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Another excerpt from an upcoming eBook “Slow Pitch”

April 20, 2015

In This except from “Slow Pitch” the Famers meet their arch rivals, who have ruled the softball league with a team of ringers for years.

 

The Famers paired off and formed two opposite lines to loosen up their arms. As they threw softballs to each other, the steady arc of balls and smacking sounds of their gloves reconnected the team in a necklace of rhythm. As the lines parted further away for longer and harder throws, the closer the Famers became. They caught up with each other. They talked aloud about utility bills, hernia operations, movies, lost hair, major league trades, weight gains, directions to good restaurants, alcoholic binges from last season, their parents memorial services, taxes, but avoided politics and down played how they got screwed at work.

“What’s up with the shirt from another team?” said Moose.

“I have another practice after this,” said Preston.

“You’re playing with us now,” said Googi.

Preston’s team jersey inspired Bob-O to say, “He’s big and he’s bad, he’s bad and he’s big, bad Legal Eagle.

“The Eagle, I like it,” said Slide.

“I’m in a hardball league. You know, real baseball.”

“Hardball, I thought that was the only game lawyers played,” said Slide.

“True that,” said Eagle.

“I have classes all next week,” said Jolter

“You’re teaching this summer?” said Eagle (Formerly Preston Baldridge III.), then dismissively added, “I thought teachers had summers and holidays off?”

Jolter laughed and said, “Yeah, we teachers are lazy, we just want tenure, and we don’t work on holidays and summers. Yeah, think again. Try it on a teacher’s salary. No complaints. I like kids.”

“They told me you’re a reporter, Ace,” asked Big Lou. “What paper? Being a reporter is interesting.”

“The Connecticut Post,” replied Ace. “Used to be The Bridgeport Post, but that’s what they call it now after the owners took over.”

“That rag?” said Eagle said. “I only read The New York Times.”

“I can see why,” said Ace. “You act like someone who is well informed.”

“Bitter?” snorted Eagle. “You’re so big on ‘doing the math,’ because of the Internet, journalism is a dying field. The only job security for Lefty liberals is working for the government.”

“Or for conservatives working at a law firm run by one of their dad’s cronies,” countered Ace.

“Zinga!”

“Touché,” airily commented Legal Eagle.

“There’s nothing ‘to’ or ‘ouché’ about it,” said Ace. “At our paper we agreed to take a pay cut if they wouldn’t lay off anyone. A month after the pay cut they laid us off.”

“Hey when you offer your neck to a guy, why should he go anywhere else when he knows he can take off the head,” said Moose.

“The paper brought me back at half pay, and I’m showing a kid how to do my job but he’s working at less than half my salary.”

“I’d work at McDonald’s before I’d let someone do that to me,” piously said Legal Eagle.

“No you wouldn’t Skippy, first off, you’d never work at McDonalds, or ever have to,” definitively said Moose. “When the money faucet is turned off, you do anything to keep it dripping. At work, I only had three have choices: piss-on-your shoes money, go-shit-in-your hat money, and fuck-you money. And I can’t draw on any of that bank. But all those moves have been done to me. You learn the basics, and basically most people suck.” He paused. “Money talks nobody walks.”

“Pardon me for living,” said Eagle.

“Or for making one, right?” rejoined Ace.

“And so I should apologize because my parents worked hard and amounted to something to give me a better opportunity? Look anyone who is third or fourth generation in this country and isn’t well off, well it’s their own fault. Class is made by people who look up not down.”

“I look sideways, Skippy,” said Moose. “Peripheral vision is underrated.”

Big Lou quizzically asked, “And you guys are friends, right?”

“Yeah, Cookie’s got our first one in the oven, been asking me to pick up weird shit from the store all the time,” said Fish. “She’s ready to pop.”

“Vicky and I would like to have kids,” said Putz, throwing the ball short to Big Lou. “We can’t afford one. I guess we’ll need one to take care of us in our old age. But I don’t know how people do it.”

“You do whatever it takes,” said Big Lou. “You don’t go away on weekends, you don’t go to restaurants, and you don’t go on vacations.”

