The following is part whatever in a series of posts where our top writers for the Battle Red Onion tag along with our favorite players for the Houston Texans to learn about their lives off the football field. The content is raw, unedited, leaves us open to lawsuits and could possibly land us all in jail. But it's a risk worth taking so we can learn more about the men behind the mask.
This was supposed to be a relaxing vacation, Ryans thought to himself. He had visions of sitting on a white sugar sand beach, consuming drinks with funny names and little paper umbrellas, and letting his ruptured Achilles tendon heal while listening to the roar of the waves rolling in and out. That was what he had expected during his stay when he stepped off the cruise ship in Montego Bay, Jamaica. But just as in life, sometimes vacations don't turn out the way they're supposed to.
He could vaguely remember seeing the water from the water taxi. He had never seen water so clear and blue before. Even aboard the boat, he couldn't remember seeing water as pristine and untouched like those surrounding the bay. He had played in Houston for so long, he had almost forgotten that water does not normally bear a strong resemblance to oversteeped tea, that seawater's aroma should not be best described as "unleaded."
The cruise had to dock for a couple of days due to unforseen circumstances. Rumor had it that Frank Bush had stowed away and the entire ship had to be sterilized before they could take off again. So this left Ryans with a lot of unexpected free time on his hands. There are worse places to be stranded than Montego Bay, he thought. He hired a cab and went to Half Moon Resort to book a room during this newly found down time.
He had just gotten to his room and put down his luggage when he heard a low growling sound. It sounded like Shaun Cody when someone opened a bag of Doritos in front of him. Ryans then felt his stomach convulse, demanding sustenance immediately, otherwise it would get upset and start punching his spleen and other organs with funny-sounding names.
Ryans made a beeline for the Sugar Mill Restaurant and ordered the local specialty: ackee and saltfish. He didn't know what ackee was, but he didn't waste time ordering, seeing as his stomach had grown angry and felt more and more like it was holding his pancreas at gunpoint until it got fed.
The Sugar Mill Restaurant was a classy, elegant establishment, with dimly-lit chandeliers, napkins folded into intricate shapes, like ostriches and whatnot, and paintings by famous dead people hanging on the walls. Which is why DeMeco was stunned when he saw a couple of old friends at the table next to him, trying to cover their faces with their menus.
"Petey? Frank? Is that you?"
Frank Okam grunted angrily that he'd been spotted, whereas DeMarcus "Petey" Faggins threw down his menu and looked at his former teammate excitedly.
"DeMeco! How've you been doing, man?"
"I'm good, man, I'm good. How's life in the UFL?" Ryans tried hard to suppress a chuckle.
"Fine, fine. Lot of beef in Omaha. Keep trying to get Frank to join me. Zarg!"
Ryans was taken aback by Petey's recent speaking disorder. He had heard about it, but didn't realize just how bad it really was.
"Oh, it's so good to see you, want to join us at our table? Oh, Brain, Bra--"
Okam whacked Petey in the head with his dinner menu.
"I--I mean Frank, can Cap'n join us? Oh, please, please? Narf!"
Okam put the menu down and looked over at Ryans. His blank, emotionless face soon melted away into a lukewarm smile, "Certainly. Come on over and have a seat, DeMeco."
"Did he just call you 'Brain?' And what brings y'all out here to Jamaica?"
Frank completely ignored the first question, "Since the Bucs have completely reconstructed their defensive line, Coach Morris deduced it would be a capital idea if we sequestered ourselves to fully comprehend his defensive machinations," Okam said.
"And I'm the dish washer here," Petey chimed in, "uh, during the offseason, I mean!"
Petey, Frank, and DeMeco spent a good two hours catching up and talking about their time together in Houston.
"Is Frank Bush still orchestrating the defense? I have not participated in watching Houston sports since I've disembarked in Tampa."
"Nope, he's gone, got ridden out of town after the season ended. Wade Phillips is the DC now."
Okam tapped the tips of his fingers together, "Ex-cellent. I hope he can finally transmogrify the defense into a quality assemblage."
"Uh, yeah. Hang on, let me get the bill, guys."
Ryans turned to flag down a waiter for the check as Frank placed his hand over his former teammate's mug of Red Stripe.
