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A Twilight's Last Gleaming
Frank Deford
November 19, 1984
The story of Eddie Bishop, small-town football hero, was an American classic—until he came home to Pineville, Kentucky as the high school coach
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November 19, 1984

A Twilight's Last Gleaming

The story of Eddie Bishop, small-town football hero, was an American classic—until he came home to Pineville, Kentucky as the high school coach

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When Eddie rang off, Cloud could only shake his head. "That was the weirdest conversation," he said to a friend. But Cloud soon forgot about it. It was just Eddie, Eddie Bishop, Pineville's Star of Stars, the easiest-going hero this side of Gary Cooper. Besides, even if Cloud had gone over to Eddie's, he would have just found his old friend casually watching TV, which he did for a while until he told Retha he was going over to see his parents for a few minutes.

His mother and father had endured, even thrived in the face of ongoing adversities others can only imagine. Maybe that crossed his mind. Maybe they could help. His mother wasn't in, though; she was "second door" down the street at a birthday party. But Elaine was there, and so was Fred Sr. He went into the bedroom with his father.

Soon, at last, it began to tumble out. "Those people did me wrong, Dad," Eddie said. "I know I can do the job—if only they'll give me the chance." His voice rose. "That's all I want, Dad—just give me another chance."

His father consoled him, commiserated, and suddenly Eddie was himself again. And soon the two men were happily chatting about events reported on the sports pages, like fathers and sons all over this shining land. The insanity was stilled again, and there was another of those soft, misleading lulls when Eddie was perfectly normal and happy and lucid, when he was himself. Only, the madness had the upper hand now. It had pursued him, and now it had momentum, and only for shorter and shorter intervals could he hold it off.

Again! Now: "These people did me wrong!" he screamed. "I know I can do the job! That's all I want, Daddy, another chance...another chance."

No man is calmer than Fred Bishop Sr. Nobody in discomfort could have ordered up a more reassuring presence. "Son," he said, "we know you did your job, and your mom and me and the rest of the family are proud of you."

Eddie spoke more softly this time. "I'll tell you, Dad, what I'm going to do tonight will cause embarrassment to you and Mom and the rest of the family. I'm sorry, but I have to do this."

Fred was again ready with support. "Son, there is nothing you can do to embarrass me or the family. You know that we'll always stand behind you."

"All I want is another chance. I know I can do the job. The people did me wrong!" Eddie said, his voice beginning to rise, louder, louder, as he brought himself out of his chair, screaming now: "Stand back, world, here I come! Stand back, world, here I come! Don't nobody try to stop me! I want the world to know how they mistreated me!"

Elaine was scared now. She heard her father's voice tremble a little when he said, "Son, don't let those people upset you like that. It ain't worth it." Quietly, she left to go fetch her mother. Eddie grew wilder. He began to lash out physically. He broke a mirror, he turned over the Bible stand, and then, in the living room, in one final, mad outburst, he struck out at the picture window, and it shattered, the shards gashing his wrist, slashing it horribly.

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