Chapter 46

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

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Summer Boys, Summer Dreams: Chapter 46

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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 V – Here Comes The Sun

Chapter 46

It was the day after the season had ended. Two nights earlier we had clinched the Eastern Division championship, the first time the Warriors had ever done that in franchise history. I hadn’t been around the whole season, of course, but I felt like I had contributed to getting us here. I had made a difference and was proud of the part I had played in the whole thing.

There had been a celebration that evening; a small one because all of us understood we were looking for a lot more, something bigger than just a divisional championship. There were no guarantees that would ever happen and there were still a bunch of games to be played before we could even begin to think about the World Series. But that just added to the intensity of the whole thing.

Trying to stay focused and in the moment took my mind off of Riley and that made things easier in some ways. Ever since spending those two days with D.W. and Brady, I had been thinking Riley knew something about our relationship that I was missing. I hadn’t been able to figure it out, but just watching Brady and D.W. had finally made everything clear. There was more to a relationship than sex.

D.W. and Brady’s relationship had emerged from a long standing connection, one based on genuine friendship and mutual respect and affection. There had been plenty of time for it to take root and flourish. It hadn’t been driven by their sexual needs. Thinking about it, I didn’t believe either Riley or I had done anything wrong. Every relationship is unique and offers possibilities for something more.

We had met in a club and each of us had a need the other was able to satisfy. We had gone to bed and had sex and there was nothing wrong with that. We had started a relationship that worked in some ways for each of us. The rules had been clear from the beginning and I didn’t have a problem with them. But each of us had issues that had never been addressed.

I wondered how Riley was doing with his. For my part, I was still lonely, but I wasn’t so frenetic about it anymore; and somewhere in the back of my mind I remember thinking things were going to get better once the playoffs were over and I came out.

Avery and I had gotten together a little sooner than expected. He had put together an excellent plan for how to approach the whole thing and he was already lining up those visits to small town America I had told him I wanted to do.

He didn’t try to dissuade me from coming out, but he was honest about the human and financial implications; the advertisements and endorsements that would never be forthcoming, the catcalls, slurs and epithets bigots and insecure people would hurl whenever they thought they could get away with it.

He agreed I should wait until after the playoffs were over, but there were other things he wanted me to consider. He asked whether he could book me on some television and radio stations to talk about the whole thing. Like me, he felt like I shouldn’t just slink away after making the announcement and pretend it really wasn’t anything important. There were others who needed to hear my story.

And he also asked whether I was interested in writing a book about the whole thing, something that would help people understand just how hard being gay and playing sports could be. He said he knew this young writer he thought could help me out telling my story. I told him I would think about that and all the rest of the things he raised.

I was anxious to get the whole thing off my chest, no doubt about it. For the moment, however, I was mostly looking forward to the playoffs, the chance to do what every baseball player dreams of from the very first moment he picks up a bat and ball; the chance to play in a World Series and bring a championship home for the fans if everything went right.

And that’s when it happened.

The whole world fell in on me.

****

The coaches were putting us through a light workout the day before we were scheduled to start our first playoff game the following evening. The guys were loose, the mood light, and we were just having some fun when Doc Howard came wandering over.

“Jack wants to see you, Ethan,” is all he said.

“Um, are you sure?” I asked, surprised.

Jack Girardi was the General Manager of the Washington Warriors, the dude who had engineered the trade that brought me to the team in the first place. But even though he was responsible for my major league career, he had never said more than two words to me since our first meeting in San Francisco in August; and it wasn’t because he lacked the opportunity.

He wasn’t one of those General Managers who sat in the owner’s booth high above and kept an eye on everything from there. You could generally find the guy sitting somewhere near the dugout; someplace far enough way so he wouldn’t be tempted to micro-manage and get in Doc Howard’s hair, but close enough to hear what guys were saying and to offer whatever wisdom he wanted to impart.

He talked to a lot of the guys every day, but had never said boo to me; and now Doc was telling me Jack wanted to see me. I remember being worried about that.

