The last two weeks had been pure hell. St. Louis Rams head coach Jeff Fisher rubbed the back of his neck as he looked up at the ceiling of the airport. His players were milling around the customs area after their flight to England. It wasn't the loss to the Green Bay Packers last Sunday, or the prospect of playing the New England Patriots that had him wishing the hand full of Tylenol he'd taken would finally kick in. When his phone chirped, he looked at the small screen and groaned, "What now?"
The caller ID said it was the Rams general manager Les Snead sending him a text message. It read: "It so sucks to be you!" with a little smiley face added to the end of the message. Fisher hit "reply", and began furiously pressing keys on his phone: "Funny boy! Sick boy! I'm posting the pics online I have of you walking out of the police station with hookers and the nut case after the CVC meeting. Enjoy!" It was followed by the small image of a hand with only one finger extended. Just as he was about to hit send, the sound of a voice at the customs counter made his smile fade, and he reflexively cringed. "Son of a..." Jeff groaned. He hit the send button with far less relish than he would have only seconds ago. One of his players pushed his way through the crowd to him.
"Coach, you may want to come... She's having a small problem." Chris Long fought the urge to smile. "Derinda's luggage is being searched, and she's..." He lost it, and bent over laughing. His teammate James Laurinaitis half hid behind him, his hand over his mouth to cover his smile. The coach had threatened the entire team with running stadium stairways until, "...your damn legs fall off!" if anyone so much as mentioned Derinda Platt.
Fisher crossed his arms as he studied his two defense stars, "You're laughing about it now, but just wait... You wouldn't be enjoying your coach's agony, because if you are..." The smile beneath his mustache grew large and malevolent.
"Not at all coach," Long straightened to his full height, and reached back to hit Laurinaitis. "I just thought you'd want to..."
"What! You thought I'd want to do what exactly?" Fisher's smile faded. He peered around his player's huge shoulders at the customs desk, and winced. "Jeez, what's she done now?" When four heavily armed security personnel shove by him on their way to the customs desk, Jeff looked back at his linemen. They were both laughing as they tried to flee their coach's wrath. Fisher reached out and grabbed each by their shirts, "Where do you think you're going?" He looked from them, back to the customs desk. He could see clothes flying in the air, and heard shouts of "Miss! Now Miss, there's no reason to..." Jeff shoved his two players toward the growing fray, "Get me over there!" Still laughing, Long and James began to shove people aside, making a hole in the crowd for their coach.
Camera flashes were going off around them, and everyone in the crowd seemed to be holding their cell phones in the air trying to take photos of the disturbance. Fisher heard people wondering aloud if it had anything to do with terrorists? He paused long enough to tell one bystander, "It's not terrorists. It's much worse. It's Derinda..." His players broke through the small security cordon, and as Jeff stepped forward he was hit in the face by a pair of women's underwear.
"How about this? There a bomb in them too?" The tall blonde woman growled at the cowering customs agents. "Maybe I got some of that heroin stuff stuck in this bra?" The pink bra took flight and landed on the head of a nervous looking Janoris Jenkins who was next in line.
"Miss, I'll have you stop flinging your personals about, please. Guard!" The female customs agent screeched and ducked as a high heeled shoe whizzed by her head.
Fisher motioned for Chris and James to grab Derinda. They both looked wide eyed, and began to back away. "You hit 350 pound linemen for a living for God's sake. Get in there!" One of the guards holding a machine gun had heard the exchange. He looked at the 275 pound Chris Long and shook his head.
"You're goin'-a to need this mate," He tried to hand his rifle to Long.
"Oh for the love of..." Fisher launched himself forward, and grabbed Derinda by her shoulders, spinning her around. "What the hell are you doing?" He yelled.
"These bastards are fingering all my clothes. They decided to search all my stuff after they found this!" She snatched the cause of the whole commotion from the table and handed it to Fisher. It was a book: "Why Soccer Sucks and Football's Better" by named Douglas Morrison.
Fisher looked confused, and pointed at the book, then toward the customs agents, "What's the problem?"
All the customs agents raised their eyebrows as one, and Fisher thought he heard rifle safeties being clicked off. "If we could have your name sir?" One of the agents inquired.
"What? It's a book? How can you have a problem with..." Fisher didn't get to finish his thought.
"If you'll come with us sir. We have a few questions for you..." A security guard grabbed Fisher by the arm and began pulling him off to the side.
"I'm the head coach of the St. Louis Rams. We have a game this Sunday... Let go of me!" He wrestled his arm free, and yelled, "Guys!" The sound of carry-on bags hitting the floor on-masse made a loud thud, and fifty plus rather large human beings began moving forward to defend their coach. The security guards and customs agents turned and began to fight there way through the doorway behind them.
The sound of a bull horn magnified voice broke through the din of screaming passengers trying to flee the pending riot. "Stand fast! Stand fast right where you are!" It seemed to have great effect on anyone who was British, but the rampaging football players paid no attention. The man, an Army Major, repeated his call after considering who he was yelling at for a moment. "Freeze dirt bags. This is NCIS...and we have guns...and spread your feet?" He looked at the corporal standing next to him, "What else gets an American's attention?" The corporal whispered something in his ear. "Ah, very good Smithers. I'll give it a go." He raised the bull horn, "Bud Light anyone?" That did it. The football players froze and looked in his direction. "Now that I have your attention. Please refrain from misbehaving while we sort this all out. You sir, put that woman down! That young woman over there...Yes, you! Get down off that counter and stop hitting that man with the British Airways sign." He turned to Smithers, "She must be the cause of all this. Go and detain her, will you? There's a good chap."
