THERE WERE MOMENTS WHEN IVORY CHRISTIAN LOVED THE game he tried so much to hate.
You could tell by the very way he lined up at the middle linebacker position, up on the balls of his feet in a cocked crouch, fingers slicing slowly through the air as if trying to feel the very flow of the play, elbows tucked and ready to fire off the snap of the ball in a mercuric flash.
He even liked it sometimes during the early morning workouts that were held twice a week before classes started inside the school gymnasium. The players ran at full strength under the angry glaze of the lights, the first-string offense and defense going against so-called scout teams simulating the offense and defense of the coming week's opponent.
No one was supposed to tackle, but every now and then Ivory pounced out of his crouch and drew a bead on some poor junior running back unfortunate enough to have become the focal point of his frustration and the need to unleash it on someone. As the unsuspecting prey went around the end, still adjusting to the slightly surreal notion of practicing football indoors on a basketball court at seven-twenty in the morning, Ivory just smacked him. There was the jarring pop of helmet against helmet, and then the trajectory of the underclassman as he went skittering across the gleaming gym floor like a billiard