We bait all of the queers and we put all of the AIDS in a giant dome with all of the mosquitoes that we rain down with napalm, not the B-grade stuff, but the Ecuadorian shampoo, the river gravy that really sticks to the skin and eats its way down to the bone.And the smoke it makes smells like a charred spectrum of light that takes the form of a multicolored arc across the sky. Rainbow Roundup. We call it, Operation Rainbow Roundup.
How do we bait ‘em? Well, with queerbait of course. The jocks. We slick ‘em up with castor oil and strong hands, twist up the bottoms of their shirts into tails and pull them through the neck holes so we show off those muscle bellies. Cancel football practice and panty raids and pep rallies. Call their fathers and tell ‘em what it’s for.
‘Operation Rainbow Roundup.’
‘What’s that you say?’
‘A public burning. The chutney ferrets, the bum bandits, the fudge packers and the pillow biters, all of ‘em.’
‘Well, okay then, but I want Johnny starting on the line next Saturday.’
‘Okay, all right. He does his job, he takes one for the team, then Johnny can start on the line with the rest of ‘em.’
Get Johnny to agree and the rest will follow. Johnny’s the QB. Tell ‘em it’s for the good of the team, the good of the cause, the nancies, uphill gardeners, fairies, faggots.
‘What about Pike, coach?’
‘What about Pike?’
‘He always…I don’t know…he always grazes me on the hike.’
‘…Well, it’s just that, it’s just that I like it.’
‘What is that you like, son?’
‘The hike, coach.’
‘Yeah, from Pike. I like the way he grazes me, the way the backs of his hands rest on the inner part of my thighs when he’s calling the play, the way his knuckles graze me.’
‘Grazes you! I’m not sure what you mean, son. Show me what you mean, son!’
‘Okay, well, get like this, just like this…yeah, like that. Pretend you’re holding the ball and I’m calling the play. Get ready to hike it, and I’ll just step behind you like this. You feel that, the way they just graze you, just barely. The knuckles. Feels nice, huh?’
‘Yeah, I suppose it does feel kind of nice.’
‘Whisper what, coach?’
‘The play, son! Whisper the play!’
‘Okay. Wing Right, 31 drive. 31 Drive. Hike.’
‘Oh yeah, that’s the stuff.’
‘Think you can do that with the rest of the team?’
‘You bet, coach.’
Reevaluate Operation Rainbow Roundup. Run Johnny on two a days, three a days, four, five, six a days, whatever it takes. Let him play quarterback, bait all the queers, the homos, the pole smokers, and the fruits. Put him out to pasture. Let him graze. Run plays all day. Hot sun. Midday heat. Shirts and skins. Get ‘em liquid. Build the dome. Get the jelly. What’s that? The Jelly’s been outlawed. 1980. Why? War Crime. I see.
‘Johnny, what do ya got for me?’
‘Well, coach. I’ve got information.’
‘What kind of information?’
‘Out with it then, son.’
‘Well, Pachalski’s the biggest around. Couldn’t even grip it properly. Anderson is the smallest, but that’s to be expected…’
‘Pachalski, yeah. Good kid.’
Tell his father.
‘Got Johnny playing QB now. He’ll be busy.’
‘Well, hot damn!’
‘Gotta get ‘em all down to training camp before the big game.’
‘And where’s that supposed to be?’
‘Windward Islands, out into the deep blue.’
‘I suppose so, but I want him starting the line.’
Forget the dome and the smoke and the spectrum of multicolored light arcing over the sky. Forget the playoffs, the float, and the parade, the fundraisers and the pep rallies.
Get a boat. Bus ‘em down to Mobile. Round ‘em up and ship ‘em out. Drive the boat. Bring ‘em out to the beach. Fish at sunset and tell ‘em all about Nam, the Nape and the gooks. Send the swimsuits overboard. Put Pike in charge of the sunblock. He’s the center. Flip ‘em a pigskin and let ‘em play in the sand. They’re just boys after all.
Spend a week there. Spend a month there. Build a post office. Print stamps. Give ‘em pencils and pads of paper. Tell ‘em to write home to mom and dad.
‘What’s the return address, coach?’
‘Yeah, you know? So they know where we are?’
The fairies flittering across the sand, two-hand touch, flag on the play, fag on the field, roughing the passer, stiff arm, real stiff, holding, lots of it.
‘…call it the Gridiron.’
Blow the whistle. Call ‘em in. Huddle up. Take a knee. Take two.
Hit the showers, wade into the surf, taste the salt. The boys will be boys will be boys.