t think it would ever leave. They entire image of them had seemed intimate, like I was the one intruding on them.

I found Nate’s phone and held it up.

He turned and his slight grin vanished.

A sense of gravity filled the room and everyone knew the jokes were over.

I asked, “Is there something on here?” He had included it in the bag for a reason.

He nodded and came over to sit across from me. Sam sat next to me, and Logan stayed standing up. He’d be pacing soon; that's what he did.

“I recorded something.” He took it, got it to the right recording, and hit play before handing it over. A crackling sound came out and then, “What are you doing, Monson?”

Nate’s voice came from his phone, “I’m packing. I’m leaving.”

“This is because of Kade?” The other voice scoffed. “You shouldn’t pick your side so soon.”

“What does that mean?”

“Look, we didn’t mean to hit that girl. Trust me, we’ll fix it. She’ll never have to pay her college bills for the rest of the time she’s in school. Her entire tuition will be covered; she’ll find that out in due time. You don’t need to worry about any of this blowing back on us.”


“I mean it. Kade didn’t see shit.”

“He saw you, Park.”

There was silence, and a laugh came from the phone. “No, he didn’t. He doesn’t know what he saw. Trust me, Monson, you’re picking too early. Put your stuff away. We can forget any of this happened.”


“Yeah.” His voice smoothed out, becoming persuasive. “Our dads are friends.”

“Your dad is friends with Mason’s too.”

“This is between us. The sons. The fathers will stay out of this. Come on, Nate. Put everything away.”

Another few seconds passed in silence, then Nate said, “I can’t. Mason’s been my best friend since we were little. We had a disagreement, but he’s family.”

More crackling sounds came from the phone and then Park laughed. The sound was mocking. “Fine, but you’re going to regret this. Trust me. We’re going to bury your friend.”

“You don’t know Mason.”

“I don’t have to. This is my school. This is my house. He thinks he’s some big shot. Yeah, well, we’ll see about that. Remember my other football buddy? The one I know Kade was telling you about, how heartless I was with his scholarship. He doesn’t know anything about that story. That accident wasn’t an accident. I can get at anyone, even your precious Mason Kade. Trust me, Nate. Go ahead. Go to his side. It’s your funeral.”

It cut out. I handed the phone to him, but Nate said, “No. I’ll get a new one. That needs to stay how it is. I don’t want to risk deleting it by accident.”

Logan cursed. “What’s the plan?”

I looked around the room. They were all waiting, all looking back at me. There were varying emotions in each of them. Logan was bristling. He wanted to fight. He was always down for anything. Nate was calm. I could see he was just ready for anything. I glanced at Sam. Other times she might’ve been fearful and slightly looking away. She wasn’t this time.

She was looking right at me, and I could see her anger. There was a flame in her eye that I hadn’t seen in a long time.

I sighed. Then I told them the plan.

We waited for a night Nate was certain his fraternity was going to be out of the house. Then he snuck inside. His job was to search every room, every closet, the bathrooms, even the showers. He searched every inch of that house. When a flashlight was turned on and then off, and it was repeated, that was our signal. The house was empty.

Logan was next to me. He expelled a deep breath, then took off. Both of them went through the house. They dumped gasoline over everything. When they were done, they tossed the containers inside and headed back to me.

This was it. This would change everything.

No one said a word. For a moment, we just stood there and thought about what we were going to do, then I held out my hand. Logan pulled the box of matches from his bag. For a second, everyone paused. There was a gravity in the air, a sense of stillness about what we were about to do, but I wasn’t going back.

Logan tried to break a smile. He tried, but failed. He sighed. “Is this like fourth down, and we’re going for the goal?”

I took out a match. No one else spoke. I shook my head. “No. This is kick off. They brought us to the game.” I lit the match. “This is just the beginning.”

I tossed it and watched it burn.

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