"DeMeco, I'd like to propose a toast," Frank picked up his beer, as did Ryans. Petey lifted his chocolate milk into the air. "To old friends and new horizons. Cheers, DeMeco."
The glasses clinked together as they all took a swig of their drinks.
"Do you know why people clink their glasses together? Fascinating story, DeMeco. Turns out, they started doing this in the olden days because if someone poisoned your drink, you would clink your glass with those around you so your poisoned drink would fall into theirs."
"I had no idea...wow, th--the room is starting to spin all of a sudden."
"Are you feeling unwell, DeMeco? Maybe you should go take a res--"
Ryans blacked out before he could hear the rest of it.
As he drifted back into consciousness, DeMeco Ryans felt groggy as the noon sun blazed overhead. "Did I just get roofied? I didn't think I was in Pittsburgh," he said to nobody in particular. As he got his wits about him, he noticed that he had been laying out on a beach under a tall palm tree, swaying in the breeze. His luggage was propped up against it and a cruise ship drifting by in the distance.
Wait a minute, Ryans thought, cruise ship? "That's my boat! Petey and the Brain stole my boat!"
He jumped to his feet and ran to the water's edge, calling out in vain to get the cruise ship to come back. His shoulders slumped as it floated on, ignoring his pleading. He turned and saw a note pinned to the palm tree he woke up beneath.
I'm sorry to do dis to ja, mon, but wit Wade runnin' de defense, I tink dis mebbe mah las' chance, ja know? But I'm agonna take one o' de startin' linebacker spots, and seein' as ja got some tendon troubles, dey won't miss ja, right, mon? Petey and de Brain are workin' for me. De Brain blew all his cash on pork chops and beer, and Petey is just a loser who's too broke to afford de ramen noodles, ja know? So dey drugged ja and put ja on dis here isle for me. Dey's realleh good minions, aren't dey?
Good luck to ja and just so dere's no hard feeluns, I put a ton a rum in de cave in the center of de isle.
"Good grief, he even writes the same way he talks!"
No time for jokes, he thought. He knew he didn't have much time until the ship vanished over the horizon. He had to stop Greenwood from thwarting the Texans' plans for revamping the defense. But he didn't have much to work with. There weren't any materials for making a boat. Aside from the one palm tree and his luggage and the rum-filled cave, there wasn't much to this little crag in the Caribbean.
"The luggage..." he said as his voice trailed off. He tore open his luggage and found his clothes still there, but more importantly, he found an old Frank Bush playbook. The legends were true, Frank Bush did, in fact, create a playbook. It was thin, and a lot of it was in crayon, but it was a playbook. He also pulled out a magnifying glass and went to the mysterious cave to grab a couple of bottles of rum. He doused the playbook in the rum, causing the coloring in the plays to run; and in all likelihood, drastically improving them at the same time. He threw the book on the sand and held the magnifying glass overhead, focusing a pinpoint of light on the inebriated playbook. In a way, it seems fitting that Bush's playbooks be soaked with booze, Ryans thought to himself.
It took a few minutes but the playbook finally began to burn. The smoke plumed up into the cloudless skies above. The fires burned hotter and the smoke grew thicker until it became a distress beacon that could be seen for hundreds of miles. And although he could never prove it, he could swear he heard howling coming from the burning playbook as the fires grew larger. He also thought he saw winged demons rise up from its ashes and disappear amid the screeching.
Not even an hour had passed when a motorboat roared up to the island to see what was wrong on this tiny island. Ryans threw his luggage into the boat and climbed in himself. He told his story to the two men in the little runabout.
"Sounds like a sticky problem. But why should me and my mate here help you?" the driver asked.
He was an odd-looking fellow to say the least. He wore loose, baggy clothing and a three-pointed hat on his long braided brown hair.
Ryans took his wallet out of his pocket and gave the man in the tattered clothes all the money in his wallet. His "mate" looked astonished at the wad of hundred dollar bills that came out.
"Good enough answer for me. The name's Jack. You may call me Captain. This here's my mate Spaulding."
Ryans shook both of their hands. And before he knew it, they went screaming along, pursuing the much larger, and fortunately slower, cruise ship.
"So what do y'all do anyway?"
Jack merely laughed, "Spaulding, show him what we do."
Spaulding went below decks and came up toting a rather large machine gun, "This," he said tonelessly.
