Josh was beat. As always, Coach Daniels had driven the team hard, pulling no punches and giving very little downtime. His aching legs might disagree with his harsh methods, but he guessed he couldn’t argue with results. At every opportunity over the past 4 months, their team had outperformed any contender in the county and had been cited numerous times as the most promising non-professional teams in Illinois. Well, Daniels had certainly told them as much, but Josh saw no reason not to believe him.
The shower room was as stinky as always. How a room designed for cleaning yourself could be so rank was always a surprise, so Josh would always endeavour to finish his business there quickly. The other boys seemed not to be nearly as bothered by the smell as he was. Roger, the hulking quarterback, was sitting staring at a tile in the wall when Josh entered.
“What’s up, Rog?” Josh occupied himself with carefully removing his protective gear while he waited for a response.
It did indeed take a moment before Roger answered. “Wha’? Oh, it’s you Josh. Trying to figure out the work teacher Simnels gave us yesterday.”
At least the shower was lovely and warm. “In your head? Wouldn’t it be easier to write it down, do it piece by piece?”
By now the rest of the team was slowly filtering into the shower room. Everyone was covered in bruises from practice. “We don’t really have much paper in the house.”
Oh yeah, Josh thought to himself. He’d forgotten about Roger’s household. “Well, if you go to the library, there’s sure to be some there. You can hitch a ride with me and my dad if you want, we go right by.”
“As long as it’s no trouble, sure.” Roger rose to hit the shower as well. “I’ll have to ask my father to pick me up there later, then.”
Josh couldn’t help himself. “Roger roger.”
The spring wind was nice and cool, compared to the warm sun. For the first time that day, he was able to fully appreciate the amazing weather. Spring had finally arrived. The noise of cars going by was a minus, but oh well, can’t have everything. Roger was asleep on the bench beside him. That guy slept more than anyone he knew. Lunch breaks, homework hours, bus-stops too, apparently. Slept anywhere, anytime he could. He didn’t really mind, gave him more space to read. Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger. His father didn’t like it too much, but his mother approved, so he didn’t mention it.
“Oi, what’s that you got there?” Josh looked at the intrusion. “Doesn’t look like a football.” Simon Lanker plus cronies, Matthew and Donald, the old iron core of the school team.
“It’s a book, Simon, I know you don’t know them too well.” He put his bookmark in, closing the book.
Simon scoffed at him. “Very funny, McDeely. Anyways, you and Roger wanna join us? Lovely weather, we were gonna join the others in the park, have a few you-knows.”
Josh looked over at Roger. Completely asleep. He was just going to have to answer for both of them. “I’ll have to pass, Simon. Some of us have that homework thing.”
“Well, your loss then. Have a good day with your books.” Turning about, the group started back towards the practice grounds. It was just him and the sleeping quarterback again. Josh opened the book again.