WHEN BOOBIE MILES RETURNED TO THE FOOTBALL FIELD, NO one called out his name with those bellowing chants that had rocked the Watermelon Feed in a moment that seemed like a millennium before. There were no bursts of applause, no coach's speech comparing him to the great Permian runners of the past, no take-your-sweet-time walk down the aisle of the crowded high school cafeteria. In the space of five weeks he had become an afterthought whose past performance earned no special privilege and seemed largely forgotten.
Had there been a waiver wire in the world of high school football, a place to dump former stars, he would have been on it, dangled at a bargain-basement price to Andrews or Kermit or Wink or maybe Seminole or any other town that might be willing to take a chance on a once-hot prospect with a bum knee for the stretch run to make the playoffs. Or maybe he could just be traded for a reserve defensive tackle and a player to be named later.
"In a week or two the fans will think he already graduated," said Trapper. "They'll be saying, 'Boobie who?'"
The only thing to herald his return was the shame and ignominy of a white shirt. There were dozens of other players wearing them as well, and together they blended into the dry heat of the practice field like lingering cattle waiting to be herded in