We met in a downtown parking lot after midnight.
The little guy wore an overcoat a size too big at least. His face looked like it hadn’t felt a razor’s edge in days.
He told me he was the last non-Seahawks fan in Spokane.
“No names,” he added, looking nervously over his shoulder. “If you write anything about this, just call me Deep Route.”
I had to laugh.
“With apologies to Watergate, of course.”
Deep Route gave me a blank look and said, “Huh?”
“As in Deep Throat,” I explained, “Woodward and Bernstein …”
“Who’d those guys play for?” asked Deep Route.
I shook my head.
“OK. Never mind. So why’d you call?”
Deep Route grinned. “I want people around here to know it’s OK,” he said.
It was my turn to play dumb.
“Yeah,” he said. “That it’s OK to not to jump on all this Seahawks bandwagon baloney. That it’s OK not to act like a bunch of ignorant sheep.”
“Careful,” I countered. “Isn’t it a little dangerous to be saying stuff like that these days?”
There was some truth to what Deep Route was saying, I knew.
Seahawks hysteria has been spreading like an avian flu after Sunday’s win over San Francisco, which put Seattle into the Super Bowl with the Denver Broncos.
“What has Seattle ever shown this side of the state besides arrogance and condescension?” asked Deep Route as if he were reading my thoughts.
“Nothing, that’s what,” he answered, not waiting for a reply.
“Seattle considers Eastern Washington nothing more than haven for toothless hill folk.”
Deep Route continued his rant.
“It’s like everybody’s joined one of those delusional mind-controlling cults, like Scientology or the Spokane Visitors Bureau.”
“Now just a darned minute,” I huffed. “There’s no reason to think Scientology’s that bad.”
Deep Route sneered.
“I was in a grocery store Sunday. They were selling Seahawks cookies and Seahawks cakes. And, get this, any shopper who showed up in a Seahawks jersey got a 10-percent discount.”
“Hard liquor, too?”
“I don’t think it went that far. But it’s madness, I tell ya. Madness!”
“Well, the Super Bowl is a pretty big de …”
“You know as well as I do. More than half of these front-runner fans couldn’t tell you whether Seattle’s in the AFC or the NFC,” said Deep Route, cutting me off.
“And now your own newspaper’s helping spread the insanity by giving away thousands of 12th Man banners and telling everybody to download their selfies with it at spokesman.com.”
“Hey, the newspaper industry needs every bit of help it can get,” I muttered weakly.
Deep Route glared at me.
“I’ve heard things about you,” he said in sly tone.
“What? What things have you heard?”
“That you’re no Seattle fan. You’ve been a Miami Dolphins guy ever since Don Shula took the coaching job in 1970.”
“Who told you that? And shut up,” I added in a whisper. “You never know who might be listening.”
“That’s exactly what I mean,” said Deep Route. “Spokane’s not a safe place for nonbelievers like you and me.”
“Don’t lump me into your treason,” I told him. “I’ve got enough troubles with management as it is.”
With that, Deep Route took a 12th man banner out of his overcoat. He unfolded it and laid it on the ground like a tablecloth. Then he took his cellphone and proceeded to take a photograph of …
Oh. My. Lord.
Let’s just say that Deep Route heeded the call of nature upon this proud emblem with green trim.
“Think they’ll use this in the ol’ photo gallery?” he asked in a maniacal tone.
I told Deep Route that I couldn’t be more shocked and appalled by such crass behavior.
“Aw, get over yourself,” he told me. “You know this whole 12th Man, noisiest stadium stuff is all a plot, don’t you?”
“A plot?” I asked. “A plot by whom?”
“The hearing aid industry,” he snapped. “Do the math. The more people who go deaf at these games, the more hearing aids get sold.”
“That’s the craziest thing I’ve ever heard,” I told Deep Route, while wondering how much Miracle Ear stock I could buy before Feb. 2.
“The 12th Man is an organic expression of the fans’ adoration for their team.”
Deep Route eyed me with contempt.
“Don’t say I didn’t try to warn you,” he muttered as he turned and walked away.
I watched the little man for a moment as he shuffled off into the shadows. Then I pushed the button on the wireless transmitter that was hidden under the lapel of my jacket.
“Subject’s heading south on Stevens,” I told the men in the nearby van. “Grab him before he gets to Sprague. Maybe a stay in Seahawks Re-education Camp can get his mind right by Super Bowl Sunday.”
“Oh, and forget all those lies about me and the Dolphins. I, heh-heh, haven’t a clue where he’d ever get such disloyal, slanderous nonsense.
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