Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The Slammer – An Ever Growing Web Novel – Chapter 1.9

“Jay’s sinker has been on, but this last inning is going to be rough Skip,” Lily says to her manager as she heads out to the diamond. Lily had noted that the fast balls are still working, but the best batters in triple A are on that other team, and they have figured out the timing on the fastball now. It’s the first time that Jay has ever given up six hits in a game, but still the score is two to one for the good guys, and he only needs three more outs. Along this path of today’s game she has done her best to guide Jay to the end but it’s getting a lot harder.

As she finally squats behind the plate the catcher for the other team approaches the plate waving his bat and checking for nicks. She finally gets up the nerve to ask him, what she had been dying to since the first inning started, “What did you say to my brother when he was at the plate a couple of innings ago?”

He starts laughing instantly like he was sorting through some old jokes in his mind and says to her, “I wish I hadn’t, but I told him that I went to the Chili’s down the street and they had a life sized Ty Cobb statue that you can get your picture taken with, and that you would take him there for dinner if he went to first base. I actually over heard you yelling at him when he wouldn’t pitch,” and after he takes up a couple of warning swings, he then says to her, “My mom is a really huge fan of you two, and I want to see you get to the big club as badly as anyone. I know what it is like to have those dreams, but I’ve always had it pretty easy.”

Lily smiles as she’s crouched down behind the plate and then giggles before she says, “That doesn’t mean he isn’t going to strike your ass out, but thank you,” as the first pitch echoes through the stadium after exploding into Lily’s mitt. She throws the ball back and asks quite frankly, “Have you heard anything about your return to the show?”

Holding his face perfectly still to gauge the next pitch that screams in just off the outside corner of the plate for a very rare “ball” he then turns his head a bit and says, “We may be the best triple A team in baseball but linked onto the worst major league team, my .412 average will get me there in a few weeks, don’t worry about it. Rule number one in baseball, take care of you …” barely leaves his lips as the bat races around and cracks the ball with such force that it floats out into the field between the center fielder and right fielder. Lily looks out at second base where her brother’s savior is waving back at her and then tips his cap.

As the pinch hitter for the other team flails weakly at three screaming fastballs, the crowd laughs at the obvious. The pitcher may not be the greatest hitter in the world, but at least he had had an opportunity to deal with the speed of these pitches, and sending out a cold pinch hitter was just silly, but the game is on the line now, and most managers do what they do out of experience. The next batter on the other hand had faced Jay four times today and looked equally as silly, and he used to be a .398 hitter. He will be going down today after his fourth strike out. The hitter that Lily had hoped wasn’t going to make it back around until the catcher spoiled that with his double is walking towards the batters box now. Big Jake Clark, the man who has yet to hit less than forty home runs in a year, and has yet to be sat down by Jay leers out at the mound to the emotionless pitcher standing out there. His three doubles are the most ominous part of the day, and Lily is practically having a full bore panic attack trying to figure out what to do.

“Hey, there cutie, did ya miss me?” Jake says to Lily as he steps into the batter’s box. Don’t get to angry people, because Lily didn’t it was said rather lightheartedly actually, and although Lily did make an obscene gesture at him, it kind made both of them a little more at ease. Jay is facing his biggest challenge while Jake is still trying to hold onto the reputation of being one of the best hitters known, so there is actually more pressure on him then you would imagine despite his ease of getting to Jay.

Lily looks out at Jay, with concern, but not too much as she figures that he really doesn’t even seem to know what is going on. He just throws the ball because that is what he does, and nobody really knows if he even cares about strikes, balls, hits, or outs. This is how she has always viewed him although she is rather excited to think that she might get to go to Chili’s tonight for dinner instead of Applebee’s, but still this is the next big step for him, and as always she really does only think of him if he doesn’t appear too himself. With that she takes her hand and places it between her legs to show two fingers and she points them inward toward her right thigh. This is the usual signal for a sinker ball in, and to her shock she sees her brother shaking his head at her.

“What the fuck!” Lily yells out at the mound, totally out of frustration rather than the jubilation she should have at his very first sign of self will on the mound. She then realizes that she finally has to act like any other catcher in the league and deal with being brushed off, so she holds three fingers down and starts wiggles them around. This is the sign for a slurve, which will simply go where it goes because he doesn’t have the pinpoint control of it that he does the fast ball, and after another shake off Lily yells out “Time!” and the umpire grants it.

The growing stress of the day is getting to Lily really badly. Now obviously as her patience for Jay is waning, she’s jawing at him the whole long walk to the mound. “You pick now to give a shit about what you are doing!” she walks closer with her arms outstretched and starts in again, “What the fuck do you want me to throw Jay? It’s not like you are going to tell me! All day today you are doing what you want, and when do I get to do what I fucking want? Because what I fucking want is to get this game over with!” and with that she stands there tapping her foot at him with her hands on her hips.

