Twelve one-hundred word scenes about a ballplaying Vietnam draftee and a ballpark ticket clerk.
CW: a few instances of period-typical ableist and homophobic language.
The leisure suit pants are this insolent shade of pistachio green, rising disco-high up on his hips. Big square teeth gnawing at a Marlboro, paisley shirt tucked in tidy, downturned eyes too big for his chiseled little face. Like Twiggy with a crotch bulge, fucking obscene. Lee could double over with rage every time he walks past the ticket booth.
That doesn’t stop him, though. Obviously, because back on the field there are gunshots.
Boy in lake; Friendship, Wisconsin.
The green water ripples blue and Bruno’s bright tangle of orange curls soaks deep red around his pale face, a swimming solar crown. He floats on his back, long body white as a corpse, blinding alabaster in the sun.
“You look dead.”
“I could be.”
“Don’t say that.”
The water’s cold; first warmth of May. Nate Youngthunder caught three bass last weekend and pitched his first game of the season, but the scouts were there for Bruno.
From the pontoon, he gazes down at Baseball America’s number one high school prospect.
This is their…
So, they suck. Real bad.
Here they all stew on the bullpen bench, and Cal would like to be able to blame someone in particular but he’s seen the stats. This is a gallery of horrors and he’s in it, an artefact of failure sparkling in his glass case — they’re all in it, their motley crew of awfulness.
It’s clear to everyone including themselves that everything they touch shrivels and dies, a collective curse of ten rotating arms waging unintentional yet almost impressively thorough devastation like horsemen of a petty apocalypse.
He doesn’t know what they did to…
When he dreams, Xavier Jefferson dreams of crossing bridges, of fording rivers, of scaling mountains. When he dreams he dreams of the Monongahela and the Allegheny; he dreams of the Ohio, coursing through the valley unfettered; he dreams of rickety houses, clinging to sloped streets undeterred. When he dreams he dreams of steel like cages and rusted handrails and city steps to nowhere. When he dreams he dreams of places he no longer lingers and labyrinths he no longer walks.
When he wakes, alone somewhere in the great openness of Oregon, he feels claustrophobic with space.
But he holds…
June in Northeast Ohio.
Dirty palms, snakes in creeks, old iron looming; toxic Mahoning river laying low.
In the deserted ballpark, the wind carries echoes of ash on leather and voices long-since faded, and the smell of coke ovens and mercury poisoning.
Mike thought he’d buried some things long ago, but like hidden fossils they show at length. If he were anybody else at all he wouldn’t be willingly subjecting himself to Youngstown again.
But he’s not just anybody else.
He’s a sucker, and a loser. He’s a wounded dog that just won’t lie down.
Yes, he deserves this…
Somewhere between Topeka and Wichita, Luke Deacon learns the latest news on himself, though it’s blurry exactly when he finally catches the transmission, ham radio style, crackling out of his car radio’s speakers, on another endless drive back and forth across the Great Plains.
Four hours plus on the pancake plate of America, alone with his thoughts and the local country music station broadcasting across the flatness.
And suddenly like a revelation, like a mirage at the end of the endless road, like a ghost on the grassland, it hits Luke like an eighteen-wheeler.
It all makes sense now…
Designer, artist, baseball fan, card-carrying homosexual