Chapter 09

a home run ... just like the story itself :-)

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Summer Boys, Summer Dreams: Chapter 09

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SUMMARY: Two boys growing up together in an idyllic beachfront community share a passion for baseball. One excels at the game and plays it with reckless abandon; the other, less talented, studies the game and those who play it, hoping someday to share what he learns with others. Best friends since childhood, the two have seen how baseball can bring them closer together. Now, having just graduated from high school, it’s about to show them a crueler side of the game. Baseball is about to separate them even though neither wants that to happen. You can find a longer synopsis of the entire story here. Please note that italics are typically used to indicate what a character is thinking or saying to himself.

WARNING: This story is a work of adult fiction and intended for mature audiences only. Any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental. Unless otherwise indicated by context, all of the characters, leagues, stadiums, teams and clubs portrayed or mentioned in this story are fictional, not depictions of real people, leagues, stadiums, teams and clubs. Please note that the story may describe, depict or otherwise include graphic portrayals of relationships between men and/or adolescent boys that are homosexual in nature. If you do not like or approve of such discussions or it is illegal for you to read such material, consider yourself warned. If you continue to read this story, you are asserting that you are fully capable of understanding and legally consenting to reading a work of adult fiction.

NOTICE: This story is my property and protected by the copyright laws of the United States and other countries. It may not be reproduced in any form without my written permission. You may download a single copy to read offline and to share with others as long as you credit me as the author. However, you may not use this work for commercial purposes or to profit from it in any way. You may not use any of the characters, leagues, stadiums, teams, clubs, or other fictional locations described in the story in your own work without my explicit permission. Nor may you use, alter, transform, or build upon the story in any way. If you share this story with others, you must make clear the terms under which it is licensed to them. The best way to do that is by linking to this web page.

NOTES: Please check these notes every week. If there is something I want to alert you to as I post each chapter, this is where I will I do so.

SUMMER BOYS, SUMMER DREAMS

Part II – Summer

Chapter 9

The next day began like all of the rest. Grady, Brady and I got to the stadium before most of the rest of the players. While Coach busied himself in his office, I headed down to the exercise room and began the workout routine Mark had put together for me. Later, after lunch, we headed out to the field.

Grady had decided to spend the day focusing on drills in baseball fundamentals, something you wouldn’t ordinarily be doing at this stage of the season; and when he wasn’t satisfied with the effort we were putting in, he just looked us in the eye and let us have it.

“This is pathetic,” he screamed. “I’ve had enough lollygagging from you losers. Twenty poles!”

It wasn’t what any of us wanted to hear, sprints from the left to right field lines and back twenty times. A couple of the guys started bitching, but Grady made short work of that.

“And if I don’t see the effort I’m looking for, you’ll be doing twenty more after those.”

That focused everyone’s attention quickly enough; and after we had completed the task, we went back to the drills with a bit more enthusiasm.

They started with some fielding drills; as usual, Dylan was taking all of the balls hit in our direction at shortstop. But unlike the last couple of days, this afternoon Grady grabbed the bat from Coach Gilmore and started hitting balls in my direction after waiving Dylan off. I was glad to have a chance to get in some real practice for a change. Later, after the drills were over, Grady came by to see me.

“I’ve been noticing you’re one of the few players in the dugout always studying the opposing team when they’re out on the field, son. That’s a good thing for someone young like you to do. Keep it up.”

It wasn’t like he had said he was going to play me that evening, but it was the first time I had heard an encouraging word from any of the coaches. I wanted them to be proud of me so that night I studied what was happening on the field even more intensely than usual.

Luis Rodriguez, our starting pitcher, was on top of his game that night and managed to keep us close most of the evening. After eight innings we were tied, 2 to 2, and I was hoping this would be the night we ended our losing streak. Somehow Luis managed to get through the top of the ninth without allowing a run, but it was obvious to me he was finished. If the game went to extra innings, Coach would need to use a reliever and I didn’t envy the man because the relief staff was pretty burned out from working the previous three games.

