Thursday, February 5, 2009

Childhood, why its right here

With my child sense of grandeur the lot was gigantic, the bases miles apart and the bleachers behind home platepacked, brimming with parents, all of whom knew my name. I tapped the pate with the bat and nervously pulled up my shorts, then pulled down the brim of my hat. The hat was logoed like the other teams'. Our caps were initial P.A.M, standing for Pacific Atlantic Meters. The town's ode to industrialism was a factory in the eastern part of the town that made gas meters. One third of the fathers of the players on the field worked as assembly line workers in the plant.

Nathan Poole stared at me. He was always staring. His cap was slanted. The jersey and matching cap attested his commitment to the game. For the first few years of the minor league program the boys were given jerseys by their sponsors. Little Italy one of the town's celebrated pizzerias had discovered a cheaper way to mark young athletes, hats. Not only did hats survive the playing season in better condition but were also more adjustable than the oversized jerseys the boys were given.

Nathan filled his jersey out. A predilicition for milk and an early puberty gave him the profile of a man. It also allowed him to throw a stunningly fast pitch that would burn the hands of the fat, lazy, catcher, Mike Biggs. Biggs was enrolled in the summertime sport not for his love of the game, for which he had none, but instead to foce him outdoors and into social situations with his peers. Biggs and I were good friends until he discovered his father's magazines, not pornography but science fiction. Biggs endlessly read and reread Isaac Asimov stories. When he did go out, foced by his mother, he would endlessly blather about robots and would want to play games in which we were cyborgs, whatever that was.

Poole's first pitch slammed into Biggs' mitt and when I heard the catcher moan I swung my bat. The bat sliced the empty air.

"Ssssstttteeeerrrrike Uno," exclaimed Mr. Durie. A lanky man with a penchant for international humor, Mr. Durie wagged his finger at the crowd. Bigg's let his hand recover then lobbed the ball to Poole. The ball fell short and Poole made a long walk from the pitcher's plate to where the ball resided on the turf.

"You throw like a girl, fatty," Poole said to Biggs.
"AS if thee comments of a modern neanderthal would insult a sapien like myself," Biggs replied chortling.
"Eat some bacon, piggy!"
"Boys, boys, no need to mouth off. Nathan pitch the ball, the game is almost over and I want some root beer." Mr. Durie had a prediliction for exotic root beer that I'd never heard of. It made his eyes blood shot and his breath stink.
"What a grade A jerk," Biggs said to me. "Hey, you wanna hit that ball?"
I nodded dumbly, fantasies of hitting a homerun and being the neighborhood pride quickly filled my imagination.
"Just swing when I say so."
I nodded, looked at the sun, daring it to blind me and then at my foe, Nathan Poole. I felt trapped, no place to go, I would die before fleeing.
"Swiiing," screeched Biggs.
My arms whipped the bat around, my shoulders torqued and my hands felt the vibration of the bat connecting with the ball. I dropped the bat and scurried my way to first base. My grandslam made it to the left field where the dexterous David DeGeorge picked it up and delivered it to Poole who glared at me angrily knowing that a fluke like me couldn't have been able to hit one of the county's fastest speed balls.

"Got any gum," Justin Wainwright, the first baseman asked me distracting me from Poole's hateful gaze. Wainwright had a sweet tooth and was well known for falling asleep with a tootsie pop in his mouth. He'd brag about his elaborate dental work done by the town's dentist and his father.

My sweaty hands frisked my pockets.
"Nah, don't got any," I said.
"This stick is losing all its flavor and doesn't really blow bubbles that good. Why they call it bubblegum, if you can't blow bubbles with it? They should call it slightly flavored taffy instead. When I open my candy factory my bubblegum will have long lasting flavor, long lasting, oh damn," Justin said. His rant ended by the thwack of the ball and bat.

My teammmate, Brett, ran towards me. I jumped and ran to 2nd base, considerably further then I'd ever made it before.
My palms dripped with sweaty anxiety. It was such a short distance to home plate! The next hit whizzed over my head. The outfielder fumbled the ball which allowed me to get to third base with ease.

With bases loaded the pressure was on. Poole visibly tightened. Biggs shifted closer to the batter. Pete Putriment had, like myself, never hit a ball that wasn't set up for him on a tee. He was given more to daydreaming than athletics and had a distant air to him, like a wispy cloud in a blue summer sky.

The first pitch came straight down the pipe. Pete swing and missed. The second pitch again was a swing and a miss. I could see Biggs inch closer to Pete with each throw. The last ball whacked Pete on his arm. He looked down at the ball whose motion he'd arrested with his limb. There was a brief commotion as Pete was checked out. Nathan swung his hands up in disbelief and then sat on the mound. Then everyone began to walk.

I made it to home plate and grinned to myself I could hear Biggs laughing.
"Eat more bacon huh, huh? What's eating you, Nathan," I heard Biggs mutter.
I sat on the bench and dreamed of an ice cream cone with a red candy shell. I could almost taste the sugary sweet coating on the soft serve vanilla. The sun shone down on me and I wondered how many days exactly had passed since my birth.


James said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
James said...

Work a little on the format. Man, this story has some truth to it huh?