The loud sounds of car horns rattles James out of his daydream. He had been stuck in traffic for what felt like an eternity and had barely moved a yard. The pain of being suspended in traffic while you watch the time tick away would have ordinarily been enough to cause the vein in his forehead to protrude from anger. Not today though.

James was the beneficiary of a bittersweet windfall of money. His father, who James has had very little contact with throughout the duration of his life, recently passed away leaving James over One million dollars from his life insurance policy.

James didn’t know his father. Not really. So there was a hefty amount of surprise that arrested him when he was informed that not only had his sperm donor passed, but also he left James more money than his Father had ever seen in his own lifetime.

Monroe “Monty” Clarence Sangster had a promising career ahead of him as a wide receiver. As a high school junior, Monty broke the record for all purpose yards and receiving yards for the state of Tennessee, a record that still stands til this day nearly 30 years later. In fact, the closest anyone has ever gotten to that record was Monty during his senior year.

Monty had scholarship offers from all of the big programs, but he had his eye set squarely on joining the Arkansas Razorbacks. Some would call his reasoning childish, but there was something about that red and black tusk that always enchanted him like the song of a siren. He was certain that he would be going there before eventually joining the NFL and becoming a millionaire.

A series of unfortunate events would guarantee that he would never reach the pinnacles that he spent hours, days, and nights dreaming of. During his senior year, just shortly after his football season concluded, Monty got a young lady named Georgia Smith pregnant. Determined to be the best dad he could be and to raise the next football prodigy, Monty made plans for Georgia to come with him to Fayetteville. She had the grades to join him, so they were all but set to finish their final semester of high school and etch closer to changing their lives for good.

One day though, Monty got invited to come and train with some guys from his neighborhood. They weren’t exactly friends but they played ball in the field not far from their houses. There was one guy in particular that Monty was excited to train with as he prepared for his first college season. UG Douglas, or Eugene Douglas, played collegiate ball at Tennessee state university and Monty was chomping at the bit to train with a guy that was already where he hoped to be.

They planned to drive over to a field a few miles away from Monty’s high school. There was a field there, a few tractor tires, some free weights and a few hurdles. They all rode in one car and arrived at the field a little after noon.

As they got out of the car, the spring sun beamed down on them. The sky was mostly clear with a few pillowy soft white clouds easing across the sky. The wind blew gently delivering a slight breeze. There couldn’t have been a more perfect day to get some training in.

And training was perfect. Being pushed further than he’d ever been pushed before, Monty, soaked in sweat and turning his light gray tank top dark charcoal, smiled as he thought about how college workouts would be just like this. The excitement overpowered his exhaustion as he smiled and stared at a passing cloud.

The group sat silent for a bit as they caught their breath from the workout. Then UG broke the silence.

“Anybody want to get some routes in? I’ll be the quarterback if y’all want to go one on one.”

Monty rolled his head around looking at the two other guys with UG and himself. With an arrogant grin on his face, he sighed and quipped “They don’t want to guard me one on one.”

Joshua, one of the guys standing near the car that the group was leaning on at this point, chirped back that covering Monty would be “light work”.

Trey, the last of the bunch, looked at the sky, tracing the clouds as they breezed by. Then he said, “I’m going to sit this one out. I’m exhausted.”

So Monty pushed himself off of the car and walked toward the middle of the field. He raised both arms like a winner after winning and looked over at Joshua as if inviting him to try and stop him.

Joshua, with a smirk on his face, walked confidently onto the field. UG followed and walked over to stand beside Monty.

“Y’all ready?” UG asked.

Monty responded “Let’s go”.

UG snapped the ball, and Monty took off. Joshua attempted to press him at the line, but Monty brushed his arms off before erupting past him and catching a wobbly pass thrown by UG.

“I told you!” Monty shouted.

They repeated the exercise four more times. Each time it got more physical, and each time Monty managed to catch a pass from UG. And each time, Monty gloated.

Finally on the next route, Joshua managed to jump in front of Monty on a route and intercepted the pass. Joshua, holding the ball, pressed it against Monty’s head and let him hear it.

“You talked all that shit, but I don’t hear you now. I’m on you now.”

On the next snap, UG overthrew the ball and Monty just barely missed it. Joshua was there leaning on him as the ball missed his fingertips. And again he fired off his trash talk.

“I told you! I’m on you! I’m in your head now. I own you! Your whole lineage is mine!”

This seemingly struck a cord with Monty because on the next play he was more physical. The ball was thrown in the air and both players elevated to try and pull the ball in. Monty’s elbow unintentionally hit Joshua in the mouth as he grabbed the ball from the air. Joshua thinking, it was intentional, took offense.

Joshua stepped in close to Monty before pushing him with both arms and all his strength. Monty, not backing down, responded by pushing Joshua.

Monty in a slightly rattled but still calm voice said, “I didn’t mean to bow you, but if you trying to take it there, it is what it is.”

Joshua responded, “Nah. Fuck that. You been talking shit all day. But as soon as I start busting your ass, you want to ‘accidentally’ bow me. You acting like a child so I’m about to whoop your ass like your daddy don’t.”

