Couch Matinee: "FINAL SECONDS" Episode 3

Written by Vinny "Bond" Marini Monday, August 23, 2010

“SPIKE THE BALL!!” Coach Hutchinson was screaming from the sidelines.

It was the fourth quarter, 1:00 left in the game and his team down by 5 points to State. His team was on a drive that had begun on their own 20 and now saw them with the ball only 15 yards from winning the game.

The previous play had been a draw and without any timeouts, they needed to stop the clock. His quarterback Alex Stern had played the sloppiest game of his four year career and Coach was furious that Stern was acting like he had a 20 point lead.

Concession Special this week 
Bar-B-Que Ribs and Large Pepsi...$2.50

Part One HERE
Part Two HERE


“SPIKE THE BALL!!” Coach Hutchinson was screaming from the sidelines.

It was the fourth quarter, 1:00 left in the game and his team down by 5 points to State. His team was on a drive that had begun on their own 20 and now saw them with the ball only 15 yards from winning the game.

The previous play had been a draw and without any timeouts, they needed to stop the clock. His quarterback Alex Stern had played the sloppiest game of his four year career and Coach was furious that Stern was acting like he had a 20 point lead.

The center hiked the ball and finally Stern spiked the ball.

As he jogged over to the sidelines, Coach was screaming “Damn Stern, what is in your head today? We need to score a touchdown. A field goal means nothing. Now, why the hell did you change the call to a draw when I called for a pass?”

Alex Stern heard his coach’s voice, but his focus was on the guy in the stands just behind the bench. The long hair was hanging in his face, but the eyes were boring a hole in Alex’s brain.


It had all been so different two years ago. Stern was a sophomore backup Quarterback for Hillsdale. The starter, Chris Cornnicki, was a senior and Stern knew all he had to do was work hard and the starting job would be his the next season.

Alex had been a star in high school but was not big enough to play big-time college football. Even for Hillsdale, he was not as big as Coach Hutchinson would like and Alex began to notice the recruits on campus, many of them quarterbacks and all of them bigger then Alex.

That winter after the season ended, Alex began to work out harder. But no matter how hard he worked, how many weights he lifted, it didn’t seem like he was building the muscle mass. Then came that fateful day. One of the lineman he was working out with talked to Alex one night in the dorms.

“Dude listen, you need to get bigger. We both know that. It ain’t happening the way you are doing it. Let me introduce you to this guy Ricardo, who can help.”

Alex refused that time, but about two weeks later, still frustrated, he agreed to meet Ricardo.

He began to take the pills and then graduated to the needle. He began stacking the two over a period of time. And the muscle mass arrived. He was able to complete two cycles and by the time spring workouts began, Alex Stern was ready to defend his position and did without any struggles. He had gained 25 pounds and with them came confidence.

The coaching staff knew something was not quite right and had suspected the worst, but their desires for a winning season overshadowed their concerns and they never pushed Alex for an explanation.

Hillsdale had their first playoff appearance in 6 years so when Alex showed up for spring sessions having gained another 20 pounds of muscle this season, there were even fewer wuestions. The pro scouts began to come around and even became interested in some of the other players on the team.

Now the Hillsdale Falcons were one game away from having their most successful season ever. By beating State, they would get an invitation to a Bowl game. Not one of the huge Bowl games, but got a smaller college like Hillsdale, this was a huge leap and would help recruiting for years to come.

This should have been the best week of Alex Stern’s life, interviews with all of the major sports networks, talks with scouts, agents phoning every five minutes, and in the end it was the worst week of his life.



“No Coach, let’s win this thing,” was Alex’s reply, and he took the play from the Coach and began jogging back to the huddle. Alex Stern knew he had only one choice and at that moment it all became clear.

In the huddle, Alex looked at his team and called the play. As they broken the huddle, he first looked up at the closk to see :30 seconds left and then his eyes moved to the sidelines, into the stands to see those eyes boring down on him from beneath the mop of hair.

“OK boys, this is it. One play…for us seniors, the biggest play of our lives. We make it to the Bowl game and all of us will have more women and fame then any player from Hillsdale has ever had.”

“Let’s do this… Eagle one, 33 out on three”

As the team broke from the huddle and Alex positioned himself under the center, the butterflies were worst then he had evr felt in his life.

“BLUE…44…BLUE 44… EAGLE…hut…hut…hut!”

Alex took the snap and faded back. The State linebackers all came on a full blitz. Alex broke to his right, his eyes still downfield when he felt the pressure bearing down on him from behind. His wide receiver broke toward the goalposts and Alex let the ball fly…


By Thursday evening Bobby Simmons could not believe he was in the middle of a gambling and drug scandal. He could not talk to MaryJane about it. They had warned him to keep the entire episode quiet.

Why hadn’t he just ignored the scene in the bathroom on Monday and let Alex Stern suffer the consequences?

Walking across campus Friday moring, the one person he did not want to see, of course found him.

“Bobby-boy! Hey Bobby-boy waits up.” Fast stepping out of the Science building came Tim. “Heys Bobby-boy why ya been ‘voiding me? Doughts wes was gonna be stoppin’ at da Rose last night? I’s waited fer ya till almos eleben but den had to gets home ta BeckSue afore she lock me outta da house. She no like when I be outs all night and when I come home wit a drunk on.”

