A/N: Hi guys here's chapter one of my FNL story. First of all Tim needs to make more movies, and second, I already know this is a stupid idea, so lets not get into that.
FYI: Who I Am is a Jessica Andrews song.
Chapter I: Who I Am
My name is Emma Jean Billingsley, and I live in Odessa. This little town doesn't have much, but we do have the most winningest football team in all of Texas, the Odessa Permian Panthers, and that's something to be proud of. I have dark copper hair, and blue eyes. I'm not fat, but I can tell you I'm no beanpole either. I'm fifteen (sixteen September first,) and a junior at Permian. My brother, Don, is on our football team, tailback. He isn't very good though, but he tries. At least I think he tries—he doesn't really seem all that upset when he loses the ball—but I don't have a lot of room to talk.
You see, I'm the co-captain of the Majorettes. We dance at pep rallies and at the half-time show of the football games. I'm not the best, but I'm a dancer: tap, ballet, jazz, pointe; nevertheless, I'm not all that into the Majorettes. Come to think of it, I'm not all that into the whole "Mojo spirit" thing, but I've got to show my support somehow, and, because my brother's on the football team, shaking my ass at half-time seemed to be the way to go. I've always got a ride to the games.
Don is my half-brother from Okalahoma; apparently my dad had a flooring company up there a few years before I was born. I don't know why it surprised me when Don showed up at our house with his mom. I was eleven years old, and I suppose all little girls want to see the best in their daddies.
Don was really into football, so I suppose Mojo was calling to him. He moved in with us his sophomore year. I thought that was great—my first year of high school I was going to have a big brother on the football team to look out for me. Yea...right. If you haven't ever had a big brother, they can be a big pain in the butt.
I was talking about my dad. I hate to admit it, but he has a bit of a drinking problem. He's lost three marriages to it, including my mom, but they didn't end in divorce. The three of us were on our way home from a party—that probably had something to do with football—my dad was driving. He had one too many drinks, and we hit—something. I was two years old in my car seat in the back, I was fine, my dad broke his arm, but my mom wasn't so luck.
Like I said, I was only two years old, and she really wasn't a big part of my life. I know that she loved me. Sometimes I wish I had a mom though—a real mom, not like the woman sitting with my dad and meat the first day of Permian Panthers practice. That's not my mom, that's Flippy; I don't know where she came from.
Back to the Panthers, right, I wouldn't be talking to you if it weren't for them. Let's see who I can remember.
I guess I'd have to start with Boobie Miles—running back—the team all star. Most of the time I just try not to think about how he got a nickname like Boobie…and why that's okay with him, his teachers, Coach Gaines, his friends, and his beloved uncle L.V. It's not that I don't like the guy—that is one good-looking black boy—not that it's unusual for black guys to look good, that's just not really what I'm usually into—oh, God, I'm starting to sound like a real racist pig, aren't I. I'm really, really sorry. The thing about Boobie is he just seems so full of himself.
Then there's my personal favorite, our quarter back, Mike Winchell. Now, I sorta, kinda have this huge crush on him, and I'm not even sure why. He's not the best looking guy on the team, (after he was voted Mr. PHS, I'd actually have to say that was my brother—yuck!) he's not always the greatest player (he tends to choke under pressure,) and he never seems to smile. But I tutored him in English for a few months last year, when he needed some help with his research paper the teacher asked me to give him some extra help, and he's a pretty decent student, a smart kid. He was always so nice to me, even though some of the more popular students like to make fun of me because I'm more bookish. I guess that's just the long way of saying, I really like him a lot.
My shameless crush aside, the next would be Brian Chavez. We have a few classes together. You know those really smart people at every high school that you want to hate, because they shame everyone with their enormous brain power, but you can't because they're just so nice. That's Chavo. He's one of the lucky ones getting out of here on smarts. Football is just a game to him, if he stinks at it and our season goes down the drain things will still work out for him. He's applying to Harvard, and everyone knows he's getting in, probably on a few scholarships. One last thing about him, I suspect he's got, like, multiple personalities or something. On the football field he'll break your legs, but he'll buy you lunch afterwards. In the halls, after class he's the nicest guy. We'll talk about Shakespeare, and our calculus homework, but I would not want to be on the receiving end of one of his tackles.
