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(_10) Chapter Ten

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the next day.. at the diamond

High overhead mountain size clouds drifted to the southeast.. Towering into the very edge of the stratosphere.. like giant snowmen reaching so high in the sky their heads seemed to disappear into some far away vanishing point. Still they waddled on.. billowing and gargantuan bottoms all raggedy and shifting…

“Could a cloud tip over? trip and tumble from the sky.. hmmm .. and would there be a noise..? A huge booming crashing tumbling thunderous echo of cool vapour meeting warmer air..”

Strange thoughts.. he drifted his eyes imperceptibly across first base at the runner as his head turned to home plate..  letting his peripheral vision capture all that was evident there.. spyhopping as the whales had showed him.. He thought again about the weighty feel to the air around him.. as he examined the detailed picture of the three men in position at first base.. the first baseman, the runner and the first base coach.  There was an young child in the second row as well who interested him and he looked deeper into the intense picture lodged in his mind.. wondering at the frown that creased the face of an adult sitting beside the young child.

He let that thought develop more and at the same time let his consciousness and a little bit of his unconscious self feel the light warm breeze drifting past him on the mound.. heavy with flirting pulses of air. He looked into the crowd behind the plate and visualized a peregrine falcon falling from the sky.. and listened in his head to the words from Jonathan Livingston Seagull..  he wondered at times how so many different ideas, images and thoughts could run so perfectly parallel in his head at once.. with such intense clarity.. but his grandfather had taught him to go with it.. so he did.

“no need for the falcon’s today.. this is heavy air… got to play along with it.. it owns this field..! I’ll toss you softly little egg.. and you’ll fly.. no.. float on  uncertain wings… like a little biplane trying to land during the storm. Oh so slow.. so watchful.. so ready to float high or land suddenly… just as grandfather has shown me that it can be.”

He looked in .. to the catcher.

In the dugout, Dusty felt an unusual presence gathering and the young fireballer Billy was totally absorbed.. even mesmerized. To Dusty’s right Darcy was feigning indifference but he was crossing and uncrossing his lanky legs in a way that spoke otherwise..

In the aisle way door directly behind home plate a tall figure was silhouetted, his features masked.. but the attitude of his head was unwaveringly pinned on the pitcher’s mound… He felt the cool air from under the stands being sucked past him through the tunnel and out toward home plate

“Good air.. damn fine air..  have some fun kid.. but its going to be nasty for the batters.. make it so kid.“

In the apron behind home plate seating was a figure in a wheelchair.. A very large pair of binoculars and small hands masked a face already obscured by a long peaked baseball cap and sunglasses.

“So Jimmy is Hunter’s kid… .. I should have known that sooner. Righty though.. not a lefty like his dad..  wonder what kind of stuff he’s got today.. probably very nasty, knowing his background. Sneaky as all get out..and downright nasty..”

Darcy watched the kid get leveled.. and glanced at Dusty.. who seemed to be looking off into space at the huge clouds overhead.. Darcy looked up into the marvelous sky and found himself hearing a clear voice in mid sentence.. then lost it. It had been a quiet, familiar voice.. saying something about the moisture in the air and rubbing sweat into the seams of the ball. He tore his eyes reluctantly off the clouds and back to the rest of the dugout.. finally focusing in on young Billy, the kid with the vicious fastball from South Texas. He seemed frozen in place, staring out to the mound. He’d done six excellent innings but it was too early to let him run long and throw a lot of pitches. Not the way he threw.. all muscle.. every part of his body getting in on the act as he reared back then lunged forward and powered the ball to the catcher.  Such a different approach from Jimmy’s compact delivery that seemed so lazy by comparison.

Still.. he wondered whether letting Jimmy pitch was such a good idea.. He had just an awful mite too much talent.. it was shocking to him to watch.. just such an abundance of ability.. and a truly innate way of movement.. he was just such….. poetry to watch..

Darcy squirmed again.. and looked to the mound in time to see Jimmy glance lazily into the stands then go into his micro wind-up and release a work of art toward the waiting batter. It seemed to fall from his hand.. indolently.. lethargic.. dull.

To the batter and catcher.. and the ump.. it seemed to have some unfortunate half life struggling within it.. it drifted toward the plate like a drunken duck.. wavering, sliding sideways.. and back.. twitching upward and suddenly falling to earth.. it bounced hard off the catchers shin pad with a hollow clacking sound and headed directly for Jimmy who was already driving off the mound looking for action..

The runner on first had automatically taken his first fatal steps toward second and found himself frozen, fifteen long feet from 1st base. And even worse.. still leaning with his weight and momentum toward second base.. his feet aimed the wrong direction..

 “I’m dead..“

And looking into the pitcher’s eyes.. who had fluidly turned to first base while lightly skipping so that his feet could plant and anchor a buzzing little hornet of a throw to first. Releasing the throw in the same motion that picked the ball off the grass.

“Yes.. little rabbit.. open ground and the eagle is here suddenly..”

The inning was over suddenly.. one pitch.. a lucky bounce.. And in the other dugout they were encouraging the base runner.. After all.. it had just been a fluke play.. But a very shaken batter thoughtfully put his bat in the rack.. He’d had a real good look at that pitch.

By the time the last inning rolled around Jimmy had really gotten a ride for his knuckleball… three batters in the eighth had rolled their eyes and taken the long walk back to the dugout.. muttering about the nasty pitches they’d seen.. nothing you could hit.. just nasty nasty nasty..

