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However, minutes later, by the time Elaine arrived back at the house, Jan had wrapped the bloody hand, and the bizarre tranquillity had returned to Eddie. It was like the studied violence of the scrimmage followed by the peacefully dispassionate huddle. Retha was called for and came over and remembers that everybody was talking mostly about going down to give blood. A squad car pulled up then, in answer to a call someone had made, and Eddie was not only rational, but also thoughtful. "I'm sorry, officer," he said politely, "but I just got a little upset and broke my mom's window. I'll talk to her about the window. I'm getting ready to go to the hospital now."
"Well, O.K.," the policeman said, and when he left, Elaine and Jan drove Eddie to the hospital.
When he got there, Eddie kept shifting back and forth between extremes. First he was very calm, but then he grew unsettled and began to run about, and then Elaine helped soothe him, and when the doctor found Eddie in the treatment room, he was sitting there, so peacefully. But that was the final lull. The strain to be Eddie any longer was now too great. He jumped off the table, hollering that he wouldn't accept any treatment. Elaine and the doctor pleaded with him, but Eddie backed away, until suddenly he stopped, and he said, "I saw the light, and I'm getting out of here."
And, with that, he broke past them, burst out the door and down the hall. Elaine chased after him, calling to him, but Eddie tore out the door and down the incline that leads to Route 25E.
It's funny how we use the football field as a way to measure things. We never say, "Oh, that's about as far from here as it is to first base." Or, "That's about four basketball courts long." But we count by football fields. So, it was about three football fields down the road to where 25E turned, and maybe two more to Eddie's church, the Bethel Baptist.
The road widens to three lanes in front of the hospital, and for some reason, Eddie cut across all three lanes to get to the other side, the far side. It would have made more sense for him just to stay on the hospital side, on the town side; there's even a sidewalk on that side. But, instead, he darted across the road and began to run back into town from the far side, on the shoulder, against traffic.
It was dusk, and it was hard to see him. Elaine didn't see him, and the truck driver only saw him at the last instant, as he brought his rig around the bend and glimpsed, before him, the form that veered from the side of the road, ducking right into the path of his truck. Eddie ran right into the truck, as you would a tackier, and they met head on in the twilight.
The funeral was the largest Pineville had ever seen. After all, as The Sun-Courier wrote, "Regardless of his record as a coach. Bishop was loved and well respected by the community." Regardless. Nine and 13. The mayor himself drove the lead police car in the funeral procession. The outpouring was extraordinary, and the tears rent the church.
Adams was prevailed upon to return as coach, but only 16 boys came out for the team that fall, and it was a real struggle. Just to scrimmage, Adams had to work one side of the line against the other. But, still, football survived in Pineville, and with it the school. This autumn, three years after "the accident," Adams stepped aside for a new coach, and the Mountain Lions had a 9-3 record. "At last," says Bobby Madon, "we have a whip snapper who demands respect."
And someday, too, there will be another great player in Pineville, a regular one-man team, and the recruiters will pour down 25E and pursue him, and the stands will be packed, and the roars for him will roll up to the mountains and down to the river, and someone will say, "Why, that kid must be the greatest ever to play for Pineville." And some oldtimer will say, "Yes, indeed, he's good all right. Why, he's almost as good as the last Bishop boy was."