Nathan Graziano

Homecoming Game

It’s the homecoming game for the Northborough High School Seahawks. I have no
recollection of ever living in this town in Rhode Island, but when my ex-wife showed me a
picture of someone who looked like me in an old NHS yearbook, I had to concede it was
plausible. She said we were high school sweethearts but I have no recollection of that, either.
Still, I love homecoming games, no matter the location, and today I’m sitting on the metal
bleachers next a man in an old Northborough High School varsity jacket with a bald dome
and an inky black ponytail. He’s holding a bag of popcorn and after each down, he screams,
“Humdinger of a play, boys.”

Cloudless and crisp, this afternoon was stolen from a postcard of Montana and placed in
Rhode Island. The quarterback for the Seahawks, lithe and lean and agile, is named Tad, and
he throws a tight spiral sixty yards for his fourth touchdown pass in the first half.

“Humdinger of a pass, Tad,” the man yells.

“This kid is an unearthly talent,” I say.

“You bet,” the man says. “His mother is shortlisted for that Mars trip in 2025. If
someone backs out, she’s going to Mars and never coming back.” He pauses then screams
through cupped hands, “Let’s go Hawks. Caw-caw-caw.

“Was that a bird call?” I ask.

“You betcha,” he says. “It rallies the wind. It’s like that Patrick Swayze song.”

“’She’s Like the Wind’?”

“Humdinger of a song.”

A person in the opposite bleachers blows an air horn as the cheerleaders moonwalk to
the marching band playing “Tequila”.

“What’s the quarterback’s last name?” I ask.

“It’s not pronounceable on this planet, only on Mars,” he says to me. “Would you like
some popcorn?”

“I quit,” I say. “It reminds me too much of my first marriage. I haven’t touched a kernel
in over nine months.”

“That’s over a year on Mars,” he says and extends his hand. “I’m The Seagull.”

With no earthly explanation, a deer runs across the field, and a hunter shoots it dead from
the top of bleachers. The cheerleaders scream and hug one another.

“Earth is a very dangerous place,” says The Seagull. “I’m glad I don’t live here.”

Then The Seagull stands, dumps his popcorn and sprouts tremendous white wings from
his shoulder blades, ripping through the back of his varsity jacket. “Let’s go Hawks! Caw-caw-
caw.” Without fanfare, without even a wave, he flies away, and Tad throws another
touchdown pass.


Nathan Graziano‘s books include Hangover Breakfasts (Bottle of Smoke Press in 2012), Sort Some Sort of Ugly (Marginalia Publishing in 2013), and My Next Bad Decision (Artistically Declined Press, 2014). Almost Christmas, a collection of short prose pieces, was recently published by Redneck Press. Graziano writes a baseball column for Dirty Water News in Boston.