Smithers saluted his commanding officer, and signaled to two heavily armed soldiers who had been a part of the riot response squad from the Army base near by. "Right, let's go boys," and the three men in combat gear began to push through the crowd toward the tall, blonde crazy woman who remained standing on the counter. A few moments later, the crowd parted after he heard a scream that sounded remarkable like Smithers. The Major watched as the corporal went running by him shouting, "Save yourself sir! Sound recall for the love of God!" Shameful, was all the Major had time to think before the blonde woman Smithers had been sent to detain slammed into him, knocking him flat. He felt someone grab his head, and whoever it was began to bounce his head off the carpeted floor. Dazed, he felt someone pull the woman off him. He could have swore he heard her yelling something about "Try and take my damn panties, will you! We beat you at that place that sounds like a grape, and that Yorkburg too. Give me back my bras, or give me death!" He thought he heard cheering too? Struggling to his feet, he could see two extremely large men fighting to hold onto the deranged woman.
"Good lads! Stead! Hold her fast and we'll have her off to hospital straight away. She obviously flew coach and it was too much for her. Can't really blame her though..." Quite a number of the passengers standing near by began to nod their agreement. "The in-flight movie no doubt starred Russell Brand? That's quite enough to send anyone round the bend..." The number of people agreeing with him increased. A man with a stout mustache was talking to the crazed woman, and she seemed to be calming down.
"Stop Derinda! Everything's fine. I'll have the guys gather up your clothes and..." Jeff leaped back in time to miss being kicked.
"You ain't lettin' these boys fiddle around with my unmentionables. Let me go! I'll gather up my own stuff..." She looked at the player holding her right arm, then the one on the left, "If you boys don't let loose of me right now, I'm so gonna kick your asses all the way to that Buckingburg Palace." Michael Brockers and Kendall Langford immediately released her and began backing away. "Coach made us, I swear," Brockers said, and then dove through the crowd of his teammates to hide.
Derinda parted her long blonde hair that had fallen in front of her face, then blew out a long breath. She looked at the wobbling Army Major. After studying him for a few seconds, her eyes narrowed, "Have you guys declared war on me or what?" She looked at Fisher, who stood nearby with his hands covering his face. "I want you to call the damn President of the United States and tell him these folks have attacked a defenseless American citizen!"
Fisher nodded as he removed his hands from his face and rolled his eyes, "Yes, yes, I'll call anyone you want. I'll call the damn Pope if you want, but can we please get out of the airport now?" His shoulder slumped when he saw the look on Derinda's face.
"You want me to retreat? Did we retreat when the Russians attacked Hawaii? Did we give up when people said we'd never land a man on Jupiter?" She waited to hear all of her fellow Americans shout "NO!", but the only voice of agreement she heard came from Janoris Jenkins. He still stood nervously in his place in line at the customs counter. Derinda frowned at the lack of response, then turned to the Army Major, "I don't suppose we could have one of those ceasefire things?"
The Major nodded, "No real harm done I should think. The airline may bill you for their sign though?" He pointed above him at the sign embedded in the ceiling tiles. "Yes, yes, let's move this whole thing along. I'll go find the customs chaps while you gather your belongings. "What caused this bloody mess in the first place?" He looked at Fisher, who held up the tattered remains of a book. "Really?" He gave a low chuckle. "I never liked the name Soccer. Football is football... Great sport, yes, yes..." He wondered why the bloke with the mustache had clamped a hand over the odd woman's mouth? Crazy Americans, he thought. While he knew he should have arrested someone for all the commotion, he didn't want to anger his cousin.
Fisher sighed with relief. He told his coaching staff to get his players back into the customs line. The agents had returned and were stamping passports as fast as they could, not even looking at the person presenting them. Jeff approached the Major, and introduced himself. Shaking hands, he asked the officer his name.
"Major Oliver Kroenke, pleasure to meet you. Give 'em hell this Sunday, eh?" He smiled and walked away to find his missing corporal.
Jeff stood there, his jaw dropped so low he thought it would unhinge.
Derinda walked up and stood beside him, "Kind of a coincidence him havin'' the same last name as Stan, ain't it?" She pulled at the tear in her sleeve.
Fisher stared at her. "What the hell just happened...You knew?"
Derinda studied her broken finger nail on her left hand, "I don't suppose you or your wonderful coaches saw Janoris go into the restroom after we arrived? He went in there all jumpy, and came back out down right calm..." Derinda could tell Jeff didn't understand. "Did you see how nervous he was standing in the customs line?"
It suddenly clicked, and Jeff turned to her, "You don't mean he...?" He was about to explode in anger, but he felt Derinda touch his sleeve.
"Easy there coach," She smiled. "I don't think he'd did anything wrong, he may have just needed to go real bad. We all know what that's like, right?" She elbowed Jeff, "But when I saw him in line, I knew I couldn't really take a chance, now could I? So I decided to make a tiny scene. Worked out well, don't you think?"
Smiling, Jeff said, "I hate you." and walked away.