The Die-Hard Fan

I offer this story in honor of the upcoming football season. This piece has been rejected by online publishers more than any of my other stories, but happens to be one of my favorites to write. Enjoy and Go Cowboys!

By Jon Moray

“Here he comes. It appears Mr. Donnelly hasn’t figured it out yet,” said Boing, the flashy rainbow colored clad, classic red nosed clown.

Roy agreed, with a flamboyant nod of his head. Roy, a mime dressed in black and white horizontal stripes and a white painted face, was Boing’s enthusiastic apprentice.  Roy was seated behind Boing in the lower level of a football stadium, home to the Philadelphia Eagles.  The clown and mime were actually ghosts about to welcome a newcomer to the afterlife.

“He was only thirty-seven years old.  No wife, no kids. Sanitation worker by trade. Abrasive demeanor.  Obviously too dumb or absent minded to realize he’s dead.  Yep, that’s him alright,” said Boing, shaking his blue, bushy quaffed head in pity, while Roy mimicked uncontrollable sobbing.

Their subject, Darryl Donnelly, was angrily bobbing through the lower tier, making his way to the season ticket seats he shared with his brother on the thirty-yard line, twenty-five rows from the field.  He finally labored through the masses and planted himself on the midnight-green, plastic planked seat, nipped by the December frost, under a blustery charcoal mist that covered the stadium.

“Well hello, Mr. Donnelly.  Nice of you to join us today,” said Boing, bouncing in his seat and clapping his hands.

Darryl looked him up and down and sneered, “What are you some kind of clown?”  He turned away and focused on the field where the Dallas Cowboys were going through pre-game warm-ups.

“As a matter of fact I am.  Or, I used to be…when I was alive.”

“What the hell are you doing in my brother’s seat?  Where is he anyway?”

“Your brother is not here, Darryl.  You’re not here either.  Well, not officially.”

“Look Bozo, the joke is over. Get your circus hanging butt out of here.”

“My name is not Bozo. It’s Boing,” the clown stated, as Roy plucked a spring to accentuate the sound of his friend’s name. “I am a ghost and so are you. You died in this stadium.  You were so drunk you ended up in the upper level and took a header over the railing when you flagged down your brother who was seated here.  I thought you stuck the landing, however, the Russian judge only gave you a 7.8.” Roy showed his displeasure over the score by throwing his hand up in a ‘you’ve got to be kidding me’ gesture.

Darryl clenched his fists and gritted his teeth. “Don’t mess with me, clown. I am not in the freakin’ mood.”

“Look around.  See all the people in the stadium that seem translucent?  Now look at me.  I appear to you clearly, not as if I just came through a fog.  It’s because when you are dead, the living appear as faint as ghosts. Most of the people in this stadium besides you, my sidekick Roy and I, are alive and kicking. We’re as alive as the Eagles chances of winning a Super Bowl,” joked Boing, as Roy exerted a comical knee-slap.

“What is he, your silent laugh track?” asked Darryl, thumbing back at Roy, still recovering from the joke.

“He is my apprentice. We are known as greeters to the afterlife. We are here to give you orientation and answer questions.  As for your brother, he can’t bring himself to come back here, probably not until next season.” Roy’s attempt at a hug was met with Darryl’s fist coming dangerously close to his face. Roy relented with a peace sign and a relieved wipe of his forehead.

“Just my luck, a clown and a mime to welcome me to the hereafter. I don’t believe this. You both are idiots. I’m getting security.”

“Wait, try to touch the guy in front of you. Go ahead. Take a swing at him. He probably thought you were a wino anyway,” dared Boing, as Roy, with raised eyebrows, looked over his shoulder. 

Darryl skeptically turned away, bore down on the man’s green ball cap and took a swipe that went right through his head as if he was shadow boxing.

“You missed, Sugar Ray,” joked Boing, followed by another knee slapping, foot stomping response from Roy.

“You mean I’m dead?  It can’t be.”

“It can and it is. You died last game against the Giants. The game was delayed a half-hour so you could be carted out.  You were a true die-hard fan.”  Roy punctuated the comment with another visual show of amusement that now included drum roll tapping on Boing’s seat.

“Could you do something about your stupid mute friend,” asked Darryl, disgusted.

“Just be glad he isn’t audible.  Word has it he died smiling.”  Roy confirmed the rumor with a nodding grin that almost split his face in half.

“I wouldn’t doubt it.  He is freakin’ annoying. Look, the game is about to start.  I would appreciate it if you two yahoos would leave me alone.”

“Okay, okay.  There’s the kickoff. We’ll leave you alone…for now.”

The Dallas returner received the ball at the five-yard line and took it the distance, bowling over the kicker for a quick score. The point after attempt was good and Dallas led 7-0.  The Eagles’ faithful voiced their disapproval with collective booing and an array of colorful expletives that made Roy wince and cover his ears.  The ensuing kickoff placed the ball on the thirty-yard line and in front of them where the Eagles offense was gathering. 

“What the hell? What are those fans doing on the field?” asked Darryl, perplexed and pointing at them.

“They are clearly ghosts.  You don’t see anyone detaining them, do you?” 

Four ghosts whose loyalties lied with the home team were jumping around as if they were in on the next play.  The Eagles offense broke the huddle and met the line of scrimmage.  The ghosts lined up between the left tackle and the wide receiver. The quarterback barked out a few audibles, received the snap and handed the ball off to the halfback going left.  The ghost fans formed a wall and collectively dove at the legs of two Dallas defenders and as a result, opened a gap for the runner and a big gain that netted twenty-five yards.

“Did you see that?  Those ghosts did it,” exclaimed Darryl.  “It looked like those two Cowboys lost their footing, but those phantom fans somehow made that play work.”

“You think ghosts only hang around old Victorian houses?” 

Darryl jumped up out of his seat and hastily headed down to the field. 

“Wait, where are you going?” called Boing, rising to his elongated shoed feet.

“I’m going to help my team win,” Darryl shouted, without looking back.

“That’s the spirit!” cheered Boing, as Roy jumped to his feet and flailed his arms in celebration.

“Looks like our work is done here, Roy. Let’s go and find our next subject.”


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