Billy Tourniquet tried his hand at pool and pinball. He rode the rails and clipped coupons. He worked with migrants up and down the California coast. He completed a plumbing program. Got certified too! He learned about fiduciary matters. He handed out beer to homeless people. He sang in midnight Christmas church choirs. He befriended young ladies and they trusted him and so they drank coffee together, at fast food restaurants, outside. They watched people. They talked.
But there was one thing Billy Tourniquet couldn’t do. He couldn’t dance. He took all the courses too…..courses in Tango, Polka, Samba, Salsa, Hip-hop, even break dancing, but he was too stiff. His back hunched. But then over at the bazaar, the Climkin’s weekly bazaar beside the horse stables, he bought a mystery box and inside were baseball cards and there was a crescent moon that night. He studied the backsides of the cards and learned about the acronyms – ERA and HR and SB and he got smitten and did some research and the wick ignited into a flame and soon a baseball forest fire in his mind. He hit up used book stores and bought baseball books and read about shifts and reserve clauses and Ted Williams and the more he read, the more he got that wanderlust. The locals said it was on account of there beings no clock in baseball and the the potential for a ball to travel into outer space.
Billy walked along the highway shoulder with crows waiting to pounce on road kill and those crows weren’t afraid of Billy and Billy wasn’t afraid of the crows and one of the crows said something soft to Billy and he felt encouraged so he walked and walked and walked some more. He toured towns and took a vow to keep on moving until he reached a baseball diamond and there were plenty of golden McDonald arches and Pentecostal churches and traffic lights and then finally, there were was a diamond and that very night a game and he watched one batter, the number nine hitter peruse the infield before stepping into the batter’s box and then he hit the ball where there weren’t any fielders and Billy listened as a few members of the crowd, older gentlemen all said, almost in unison, “that a way Wee Willie, hit ‘em where they ain’t.”
That very same night, Billy Tourniquet wandered into the woods, picked up a stick about the size of a baseball bat and before stepping into the imaginary batter’s box, he impersonated that batter, that number nine hitter. He perused the scene. He stared at the trees and birds and squirrels and then he stepped in and took a few pitches and then poked one between short and third and then he ran and when he reached what he thought was first base and the umpire signaled safe, Billy rolled his hands around in a circle and hopped on one foot and then jumped up and down and as he did, he felt pleasure on the bottom of his feet and the sensation lingered; it moved like acupuncture jolts up his spine and into his mind and he thought about trades and free agents and suicide squeezes, but he didn’t want to commit suicide. He wanted to bat again and there was no shortage of sticks for bats and space for a field so he batted again and again, for both teams, inning after inning, rolling his hands around in a circle and hopping on one foot and jumping up and down after every at bat.
November 11, 2022 at 12:48 pm
Thanks for showing us through Billy that there is a dancer in each of us. How exhilarating it is when something, baseball or otherwise, is able to bring out the unrestrained inner self.
Your story had me replaying in my head the lyrics to one of my favorite Neil Young let-‘er-rip rockers:
When you dance
Do your senses tingle?
Then take a chance?
In a trance
While the lonely mingle
November 11, 2022 at 5:47 pm
Got the Young song playing now, my maiden voyage with it. Thanks Mark. I miss dancing. I was never much of one, but when we were out at a bar and a bunch of us got crazy and drunk and threw our feet and arms all over the place, I always felt better the next day.
November 11, 2022 at 1:39 pm
I love the somehow fantastic triumph of your characters. I love crows on the side of the road and walking the railway lines. I love how there is so much magic in your writing. Well done Steve!
November 11, 2022 at 5:44 pm
Thanks Bob. I appreciate your feedback. I guess some of the characters in my stories wind up with happy endings. But that gets me thinking of what we used to do in Milwaukee. I grew up near Lake Michigan and we would often go there with an inner tube and wade out into the water and then sit on the tube, close our eyes, and drift and sometimes there were some minor waves or currents or whatever and when we opened our eyes, we were too far from the shore, scary too far from the shore, or scary for me because i was never much of a swimmer…..maybe in another story, I’ll have a critical drowning potential moment and bring in a hero to rescue the character or maybe it will be an old floating wood baseball bat that he or she clings to and survives…….whoops, now i can’t put that into a story since i already wrote it. onward!
November 11, 2022 at 6:29 pm
I think you should go for the baseball bat saving a life. I think it would work. That’s awesome you got to drift away like that on Lake Michigan. Sounds like the perfect way to spend a afternoon when you are young. And when you are old.
November 12, 2022 at 8:59 am
Maybe a horror story, – the bat initially as a weapon and in the end, a flotation device that rescues the victim, enables them to flee the boat. But does a bat float? Probably. A bit like drift wood I would think.The potential boat scene reminds of the last scene in Cape Fear. Robert Dinero is great in that.
November 12, 2022 at 10:13 am
I have to admit I’ve never seen Cape Fear. I’m not much of a horror/suspense guy. But being rescued by a bat sounds apropos. I’ve always wanted to try my hand at short story. You’ve inspired me to give it a try.
November 13, 2022 at 9:37 am
Cape Fear steers clear of sadistic scenes, really only one, more of a psycho thriller, but anyway, I’m glad to hear you’re gonna give a short story a go. Looking forward to reading it.
November 16, 2022 at 6:57 am
It’s alright, Billy Tourniquet. I can’t dance, either.
November 18, 2022 at 11:35 pm
i like bad dancers.
November 16, 2022 at 4:19 pm
It’s the stiff back…it did in Doug DeCinces and Eric Chavez and Robbie Thompson. If you can’t dance or play the infield, mebbe the crows are telling you should be a DH.
November 16, 2022 at 5:22 pm
Whether lifting heavy boxes or sitting at a desk, we all seem to eventually get the bad back. Thank god for god, pain killers, a glass of whisky or all of the above.