By: Shirley Ann Burton
The Important Disclaimer:
This story is an original, but it is based upon the series The Nightmare Room by R. L. Stine. All characters in this story are original, so if you want to use any of them in the future, please e-mail me first. It has been highly inspired by the courageous story of Penn State football player Adam Taliaferro.
"Man, I am so psyched about Friday night!"
I yelled to my best friend and fellow teammate on the football team.
"Me, too, Josh," he said happily. "It's the homecoming game, and it's against our rivals from Bannister High."
I couldn't help being so excited about the game coming up between the Hawkinsdale Hawks and the Bannister Bears. I loved playing football so much, but deep in my heart, I knew it wasn't what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.
Unfortunately, my father believed I should do nothing except playing football all the time, even when the season was long over. I wanted to go out and play with my friends during the summer, but Dad would drive me to the football field to make me "improve" on my skills as a player. It was becoming very embarrassing for me because I couldn't spend the time with my best friends. Of course, it was a good thing some of those best friends of mine were on the football team, so it really helped me a lot.
I took a sip of my milkshake and then looked at Billy Wilder. "Billy, do you think…I need to stop playing football?"
"Now why would you say that, Josh?" he asked in surprise.
"Well, think about it. Dad seems to be more interested in me playing football than anything else. I love football, I always have. It seems Dad only wants me to do it forever or something."
"Josh Mitchell," Billy noted seriously, "your father is a retired pro player. He just wants you to follow in his footsteps, that's all."
"Maybe I don't want to, though. I just want to be able to be happy for myself at times. I want to do well and play for the fun of it, not for a chance at a pro career. I mean, what if I get seriously injured and can never play again? What then?"
"I dunno what to tell ya. I'll tell you one of the creepy things about this game. It's being played on the 4th anniversary of the death of that player who died on the field, Halloween night."
"Aw, so it's on Halloween. I'm not going to let that scare me outta playing the game. After all, this could be the game that could help us get to the playoffs." I took another slurp of chocolate milkshake.
Billy agreed with me. "Yeah. We're still undefeated right now, and this game Friday night will clinch our playoff berth for sure."
Suddenly, a loud male voice said, "Josh! What are you doing here!? You're supposed to be practicing for the game on Friday night!"
My face suddenly went down as the people in the restaurant went silent. I was feeling very embarrassed. Dad, why do you have to yell!? I just don't want to concentrate too much on the game.
My father was Jake Mitchell, a former pro player. He was at the peak of his football career when Mom suddenly died as a result of brain cancer. He decided to retire immediately to spend more time with me. However, he signed me up for football from the get-go. I couldn't get out of playing football, even if I wanted to. Believe me, it was very hard to live with Dad because I wondered if he really cared about me or desperately wanted me to follow in his footsteps to a professional career.
"Josh, you need to be at the football field, not here stuffing your face with a milkshake! You know that's not a part of your diet."
"Dad, I have a load of homework tonight. I can't go to the field."
"You come up with every miserable excuse to get out of your necessary practice!"
"Look, Dad. My studies have to go first, not football. In case you forgot, the school board policy states that if I don't maintain at least a C average in my classes, I get thrown off the team. I'm sorry, Dad, but I am not practicing tonight. The team practice is tomorrow afternoon, and even then, Coach Simpkins won't let us practice for too long if we're bogged down with homework."
Dad gave me a seriously mean look. "Josh, I want you to have a professional football career. Isn't that what you want?"
"It's what you want, not what I want. I love to play football, but I don't need to do it for my entire life."
"You will not say that to me, young man!" yelled Dad. "You will be a football player, understand!?" He then grabbed me by the jacket and dragged me out of the restaurant to the car.
"Wait a sec, Dad, I need to get my books."
"You don't need your stupid books! You need your practice!"
I slipped out of my jacket and ran back into the restaurant to grab my books from school in order for me to do my homework.
When I got the books and ran back to the door, Dad basically gave me a slap in the face. "Do that to me again, and you're going to be in major trouble! Now get to the car before I really get mad!"
I went out to the old Saab car and got in the passenger side. I grumbled angrily because again, Dad totally made me feel very small.
The drive home was very quiet, as I looked out the window.
Dad tried to start up another conversation. "I can't understand you, son. All I want you to do is be able to play football and be like me."
I continued being silent.
"Josh, are you listening to me!?"