Ryans groaned, "Great, I'm hitching a ride with pirates. Perfect."
"If you can find someone else with a boat here with a better reputation..."
Ryans just shook his head, "Jus--just drive the boat."
They could see the ship just on the horizon. It grew larger and larger as they got closer.
And that's when they ran out of gasoline.
Ryans was fuming at Jack, "How do you forget to fill up your boat with gas?!"
"We stopped off for some rum and well, we kind of forgot."
"Y'all must be the worst pirates I've ever heard of."
"But you have heard of me."
Ryans could see his boat leaving him in its wake again when he had a desperate, last-ditch idea. Playing for the Texans defense, Ryans had become quite adept at coming up with desperate measures. He threw open his luggage again and searched through his clothing, he came across something he didn't realize he had packed...or even owned. It was black and white and looked covered with fake fur.
He decided not to think about it too much, or how it got in his suitcase. He pulled it out and tore it to broad, flat pieces. Then, he sewed them together, using all the training he had gleaned from years of watching Martha Stewart on television. He swore that secret would go with him to his grave, but the skills she taught him were, right now, invaluable in helping him fashion together a sail.
He and Spaulding stood up and held the makeshift sail over the boat and used it to carry them to the ship. They were getting close to the wake, far too close.
"Spaulding, DeMeco, watch out!" Jack shouted.
It was too late though. The wake jostled their boat around like a bath toy and Spaulding fell into the water. He flailed in the water, trying to stay above the water.
"Spaulding! Spaulding! Spaulding!!!!!" Jack screamed.
Tears streamed down Jack's face, causing his mascara to run, "We have to go back for him!"
"Do you know how to swim?" asked Ryans, "Because I don't."
"No...I don't. And we can't really turn around on this tub either."
Spaulding could no longer be seen above the water's surface, only air bubbles floated up to the surface remained. Jack turned and gave him a quick salute before returning to the matter at hand: boarding the cruise ship.
They got enough wind behind him to push them close to the ocean liner, which, needless to say, made the crew a bit skittish. Captain Jack pulled out a grappling gun and fired the hook just over the ship's railing. Ryans grabbed a hold of the rope and was about to start climbing when Jack stopped him.
"What?" Ryans yelled.
Jack threw something for Ryans to catch.
"A sword? What is this the 17th century?!"
Jack yelled back, "Just take the damn thing. You might need it!"
"Captain, stick close to the boat, in case things go sideways here."
As he went up the rope, he reminisced about gym class and climbing up the rope and hit the little bell at the top. He always hated that part of gym class.
He scaled the boat quickly. The angry churning sea below provided a lot more motivation for climbing the rope than any overweight gym teacher ever could. Once over the rails, he searched the boat for his former teammate.
After dodging various crew members and the occasional waiter carrying expensive fruity drinks, he located Greenwood relaxing by the pool, with his henchmen, Petey and the Brain, in tow.
"You can't get rid of me that easily, Greenwood!" Ryans shouted as he pulled the sword from its scabbard.
"Ja wanna dance dere, Cap'n.?"
Everyone poolside fled into the ship, leaving only Greenwood and Ryans and Petey and the Brain on the deck. Ryans charged after Greenwood. Morlon picked up the giant umbrella he'd been sitting beneath and used it to fend off Ryans' sword. They dodged and parried each other's attacks. Petey and the Brain started humming the overture to "Pirates of the Caribbean." Greenwood picked up a pina colada glass and threw it at his henchmen, causing them to stop instantly.
"Narf!" Petey shouted, unintentionally.
While Greenwood was busy disciplining his minions, DeMeco cut through his umbrella and held the blade to Greenwood's neck, forcing him to walk backwards until he reached the railing.
"Cap'n. You wouldn't," Greenwood said nervously.
"Get off my boat," he pushed again and Greenwood fell screaming over the railing and landed in Captain Jack's boat.
Ryans turned and looked at Petey and the Brain with malice in his eyes and revenge in his soul. They both ran and took a flying leap off the boat and into the water.
"And stay off!" Ryans shouted down at them.
Petey and the Brain bobbed in the Caribbean, soaking in seawater.
"Well, Brain, what do we do now? Fnarg!"
"The same thing we do every week, Petey: Try and take over the world!"