Miss Masquerade downed two shots of Bourbon and looked over at Love Triangle Lou. He was busy at the board, rolling Strat-O-Matic dice. There was pageantry in the colorful scarves hanging from the bar’s ceiling, but not for any holiday or dedication, only the regular season, day-after-day, serving the population their liquid relief.
It was the bottom of the 8th in strat-o land, Dontrelle Willis on the mound, a no-hitter in the making. Love Triangle Lou held the dice in his cupped hands and shook them, a ritual of many moons to inspire an OUT of any kind. Willis had already walked four and hit one batter in the shin.
The sound of those dice, of those plastic cubes bumping into each other like a whisky on the rocks, ice cubes clanking; that sound flipped the switch of the bartender’s mind. He knew he was part of something big. He moved closer and looked over Love Triangle’s shoulder. He didn’t believe in god, but he clenched his fist and stood still, focused each breath on Willis, to elevate the southpaw’s arm speed and control. This could be the first and only no-hitter in four years of strat-o play!
The bartender went by the name Slippery Sam. He motioned to Love Triangle, hand to mouth, a sign, a catcher to a pitcher, that it was OK to smoke and so he did and the smoke rose in swirls to the x-shaped ceiling fan and spread all around. A small crowd of drinkers began to pace for every batter, back and forth, their steps more like stomps across the shag carpet. Dust flew up and with it a memory hit Slippery Sam, of play-by-play on the AM dial. He offered Love Triangle the karaoke microphone and cleared a space on the rail. Love Triangle grabbed the microphone and stood up. He hadn’t been that high since a secondary school Spelling Bee stage and podium.
Then he crouched down to roll. The dice hit a few empty glasses and then came to a stop. The red dice was 4 meaning it was on the pitcher Willis’s card. The two green dice added up to 10. Love Triangle regained his upright position and matched the dice result with the card. But he didn’t reveal the outcome.
“Here we are in the bottom of the eight,” he announced. “Willis still on the mound, still hasn’t given up a hit. The Phillies Shane Victorino takes his practice swings and now steps to the plate. He takes the first pitch outside, ball one. He waves his bat a little quicker. His back foot digs in like an Olympic runner ready to burst. Here’s the pitch. He hits a slow roller to third, a swinging bunt. Miguel Cabrera steps onto the grass, runs toward the ball, scoops it up bare-handed, and throws to first.”
Drinkers approached the rail and stared at Love Triangle Lou.
“It’s gonna be a close play. Victorino can run. He’s changing gears. He’s now in full out sprint mode. He stretches out his front leg and steps on the sac. The first baseman does the same with his mitt. He stretches his glove hand and…and….and he is…..he is. It’s hard to tell. It’s a bang bang play and he is….SAFE. Oh no! He is safe and can you hear that collective exhale across the stadium as all that tension and excitement must be exiting but wait! What’s that? People are standing, cheering for Willis. The D-train, the 2003 Rookie of the Year. He came oh so close.”
The bar patrons exhaled and cheered too. Drinks were had all around, on the house, thanks to Slippery Sam. They shared all the what ifs and almosts in their lives. They drank and danced well past bar time.
December 29, 2019 at 9:19 pm
I didn’t understand this story, to be perfectly hones with you, Steve, and being that I’m not a “drive by liker” (a great term originated by our own Steve Myers), I didn’t put my “gravatar” of Bummy Davis book on this one. Sorry, Steve. I love ya anyway, man.
I looked up Dontrelle Willis, and he has the nickname “D Train”. Why? He’s from California, not from New York City, so he didn’t grow up riding the D Train, or any other train in our wonderful (sarcasm there) MTA subway system. The D Train went past the old Yankee Stadium on 161st Street and River Avenue in the Bronx, and the one time I took the subway to Yankee Stadium, I took the D Train for the latter part of the trip.
And Willis never pitched for the Damn Yankees, so that wouldn’t have been the reason.
So what’s the story, Steve?
And “What yoo talkin’ ’bout, Willis???”
