An exert from soon to be released Last Free Exit:
They arrived early at the football game, as the seats filled quickly in the first of the season, at home. Adults continued to flood the stands, long after their children had graduated. Grandchildren dragged along for the excitement of the state championship winning team.
The Wilson's sat in the reserved seats. Jordan sported a white and red T-shirt with “Go Reds” on it. Rolled up jeans and black shoes finished off his first football game outfit. Morgan and Mike jaunted over.
“Hey, how does it feel to be in the stands?” Maria Wilson winked at the twins.
Brendan stood to shake Mike's hand and Morgan leaned in to hug her friend's parents.
“Oh, interesting. I wonder what the half-time show will look like. I wonder how many freshmen are filling our places.”
The twins found seats near the reserved section, but closer to the student and band section.
The band bunched together at the north end of the field, hard to tell the size. The trombones held vertical, flashing in the late summer sunset rays. The sparkles of the dance line, majorettes and flag line formed a ball.
“Courtney made it last minute for the flag line,” Mike bragged to Morgan.
Morgan smiled, as before, just the year before, they looked at the dance line as a step down from actually playing an instrument. They were proud of Amber being the drum major. Now, at least Courtney participated. She had not the advantages they had had. Mike is falling for petite blonde Courtney.
The cheerleaders formed an honor guard, the first two holding a paper banner with “Go Reds” hand painted. Their legs skipped in place waiting for the football team to emerge from the locker room to charge the field. When the team did, the crowd in the stands jumped to its feet screaming.
The band then ran on the field into formation to play the National Anthem and the Alma mater.
“The band looks smaller this year,” Morgan stated.
“The drum line is huge, though, isn't it?”
“Always,” a tinge of disgust in Morgan's voice.
“The band still sounds good,” Mike stood up for some of his drummer friends.
“Well, yeah, it's what everyone should know.”
Brittany and Tiffany joined them after the music, as the fight song flooded into the stands with the band marching off the field.
“Wow! We didn't know the parking would be so bad.”
Morgan laughed, “We wouldn't have known either as inspection for band was so early. The Wilson's would just stay. Mrs. Wilson loved the concession stand food and she helped too with the band boosters.” They waved to the Wilson family as they talked about them.
“Yeah, we dropped Courtney off and decided to go to Burger Bin. We had to park up the hill from the stadium. Well, guess we needed the exercise. We got to see Courtney march in from the side lines, but we wanted to sit in the stands and yell.”
“Sorry, we didn't warn you,” Mike soothed.
The band made it to the stands, attempting to settle in but the first touchdown happened before they all were there. The fight song blasted into the air. The sparkling girls on the top row raised their arms. Courtney sported a sandy brown pixie cut, allowing her natural hair color to return from the many colors she played with over the years. The little chief tattoo glistened by her eye. After the cheering for the touchdown and the extra point died down, she waved to her friends, a blush at seeing Mike.
Derek had joined the group with a kid from the grocery store, Cameron. Cameron graduated from another local high school, but his team was playing on Saturday afternoon.
“I'm going to talk to Mr. Danes,” Morgan jumped up from her seat. Morgan skipped down the bleachers to the front pathway. Mr. Danes watched the game and the band, waiting to direct the fight song or other rifts to fill the stadium with team spirit. He wore a black suit with a white shirt, red tie and white gloves.
“Hey, girl, how's Ohio State?” his face brightened at his former band member.
“It's great. Amber really loves the band. They're at Syracuse this weekend. She says it is really hard. I hardly see her. I miss being in the band, but I knew I didn't want to commit to so much my first year.”
“Yeah, when music isn't your major. You kids are mature and wise,” he waved to Mike and Derek in the stands, “Wow, another touchdown,” he patted Morgan quick on the shoulder and raised his baton to lead the band again in the fight song. Morgan waved, and slipped away.
“Looks like a great start to the season, again,” Morgan yelled when she returned to her friends.
The train whistle and cow bells escalated the excitement. Brittany and Tiffany screamed with the rest of the crowd. Cameron smiled at Brittany, “Wow, you are full of spirit.”
