Part of the Game

Fans of baseball and elections found suspense and drama in the long playoff series closing the 2020 seasons, some with delight, others with disappointment, of course, but to say despair is too much; after all, it’s just a game – one in which many fans show not much interest until the end of the season when the pennants are up for grabs, the news and ads full of hype and hyperbole, the waving of bunting pandemic. Baseball fans were heartened to see a fair play series between the Dodgers and the Rays, particularly after the Astros allegedly stole championships with their sign stealing campaign now exposed, confirmed, and penalized in scandal for the 2017 through 2019 seasons. The record books for the 2020 baseball and election seasons will be forever checked with asterisks for the influence of Coronavirus disease 2019 on the play and outcomes. Assumptions got tested, predictions again found presumptuous, and predilections and presuppositions exposed. And the utmost importance of audience was heralded, as fans insisted on being a part of the game.

Play Ball

By Workshop 5 I was workshop weary, having just come out of Workshop 4 more uncertain than ever about Sylvie’s 5 W’s of writing, not to mention the H: Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How. How to write. And why. And all the rest. I liked the folks in Workshop, but I wasn’t sure they had the 5 W’s or the H down anymore than I did, nor did Soto seem to, in spite of his credentials. From a young age he had wanted not simply to write but to be a writer, not necessarily a published writer, for just about anybody brought up on phonics could accomplish that, but a published writer of significance. He didn’t just want to play baseball (sandlot, or city softball league); he wanted to play shortstop for the LA Dodgers, or pitch closer for the New York Yankees, or announce play by play for the Yomiuri Giants (the first two being poetry, the other prose). Early success had not spoiled him, and he was lucky to escape injury, and he believed in himself and made it to the big leagues, if not at short or closer, the bullpen bench, success enough to sign his autograph to baseballs for kids before the game for a few years. And now he was calling play by play on the radio in writing workshops. But the workshop itself wasn’t writing, it was talking about writing – not at all the same thing; eating a hotdog with a beer in the outfield stands isn’t playing baseball. But it wasn’t that the talking of writing wasn’t helpful. It was. But it didn’t alter the fundamentals of confusion, of mistaking desire for touch. And then it came to me. Put down the pen, close the laptop, save the paper for the birdcage, the little notebook for grocery lists, things to do, reminders. I didn’t want to be a writer. What I really wanted to do was play baseball.

“Play Ball” is episode 80 of Inventories, a Novel in Progress in Serial Format at The Coming of the Toads.

Blue Skies

History, a day game, his story, a looper machine, a rhythm continuously churning the same old fat. The past cannot cure this present precious moment as it is devoured by his own story. The ark sinks, the birds do not return, the sacrifice runs on and on and on. He was so Goddy Dodgy that he gave his only Son so that no one would need to sacrifice or be sacrificed again, to bring peace, yet every son and daughter is still sacrificed. Moloch. The Earth rolls forward, will not be stopped, leaves no tracks, nothing motionless as this tiny airplane 8 miles high begins its descent to a 9 inning game where I sit in the center field bleachers in the Tucson sun for an inning before retreating to Sylvie’s air conditioned suite next to the press box over home plate, with a glass of iced tea with a slice of lemon and a sprig of spearmint stick. Perado grounds to short, out at first. Alofme strikes out, looking hot and dehydrated, too exhausted to swing the bat. Carmone drives a hard ball to deep right center and already rounds first when Waltzer up against the fence leaps and pockets the shooting star. Sylvie mentions a few fine restaurants where we might later dine. She likes to eat out, under the blue skies, in the open air, and there’s a one story place she knows in South Tucson with a roof patio, with shade palms in huge buckets and fine water misters cooling the outside tables and a water fountain running against the traffic noise, bubbling and burbling, colorful umbrellas. The game was booked, we left the ballpark for the restaurant, and on the menu we found Berkshire Pig Tacos, Ossobuco with Gremolata, Peruvian Roasted Chicken. Sylvie ordered a bottle of cold dry white Merlot and another of dusty purple Sangiovese. The skies were blue, the sun setting solid gold, the heat lifting quickly in the cloudless desert evening. Your skies are never blue, Sylvie said. Always cloudy, or foggy, grey, cold. Why don’t you come live in the desert for some time away. There are ways to cool off. Swimming holes, sunhats, shorts and t shirts and sandals. The shade of the Tipu trees, Velvet Mesquite, the Blue Verde. Why do you gotta be so desperate all the time? Find some blue skies, enjoy the porch shade, relax. Stop worrying about the world. You’re the King of Anhedonia. Take off that crown of thorns. Feel some joy. Joie de vivre. Sit out with me and talk and dine and let the blue skies seep deep into your body. She reached across the table for my hand and I let her take it in hers and I tried to feel some pleasure in it.

“Blue Skies” is episode 58 of Inventories, a Novel in Progress in Serial Format at The Coming of the Toads.

Postcard from Sylvie

I wandered over to the post office at Fort MacArthur to check General Delivery and found I had a postcard from Sylvie: Hi, G! With team in Japan 3rd day of 9 day whirlwind tour with 3 game series at the Hiroshima Stadium vs the Carp. Visited the Peace Memorial yesterday. Very sober. Team in good shape, but lost first game to Carp, 5 to 3. Got 6 ok innings out of starter Bell, who gave up 3 runs on 2 walks and a double in the third then a solo homer in the 5th, then bunt, stolen base, and walk off double off reliever Potts by Carp in bottom of 9th. Heading out to ballpark now for some publicity interviews, pics, etc. Hope all’s well w you! Love, Sylvie. Continued walk and from the views around Fort MacArthur I took in the ocean, thinking of the possibility of a neutrino like trip through the waves and I’d instantly be able to join Sylvie at the ballpark and take in the game in Japan with some salty peanuts and a couple of beers and maybe a sushi and rice bento. Instead, I found my way over to the harbor and walked down a ramp to check out the yachts, and there I found Cajetan who had found a job cleaning boats. We agreed to meet up for a beer later on the Rooftop. I walked back to Hotel Julian and pinned Sylvie’s postcard to the wall by the side of my bed, with the pic of the Peace Memorial facing out, and fell asleep and dreamed of meetings and presentations and trips up and down the West Coast thwarted by failed connections, ticketing issues, floods, and train wrecks, roads rising and falling like waves.