The one thing you never want to hear when you’re playing professional ball is that someone high up in management wants to see you. I mean, the thing is, the chances the General Manager wants to see you for a good reason are somewhere between slim and none.

Usually someone like that wants to see you to convey bad news; to tell you you’re being released or sent back down to the minors or have been traded to some other team. Or perhaps to tell you someone you love is dead.

Everything I knew about the guy had been picked up second-hand. He had been in the game in one capacity or another for more than thirty years, primarily as a scout, and had a reputation for being tough. They said he had a nose for talent and could tell you whether someone was still on the way up or had already crested and was on the way down.

By all accounts, he was a man with a core set of fundamental beliefs, ones that were firm and unchanging. He believed in God and his father, who he sometimes confused with God; and he believed in family and friends. He believed in America and in baseball as well because he knew baseball was America’s game in spite of all the nonsense some people made about football.

He had grown up in a tough mid-western neighborhood where nothing was ever given to you. It was the kind of place where you had to earn everything you had; and once you earned it, you had to protect it because there was always someone trying to take it away from you.

He had played baseball in the streets with his brothers and friends; and because he was the youngest and the smallest and the ball had a way of finding its way to the nearest drain on occasion, he was the one they would lower into those drains to retrieve the ball.

If they were in a good mood and still wanted to play more ball that day, they would pull him out. Otherwise they would leave him there until his mother started asking where he was. He never complained to her about that, but he would throw a punch or two at whoever he decided was responsible for leaving him there; at least that’s what he said.

He had bounced around the minor leagues for a couple of years and his assessment of himself was as honest as those he provided about others.

“I stunk,” he had told a reporter for the Washington Post. “I looked around one day and saw everyone else was better than me and decided I should probably find an easier way to make a living, something I was actually good at.”

“Those were the greatest years of my life,” he had gone on to say, for once a victim of the kind of nostalgia he was said to disdain.

“Every day you get to play the greatest game in the world, stay up late, sleep in late, and then get up and do it all over again the next day. The camaraderie of the guys and the friends you make; it’s just hard to explain to someone who’s never actually experienced it. Some people call those minor league experiences the dog days, but they were never the dog days for me.”

He had taken an offer to be an area scout, first in the mid-west and later the south. For almost two decades he had traveled America’s highways and byways looking at thousands of prospects. Like most scouts back in those days, he had spent way too much time alone in his car and wasn’t the most sociable person in the world.

He had missed more than one wedding anniversary to scout a prospect. He had even missed his own son’s first ball game. But most of what he knew about baseball had been learned on those lonely outings and they had finally paid off for him a couple of years back when he was called back to Washington and put in charge of the scouting department.

Girardi was an old fashioned guy in a modern world. He knew it and took pride in it because he also knew it gave him an edge over the guys who chased whatever the latest baseball fashion happened to be. And when he became the Director of Scouting, he gave simple advice to the guys he hired to do the job he had once done himself.

“Keep your ears open and your mouth shut. Make sure you’re the first one to the park and the last one out of it. And never lie to a kid, at least not about whether he can play the game.”

From there he had been promoted to Assistant General Manager and finally to the GM position itself. He had inherited a team that wasn’t just bad. It was stinking bad, the worst team in the majors by most accounts. But he had changed all of that.

He was wearing a tie now and suits that never seemed to fit him quite right. He was no longer going to some 40th-round draft pick’s house to offer a kid $1,000, a plane ticket, and a dream.

He was going up against other General Managers now who considered him an upstart. He was going up against big time agents who were the cream of the crop and willing to hold one of their clients out to extract the very last nickel from the contract being negotiated.

But the years scouting had served him well. He had stockpiled draft picks, made shrewd trades, and rebuilt the team from the ground up in the image he had for it. He believed in hard work, team play, and loyalty above everything else.

