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Fan Service: A Battle Red Blog Novella (Chapter Four)

This is a serialized novella about an unlikely hero and a very likely villain.

The characters and events depicted in this novella are entirely fictitious. Any similarity to names or incidents involving Houston Texans staff members are purely coincidental...more or less.

Chapter Four — The Press Conference

The Texans’ conference room was abuzz with activity. Reporters from print and TV media, local and national, filled the room, making chit chat as they waited for the main event to begin. Among them was 27-year old Sara Torres, clutching a tape recorder in one hand with her thumb poised on the play button, trying hard to block the sounds of her more senior colleagues having a laugh before the conference started.

“Arvis trade...why Harris...”

An elbow to her side broke her out of her reverie.

“Sorry ‘bout that, Sara,” said a tall, slender man in his late 40s who would be graying at the temples if it weren’t for his unnaturally black hair.

“It’s okay, Sam.”

“You nervous for your first press conference?”

Sara grudgingly showed him half a smile.

“Don’t sweat it, kid. These things are a breeze. You ask a few questions, they ignore them, then we all head to the buffet afterwards before going and writing the exact same story. Nothing to it.”

A PR representative came out first, in a full suit with a Texans pin attached to his lapel.

“Oh, time to get started. Good luck Torres,” Sam said, before hurrying to the front row carrying his notepad.

“Thank you all for coming today,” the PR flack said, “We’re going to start with a message from Mr. Glibb and Mr. Hulder about the latest roster moves by the team, followed by a few of your questions and, time permitting, a couple of parting remarks from the owner and general manager.”

Cletus Glibb and Anthony Hulder walked into the room to the sounds of cameras clicking and clicking pens. They sat down at the desk, with a Texans helmet strategically placed in the middle.

Glibb, wearing his least wrinkled suit and hair that could conceivably look like he hadn’t just gotten out of bed, spoke first.

“This really is a great day to be a fan of the Houston Texans. as we show that we’re not afraid of making the big moves in order to bring a championship to the city of Houston,” Glibb said in his low country drawl, his eyes firmly glued to the paper. “We know that this move may not make sense to people right away, but we ask all Texans fans to trust that we know what we’re doing and why we’re doing it. We want to build a team culture that our fans can be proud of, a team that can win week in and week out, and to build a farm that will harvest large cash crops like starf—”

The journalists in the room murmured in collective confusion.

“Sorry,” Glibb said, “that was a different goal sheet I had. But we do want to build a team that will win championships.” He covered his microphone, “that’s what they want to hear, right?”

Hulder sat stone faced as he watched the reporters feverishly taking notes.

“Lionel Harris is a phenomenal talent,” Glibb continued, scanning the page, “a great individual, and a potential cornerstone to build upon for years to come.”

Hulder cast his gaze at Glibb, his face remaining firmly facing forward.

“We want what you want and we are 100% committed to that, uh...thing. Now, with that out of the way, let’s take a few questions.”

Hulder closed his eyes and pinched the bridge of his nose.

The PR flack pointed to a man in the front row who promptly stood up.

“Hey guys, Sam Mendoza for the Houston Chronicle, this question is for Anthony; there’s been word going around from the organization that you were the sole architect of this trade, can you tell me what led you to make this deal at this time? Thank you.”

Mendoza sat back down.

“Sure thing, we are in win now mode and so we took a look at the roster and felt that we needed to improve the depth on the roster and a couple of positions. So we decided the best thing to do for the team would be to get talent back and a lot of draft picks to shore up that depth next year.”

Mendoza responded, “So you’re saying this trade had nothing to do with your personal animus with Jerome Arvis? Because my source says, quote, ‘he’s tired of all the drama around Arvis and his baby mamas being a distraction to the team.’ This isn’t why you traded the best player on the team?”

Hulder’s eyes widened at Mendoza’s accusation, “That’s ridiculous. I would never say anything like that about any of our players. Who they decide to associate with is their business. This was a business decision for the good of the team and nothing more.”

“Next,” the flack said.

Another man in the front row stood up, “Eli Sorenson from the Post, good morning guys. Following up on the previous question, anonymous reports have filtered down indicating that you said Arvis was a ‘cancer in the locker room that needed to be cut to save the rest of the team.’ Do you think you’ve taken care of the problem in the locker room with this move or will additional moves follow this until the ‘cancer’ is cured?”

Hulder stared slack-jawed at the reporter, then turned and saw Buck Cardinal standing off to the side, just inside the door.

Torres followed Hulder’s gaze until she spotted the character coach who smiled at Hulder as if he had just pulled a winning ace.

“Next question,” the flack said.

Torres leaped up out of her seat and waved her hand feverishly like it was sixth grade math.

The flack pointed reluctantly at her instead of Kravitz.

Cardinal’s smile dropped as Torres stood up and brushed her hair off her shoulder.

“Thank you, good morning, Sara Torres with the Houston Daily News. This question is for Mr. Glibb and Mr. Hulder. Most reports have claimed that this trade was primarily ordered by Mr. Hulder, but I’m curious what impact did Buck Cardinal have on both making this trade happen and influencing what the team got back for Jerome Arvis?”

Mendoza, Sorenson, Kravitz, and the entire press pool looked at her like she’d just asked if they had ever been kidnapped by aliens.

Cardinal waved to catch the flack’s attention and angrily pointed at his wrist.

“Sorry, that’s all the time we have for today, Mr. Glibb and Mr. Hulder have tight schedules to keep. Thank you for coming today.”

Glibb jumped out of his chair, his tie coming unclipped from his collar, and bolted from the room. Hulder stared daggers at Cardinal who quietly slipped out of the room before catching the attention of the other reporters.

Mendoza walked over to Sara who had finished writing in her notes about the sudden ending to the press conference.

“Nice work, kid, now we don’t have to wait to go to the post-conference buffet. You’ve got potential.”

“I’ve been doing this for four years now,” she said pointedly.

“Still, be careful not to make too many enemies on Kirby. Or who knows what might happen to you.”

“What? They’ll kill me?”

“Worse,” he said, “you’ll lose access.”

To Be Continued...