"Huh?" I said, snapping back into reality. "What'd you say?"
"You lousy excuse…you'll never be a superstar if you keep up this stupid attitude. You think homework is so important to you, but it doesn't help on the field."
"You don't understand, Dad. If I can't get a football scholarship, my studies will help me get a scholarship altogether. There's more to life than football and—"
"No! There is nothing more important than football, Josh! I will make you understand that!" He continued driving the car home with an angry look on his face.
As soon as we got home, I ran up to my room
and locked the door so I could get started on my homework for the evening.
"Maybe now I can get this done. Let's see, I'll start with some algebra
for now, and then go to grammar next."
Coach Simpkins made certain that all of use maintained our averages at school. He made it a rule that if any of us had too much homework, we had permission to practice for only an hour. If it had to do with term papers or essays, though, he would allow us not to practice at all. That really helped me a lot, since I was carrying an A average since my freshman year. Basically, I was nicknamed "Josh the Jock Nerd," which was actually a compliment to me, being a good student and a good football player. Knowing the junior year of high school would be one of the hardest, I wouldn't dare take my chances and allow my grades to suffer because of playing football. Now, if only Dad could have seen that…
"Okay, the assignment was to find the derivatives for all these formulas." I started looking at the formulas to make sure I knew what I was doing to complete the algebra. I knew the grammar homework was vital because the day of the Homecoming game, I had an important grammar test, so I didn't want to miss anything.
Unfortunately, Dad knocked loudly on the door, causing my pencil to stream off the paper. "What is it, Dad?" I yelled while feeling very annoyed.
"Stop your homework, young man! We're getting to the field, now!"
"For the last time, I have too much homework tonight! I don't have time to practice today!"
Dad then blasted through the door with his foot and had the face of an angry grizzly bear. He then grabbed me by the shirt and pinned me against the wall. "You will do as I say, Josh! You won't be a football player if you don't get the practice!"
"Coach canceled practice for today because almost everyone had too much homework. Homework before football, remember?"
"I don't care! He's a weakling as a coach! He needs to push his players harder than what he's been doing! You are the star cornerback, and I'm going to see to it that you get the necessary practice, whether Simpkins likes it or not! Now move it!"
After he finally let me go, I gave my father an angry look and said, "Fine! I'll go, but it's totally under protest!"
"We'll see about that, young man," said Dad. "You'll feel a lot better with two hours of practice!"
"What!? Dad, I have a grammar test in two days! I can't leave that behind! One hour!"
"Two hours or else!"
"An hour-and-a-half!" I demanded. "I am not going to fail that test on Friday!"
"That test is not important! Two hours, no exceptions or compromises!"
"You listen, Dad! That test is Friday, and I am going to take it and get an A, whether you like it or not!"
He then took out his belt and slashed me on the back. "There will be no further backtalk! You are going to be a star football player in the pros, not a teacher! Do I make myself clear!?" After ten slashes, he grabbed me and pulled me to the car so I could get to the field, much to my disliking.
On the way there, I noticed my friends were walking home from the restaurant. I sighed and put my head down in shame. Why do I have to be the son of a pro football player!? I could do things more rewarding than football. I can't even get a word in edgewise to say how I feel.
When we arrived at the football field, Dad got out of the car while I tried to stay put and stand my ground. He looked at me and yelled, "Get out of the car, Josh! Now! Practice makes perfect, and you'll be perfect at that game on Friday night. Now out!"
I shook my head. No. I'm going to do what I know is right.
"You stupid idiot! Get out of the car now, or this'll be a four-hour practice!"
"No. I'm not getting out."
"Oh, yes, you are!" He then smashed the right window with his elbow and unlocked the door, grabbing me by the hair. "You don't ever disobey me, understand!?"
Fortunately, Coach Simpkins could see what was going on and immediately ran up to us. "Let go of him, now!" he yelled as he pulled my father off me.
I fell to the ground trying to catch my breath as Coach restrained my father. Thanks, Coach. You're a lifesaver.
Coach had Dad by the shirt and yelled, "What's the matter with you!? That's your son, not a tackling dummy! How dare you treat him this way!"
"Why did you call off practice, weakling?" he muttered angrily. "I want my son to be a star, and he won't be without the practice!"
"I called it off because almost every player has a lot of homework to do this evening. You know the rules about maintaining the C average to stay involved in sports. Besides, doesn't Josh have an important grammar test the day of the game?"
