Going Out For Some Smokes

 

Colt Bronner sat at his desk in abject horror.  Before him sat 86 spiral notebooks which were his workout journals.  These journals contained every bite of food he’d eaten, every exercise or drill he’d done, every mile he had run, every pound he had pumped, every practice he had attended, every game he had played and every statistic he’d ever accumulated—since he started counting—which was 86 months ago.

Pasted to the wall in front of him was a copy of every report card he’d received since ninth grade.  No grades, no football—his parents had been adamant.  His worst grade was a B, and there was only one of those.  It had been an absolute grind forcing his self to study until he figured out that he hated it, but that was what was making it a grind.  In tenth grade he adjusted his attitude and the results were dramatic.  In the box at his feet sat the letters from colleges and universities across the country.  Colt had even paid an art student to paint big, blue block M on his bedroom ceiling.  There was never any question where he wanted to go.

And BOOM!  Colt lands in Ann Arbor and is the starting middle linebacker in the opening game thirty some days later.  He made sure everyone knew his name that day.  Bronner with the sack!  Bronner on the tackle!  Bronner blocks the punt!  Bronner with the interception!  By end of September, Colt Bronner was the biggest man on campus.   Michigan was undefeated and Colt was leading the country in sack and tackles.  He’d broken the collarbone of the Notre Dame star quarterback in a shut-out victory in South Bend!  Some freelance photographer snapped Colt in “The Archer” pose, shirtless in the locker room, and Bronner Mania exploded tenfold.

This is exactly what Colt Bronner had imagined every high school night he spent staring at his ceiling.  It had to be.  He was the only child phenomenal progeny of a privileged white doctor and lawyer.  He wanted for nothing.  He was primed and preened since birth, and availed of literally anything his image conscious parental units thought necessary.  He was blessed genetically, but could not resist the urge to improve, and keep on improving.  At seventeen he’d posed for a muscle magazine and was the number one rated high school prospect in the country—at any position.  Colt Bronner stood tall in the saddle and he wasn’t even on a horse.

When the inevitable allegations of performance enhancing drugs reared its ugly head, Colt went on the offensive and subjected himself to a complete and independent on-going analysis program and he permitted the results to be made public—on a web site!  This occurred at the start of his sophomore year, and he kept that site current throughout his career.

When Colt Bronner appeared on the Lettermen show in a gorilla suit after the Rose Bowl victory, his acclaim soared to world-wide dimensions.  The WeView video of Colt chasing Dave around the set, got over 100 million views in the first two weeks.  No one could resist seeing Dave hug and kiss a gorilla.  On the way back to Ann Arbor, Colt got a call from Steven Speilberg.

His mom and dad were waiting for him at the airport.  They had rented a limo.  It didn’t take Colt long to figure out why.  He was surprised his mom spoke first.  She spelled out: N-F-L, very slowly.  The rest of the ride home was her and dad convincing him of the wisdom of leaving school early and going and getting as much money as he could while his body was still able.  According to them, it would be best to come out as soon as possible, and play up the publicity as big as possible.  They said it was his only play. They wouldn’t let him out of the car without an answer.

Colt knew what they were really saying.  Take the money.  It was the background noise of almost any serious conversation he’d had with them since middle school.  And seriously, they were probably right.  As voracious of a student as he’d evolved himself into, he knew deep down that…fuck some school.  He’d spend forever building his body first and his brain second, and obviously his body was in the lead.  The NFL route promised millions of dollars, that his dad would turn into tens of millions of dollars, and sufficient brain work to keep him interested but not bored.  After all, anything that led to a good hit—well, that shit is special.  But….

Colt finally convinced his parents to give him until the morning to decide.  They reminded him to think long and hard about this.  He said he would.  He trolled off to his bedroom, fired up some porn on the internet, jacked off, and went to bed—and slept soundly.

