The Abduction(4)

By: Mark Gimenez

“Go, Gracie!”

“Run, Gracie!”

“Score, Gracie!”

—Coach’s arms windmilling her on as he ran down the sideline with her, his exposed belly jiggling like pink Jell-O below his jersey—now that is like, majorly gross— past her SO filming the other parents in the stands, God bless him, and to the Raiders’ goal and—POW!—blasting the ball past the diving keeper’s outstretched arms and into the net.

Tie game!

Gracie threw her arms into the air. She considered ripping off her jersey and throwing it into the air, too, revealing her stylish black Nike sports bra, but she decided against it because she wasn’t wearing a bra. Mom said her breasts might come in next year.

The other girls mobbed her and congratulated her and jumped up and down with her … but they all froze when those two words boomed out from the Raiders’ sideline, instantly silencing players and spectators alike and making Gracie feel as if someone had punched her in the stomach.

“Not again,” Brenda groaned.

They all turned to the Raiders’ sideline as the words rang out again—“Pa-a-a-a-nty che-e-e-ck!”—and hung over the field like a foul odor. The man had a megaphone for a mouth, the big creep! He was dressed in a slick suit, grinning like a fool and drinking from an oversized plastic mug—and from his red face, he was drinking something stronger than Gatorade.

“Does he really think there’s a penis in your panties?” Brenda said.

“He knows you’re not a boy,” Sally said. “He’s just jealous ’cause you’re way better than his daughter, that little snot.”

He was the snot’s father and a big butthead, a football dad at a girls’ soccer game, taunting the players from the sideline. Gracie bit her lower lip and fought back the tears. Coming from Ronnie the dweeb down the street was bad enough, but from a grownup? She wished she were bigger and older; she would run over and beat this guy up, too. She looked over at her dad, wishing he would—Daddy, do something! Please!

But he did nothing. He hadn’t even heard the jerk. He was in his Helen Keller mode (deaf, dumb, and blind to the real world), facing away from the field, holding the phone to his ear with one hand and waving the camcorder around with the other like he was swatting gnats by the pool. Of course, what could he do anyway? The big butthead was twice his size; he would pound Dad’s meatware (as he called his brain) into the turf. Gracie instinctively touched the silver star dangling on her necklace.

“Pa-a-a-a-nty che-e-e-ck!”

Sally said, “If your mother was here, she’d kick his big butt into next week.”

Mom was definitely not one to turn the other cheek. She was one to rip your face off. Don’t get mad, get even. Mom’s words of wisdom. Not exactly “sticks and stones will break your bones, but names will never hurt you,” but then, her mother was a lawyer. She wished Elizabeth Brice, Attorney-at-Large (as Dad called her behind her back) was here.

But most of all, she wished to die.

Over on the Raiders’ sideline, the other parents were shaking their heads in disgust at the creep, but he was too big to risk saying anything and getting punched out, always a possibility with a football dad. A mother, obviously the creep’s wife, was pulling on his arm, desperately trying to move his big butt away from the field. He was protesting all the way: “What’d I do? I was just kidding, for chrissakes!” From Mrs. Creep’s embarrassed expression, she had been there and done that with Mr. Creep before. Brenda shook her head and sighed.

“Another deranged dad at a children’s sporting event.”

Brenda’s words brought the smile back to Gracie’s face and another original country song by Gracie Ann Brice to mind. Facing the Creep family, she started singing, loudly, in her best Tammy Wynette twang:


Hey, lady, don’t you see?

Your man ain’t no Or-lan-do B.,

You best dump his fat ass A-S-A-P.”

The girls laughed. The referee, a way cute guy about fifteen, smiled at her. The parents in both stands applauded. Shoot, maybe she had the next hit single for the Dixie Chicks! Gracie’s spirits soared; the creep was now a distant memory, just another painful life experience for her to sing about. Like all the country girls say, you’ve got to experience pain in order to sing about pain, especially in front of fifty thousand screaming fans chanting Gra-cie, Gra-cie, Gra-cie …

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