The Abduction(7)

By: Mark Gimenez


“Yeah.”

The dude shook his head as if pondering one of the great mysteries of the universe. “I played college ball at Penn State, but my girl’s not in the same league as Gracie. Guess you never know where it comes from.”

“eBay.”

“What?”

“I bought her on eBay.”

The girls filed past the other team, exchanging low fives like they were afraid of getting cooties, as Gracie would say, then raced through the arch as their parents cheered insanely.

“Great game, girls!”

“Way to go!”

“Yeah, Tornadoes!”

The final girl ran through, the arch broke up, the mothers embraced each other, the dads swapped hard high fives like they had just won the freaking Super Bowl, and John R. Brice stood there in the middle of a dang soccer field holding a camcorder and cell phone and feeling like a lurker in a porn chat room, as he always felt when male bonding broke out. So he said, “I’m outta here,” hit the Esc key, and exited this app.

Gracie got her concession ticket from the team mom then waited for Brenda and Sally. When they arrived, Brenda leaned in close and whispered, “Thanks for giving me the goal.”

Gracie gave her a little hug. “I gotta tell my dad we’re going to the concession stand.”

They walked over to [email protected]_be_geeks.com; he was yelling at the phone and filming his shoes now, God bless him.

“Harvey doesn’t have the brainwidth to understand the value of the technology! Lou, this is the next big thing, dude!”

He ran the phone and his hand through his curly black hair—it was now standing on end—and he stood out like a, well, like a geek among grownups. The other fathers wore suits and ties and starched white shirts and looked like the lawyers and doctors they were. Her dad looked like the college kid who lived next door. The other girls choked back giggles. Dad noticed her and smiled and aimed the camcorder directly at her face. Gracie reached up and switched the camcorder off then pointed to the concession stand and whispered, “Snow cones.”

“Hi, honey,” Dad said. Then, into the phone: “No, not you, Lou, my daughter. Hold on a minute.”

John R. Brice squatted, wrapped his arms around his daughter, and embraced her; he inhaled her sweaty scent. A thin glaze of moisture glistened on her flushed face, her short blonde hair was damp and stuck to the sides of her head, and her blue eyes sparkled like a multimedia LCD monitor. He placed the camcorder on the grass, flicked a drop of sweat from her cheek with his finger, and admired her. She was swell.

Dad was looking at her like she was a brand new eight-hundred-gigabyte hard drive just out of the box.

“Gracie version ten-point-oh,” he said. “Best of breed.”

Gracie said to the other girls, “I’m the applet of his eye.” With her index finger she pushed the glasses up on her father’s face. “And he’s my favorite propellerhead in the whole W-W-W.”

Dad grinned like he was embarrassed. “Your shoe’s untied,” he said. She held her foot out like Cinderella trying on the glass slipper. He reached down for the white laces but grabbed his blue shirtsleeve instead. It was stained. He looked from his sleeve to her arms.

“Hey, you’re bleeding!”

Gracie examined her hands and arms. She was bleeding, from both elbows, where she had hit the ground when the snot tripped her—which reminded her. She looked across the field to the Raiders’ sideline and spotted the snot standing next to her father, the big butthead. Their eyes met; the snot raised her hand. Gracie thought she was going to wave, ready to put their hard-fought athletic competition behind them; instead, the snot stuck her tongue out and gave Gracie the finger. Gracie’s face flashed hot, as if she had just stuck her head in the convection oven—she wanted the snot alone, like way bad. But it wasn’t going to happen here and now. She turned back to her dad.

“No big deal,” she said. She glanced over at the parking lot. “Guess Mom’s trial didn’t end. Oh, well, maybe she’ll make the playoffs. You want to get a snow cone with us?”

Dad held the phone up. “I gotta talk to Lou.”

“Hi, Lou!” Gracie shouted at the phone.

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