"Like that's important. Football is what matters, and he doesn't need that ridiculous test!"
"Oh, no? Maybe I need to tell you that it counts for ten percent of the grade for the semester. If Josh doesn't pass the test, he'll be off the team, and we need him. I want him to concentrate on his studies. Practice will be limited to one hour tomorrow to allow those who have homework to do it. I am very stringent about their grades, and I am going to make certain they all graduate from Hawkinsdale High. If you don't like it, that's too bad because the majority of parents love the idea."
"Then the whole team is weak!"
"Says you, Mr. Mitchell. Now, you stay right here for a few minutes to cool off while I check on your son."
He then came up to me. "You all right, Josh?"
"I-I think so," I replied a little weakly. "You came just in time, Coach."
"I knew I had canceled practice, but apparently your father wasn't too happy about it."
"I've got to get home and do that homework, especially the grammar because of Friday's test."
Coach gave me a hand in standing up. "You have your house key, right?"
"Okay. I'll take you back to your home safely. You're our star cornerback, but it won't do any good if you don't keep your grades up. I know your mother would be proud of you for keeping your priorities straight."
"Thanks, Coach. I appreciate that."
He then escorted me to his truck and allowed me to sit in the passenger side. "You wait here while I have one last word with your father."
As Coach walked off to finish his conversation with Dad, I suddenly noticed some kind of strange light at the 20-yard line of the field. I couldn't tell what it was, but it shimmered brightly in contrast to the sky darkening at sunset. "What was that?" I wondered curiously.
Coach went up to Dad again. "I'm taking Josh back to his house, and I will stay with him so you don't try anything stupid again!"
"You will do nothing of the sort, Simpkins! He needs to be here practicing! Now get him out of the truck and on the field, or I will report you to the school board!"
"Report me all you want. They won't listen to you. You're so blinded by the ambition of your son being a football player that everything else is oblivious to you! Ever since your wife died, that's all you seem to care about, your son becoming a professional player like you were. You'd better wake up and smell the roses 'cause your son has his priorities straight and clear." He then walked to the truck and jumped into the driver's seat. "Come on, son. Let's get you home."
As he drove off, Dad had an extremely angered look on his face. "You bring my son back here, jerk, and now! He needs to be here practicing, not at home being a sissy!"
I was relieved to leave the football field to get home, but I couldn't stop thinking about what I had seen on the field. "Um, Coach, can I ask you what may be a silly question?"
"Silly question? What do you mean, Josh?"
"Do you…believe in ghosts?"
"Actually, it's not a silly question at all. I do believe in ghosts. Why do you ask?"
"I thought I saw one on the 20-yard line of the football field. Maybe I'm getting too absorbed with studying."
"No, it's not that, Josh. Some have said the ghost of the player who died on the field four years ago was spotted in the last few weeks. The spirit must not be satisfied with something if he wants to come to the field at the 20-yard line. I mean, people here call it a tradition, but at times I wonder."
"I hope so, but that thing's a bit spooky for me. Looking at diagramming sentences will be a lot easier on me."
About ten minutes later, I was safely back
at my home, and Coach Simpkins entered with me. "You sure you don't
mind staying with me for a little while tonight?"
"I don't want your father hurting you again, so it's best for now that I do stay here and make sure you're all right. Besides, as long as I'm your history teacher, I'll make certain you get that homework done."
I just smiled at him. "Thanks, Coach. You're a real friend. I just can't figure out why Dad won't let me live my life the way I want to do it."
"I think I know the reason, but he'll never show it."
"Well…what is it?"
"Since your mother died, he's had a hard time dealing with that loss. He's decided to turn that grief into blind determination and desperately wants you to follow in his footsteps. Maybe he needs to get back into pro football, so some of that pressure can be taken off you."
"Hmm, that may help some, but I don't know. I mean, I love Dad, but this…this isn't love."
"I know, Josh," Coach said sadly while shaking his head. "It's not been easy for you. Have you had a chance to visit your mother's grave?"
"Yeah, lots of times. I'll leave a fresh bouquet of daisies (Mom's favorite flowers were daisies) at her grave site usually on all the major holidays. At least Dad has the sense not to be so pushy around the holidays, but on Thanksgiving Day, I'm literally forced to watch the pro games from Dallas and Detroit on TV, when I would rather be watching the cartoons all day."
