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You are about to read the story of a fictional character...
A simple game of catch, a childhood enjoyment of so many, had so much more meaning that night than it possibly ever had. It wasn’t the action of throwing the ball or anything; that wasn’t important. In fact, that particular game of “catch” had very little importance at all. Nothing was riding on it. What made it so important was all the thoughts and memories and worries going through my head. What made this game of throwing the ball back and forth to a partner important was what would follow after. What time was it? Right then, time wasn’t real. All that was real was the dirtied hat that was perched on my head, the yellowing ball that was in my right hand, and the glove that was on my left. Oh, and at that point, I kept trying to convince myself I was real…What day was it? I really couldn’t even tell you. All that was on my mind was thoughts about what would soon come after. Where the heck was I? I can tell you that I was standing on the grass on a field in some place all so familiar, yet I know or I’m at least pretty sure, I’ve never been here before. I can tell you that I’m tossing the ball with some body, somebody I feel like I’ve known since I was five years old…but truth be told we’ve never met. What I admired most about this guy was how at ease he seamed, joking around with the person next to him. How was he so relaxed with so much at stake?
My cleats never once stayed still, never once dug fully into the grass. My glove was always on the move, like a magnet for the ball. “Pop.” Each time another pop into the well built in glove. Not a word was spoken by me or anyone remotely around me, but when I tuned in I heard all sorts of voices and chatter. At that moment, it’s currently silent but when I tried to hear, I can hear tens of thousands of people collectively making enough noise to make a man deaf. In the Hindu faith, it is believed that if you held the world in your hand, it would make an “Om” sound. But right then, that was pretty much horse crap. ‘Cause I knew everyone in the world was there watching me, where ever it was that I was. And all I could hear was something more along the lines of loud, obnoxious salesmen shouting for a sale, and rowdy fans making a riot in the bleachers. I was obviously at a baseball field…hearing these noises you instantly know where you are. But which park?
“Peanuts! Crackerjacks! Get your ice cream! Only two dollars! Water! Soda! Ice cold beer! Get it all over here!”
“Hey left field, my grandma can make a better run on that ball than you can, you lousy bum…”
“Yo man, that’s my seat! I dun’t want no problems or nutin, but you betta gets up before one breaks loose!”
‘Stay focused. This was the key to success. Tune into the game, and not the stands,’ I mumbled quietly. ‘Instead of worrying about what the guy in the two dollar seat has to say, now would be a good time to worry about the blazing fast ball flying at you that likely has sparks flying off of it,’ I thought to myself. Luckily, since I’ve been playing catch since I was a kid, it had become instinctual and like breathing---I don’t have to think about it, it’s basically engraved in my body.
How long had I been throwing this ball? It’s a toss up between thirty seconds and two hours…One final toss of this ball, and we were done. In my head, all I could imagine is that grass, actually. Of all things, the grass is what’s on my mind. I had never dreamt of grass as well kept as this. For some crazy reason, possibly an unfulfilled baseball fan who never had the chance spirit took over my body, I took off my shoes and basked in the grass for a moment or two. Besides, those darned things had been under my bed for so long that they didn’t even fit any more. On the grass, it’s not that I didn’t care how ridiculous I looked, because had I been tuned in and not in a meta-world-like state, I would have been very self conscious about that kind of stuff. But not then…I was too busy reliving all the fields I had played on as a child, even when I was a small boy playing t-ball in the local park. Baseball was just a fun game, and I remembered how it molded into becoming a life style and even soon a job. I remembered some of the fondest times in my life, diving catches, home runs, mobbing people on the field as they scored a winning run. What a game baseball was.
Slowly strolling like the richest of men (which I certainly was not), I made my way to the dugout. It was possibly one of the most surreal feelings I have ever experienced; knowing that I was finally here a smile arose on my face. I did notice lips moving, but no sound was coming out. A light tap on my shoulder caused me to turn around, and who else was standing there but the coach of this ball club.
“Kid, today may be your day.” I couldn’t decide whether or not to die of surprise or of excitement. I made a quick but important decision and decided to stay alive. “That good for nothing sunnuva bitch catcher we had didn’t show up yet. We need someone to take his place, pal, and you’ll be playing behind the dish tonight. Got that?”
“Thank you, sir. I won’t let you down,” I said, voice trembling.
“Don’t thank me. Just don’t let me regret my decision. It was between you and someone else, and I gave it to you.”
“I won’t let you down.”
“Put some damn shoes on.”
How did I forget to put shoes on? As I went to grab them, it struck me that in all my years of playing, I never played catcher? Why wasn’t I surprised? I had when I was a kid, maybe, but I suppose I made a game losing error of some kind and never wanted to play that position again. I called for the coach.
“Hey, uhm, coach…”
“Uhhhmmm, I just wanted to thank you for giving me this chance to play tonight.” I froze up.
“Don’t let me down.”
I wouldn’t. Soon, the pitcher and I discussed the signs.
“One for fastball,” he said.
“Two for change up,” I nodded.
“Three for curveball,” he continued.
“And four for my ‘Timmy-surprise’ pitch.” I would have asked what it meant, but surprised are best kept secret. They usually let me down.
As I grabbed for my spikes, a frenzy of thoughts filled my head like a fast tornado swirling; taking me with it. Soon, this tornado threw me to an open field in the Midwest in the fall, with nothing remotely close to us in this world except the ball and glove we were using. I was up to bat against a tall pitcher with fire in his eyes. Although neither of us had been speaking to each other, our eyes said every word in the English language to one another. It was quite the sensation. I had no worries. No thoughts of the past or the future. Man, when I was on the field playing catch with my dad, the present was hardly a factor. It just felt so calming to have someone like that for me, knowing how lucky I was. My dreams were all around me: 1920s ball players floated around in circles over head as I slowly looked up and around me. Looking to the left and right, I saw fans yelling my name. The girl of my dreams was even there watching me. I had all the talent in the world.
I couldn’t believe my own eyes. I shouldn’t have. The bat dropped from my hands and the tornado threw me in the air, and I hit the floor.
I didn’t know where I was. I opened my eyes quickly, but only saw black. I shut them just as quickly. This time slowly, I opened them again, hoping to see the roof of the club house or the dugout…I was out of luck and the hour glass was flipped over and done with. I saw the ceiling to my room, my fan slowly spinning. I was back in the real world. And I won’t have every one in the world watching me again. But don’t think that will stop me. Om.