Welcome back to the ongoing recap of Jason Elam’s first book in the RILEY COVINGTON series, Monday Night Jihad.
When we last left things, we found out that Hakeem Qasim is plotting VENGEANCE upon the Great Satan. We also witnessed our first football being played, and hey, it was a Mustangs victory, hooray!
Tuesday, December 23
Security guard for the Sky Ridge Medical Center, Michael Goff, has just gotten off work after another grueling 12-hour shift. He’s finally home with his wife, Marti, and young son Kevin. Kevin’s a little distracted, playing Madden football (Whoa, wait a second. It was established last chapter that the John Madden-analog in this reality is Jim Madison. You can’t just merge your universes like that, Elam!) on his XBox, but Michael starts waving around two Mustangs tickets for Monday night against the Baltimore Predators. Kevin flips out as only small children can, and starts doing Danie Colson’s “hoodaman” dance (No, I don’t understand why it’s not the “Who da man” or “Who the man” dance either). Marti asks Michael how he managed to get the tickets, and it turns out he offered to cover a coworker’s Christmas and New Year’s Eve shifts at the hospital. Marti’s a little upset, but dang if Kevin isn’t the happiest kid in Colorado right now.
Tuesday, December 23
Todd Penner is a waiter at Chili’s and he also works concessions at Mustangs home games when he’s not studying to graduate from Arapahoe Community College. He’s just put the penultimate payment on the tiny engagement ring he’s going to propose to his long-time girlfriend, Jamie Starling. The plan is that Todd will finish up at ACC, transfer to Metropolitan State College and get his degree in business. Then, with Todd’s business acumen and Jamie’s 3D design and computer programming skills, the happy couple should be able to create a thriving company (I think Proust said the road to bankruptcy and divorce is paved with failed graphic design companies).
Tuesday, December 23
Carol Marks is a piano teacher who hates her current student, nine-year-old Eric. She doesn’t really need to keep teaching, either, since her husband makes enough for both of them (AS IT SHOULD BE! YOU CAN’T COOK A ROAST ON A PIANO, WOMAN!), however Carol’s extra income does provide its benefits. Namely, it allows Carol and Paul the ability to keep their Mustangs season tickets (The Marks family have held tickets since 1977, at the height of the Red Scare Defense, and also, the lows of getting thrashed by the Texas Outlaws in that year’s PFL Cup). With the season tickets comes the camaraderie of hanging out with the Buckaroos, a group of four families with neighboring seats. The Buckaroos have gotten close over the years, with one of the Marks boys marrying the daughter of another couple. However, the years have also whittled the group down as the kids have moved away, leaving just the parents to enjoy each other’s company. At this point, Carol only goes to the games to hang out with the other Buckaroos.
They had seen concerts there by everyone from Kelly Clarkson (her choice) to Evanescence (his choice). – lol, evanescence
He clicked on his AM radio and tuned it to 950. Sports analyst Jim Rome was on a tirade about the pitiful Bandits and their choke against the Mustangs on Sunday. – NO! I’LL WITHSTAND THE TORTURE AND RACISM AND OTHER FOUL SH*T, BUT GOD DAMN YOU, JASON ELAM, IF YOU SUBJECT ME TO JIM F*CKING ROME. I’LL BURN THIS BOOK DOWN IF HE SHOWS UP AGAIN.
Thursday, December 25
Riley parks outside the Ricci house and collects his packages, including the dessert he was asked to bring, an apple pie, just like Mamma Covington used to make (Except Riley’s a lazy jerk and bought his crust, what a chumpasaurus). He walks inside and is greeted by both Sal Ricci and tiny baby Alessandra. Sal quickly hustles off to change Alessandra nuclear waste spill of a diaper, leaving Riley to take the pie to Meg in the kitchen. She’s concerned about Sal’s recent change in demeanor, and asks Riley to see if there’s anything going on with Sal. Riley is pretty sure it’s just the nerves of the season getting to Sal, and Riley promises to beat the sh*t out of Sal if he’s having an affair, but promises to get to the bottom of the situation.
Thursday, December 25
CTD North Central Division Headquarters
New best pals, Scott Ross and Jim Hicks are exchanging gifts in the office. Hicks gives Ross a case of Yoo-Hoo, while Ross has bought Hicks the January issue of Guns & Ammo magazine. Since the office is pretty much dead, the dynamic duo decide to divulge family secrets about each other on a quid pro quo basis, which, according to Ross’s beliefs, was invented by Silence of The Lambs.
