“And I wept much, because no man was found worthy to open and to read the book, neither to look thereon.” – Revelation 5:4

It’s the day before the big game, Alabama vs. LSU. The weather is grim, a bad omen for somebody.

The Vegas boys have made the Tide five-point favorites. They’re good, the Vegas boys. They have the weird info, numbers you don’t know, can’t know. They control the passage of objects across the sky.

Life is ephemeral. The Vegas boys know. One way or another, there will be a riot at Bryant-Denny tomorrow night. It will be a powerful meeting of teams and fan bases, the game of the college season.

The grilled meat of the losers shall be flavorless and greasy.

The losers shall not savor merlot, nor Michelob Ultra, for the great day of wrath has come.

LSU fans are confident. The internet smack is good.

Some of my best friends are LSU fans.

The Louisianans I know from along the Baton Rouge – New Orleans axis all have the berserker gene. They’ll get crazy with you. They like to eat and drink and they like football.

I never fully understood SEC football and the mania it provokes until I went to a game in Tuscaloosa. Television is the perfect medium for football, sure, but a first-person look at the spectacle confirmed something I’d long suspected – I’m a casual football fan.

Take the hardcore Alabama faithful. Right now there are thousands of Tide fanatics all thinking the same thing: “It will really suck if we lose at home to Les Miles. It will probably cost us a shot at the national championship. On the other hand, as long as we destroy Auburn, the season is saved.”

Yea, verily. You see, Alabama and Auburn have a long … Well, you know about Alabama and Auburn or you wouldn’t have made it this far.

Some people aren’t into football. At all. It’s a breathtakingly violent game, and it polarizes folks.

The televised product can lull one into thinking it’s mere entertainment. Let’s be real. The average Division I hit would kill you or me.

Let’s say you’re suddenly a quarterback. Let’s have Scotty beam you down to the field for a moment. The ball is in your hands. It’s a busted play and now you’re face to face with a sprinting 300-pound lineman, a stone-cold quarterback killer.

Those zombies don’t seem so scary anymore, do they? You’ll take the zombies every time, especially the slow, shuffling dead.

Anything is better than the hit Large Bubba is about to bestow on you. Anything but that. Scotty!

There are many cruel Rooms in the mansion, and many deep holes in the Road. Keep alert or be stabbed. Of all the shocks and pains that every football season brings, the worst of all is the ending of it. And that is what we face now – this coming Sunday night, in fact, before the midnight bell. There will be no appeal, no extension, no replay. That will be the end of the football season, no matter who complains.

If Hunter S. Thompson were still alive, he’d know the spread on Bama–LSU. Yep. Keep alert or be stabbed. Even late in his career, phoning it in for ESPN.com, Thompson could still throw the ninja star.

I miss the good doctor. We need him now – in fighting trim – more than ever.

The next time you find yourself in need of conversation in some backwoods foreign airport, as I have from time to time, take this tip and look around for the nearest public TV set that is tuned to a football game. That will be your oasis, no matter how long your layover may [last]. You will get your questions answered.

Gambling is another universal language, along with simple mathematics, cold beer, and wild sex with Jimson weed. Any traveler who is conversant in these tongues and football too will find friends in any town. Take my word for it.

The Vegas line has dropped to four. Money, enough to bankroll a small nation, will change hands tomorrow night.

On Sunday morning the losers will face a black sun. The wind will beat them mercilessly and sand will sting their bellies. The moon will rise blood red.

Some will saw off their own heads, and others will leap from the bluff into the freezing river. It will be horrible.

The losers will file reports of a fast, deadly creature wearing aviator shades. Not of this earth, they solemnly swear, this loping shadow. Their dreams in his grinning jaws.

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John Hicks tracks wildlife in Colbert County, Alabama.   

John Hicks lives outside the city limits, where eagles dare.

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