One day in high school his coach called him over and said, “Colt, stand with me here a second, Son.”  For twenty minutes they stood there together and watched the defense scrimmage the starting offense.   Finally, some coach blew a whistle and the team headed for the showers, but Colt and the linebackers coach just stood there in silence for a spell, contemplating what they had just watched.  “Colt, this is your sophmore year and THAT is your defense out there.  They are good, I will grant you that, but they are not great—unless you are on the field.  That is a problem, Son.  Like I said, this is your senior year, Colt.  It is time for you to step up.  It is time for you to make your team mates better.  You must be the rising tide that lifts all boats.  You.  We both know about all your records and statistics, and that is okay.  But, I am telling you as sure as I stand here if you do not develop the ability to elevate your team mates, you will never be the player you think you are.  Look in the mirror and contemplate that shit, Colt.”

That was a time to be remembered.  Imagine coming home from that little conversation and having mom and dad decide to educate you about the “dangerous” female types out there.  Colt knew it was because of social media detective work.  Camera phones are silenced sniper rifles, he thought, sitting on the davenport in front of the fireplace with the big mirror on the mantle.  Sure enough, exhibit A was that picture of him with Karyn Mynor at the party with the deluge of Jack Daniels and a forest of tree.  Boob pressed into his smiling face.   Colt vowed he wasn’t drinking, but they didn’t care.  They got stupid for a couple hours, and finally let him retreat to his room to think about it.  He did not.

And all these spiral notebooks contained everything that did not happen along the way.  He had to laugh.  Colt picked up the first notebook, and started to read.  He’d decided he would not make a decision until he had read, cover to cover, every single workout journal in his collection.   “One thousand push-ups a day…”

And when he was done reading the answer was there waiting.  Colt Bronner stood from his desk, took one last look at his room, and left for the last time in his life.  His parents were in the den watching TV. “Going out for some smokes,” announced Colt just before the front door slammed shut.

Everyone knew Colt didn’t smoke and had never smoked and never went any place where anyone smoked.  It was annoying some of the time like family reunions and funerals.  Mr. Bronner looked like he had just mis-trusted a fart. Mrs. Bronner immediately broke into tears.

Six months later they still hadn’t seen Colt and she was still crying.  The old man had taken to the bottle.  The FBI had interrogated anyone with a mouth over the case, and learned all kinds of things but nothing related to Colt.  Turns out no one knew much about the kid.  He was otherwise unremarkable except for being a gym rat.  The parents didn’t give up.  They had paid a private detective thousands of dollars but not one trace could be found.  The kid was gone and he was either dead and just didn’t want to be found, reported the detective.  The whole country wondered where Colt Bronner had vanished to.  Sports Pictures magazine did a story on Colt in the dead time after spring ball—five years later, and still not a whisper as to his location or status.

Going out for some smokes.

What always bothered Special Agent Butkus was, what happened to all the money?  In fact, and moreover, how much money, if any was there to begin with?  And, moreover again, where had it all gone?   Colt Bronner’s bank accounts, the three they knew about, all went to a zero balance and one o’clock on the day he disappeared.  That money, nearly a hundred thousand dollars got wired to a bank in the Ukraine and that is where he could no longer follow it.  The transaction was placed via burner phone but they were able to surmise that it had been placed in transit on southbound US23.   That was all they had.  Colt’s Corvette was never found or seen again.  Where was all that money?

On the tenth anniversary of his disappearance a video went viral on WeView which was claimed to be live footage of Colt at a Vegas titty bar doing belly shots off a dancer.  The video itself was legitimate close circuit security video and was clear as a bell.  Mrs. Bronner fainted when she saw it.  Mr. Bronner was barely sober enough to recognize his own son.  The FBI stopped taking their calls.  Case closed.

But a week later some shock jock radio host revealed the real dude in the video who was not Colt Bronner but did indeed resemble him to a T.  And, a good time was had by all at the Bronner’s expense.  Colt Bronner dissolved off into history as a cliché people repeated at ironic moments.  Going out for some smokes.

This is as much as Colt Bronner will let me tell of his story.