It seemed like extra innings were almost guaranteed, however, when the opposing pitcher retired the first two batters in the bottom of the ninth. That brought our cleanup hitter, Mark, to the plate and he promptly delighted the hometown crowd by stroking a fastball down the right field line for a double. With our catcher, Delano Shields, at the plate, the opposing team held a conference on the pitcher’s mound. It quickly became apparent they planned to walk him intentionally and pitch to Dylan instead.

I was sitting there in the dugout taking everything in when Grady walked over. That was surprising since he had never paid very much attention to me at all during a game up to that point.

I was even more surprised when he said it.

“Get a bat, son. You’re pinch-hitting for Dylan.”

Surprised, I walked to the end of the dugout, grabbed my bat from the rack, and then headed out to the on-deck circle where Dylan was already waiting.

“What the fuck are you doing here, faggot?” he asked as I approached.

“Coach says he wants me to pinch hit for you,” I responded.

“You’re shitting me,” he replied, incredulous.

If looks could kill, I would have been dead on the spot and for a moment I thought he might even clobber me with his bat. But suddenly Dylan wheeled around and headed back to the dugout. He tossed his bat aside violently, narrowly missing Brady in the process. Fortunately, Brady had been on the lookout and was able to duck out of the way.

From the on-deck circle I could hear Dylan challenging Grady. It seemed like he wanted everyone to know exactly what he thought of the whole thing.

“Why the fuck are you pinch-hitting for me, old man?” he asked. “I mean, it’s pretty fucking insulting to be pulled for some freaking rookie. You’re going to be sorry when that pretty boy strikes out.”

“The last time I checked, I was still the manager of this team,” Coach responded. “I get paid to make these decisions. But if you have to know, one reason is that Ethan is a switch hitter so he’ll be a better matchup for us against their pitcher.”

“And if you need another reason, just take a look at what you’ve done at the plate this series, Dylan. You haven’t had one lousy hit. Now sit your ass down before you piss me off even more.”

Back in the on-deck circle, I watched as Delano trotted down to first base after being deliberately walked. As I approached the plate, they played a few bars of Moves Like Jagger while Brady just stood there grinning at me; and then I heard the switch being announced over the P.A. system.

“Now pinch hitting for Dylan Quinn, Number 34, Ethan Williams. Ethan’s the newest member of the Heat, ladies and gentlemen, so let’s give him a big round of applause.”

There hadn’t been many people in the stands that evening and by now quite a few of those had already left, resigned to seeing us lose still again. And while I could hear a few people clapping for me and that was nice, I tried to put it out of my mind and focus on what was about to come next.

This was my first professional at bat and it wasn’t about to happen under the best of circumstances. There was a lot at stake, perhaps even the game, and for the first time ever I remember feeling a little tense and nervous. I took a deep breath and tried to calm myself down.

“It’s just another at bat, Ethan,” I told myself; “just keep yourself focused exactly the way you’ve been doing it all your life.”

I stepped into the batting box. Looking down toward third base, then over to the dugout, and finally at first base, the signal I got told me to take the first pitch. It turned out to be a curve ball down and in.

Strike one.

I was given the green light to swing on the next pitch, but it was down and away and I refused to bite.

Ball one.

From there I worked the count to 2 and 2, then to 3 and 2 on a pitch that could have been called either way although I was pretty certain it would be called a ball given the home plate umpire’s strike zone that evening. He had been pretty consistent in his calls that night, which is all you can ask from an umpire.

I fouled off the next two pitches. Neither of them offered me much, but there was no way I wanted to chance a called third strike in a situation like that.

And then it happened. The opposing pitcher backed off the mound, stepped a little further away than usual and began rubbing the ball just a little harder than usual against his thigh.

I had been studying him carefully that night just like Grady had told me to do. He was a pretty crafty dude and didn’t give away much, but the one thing I noticed was that he always seemed to step off the mound just a little further and rub the ball against his thigh a little harder whenever he was in a tight spot and wanted to bring his fastball to get himself out of a jam.