December 30, 2019 at 6:13 am
Glen, thanks for reading. Let’s see, this story, is about a guy – Love Triangle Lou who plays strat-o-matic baseball inside a bar. He’s playing one day and Dontrelle Willis is pitching and Dontrelle starts throwing a no-hitter which gets everybody excited especially the bartender who hands over the Karaoke mic to him so Love Triangle Lou can do the play play of the last two innings which he does or at least he does one play in the bottom of the 8th which proves to be the decisive inning because in that inning, Dontrelle loses the no-hitter, but everyone celebrates anyway because he got oh so close.
I’m not sure why Dontrelle is called D Train but I love that nickname. It reminds of Dwayne McClain. He played for the 1985 Villanova Wildcats when they won the NCAA championship. I loved that team coached by Rollie Massimino. I don’t know why but we used to call Dwayne McClain – D Train. He was about the same height as my favorite college player of all time – Trevor Powell. He went to high school in Milwaukee and then went on to play at Marquette. He used to walk around the Marquette campus dribbling a basketball, always with a basketball in his hand. He was left-handed like McClain and boy could he ever post-up down low.
Anyway, it’s a bummer that you didn’t understand this story because it means I failed. Hopefully you’ll understand the next one.
December 30, 2019 at 6:59 am
Why does it mean you failed? There’s a lot of things I don’t understand! Sometimes, I have to read things over and over before I understand them. It’s not a big deal, Steve.
December 30, 2019 at 7:40 am
Well, failed in the sense that I’m trying to communicate an idea or a story and if the reader – you, doesn’t understand what I’ve written, then I’ve failed in that communication. More than anything, I appreciate your honesty, as always.
December 30, 2019 at 6:37 pm
William, you didn’t “fail” because I didn’t understand what I’ve written. There are lots of things that I don’t understand. Writing is sometimes like a curveball or a knuckleball; the ball swerves and dips and does all kinds of crazy things. Some of the best stuff I ever read was non-understandable at first, including some of the best books of our time, books by John Updike. “Dick and Jane” books, which we learned to read in the early grades of elementary school, were understandable. Does that mean that they were good literature or good writing? Well, of course not. We read Homer’s “The Odyssey” and also Macbeth by Shakespeare in high school. I couldn’t figure out a damn thing, and I ended up buying Cliff Notes for them, which is sort of cheating, in a way, I guess, one might say. So did I get anything, any value, by reading the Cliff Notes on these hard to understand books? No, not at all. Did I pass the English course? Yes. I did. But what was valuable to me by cheating? Nothing. Did I learn about those hard-to-understand writings? No, not at all. I used Cliff Notes.
In your book “Dreaming 400”, there were short stories that I didn’t understand or quite get the gist of. Does that make them bad short stories? Hell no! I kept reading them and reading them over and over until I understood. And I came to understand them and appreciate them. Hey, different strokes for different folks. Just because I didn’t understand that thing that you wrote doesn’t mean that you “failed”. Not in the least.
December 30, 2019 at 6:45 pm
By the way, I bring “Dreaming 400” on long subway rides. And the book makes the ride seem so much shorter. Good reading sometimes requires extra thinking to understand it.
Meanwhile, I can understand everything the jerks on the same subway ride say. I can understand all the four letter words they say, and the N-word, which they say to each other in large quantity. So I understand them. And they are boring and unimaginative as hell.
No, I’d rather read Steve Myer’s “Dreaming 400” during the long subway trips than listen to what these lowlifes say. They’re boring and unimaginative and dull and requires no thinking at all.
I think you get my point.
PS Here’s to a happy new year, Steve, to you and the entire Myers family.
December 30, 2019 at 6:51 pm
And happy New Years to you too, Glen and your sister and nephew and all your family. I’m glad to know you, glad you comment on this blog. It makes the entire on-line life meaningful.