"He'll never learn that you have your own life. Now, how 'bout you get to the rest of the homework?"
"You got it, Coach," I said with a smile. I then went on to start working on the work to be ready for the next day.
Unfortunately, I was in the middle of working on my history assignment when Dad burst into the house…with a police officer!
"What's going on here?" Coach asked in shock.
"That's him, Officer," said my adamant father. "He kidnapped my son!"
I stood up to defend the coach. "That is not true! He brought me home after my father forced me to go to the practice field instead of letting me do my homework." Then, I flinched in pain.
"Are you okay, son?" asked the officer.
"I'm…fine." I held my back.
The officer then asked me to pull my shirt up. He then saw all the red slash marks and became shocked, like Coach was after noticing himself.
"My word," said an appalled Coach. "Who did this to you?"
"It was…Dad," I answered truthfully.
Dad became totally defiant. "He's completely lying! This coach did it!"
"NO!" I yelled back. "Coach Simpkins wouldn't ever do something like this to me, or anyone else on the team!"
"Whoa, hold it," said the officer, trying to stay calm. "Now, son, are you telling the truth about your father?"
"Yes, sir, I am. I've known the coach since I was a kid. He wouldn't harm a fly."
The officer then looked at my father. "Mr. Mitchell, you do know this constitutes child abuse. I'm afraid I'll have to take you into custody."
Dad then went ballistic and grabbed the officer by the shirt. "It is not my fault! He did it, not me!"
The officer then used pepper spray to get Dad off. "Looks like I can add resisting arrest to the charges as well."
He then handcuffed my father and read him the usual Miranda rights.
Next, the officer turned to the coach. "Sir, I know Josh is old enough to take care of himself here at the house, but would you mind staying with him?"
"Not at all. I'll make sure he gets his homework done, and then I'll come back and pick him up in the morning to take him to school."
"Thank you, Mr. Simpkins. Oh, and good luck at the homecoming game on Friday. I've been looking forward to it for the past two weeks."
"Great," Coach said with a smile. "Believe me, the team will be ready against Bannister."
The officer then took my father away while Coach Simpkins stayed with me for the remainder of the evening, which meant I could finish my homework in peace and quiet instead of loud yelling from Dad.
About two hours later, I finished all the homework necessary, so Coach left me at home for the evening but did say he would pick me up the next morning, with Dad being in jail for the night.
During the night, though, I had a little trouble
sleeping because I couldn't get that thing I saw on the field out of my
mind. "Was that really a ghost I saw tonight?" I asked myself.
"Nah, maybe it's just me. There's no such thing as a ghost.
I need to concentrate on getting an A on that grammar test Friday, too.
After all, if something knocks me out of football for good, I'll rely on
my brains to get into a good college."
With that, I went to sleep soundly for the rest of the night, with my mind and body focused on the day ahead.
The next morning, I basically had to make breakfast
myself, since Dad was still behind bars. Luckily, I had enough skills
from Home Ec class to be able to make the best omelettes around.
After breakfast I was ready to rock and roll for school as the coach came by and picked me up.
"You ready?" the coach asked.
"Yeah, let's go, Coach, and…thanks again for helping me yesterday."
"It's okay, Josh. Believe me, it's not just the physical part of preparation, it's also the mental part to be ready for Friday's game."
"Yeah, and speaking of the mentality, I think I'm already set for that grammar test."
"Listen, Josh, your father will come out of jail by the time you get home this afternoon. Will you be okay?"
"Yeah, I'll be okay. It may not be easy for a while, but I'm not gonna let Dad get in the way of me being ready for that test and the game."
"Great. Josh, I know you've got a bright future ahead of you. Don't lose sight of your dreams."
"Coach, that's one of the reasons you're such a cool coach. You're more like a dad to all of us."
He smiled as he parked his truck in his parking spot at school. "Okay, I'll see you on the practice field this afternoon after school."
"You got it, Coach. See ya later."
I got out of the truck and immediately walked to my homeroom class.
All in all, the day was a great one, as it was just one more day from the big game.
Practice went very well that afternoon, too, as the coach helped us work on our defense to keep Bannister's offense from doing so well Friday night.
Just before leaving the field with Coach Simpkins, though, I saw a strange light just underneath the bleachers…at about the 20-yard line again. The first thing on my mind: Just a reflection from the shiny bleachers.