Ivory Christian is on defense too. He's a pretty big guy, and sometimes I think he only plays football so he can hit some people. His nickname is Preacher. Apparently he had some kind of crisis of faith a while back, and had this total revelation about the direction he wanted his life to go. He decided to spread the word of God...and hit people, because football was his key to an education. When he's not on the pulpit, he doesn't talk much.
I remember Chris Comer, third string running back, Wilson's backup. He's in my grade; a pretty nice guy, a little unsure of himself. I think he's afraid to get hit. Sometimes his girlfriend gets fed up with him.
We've got a great team this year. Already cars and shopping centers are decked out with the slogan: "Going to State in '88." But that means we'll be facing our rivals from Midland Lee, and the monsters from over in Dallas Carter. There's no way those guys are seventeen.
Back to practice, it's been about five minutes, which means it's about time for—yep, here comes the ball, it's on its way to my brother…and there goes the ball, another black fumble on Donnie's record.
"You sure he's part of your gene pool, Charlie," a father shot over at my dad. 'Oh crap,' I thought to myself as my dad got up and stormed down the bleachers.
"Red Alert, Red Alert," some of the other bystanders started to chant insensitively as Flippy and I hurried up to follow him onto the field. We both knew the snit my dad and Don were in was about to get very physical, and fast—in front of everyone.
My dad was seriously ticked off. One of the assistant coaches, my friend Nina's dad, was talking to Don and my dad called him over. Dad started yelling about how he couldn't hold onto the ball. One of the other players—Brian I think—got between them, trying to explain it was only their first day. Dad pushed past him and threw Donnie onto the ground.
"Dad, stop!" I urged, putting a hand on his shoulder. He shrugged me away and yanked Don to his feet so he could push him down again. Flippy and I both started yelling at him to knock it off, apparently dad thought we meant Donnie's helmet, because gave him a nice punch in the face.
"Charlie," Flippy yelped.
"You're embarrassing me out here," Dad shot back at Don as Flippy finally pulled them apart, and took my dad off the field.
They left after that, but I stayed behind, I'd have to get a ride with Donnie and Brian. I liked to listen to Coach Gaines's speeches. I think it's funny when he tries to get these guys to get all emotional about playing football.
By then most of the crowds that had turned out to examine this year's team had dispersed. The after practice there was this press conference, with camera crews and reporters from the local news shows and paper talking to the players. After that I waited outside the locker room for my brother.
Brian, Ivory, Mike, my brother, and I decided to stop to get something to eat at David's. It was already dark by the time we sat down with our food. Mike ordered something for his mom; I thought that was real sweet of him. Then Donnie threw a fit because he had to pay for my cheeseburger, so David said it was on the house—nice guy that David.
I was stealing some of Chavo's fries, and we were talking about Huck Finn when it occurred to me to ask a question that had been burning on my mind a while.
"Hey, does anybody know anything about that reporter guy who's been hanging around town?" I asked. Remember, this is a small town and if you don't belong, everyone knows it.
"My dad said he was doing research for a book on football or something," Chavo said. A book I thought to myself. Why would you write a book about football? You should just go to a game. Donnie went to pour something alcoholic into Mike's drink, but he waved my brother off.
"Live a little," my brother told him. Mike just shook his head.
"And he's not going out tonight either," Chavo put in.
"You're going out," Donnie told him. "And you're going to get laid if I have anything to say about it." I felt my whole body get real tense, (and I think Brian noticed, too,) at the mention of Mike Winchell "getting laid"...by someone other than me...on our wedding night. A girl can dream can't she! Then something happened to lighten the mood, however briefly. This really loud car pulled up along the carport.
