The Coach’s Last Play

By Hy Conrad

Juliet Bricker watched as her husband dawdled over his Saturday morning breakfast. “What’s wrong, dear?”

Coach Bricker could never hide anything from Juliet. “It’s one of my star players. I found out the boy’s involved with gamblers. Maybe he’s not trying to throw games, but it’s still enough to get him suspended and ruin his chances with the pros.”

coachJuliet was sympathetic. College football was his whole life, and for the first time in years, Halberton State had a great team. “What are you going to do?”

“We’re meeting at the field before practice. I have to hear his side of it.”

Bricker kissed his wife good-bye, picked up his latest paperback novel, and headed for the door. Bricker was always reading—a holdover from his days as an English professor.

The team coordinator showed up half an hour before practice and found the coach lying in the middle of the field, his head bashed in.

“He didn’t die instantly,” the police chief said as he examined the scene. A ten-foot-long blood trail showed that Bricker had been crawling toward the field house. “What’s this in his hand?” The chief peered in the clenched fist and saw the last page of Coach Bricker’s paperback. The rest of the book lay back at the scene of the attack.

The Halberton team had three star players and these three became immediate suspects.

“I was in my dorm room all morning,” said quarterback Matt McGuffin. “Coach said I had to spend some time reviewing the playbook.”

On hearing the news, Alfie Goodall, defensive lineman, broke down and could barely blubber out his alibi. “Coach told me I had to lose some weight. I was out on the road this morning, running.”

Donny Emory, tight end, claimed to be sleeping in. “Me and my roommate had a late night. He’s still fast asleep. I barely got here in time for practice.”

The chief thought over the case until it dawned on him. “Holy cow! Before he died, Coach Bricker identified his killer. Very clever.”


Coach Bricker survived long enough to try to identify his attacker. The only problem was that, lying in the middle of a football field, he didn’t have access to pencil or paper. All he had was his paperback novel. Thinking quickly, Bricker tore out the book’s last page and kept it clutched in his hand. His killer would be identified by the last words on that page, “THE END.”