Of the 25 players on our active roster, he had drafted, traded for, or signed more than 20. Like a lot of the General Managers, he used statistical metrics to help in assessing prospects, but he tempered that kind of data with his own assessment and that of the scouts he had hired, men much like himself.

“I believe what I see and I spend a lot of time looking before I make a decision,” he told one reporter who had asked why he traded for me.

Jack Girardi wasn’t a complicated man, at least that’s what everyone said. Above everything else, he was a man who was focused and driven and he won because he was willing to outwork everyone else. He didn’t promise much, but delivered on what he promised and now I was about to see him and I remember being kind of afraid.

As I walked off the field, I remember wondering what was about to happen.

Had I been overconfident?

Had I been kidding myself all along about how well I was doing?

I wandered back to the dugout and then upstairs to his office. The door was closed and I knocked on it.

“It opens,” a gruff voice from within said.

I opened the door and walked in.

“You wanted to see me, sir?” I asked.

“Yeah, I did,” he responded. “Close that door behind you and sit down.”

I did as he said and then looked around the room. Over in one corner was Vaughn Carroll, the guy in charge of public relations for the team. Behind him and to his left was Lee Hanniford, Jack’s gofer and special assistant; and there was one other dude. I didn’t know his name, but I had seen him around once or twice and someone had mentioned he was one of the team’s lawyers.

Finally my eyes turned to the GM. He was just staring at me and he wasn’t smiling.

“Let me ask you a question, Williams,” he said. “Are you gay?”

I remember being surprised by his directness.

“Um, well, that seems like kind of a strange question to ask out of the blue like that,” I responded, trying to parry his inquiry.

“I don’t have time to play games, Williams,” he responded. “I asked a question. Are you gay?”

I didn’t know why he was asking, but I could see he wasn’t about to back off and decided to tell him the truth.

“I am,” I said, softly.

“Oh fuck,” he responded, lifting both of his hands in the air to signal it wasn’t the answer he wanted to hear.

“Thank you for making my day, Williams,” he continued, sarcastically; “just what I needed to hear.”

Then looking over he had another question for me.

“Do you know who Amos Kendrick is?” he asked.

“Um, well, isn’t he a reporter for one of the news organizations?” I responded.

The Washington Post,” Girardi said. “He works for the Post and he stopped by this afternoon and left me a copy of a story the Post plans to run Sunday morning after our first playoff game. It’s going to reveal you’re gay and involved in a relationship with some dude.”

“He’s showing it to us as a courtesy before it hits the street. He’s looking for input; from you, from me and from others who work for the team. He may rewrite or edit it tomorrow based on what we give him.”

All of this came as a shock.

It was a shock that I had just had to tell my General Manager I was gay, especially in front of three other dudes who were strangers to me. I knew that would go over like a lead pipe. But it was an even bigger shock that a reporter for the Post knew I was gay and was about to let everyone else in the world know that as well.

I had wanted to do that on my own timetable, not some reporter’s.

“Why?” I asked. “What does my being gay have to do with the playoffs? It’s not like it’s anyone’s business except mine. Can I see the story?”

“Yeah, you can see it,” Girardi replied, tossing it across his desk to me.

I looked down and read it as quickly as I could.

As far as I could tell, the only news in the story was that I was gay. The guy wasn’t even aware that Riley and I were no longer together. Apparently, he had pictures of the two of us leaving Buzz, but he had been too lazy to do the necessary follow-up.

The rest of it was mostly old news about how sports were rife with homophobia and speculation about how my outing would play with the fans, my teammates, and management; and how it would affect our playoff chances as well.

“This is stupid,” I said. “It isn’t really about me at all. The guy is just using me as a hook on which to hang a story about sports and homosexuality that’s been written a million times already. Plus he’s got some of his facts wrong. I’m not living with another dude. I’m not saying he didn’t stay at my place for a while, but he isn’t there now. It isn’t fair”

It isn’t fair? Girardi responded, emphasizing my words.