Stepping back on to the mound, he stared at the plate. I wanted to think about things so I stepped out of the box and signaled for time.

“Keep your arms away from your body. Keep your swing level. Just try to connect with the ball, don’t try to crush it, Ethan.”

Then I stepped back into the box.

By now it was as if everything was happening in slow motion. Their pitcher shook off the signal, then nodded when he got what he was looking for. He reared back and I could see the ball spin as it left his hand. He was bringing the heat I had been expecting. Stepping into the pitch and swinging the bat, I could tell from the way the ball and bat connected that I had hit it dead solid, a line drive to the left center field gap.

I raced toward first base knowing I would make it easily. Then, crossing the bag, I turned and watched as Mark and the ball from the outfield both approached home plate simultaneously. Mark slid and the umpire signaled him safe. And then I could see guys pouring out of the dugout toward home plate and Mark being mobbed.

I raced toward the plate myself and Mark caught me as I leapt into the pile.

That was it.

We had won, 3 to 2, and it was my hit that drove in the winning run. Guys were slapping me on the back, congratulating me on my very first hit as a professional. Mark was hugging me and I could see Grady smiling at the top of the dugout. It was the best feeling in the world.

Later on, back in the locker room, D.W. piped up.

“Okay everyone, listen up; Ethan made his first appearance tonight and he did okay for a rookie. But I think he needs to show us what he really has before the game tomorrow night. We could use a little entertainment to loosen up against the Raptors. So what do you think? Should we make him put on a show for us?”

A bunch of voices chimed in their agreement and I guess that settled the matter. I was told I would be expected to put on a little skit for the team the following evening and that it had better be good or I would have to keep doing it until I got it right.

I had heard about this kind of hazing ritual rookies had to go through, but didn’t have a clue what was expected of me. When I asked Mark what I should do, he just shrugged his shoulders and suggested I check with Brady.

“Brady knows the drill. Just do whatever he tells you.”

Then, as an afterthought, he looked over at me and grinned.

“The important thing to keep in mind here Ethan is the guys don’t want to laugh with you. They want to laugh at you.”

Oh great, I remember thinking; just what I need, a bunch of sadists waiting for me to make a fool of myself.

****

The drive home that evening was different. It was like an anchor had been lifted from Grady’s chest. He was in an expansive mood, sharing why he had made various moves in the game, what he had planned to do if we hadn’t scored, but, strangely enough, nothing at all about his decision to insert me into the lineup.

I didn’t press him on that. I was just happy to have gotten into a game for a change.

When we finally got back to the house, I decided to use that calling card my mother had bought me to let her know what had happened. She was as excited as me about the whole thing and we talked for a while. I missed her and knew she missed me as well. But finally I realized I needed to hang up.

“Be sure to tell Hunter everything I told you, Mom,” I said.

“I will,” she responded. “I’ll let him know tomorrow. He’s been asking about you.”

“And be sure to tell him I miss him too,” I added, glad to hear that.

Having finished the call, I decided to take Mark’s advice and check with Brady about what I should do the following evening.

“I know just the thing,” he said. “Leave it to me. We’ll need to stop off at the Walmart tomorrow morning and get some things, but you can practice the actual routine with me tonight.”

He raced over and turned on the computer and the next thing I knew he was printing something off. He handed it to me and then sat down on the bed. Turning his iPod to the music he had selected, he directed me to the front of the bed and told me to start.

I looked at what he had handed me and rolled my eyes.

“I can’t sing this in front of the guys,” I protested.

“Sure you can, Ethan,” he replied, grinning; “and you better do a good job of it too or they’ll make you keep doing it until they’re satisfied.”

It was only with great reluctance that I finally managed to break into song; and then Brady made me do it again and again, showing me the gestures and moves he wanted me to use because he said I would need to nail them to pull off my little performance.

Brady was good at them. Me? Not so much. But he made me do them over and over while I sang the damn song. The whole thing was embarrassing, especially for someone like me.

At one point Grady even came into the room and just stood there grinning at me as I practiced.