Hicks briefly mentions his two divorces and prompts Ross to divulge some of his back story. Scott’s parents were addicts, and on one Christmas morning, sent 8-year-old Scotty into a house to score some dope for them. Unfortunately, little Scott got a tooth punched out and tossed out of the trap house like so much Jazz by the giant dope peddler inside. Papa Ross reacts as any junkie parent would, he takes the money from Scott and drives off, leaving the kid to walk two miles home. Ross adds that these experiences are why he rarely drinks (Yet Hicks keeps offering him booze because Jim is terrible), and how he credits his librarian pal, Mr. Pinkerton, for pulling him out of the muck.
Now it’s Jim’s turn to share, which means he has to expand on “I got divorced twice”. Jim’s first marriage was at 18, to Kelly (Kapowski?!), and she ended up pregnant six months after the ceremony, just as Hicks shipped out for basic training. Being a big, tough man, Jim ordered Kelly to get an abortion, which didn’t sit well with her. The marriage was annulled, and Kelly gave birth to a girl named Tyler, after her brother (Weird). Jim, being Jim, once stalked and tracked down Kelly and Tyler in Omaha, but kept his distance.
His second wife was to Marina, and he tried to make it work. Too bad 9/11 happened, forcing Jim to dive head-first into his work, which he couldn’t leave at the office, as he “wanted to find every little Prophet worshiper who even had a passing thought about hurting America.” One day, Marina had reached her limit and unleashed a torrent of frustrations on Jim. In response, Jim hit her because he’s a garbage person. Marina, for some unknown reason, didn’t call the cops on Jim, but simply left him.
Sal, Meg, Alessandra, and Riley have finished Christmas dinner, and Meg has offered to clean up while the men-folk talk. Riley uses this opportunity to drag Sal into the living room to ask him what the heck has been going on lately. Ricci confirms Riley’s earlier theory that the pressures of a potential playoff berth is getting to him. However, Ricci does get SUPER SERIOUS and gets Riley to promise that, should anything happen to Sal, Riley will take care of Meg and Alessandra. Riley’s a little weirded out by the request, but agrees that he’ll look after the girls should any ill fortunes befall Ricci.
Off to his left he could see a group of four men teeing off on Black Bear Golf Course. ‘Either they’re single, or they have very understanding wives,’ he thought. – This may seem like a weird thought until you remember that Colorado banned The Jews in 1997.
Coke, horse, meth – you name it, they took it. There was this one Christmas when I was eight – my parents sent me into a house to score some chiva for them. – Horse and chivas? I think Scott’s parents were more into farm animals than drugs.
A lot of folks would have used that as an excuse for wasting their lives and living off the government. – GOOD THING YOU GOT A PAIR OF REPUBLICAN ISSUED, RONNIE REAGAN BRAND BOOTSTRAPS TO PULL YOURSELF OUT OF THE GUTTER, ROSS.
Monday, December 29
It is 7:30 AM and Riley Covington is a free man, at least until he’s needed back at the hotel for chapel and the pregame meal at 2:00 PM. Riley’s got a bit of a busy schedule for a free day, as he’s planning on shooting skeet with a friend, grabbing a sandwich with Pastor Tim, and returning the over-sized gift for Alessandra Ricci. Speaking of Ricci, Sal was in much better spirits at the team dinner the night before, even bribing a waiter to bring LeMonjello Fredericks an actual dish of lemon Jell-O during dessert.
Monday, December 29
Hakeem Qasim is sitting at his desk, contemplating his plan. Everything and everyone should be ready and in place. He takes out his brass medallion, places an awl at the convergence of the three daggers, and taps a hole. Hakeem threads a new chain through the hole and puts the medallion on, letting the honor return to its rightful place, above his heart.
Monday, December 29
Michael Goff has been stuck in his living room for half an hour, his wife and son declaring the back half of the house as a forbidden zone. Finally, Marti walks out and announces the biggest Mustangs fan, Kevin Goff. The eight-year-old runs out, shirtless, half his body painted blue, the other half orange, with a giant white M on his chest. Michael questions the missing C, to complete the full Colorado Mustangs initialism, and is informed that he’ll be providing the other half. Despite his feeble protests that it’ll be 40 degrees and he’ll be shirtless, Michael acquiesces to his son and heads off to get painted (With the added benefit that Marti will help him wash the paint off after the game.
Monday, December 29
Platte River Stadium
The Buckaroos are gathered at their typical tailgating spot, all four families gathered, the Marks, Rawlins, Newman (Hello), and Ashton clans all together. It’s the Rawlins’ turn to provide meat for the game, and Paul Marks isn’t too pleased with their choice of the Bosnian hamburger recipe known as evapi, because apparently ETHNIC SPICES are too much for him. In addition to bringing a CRAZY FOREIGN food, the Rawlins have some unfortunate news. Since their children and grandchildren are all living in the Phoenix area, tonight’s game will be the last time Doug and Abby Rawlins will be members of the Buckaroos, as they’ll be moving down south. Everyone else commiserates with the Rawlins except for Carol Marks, who is being kind of selfish as she cries over the decision.
