Daniel Presley

When I was eight years old, my father used to pal around with a guy we called Uncle Oz.

He might have been somebody's uncle but he wasn't mine. My uncle wouldn't have sneered behind a smoky mustache. He wouldn't have kept a grizzled beard. Nor would he have worn a Hawaiian shirt like the one Uncle Oz was wearing on the afternoon he took Dad and me to watch the Miami Dolphins play.

We weren't on the fifty-yard line, but we were close enough to see the players' faces whenever they took off their helmets. On the drive over, my father told Uncle Oz how much I loved football, which was untrue. I knew the basic rules and that the Dolphins were an important team because Don Shula was the coach and the quarterback was a blond man named Bob Griese, that was all.

"Don't drop the ball," Uncle Oz shouted, his freckled hands uplifted in the shape of a megaphone. "I'm sick of him dropping that ball."

It seemed Griese, or 'Greasy' as Uncle Oz called him, was having a tough season on account of fumbles. To me, Bob Griese was a great player, not that I knew much, only that he looked like a movie star.

The crowdswarm surrounded us. Uncle Oz had a shiny flask he offered to Dad who waved it away. The second quarter began and Dad left me alone with Uncle Oz to go to the bathroom or buy refreshments. As soon as Dad was gone, Uncle Oz offered me the flask but I said no. He laughed and stuffed it back into his jacket's breast pocket. He reached into the side pocket and rummaged for something else. Out came a red checkered handkerchief wrapped around an object. Uncle Oz unfolded the top layer to show me what was inside: a gun.

"If that Greasy drops the ball one more time . . . I swear I'm gonna shoot him."

Uncle Oz didn't laugh or smile. He shoved the gun wrapped in the handkerchief back into his pocket and kept his hand on it. I waited for that freckled hand to come up in another megaphone but it stayed in the pocket.

My dad returned with a bucket of popcorn and a hot dog for Uncle Oz. He took the dog but ate it with his left hand only. The right hand stayed in the pocket.

The center snapped Bob Griese the ball and my heart was blasting. I rocked back and forth at the edge of my seat thinking, Please, Bob, don't drop that ball.

Dad offered me some popcorn but I waved it away like he had waved away the flask. All I cared about was Bob not dropping the ball. The score didn't matter to me, neither did the cheerleaders nor the unseasonable cold.

My father slapped Uncle Oz on the back. "Didn't I tell you the kid loves football?"

Daniel Presley is an American screenwriter living in Paris. His credits include POPULAIRE (2013).

Read DP's postcard.

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