EVENTUALLY THE SOBS CAME TO AN END. SO DID THE EMBRACES that under the gray glow of the moonlight seemed as lingering as a slow dance with someone you suddenly knew you no longer loved. One by one the members of the crowd, usually so buoyant, so unshakably optimistic, quietly tiptoed into the night.
Once they were gone, Sharon Gaines entered through the double doors of the field house with some medication for her husband. The place was empty. All those little pictures on the Wall of Fame with those square jaws and steely-eyed gazes, all those heart-shaped plaques with the inscribed, once-glittering names of this player or that one who had been the very best at running back or linebacker or lineman, all those typewritten phrases of inspiration on the bulletin board painfully culled from such sources as H. L. Mencken and AC/DC now looked like decorations for an elaborate wedding that had suddenly been canceled without warning.
In the aftermath of a win there was no place more giddy than the locker room, the players whooping and hollering, readying themselves for the spoils of victory with strokes of the comb as meticulous as brushstrokes by Michelangelo and gobs of Lagerfeld aftershave as pungent as the smell of ripened Juicy Fruit. They would leave the field house and waiting outside for them would be a haze of boosters and parents and Pepettes and cheerleaders. The faces of the parents and boosters would be