Sunday May 16th, 2010

The exercise:

Your prompt today: the referee.

There's a girls soccer tournament of some sorts going on across the street this weekend and I'm not entirely sure what happened but the cops just showed up. I think it had something to do with the referee so... voila, your prompt.

This has nothing to do with anything, it's just a picture I took Friday night and wanted to share:

Okay, let us get on with the writing.


"The referee has called a stop to the play once again..."

"Oh, has he? I just thought that a family of banshees had arrived in the stadium."

"Honestly Eric, if you don't stop complaining about the shrillness of his whistle I'll..."

"What's that you're saying, Doug? I'm afraid I've lost my hearing. Can't imagine what might have caused it."

"Indeed. Well folks, as I was saying, with another break in the action we'll have a quick word from our sponsors and when we return we'll have the end of the match for you. Stay with us, won't you?"

"A commercial break, hey? Sounds like the perfect opportunity to reload the ole sniper rifle and have me another shot at the ref!"

"Oh, Eric."


Heather said...

He stood in the middle of the field, his black striped shirt sticking out like a sore thumb against the green canvas of the field. Breathe, he told himself. Breathe. He looked at the spectator stands, the millions of lights illuminating the night, the huge electron television far above the field, but ignored the purple and gold clad players in small piles around him. Breathe. He placed his right foot ahead of his left and his left foot ahead of his right until he reached the small viewing station. He pushed his head between the blinders, big heavy rubber curtains to keep the chaos out. The tape started to roll. Breathe, he reminded himself.

He saw the ball arch through the air. Players were running frantically into and away from one another. The ball reached the top of it's path and began to descend. He saw himself running toward, his eyes always on the ball. It continued to fall, having over taken him in the blink of an eye. It was being encased in two large hands, brought down to earth at a slower pace than if it had been left alone. Then the shot was blocked by a newbie camera man. Breathe.

A new reel clicked in. Again, the ball arched over head, he saw himself chasing it, it fell into two strong and capable hands. The top of a helmet came into view. The first player received a hard knock in his right side. But where were his feet? That's all he needed to know. The hum of the stadium was growing steadily louder. Breathe. He needed to see another angle. He watched again and again. Each time, the ball arched into the sky. Each time it passed him by only to end up in the same pair of hands. Again the player was knocked in the side, causing his body to bend and crumple only the way an experienced player knows to do.

Breathe. Finally, he saw them. The feet and the line: their relationship to one another. He watched it three more ties to be absolutely certain. He pulled his head out of the black curtains. The hum had become thunderous. Legions of fans were expecting him to side with him. He placed one foot in front of the other until he reached the center of the field again. Breathe.

His mic clicked on. He stood tall, showing his confidence. "The ruling on the field stands. Touchdown Midwest." Cheers erupted. The noises pushed their way into every one of his pores until he could hold no more. He loved these little moments. He lived for them. The game began again and he felt his presence take up more space on the field. He took a breath and awaited the next big moment.

Greg said...

Wow, that's a lovely picture! I could sit and look at that for ages (but I have to gt ready for work and head on out so I won't). And your writing has some deft touches in it: I like the reference to the shrillness of the whistle and the bitterness of the commentator/would-be assassin. The last line falls a little flat for me, but I think it's because I've not had long enough to meet the speakers, so I'm not sure what the intonation and emphasis should be. Possibly it needs some italics (in a longer piece I'd know the characters better and it definitely wouldn't be necessary).

@Heather: great story, really exploring a moment on the pitch for a referee. For me, the Breathe. lines didn't work though. I think it's because the paragraphs between them are so long that I didn't believe someone wouldn't be gasping for breath instead of having to remember to breathe. Given that your piece is working with tension so much, perhaps shorter paragraphs might work better? I still really enjoyed reading it though, you've got a good narrative voice.

The referee

On my desk was a fat manila envelope, at least three days earlier than I'd been expecting. I looked at, feel nervous and wary, and put my coffee cup down next to it. Then, in a little ritual that means a lot to me and probably looks stupid to onlookers, I closed and locked my office door, opened the window exactly three-quarters of an inch, pulled my chair back from desk until I could sit in it and rest my feet comfortably on the edge of the desk, and took my shoes off. Only then did I sit down, pick the envelope up and shake it.
Papers moved inside, nothing else. That was good, still no letter-bombs from irate referees. I ripped the top of the envelope open in one smooth movement, gently but firmly gripped the document mass inside and yanked it out. The envelope, discarded, drifted to the floor, and my eyes were on the referee's covering letter even as I reached for my coffee cup.
"Dr. 'the Green Lightbulb' should first and foremost be aware that the journal he has submitted his paper on 'the lesser dynamics of sub-conjoined Riemannian dyadic matrices on nuclear, barrelled non-Euclidean compact manifolds' does not accept pseudonymous manuscripts...".
I screamed, just a little, and continued reading.

morganna said...

I love everybody's pieces on the referee. Mine does not actually mention a referee, so here's a link, instead.

Marc, this is for you actually, a bit more on dragons. But I don't think it's going to slake your thirst for more. :)

g2 (la pianista irlandesa) said...

up in the chair
eagle eyes
keep careful visual contact
with the rubber
and felt.

watch the marks
check the line
note the plume of dirt
or grass
or chalk.

keep it civil
keep it quiet
during service.

they may whistle at
the calls
but i'm only human.

i do what i can.
- - - - - - - - - -
Not sure why I saw the need to go e.e. cummings-minimalist with my take on the tennis umpire (which is like a ref, I suppose), but I did.

Marc said...

Heather - I always wondered what goes through their heads in moments like that. I reckon you've captured it pretty well :)

Greg - thanks, I've got a couple more that I might share later in the week. If you're on your best behavior.

I see what you mean about the needs for italics in a shorter piece over a longer one. Never thought of it that way before.

'Just a little' is such a great qualifier for a scream :D

Morganna - dragons! Awesome, I shall check it out shortly :)

g2 - I like the e.e. style you went with, it seemed quite natural and fitting to the piece.

And tennis ump is certainly appropriately close enough to a referee in my books!