Kama Peabody, the grandson of a Yankee soldier who had married a Japanese war bride in 1946, was six feet and two hundred twenty pounds of bone and muscle. He was also inordinately proud of his strong right arm, which had hurled the Monday Night ovoid down field after field and into the hands of receiver after receiver until here they were...
End of January, the biggest day of his life, the game was in the last moments of the last quarter, and the score was seventeen to fourteen. Against him. After a perfect season.
But the Pats had the ball on the ten-yard line. One little pass was all it would take. So what if the Raiders were a solid line of defensive bulk. If the end could get through, he could pass. And then...
“Let’s do it!”
He clapped his hands and looked up. Clear sky above. Tier upon tier of stadium seating surrounding him. The fans roaring, chanting, even praying, half of them wanting him to succeed, half wanting the Raiders’ linemen to stomp him into the plastic turf.
He turned. Right there, 30 yard line, ten rows up, his wife and daughter. The kid was wearing a Groucho mask, glasses, nose, eyebrows, and mustache. She liked the Three Stooges too. He grinned and waved. So did he.
Then, still waving, he turned back to his job: Bend and shout, catch the ball and pedal backwards as fast as he could, look for the end...
Where was that son-of-a-bitch?
Standing stock-still, staring straight up. Not even looking for the ball!
So were his backs.
The Raiders too, which was why his buddies weren’t getting creamed.
So was every spectator in the stadium.
And there wasn’t a sound.
Was it getting dark?
At last he looked up too--and he didn’t believe it. Not for a second!
It was like a lid coming down on the stadium. Round and black and as big across as ... well, a stadium.
And ... Windows?
One light opening wider, brighter. A spotlight, spearing downward.
Straight at him.
* * *
He woke with a groan.
His head hurt.
His mouth tasted nasty.
He was hallucinating.
Except that the five-foot tall, extraordinarily fat, speckled frog in front of him was talking.
“You are awake. Excellent! This evening’s patrons are impatient.”
“What do you mean?” Kama really could not help the slight whine in his voice.
“We bought your contract.”
“It wasn’t for sale. I’m a free agent.”
“We made a preemptive offer.”
“Who to? My agent?”
“We left one of our landers on the field.”
“Oh, God.” He remembered, now.
“Are you ready?”
The frog gestured, and a second frog came through a doorway to the left. It was carrying a platter with a steaming roast on it.
It was steaming, but it wasn’t any sort of roast he had ever seen before.
It looked like a giant fly, stuffed, trussed, and basted to a golden brown. It even smelled good.
Rather like roast duck, in fact.
But ... A fly?
Well, his new employers were frogs.
“I’m supposed to eat that?!”
The frog managed to look offended. “Of course not! You’re supposed to serve it.”
“You yanked me out of the greatest game in my life to be a waiter?”
“Come.” At the frog’s abrupt, impatient gesture, Kama managed to get to his feet and follow it through the door.
He found himself facing a room full of frogs. They were all fat, but not all speckled. Some were green, some brown. All squatted beside tables covered with glasses and bottles. And every one of them was looking at him. Expectantly.
The frog with the platter held it toward him.
He looked at the “roast.”
It was just about the size of a football.
“The table in the corner,” said the first frog, pointing.
He shook his arm, wrapped his hand around the “roast,” and made the pass. It was perfect.
He was not surprised when one of the frogs at the distant table opened its mouth, flicked out a long tongue, and snared its order from the air.
Nor was he surprised when another platter appeared beside him.
His new job actually made sense.
But he’d rather be playing ball.
Looking at his wife and daughter on the 30-yard-line.
Smiling at the kid’s choice of disguises.
“I hope you guys do dessert.” He gave the frog a very sour look as he reached for the new platter.
“Of course we do.”
“Ahh.” After a moment he found just enough of a grin in himself that he had to struggle to suppress it.
If the magic word was just “pie”...
He could hardly wait!
Copyright © 2003 by Thomas A. Easton