“You’re doing real good, son,” he said. “Keep it up. You’re going to be a star.”

****

When I came down stairs the following morning, Grady was sitting there telling his wife about everything that had happened the previous night. He was still happy about the game and she was smiling and doting on him and then he saw me come through the door.

“And here’s the hero himself,” he said.

It was terrific to hear something like that and I remember grinning momentarily. And then, just as quickly, the moment was over and Coach moved on to something else.

“We’re going to be taking a bus up to Hagerstown today, son,” he said, quietly. “We have a game up there this evening and then another one tomorrow afternoon. You’ll need to pack an overnight bag with a change of clothes and whatever else you need to bring with you.”

“I don’t have an overnight bag,” I responded. “I just have that big old suitcase up in my room.”

“Well, we don’t have room for something like that on the bus, not on a trip like this” Coach replied. “I have a bag I can let you borrow.”

We went upstairs together and he found the bag he was looking for. It was old and had obviously seen a lot of service over the years and I sensed it was one he had used when he played major league ball because of the way he handled it. It turned out to be perfect, just the right size and easy to carry and I packed what I needed quickly and tossed it into the trunk of his car.

We stopped at the Walmart along the way and Brady and I picked up the things for my skit. On the drive to the stadium after that, Coach opened up and told me more.

“We’ll be staying in a Motel 7 up there in Hagerstown tonight, Ethan, two to a room,” he said. “I’ve decided to put you in with Mark. Ordinarily I would put you in with Dylan because you’re both shortstops, but I expect that won’t work given how much Dylan loves you.”

“Usually I wouldn’t put anyone in with Mark out of respect to him. He’s been to the big dance and earned himself some rights. But money is tight these days and I spoke to him about this. He’s willing to let you bunk with him. That’s what I like about Mark, a team player all the way.”

“Just don’t bother him, son. He has a lot on his mind.”

The drive up to Hagerstown was uneventful but long. It was about 180 miles and it took us close to four hours. Like most of them, our bus wasn’t the most comfortable ride in the world so I was glad when we finally pulled into the parking lot at the stadium that housed the Hagerstown Raptors. Brady had passed out box lunches on the bus before we got there so we were able to take to the field for our warm-ups right away and then retreat to the clubhouse.

Still later, D.W. came by and grinned at me.

“Brady told me all about it, Ethan. He made a good choice for you; time to get dressed up, boy.”

So that’s what I did. I pulled on the old boots Brady had retrieved from his Dad’s closet, then the flannel shirt. Strapping on the cowboy hat and the plastic pistols Brady had insisted I buy at the Walmart, the two of them led me to the front of the locker room where the guys were assembled and waiting for me.

Brady turned on his iPod and the music filled our locker room; and there I stood for what seemed like forever singing Big and Rich’s Save A Horse, Ride A Cowboy over and over again while everyone hooted and laughed at me.

Brady had made the choice without knowing I was gay. But I knew I was gay and it was humiliating, the most humiliating experience of my life up until then. The worst part of it was they didn’t let me off with just one run through. I had to do it over and over for them as they repeatedly complained my performance was not up to standard.

But finally they took mercy and allowed me to slip away and lick my wounds. It seemed to me Dylan had taken special delight in seeing me humiliated like that.

“What an appropriate choice,” he said, as I walked past on the way back to my locker.

I decided to ignore him.

****

It was just before the game that Coach approached me.

“I’m putting you in at shortstop this evening,” he volunteered. “Sorry for the late notice, but Dylan just told me he pulled a muscle yesterday and can’t play tonight. I expect he’s still pissed off at me for pinch hitting for him last evening; and while I don’t think it’s a smart move on his part and this isn’t permanent by any means, I don’t have very much choice except to stick you into the lineup.”

“This is your chance to show me what you got, Ethan. Make the most of it.”

Not having time to think about it probably helped. Whatever the reason, we won that night 4 to 1. Hitting sixth in Dylan’s slot, I was two for four at the plate and had a walk and stolen base as well. But the real highlight came when I was able to turn a sure hit into a double play that quashed a potential uprising by the Raptors late in the game. I was proud of that. It wasn’t an easy play.