“What the hell does fairness have to do with anything?” he continued. “For Christ’s sake, Williams, you should have thought about that before becoming involved with some . . . some, uh . . . some dude. This is going to kill us, Williams. It’s going to kill us with the fans. It’s going to take the focus off of our run toward the Series and put it on some other shit no one in this organization is going to benefit from.”

“The media loves printing shit like this. Stories like this go on forever. They never die. I just hope you haven’t been molesting any young boys, Williams,” he added. “You better not have done anything like that.”

I couldn’t believe he was serious and it made me angry he would even raise something like that. But I realized by now I was the one on trial and no one else in the room was there to defend me.

“No,” I responded. “I haven’t been molesting little boys, Mr. Girardi. Have you been molesting little girls? Is this reporter interested in doing a story on some of the guys on this team who are having sex with underage girls or prostitutes? I’m sure both of us could fill him in on that.”

He looked at me sharply as if he was about to bite off my head, then apparently thought better of it.

“Listen, Williams, don’t get smart with me. Whether you realize it or not, you’re in big trouble here. Every contract you’ve ever signed has a morals clause in it; a clause in which you pledge to uphold the highest moral standards. This is a problem and we need to deal with it.”

“Is it a problem for all the guys who are screwing those teenage girls who hang around the park every night looking for a ticket to the big time?” I asked.

“Fuck off with that shit, Williams,” he responded. “Whether you like it or not, there is a double standard and you’re on the wrong side of it, kid.”

“Do you honestly think we can play you after this comes out, Williams? Have you ever looked in the stands to see exactly who’s watching you play every night? It’s a lot of Dads and their sons, teenage and younger. What Dad wants to bring his son to a game and be answering questions about homosexuality? What Dad wants to expose his son to all the epithets the rednecks in the stands are going to be tossing your way?”

“Hey, Williams, you faggot. Sucked any dick lately?” he offered up by way of example.

“Look, what do you want me to do?” I responded, and by now I was getting angry. “I didn’t choose to be gay. It’s who I am; and since everyone is laying their cards on the table here, you should know I was planning to come out after the playoffs are over. If you think I’m lying about that, call Avery. He’s been working on putting it all together.”

“We’ve talked about how to do this in a way that keeps attention away from the Warriors as much as possible, but we’re definitely going to do it. In light of this story, I’m thinking we should move the schedule up; you know, call a press conference right now and get ahead of the story.”

“I mean, for crying out loud, it’s the 21st century, Mr. Girardi. We live in America and lots of younger kids today are okay with having gay friends. Do you honestly think I’m the only gay player in the game?”

“I’m not worried about the kids, Williams,” he responded. “The kids don’t pay for the tickets. The money comes from the Dads. And as for being the only gay player in the game, I don’t know. What I know is you’re the only one about to be outed by the Post and we need to respond to that as an organization; and not by having some kind of public celebration of you coming out either.”

“We need to get this shit behind us as quickly as possible and move on.”

“In particular, Kendrick is looking for statements from some of us, including you. I asked Vaughn to draft something up for you to sign off on. Take a look.”

Vaughn Carroll walked over to me and handed me one of the sheets of paper he was holding.

Comment from Ethan Williams

“The story is accurate that I’m gay and involved in a relationship. I’m not going to comment on the rest of it, but I do want to apologize to the fans, my teammates, Mr. Warner and the rest of the Warriors organization for becoming a distraction. I’ve asked for some time off to think things through and hope people will respect my desire for privacy at this time.”

I couldn’t believe they were asking me to sign off on this.

“Like I already told you, I’m not in a relationship with anyone so that’s just not accurate; and there’s no way in hell I’m apologizing for being gay,” I said, looking at Carroll, then Girardi. “You can forget about that.”

“It doesn’t say that, Williams,” Girardi interjected. “It says you apologize for being a distraction, which you are. You’re a hell of big time distraction and at precisely the wrong time.”

“But everyone will read it as an apology for being gay and I’m not going to do that,” I responded.

