One Good ManBy: Emma Scott
Thank you to Danielle Maurino Thomas, Robin Renee Hill, Grey Ditto, and Joy Kriebel-Sadowski, for their amazing support and help in bringing this story to light. And special thanks to Annette Chivers for schooling this American gal on the intricacies of the European football league system, though any lingering mistakes are mine. I have taken a few liberties—Paris Central is a fictional team, as is their stadium, Stade Jean-Marc.
The rest is history…
“Everything I know about morality and the obligations of men, I owe it to football.”
― Albert Camus
Isla Vista, California
Santa Barbara Police Department
May 8, 1970
I jerked my head up and brushed a tangle of long blonde hair out of my eyes with my left hand. My right was handcuffed to the chair at the booking officer’s desk. I’d been sitting here forever. An hour ago, a few of my fellow UCSB students marched past me, their hands cuffed. They flashed me the peace sign behind their backs as they went by. At least eight of them were booked for arson, vandalism, and resisting arrest, and then taken to jail while I sat; my ass growing numb on the hard, wooden chair.
Finally, the booking officer returned.
“Get up, Sunshine. You have visitors.”
“My name isn’t Sunshine,” I muttered, as the officer uncuffed me from the chair.
“No?” The officer smirked. “Isn’t that your hippie name?”
I wanted to tell him I wasn’t a hippie. Or a flower child. I might’ve looked the part with the long, straight hair, peasant top and flared jeans, but hippies were about peace and love, and that wasn’t my scene. I was going to graduate UCSB in a year with a double-major in journalism and French. My scene was following the Big Story. The biggest stories.
And Vietnam was the biggest story of them all.
I never thought the war would come to sleepy little Isla Vista, but the protests have only been escalating among my fellow students. That night, a bunch of them shoved a dumpster full of burning trash through the glass doors of the Wells Fargo Bank. My Nikon Photomic caught it all on film…and then I got caught in a cloud of police tear gas.
Tears streaming and my lungs burning, I was accosted by cops in riot gear. I tried to tell them I was a reporter, but they didn’t listen. The flames of the burning bank looked like hellfire to my blurred vision, and the shadows and shouts of protestors and police created a frightening chaos. But of all the sounds tonight, the small tinkle of my camera lens breaking as the cops threw me to the ground, was the loudest.
As I walked with the booking officer, a pang of fear tightened my chest. I wondered if I’ve ruined my future. The officer led me to a small room that was probably used for questioning suspects. I expected to find a detective, waiting for me to rat out my fellow students.
Instead, my father was there.
A sense of nostalgia for simpler times rushed over me, like a tide. I wanted to be his little girl again instead of a twenty-year-old who’d been tear-gassed and arrested and was now in jail. But I had to be strong. I was tired of covering vanity pieces for the university sports teams, and this was my first real test as a journalist.
I bottled up my longing to hug my dad, and looked to the other person sitting beside him. A dark-haired woman, and for a split second, I thought it was my mother. But it was Helen Strumfield. My best friend sat beside my father, chewing nervously on her thumbnail.
Helen had been my friend since grade school. Since before the war; before any of the fires or sit-ins or marches. We used to eat ice cream sundaes and giggle over the Monkees.
A lifetime ago. Before the world went mad.
My father got to his feet as I entered, his face falling and in anguish to take in my soot-covered, bloodshot-eyed appearance.
“Janey,” he said, rubbing his fingers over his mustache. Helen tugged a lock of her brown hair, her eyes darting between my father and me.
The urge to hug them both came back, fierce, but the idea of touching either of them with handcuffs on my wrists was too shameful. I sank into the chair opposite.
“Hey, Janey,” she said in a small voice. But warm. My father’s was cold by comparison.