It starts with blood pudding on a stick; Taiwan, breakfast; just a picture in a magazine, but I know what to do; become a translator for 21-year old southpaw Wei-Chung Wang. He was selected in the Rule V draft by the Milwaukee Brewers. Chang must stay on the Brewer major league roster the entire season or be returned to the Pittsburgh Pirates. That’s the Rule V.
“He has a special arm,” Brewers manager Ron Roenicke says. Wang throws strikes; a 42-4 K to BB ratio in 47 innings at low-level Rookie ball and there he is in the Brewers bullpen waiting to make his MLB debut with translator Jay Hsu at his side.
I have no luck with gambling, but sway the scales anyway. I learn some Taiwanese; Gau Cha and Ho Un…Good Morning and Good Luck. I think that’s Mandarin Chinese. I’m hoping Wang makes that debut later in the day at Philadelphia; 4PM. I walk to McDonalds and then it happens. Night returns.
The conversation is free range human; from how to change the ballast on fluorescent fixtures to Vishnu dreaming the world to the ketchup packet disgrace. “We reach the moon and still this mess?” Someone agrees, “Yeh, what’s with these bloody explosions on fingers and shirts?”
There’s word searches under way and two lovers sharing the silhouette heart shape space between their noses. The separate deities of Zoroastrianism melt into a two-headed monster with friction spooled and the overthrow urge planted right under Iaccoca’s nose; in this corporate McDonald’s rather than a hip, self-conscious cafe.
I can’t focus on the politics of ketchup, religion, or electronics. My mind drifts towards an Iranian looking girl with black horse mane hair and eyes that explain all the horrors of the world if I’ll just come along for a little ride, but I know not to take candy from strangers.
“But there is no more revolution,” says the Iranian looking girl. She must be reading my mind. “My dad was a hippy,” she continues, “But they killed his leaders. There are no more countries. It’s all corporations now.”
The girl is chewing gum, but it’s Bubblicious. I see the wrappers. It smells good, like watermelon. The lights change and everyone becomes silent. We begin folding the paper tray covers; the ones with McDonald’s slogans. Professor Zipper challenges us to fold it more than 8 times. We all try. We all fail. It’s 4 AM the entire time.
There’s a loud silence. I probably feel the same way as everyone else; vulnerable and abandoned. We’re united by shifting tectonic plates underneath us. The night has suddenly become heavy and filled with regret, but there’s no where else to go. The days of beds and routines and toothbrushes are long gone.
An idea seizes me as I walk back into day, but it’s probably not my idea. It’s someone else’s stretching back to the beginning; maybe Ethiopia or maybe extra terrestrial star-dust landing in some nameless Idaho stream. The shapes are changing and mixed with the light returning, they can be anything I want them to be; Socotra, Peloponnesian, Tal’s hill in Houston, Philadelphia 4PM today. Kyle Lohse on the mound.
The green grass will expand in any direction if I let my eyes scan slow enough; up hills and mounds, through tru-link fences, over the electric teeth of railroad tracks and the jabber walkie-talkie up and over the St. Lawrence River. Planets and change ups; painting corners.
I can already taste tomorrow’s Egg McMuffin and box score. The golden arches will always be in front of me. Even the Queen of England owns a chain and only in South Dakota is there no McDonald’s for more than 100 miles. This must be a dream.
Braun hits three home runs in a sea of Philly booooos, drives in seven runs, makes a diving catch to save two more. The Brewers win 10-4 and spoil the Phillies home opener. It’s the 40th year anniversary of Aaron breaking Ruth’s record of 714 and ya know, Oh Henry bars just don’t cut it, but a three homer Braun-tosauras Burger day does. There’s irony or something in the herbivore beast; pays tribute to one of Milwaukee’s biggest heroes; Hammering Hank Aaron.
Lohse barely escapes the fifth inning. He suffers rare control-itis; walking 5 Phillies. Wang doesn’t pitch. Bummer, but the Brewers are 5-2. Golden. It’s a rap.