I don't know about you, but I LOVE getting that extra hour of sleep!
Today's update contains some mild language. The Season is (c) Rebecca Glass, and all international copyright laws apply.
The Season, Part Four
#14 Daniel Lewis, utility outfielder, seventh year
Daniel Lewis is getting impatient. Standing at the entrance to Café Morocco with his wife, Alyssa, he waits for a waiter to seat them, but no one comes forth. It’s not his choice of a dinner restaurant, but it’s Alyssa’s birthday, and, as they’ve done for the past six years, Alyssa gets to choose.
While Daniel, in khakis and a polo, is overdressed for the moment, he manages to compose himself in such a way that he comes across as Average Joe as everyone else in the restaurant. His disheveled, long brown hair doesn’t hurt—and with a tattoo of a golden dragon on his left shoulder, he’d come across as quite frightening if he was dressed any other way.
Alyssa is, as always, impeccable. Her long blonde hair is razor-edged and so straight it seems almost frozen. Her sundress doesn’t show off anything that could be considered mildly inappropriate by anyone but religious extremists, and her make up is almost non-existent. She, Dan thinks, would only look out of place at a mud-wrestling competition or the Queen’s coronation.
“This sucks,” Dan says, his hunger getting the best of him.
“I’m hungry, sorry hon.”
“Whatever, don’t worry about it. You’re here, right?” It’s true; it’s not often Alyssa and Daniel are together, with Dan always traveling during the season. Their moments together are rarities, Dan thinks, so it’s probably best not to waste them.
“I’m sorry, I haven’t eaten since breakfast. Spent all morning in the cage, all afternoon on the field. Only a leg that hurts like hell to show for it.”
“Did you hurt your leg again?” When Alyssa and Dan had first met, Dan had been recovering from a bad muscle strain. Though Alyssa has long since understood that the muscle strain was not life or career threatening, she still takes a little too much interest in the affairs of Dan’s leg.
“Other leg. It’ll pass, I just haven’t run that hard in a while.”
“Do you need ice?”
“I iced it after,” Dan says, not wanting to talk about it too much and thankful when a waiter finally comes up to the front. “Two, please.”
“This way,” the waiter replies. He’s dressed in a rather silly uniform; some sort of traditional Moroccan costume that looks very out of place at a restaurant where most of the patrons are in t-shirts and cut-offs. Dan and Alyssa follow him towards a table in the back, where the smells from the kitchen overpower everything else.
“Ugh, can we sit somewhere else?” Alyssa doesn’t speak loud enough to disturb any of the other diners, but she makes herself known to the waiter. Dan is not impressed.
“Lys, come on, we might not get to eat for—“
“Another thirty minutes,” the waiter says, cutting Dan off and making the unpleasant statement for him. “Sorry, it’s very crowded tonight and you don’t have reservations.”
“Dan, can’t you, you know…”
“Sorry Lys,” Dan sighs, “I’m just a back up…don’t get any sort of perks with that.” He doesn’t add: Not that I’d actually ever do something like that.
“When are you ever going to start?” Lys takes her seat at the table, making the best of the situation. “Seriously, Dan, I’m tired of being married to the back up.”
The words hit Dan like a fastball, leaving no time for process, but only time to crumple to the ground.
#53 Monty Allison, relief pitcher, fourth year
Once upon a time, Monty Allison thinks, he had come to an office much like this to sign a piece a paper, co-signed by Charlie Haus. The paper had been signed, sealed with a handshake, and a promise: Kid, you’re going to be great in the rotation.
That was a long time ago.
That was before he had pitched that game against the ‘Canes, where he got the first nine out in order, and then couldn’t get anyone out afterwards.
That was before his curveball more or less became his breaking ball after inning three.
That was before William Tully and Micah Garcia signed on and actually did what they were asked to do.
That was before Brian Scott had left, signing with the Knights in the middle of June, leaving the Spartans short a setup man in the bullpen.
That was before Steven King had said, soft and airy, that Monty was not a half bad option to replace Scott.
That was before Monty proved Steven right.
That was a long time ago.