"Billingsley! Billingsley!" The man in the passenger's seat yelled over to us. I know I probably shouldn't have turned, but it's my last name, too, you know. "Party at Taylor's house, Billingsley, you better be there! You're gonna get wasted! Party at Taylor's house! Billingsley!" I'm not quite sure what that last 'Billingsley!' was for.
"Isn't that guy, like, thirty-five?" Chavo asked and we all laughed. Then David came back with Mike's carry-out order.
"Mike, here's your mom's food," he said.
"How much?" Mike asked. David shook his head.
"No, no. It's on the house." He answered. "How's she doing, by the way?"
"Hey David, you never give me free food," my brother interrupted like an idiot.
"I just gave you free food," the man reminded Don.
"Oh yea," he began sarcastically. "Oh yea, I forgot about that."
"Stay out of jail, Billingsley," David suggested as he walked away.
"You're not going home," my brother turned back to Mike. Mike shook his head taking another bite of his burger.
"I'm not goin' 'round, drunk foolin'," Mike answered with his heavy accent. I nodded in approval.
"How 'bout I bring your mom some dinner," Donnie went on. "That way you can come out with us. Because were gonna get laid, and we're gonna get drunk, and we're gonna win state, but not tonight. Alright?" My brother got up to toss his trash away and Chavo turned to Mike.
"You've been blessed, Mike," he told him. "'Cause we've got a runner, and he's gonna make us all look good. So I'm telling you to lighten up, because all you've got to do is exist in the two seconds between snap, and you giving Boobie the ball. SO lighten up."
"Mike!" Now this sleazy looking guy with his thickset wife with too much eyeliner, and a pretty little girl in overalls that looked nothing like either of them came over. "How you doin'?"
"Hey Brian," Mike answered as they shook hands. I shook my head, great another Brian.
"How's old Gaines been treating you?" The man asked. "Got you all perfect?"
"Getting there," Mike answered.
"Alright, how's your mama?" The Man went on.
"Fine, sir," Mike answered.
"You mind if we get a quick shot, real quick, with the kid?" The man asked.
"Shot?" Mike asked. I flashed back to the beautiful baby contest we had last year in history class. We all had to bring in our baby pictures. Mike said the only picture he could find of him as a baby was of this sad little boy clutching a stuffed pony with big fat tears rolling down his face. Mike said he had never seen a camera before, and he thought it was a gun.
"Yea a little picture with the kid?" the man went on brining me out of my daze.
"Sure," Mike answered getting up.
"Let's get a picture of my baby and the next Texas state championship quarterback," the man said handing over the little girl. "Where's the damn camera," the man snapped at his wife.
"Winchell boy, you remember every minute of this, I'm telling you right now. You're seventeen, but it goes fast. Don't sleep, and don't waste a second of it. 'Cause before you know it, it's done," he snapped his finger. "Nothing but babies and memories, ya hear me. Babies and memories," he aimed the camera at them. I almost laughed when I realized Mike and the little girl had the same smileless expression. "Smile sweetheart, say 'Mojo' say 'Mojo'."
He snapped another smileless baby picture.
"Tell you what," he went on. "Why don't you hold onto her for a while? Baby-sit her for a couple of hours. We're gonna go get a drink, be back in a little while." And then they started to walk away. Mike looked at the girl, then at her parents, and then he actually looked at me for help. Then the man doubled back.
"Just kidding with ya," he said reaching for the baby. "Come here sweetie. Let's go back to momma." He handed the woman the baby and shook hands with Mike.
"Hey. Bring it home," the man went on flashing his championship ring. "Bring one of these home. Get you one of these. Christian, boys." He looked at me, opened his mouth and walked away. Mike sat back down as I got up with Chavo and my brother to head over to Taylor's place. Behind me I heard Mike say:
"You want to go to that party? Just for a little bit?"