Return Man 2
No, it’s not a sequel to my novel, The Return Man. It’s the online ESPN sports game you’ve probably noticed if you’ve ever Googled your way to this site by searching “return man.”
In football — that’s American football, for international readers — the “return man” refers to the lone player who waits at one end of the field for the opposing team to kick the ball to him. He catches it and then runs as far, as fast as he can toward the opponent’s end zone before being tackled. His goal (and yours if you play the game) is to carry the ball to the promised land — a touchdown!
I figured I’d post it here for fun on this great Sunday, in celebration of a big win by my favorite football team, the New York Giants, over their arch-rivals the Philadelphia Eagles, 29-16.
Here’s a little fact about me: I’m a rabid football fan. Every Sunday, the NFL (National Football League) crazes my blood like a zombie virus. My eyes glaze. My muscles atrophy on the couch in the television room. I lose all higher brain function, my mind reduced to its most basic instincts, such as rage, and fear, and hunger for pizza bagels. Occasionally I drool. If the Giants are losing, I gnash my teeth at family members who pass through the room. At least I have not bitten anyone. Yet.
Now, before I go any further, I’d better make one thing clear. I did not name The Return Man after football, nor is the book any sort of metaphor for the game. The title refers to the main character Henry Marco, who returns corpses to the grave while at the same time undergoing an emotional “return” to the past via his own memories as he searches for his dead wife Danielle.
… as a sports fan, I certainly knew the football term. And to tell the truth, I enjoy the added bit of meaning. Marco, too, is a solitary figure, standing in the empty backfield of America, alone in the Western end zone as he awaits the kick, the ball, the chance to run his way back to the East, to a normal life in the Safe States where everybody else is waiting. All while dodging zombie tackles!
Am I talking crazy? Maybe. The NFL virus doesn’t completely clear my bloodstream for at least another 48 hours, usually around Wednesday.