The First in a Series of Free Form Fiction posts!
The wind blew gently from the north, sweeping the newly fallen leaves across the muddy landscape. The air was exactly what you would expect on a fall Saturday in the Midwest – so crisp and clean. Invigorating.
Tommy John, unfortunately named man that he was, didn’t notice any of this. He wasn’t one to wax poetic about nature or notice the qualities of the air. He was just a simple cornholer. A man that played cornhole on a semi-professional level. Semi-professional meaning, as it usually does, that it was highly competitive but involved almost no money.
But it was tailgating season and the stakes were high, relatively speaking. The winner received a trip to next week’s College Football Game of the Week. This meant another tailgate, another cornhole tournament, another chance to string together free weekend trips to some of America’s hottest college football and tailgating destinations.
It was the semi-finals. Tommy John and his partner, Dean, were locked in a tense battle with some cornholers from Wisconsin. The score was 18-17, our protagonist and his partner leading by 1 in a game played to 21. This game was like the eye of the hurricane. The 4 players locked in, on a different plane than the rowdy tailgaters that surrounded them as far as the eye could see. The 5 or so spectators were pulled into the energy, becoming entranced by the game in front of them.
From afar, a game involving tossing bean bags into holes cut in wooden platforms doesn’t seem like it would carry much intensity, rivalry or any strong emotion whatsoever. You, like most other people, probably see it as just a backyard game to be played while camping and at tailgates. You see it as a novelty, a way to pass the time. But a cornholer, well a cornholer sees a way of life, poetry in motion. It may not be a way to make a living, but it’s a way to find both peace and adventure in a world that can often be lacking in both.
Tommy John and Dean went on to win that game by a score of 21-20. Their opponents notched 2 points by getting 2 beanbags on the board. But Tommy John, with ice in his veins, dropped his first bag into the hole for 3 points and the victory. The cornhole season was starting off brilliantly.
This victory earned Tommy John and Dean a trip to Michigan to see an early season showdown between the #5 ranked Michigan Wolverines and the #3 ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Little did they know, this game would not only change the course of their lives, but the course of history.