“Hey, Vicky and I work hard for our money,” replied Putz “We need our vacations to get ride of the stress.”

“Family is what it’s all about,” said Big Lou.

“So far it hasn’t worked out for me,” said Jolter. “So far.”

“You’d be good at it, Jolter,” said Fish. “Probably better than me.”

A car horn electronically went “Da da da DA da DA!” followed by a computer voice that said, “Charge!”

Jolter stiffened and said, “The gruesome twosome, they’re here.

“The what?” asked Big Lou.

“Chrome Dome and Dave The Rave,” said Jolter, losing his upbeat smile.

“What brought those two assholes here?” said Moose.

“Maybe someone burned tanna leaves?” Dart added but the Famers didn’t get the joke. “It’s what brought Kharis the mummy back to life in the old monster movies.” He paused. “I think it’s funny.” Sill, no one laughed. “Okay, just me.”

“It has nothing to do with tanna leaves,” said Jolter, who sucked his cheeks in thought. “Chrome and Rave came here to give me shit.”

A red-white-and-blue Humvee parked. Its side doors displayed the Sporty’s logo: a bat hitting a ball that burst in a American-flag rainbow of stars. The vanity license plate read ‘BASTAR.’

“Bastar?” asked Lou.

“Be a star,” translated Jolter.

Dart said, “Guess he forgot to put a ‘D’ at the end of ‘BASTAR.’”

“Good one,” said Eagle, impressed. He studied Dart and said, “You’re different than the others, aren’t you?”

“Only in shape and size and penis length.”

Chrome and his codependent side effect Rave got out of the Humvee. “Be a Star!” declared Chrome smiling.

“All Business!” barked Rave.

Chrome hit the horn again: “Da da da DA da DA!” followed by a computer voice that said, “Charge!”

“Antagonize!” said Chrome, high-fiving Rave.

Chrome Dome and Dave The Rave’s strutting predatory lurch gave them the belief their looming casting of their approaching shadows made their opponents scatter like bait fish. The two tectonic ogres-in-progress were in their drift-netting late-thirties in full battle dress, equipped in tailored reproductions of major league baseball uniforms designed with taping of red, white and blue along the button-front shirt and sleeves. Polyester double-knit jerseys had their name and number on the back. White stretch pants with red, white, and blue pinstripes. Stirrup socks and polished black spikes. Navy blue caps with a crown that had an AS filled with stars and stripes. They could have passed for pro ballplayers, with the key exception that not one major league uniform existed with the raised tackle twill lettering of “Sporty’s All Stars.” They walked like they were allowing the rest of the world to coexist.

The Famers stopped throwing balls.

“Here they come, Limp and Dick,” snorted Moose.

“Dickless,” corrected Dart.

“Zinga!”

Chrome Dome was six-feet of mean, and one-inch of self-loathing. A waxy shifting pinched welt of a simian shelf that probably also doubled for his frontal lobes perched sharply and low across his brow, which gave his eye sockets the appearance of caves where the eyes of a primordial beast peered out. His cheek bones could have been venom sacks. His writhing muscles seemed to be wrestling to pin each other. His nose was hooked and broken. Chrome didn’t have a single hair on his body. He looked like a monstrous baby percolating in steroids. He probably had cold urine running through his veins.

Dave The Rave was thick set and kept low to the ground. He compensated for his shortness by swaggering a spreading stance to cover more territory, flexing his arms out at his sides, and belligerently swiveling the upper portion of his body to elbow out anyone near him. Rave wore aviator sunglasses with mirrored lenses, which probably reflected on the inside too. His face didn’t have a complexion­—it had a terrain. Severe acne had ball-hammered his skin into lava brittle. His thick quill-like hair looked like a porcupine burrowed into his skull and died.

“The Hall of Shamers,” brayed Chrome Dome.

Rave took a swallow from a can of Red Bull, pointed to the adjoining ballfield and said, “The Rave says, ‘You guys are here a little early. Little League try outs aren’t until next week.’”

Rave often shifted from talking in first to third person, as if he was playing catch with himself.

“You two almost look like baseball players in those uniforms,” said Dart, “Is ‘AS’ on your caps a misprint? Should be ‘ASS?’”

