Louie Banks has it made.
He's got a starting spot on the football team, good friends, and a smart, beautiful girlfriend who loves him as much as he loves her.
Early in the fall, he sees all his ideas of fair play go up in smoke; by spring, what he cares about most has been destroyed. How can Louie keep going when he's lost everything?
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March 31, 2003
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Excerpt from Running Loose by Chris Crutcher
The year started out pretty smooth. Probably would have ended up that way, too, if Becky had stayed around or if I hadn't quit the football team and made myself look like the Jerk of the Universe, though I still say quitting was the only thing to do, and I wouldn't change that.
I mean, Norm let me buy the pickup at the end of last summer, I had two pretty good jobs so the money was rolling in, and I finally got a starting spot on the football team.
And I had Becky.
I wasn't doing bad in school either. My grades weren't world-beaters; but two of my senior English compositions were entered in the State Prose and Poetry Fair down in Boise, and the Daily Statesman even printed one of them. In fact, some guy from the paper called me long distance to tell me to keep them in mind if I decided to go to college and major in journalism. Got to thinking I was pretty hot stuff. Seemed like all I had to do was shove 'er in neutral and coast on in to graduation. But when it goes, man, it goes.
We play eight-man football in Trout, mostly because in any given year at least two teams in the league couldn't field an eleven-man team without using their cheerleaders. In Idaho, if your student body doesn't have more than 125 people in it, you can play eight-man ball. Any more than that, you have to play eleven. There's not a school in our league that comes close. This wouldn't be any kind of big deal except that it's real hard for anyone from an eight-man team to get a college scholarship. Most colleges don't even consider it football.
I'm not talking about myself. I couldn't get a football scholarship to Treasure Valley Community College as a blocking dummy the way I play, if you want to be honest about it. But Carter-he's our quarterback and my best friend-and Boomer Cowans--he's our running back and definitely not my best friend--might be good enough. Our team hasn't lost a game in three years, and those guys are the reason. Carter's big and strong and fast and smart, and he can throw the ball a mile. Boomer's bigger and probably stronger and almost as fast and dumber than a cinder block. But he's mean, and you can't hurt him because he doesn't care, and he has a lot of natural instinct for the game. At least that's what Coach Lednecky says. Lednecky's the cinder block that Boomer's dumber than. Me, I'd just try to get a decent catch once in a while and let those guys do their stuff.
Anyway, Carter and Boomer are probably going to get a shot at some college ball next year because we got a lot of press for winning the State Eight-Man Championship three years running and because Lednecky was able to persuade a couple of scouts from C of I and Ricks College to come take a look. He even sent some game films up to the U.
Sometimes I feel kind of sorry for Boomer. I mean, even with all the crap I got into this year, my future doesn't look that bad. I don't think I did anything that can't be fixed, though you might get some argument there from Lednecky or Jasper, who runs this place. I've got a few irons in the fire. But I don't know about Boomer. If he doesn't make it playing ball-which doesn't seem too likely, considering you'd have to add three points to his grade point average to bring it up to an F--he's going to be setting chokers and top-loading his old man's logging truck for the rest of his fife or at least until he has a kid to do it for him. It doesn't seem like there's much of what makes the rest of us shine in Boomer. I mean, the only time he laughs is when someone else is getting screwed. And he's always talking about making it with some girl he's never touched and adding some weirdball garbage that, if it had really happened, would cheapen her. Like he said he took Adrienne Klinner down to the drive-in in Boise, and when she was out going to the bathroom, he poked a hole in the bottom of the popcorn box and stuck 01' Norton up through. (Boomer's dad doesn't let him cuss-beats him up when he hears it-so Boomer calls his "thing" 01' Norton.) Anyway, then he held the box in his lap, and when she'd eaten down about halfway (three-quarters would be more like it), she got a handful. Said she shrieked at first, but then she started playing with it and went crazy. Crap like that. He's so dumb he doesn't know every jerk in the world has told that story. I mean, Adrienne Klinner would have poured her Coke into the box and taken a bus back to Trout.
I almost lost my Iife when I said I didn't believe that story, which is why most of the time I don't feel sorry for Boomer at all, because he scares me to death. I know if I gave him half a reason, he'd tear off my arms and beat me with the bloody stubs. He's hated me ever since we were in grade school and I asked his dad if he really lost his logging truck down a jelly roll. That might sound strange if you don't know what a jelly roll is. None of the streets in...