Everyone was loose on the drive back to the hotel that night. Winning was always fun and I knew from experience that winning two in a row could be just the start we were looking for.

I followed Mark up to the room we were about to share. He used the bathroom first, then climbed into bed. I cleaned myself up and climbed into the bed across from him.

“I never really congratulated you on that hit last night, Ethan,” Mark said. “That was huge. You know how losing eight games in a row can drain all of the energy out of a team. But next time hit it a little further, will you? I’m 28 now and I don’t run as fast as I use to. They almost nailed me on that throw to the plate.”

“Thanks, Mark,” I said. “Next time I’ll try to hit it a little further. And thanks for letting me bunk here with you tonight.”

“No problem,” he said.

So there I was, in a crummy hotel in a city I had never visited before. I was sleeping in a room with a guy ten years older than me, but someone with whom I could relate because we shared the same passion.

I was happy.

For the first time since joining the team, I felt like I belonged.

****

The next morning a couple of us were having breakfast with Coach and Brady when Dylan put in an appearance.

“I’m feeling better this morning, Coach,” he said. “I guess my leg responded to the treatment I got from the trainer last night. I should be ready to play this afternoon. I mean, I wouldn’t want you to count on pretty boy here being lucky and having a good game two days in a row.”

“I’m glad to hear you’re feeling better, Dylan,” Coach responded. “But there’s no need to rush it. Muscle pulls like that can be tricky. I’ve had a few myself over the years so I know what they’re like. I think we should give it one more day’s rest and let Ethan here spell you for another day.”

You could see how annoyed Dylan was just by looking at his face.

“Well, hell, I could have stayed in Shoreham rather than making the trip up here if I had known that,” he responded.

“You could have, Dylan,” Coach responded. “But I do appreciate you accompanying us up here on this trip. That was nice. I always like it when a guy puts the team first and is willing to tough it out for his teammates.”

I did my best to keep a straight face in front of everyone upon hearing that little exchange. Dylan didn’t miss the point either. You could tell he was pissed, but for me it was another opportunity to show Coach what I had.

We had another good game that afternoon and won when Mark doubled in the top of the ninth to drive in Nicky, our first baseman. I had a decent game as well, but it was nothing special as far as I was concerned. It was one of those days where you helped yourself just by not hurting yourself with a bad performance. Like Hunter used to say, sometimes being average was good.

When the game was finally over, we scrambled on to the bus and headed back to Shoreham. It was late when we finally pulled into the parking lot at the stadium that evening. I always had trouble myself sleeping on a bus, but, like most of the guys, Brady had fallen asleep on the ride home.

Although he wasn’t very big for his age, he was still big enough now and his Dad was old enough so that it was no longer possible for Grady to carry his son from the bus to the car. I offered to do it; and while it was a struggle for me as well, somehow I managed to get him to the car without dropping him and I could tell his Dad appreciated what I had done.

By the time the three of us got back to the house I was tired. I carried Brady up to the bedroom we were sharing and placed him on his bed. Then, while his Dad helped him out of his clothes, I retreated to the bathroom and cleaned myself up. By the time I returned to the bedroom, Brady was sound asleep and it didn’t take long for me to join him.

The drive to the stadium the next morning was a lot more pleasant than it had been the first few days I was staying with Grady and his family. If Grady hated losing with a passion, winning was the cure for everything that ailed him and he was in an expansive mood that morning, talking about our opponent that night, their strengths and weaknesses, how he planned to attack the latter and, if possible, to mitigate the former.

It was fascinating listening to him and by now I knew he was right. He had forgotten more about baseball than I would ever know and just listening to him gave me an appreciation for coaching I had never really had before. While most of the guys on our team thought he was too old and the game had passed him by, I reminded myself to listen carefully whenever Grady was talking.

I was just finishing up my workout at our little improvised gym that morning when Brady popped in.

