We come across a man, our main character, walking across the Eads Bridge. His first name is Chris — last name unknown and equally unimportant. There is no other Chris around and, as he is about to learn, “our main character” may have technically been a misnomer for, you see, there is no other man on this Earth.
Sports are to serve as an escape from the harrowing realities of daily life. War, poverty, rape — all uncontrollable anchors pulling on the psyche of the average fan. But, as we are to find out, sports can also serve to cause duress as much as one might expect them to heal such ailments. And, sometimes pain is the cure when the victims daily life is in…The Twilight Zone.
His game ticket in one hand and a foam finger in the other, Chris walked into the city with a smile on his face. Peering the roof of the Edward Jones Dome in the distance, he was preparing his gameday ritual the same as any other. Brunch at the Old Spaghetti Factory on 1st where he’d meet up with Buzz and Cal (the only other season ticket holders that had been in his section as long as Chris) before the trio’s self-titled ‘Fans March’ to the stadium.
A strong start to the 2016 has generated high hopes for the remainder of the season and Chris saw no reason to break gameday tradition just because Case Keenum is taking the day off. Chris still woke up at 8:15am, put on his blue and yellow Zubaz, Marshall Faulk jersey, and made the trek into town for he pregame midwest scramble with coffee. But as Chris reached the Old Spaghetti Factory, he paused.
The building was unlocked and the tables set but there was no staff. The parking lot was empty. Chris looked out the window to see a stop light turn red moments before the adjacent indicator turned to green. No cars approached. No pedestrians showed up. The only sound was the leaves as the wind shuffled them through the partially open door. Confused, Chris leaned on the counter.
“Hey? You got a customer out front! Hey! Customer here!”
No response. He grabbed the remote and turned on the backbar television.
“Cash customer here. Hungry cash customer.I got two dollars and eighty-five cents.”
“Where is everybody? Where is everybody?! I wish… I wish there’d be a noise or something to wake me up.”
In response, a beat could be heard in the distance. Chris rushed out of the Old Spaghetti Factory and into the intersection, eying the barren city landscape for the source of the sound. There was no sign but after a few moments, from the invisible speakers in the sky, the words boomed in. “Hey! Hey!”
Then whistled in: “R-A-M!”
Again booming, “Hey! Hey!”
His body exploding with adrenaline, he pounded on the crosswalk switch in tune with the beat and sang, “We’re gonna Ram it! Can you Ram it?!”
“Can you Ram it?”
“We’re gonna Ram it. Can you Ram….”
Chris jerked back his head, banging his rattail on the headrest, but his hands continuing to beat as he mumbled, “hmmm, Big Bad Jackie….We’re…We’re rockin LA so…let’s….Ram it today.” His eyes were glazed over as he stared down the urban sea made up of his fellow baking single-occupied sedans. He looked down at the number 17 on the front of his blinding yellow Color Rush jersey and laughed. The laugh turned into a holler. The holler into a wail that pounded throughout the car — yet was easily drowned out in the honking and engine hummings outside the car. Chris was not the only broken Rams fan on the post-game rush hour 210 but he was the happiest. While other fans were screaming at the hours-stangnant vehicles on the expressway around them, Chris felt refreshed. Still tapping with his left hand, he turned on the radio dial with his right.
“And Welcome to Rams Talk, the post-game radio show of your Los Angeles Rams. Well, the Rams looked to get back on track this week but again fell short, losing to another record-setting performance by a backup quarterback while the Rams lost six starters in the first half alone with the game’s final score of….”
The barrier of loneliness. The palpable, desperate dream of the human animal to have an NFL franchise. But rarely mentioned with it is an enemy known as cost. Human cost, time cost, financial cost, emotional cost. But that dream is always there in the stars waiting — waiting with the patience of eons — forever waiting…in the Twilight Zone.