Now, Monty sits in the office of Richard Holt, reporter for the Florida Journal, waiting for Dick to come through the door. There’s something he needs to get off his chest.
Monty is rather odd for a baseball player. He’s average height and certainly not skinny, but there seems to be no muscle to him. With large patch of skin showing through his (already) gray hair and his glasses, he looks like he’d be better suited for the corporate office of a 500 company. He certainly looks odd in a baseball uniform, even in practice clothing. He looks like someone with his name might, and he comes from family with enough money to back that up, but it doesn’t mean anything when he’s out on the mound in the eighth inning.
“Monty, good to see you.” Dick enters the office, surprised to see Monty sitting there, but not alarmed. They were close friends in high school, growing up not too far from Palm Beach, and every February and March they still meet. It’s that they’re meeting in Dick’s office, instead of the Spartans’ complex that’s confusing Dick, Monty knows.
“Nice to see you too.”
“I was going to make my way down to the complex tomorrow, actually…what are you doing here?”
“I was hoping you might be able to do me a favor.” It’s uncomfortable for Monty to say, but it’s more uncomfortable for Dick to hear. A favor asked by Monty probably means only one thing.
“ What sort of favor would that be, Mont?”
“You want me to put it plainly?”
“If I don’t start this year, I don’t want to be back here next.” It’s a decision Monty spent most of the winter trying to make. He’s only just done so, and knowing his tendency to be indecisive, Monty doesn’t want to give himself any chance to change his mind. It stuns Dick—it’s not the first time Monty has asked Dick to write something, but it’s the first time he’s asked Dick to write anything that...important.
“Yes, I’m sure.”
“You could ask for anything you wanted…and you’d probably get it…”
“We both know I don’t need the money.”
“We both know how your starts went your rookie year.”
“I’m a better pitcher now than I was then.”
“This might be your best chance at a Championship…”
“That’s what they said last year, and the year before.”
“If I do it, there’s no undoing it.”
“It will follow you…you know what they will say? That you think about yourself and not the team? That you’re a traitor to Hope City? I can tell you right now, that’s what Bill will write,” Dick says, making reference to Bill Woods, the weekly columnist at the paper.
“I know. When I signed, I was told I’d be in the rotation. I’m not. It’s a breach of contract, isn’t it?”
“Christ, Mont, have you thought this through? Really? Have you even talked to Pete or Charlie? What about your agent, is he gone silent?”
“I don’t want to put Pete through the trouble,” Monty says, honest. He side-steps Dick’s agent remark; his agent is immersed in a tampering allegation and Monty wants nothing to do with it. “Pete’s probably not going to be here next year, either, to tell you the truth. I heard him talking to Lucas, that Charlie says he’s got a year to win it all or he doesn’t come back.”
“Lucas John, the third base coach?”
“Same.” Monty knows he’s hit on something—there’s no one else that knows he overheard the conversation, and Dick almost never backs away from a story if he can help it.
“I’ll have to look into that one. Listen, Mont, you know I like a good story, but I’m not sure about what you’re asking. It could ruin you, to be honest.”
“I know it could. It wasn’t an easy decision to make, but the truth is I’m not happy coming out of the bullpen. Eduardo’s got all the flash and Cory’s the All Star, but I’m just the workhorse. I don’t need to be the face of the franchise or anything, but everyone takes me for granted. I hate it.”
“Mont…this is not the best decision you’ve ever made.”
“It’s no different than when you left the Times because you didn’t get to cover the Spartans.”
“It is. No one cares about what a newspaper writer does. People care about baseball players, Mont, even ones like you.”
“That’s the thing. They think I’m always going to be there, like I’m some machine or something. I’m not. I’m a guy who hasn’t gotten what he was promised.”
“Well…” Dick studies Monty carefully, as if looking for any sign of weakness, “..if you’re absolutely, positively, one-of-a-kind sure…”
#17 Kent Andrews, utility infielder, second year
At first Kent Andrews is not quite sure what all the fuss is about, why all of the reporters from his home in New Zealand are asking him about Monty Allison. He doesn’t know Monty very well; utility infielders and set-up men in the bullpen have little in common. While he reads the papers, Kent stays away from the sports pages. When the story broke that Monty wanted to start or get out, Kent had no idea about any of it until the reporters told him.
