“Cyber-terrorism,” Carl said from the couch. Half the lights had gone out at the Super Bowl.
“Why is it always terrorists with you?” JJ said, but he had felt a tightening inside when the broadcast stopped. The post-9/11 tightening.
“I’ll be right one of these times.” Carl untangled himself from the nest of blankets on the couch and walked to the bathroom in his drooping boxers.
“Did you even dress yourself today?” JJ yelled. On the screen the Superdome looked dim and there was only crowd noise, no announcers. No Jim Nance. No Phil Simms. No explanations. JJ stood up and started pacing, watching the screen, waiting for riot and flames. Football players milled and stretched in the Superdome half-light. Anxious coaches gesticulated and looked toward the ceiling. JJ thought the Ravens coach looked like an angry fundamentalist preacher as he yelled at some guy about…what? A power outage? Same-sex marriage? Carl returned with a can of beer.
JJ said, “Can you imagine if they couldn’t go on? What would they do?”
“Dude, this is the NFL. There will be no postponement, cancellation, whatever,” Carl said. “They will harness starlight if necessary.”
“What if all the lights go out? How will everyone get out? Remember last time that many people were in there? Remember Katrina?”
“You and the impending disasters.” Carl looked at the few cold chicken wings arranged on top of the delivery bag from two hours earlier. He reached out, pulled back, then reached and took one. It was an unnatural orange. He brought it to his mouth as his phone buzzed. Carl put the wing down and looked at the screen. “Oh shit.”
“Don’t answer it.” JJ said as he looked at the screen. First half commercials were being replayed. “We’re stuck in time,” he muttered.
“Hello,” Carl said into the phone. He sat up, alert. “We’re fine…yeah me and JJ…it’s nothing, just a fuse or something…I know it’s freaky but it’s gonna be ok…no it’s not terrorists.” Carl listened and looked over at JJ. “Ok, I’ll be right there…yes really…right now.” He lowered his voice and turned modestly from JJ and the TV. “I love you too baby,” he whispered then hung up.
JJ gaped at Carl. “What the hell?”
Carl leaped up from the couch. “Sorry man. I’m going home.” He found some jeans under the coffee table.
“She’s worried. She needs me. You know we met at the Super Bowl.”
“I know you met during the Super Bowl. You told me a hundred times.”
“No, actually at the Super Bowl. Super Bowl XL. In Detroit.” Carl pulled his shoes on and paused, staring into the middle distance. “Seattle got screwed,” he murmured. And then he was up and moving, twisting into his coat, and rushing out of the room. “I’ll be back for the rest of my shit.” He hurried through the kitchen to the side door. “Thanks for the month on your couch,” he yelled and the door banged shut behind him.
“It was three months!” JJ yelled back. But Carl was gone. JJ went back to the couch, balled up Carl’s sheets and blankets, and threw them on the floor. He sat down on the couch, HIS couch, as the referee announced the resumption of play. “Let’s go,” the ref said to millions of people with a wry smile. And the Super Bowl went on.