Bob reclined back in his aged, leather chair. Its worn form wrapped around his body like a still sea holding a mighty ship. To his left sat his finest batch of bratwurst, to his right a fresh roast beef sandwich and garlic fries. He flipped on the TV to catch the final minutes of pregame. He dug into the fries first, as was the ritual, and wiped the greasy garlic onto his Jim Brown jersey. Cleveland was playing at home today, so he slid on his lucky slippers.
The game was horrendous from the onset. The Browns blew two opportunities of good field position and later fumbled inside of their own twenty. Bob no longer yelled at these happenings. Sometimes he simply shook his head, others he’d shield his eyes from the screen. More and more, it seemed Sunday’s were less about rooting and more about eating, so he did so with delight. The bratwurst went quickly and was followed by jalapeno nachos with extra hot sauce. When halftime rolled around, the Browns were down by a modest ten points, and Bob took his two antacids.
Late in the third, the game took a turn. Bob watched with intrigue over a plate of bar-b-que ribs as the Browns seemed intent on persisting instead of typical collapse. The defense dug in. The offense showed lingering signs of life that sometimes registered as sparks. The special teams… well, they didn’t fall apart. Twice Bob found himself raising a voice of cheer. The sound shocked him. He thumped at his chest as he worked down his meals and began to glisten with sweat.
It came down to a final play, and Bob could already feel his heart breaking. So many times, too many times, he’d been down this lonesome road of disappointment. The Dive, The Fumble, these ancient histories were still very fresh in his mind. The ball was snapped and lobbed into the air. Bob stood, without realizing, and crumbs from a day of eating fell to the floor. He raised his own hands as the receiver raised his. His voice erupted as the fingers clutched cleanly around the ball. He jumped and he screamed and he cheered and cheered and cheered.
His stomach turned, but he did not notice. The acids broiled within his body and his body flashed with sweat. Bob was oblivious to it all. He hugged his own jersey as though he were embracing every member of that Cleveland team. His body chemistry took on a rare and unknown reaction. His insides smoldered and burst into flame in an instant as he succumbed to spontaneous human combustion.