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THE SNOWS OF KILIMANGANJA

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THE MACK ADAMS STORIES, VOLUME 4: THE SNOWS OF KILIMANGANJA

It was fine, Indian summer weather as Mack sat above the field in the Texas sun. Today he was glad, for the stadium had been well swept and the tackling was good. Will ran up the steps, notebook under his arm.

“That is good tackling, Will,” Mack said.

“It is better than good, Mack. It’s ganja tackling!” Will saw that Mack did not understand. “It’s like gang tackling,” he said. “Only the players call it ganja. That is what they call something they like a lot.”

Mack smiled. “Good for them,” he said.

“Greg taught me this. He said I should tell the reporters about our ganja defense. That I am going to get the players more ganja in every game.”

Mack watched as the players practiced to loud music.

“They seem to like this song a lot, Will.”

“It’s Greg’s shuffle, Mack. He plays it for the defense.” Will jumped up on the bench. He began dancing and singing, “‘Too shy shy . . .’” As the players laughed and pointed, Will turned to Mack, urging him on.

“Up on your feet! Show them the Mack Daddy. Bust some moves with me! Don’t be too shy. Go eye to eye, Mack.”

Mack was happy for his friend. But he did not want to dance with him right now.

“Maybe in a while, Will.”

Will sat down.

“Anyway, it is good that you are in a coaching mood, Mack. I want to talk with you about football things. About this, Mack,” he said. Will handed Mack a large binder. “You always say the defense should think about offense.”

“That’s right, Will.”

“Thinking like an enemy. You are wise, Mack. Well I have done a wise thing, too. I meet with Greg mano a mano. To learn how the enemy thinks.” Will paused. “Not that Greg is the enemy. He coaches our offense.”

“When do you meet, Will?”

“Whenever he tells me we have to stop practice early,” Will said.

Mack looked at Will from behind his sunglasses.

“So the field can be mowed,” Will said, “Anyway, this is the new playbook. What Greg knows about offense is put into the defense. That is the beauty of it.”

Mack opened the large binder.

Will beamed with pride. “Every play has a name of its own. This is merely volume one. ‘A’ to ‘M,’ ‘Anzio’ to ‘Masada’.”

“Those sound like good plays, Will.” Mack leafed through the pages.

“The best are in volume two, Mack. Do you know the man they called the ‘Shoeless Joe’?”

“I do,” Mack said.

“There is a Shoeless Joe defense there you will like.” Will looked at his friend and smiled. “I know what you are thinking Mack. You think that the players will not have their cleats.”

“They should probably wear shoes, Will.”

“No, Mack, no. The Shoeless Joe play does not mean the players do not wear shoes. No. That would be foolish. That is where we have missed the true genius of Greg.” Will paused to explain. “Do you remember, Mack? Do you remember when Greg had the Colt run to the sideline? Run to the sideline and then step out? It baffled everyone, Mack.”

“It did, Will.”

“With the Shoeless Joe he has our safety and ends attack the line.” Will made the sign of the horns with both hands, with his thumbs added, and jabbed the air in a strong way. “Like this, Mack.”

“That’s good, Will. What do the others do?”

Will grinned with pride. “When the ball is snapped, they run to the sideline and go off the field. In honor of the Colt and the Shoeless Joe. Do you understand, Mack? Do you see it now?”

Mack was quiet for a moment. “Eight men out?”

“Exactly, Mack! The Pelini brothers will not know what to think.”

Mack sat still a very long time watching practice.

“Will?” he said.

“Yes, Mack?”

“Let’s show it to the Major first.”

The two friends sat together in the sun. Will was happy that Mack would share the beauty of the Shoeless Joe with the Major, for the Major always made things good. Mack was happy that Will had shown him the Shoeless Joe before Nebraska. They sat there happy without talking as footballs floated in the bright blue sky. It was a good day to practice.