Home > The Baller: A Down and Dirty Football Novel

The Baller: A Down and Dirty Football Novel
Vi Keeland

My boss was a world-class dick.

Monday afternoon mandatory meetings consisted of three hours of Charles Ulysses Macy the Third telling the mostly men in the sports programs division about his latest conquest. I stared blankly out the window as he droned on, wondering if any of his male ancestors had gotten their pillowcases monogrammed with their initials. Imagine how much character some bright red throw pillows would add to a guest room—flaunting the initials the Macy men saw fit to pass down through their lineage—CUM.

I smirked and stood.

“Ms. Maddox?” Mr. CUM called out from the head of the conference table. The table seated twenty, and the chairs were three rows deep. Sixty pairs of eyes turned to look in my direction.

“Yes, Mr. Macy?”

“Did you have something to say?”

“No. I was actually hoping to slip out quietly. There’s a game tonight, and I need to get down to wardrobe.”

“Well, run along. Don’t let a little thing like a team meeting keep you from playing dress-up.”

Dick.

There were a few snickers as I headed for the door, but I didn’t really care. Most of them were just jealous anyway. Tonight I would cover the New York Steel playing the Cowboys live while they watched the game on TV with a beer in one hand and the other tucked into the waistband of their sweatpants.

More than thirty journalists had interviewed for my new position as World Media Broadcasting’s staff football sportscaster. But it was me who was going to talk to the players tonight after the game—not them. That didn’t make me very popular around the proverbial water cooler. Even though I’d worked eighty hours a week the last few years to get where I was, the men who worked thirty were the first ones to blame my success on my magical vagina. Screw them.

Instead of heading straight to wardrobe, I detoured to my office. Indie wasted no time following me inside. She flicked her ankles and sent her heels sailing into the air before perching on the arm of a guest chair, her bare feet on the seat.

“Thought you could use that.” Her eyes pointed to a bar of Irish Spring sitting in the middle of my messy desk.

“Do I smell?”

“It’s for the locker room after the game. It’s been a while for you. Figured you could use a little I dropped the soap doggy-style slam.”

“You’re worse than Mr. CUM.” I packed files of research into my leather briefcase while we chatted. I knew every statistic by heart, but I planned to review it all again on the train anyway. “No soap for me. I have another month on my cleanse.”

“Cleanses are for colons, not vaginas.”

“It’s only been five months, but it’s been good for the soul.”

Indie snickered. “And for Duracell.”

“You should try it. Six months date-free is a great detox.”

“I’ll stick to juice cleanses, thanks.” Indie opened her bag and took out a bottle of hot pink nail polish. She proceeded to begin to paint her toenails, which were already hot pink, right there in my office.

“What are you doing?”

She stopped and looked up at me as if I were a moron. “Painting my toes. I put a first coat on this morning, but this color really needs a second. One-coat polish, my ass.”

“Do you have to paint your nails in my office?”

“It’ll smell up mine.”

“But it’s okay to smell up mine?”

“You’re always smelling shit anyway. Books, food . . . don’t think I didn’t see you take a whiff of the new tennis ball you took out of the canister when we played a few weeks ago.”

“That’s different. I choose to smell those.” It wasn’t the time to admit that two days ago I’d ordered L’Oreal Perfumeries nail polish. Why hadn’t someone invented scented nail polish sooner?

“You’re leaving anyway.” She shrugged. “You get to go interview sweaty half-naked men. I should have gone into journalism instead of marketing.”

“But you’re so good at selling people a line of crap.”

“You’re right. I am.” She sighed. “Hey . . . Easton is back today.”

“I know. Two weeks sooner than originally thought.”

“Did you know his nickname is Subway?”

I squinted. “No one calls him Subway in the press.”

“Ahh. It’s not the press’s nickname.”

I was skeptical, but I bit the hook she’d baited anyway. “Who calls him Subway, then?”

“Women.” Indie wiggled her eyebrows. Her bright red lipstick was a shade lighter than her flame-colored hair. The look totally worked for her, although it was hard to focus on anything but her colorful lips set against her pale skin.

“Because he’s originally from Brooklyn and rode the subway to visit women?”

“Nope. But that’s not a bad guess.”

“Enlighten me.” I slung my leather bag over my shoulder. “I need to get down to wardrobe and get going.”

“It’s way more fun to make you guess.”

I exited my office, and Indie followed me to the elevator, walking on the balls of her feet to avoid smudging her nails. “Because he can ride all day?”

“No. But I bet he can. Did you see that last touchdown dance he did? That man can swivel his narrow hips like a pro stripper.”

The elevator dinged, and she followed me in. I pushed two for wardrobe. “Because he packs in the ladies like the morning commute?”

“That one sucked.”

“Unless you’re going to help me get dressed and follow me to the stadium, I think our game is just about over anyway.”

The elevator stopped three floors down. Indie held the doors open, shouting at me as I walked down the long hall toward wardrobe, “Wrong subway. Not the commuting vehicle, the sandwich shops. You know . . . where you can get a delicious twelve-inch hero.”

I shook my head, yelling back without turning around. “Good-bye, Indie.”

“Wear red, it’s your best color. And a cinch belt. Something that shows off your little waist and curvy hips. I’m sure last year’s Super Bowl hero will appreciate the extra effort!”

It was my second coverage of the New York Steel, but my first time in the locker room. I stood outside with a dozen other reporters and tried to look as nonchalant as they did. The big blue door was heavily dented, likely the victim of player frustration. Multiple championship wins framed the oversized door, last year's Super Bowl victory sign proudly displayed in the middle under the team’s logo.

After a few minutes, a security guard opened the door and motioned everyone to enter. Some reporters held up their badges as they passed; others apparently needed no introduction. Henry, as the worn tag on his guard uniform indicated, greeted those by their first names. A few reporters asked how his daughter was feeling. Apparently, Larissa had recently broken her arm playing basketball. This was a tight-knit group.

I was anxious to get inside, but certainly in no hurry. The crowd thinned quickly, leaving just four of us in the hall. I took a deep breath and marched to the door, trying not to let my fear show. I smiled and held up my badge, pointing to his. Henry Inez. “Hi.”

“Hi.” He nodded.

“Your initials. They spell Hi.”

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