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
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
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
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
My father slapped Uncle Oz on the back. "Didn't I tell you the kid
Daniel Presley is an American screenwriter living in Paris. His credits include POPULAIRE (2013).
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