“And I’m not planning to ask for any time off either,” I added. “You guys can bench me if you want. You can release me. You can send me down to the minors. That’s your decision, but I’m not asking for any time off to think things through. I’ve been dealing with this and thinking about it a lot longer than any of you and it hasn’t affected my game.”

“What the fuck do you want to say, Williams?” Girardi exploded. “That you like sucking dick and getting your ass fucked? Is that what you want to say?”

“That’s it,” I responded, tossing the story and the statement back at him. “I’m not putting up with that kind of shit from anyone, Mr. Girardi, and that includes you. I’m out of here.”

With that I stood up and headed for the door.

“Okay, you’re right, Williams; that was unfair,” Girardi said. “I apologize. But we have to have some kind of statement from you in response to the story. Help us figure that out. What would you like to say?”

By now my head was spinning from everything that had happened and I wasn’t sure what to think. But he had been big enough to apologize and I knew he was right about needing some kind of statement from me. I turned around and sat down again.

“I don’t know exactly,” I said. “I don’t know what to say. But give me a couple of minutes to see what I can come up with.”

Carroll handed me the piece of paper again. I remember breathing in deeply, trying to figure it out. I wasn’t a religious person myself, but I knew a lot of people were, including my Mom. I wanted to say something my Mom could take comfort in, at least as much comfort as she could. I started to scribble some words down.

I looked at what I had written, made a couple of changes and finally handed it back to Carroll. He looked at it quickly, nodded, and then handed it to Girardi.

Comment from Ethan Williams

“I had been planning to come out after the playoffs are over so it wouldn’t be a distraction for my teammates, but the story is accurate that I’m gay and I’m proud to be gay.” and involved in a relationship. I’m not going to comment on the rest of it, but I do want to apologize to the fans, my teammates, Mr. Lerner and the rest of the Nationals organization for becoming a distraction. I’ve asked for some time off to think things through and hope people will respect my desire for privacy at this time.

“I’m gay not by choice but because God decided this is part of who I should be as a person. God also gave me the talent to play baseball and I play baseball by choice, in part as a way of thanking Him for making me who I am. I’m thankful to God for everything.”

“I’m going to continue playing the game as hard as I can. I expect to be judged by fans as a ballplayer and by God as a human being. But my personal life is just that, personal. I try not to judge others and hope others will treat me the same way.”

“What do you think, Vaughn?” Girardi said, looking over at Carroll.

“I like it,” he responded. “But I also know what you’ve decided, Jack, and I’m wondering whether Ethan would be open to adding one more paragraph.”

With that he scribbled some more words on the paper and handed it to Jack. He looked at it, nodded his head, and handed it to me.

“Are you okay with that, Ethan?” he asked.

I looked at the paper again.

Comment from Ethan Williams

“I had been planning to come out after the season is over so it wouldn’t be a distraction for my teammates, but the story is accurate that I’m gay and I’m proud to be gay.” and involved in a relationship. I’m not going to comment on the rest of it, but I do want to apologize to the fans, my teammates, Mr. Lerner and the rest of the Nationals organization for becoming a distraction. I’ve asked for some time off to think things through and hope people will respect my desire for privacy at this time.

“I’m gay not by choice but because God decided this is part of who I should be as a person. God also gave me the talent to play baseball and I play baseball by choice, in part as a way of thanking Him for making me who I am. I’m thankful to God for everything.”

“I’m going to continue playing the game as hard as I can. I expect to be judged by fans as a ballplayer and by God as a human being. But my personal life is just that, personal. I try not to judge others and hope others will treat me the same way.”

“I also realize this has the potential for becoming a distraction for my teammates; and while it’s not what I would prefer, I’ve asked to take a little time off so they can keep their attention focused where it should be, on the playoffs and winning a World Series for all of our fans.”

“I look forward to rejoining the team once this is behind us.”

I looked around the room and there was complete silence. I knew they wanted my assent, but all I wanted to do right about then was to cry.

It wasn’t fair I remember thinking.

