The people around the young man were so distraught by the game before them, so taken aback by this undoing of the Dawgs, that no one noticed his symptoms. No one noticed his shortness of breath, his eyes losing focus. No one noticed the beads of sweat forming upon his forehead, nor his constant mumblings of "this can't be happening", as well as "not since 1985..."
Alas, he finally gave out and collapsed forward in a heap.
Several hours later, he began to stir. Lying upon his back amid the sterile white surroundings of the hospital, his eyes seemed foggy but he readily recognized the warm, familiar faces looking down upon him with relief. His father was the first to speak to him.
"Son, everything is going to be all right." To provide a measure of comfort he patted him upon the shoulder.
His eyes widening a bit, the young man took a measured breath, then relaxed into a broad smile. "Thank God. I . . . I had an awful dream, Dad. We were watching the Washington-Oregon State game. And . . . we couldn't stop them! We couldn't move the ball. We went into the game ranked #8 in the nation, and yet looked totally overmatched. We got absolutely pummeled by the guys in Orange, like something out of a Terry Baker scrap album. Thank God it didn't happen, though . . . But . . . I don't know, it just . . . It all seemed so real."
Everyone standing around the bed straightened and looked grimly at each other with pursed lips.
The young man took note of this and tried to sit up. As the nurse went to help him with his pillow, his father continued.
"Son, all of that DID occur. It was all too much for you and your system evidently gave out."
The young man's eyebrows furrowed and his face clenched up. "But you just said that everything was going to be all right!"
"It is. Jonathan Smith has finally exhausted his eligibility. His college playing days are almost over. That Beaver Boogeyman will never haunt you again, and the rumors of Dee Andros returning to the OSU sideline are false. I promise."
The bed-ridden Husky fan began to blanche, as just then another nurse entered into the room, to take a blood sample. In time the vein was located and pierced, and soon the purple fluid began to draw forth. There was silence in the room for several minutes. The small group was then notified that visiting hours were over, and solemnly they began filing into the hallway. The young man swallowed hard and spoke up in a cracked voice.
"Yes, my son?" he responded, taking three steps back toward the hospital bed.
"Can you tell me the outcome of the Oregon-UCLA game?"
The father and medical staff all cast glances of trepidation at each other, before the Doctor nodded his approval to his Dad. "We weren't going to trouble you with this, son. But if you must know, Oregon won 21-20. The Bruins missed a field goal with no time left. A field goal that would have won it but poor clock management forced the Bruin kicker to try from 50 yards out. It was wide right."
The young man began to look peaked, his eyes struggling to focus and it seemed that his consciousness was once again fading to black. Through a forced, hoarse whisper, he summoned one more verbal exchange.
"Dad, what does this mean for our season now?"
"I won't sugar-coat this to you, there are many questions now. But many possibilities still, as well. Frankly speaking, we don't know what kind of Husky team will show up next Saturday against those dreaded Cougars. Will it be the one that looked so good in beating Stanford, or the one from today that struggled mightily against Oregon State? But as always, we will be there giving all the vocal support that we can."
There was a resolute glint in the young man's eyes. "I solemnly vow to anyone listening, that I will be out of this hospital bed by Saturday."
"I know you will be. If it is any consolation to you, just keep in mind that Bob Toledo's UCLA Bruins have now lost three in a row."
As this began to sink in, the stress of the day finally overtook him, and his consciousness succumbed to the night. Medical staff dimmed the lights and the room was quietly emptied out for the evening.
Upon his dozing face, a satisfied smirk emerged. Would he dare began to dream of spending the holidays in sunny San Diego? That sounds pretty good right now.
Derek Johnson can be reached at email@example.com
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