Hail Mary! — Halloween for Henry, Day 6
It was unusually sunny and warm for a Tuesday afternoon in October, but Henry knew that would change soon enough. He knew there were other changes coming, too.
Henry Garber was standing on the football field late in the fourth quarter of a Pop Warner game between the Bears — Henry’s team — and the Packers. It was the last game of the season and Henry figured it might be HIS last game ever.
He would be in middle school next year, and there was very little chance he would make the school team. Heck, he had barely made the team this year, and everybody made the team in fifth grade. AND his dad was an assistant coach.
On this day, though, Henry was on the line of scrimmage, the third wide receiver in a lineup that featured all third-stringers for the last play of the game. The Bears were down 30-3, and there were just 20 seconds left on the clock.
The game was over and done.
Still, Henry knew what the play would be — a Hail Mary to one of the other two receivers from quarterback Jimmy Breyer. Jimmy was a good enough guy, but he was angling for a spot on next year’s team, so he needed to show something BIG on this play.
It was no surprise, then, when Jimmy called “Pope” — that was their code word for Hail Mary.
Henry sprinted down the field as fast as he could, which really wasn’t very fast at all. As he ran, he started thinking about the eventful month that October had already been, even though it was just the 6th day.
Last Thursday, Henry had battled a monster in his driveway, and then on Friday, Mrs. Foster had given him a horrifying Halloween costume assignment: member of a boy band.
The weekend had been filled with make-believe and maybe real ghost stories at Grandma and Grandpa’s farm.
The new week had been a little better, since Henry was going to get to write a report about the new Goosebumps book. And, on Saturday, he and his parents would go to the farmer’s market and pick out their pumpkins.
That was always one of Henry’s favorite days of the year, ahead of even the day after Thanksgiving when they went to get their Christmas tree.
Henry thought about what kind of Jack-o’-Lantern he wanted to make this year. While he wasn’t much of an artist, he was pretty good at cutting a pumpkin along those dotted-line patterns that mom brought home from the store every Halloween. Last year, he had made a witch in front of her cauldron, and it was pretty scary.
This year, though, Henry was going to top himself, because he was going to carve Penniwise, the clown from It. Not only would he carve Penniwise into the pumpkin, but he would carve Penniwise holding a pumpkin of his own.
It was going to be epic.
Just then, Henry heard voices calling from the sidelines, and it seemed like they were directed toward him. Then he realized that they were calling his name, and his dad’s voice pierced his eardrum: “HENRY!!”
Henry had been looking at the ground as he ran, but he spun around to face the crowd. When he did, the setting sun blinded him for a moment, then he saw something very strange.
Sailing toward him through the air, basking in the low-angled sunlight, was the very pumpkin that Penniwise had just been holding in Henry’s daydream. The gourd was coming at him fast, but in an arc.
It sailed over his head, and Henry was horrified to realize that the spectacular pumpkin was going to crash and explode in a pile of seeds and guts all over the football field.
At the last possible moment, Henry dove forward, gaining ground on the plummeting pumpkin. Just as it would have smashed into the earth, Henry jutted his open hands under the pumpkin and saved it from certain death. He pulled it into has belly and rolled onto his back, holding his prize aloft.
A gigantic roar erupted from the sideline and the field, and Henry looked up to see his jubilant teammates and coaches running toward him. He looked up at his hands andwas astounded to find that he was holding … the football!
Jimmy ran up and scooped Henry off the turf. “That was an awesome catch, Henry! Unbelievable! I sure hope we can be on the team together next year.”
Henry was stunned as his dad arrived and patted his son on the shoulder just before the team carried Henry off the field.
It really was turning out to be a pretty good October, after all.