The odds were stacked against him, arriving out of Momma’s dugout, feet first and all. “Backwords birth” is what the crossword puzzle people declared, doctors too. And those wearing capes looked east with a blank stare, wondering.
The government issued stacks of coupons to the newborn’s Sabermetrically inclined adoptive parents. Too proud to smile from the windfall received, they picked up a pencil instead and checked a box indicating, “maybe a second baseman, but definitely a right-handed batter.”
It was a slap in the face to the birth parents who were still on hand, sipping from Vodka flasks at this point, perturbed from the smell of certainty and ready for fisticuffs, but no such luck. The world was nose to the grindstone, in books that is, measuring the baby’s forehead dimensions and comparing it to the moon phase and size of the wind and what not, with algorithms and formulas, calculators in holsters, curtains still not raised.
Johnny Laws surrounded the room, kept the peace and the biological parents were scooped up, bear hugged, gagged, handcuffed and escorted out of St. Tekakwitha Hospital. They were doomed, forced to see their own immortality/offspring/son slip like water between their fingers. They watched with blurry eyes from the back of a paddy wagon. They kicked and screamed like their newborn was supposed to be doing, but he was already sedated, with the sound of papers crunching and sweet sweet, oh so sweet numbers, secure.
And so Mom and Dad set fires to dry logs from afar. The slept under the stars, listened to the wind and heard what maybe they didn’t want to hear, that to bat left-handed was lightning, almost divine, but right-handed? That was a hack saw hanging in a garage, dusty against the wall with no shadow to style one’s stance or swing.. A life like that could send a kid down a switch blade path or even worse, a glue sniffing, wrist slitting dead-end.
But Mom and Dad never lost hope, turning their hearts and hands and rhymes towards the right side of the street, towards Hornsby and Harmon-Killebrew that is and, Clemente, Aaron, and Madlock. Molitor, Biggio, and Lansford with a Cap and a Downing to wash it all down. They were feeling ALL RIGHT and so they sat by candlelight, so serene, hoping their kids’ breath hadn’t gone foul. They bought seeds of all sorts and dropped ’em like guerrilla rebels do ideas – everywhere – whispering and begging to the wind for someone to knock on their estranged kid’s door, with magic potions, of love and hitting streaks.
Years passed without a peep, but Mom and Dad never lost hope. They took to dancing and singing around camp fires and forgot all about the misery when one day, as sure as a last chance saloon and a bottom of the ninth rally all wrapped into one, a letter arrived, sounding like trumpets too. All the notes were there, of hydrogen making water and unfortunately, a bomb too. It was a senior dance, something about Sally Fappafore.
She had swept the boy off his feet, became the object of his desire, but she wore a shower curtain for a dress, the see-through kind and her every step persuaded the others along the runway, raccoons and cats too, so the boy slipped out the armory dance hall and crossed back to the other side of the tracks, to the only friend he ever had, the one who had quit high school and found a 9-5 warehouse gig and apartment overlooking the cemetery.
And together, they did what they always did. They bowed down to the vodka blue at moonlight and with the wind pouring in from the cemetery, they rolled strato-matic dice. And all the odds and possibilities were as vast and spicy as an Arizona desert and the kid felt at home and so he was.