Todd Penner is at the stadium and has just found out he’s scheduled to be serving cold drinks tonight. After begging and pleading, his boss relents and gives him hot chocolate instead. He’s told to limit his whipped cream usage, but Todd is way too happy after the meeting he had with Jamie’s dad the day before to care.
Todd and Brian Starling met at a Starbucks, with Todd offering to pay for Brian’s drink. Since he’s a jerk, Brian went with an expensive macchiato, because haw haw, Todd has to work two jobs to make ends meet. With a clear plan of facts, figures, future, faith, Todd tries to explain his position to Brian, only to get flustered and flummoxed by the overwhelming DAD POWERS possessed by Mr. Starling. Todd’s trying to show off pie charts when all Brian wants to know is if he’ll take care of Jamie and never hurt her. Todd answers in the affirmative, and Brian gives his blessing for marriage/ (Yay, Jamie’s value as a human being has successfully been transferred from her father to her future husband, all is well!).
The Predators’ passing game was good, but their running game was great. Their lead halfback, James Anderson, had the size of Jerome Bettis and the speed and cutting ability of Barry Sanders. – Seriously, are you allowed to blend reality with your bullsh*t universe so frequently? Just say Anderson has the bulk of Pittsburgh Miners great Geromy Burris and the agility of Detroit Wildcat legend Barney Dusters instead of this mix ’em up malarkey. Oh, also, the Predators’ won’t have a truly great passing game until they can draft an ELITE quarterback.
“You know, Todd, I have strong feelings for my wife’s meat loaf. Do you consider my daughter on the same level as my wife’s meat loaf?” – DOES THIS MEAN BRIAN HAS BEEN STICKING HIS DICK IN THE MEAT LOAF?
Monday, December 29
Platte River Stadium
In the first quarter of the game between the Mustangs and the Predators, Colorado jumped ahead to a 14-0 lead off two 30+ yard hook-ups between Randy Meyer and Antwon Thatch. A Tory Girchwood field goal in the early stages of the second put the Mustangs up 17-0. The Mustangs defense has been playing better than the offense, holding James Anderson to just 36 yards on the ground in the first, and stripping him on his lone breakaway run.
It’s now midway through the second quarter, the Predators have the ball, and the Mustangs are looking to keep up their intensity. On the first play on this possession, Mustangs right end “Hulk” Holguin jumped offsides, giving the Predators a free five yards. The next play is more fortuitous for Colorado, as Riley slows down Anderson enough for his fellow linebacker Keith Simmons to dislodge the ball. Covington dives on top of it, but Riley loses control of the ball when his balls fall under attack from Predator players in the pile. Baltimore recovers, but it is 3rd and 11 from the Predators 38, with the clock just about to reach seven minutes left in the half.
Todd Penner, with all his community college book learnin’ knows sales, and nothing says “I will require a warm beverage in the immediate future” more than shirtless people in sub-40 degree weather. Todd heads over to the presumable father-and-son pair, and nets two hot chocolates, extra whip cream for the kid.
Carol Marks has been unable to enjoy the game, as she’s spent most of it fretting over the Rawlins’ decision to move to Arizona. Still being a selfish old biddy, Carol wishes Abby and Doug could just be “snow birds”, splitting their time between Arizona and Colorado, except, of course, they’d be in Denver for Mustangs home games and in Arizona for the summer.
With 6:30 left in the half, the man seated in 102-4A (Nice seats!) plugs a thin wire into the football that’s been on his lap the entire game. As the clock hits 6:15, he flips a switch, arming the football. As the clock hits 6:05, he stands and shouts “I am the Cause! May Allah have his retribution! Allahu Akbar!” and detonates the device, sending ball bearings flying through the crowd, ripping bodies apart.
The explosion stops Simmons and Covington dead in their tracks right before they can initiate their ritualistic, pre-play high five. Military training and instincts take over Riley, and he drops to the ground, trying to parse the source of the explosion. As he’s doing so, he notices a red splotch start to bloom and grow on Keith’s white pants. In addition to the linebacker, at least three other Mustangs appear to be wounded.
At the sound of the explosion, the second man, across the stadium and in the upper deck, began to make his move. He was supposed to count fifteen seconds and then detonate his football bomb. He got out of his seat and moved towards the stairs.
The sound of the blast reminded Todd Penner of a fishing trip with his dad, when lightning struck twenty-five feet away. In his bewilderment, Todd spotted a man four rows down, in the stairs, shouting something about America and wrath and holding a football over his head. Not taking any chances, Todd grabbed his full drink cart and hucked it at the man, smashing the football out of his hand, and slamming his face into the metal guard rail.