“The Skipper wants to see you.”

It always made me laugh whenever Brady said something like that. At the ballpark Grady was never his Dad. He was always the Skipper, the man Brady worked for, and there was just something about the whole thing I found amusing.

“Uh-oh, I wondered what I’ve done now?” I asked, looking over at Brady to see whether he had a clue as to why his Dad wanted to see me.

Brady just grinned.

“I don’t think it’s bad news, Ethan,” he said. “He seemed to be in a pretty good mood when he told me to come get you.”

I walked down to the old man’s office in my workout gear and then knocked softly when I reached the door.

“Come in,” the raspy voice muttered.

I opened the door and went in.

“Have a seat, Ethan,” he said. “I’m glad to see you’re still working out with Mark. Keep doing that and you’ll be Superman someday.”

“Okay, so I’m going to tell you this straight out. I’ve decided to platoon you and Dylan at shortstop beginning this evening. You’ll be starting tonight. Dylan will get the start tomorrow. We’ll see how it goes after that.”

I remember being a little disappointed by the announcement. I had been hoping I had shown Coach enough to stake a claim to the job full-time. But he was the coach and I was still new so I decided not to complain.

“I’ve already spoken to Dylan about this and he isn’t a happy camper,” Grady continued. “You best get prepared because I suspect you may be hearing his thoughts on the whole situation sooner rather than later. But I’ve always been a believer in going with the best player and I need to find out which one of you is the better shortstop. The only way I can do that is by platooning the two of you and giving both of you a fair shot.”

“I told Dylan I would have started him today except they’re going to be starting a lefty against us and I felt like it would be fairer to hold him back until tomorrow when he’ll be going up against a right handed pitcher.”

“I won’t kid you, Ethan. I like you more than Dylan as a person, but a good manager puts personal feelings aside and goes with the player that gives the team the best shot to win. This is your chance to show me what you’ve got as a player. Take advantage of it. Show me you should be our starting shortstop and you will be.”

“Like I said, I don’t much like Dylan. He has his little following on the team, but it’s a small group. The point is, it doesn’t matter whether I like him or not. I’m a coach. They pay me to evaluate talent and that’s what I do. Brady likes you and I do too. But if Dylan is the better shortstop, he’ll go back to playing full time and you’ll sit.”

“That’s it for now. I just wanted you to know you’ll be starting tonight so you can get yourself prepared.”

I stood up and headed for the door.

“Oh, dang, one other thing, too,” Grady said.

I turned and looked at him.

“I’ve been doing my best to find a family that will host you, Ethan, but I haven’t had very much luck. People aren’t as friendly and giving that way as they were twenty or thirty years ago. In any event, I was bitching to Mark about that this morning and how it wasn’t fair to make you stay with me any longer. I mentioned I was going to get you a room over at the Red Roof Inn while I continued the search.”

“Mark volunteered that you could stay at his place for free. I told him he didn’t have to do that. I know he likes his privacy and I can respect that. But he said it would be okay for you to stay with him. So you’ll need to get your things together tonight. We’ll bring them to the stadium tomorrow and you can go home with Mark after the game tomorrow night.”

“Assuming that’s okay with you, of course; if not, now’s the time to speak up.”

“That’s fine,” I responded. “I like Mark. I just don’t want to impose on anyone although I’m anxious to get settled in somewhere.”

“Mark is a pretty straightforward guy, Ethan. If it was an imposition, he wouldn’t have offered. But I’m glad he did. I think this could be good for you. Mark has been to the big dance. He’s the best player on the team by far, at least when he isn’t having one of those damn headaches that keep plaguing him. He has good work habits and he respects the game. He’ll make a good manager someday.”

“You can learn a lot just by being around him, assuming you’re willing to learn. Some guys think they know it all and aren’t willing to learn. I don’t think you’re one of those so, like I said, I think this could work out well for you.”