When I got home, Dad hadn't returned yet from his night in jail, so it gave me the chance to get started on the smaller load of homework for the evening…and another opportunity to test my own culinary skills. I didn't quite do so well in making the hamburgers, as I added too much onion to it, but that was okay. As long as I could do it at all, it was fine. And, the burgers were well done. I couldn't stand any food less than well done.
Dad finally returned home at about 9 p.m., but by then, I was already finished with all my homework and talked to Billy on the phone. "Billy, I don't know how to tell you this, but I've seen a strange light at around the 20 the last couple of days. Am I going crazy?"
"Who knows? Maybe it's that ghost from four years ago. I've read that ghosts come around because of some sorta unfinished business in the physical world. Hey, don't worry, man. We'll be ready for tomorrow for sure!"
"Yeah, and I can't wait for the pep rally, either. That's gonna be so cool."
"See ya tomorrow, J-Man."
"You got it, Billy."
I hung up the phone and thought to the next day, as there was the grammar test, the pep rally, and of course, the game! I went to bed, knowing full well that Friday would be one of the most exciting days of my life.
Friday was finally here, and so was Halloween!
We got to wear costumes at school and show our school spirit, just as long
as it didn't interfere with the classes. I couldn't wait for the
pep rally in the afternoon, but I had that grammar test first. Focusing
on that, I easily breezed through it and most of the day. Then, the
pep rally came, and everybody at school was pumped up and psyched, including
myself. Even though I was only a junior, I was the main cornerback
for the defense. The seniors appreciated my patience and work ethic,
treating me as though I were really a senior. I was ready to rock
and roll Friday night. The biggest game of the year against Bannister,
and a chance for a playoff berth.
At 6:30 p.m., it was time for the game. I was ready with the rest of the team to blast through the banner and out onto the football field. After the public address announcer shouted for us, we tore that banner to shreds. Just about everyone at the school was there, cheering loudly as usual. I was ready to put my heart into the game, and we were going to give it our all against Bannister.
We won the coin toss and opted to kick it to the Bears first.
As soon as the kickoff happened, the game was under way. I knew Dad was in the stands, but I wanted to pay more attention to the game than having to hear my father. Besides, who could hear him with the loud crowd of supporters?
It was time for the first play of the game. I took my position in front of the offensive tackle, ready to pounce Bannister's receiver.
As soon as the ball was snapped, I dodged the offensive tackle and headed straight for the quarterback, but then I suddenly felt a helmet hitting me hard on the side of the head.
I quickly fell to the ground at around the 20-yard line while the rest of the defense pounced on the receiver, not allowing him to gain any yards on the play.
I wanted to get up, but for some strange reason, I couldn't feel any movement. What's going on? How come I can't stand up? Come on, body, stand up…stand up, now!
As the refs whistled the end of the play, a player from Bannister came up to me, looking rather concerned. "Hey, buddy, you okay?"
"I'm not sure. I…can't move. I can't get up."
The Bannister player then yelled out, "Hey, this guy needs help!"
Coach Simpkins heard the yelling and saw who was not moving on the field. "Oh, no…Josh!" He quickly ran out to where I was still lying. "Josh, what's wrong?"
"I don't know. I can't feel anything. My arms, my legs, nothing."
Up in the stands, the crowd went very quiet in a hurry. It was so quiet the chirping crickets was actually becoming louder.
Meanwhile, my father stood up and yelled, "Get up, Josh! You've got a game to play!"
Coach Simpkins pinched my right leg. "Can you feel that?"
"No, I can't. I can't feel it."
Then, the referee came along. "Is he injured?"
"Very seriously. We need the ambulance."
The ref signaled for the ambulance to come onto the field.
Coach tried to keep me comforted, especially since I was about ready to panic. "Take it easy, Josh. We're gonna get you to the hospital as fast as we can, okay?"
"H-hospital? What…about the game?"
"Josh, there's more to life than football. You know that. Right now, you may have a very serious injury. Try not to move any, okay?"
I smiled at him. "Thanks, Coach."
As soon as the paramedics came along, they took my vital signs, making sure I didn't have any heart problems. Thankfully, I didn't, but they were very concerned about getting me into the ambulance.
They were able to place my neck into a brace and carefully get me onto the stretcher. I was cautiously placed into the ambulance, but not before I saw that strange light again, at about the 20-yard line. The crowd applauded me being able to get off the field, but I was still unable to move, making everyone concerned, especially my dad.
