John and i and Trouble and his sister played baseball in the summer on teams our dads organized...
John pitched; Trouble and his sister played the outfield - when they weren't playing the bench - and me, well, i usually played roving center or right field. i was good at it. so good in fact that once on a date I was taken to the batting cages to be shown up by a talented boy - instead I hit every ball that came my way in every cage but the major leagues and left him in the dust whimpering something about me being “lucky.”
Once – and only once - i was gifted with the chance to play the infield. Second base. Me! Playing second base! Put me in coach! I’m ready to play!
Perfection! Or so i thought.
Until i caught the relay ball from john and remained there on second base to tag the incoming runner…
Because there it was; that pride that came just before i simultaneously saw the sky, felt the ground, tasted the dirt and saw the runner, a boy who was four years younger and five sizes bigger, suddenly blocking out the sun as he hung suspended in the air three feet above me. I didn’t have time to move before the suspension let loose and he fell on top of me with such force that we skidded off the base and out into center field landing in a pile of dust encrusted body parts.
Within seconds we were surrounded by john, fifteen adults and an umpire who said; "no shit! how about that?!? the ball is still in her glove! And; HE'S OUT!"
to this day i still forget that though i matured greatly in weight i never matured in height...
my mom snuffed her cigarette out on second base and examined my front side while John’s mom examined my back side. and then they switched. it was determined that i wasn't hurt beyond a couple minor scrapes but i was benched for the rest of the game and many games to follow 'for my own safety.'
Trouble, of course, thought this hilarious, especially because he got to use my glove for the duration. and, being the kind of kid he was, he never ceased waving said glove under my nose before heading out in the field or pointing to it with his trademark 'ha ha look what i'm wearing' look whenever he caught my attention...
this went on for so many weeks – okay. okay… but it was at least two weeks i swear it – that i finally rose from the bench with anger in my throat and proclaimed if i did not play in the games i would quit. in hindsight, this may have gone over better had i stood on the bench in order to look looming. laughter was, after all, not the reply i was looking for...
I swallowed my anger and sat back down and wished very hard that some day, some how justice would prevail. or that they would ‘get theirs’ - whichever came first...
The following week Karma appeared right on cue; two boys from up the road needed a ride to the game which my dad happily provided.
Now just so you understand; games normally started at 6pm and were over by 8pm as a general rule but dad had to be early to sort things with fellow coaches, umpires and teams so they climbed into our chevy at 5pm.
At 9:15pm we were still up to bat and winning with a score of 56 - 6 in the top of the 4th inning. It was becoming dark and lots of grumbling was taking place, but the umpire read the rule book and proclaimed that 5 innings had to be played in order to make the game count.
At 9:45pm, however, probably because it was so hard to see the 4th inning finally ended, the umpire changed his mind, and the game was called prematurely on account of darkness.
Trouble and I and the boys from up the road, piled into our chevy and we headed home…
and half way between dropping the boys from up the road off and pulling into our driveway a police car pulled in tight behind us, turned on its spinning red light and followed us into our driveway.
While dad turned off the engine, Trouble hid under a blanket on the floor in the back seat.
Two officers got out of the police car, strolled up and took positions on opposite sides of our car.
Trouble pulled on my foot; “what’s happening?” he whimpered, one watery eye peeking out through a hole in the blanket. “are they arresting dad?”
“I don’t know.” I whispered back but everything in my being hoped so because that’s how mad I had been at him for benching me and, I thought, that was exactly what he deserved…
But when the officer placed his hand on the shining black gun holstered at his hip and said; “Would you please step out of the car Sir,” the tone in his voice made me regret the thought that had just passed through my dunce capped head.
Now it was my turn to whimper; “Holy cow, Trouble! They have guns!”
Trouble and I somehow stifled full blown cries.
“What’s going on?” Dad asked, cautiously stepping out of the car and closing the door behind him.
“Can you tell us who the children are in your back seat?”
“Yes, that is my daughter and my son.”
“Are you certain of that fact?”
“If they aren’t I’ve been feeding them all these years for no reason. why?”
“We got a call from the mother up the road saying that you kidnapped her two boys.”
KIDNAPPED!?! My eyes must have been the size of dinner plates. Trouble was no longer worried about them arresting dad, he now wanted to know if they were going to shoot dad right there in the driveway. I did to.
Well, Dad just started to laugh….
and the more questions they asked, the more he laughed.
In fact, dad was laughing so hard he could hardly finish telling the officers about picking the boys up for the baseball game and the fact that it had lasted far longer than in should have, and when he finally got to the score of the game, the two officers were laughing…
They laughed so hard Trouble and I could barely make it out when one of them opened the back door and told us we were “free to go.”
Before we went to bed that night, the two officers were sitting at our kitchen table sharing stories with my dad and mom over apple pie and coffee.
Trouble is now a jail guard and some times when I see him in his uniform it makes my mind wander back back to baseball, apple pie, chevrolets...
and the two “kidnapped” boys from up the road...