“Look, Ethan, I know this isn’t fair,” Jack said, looking over at me, “but it’s a team sport and there are 24 other guys and an entire organization working to achieve a shared goal. You’ve been a part of that too, a big part of it, but sometimes all of us have to do things for the sake of the team. Right now you need to take some time off.”

“I’m going to be honest with you, Ethan. It may be better for you down the road to have a fresh start with some other team. I could be wrong about that and I don’t know exactly what interest other teams would have in any event. We’re not going to give you away for nothing and we’re not going to abandon you either. Nothing’s set in concrete, but we’re going to need to see how things stand after the shit hits the fan.”

“We just need some time to see how this plays out exactly and how we can do the right thing for you, for your teammates and for the organization.”

“I know it isn’t a lot, but here are some of the other comments we’re planning to give to the Post.”

Comment from Doc Howard, Manager, The Washington Nationals

“Ethan Williams is a hell of a ballplayer. He’s been a big part of our success this year and you can bet I’m going to be pressing Jack Girardi to get him back out on the field as quickly as possible. And I’m not going to put up with any crap from bigots when he does come back either. I’ve got his back and I know 24 other guys who have it as well.”

Comment from Jack Girardi, General Manager, The Washington Nationals

“Ethan has proven he belongs in the major leagues. He’s one of the best prospects I’ve ever scouted and we traded for him because he makes us a better team, a lot better. If I had my druthers, I’d rather he was playing every day. But we think it’s best for him to take a little time off. We hope to get him back sooner rather than later.”

Comment from Ryan Hubbard, Third Baseman, The Washington Nationals

“It’s a pretty sad day when someone as talented as Ethan has to sit because of a story that really shouldn’t be news. I can tell you that Ethan isn’t the only player in the game who’s gay. I believe people should be judged on how well they play, not things that are irrelevant like sexual orientation. I can’t wait for him to get back. He makes me a better third baseman every day and I’m going to miss him for sure.”

I couldn’t believe some of the things they were saying. It seemed like everyone was trying to be positive about the whole thing; and while I didn’t really want to take any time off, I also knew that what was about to happen would be a distraction, one the rest of the guys on the team didn’t need or deserve.

“Okay, I can live with the additions, Mr. Girardi,” I said. “I won’t ask how long you want me to stay away. I’ll just say I love the game and hope you’ll consider bringing me back soon, real soon. I want to help us win a World Series.”

“We will,” he replied. “But for now there are a couple of other things I need to mention. First, Lee’s rented a room for you at the Capitol Hilton under an assumed name for the next couple of days. We think you should pack a bag and clear out of your place until the story blows over. Otherwise, you’re going to be trapped in your house all the time what with all the reporters who’ll be staking the place out.”

“Second, we think you should tell your, um, friend, or whatever he is, about all of this. He’s not really part of this, but the press will try to drag him into it. He needs to keep his ears open and his mouth shut. And he needs to stay away from you too, at least for the immediate future. I’m sorry about that. It just wouldn’t look good.”

“And finally you should probably tell anyone else who this may come as a surprise to. The press gets into a feeding frenzy around stories like this so everyone – your family, your friends, everyone – can expect to be harassed by them.”

“Anything else, Vaughn?” he added.

“We’re still debating whether we should make you available to the press for 10 or 15 minutes after the story breaks Sunday morning. On the plus side, that might take some of the pressure off. On the other hand, I don’t think it’ll change very much. We’ll get back to you on that. Keep in mind that Lee Hanniford will be your point of contact on all of this. He can get through to Jack, me or anyone else in the organization if need be.”

“Look, I can’t talk to my friend because I don’t where he is,” I responded. “That’s the truth. He left town a little while ago and I don’t know for where. Whether he’ll be in touch when the news breaks is hard to say. Other than that, when do you want me to clear out of my place?” I asked.

“Right now,” Girardi said. “Get whatever you need, go home, tell whoever you need to tell whatever you need to tell them, and then go to the hotel and stay put. Lee will be in touch.”

