Both his legs were covered in red rashes, but only below his knees. There was a simple explanation. Donald Ringstern needed his socks jacked up as high as they could go.
He scraped shoes against shins; returning the white athletic elastics to their fully outstretched position. He did this every other step. He had no choice. Loose socks left him vulnerable and subject to the world and all its answers. Donald Ringstern needed to control the reigns of his chariot. He needed whims and wind. He needed life and uncertainty.
Donald’s parents fed his incurable appetite for new socks. They went shopping at the dollar store on the first Tuesday of every month. There was no single event that caused Donald’s condition, no split family household, no mother sleeping beside a Bourbon bottle, no father wielding a belt. There was just a mistrust in his heart towards a world that continuously murdered the unknown.
Some said Donald suffered from acute sensitivity and instead of turning inward and a life of robotic solitude, he became brash and aggressive, complaining and pointing his finger at the strangest of situations.
Others blamed the cycles of the moon with its moods and shapes and shadows. Donald was no smiling sunshine; rising in the east and setting in the west; same trajectory day after day. He was lunar they argued. He was a dancing vital sign up and down the screen; no different from the shifting sky or earth beneath his feet; tectonic.
Psychiatrists were hired to sit with Donald and one after another threw up their arms in disgust. “His compass is cloudy,” they would say. “He reveals nothing.”
Donald resisted all attempts to be turned inside out, refusing to dig into his past. He kicked up his socks and waged war, but didn’t bother with the obvious stuff; the personality conflicts with co-workers, political bashing of the other side, traffic tickets, the evil government. That’s what the doctors wanted to hear, but Donald threw curve balls. He raised his sword against battles that could never be won.
“Chet Lemon was not a lemon. He was an African-American outfielder for the Chicago White Sox, Detroit Tigers. And Reggie Cleveland was not from Cleveland. He was born in Swift Current, Saskatchewan. Diito for Daryl Boston; born in Cincinnati.” Donald went on and on like this for the entire 45 minute doctor sessions and before notes could be jotted onto clipboards, before patterns could be deciphered, Donald hit them with hope.
“But Pete Rose did have a tint of rose in his cheeks and Rusty Staub auburn colored hair that looked rusty in the right light.” It was a window of opportunity for doctors; a path to pursue, but it was slammed shut with anger. “Dick Green was definitely not green nor Vida Blue blue.”
These were just names of baseball players and Donald knew this, but he still took the opportunity to rant against language and with each rant, he yanked up his socks and the rash became redder.
“The word tree has nothing to do with an actual tree,” he would say. “It’s just a bunch of symbolic letters bunched together as words and over time agreed to represent a giant stem shooting up from buried roots and giving life to branches and bird houses, swings, and ultimately chainsaws and paper mills, Louisville Sluggers. And it rhymes with flee and bee and free and see?”
Doctors scratched their heads. Donald continued. “Words on paper or words sounded out loud spark a human heart; one way or the other; send a mind sizzling. It’s a miracle, but Chet Lemon who was no lemon; far from it, certainly not in 1979 when he hit .318 and reached base at a .391 clip.”
Doctors surrendered and the psychiatry world found no cure because there wasn’t one. Donald was free to delve deeper into what no one knows. He latched himself to Ed Porray; born in 1888-the the only major league baseball player with a birth place of “At sea, on the Atlantic Ocean.”
Donald latched himself to Leif McKinley; a former Boston Red Sox minor leaguer who died in 2002. Cause of death-“lost at sea.” Donald built runways for planes or spaceships that one day might land. And strangers in need of no answers joined Donald.