This article was originally published on Medium.
A short, disorienting read inspired by a creepy, true story.
Why do you watch football?” asked the man next to me.
I’d never met him before, never even seen him. We were both standing in the entrance-way of Cafe Iberico, a Spanish restaurant in Chicago. My girlfriend and I were on our way out when she segued to the bathroom. So I stood there, next to this guy, idly watching Sunday Night Football on a flat-screen above the host stand.
“Excuse me?” I said.
“Why do you watch football?” he said, slower. He was wearing a Canada Goose jacket.
“I always just have,” I said. “Why?”
“I dunno,” he said. “Weird question, I guess.”
We stood there for a minute, quietly and awkwardly, watching the refs review a play.
“I love watching them bash their fucking brains together over and over again…” the guy blurted out suddenly yet calmly, evenly. He smiled and looked down as he reached for something in his pocket. “I like watching people give themselves Alzheimer’s.”
“I like watching people give themselves Alzheimer’s.”
He casually pulled out a pair of gloves.
“What?” I said, disoriented.
“I know, I know,” he said, putting on the left glove. “I’m sick that way, but nobody knows it. And I can’t tell anyone.”
“I’m sick that way, but nobody knows it. And I can’t tell anyone.”
He slipped on the right glove, then went for the hat peeking out of his other pocket, pulling it out and putting it on in one fluid motion.
Then, without warning, he turned around and walked out of the restaurant. He was out of sight in seconds — gone but still felt, like diarrhea.
I jerked my head around. “What?”
“Are you ready?” my date said, again. Her sweet tone was refreshing.
“Yeah,” I said. “But bundle up some more before we walk out,” I zipped up her parka without permission. “The world’s a cold place right now.”
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