Brittany grinned back, “You have no idea.”
Derek and Mike chuckled because they knew Brittany, Tiffany and Courtney came full of life in June. They were like the children that they hadn’t a chance to be before. The girls never bothered with the school spirit in their high school career, bored with life without living.
Cameron cheered some for the team. It was hard for him to not get caught up in the excitement.
The first quarters flew quickly with four touchdowns and scoring of the extra points by the Reds.
Morgan exclaimed, “I love to watch the boys break away and run those eighty some yards.”
“Look at Courtney. She is swinging with the music. I think she is getting into this marching band stuff,” Brittany's pride in her friend bubbled to the surface.
The marching band as a unit slipped back into their jackets and hats. The sun lower in the sky painted them with a glow of rose. They wound their way to the field.
“I'm looking forward to the half time show,” Morgan wiggled.
Cameron stated, “This is the biggest band in the county,” a little bit of envy tinged his speech.
“Were you in your band?” Morgan asked.
“Yeah, I played the trumpet like Derek.”
“Oh, I play the flute, then the piccolo. Our friend, Morgan, plays the clarinet. Her senior year she was drum major. Now, she's in OSU band.”
“Wow, they're a great band.”
Mike intercepted, “I played the trombone.”
The teens quit talking to listen to the visiting band. They had powder blue and white uniforms, a small flag line and one majorette. They produced a good sound for being few in number.
“Still amazes me, how good horns can sound, even when there aren't that many. They did pretty good. They practice, you can tell,” Morgan analyzed.
Tiffany admired Morgan's air of expertise, “You should have been a music major, too.”
“Ah, no, I love history too much. I want to study that and teach. Maybe I can enact at an historical village during my breaks.”
“Wow that sounds like fun. Where would you do that?”
“Where ever I can get in. Maybe Gettysburg or Hale Village. I've always wanted to do that.”
Mike announced, “Look our band is ready.”
“Ooh, I wonder what the half time show will be.”
“Now, under the direction of Mr. Danes, the Red marching band will do a medley honoring the Jersey Sound. Mixing the shore, working class and hard times with high hope, let the sounds of the Boss, Bon Jovi, Steve Van Zandt and Frankie Valie take you there.”
Morgan felt her legs jiggle like Jello. Oh, she had forgotten Iggy for a minute, but hearing that distinct horn sound of those Jersey songs, the saxophone wailing, the trombone section mixing all those songs reminded her of his talk of under the boardwalk, listening to the band sounds escaping the bars' open doors on hot summer nights. Whether what he boasted was true or not, Morgan had no way of knowing, but this music made her think of Iggy. A sigh escaped, so low, only Mike sensed his sister's agony.
Oh, boy, Mike thought, she's still thinking of Iggy. Why did it have to be Jersey Shore sound? Sure, it was fun to play and jived. “Roar.” Mike stared at Morgan. She glanced briefly at him, and shook her head, mouthing, “I'm OK.”
The third quarter, the band had freedom to be with their friends, families, or go to the concession stand. Courtney jumped over to her friends. Mike hid a smile as she approached. This time Morgan observed a twin's inner longings. At least, Courtney follows Jesus. They can have a future. Another sigh tripping over her lips, hidden this time even from Mike.
“Hey, girlfriend, how is the flag line?” Brittany asked.
“What did you think of the songs? We had a lot of fun,” Courtney offered.
Tiffany laughed, “I love the little tattoo of the Chief.”
“Yeah. This is really a lot of fun.”
Mike didn't hide his admiration of Courtney. She sat with the kids until the end of the third quarter, then jogged up the bleachers to join the others in flag line, dance line and majorettes. Morgan sighed again, as she watched her twin not let go of the sight of the cute sixteen-year-old. Where had Iggy gone and did she really want him?
The Red team won their first game with no effort against the opposing team. The kids still waited till the band played the final version of the fight song, then the Alma mater. They watched Courtney fit right in with the flag line, linking arms and singing the soulful last tune.