“Hey Tim, yeah, sorry bud, but something came up. We will hook up next week, I promise.”

“Bobby-boy ya looks liken ya seen a ghos’ .. ya all whites and stuff.. ya haben problems at home wit the missus?”

“Nah Tim, just a lot on my mind. Look, I have to get over to the Athletic dorm and take care of a problem in one of the bathrooms over there. Catch you later, OK?”

With that, Bobby hustled away before Tim could even respond.

Walking into the dorm, Bobby hoped most of the occupants were at class or practice of some sort or another. There was only one person he needed to see and after leaving a message the night before, Bobby knew he would be in the basement near the laundry facilities.

Bobby walked down the stairs and made a left. Most of the dorms at Hillsdale were connected through their basements. There were laundry facilities down here and even a small bar/restaurant. Bobby passed the connecting hallway to Emmons Hall and turned into the laundry room.

Standing there was Alex Stern.

“OK, townie, what the hell is this all about? You think you can shake me down? Blackmail me into paying for your silence? You are some stupid ass if you think that. I will beat the snot out of you and make you wish you were never born.” Alex took two steps toward Bobby and stopped as Bobby held up his hands.

“Look Alex, I don’t want you money dude. This is not about that. But I do need to talk to you. Now listen to me, and let me finish…”

Bobby then talked for about 10 minutes straight without Alex interrupting. When he was done, Alex Stern stood there with his mouth open, silent.

Bobby looked at him and spoke again “Now, it is your choice.”

With that Bobby walked out of the room and up the stairs. He did not see the three men come from the other direction and walk into the laundry room where Alex Stern still stood silent.


The throw was right on the money and Stevie Jones grabbed it out of midair and held on as he was tackled to the ground as the clock showed 0:00.

The stadium erupted in screams of joy from the Hillsdale fans and groans of disappointment from the State fans.

The students of Hillsdale rushed the field lifting Alex Stern on their shoulders. Many rushed the goalposts and began trying to pull them down.

Later that evening, after the parties were over and all the fans and news reporters were gone, Alex Stern was walking across campus from the stadium.

As he passed a van in the parking lot, the side door opened and Alex Stern was shoved into the back of the van.

Ricardo was looking down at him.

“SO what. You just want to be in awheelchair your whole life? I told you I was not fooling around you little shit. Do you really think I want to use this crowbar on your kneecaps?”

“Look, I am going in the first round, I will pay you triple what I owe you…just give me a few months to go through the draft.”

“ASSHOLE, we lost millions today…are you going to pay me $20-million dollars???? Do you realize my boss is gonna have me whacked because I could not keep a little-shit college quarterback in line? Don’t you realize I work for Carlos Rodriguez? And now I have to bring you to him? I don’t know who is gonna be in more pain by the end of the night, you or me.”

Ricardo lifted the crowbar and was about to bring it down on Alex Stern when the doors to the van flew open…


Ricardo dropped the crowbar and the other two men in the van froze.
They were all put in handcuffs and led away into the cars parked nearby.

Alex Stern climbed out of the van and was horrified to see the news cameras and reporters running toward them.

The FBI agents hustled him into a car and sped away, but Alex knew his career was probably over.


Bobby and MaryJane Simmons sat in their livingin room watching the late news that evening and saw the footage of Alex being led away.

“Bobby, you did what you had to. If you hadn’t he would probably be dead now. So, he doesn’t play pro football, he has you to thank for his life.”

“Yeah Bobby, your calling me after he threatened you was your only choice.” Tommy Beacon said as he took a swig of beer from his bottle.

“I know it was the right thing to do, but it still does not mean that I feel good about it. I was shocked when I told him about the FBI the other day in the laundry room and he didn’t hit me. He almost looked relieved that day and as they led him away tonight.”


Alex Stern never played in the Bowl game, which Hillsdale lost 56-0 and ended up being the last pick of the draft that year. Within two years he was working at his dad’s auto dealership.

Bobby and MaryJane Simmons had their first baby 18 months after that fateful night and named him Tommy.

The entire Hillsdale coaching staff was let go after the season and did not have a winning record for the next five years.

Tim Howard regaled the patrons of The Rose for the next year with his “inside story” of how he had been the first person to know about “dat quaback and da hippie guy in da black coat and da drugs.”


An Original Work Of Fiction Copyright 2007 - V.E.M.
Any resemblance to actual people living or dead is purely coincidental.
Originally Published On 2/11/07

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This is a collection of my works of fiction. They began as an occasional post on my home blog BIG LEATHER COUCH and then evolved into MONDAY MATINEE ON THE COUCH.

I wanted to find a spot for them all to reside and to make it more convenient for anyone wanting to explore the recesses of my brain.

Hopefully, you will find something you like here. Two stories, THE QUEST and HER FATE are unfinished novels.

I have done much work on THE QUEST and hope in the next year to finish it and see if it can be published. HER FATE, on the other hand is much more involved and might never get finished!

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