“Um, well, I’m wondering whether you would have a problem if I go back home to Rehoboth Beach?” I asked. “I would like to talk to my mother in person about this.”

“You haven’t told her?” Girardi responded.

“No, I haven’t.”

He shrugged his shoulders.

“Yeah, well, you need to tell her, but do it over the phone. We won’t tell the media, but they’ll figure out where you’re from originally if they don’t already know and they’ll be down there too harassing her as well for some kind of comment. When you call her, you might want to tell her to spend some time away from home.”

The idea of telling my mother over the phone didn’t sit well with me, but I was tired of arguing at the moment and decided not to press the point.

“Okay,” I said. “I’ll go downstairs and get my stuff and get out of here.”

With that I stood up and started walking to the door.

“Ethan,” I heard him say.

I stopped and looked back.

“You’re right,” he said. “It is the 21st century and a lot of us don’t care. But I do care about you being happy so don’t let this shit get you down, son. Understood?”

“I’ll try not to, Mr. Girardi,” I responded. “But it won’t be easy, especially if I’m not playing.”

“And that’s another thing, Ethan,” he said. “Stop calling me Mr. Girardi. Just call me Jack like the rest of the guys. Either that or asshole,” he added. “I’m not sure which most of the guys prefer these days.”

“Okay,” I replied.

“Thanks, um . . . Jack,” I added, dragging it out.

He just smiled and gave me a thumbs up.

10 thoughts on “Chapter 46

  1. Wow…wasn’t expecting that…intense stuff there and I so wasn’t expecting the chapter to end there! Good stuff tho!

    1. Yeah, I realize the chapter didn’t exactly end in the right place, but it was the best I could do under the circumstances. I had to do some improvising here.

  2. Wow I thought this would happen one day, but you have told it so well and I am so proud of Ethan for standing up for himself and not bowing down to pressure. He had to think on his feet, so he did very well to come up with what he did have to say.

    I am now waiting to hear what he had to say to his Mother and his friends and to see how the news papers react to him.

    1. I didn’t want it to be entirely predictable because sometimes not everything goes exactly as we plan in life. Given the circumstances, I think Ethan handled things about as well as he could, but what comes next will be equally important.

  3. I think Ethan will come through with little problems. I just hope it works to push him closer to Hunter.

    No more, don’t want to summarize.

    George K

  4. Wow. Had to happen sometime. We like to think uk does not have this problem but gay soccer players regularly get abused by spectators.

    Enjoyed the way you tackled the issue tho. How many chapters are we being made to wait before he tells Hunter!!

    1. There aren’t too many chapters left, Harry, so you won’t have to wait too long. But you might have to wait longer than you would like (and I imagine you’ve already waited too long) 🙂

      In any event, my endings tend to be understated so keep that in mind.

  5. Kit, that was a blockbuster chapter. It caught me by surprise, had the feel and rotten smell of disaster and then you pulled off an excellent ending. It’s hard to believe that this would really happen this way – especially with a crusty old goat like Girardi – but it’s becoming more likely these days that it could happen, and it should. Maybe it’s unlikely that any ball player would have the extraordinary luck of Ethan, to have been mentored by good souls like Grady and Avery and now a crude but promising asshole like Girardi. The hard line he took was very believable. The miracle was that he came around at the end. The whole chapter was fine-tuned and well-written. One of your best. Kudos.

    1. Thanks, Dean. Girardi is actually an interesting character, but one that I won’t really get to develop very much. He’s one of those guys who started at the bottom and worked his way to the top of his profession. But he only succeeds if he puts customers in the stands for the team owner every night and now he has a potential disaster on his hands … or at least he thinks so.

      And yet as much as he’s one of those guys who doesn’t like any distraction at all, he understands the world is changing around him. Whether he can adapt to that remains to be seen, at least for you (not having finished the story). So go on and finish it up and find out for yourself.

      Kit

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