Saturday, December 12, 2009

FICTION: Hot Dog

The batter swings, a short, quick sort of swing, and the ball jumps off his bat.

Marcus cannot explain how he knows where the ball’s going.  He just knows.  The same way he knows when a flare is going to fall in and when it’s going to be caught so that he never gets thrown out on the bases, not like his teammates.  The same way he knows when to pull a fastball or drive it the other way, not like his teammates.  It frustrates them, how he just seems to know and they don’t.

The ball is dropping, sinking.

Marcus’s eyes are wide, his mouth open, his arms pumping, his spikes digging into the grass as he sprints into the gap.  He is the fastest man on the team, blessed with speed that causes his envious teammates to shake their heads.

His cap flies off.

The thin golden chain around his neck whips at his chest as he reaches full speed, the golden chain given him by his proud parents, the chain that his teammates razz him as “bling.”

And then he dives.

He is nearly horizontal when he makes the catch.  He lands hard on his side, left wrist jammed into the grass, pain shooting up his arm.  He holds his glove high, ball still held tightly in the webbing.

The umpire nods and shoots a fist into the air,  Three outs.

The batter tosses away his helmet with amazement and disgust.

Marcus trots back to pick up his cap before returning to the dugout, wide smile on his boyish face.

His manager’s lip curls.  His teammates fold their arms, expressions icy.

The center fielder is the only one to meet his eyes.

“Hey,” grins Marcus, trying to ignore the pain in his wrist, “what’d you think of that?”

The center fielder points to the 12-1 deficit on the scoreboard.  “I think you need to quit your showing off.”

Everyone in the dugout grins at that, everyone except Marcus.

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