The Critic

March 5, 2010

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Author’s note: This is the embellished version of an interesting dream I had Wednesday night.

Sam Jordan finally ripped the phone off the wall. His brutal honesty was being met with hatred from the faithful fans of the football team. As part of his end of year review of the team, he analyzed the professional prospects of several players on the team. His review of All-American left tackle Chad Jenkins had become a lightning rod.

“Jenkins’ size, strength, and technique would transfer well to the professional level. However, he does have a questionable work effort and had a tendency to give sub-par effort on some plays. At the college level, his physical skills allowed him to take off a play without repercussions. At the professional level, superior athletes will be able to overpower him on those plays, endangering the quarterback.”

Jordan knew that the controversy would blow over in a week or so. He shrugged it off, knowing that his journalistic integrity had forced him to speak the truth.

As Jordan began work on next week’s column, he heard a disturbance at the front door. A split second later, the hulking frame of Chad Jenkins plowed through the door, leaving splintered chunks of wood in the foyer. Jordan could see the action from his home office, which overlooked the lower level of the house. He quickly retreated to the back corner, hoping that Jenkins hadn’t seen him.

Jenkins had already spotted him, and thundered up the stairs. For a moment, Jenkins unleashed verbal abuse toward Jordan before he started to get physical. Jordan quickly absorbed two punches and a kick before he was able to scramble away to elude the angry lineman.

Jordan retreated toward the front of the room. Jenkins raced toward him and Sam quickly ducked out of the way to avoid the collision. Chad Jenkins’ momentum propelled him over the top of the railing and he fell to the room below, falling with a thud.

For a moment, Sam Jordan’s brain was frozen solid. When the brain cramp eased, he raced down the stairs to check on Jenkins. It was immediately apparent that the standout football player was dead.

When Sam finished cleaning up the blood, he looked at the clock. It was 3:55. Shirley would be home very shortly. She had disliked his analysis of her favorite player – he couldn’t imagine trying to explain why Chad Jenkins was lying dead on the floor. He acted as quickly as possible, slowly dragging the body down the hall. He opened to door to the storage room, hauled Jenkins inside, and threw some blankets on top of him. As he finished, he heard the garage door open.

When Shirley left for work the next morning, Jordan got to work. He had been promising to dig up the dead crab apple tree for a couple of years. This was a good time to cross that task off the list. He made sure to dig the hole big enough to hold a body.

Jordan cooled off with a glass of lemonade before getting to the next task on his list. He pushed the wheelbarrow to the door of the storage room. He opened the door and pulled the blankets off Jenkins’ body – only to realize that there was no corpse. Jordan was stunned. Jenkins’ had clearly had not had a pulse, and he had suffered severe head injuries. It was highly unlikely that he had arisen and walked away.

Sam spent the next two hours searching the house. Was his memory wrong? Had he actually stashed the body somewhere else? Sam’s panic level was at an all time high, but the mystery remained unsolved.

Sam was wondering what to do next when an incessant ringing invaded his ears. What in tarnation was that that awful sound? He eventually realized that it was his alarm clock. This had all been an awful dream.

Ralphie, his German Shepherd, had also heard the alarm and raced into the room to greet his master. Ralphie had a very large bone in his mouth. Sam realized that the bone was a human fibula, and was aghast to see bits of flesh sticking to the bone.

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