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 Six - Barbarians At The Budweiser Plaza
The week churned by with the usual talking heads making their usual talking points about the same bad football from the Houston Texans; at least those who could be bothered to talk about the team did. It didn’t matter. It was all a lot of dull background noise to Texans owner, and leader of the franchise, Derek Glibb. “It’s got nothing to do with me,” was his traditional mantra when it came to team management.
But today was Sunday. It was time for another home game at NRG Stadium and time for another fine outing by those braves boys in deep steel blue. The alarm rang out in his immaculately decorated bedroom. Glibb reached out and slapped the clock onto the floor which landed with an audible crunch.
Janelle, Glibb’s wife of seven years, rolled to face him, “why’d you set it so early?”
Glibb groaned as he stretched his arms out above his head, “It’s Sunday. I always get up at noon on Sundays.”
There was a polite, almost tentative, knock at his door.
“Come in,” he said groggily.
In came a balding man in his late sixties wearing gray dress pants and a Justin Reid jersey over his gray morning coat.
“Good morning, sir,” the man said standing straight as an arrow, looking down his nose at the broken clock on the floor, “shall I order another clock for you sir?”
“Sure,” Glibb said, now sitting on the edge of the bed.
The balding man walked across the room and threw open the blinds, letting sunlight flood the room and show the clear blue Texas sky outside.
“It’s Sunday, Melville.”
“It is, sir,” Melville replied placidly.
“What kind of day is it?”
Melville groaned. “It’s a great day to be a Texan, sir,” he said flatly.
Glibb dressed, almost entirely by himself this time, only asking for help twice; once when he couldn’t figure out which side of the shirt was the back and which was the front, and once to clip his tie on.
As Glibb prepared to leave his mansion in River Oaks, Janelle strolled down the stairs in a bathrobe with her hair in curlers.
“You’re not coming to the game?”
“I don’t know. Are they any good this year?”
Glibb shrugged his shoulders.
“Then I’ll stay here, thanks.
Glibb’s town car sped along West 610 southbound, traffic screaming past.
The driver, a stout man in his early 30s, asked “The usual way in, Mr. Glibb.”
Glibb nodded and raised the dark partition between the front and back seats.
The town car pulled into what looked like an abandoned gas station. The driver lowered the window and pushed a four digit code into one of the disused gas pumps. There was a low hum of gears and hydraulics. The car sank below the ground and was quickly covered by yet another section of unassuming asphalt.
As the car continued its descent, Glibb remembered the day his father Bart told him about the secret entrance into the stadium.
“Just go to the old Shell and press...” he would say before breaking into a coughing fit.
“Thanks for this, Dad,” he said in a quiet voice.
The platform stopped and the car drove down the secret tunnel, a cold gray concrete tube with harsh sodium lights dotted above.
By the time the car reached the end of the tunnel, it was nearing close to kickoff time. Coming toward Glibb at a brisk pace was Buck Cardinal.
“Good afternoon, Mr. Glibb. Go Texans.”
“Yes, go Texans. Is my box ready?”
Cardinal displayed an oily smile, “As ready as it’ll ever be sir. I’ve seen to it personally. I do hope it meets your expectations.”
Glibb mumbled something approaching approval and blew past him. There was no time for pleasantries.
The owner’s box was just as he expected. A large pick-and-mix candy station sat in the middle, amply loaded with every candy he could possibly have wanted, his leather owner’s chair, which made him feel big and proud and important, had been wheeled out to the stands, the framed Texans jerseys and pictures of important moments in team history lined the walls in semi-haphazard fashion.
He stopped past the candy station. It was quiet. Usually, the stands had the faint buzz of fans conversing, waiting for the game. Today, it was like a tomb.
Glibb grabbed a handful of gummy sharks and walked to his seat.
The only people inside the stadium, other than Glibb, were the players on the field. Vendors walked up and down the aisles of the stadium, hawking beer and popcorn to nobody. Not a single fan was waiting for the game to start. Not a single fan was in a single seat in the stadium.
Cardinal oozed into the room, “You called, sir?”
“Where is everybody?”
“Out in the stands, I should think.”
Glibb shook his head, “Nobody’s out there.”
“That doesn’t make se—”
At that moment, the stadium chief of security rushed into the suite, gasping for air.
“What’s going on,” Cardinal asked, annoyed at the guard’s impertinence.
The chief took a deep breath, and wheezed out, “You need to come see this, sir.”
Glibb and Cardinal followed him out to the south end of the stadium. They stood at the floor-to-ceiling windows and their jaws fell down.
A sea of fans, wearing red, white, and blue, carrying picket signs and banners stood awash in Budweiser Plaza, chanting something inaudible. The glass really was good at keeping the noise in, Glibb thought, irrelevantly.
“It looks like they’re chanting something,” Glibb said.
Cardinal took a step closer, “We’ve...had...enough.”
Glibb looked closer. The signs all read “We’ve Had Enough,” security had formed a wall keeping the barbarians at the gate, but it was a tenuous peace, at best.
Glibb scratched his head, “They’ve had enough? Had enough of what?”
Cardinal, feeling leaden inside, replied, “I don’t know, sir.”
“Well find out. Go out there and do something about it. I, however, hear some Reese’s cups with my name on them.”
To Be Continued...