Monty, whose father abandoned he and his mother around the time he was 6, snapped. It was something about alluding to his absent father that scratched something painful inside of Monty. So he blacked out, and when he came to, he had inflicted all of the pain that he was feeling onto Joshua.

The other two boys rushed in to break it up at this point. They pulled Monty off of Joshua and Monty didn’t resist.

“I’m good. I’m good.” He muttered.

Joshua got up from the ground, made a stride toward the trunk of the car before turning to the group, raising his arm, and pointing a black 9mm Smith and Wesson pistol.

UG charged at Joshua, and reflexively so did Monty. As the two tried to wrestle the pistol from the one, a shot rang out. With glassy eyes, UG gasped for air. Blood gushed from his neck where the bullet passed through.

Monty swung his head around to Trey, but Trey looked just as frightened and confused as Monty. Monty glared a few feet away at Joshua who had dropped the gun.

Joshua had both hands on his head as he paced back and forth saying “what the fuck” repeatedly.

Monty took a deep swallow before yelling to the group, “GET HIM IN THE CAR NOW! I’LL DRIVE”

They loaded UG into the car, and Monty sped off in the direction of a hospital. While racing down a major street, blue lights blinked behind the car.


Monty in a panic pulled over to the side of the road. He hoped to explain to the cops that it was an accident and that they just needed to get to a hospital. That was his plan, but when the officer moseyed up to the driver’s window, brushing against the car the whole way, he saw UG laying in the back with blood spilling from his neck.

“GET OUT THE CAR NOW!” Were his words. He couldn’t have gotten to his walkie faster if you paid him as he called for backup.


Stuttering with fear Joshua managed to weakly whisper that it was an accident.

The officer continued his volley of questions before asking, “Where’s the gun”.

“We don’t have it”, Josh responded.

“Open the trunk, I need to search the car”

“I told you, we don’t have it!”

As the cop went into the trunk of the car, he initially didn’t see anything suspicious. The trunk was filled with used rags and worn clothes. Just as he was about to close the trunk, he noticed a white plastic bag taped with duct tape.

He pulled it out and opened it. It was over 3 pounds marijuana. Obviously it belonged to UG, but that story would take months of going back and forth within the realm of the legal system before it was sorted. In the meantime, Monty lost his scholarship, and Georgia went on to college without him.

He’d move to Fayetteville as soon as he was released from prison. Found innocent on all charges, Monty was a free man with a scarlet letter. He tried to find work, but no luck. He tried for months while crashing in Georgia’s dorm room, to her roommates chagrin. Finally, he found work as a mechanic where he’d work for the next 3 years.

He and Georgia moved off campus into a small apartment not long after he got his job. They needed more space for little James to run around, and a college dorm wouldn’t work. Life had its ups and downs, but Monty loved James and Georgia fiercely. He would lay down his life without a second’s thought for either of them. He would give them the last he had and rob somebody to give them the last the victim had too. They made life worth it, even if his dreams of being a pro footballer were long gone.

But about a week before Georgia was set to walk across the stage to receive her diploma, she uttered those infamous words to Monty: “We need to talk”.

She told him how much she loved him and how much James loved him. She paused. Then continued on in no certain words to say that she wanted more out of life for herself and for James.

“When we first started, we had our future charted like a map from the east coast to the west. But life took a turn and here we are— a world away from where we thought we’d be. I love you so much. I really do, but I’m about to graduate and I think I want to take a job over in Nashville. I want better for myself. I want James to be around people who can inspire him to be more. And we can’t find that here.”

“In Fayetteville?” Monty asked, knowing the answer.

“That too.” Georgia replied. She wiped tears from her eyes with her arm. “But I meant here in this relationship. We’re not married. You can visit him whenever you like. But I have to make the moves that are best for all of us.”

“So. You taking my son?”

“You can see him.”

“But you taking my son.” Tears pressed against the front of Monty’s eyes before the burst through and rolled down his cheek. “Because I’m not good enough?”

“I’m not saying you’re not good enough”

“Then what the hell are you saying, Georgia!?” Monty interrupted. “You want to take him around some what!? College educated sissy boys, or maybe with your holier than thou snobby college girlfriends. Fuck that. I’ll fight. I didn’t make it in football. Thats true, but I’m a damn good father to that boy and you can’t take that away from me!”

Georgia wept. Tears fell like snowballs on a mountain, gathering momentum as they rolled.

“If you love your son, you’d let him go have a better life.”

“So it’s true. I’m the fuck up. I’m the failure.” “You know what, if you think him being without his father is best, fine! Fuck it. Go! Do it!”

Monty stormed out of the apartment slamming the door behind him. He never saw James in person again. But he kept loving him. He kept tabs on him, and Monty even moved to Nashville in secret to be close. Monty never fathered another child, and except for a few casual flings, he never courted anyone else again either. He held space for his lost family, but he never reached out. He couldn’t. He was a failure. And more than that, he let them leave. There was no coming back.

But he managed to do one thing for his family. He took out a 2 million dollar life insurance policy and named his son the lone beneficiary. When he became sick and it was apparent to him if nobody else, not even the doctors, that this was it, he used every spare cent he had to pay toward his funeral. When Monty passed, there were no expenses to cover with the life insurance. All of it went to James.

He couldn’t help him alive. But he could give him the world once he was dead. And so he did.