IF THE SEASON COULD EVER HAVE ANY SALVATION, IF IT COULD ever make sense again, it would have to come tonight under a flood of stars on the flatiron plains, before thousands of fans who had once anointed him the chosen son but now mostly thought of him as just another nigger.
He felt good when he woke up in the little room that was his, with the poster of Michael Jordan taped to the wall. He felt good as he ate breakfast and talked to his uncle, L.V., who had rescued him from a foster home when he had been a little boy, who had been the one to teach him the game and had shown him how to cut for the corner and swivel his hips and use the stiff arm.
L.V. still had inescapable visions of his nephew -- Boobie Miles as the best running back in the history of Permian High School, Boobie as the best high school running back in the whole damn state of Texas, Boobie as belle of the ball at Nebraska or Texas A & M or one of those other fantastic college casinos, Boobie as winner of the Heisman. He couldn't get those dreams out of his head, couldn't let go of them. And neither, of course, could Boobie.
There were still some questions about the knee, about how ready Boobie was after the injury two months earlier that had required arthroscopic surgery (they had a tape of it that L.V., who was out of work because of the slump in the oil field, sometimes watched in the afternoon darkness of the living room, just as he sometimes watched other pivotal moments of his nephew's football career).
The Cooper Cougars had thrashed Boobie pretty badly the previous week down in Abilene, headhunting for him to the point that he had to be restrained from getting into a fistfight.