The crowd has finally reacted to the explosion, and people are panicking. Riley goes to check on Keith, but Simmons is already trying to get back to his feet. Riley tells Keith to get off the field while he thinks murderous, revenge-filled thoughts about the terrorists that have done this.
Todd rushed down to the man he hit with hot chocolate, but a bald guy got there first and started yelling that he’s the police. The bald man pulls out a pair of handcuffs and tells Todd to keep the potential terrorist pinned to the guard rail. This is easily accomplished as the stream of people trying to get out of the stands prevents Todd from backing up at all.
The third man was scheduled to detonate thirty seconds after the second bomb went off. However, with no second detonation, the third man was trying to remain calm and stay on course by counting forty-five seconds. He had gone form sitting in section 107 to nearly being pulled into the concourse by the mass of people attempting to escape the stadium. At only 37, the third man gave a shout of “Allahu Akbar!” and blew himself up.
Riley was shouting at players to head for the tunnels and get into the locker rooms. Some, like lineman Chris Gorkowski, were in shock and needed to be slapped around before they got their wits about them. Riley saw fans trying to leap from the stands to the field for a quicker escape, but the drop proved to be too much for some.
Carol Marks and the rest of the Buckaroos were frozen in fear when the first bomb went off. The second explosion erased that, as the crowd was simply too powerful to resist as everyone made for the exists. The Buckaroos made plans to meet at the cars should they get separated in the rush of humanity. Carol had a firm grip of her husband Paul’s hand, but even that didn’t last as the surge of people pushed them apart. The pace got to be too much for Carol, and she stumbled to the ground. The mass evacuation didn’t take notice as she was quickly trampled, repeatedly.
Michael Goff scooped his son, Kevin up after the first blast to keep him out of harm’s way. The second blast reinforced his decision as the crowd began pouring towards the exits. Michael managed to keep up with the pace, though as he walked, he tried to help some of the fallen fans back to their feet, but the press from behind was too powerful.
The fourth man allowed himself to be jostled from all sides as the crowd moved from section 120 onto the ground level. At three and a half minutes after the first blast, the fourth man yelled out “I am the Cause! Die, infidels! Allahu Akbar!” and detonated his football.
Michael Goff was close to the ramp as another explosion ahead forced people already out of the stands rushing back up. The collision of people trying to go up and down resulted in more casualties as people got trampled in the fray. Finally, the people trying to leave the stands relented, allowing those in the concourses back up.
The fifth man had been positioned outside the stadium the entire time. He stood near the large brass sculpture of five mustangs stallions, a mare and a colt, waiting for his time. Four minutes after the first blast, the fifth man set off his explosives, destroying the statue and the people swarming out of the stadium.
Young Kevin Goff, terrified out of his mind, clung ever tighter to his father’s neck as yet another explosion ripped through the air. Thinking he’s stuck in some nightmare of a dream, Kevin scans the crowd, his eyes locking with a man’s some distance away. The man smiles, and nods, which Kevin returns, weakly. Still smiling, the man holds up a football, shouts “Hear me, America! I am the Cause! Allahu Akbar!” and presses the detonator.
Riley sees Sal Ricci, wrist deep in a bloody James Anderson as yet another blast rocks Platte River Stadium. Covington tells Ricci to get to safety, but Sal is adamant that he stay with Anderson, lest the Predators running back bleed out. Riley yells that Sal’s got a wife and kid to think about and finally gets Ricci to head for safety. Ricci runs for the field manager’s office while Riley puts pressure on Anderson’s wound.
As Riley tries to staunch the flow of blood, he looks over the carnage, as bodies and limbs are strewn everywhere throughout the stadium. Riley begins a prayer of vengeance, but yet another explosion hits the stadium, this time even closer to the field. Riley looks up to see the area where the field manager’s office used to be a smoking crater. Full of anguish, Riley determines that Anderson AIN’T GONNA DIE ON HIM! and starts performing CPR. Riley finally has to be pulled from Anderson’s body by two police officers, long after the attacks and James Anderson’s life is over.
In week three, the Mustangs had been in the same situation against the San Diego Thunder. The defense had let its guard down, and that game had ended in a humiliating Thunder comeback victory. – “HUH, WHAT, F*CK YOU!” – Thunder quarterback, “King Laserface” Marmalard Jones.
Riley had little doubt as to who was behind this attack – the same group of Arab fascists who were behind so many other things that were wrong in this world. – YEAH, LIKE JIM ROME!
Riley’s hands reached into Anderson’s torn, bloody jersey, found the wound, and pressed down to try to stop the bleeding. – Are we sure Anderson’s injury isn’t the result of Predators star middle linebacker Rory “Stabby” Loomis getting in touch with his inner Roberto the Robot?