"I'm going to the hospital to see he'll be back on the field before the end of the game." He then ran off to the Saab to drive to the hospital.
About 15 minutes later, I was in the emergency
x-ray room of the hospital. The doctors wanted to check exactly what
happened. I gotta tell you, these doctors were among the best in
Hawkinsdale—no, make that the best in the state.
My mind was still feeling foggy, but then I saw that light again. This time, though, the light had a face. You're lucky to be alive, pal, I heard the light say in my head. I didn't live after what happened to me.
I thought one of the doctors said that, but none of the voices matched what I had heard. I thought for sure it was just the impact of the injury I had received.
My father then showed up at the hospital and wanted to find where I was. "Hey, you! Tell me where my son is!"
"Wait, sir," said the registered nurse on duty. "What is your son's name?"
"Josh Mitchell! Don't you people know about him?"
"Sir, you need to calm down first. Otherwise, I won't tell you where he is."
"Don't you dare tell me what to do!" he yelled. "If you won't help me, then I'll find him myself!" He then took off running through the hospital.
Fortunately, the nurse called security to see if he could be slowed down. The security guard found Dad and caught him.
The nurse told him to hold him long enough to give him a sedative to calm down. She quickly administered the medicine, and the effects came on almost immediately. "Take him to the waiting room, please. He can sleep there."
The guard placed Dad in a chair where he could sleep the remainder of the night.
As for me, I still had absolutely no idea what to expect.
Finally, morning came along, and I still had
no idea what was happening to me.
One of the doctors entered the room to check up on me. "Good morning, Josh. How are you feeling?"
"Well, I'm not feeling anything below my neck. How come?"
"Um, Josh, where's your father?"
"I don't know. I haven't seen him since, um…what day is this?"
"It's Saturday morning."
"Who won the game last night?"
"Hawkinsdale won it on the field goal."
Another doctor was roaming the hallway when the nurse on duty came up to him. "Excuse me, Doctor. Josh Mitchell's father is in the waiting room. I had to sedate him last night when he went crazy trying to find his son."
"Oh, really? Thank you, Nurse."
He went to the waiting room and found Dad just waking up. "Sir? Are you looking for your son Josh?"
"Y-yes, I am," he responded groggily. "Where is he?"
"I'll take you to him, okay?"
"Thank you." Dad actually obeyed someone for a change and followed the doctor to the room where I lay resting.
When Dad entered the room, he noticed the sun coming out. "What the—? It's already morning? We missed the rest of the game!" He then saw me on the bed. "Josh, why aren't you up right now!? You were supposed to play the game last night!"
Doctor Richard Stansbury, the doctor in charge of my care, looked at Dad and said, "I waited for you to be here, Mr. Mitchell. The reason your son can't get up and out of bed is…Josh is paralyzed. His C-7 vertebrate bone was broken, and his spinal cord suffered severe injury. From the neck down, he's unable to do anything."
"You're lying! My son is supposed to be a football star! He can't be paralyzed! He was supposed to be in the game last night!" He then turned to me and said, "Get up, now! Prove how wrong he is!"
"I…I can't. Dad, Dr. Stansbury's telling the truth."
"NOO!" Dad yelled angrily. "You will get up from the bed now! You'll say anything to get out of playing football!"
Dr. Stansbury didn't like Dad's attitude. "Mr. Mitchell, you can't force him to get up now. Doing so will cause further injury and permanent paralysis."
Dad grabbed the doctor's jacket. "Shut up, you miserable doctor! He's going to leave the hospital now to come home with me."
"No, he's not. Josh needs to stay here for a few days. It's the only way to keep this from getting worse."
"You will not tell me what to do, idiot!"
I knew Dad was going too far again, so I called out to the intercom. "Need help, need help!"
Soon, two security guards burst in and restrained Dad.
"Get him out of this hospital right now," the doctor said. "He's too dangerous to be near his son right now."
The guards escorted him out of the building, leaving Dr. Stansbury and me alone in the room.
"Um, Doc, is there a chance I can play football again?"
"Son, I'll be honest with you. You may not be able to walk again, let alone play football. By the severity of this injury, you've only got an 8% chance to ever walk again."
My eyes widened in fear. I won't walk again? Oh, no. Now I'll be a loser in life, and worse, my father will label me a complete loser because I can't play football ever again.