“Postcard from Sylvie” is episode 38 of Inventories
a Novel in Progress in Serial Format at The Coming of the Toads.
(Click link for continuous, one page view of all episodes.)

Note: With episode 30, the title of the novel was changed
from the original working title of “Ball Lightning” to Inventories.

Rumors

Capital. Jobs. Detrimental reliance.

Rumored it is the gods have lost power over time, and it’s true many of them have exchanged their berths in Heaven for capital on Earth. Nevertheless, many lesser gods remain, living on Earth, though adulterated with traces of human genome. And it’s difficult to determine if the god has absorbed some of the human or the human some of a god. Either way, a tiny insertion of one or deletion of another can result in unpredictable change in behavior, altruistic and selfish. As I made my way daily to and from the pier to fish, waiting for word from Sot, I saw that the South Bay was full of lesser gods: bellhops; waiters and waitresses; truck farmers with vegetables, flowers, and herbs; car wash attendants; house painters; roofers; cab drivers; dishwashers; bicycle and wheeled and track vehicle mechanics; maids, housekeepers, concierges; sex workers; au pairs; gas station attendants, clerks, bussers, baristas, bartenders. The theory goes the gods have lost power because human belief in them has waned, dwindled to a trickle. The symbiotic relationship has weakened, belief in one another deemed necessary for the continuance of both. Detrimental reliance has upset the cart. Rumor has it there’s to be a giant baseball game, good versus evil, lightning balls thrown and hit, and the losers will be cast from Earth into space. But it’s just another rumor. I don’t know how these things get started.

“Rumors”
is episode 18 of
Ball Lightning
a Novel in Progress
in Serial Format at The Coming of the Toads.
(Click link for continuous, one page view of all episodes.)

Hacked and Gobsmacked

Late for a meeting. "extreme and unusual risk." "hacked and...gobsmacked"

I was late for my meeting with Walter. I had some explaining to do, but I wasn’t in the mood for working together as a team in the spirit of cooperation toward common goals for the mutual benefit of all. Nor did I feel like throwing any bums a dime. I was their in house Risk Manager. Walter was itself a Risk Management Brokerage, specializing in extreme and unusual risk. Sometimes avoidance was the best answer. I rode down Pine to First and over to Pike to the Market and looked for a place to pull the Harley over and park. Cleo nodded I could squeeze into the space in front of his international news stall. The rain had stopped, the clouds still low and grey and blue and hanging bushed like wads of cotton candy over the diamond. Out on the water a ferry would be approaching, carrying Walter from his The Breakers West on Bainbridge Island. I was late with my quarterly report. We’d been hacked and I was still too gobsmacked to explain it. Walter would want to know who, when, what, where, why, and how. “Damned if I know,” was not the answer he’d want to hear from his six digit plus bonus contracted Risk Manager.

“Hacked and Gobsmacked”
is episode 2 of
Ball Lightning
a Novel in Progress
in Serial Format at 
The Coming of the Toads

The gods Get Bored

 Riding Harley in the rain in Seattle. Ball lightning. The gods.

I throttled my green gnarly Harley across I-90 from Bellevue, wind chopped waves blowing over the wall on the south side of the bridge, the water as smooth as a coffin lid on the north side. I raddled through the last tunnel and merged onto I-5 north to downtown Seattle. A glob of ball lightning looped out of a smoke ring cloud hanging over the ballpark. The ball lightning bounced across the closed roof. The baseball stadium looked funereal. No game tonight. The winter circus was in town. On nights like this the gods might get bored and when the gods get bored no amount of prayer satisfies these clouds of gluttony, the local paradise filling like a wet basement. Why so many gods, I don’t know. Even the Catholics (and I am one, though maybe not a good one, whatever good means, but as Reverend Mother Mary Annette never tired of telling us, once a Catholic, always a Catholic), who profess belief in but one God, pray to the Saints and Mary and the rest, who seem to function much like the old Greek and Roman gods, one for every need or desire, one for every occasion, one for every problem, one for every predicament. A god for this, a god for that. A god for the nice, a god for the mean. Finely balanced too, the old gods, but like an unequal arm balance, some more powerful than others, leaving it to the mortals to try to balance things out. Still, evens up: one for light, one for dark; one for water, one for air; one for love, one for hate. Always meddling in human affairs, though, these immortals. Sure seem to get in the way all too often. Always wanting something, too, a piece of the human pie chart, insatiable. Why do we keep calling out to them? Was there a Saint of scooters? Could use a prayer to him now.  Dear Saint Scooter, please get me and my Vespa downtown safely, as an 18 wheeler passes at twice my speed, his mud flap cowgirls waving and laughing. God of lead, god of gold. God of the meek, and god of the bold. God of yes, and god of no. God of hot, god of cold. God of bought, and god of sold. God of gods, who never grows old, oldest of all.

“The gods Get Bored”
is episode 1 of
Ball Lightning
a Novel in Progress
in Serial Format at The Coming of the Toads