East MLK

It’s night time, 12:38 in the rain when a baseball comes flying in from the stadium and sticks elbow deep below Lester P. Moore’s headstone. It’s a hell of a jack in this soup. I pull the ball from the mud and check its indention along the NO TRESPASSING sign I use as a distance marker. Three, maybe four yards short.

I take a drag of my joint. It’s a hell of a jack, really. Since I started working maybe two, three dozen balls have been hit across East MLK into the cemetery. And this one at what? 12:41 past midnight? Well after dark. I picture the kid’s leg muscles and his girlfriend’s leg muscles and his lanyard, with keys for the batting cages and keys for the diamond, one for the equipment room and a leopard-print key with long deliberate cuts for sex whenever he wants it.

The baseball passes between my hands. I’ve never thrown one back into the stadium. My closest throw hit the top awning and swept along the banner for last year’s Conference Championship before falling into the parking lot. A couple skipped off the lower deck and clanged against the ticket gates. I’ve only hit one car. Never into the stadium. I step away from Lester’s plot, which seems to take a breath as my footprints swell with rainwater. His epitaph reads No Les, No Moore. Funny.

Before I throw I think of that 16-inning game against Austin High my senior year. Most guys wouldn’t have caught the drive I did. Pulled it right off the wall. Then to throw out the runner at third from right field… it just isn’t done. I crank my shoulders and loosen my trunk, kick the mud from my cleats and hum beneath the growl of low-jacked cars on the access road. I look around for girls though I know there aren’t any. Take a drag of my joint. Throw it.

The baseball slings from my arm and I’m reverberating like a tuning fork. For some reason I picture an egg exploding on the broad side of a barn. It’s getting there. I hear the lights changing and the road’s conveyer belt starting again but nothing else. I must have made it. I take a seat on Lester’s plot. Take another hit.

The water rains from my fingers and out of the chiseled letters on Lester’s headstone. I clean the algae where I see it. I wonder what it’s like to have the something eating your brain be totally gone. No Les, No Moore.

Funny.

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