“I know being around me and the wife probably hasn’t been the greatest experience for a young buckaroo like you. Brady will miss you, but he’ll still see you every day so I don’t think it’ll be a big problem for him. Truth is, I’ve been after him to be on his best behavior ever since you moved in. He thinks I don’t know what he does up in that room when he’s alone by himself, but I do; and I expect he’ll go back to his bad old ways once you move out.”

“He’s a growing boy and a handful and, well, I think you can guess what that involves. In any event, we’ve been glad to have you. It’s been pretty obvious to the wife and me that your mother raised you well. I plan to tell her that in person when I get the chance. Now go get some lunch.”

****

I headed back to the locker room to catch a quick shower before lunch. As much as I wanted not to think about everything Grady had just said, it was hard not to.

The big news was that I was going to be playing that night again, auditioning for Grady if you will. I wanted to do my best, but I was already beginning to feel a little nervous and I thought that was funny. I had never been nervous before a game when all I was playing was a game.

You need to keep thinking that way, Ethan, I said to myself. It’s just a game and there’ll be another one tomorrow and the day after that. Just relax and enjoy them. Most people are sitting in an office somewhere bored out of their minds. You actually get paid for playing a game you like. Just keep doing what you’ve been doing all your life and you’ll be fine.

That seemed to help with the nerves; or maybe it was just the shower. In any event, when I was done cleaning up, I dressed quickly and headed up to the lunchroom. I decided to eat light that day, just soup and a salad. Looking around, I saw D.W. sitting with Brady across the room and joined the two of them.

“You look like a condemned man,” D.W. said, looking up as I approached. “What’s up?”

“Coach just told me he was going to start platooning me and Dylan at shortstop. I’ll be playing tonight. Dylan gets the start tomorrow.”

“Oh, shit,” D.W. responded. “That’s going to make it tough for me. I was just getting used to playing with you and now I’m going to have to switch how I play depending on which one of you is starting.”

“Does it really make that big a difference?” I asked, curious.

“You cover a lot more ground than Dylan,” D.W. said, “so that means I can play in closer and count on you if something gets by me. With Dylan I have to play further back. I guess the differences aren’t really huge, but they’re real and they can make a difference. If it was up to me, I would much rather have you out there. I mean, I don’t think anything can get by the two of us.”

“Thanks, D.W.,”I replied. “But you’re too modest. You make both Dylan and me better with the way you play third base out there.”

D.W. looked at me and all of a sudden his face got more serious and I thought he was about to say something to me when I saw Dylan and his best friend on the team, Jerry Wilson, approaching our table.

“Listen up, faggot,” he said, directing his comments to me. “I don’t know how many times you had to suck that old fool’s cock to get this start tonight, but I’m telling you right now you ain’t going to be taking my job. Everyone knows Grady hates me and has been trying to replace me the last two years. So it’s not like you’re the first fucking faggot I’ve had to compete with; and, just so you know, you sure as hell will not be winning that little competition of his either.”

“Don’t fuck with me, pretty boy. I’ve eaten up guys like you before and I’m going to do the same thing with you.”

Then he turned abruptly and the two of them walked away.

“And you have a nice day, too, Dylan,” D.W. said, softly, grinning at me.

It made me laugh although Brady seemed shaken by what had just transpired.

“Um, well, I guess I better go kill myself and spare him the effort,” I said.

“Don’t worry about that asshole, Ethan,” D.W. said. “From what I’ve seen, it isn’t even going to be close. You’re definitely the better fielder. That’s not even close. If you can stay even with him at the plate, and that shouldn’t be a problem from what little I’ve seen, you’ll be just fine.”

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16 thoughts on “Chapter 09

      1. Kit

        I’m sure that there are a lot of people reading this story, it’s just that they are too lazy to bother to drop you a line. The other factor could be people on vacation. In either case you are a great writer and do so with much feeling!

      2. Thanks, Tom. I understand. But it can be hard when you get no feedback on what works, what doesn’t, whatever. That’s actually why I started posting online because I thought it would help me become a better writer. I’m more realistic now but ….

