will our ball club win the pennant?
by Johnny St. Clair

“you mind?”

i looked in the rearview quickly and shook my head. “it’s your dime.”

“thanks.”

i glanced back now and again but never for very long and never let him catch me looking. there was a slow sadness to his actions and there wasn’t much to clean up after he was through.

“i’m in no hurry,” he said, “so if you wanna take your time…”

“ok.”

“it’s been a long time with this shit,” he said.

i nodded.

“long time. sad, ain’t it?”

“it doesn’t sound like fun anymore,” i said.

“it hasn’t been fun for forever.”

“you should quit then.”

“i do every once in a while, but it never lasts long. it always comes back.”

“how long has it been?”

“the better part of thirty years.”

“wow.”

“yeah. ‘wow.’”

“i don’t mean to pry, but is that why you’re going there today?”

“me? no. no, my old man is there.”

“oh.”

“black lung. he was a coal miner and that’s the thanks he gets. like he was a sponge that we all kept using on and using on until there wasn’t nothing left.”

“sorry about that.”

“that’s alright. you don’t have to be sorry. just talkin’. i don’t get to do much of that nowadays anymore.”

“no?”carsrollby.bmp

“naw. my old man with all the tubes and shit. and my wife don’t even look my ways half the time. mostly, it’s just me and that shit. i can’t really talk to anyone else.”

“sometimes you just need to change your whole scenery, ya know, you’re whole way of doing things, ya know…your playground, your playmates, your playthings. just get away…” i was just reading something about that, and i felt like i might know something he didn’t. but i was wrong.

“what are you some kind of counselor?”

“no, i…”

“you some kinda religious nut?

“it’s just…”

“awww, i’m just fuckin’ with you.” he was laughing slowly. “hey, man, you’re not telling me anything i don’t know is all.”

“it’s just shit i’ve heard anyway. the fuck do i know.”

“i’d like to do that, you know. i really would. i really would. get a place, maybe by the ocean. get a job, find myself a girl. talk a little jive. i like to think i got a little poetry in my heart.”

“then do it. i mean, it’s easy for me to say, but just go.”

“i can’t.”

“your old man?”

“yeah, that’s part of it. and my wife, too.”

“but i thought you said…”

“yeah, man, but it ain’t ever just that simple. i wish it was, but it ain’t, ya know. and then there’s my momma’s grave. who would mow that cemetery plot?” he tapped on the window. “it’s not a lot, but it’s what i got. besides, leaving – that would be too selfish.”

“selfish?”

“feels like i would be. like i was doing something just for me and everyone else be damned. just seems selfish. and anyways, who would everyone have to blame?” he laughed again.

“i don’t know man. selfish? i don’t think it would be selfish.”

“hey man, if that’s the strangest thing you think i’m feelin’, then…”

“you think you’ll try again?”

“probably. but it won’t matter much. but there’s always that chance, always that hope you hold out for. but like what you said before, it’s just too easy for me around here.”

“we’re almost there. what do you want me to do?”

“ok. let me out on the other side of the bridge.”

“what do you mean?”

“it’s ok. it’s spring time, and the sun is shining. i just wanna walk a ways.”

“you sure? alright. this is you.”

“’preciate it. thanks for the ear.”

“no problem. and good luck to you and your pops.”

“he’ll be alright. who knows, man. maybe one day, i’ll get away, too.”

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