“Zinga!”

“Funny guy,” hissed Chrome Dome.

Rave lightly tapped the sunglasses against the bridge of his nose and gruffly snorted, “Yeah, a real King of Comedy.”

“I don’t like the funny,” grumbled Chrome.

Once Dart started razzing, he clamped down on his victim like a moray eel, and wouldn’t let go, which is why the Famers loved Dart. He was like them, flawed and unable to stop being himself from being anything else.

“How much is the rental for those costumes? Where did you two meet, conjugal visits at the petting zoo?”

“Zinga! Zinga!”

Chrome and Rave were stumped.

“Why don’t you sit on it and rotate,” snorted Rave. His lips pursed out and blossomed from a pink bud into the shape of a tiny fist.

“I don’t get the humor,” Chrome sneered, flexed his right arm and growled at Dart, “See this arm? A lot of people have got an education from this arm.”

“Yeah, special education,” said Dart.

“Zinga!”

“You punking me, bitch?”

Dart calmly clipped, “Think of what I’m saying as constructive criticism so our relationship can grow and develop its more positive aspects.”

“I’ll show you constructive criticism,” said Chrome, clenching his fists and advancing towards Dart. “Lights out.”

Moose protectively stepped between Dart and Chrome and said in a level threatening tone, “Money talks nobody walks.” Moose shoved Chrome, who didn’t resist. “And he’s not punking you. And where do you come off talking like some rapper, you grew up off Mill Plain Road and the only way you can be black is like white Wonder Bread being burn in a toaster. He wasn’t punking you, you’re just an asshole. So you want to make something out of it?”

“I’m a lover not a fighter,” tremulously said Chrome, quailing because he remembered once working a high-school summer job at a warehouse with Moose, who made a five-dollar bet he could jump off a fifteen-foot loading dock, land on his head and not get hurt. Chrome took the bet. Moose jumped, landed head first, got up and said, “See nothing happened.” Chrome’s brain might be a dense rainforest, but he knew you didn’t get into a fight with a guy willing to land on his head from a loading dock.

“You’re all cap and no bat,” said Moose. “I’m here, getting popped, and I don’t need a knobjob and his panty waist buddy giving mandatoriums to our team. We don’t work for you. I’m not running for office, so why don’t you two wasted drops of sperm get the fuck on your way.”

“Don’t get all eggy about it,” tentatively said Chrome, nervously cringing and withdrawing.

“Chill, we only came out here to give Jolter one a reprieve to change his mind,” said Rave.

Chrome said to Jolter, “You’ll come back to me on your hands and knees, but when you leave our organization there’s no going back.”

Jolter said nothing.

Slide chuckled and said, “Well, there goes that job reference.”

“Chrome, did you microchip Rave after he were adopted from the Animal Shelter to play for your team?”

“Zinga!”

“You’ve been put on notice,” said Chrome, leaving. “Don’t say we didn’t give you a second chance to be reinstated. No free agents on our team”

“That’s how we roll,” said Rave following Chrome. “Peace out.”

Dart fired a parting shot at the departing duo. “You guys are proof you can have children through anal sex.”

“Zinga!”

Chrome and Rave bridled at the remark, but kept going.

“Takes one to be one,” huffed Rave.

“Where did you learn that one? At I-Know-You-Are-But-What-Am-I-University?” said Dart.

“Zinga!”

Once Chrome got safely into the Humvee, he regained his boldness and shouted, “Good luck playing with these bottom-feeding mascots!” He brayed and high-fived Rave “Be a Star.”

“All business!”

He hit the horn: “Da da da DA da DA!” followed by a computer voice that said, “Charge!”

Chrome Dome laughed, sped off and said, “Antagonize!”

The tires squealed like he ran over a puppy.

“Assholes,” definitively grunted Moose.

“You’re talking about the guys I defend to make a living,” said Eagle.

“Or make possible,” said Ace. “Wait, you’re not billing us for this hour.”

“Zinga!”

Big Lou looked down at his glove and said, “I feel bad, I bought my glove and everything I’m wearing is from his store. I didn’t know.”

Chip said, “Let’s get some swings in.”

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