  1. Ok Kit I do understand where you are coming from, but you are a great writer despite your feelings. As I read the first eight chapters it was very obvious that your thoughts on both Ethan and Hunters struggles were very well put forth. Any gay reader had to find himself in the same situation and could feel the same frustrations during some time in his life.

    Your cup IS half full and not half empty!!!

    Keep up the good writing

    Tom

  2. Another great story. Ethan is getting to play and he’s liked by most of his fellow team players. I really enjoy your creations.

    George K.

  3. Your story makes mondays my favorite day of the week Kit! No lie! I want it all now but know I have to wait til next monday and then the next monday which sucks in a way but it’s something to look forward to! Loved all your stories so far and they keep getting better and better! Keep up the great work my friend and thanks for sharing! 😀

    1. Thanks Jordan. Wow! What can I say?

      You could tell him you are open to bribes, Kit; you know, money, personal favors, whatever. Tell the dude to make an offer. I mean, hell, anything’s possible after all. You could provide hints or perhaps even a sneak peek if the price is right.

      That would be wrong, Kit; so wrong. You have more integrity than that.

      Oh, yeah; I forgot about that.

      Um, well, the thing is, I enjoy your visits so much every monday, Jordan. Laying in bed, wondering whether you’ll enjoy the latest installment. Just thinking about all of that helps me make it through the night. Could you stop by more often?

      But, seriously, thanks for the positive vibes. They help. And just chalk this response up to the heat 🙂

  4. Lol I laid here and hit the refresh button probably 10 times tonight waiting on chapter 10 and right at 8 o’clock on the dot I got what I was looking for! Thanks Kit!

  5. I am from the UK and do not understand all the terms that you use from Baseball. In one way this makes it a little add for me, yet it does not spoil the overall story. I am really enjoying this and look forward to the next chapter.

    1. I have quite a few readers from the UK and appreciate having them very much. What you call a “little add” we call a “heavy lift” here in the States and I guess that difference in verbiage is still another reminder for me that not everyone is into baseball or even understands it. But I’m glad you’re sticking with the story and enjoying it. Baseball will be the backdrop for the story even after we finish up Part II. But the amount of time spent on the game itself will not be as significant after Part II.

      I wish there was some concise summary of the game I could refer you and others to; if anyone has a suggestion, please share it. I’ve included a bunch of links in the last couple of chapters, but I’m not sure how well they work. And I still think that link I included to a little music video gives a pretty good sense of the game. If you haven’t checked it out, you definitely should.

      In the end, baseball is just a team sport played mostly by boys and men who like spending time with other boys and men and sharing some camaraderie together under the guise of playing a game. It’s the bonding that matters more than the wins or losses; although here in the States, of course, guys of a certain age can get very competitive at times.

  6. Kit, I have only one advantage in having waited 6 months to read your new story: I can read chapter after chapter without having to wait anxiously every week like Jordan described so well months ago as he waited for chapter 8. I’m loving the story. You may recall how I so loved Josh in Connected, and Ethan exudes the same wholesome goodness. Then you keep introducing more cute kids like Brady and that cocky little Zachary and they make it even more fun.

    But I have to say the most striking thing is your mastery of the game and the culture that surrounds it. You obviously know, understand and have lived through the challenges of growing up gay. It’s your intimacy with baseball that surprises me. When you wrote Connected, I was certain you were once a Congressional aide. Now I could easily believe you played pro ball. All that means is that you’re really quite good at this. Congrats on another hit. Thanks for the endless hours of work required.

    1. What? You don’t find Grady cute, Dean? I’m so disappointed!

      (That’s an inside joke for the rest of you people).

      In any event, thanks for the very nice comment, Dean. As you can see, I’m working my way through them and I’ve even made the corrections for you, you naughty boy. Drinking too much; for shame!

      And then, on top of that, you’re surprised I know my baseball? Yeah, sure, I know. You’ve been thinking of me all along as this pretty little feminine thing 🙂

      Surprise!

      Like I said, thanks; for reading the story (the audience is a small one and I appreciate everyone who takes the time to read my stories) and for taking the time to comment.

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