For the Ninjas.
Adam felt his phone vibrate, as he sat staring at his work computer screen. His screen was filled with spreadsheets ... Adam having not done any actual work for some time, but to the passerby he looked busy, and he made sure to move the mouse every so often, so that the screen didn’t lock.
He had something else on his mind, and he had a feeling this phone call was it. His hand shook as he pulled it out of his pocket, and slowly pushed the green Answer button.
“He ... hello?” he nervously stammered.
“Hello, is this Adam?” came the response.
“Yes?” he tried to calmly reply.
“Brilliant, this is Daniel Anderson. Listen, as I was saying to you the other week, I’ve been watching you closely in the Holden Cup. You’ve been going well.”
“Thanks!” Adam responded – way too loud and enthusiastically. “I, I mean ... thanks.” he tried again, his voice an octave lower this time.
“You heard about the Sam Kasiano no-try debacle? Basically it means there’s an opening in first grade this week, and I want you to take it. You keen?”
Adam let out a loud woohoo and leapt out of his chair, pumping his fist into the air. “I’m there!” he triumphantly replied down the line.
Adam had always wanted to be a referee. Nobody really knew how it all began, and even Adam himself couldn’t quite explain where his dream came from, but it had driven him. For a long time.
He refereed his first game of back yard footy when he was only six years old. By the age of seven he’d saved enough pocket money to purchase a top of the line metal whistle.
At nine years of age he sent off his first player, and as he entered high school he was given the rare privilege of being named official school referee of the year, three years running.
He was always destined for greatness, but still, it was his remarkable drive that stood out to anyone who saw him. While other referees were happy to learn the rules and maintain a respectable level of fitness, Adam drove himself beyond whatever boundaries he could find. He would train until physically sick, and read the rulebook fifteen times each day.
His first grade debut would without doubt be the greatest moment of his life.
Adam had one more look at the Big League programme, just to check his name was still there in print. Relieved to see that it was, he put the magazine aside. He reverentially pulled his rulebook off the table, and settled down in front of the fireplace.
He’d already read it 27 times today ... but with the debut the next day, he’d better go through it another ten or so times, he reasoned.
As he wearily leafed through it, his eyelids began to droop, and he dropped off.
Adam awoke. He looked around. He was attached to cables, and there was some sort of regular beeping noise. His blurry vision eventually cleared, and he realised he was in hospital.
“Nurse!” he croaked as loud as possible, “What happened?”
A nearby nurse rushed over. “You were in a fire. Something you were reading fell into your fireplace, and set the room alight. Luckily your neighbour noticed, and pulled you to safety. He saved your life!”
“Forget that.” Adam struggled up and out of the bed, “I’ve got a game to referee!”
Adam took his spot at the coin toss.
“I hear you had a spot of bother last night, ref?” one of the captains politely asked.
“Yeah, all good now though.” came Adam’s husky reply.
Adam raced onto the field, feeling amazing, despite his near death experience. He watched as the two sides took their positions, and the ball was put on its tee ready for kick-off.
“Ready when you are.” he heard his co-referee say in his ear-piece.
Adam extended his arm, put his whistle to his lips, and blew.
He struggled to breathe in again, and blew again with all his might.
He tried one more time, felt his legs wobble, and fell to the ground. Trainers rushed on, and Adam was assisted from the field.
“He’s lost his puff!” a crowd member laughed, as Adam was carried off.
Adam never regained his whistle blowing ability, and went down in history as rugby league’s shortest serving first grade referee.
He died at the ripe old age of 87, some say of a broken heart.