December 30, 2019 at 7:06 pm
And I enjoy talking on the telephone line with you, too, Steve. Not just “online”. We’ve just got to learn to make our calls shorter, that’s all! Especially me. I’m like the proverbial bag of hot air when I’m on the phone! If we keep the calls shorter, we’ll be able to talk more frequently, because we won’t get bored with each other.
December 30, 2019 at 7:27 pm
Glen, what if we lived on the same commune? Maybe we already do! I never really felt part of a family. I went on a bike trip after my first year in university, in 1989. We rode all summer. There were a bunch of us, maybe 10, 11, 12 and I felt family with them, not through the entire trip, only sometimes, but it felt great. I’ve never felt anything since or I did with some friends at University wi-milwaukee. In my freshman year, I really connected with two people, but that fizzled out , a combination of the feeling fading and physical separation, but maybe physical stuff doesn’t really matter. It took a while for it to fizzle, but it eventually did. My dad talks about a similar experience, that feeling of love when he was in the army. He’s never felt it again either. I wonder if a bar rail inspires the same feeling, of love, maybe in a more sarcastic way, but nonetheless, still a commune of sorts, a community, a liking other people, a getting along. I better shut up before I start sounding like a southern preacher. But I do like this song. Maybe I’m a closet born again Jesus freak.
December 30, 2019 at 8:38 pm
I love that song. They play this towards the very beginning of the movie “BacKkKlansman”, the Spike Lee movie which came out last summer, but you have to listen very carefully to hear it.
I was totally enamored with this uplifting song, and I made a mental note to myself to look at the song credits at the end of the movie, and I wrote it down, did some research on it, and boy was I surprised. The story about how this song, how it became a hit song, was fascinating. Since I saw the movie, and did the research on the song, I was gonna write a post on my website on the story of how this song became a hit song. You’ve reminded me to do it, Steve, and I will get to it some time in January. AGAIN, Steve, it’s like how great minds think alike! First the photo in “The In Your Face Book”, which turned out to be your favorite book. Then a few other things that I can’t recall right now. And now THIS!
Serendipity? Maybe so. Although serendipity sounds like a brand of ice cream that they would sell at Baskin Robbins.
December 30, 2019 at 8:44 pm
Wow. More things. I looked it up, and “Serendipity” turns out to be an ice cream—– they sell it at 7-11, apparently. I didn’t even know that 7-11 sold it’s own brand of ice cream. This is getting WEIRD, Steve!
December 30, 2019 at 8:50 pm
I have a weak spot for vanilla or chocolate ice cream coated with salted nuts.
December 30, 2019 at 9:06 pm
Never heard of it. Is that a Milwaukee thing?
My favorite is coffee ice cream.
December 30, 2019 at 9:57 pm
Well, first of all Glen, I’m relieved that you like that song Oh Happy Day or not relieved, but glad. It’s good when two people like the same thing like you were saying about the In Your Face book. Now, about ice cream and salted nuts. No, that’s not necessarily a Milwaukee thing. Custard is big there but I’m not sure what custard is but my mom loved coffee ice cream. She still does. I didn’t eat it when I was young, but now I do and I like it.
December 30, 2019 at 6:49 pm
Glen, I like cliff notes too or in today’s on line world- wikipedia. They provide lots of clues and summaries to stories. I love that you read Dreaming .400. It inspires me to keep writing. It’s really nice to know that something I say, something I write resonates with a reader, with you, Glen. I like wordpress, I love wordpress and I say this because through this wordpress medium I’ve gotten to know you a little bit, more than a little bit. Thank you Glen.
January 1, 2020 at 10:14 am
The imagery in your writing is so vivid. Makes it fun to pretend that I am there.
January 1, 2020 at 1:22 pm
Thanks Precious! That’s what I was aiming for, vividity. Is that a word? We made a new one. Thanks for reading.
March 13, 2020 at 11:00 am
Holy shit, do I love this story.
March 14, 2020 at 10:22 am
Now that’s what I love to hear. Thanks for saying so W.k. And keep us posted on your 1961 Strat-O revisit!