PEYTON MANNING FACES QUARTERBACK MOUNTAIN
IT’S WAY TOO EARLY FOR THIS SHIT
* * *
4:30 am, Sunday Morning. Peyton Manning and Russell Wilson have left your house. A pile of turkey mayonnaise sandwiches slowly collapse into themselves on the counter, leaving behind a white powder that you are afraid to touch. You are tired. Trapped and tired. Outside you hear the faint, methodical whip of a football being thrown back and forth. Against your better judgement you walk out the door into the darkness. The street light that is normally blaring outside of your house has been extinguished. The early morning sky is overcast and shadows of the hedges around your garden are long and twisted. You walk toward the sound of the football. You notice that you are wearing your old high school letterman’s jacket. Embroidered seamlessly along the left side is a football and, just above it, a star that indicates your captainship of the varsity football team. The cadence of the ball picks up and your heart beats faster and faster in time with it. You feel hot and take off the jacket only to realize you are wearing pads, a helmet – your highschool uniform. You are holding a football. Suddenly, three linemen from The Carolina Panthers, The Detroit Lions and – inexplicably – the University of Nevada Wolfpack appear and begin to chase you. You run aimlessly, lost in the shadows, looking for an open receiver.
In the back of your mind, the voice of Peyton Manning returns.
“Didn’t see the Nickel blitz package comin’, did ya? That’s OK. Took me awhile to get down that road, too.” Peyton appears, glimmering in an all white Indianapolis Colts uniform. He fires, with perfect precision and timing, to a galloping Marvin Harrison. The Panther, the Lion and the Wolf dissipate in the cool morning air. Peyton raises his arms slowly above his head. “Touchdown.” he says.
“Whew, that was a close one, wasn’t it? Hey you didn’t happen to bring along any of those Mayonnaise sandwiches, did you?”
You tell him the sandwiches disintegrated when he left.
“Well, that’s alright, I brought my own.” He reaches into his hand warmer and pulls out a triple stacked sandwich. “Damn that’s good. Well, you’re sure in a mess aren’t ya?”
You nod and explain that you no longer know where your house is.
“You know something? I don’t know where my house is either.”
You expect something more from this, but nothing comes.
Peyton finishes his sandwich. Licks his fingers.
“Well, I guess we better get going.” A strange white glow is emanating from his shoulder pads. The scent of stale mayonnaise is on his breath. You ask him where you are going. “I’m climbing quarterback mountain,” Peyton says. “Well, I guess you can come too. You probably won’t make it to the top, but I can show you around.”
You ask him what quarterback mountain is. Peyton shrugs. “It’s like paradise, man. Or at least I’ve heard. Every play ever made on film there, only offenses get to play up there – you know, skip the bullshit. Hey, Russell isn’t still around is he?”
You shake your head. “Good. Man, that guy gives me the creeps. Tough competitor, though. He’s no Brady, but a tough competitor. Brady will at least eat a mayonnaise sandwich with a fella, though.” Peyton looks disgusted. He starts walking down the street motioning with his hands for you to follow. You walk together. Your cleats clicking in time with each step.