“That’s not our fault, Coach,” Lance piped up. “We have to stand up for what we think is right.”
“Yeah, and we don’t think the school board’s decision was evenhanded,” Adam added. “Clearly they didn’t even care to hear our thoughts or concerns about this. They didn’t even try to come up with a compromise.”
The Corinth guys shouted and hollered, and Drew felt his shoulders tense.
“Oh, what a shock! Benson is concordant with the school board and the Washingtonville people,” Adam spat in reply. “Dude, have you ever had an original thought in your life, or do you just regurgitate everything your perfect brother and your perfect coach think and say?” he asked, getting right in Drew’s face.
“Hey, man! Back off,” Samson shouted, shoving his way in between them. He pushed Adam back, and the guy almost fell into his friends.
“That’s a total calumny,” Samson shot back. “No one even told me about this little standoff of yours. But you know what? Even if they had, I wouldn’t have gone along with it. It’s time for you guys to quit your bitching and start acting like a team!”
“Oh, yeah? Well maybe no one told you about it because we all knew you’d already bailed on the ethos of our team. Hanging out with Benson, giving him rides to school,” Adam replied snidely. “It’s about time you remember where you’re from,” he added, giving Samson a little shove.
“All right, that’s enough!” Coach Davidson roared. He threw his clipboard down and stepped up, his face a heinous shade of purple. “Lazarus, these two men are your captains,” he said, pointing a shaking finger at Samson and Drew. “You will show them the respect they deserve.”
Adam’s face screwed into a defiant smirk, and he spat at Samson’s feet. No one moved. No one breathed. There was no sound except the roar of a plane flying somewhere overhead.
This is it. He’s going to throw us all out of here. He’s going to call up the school board and tell them to disband the team.
“Well. That was discourteous,” Coach said finally. Flatly.
“Traitors get spit on where I come from,” Adam replied.
And that was all Coach needed to hear.
“Fifty laps!” Coach Davidson shouted in Adam’s face. “You just earned yourself fifty laps, Lazarus!”
Drew watched Adam as he glared at the coach. There was no way he was going to do it, no way he was going to let his team see him cave.
“It just became sixty,” Coach said, stepping even closer to Adam, so close their chests collided. “Care to make it a hundred?”
Adam shook his head derisively and bent to pick up his helmet. He jogged away from the team, bypassing eye contact with any one of them.
“Come on, you guys. Let’s start practice,” Samson said, pulling his helmet on.
“Yeah. Let’s go,” Drew added, jogging into the open space between the two groups.
At first, only a few brave souls followed them, but then Coach Davidson blew his whistle, and the rest of the team grudgingly hopped to. Drew breathed a sigh of relief as he fell into line to start warm-ups, but he couldn’t fully relax. Everyone around him was tense, and the specter of Adam running his sixty laps was a constant reminder of the animosity that permeated the field. As Drew started to count off jumping jacks, he had a feeling that this was going to be a very long practice.