I woke to the crash of billiard balls overhead. Rance and Chris were up and at it already. "Prokoff...Carpenter," I growled. "If you guys want to live to lose wrestling matches this afternoon, you'll lighten up on those pool sticks."
Crash! One of them drilled a ball into the corner pocket above my head. "Stay down there, Davis"—it was Prokoff—"or I'll clout ya on the snout." The word was out about my tragic flaw.
"What time is it?" I asked.
"It's 9:30," said Chris. "Mom says breakfast in 10 minutes."
"I don't suppose your mother has any spinach?" I asked on the way upstairs.
We headed out of Missoula after munching up a whole bunch of Battleground Bluecoats. Doug Bowden stole the show at 47 by beating Battleground's undefeated Ray Rilke, whom I was very glad I didn't have to wrestle. I had pinned Ray the last two years and I think he wanted to hurt me. Doug was just about to pin him when time ran out. Our bench went insane. Coach leapt up and down and screamed. Kuch, who lay behind the bench in semi-exhaustion after a very tough loss, whooped and yipped in his best ersatz Indian fashion and banged his hands and feet on the floor. We mobbed the mat to get to Doug, and in the confusion our assistant coach, Lonnie Morgan, cracked me in the nose with his cassette recorder. He slung it over his shoulder to keep it from getting banged up, I guess, and blam—all I saw for a few minutes was SONY. It seemed like I couldn't even watch a wrestling match without getting my nose bloodied. I soaked my letter sweater in cold water to get the blood out right after I congratulated Doug.
As we were leaving town, Otto called out above the happy noise, "Hey, Coach, how 'bout next year you don't get us up so early just to go beat up a bunch of cowboys and miners!" Otto had pinned the Battleground heavyweight in the second round.
"Yeah, yeah, yeah!" everybody yelled. But before Coach Ratta could respond. Schmoozler declared, "We're not gonna be here next year, Lard Brain."
The bus went a little quieter for a minute or two while the seniors thought that one over. But then the noise picked right back up again. Coach promised never again to get Otto out of bed to beat up a cowboy or a miner.
I was never sure why Evergreen High held its New Year's dance so late in January. It worked out well for the guys doing winter sports, though, coming as it did just before the district and state tournaments, when we really felt like busting out one night before we were carried into springtime on our shields. This particular night turned out to be a very good one.