It did explain a lot, though, about the past two weeks. It explained why no one else in the bullpen—especially Cory Daniels—would go near Monty, why Monty was working with Steven early in the morning before practice and at night after, why Pete and Mr. Haus had been in the worst moods that Kent had ever seen them in, and perhaps most important, why the reporters from back home hadn’t bothered to ask about his upcoming wedding to the American actress Eve Lockwood. That had been such a huge deal at home, when he had announced his engagement back on Christmas Day, he hadn’t gotten a solid night of sleep until he arrived back in the States in the middle of January. The wedding is not for a while, but the story has gripped his hometown. So when the reporters had stopped asking him about Eve and started asking him about Monty, Kent knew something wasn’t quite right.
Now, Kent is used to it. The reporters—New Zealander and American—all ask him what he thinks about Monty. Is he a part of the team? Does he deserve a chance to start? What does he think about Monty going behind the back of Pete and Mr. Haus?
He hates it. To say it’s a distraction is an understatement, and while Spring Training is not quite a September pennant race, it’s hard enough. Though he played last year, it was not a complete season, and there’s no saying that he will be on the opening day active roster, either. He’s begun to change his routine every day, just to try to avoid the press.
Today he’s come in through the fire exit by the showers. When the story broke, Graeme got the security guards to disarm one of the doors so he wouldn’t have to deal with the press, and Kent takes advantage of it. He changes quickly, and then enters onto the field through the visitor’s tunnel. If he does it just fast enough—and today he does—he’ll avoid the reporters. He’ll still have to talk to them later, but at least, for the moment, his mind will be clear.
Kent steps out onto the field and makes his way to the outfield, where his closest friend on the team, Eliot Zephyr, is already stretching. He and Eliot both look alike, tall and lean, with black hair and blue eyes, so, when they’re on the field together it can be hard to tell them apart. When they both had first made the team, they had similar numbers—17 for Kent and 16 for Eliot, but they had actually been asked to consider changing it, just so people would better be able to tell them apart. Eliot lost the coin toss, and changed his, changing it to 50 after picking it out of a hat.
“Dude,” Kent says, “how’d you make out?”
“Just the ass from the Times. You?”
“None! You ran into the guy from the Times? The one that always wears that bright yellow tie? Bro, he’s the easiest one to avoid of the lot!” Kent laughs. The reporter from the Times covering the Monty Allison story is perhaps the most hideous creature on the planet right now, he thinks.
“I know…I was coming out of the bathroom and he was going in.”
“Tough luck, mate.”
“ God…I had to tell him five or six times that I don’t know anything, or care.”
“He still didn’t listen? Rough.”
“Dude, when you marry Eve, don’t invite him…”
“I haven’t told anyone where we’re getting married…don’t want any reporters there if I can help it.”
“Whoa, you’ve figured out where?”
“Did it a few weeks ago. Haven’t told anyone, and we’re holding off on making the booking official until as late as possible.”
“You did it, and you didn’t tell me?” Eliot speaks with mock concern, making Kent laugh.
“I haven’t even told my mother.”
“You haven’t told your mother?”
“Nope. Not telling anyone till, I don’t know, maybe the week before…”
“Dude,” Eliot says, not sure if Kent is serious or just mocking him.
Kent is serious, though. He hasn’t told his mother, because as soon as she finds out, he thinks, she’ll start getting to work putting together the most lavish ceremony imaginable, regardless of what Eve wants. Eve, he knows, wants to keep it small and informal, so the longer he puts it off, the less time his mother will have to ruin it.
“Don’t worry bro, I’ll make sure you get the invitation the night before.” Kent laughs. “Plenty of time for you to find yourself a tux...”
“…And a date.”
“That too.” Kent laughs, but he can’t help but detect some bitterness in Eliot’s voice.
Sunday, November 4, 2007
I don't know about you, but I LOVE getting that extra hour of sleep!