“Mom hated it when you swore Lily, you really shouldn’t swear,” Jay said to her after he put his glove back to his chest like he was ready to throw the ball. Lily throws her hands up in the air and walks back to the plate, to squat down once more and to hopefully await her brother’s agreement, this time as she holds down one finger strait to the ground. It’s time he learned what it is like to lose a baseball game, was all that she could think as she gave the fastball, down the middle sign.

The crowd goes totally silent as they wait for what is about to happen. Jay as always points the bill of his hat downward towards his feet. The slow withdrawing that his entire body encompassing before his arms outstretch the usual, nearly seven feet to reveal the gloved hand pointing toward the enemy. This enemy, unlike the last feels no intimidation by the mighty Jay Franklin as his body recoils inward launching the missile toward the fearless foe awaiting his best at the end of the path. The searing sound of the ball is met by the whirring sound of a bat that has been taken from its position atop the enemies shoulder, and is careening towards its place of destiny, and with that it finally ignites with the missile that has been sent to destroy it, and destroy it is exactly what it does.

The shattering bat splinters into what could have been a million pieces as the ball goes flying well over six hundred feet. Unfortunately for the enemy at hand it flies well over ten feet right of the pole that signifies the foul grounds of McCoy stadium, and is immediately called a six hundred foot towering strike, by the umpire. The curses that Lily had used at Jay were nothing compared to the trail of obscenity passing past the lips of Jake as his favorite bat that had been his trusted friend for over five years is so beyond repair. The bat boys of both teams are running around furiously trying to clean it up, but it’s very difficult when there are at the very least thousands of little splinters that used to be a twenty four ounce baseball bat. Lily looks at the mound and spy’s her brother laughing, and she finally takes note that she is starting to see some new things in her brother and wasn’t appreciating it like she should have, had life not gotten in the way with work at the moment. A smile crosses Lily’s lips as she finds herself feeling very proud of her brother’s way of taking Jake's pride away from him in front of twenty thousand people. Maybe he does get it after all, she thinks.

Upon Jake's return with his new bat, he doesn’t appear to be all jovial now, and rather obsessed looking and angry. Jay may have woken up an angry monster or totally taken Jake out of this game. This is still yet to be determined as she simply holds down the one finger that she knows her brother wants now, in which he reciprocates with a one hundred and four mile per hour fast ball that Jake missed quite frantically, but it was probably because he swung too early. Lily’s heart is just pounding inside of her throat now as she simply holds down one finger.

The usual motions followed by a searing fastball met by the new bat of Jake produced another six hundred, maybe seven hundred foot blast wide left this time of the foul pole. The count is still zero and two, and Lily is starting to wonder if her heart can take it anymore. She holds down one finger again, and watches her brother as his head starts moving back and forth as he is shaking her off yet again. “Thank GOD” she thought to herself, because he wasn’t going to get away with that forever. Jay then holds up the ball, and she looks back at him curiously, probably because this is just way too much interaction with her brother for one day, but she thinks that she understands the motion that he is making toward her. With that she balls her hand into a fist and punches the ground, and for the first time ever in a baseball game Jay nods at her with a smile on his face.

The visor of Jay’s hat then cocks itself down, as his hand clutches at the ball inside of his glove. The absolute silence of the crowd, followed by the mighty God Thor, about to outstretch the wings of the Gods once more, creates the longest three seconds known to mankind. As the leg rises, you can feel the tension in the place as Jake clutches at his bat. The violent motions of Jays body as it recoils back before launching forward, to give Jake the very thing that he least expected, look no different until the balls release. What Jake see’s to his sheer terror is the baseball flying strait from Jay’s hand and right at his face. His immediate need to get out of the way is immense, and as he jumps back, he then watches the ball simply fall downward and in, as if it was being pulled by an invisible rope. As it gently cascades into Lily’s mitt which had never once left the dead center spot of the plate, Jake is actually staring at Jay in awe, as the umpires screaming of, “Steeeeeeeeeriiiiiiiiiiiiike!” sends the crowd into absolute hysterics. The crowd had just witnessed greatness as their new mighty hero had now, finally taken down the evil intruder from the west.

Lily jumps to her feet and throws off her catcher’s mask as she leaps up into the air. If she had only realized that this was the first time she too had ever shown an actual jubilant emotion in a baseball game, then that too would be a miracle. The best part was before trotting off to the dugout to celebrate the victory, she tosses the ball to Jake, who is still standing there dumbfounded, and yells out to him as he catches the ball, “That’s a souvenir buddy, you’ve just been slammed!” … to be continued

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