The first batter in the ninth was taken aback by the wicked quickness of Jimmy’s breaking ball.. he’d gone up thinking knuckler after all the talk in the dugout and he was too slow getting onto the snapping curve.. He was still thinking about the last pitch when in came the dreaded knuckler.. it danced and bobbed.. it skittered sideways and hit the catcher on the side of the mask.. the batters swing was uncertain and ponderous.. more of a swat than a swing.. the catcher uttered a dark comment and the umpire soothed him then crouched low to take shelter from the next weird flight that this kid was unleashing.. downright nasty…

In the dugout, Creighton was hopping with energy at each marvelous pitch.. cuffing Billy on the shoulder.. crowding Dusty who couldn’t get closer to the action without actually being on the field. In the other dugout.. all eyes were pinned on the mound.

Again the ball took flight.. somewhat. There was a burping motion.. as if such a motion existed.. to the sphere. Its raised damp seams found heavier air here and there on its way to the catcher.. and dug in for microseconds.. then.. released by lighter air went somewhat straight for a foot or two then tore into a denser patch and caught the light cool  jetstream that was running into the field from behind home plate.. it lost its mind and direction there.. and fell toward the waiting glove exhausted.. and unable to resist the last pockets of denser air in the shadows near the plate.. by now it was simply a falling object.. prey to the vagaries the air might inflict upon it..

To the batter.. it was madness.. a nightmare ball.

To the figure in the archway.. it was winged music.. he laughed with joy at the sight..

In the wheelchair.. a soft voice muttered.. “lordamercy he can throw”

With shadows filling the infield, the last batter got partial wood on a pitch.. and was dispatched at first.. That was it.. the team milled on the field.. and the managers made their steps toward the mound and the rambunctious group there.. led by the irrepressible Creighton.. who had Jimmy half up in the air in a sideways bearhug that was threatening to become a full frontal body hoist..

Behind home plate a deep rich voice.. almost musical in tone.. spoke as the crowd began milling toward the exits.

“Can I give you a push friend..?  help you on your way..?”

“A push you say… yes.. I could use a shove in the right direction..”

“Always ready to help.. its my way you know..”

“Figured it was so… Its always been your way Hunter”

“Just trying to help out.. don’t like sitting when there are things I could do..”

“Heard about your last little adventure there Hunter.. Cut it a little close didn’t you..? got pretty close to the edge with that dude.. a psychopath  I hear..”

“Tight Mrs McGee… it was tight.. no mistaking it.. It all worked out though.. it did work out in the right way..”

“They say ya shoulda got a medal I heard.. hear it a lot .. still got the old RCMP connections.. and the FBI too. Good on ya dude.. good on ya..”

“Just doing what I do well for those who need it.. I’ll tell the story of to you some day soon.. twas almighty tight.. I’ll give you that.  Kind of reminded me a bit of the old days with you and the choppers and the Special forces and the Delta  gang as a matter of fact.”

The small hands moved to the wheels and spun the wheelchair sharply toward the exit ramp.

“Your kid did good Hunter.. nasty stuff.. looked real sharp..”

“Yes.. it was good air today.. Moose.. you’ve got to use what nature gives you..

It was silent for a while.. they swam into the crowd each with their own thoughts.. it was only after they broke out of the throng into the bright sun outside the stadium that Hunter broached the subject..

“We’ve got ourselves something here Moose.. n’est ce pas? And now you’ve got my kid involved there somehow.. and somebody else too I hear.. Serious stuff I hear.. somebody’s going to get killed.. is what I hear”

“It’s  a clusterfuck Hunter.. bad form.. I figure we need Peter Pan to show up here real soon.. Hook’s here already.. pirates and crocodiles everywhere”

“There’s got to be a pressure point Moose.. put out the flame, choke it off.

Then it’ll get all quiet again.. no fuss.. no muss..”

 “You’re probably right dude.. but it is what it is. Your pup is in there swinging .. just like you..”

“Don’t snow the snowman Moose.. you called him in.. you’re in this up to your pretty little neck.. you never really left it all behind”

“C’mon Hunter don’t be giving me grief.. he’s on the path.. ! He’s just like you.. just like the Chief..”

“Moose… you’ve been spying from the sky again and getting your drawers in an uproar. Face it.. you can’t help but take a hand.. meddle a bit.. get that technogang of yours all fired up and sweaty.  But y’know.. you keep the hounds out of the forest and its all quiet there..  kind of nice.. peaceful..”

“These are serious folks Hunter.. got a real agenda.. gotta real itch for the whales.. get real on me.. you think I’m losin it.. ?? Tabernac.. ! I’ve seen this shit before.. and we’re goin to see it again.. they’ve got a hankering for the whales I’m tellin ya..”

The big man leaned in to the smaller figure in the wheelchair.. lightly.. but the smile on his face had a hard edge.. and the color of steel..

“Maybe they’ll catch that darn big bull.. get theirselves a real handful of bad shit.. find themselves in the water.. real life.. real adventure.. real whales..  he who rides the tiger dare not dismount.. ya know”

“Ya ya… so what’s your read on this..?”

“Seems to be unfolding as it should.. aside from what disturbance you created..  let it play out.. Jimmy’s on the ball.. The bull… ?? Hope they have a strong net.. and a solid hull..  and don’t kid yourself.. he’s been shot at before..  Who’s the girl? Katherine.. what’s her play in this mess?”

“What?.. oh her.. UBC, marine bio.. all over this pod and a few others… doin a matriarchal line study.. connected it to the audio recording data from up the way.. heavy into the harmonic stuff too.. well on her way to a breakthrough on transient and local pod whales.. if anybody figures out where they go in winter its her..  got funding too.. and a network of surfers and kayakers .. got access to the hydrophones.. she’s locking down all the sources.. never figured she’d do the mad dog solo act.. Jimmy bailed her out.. bigtime.. good looking girl too.. unbelievable really.. just 20 years old”

“Moose.. let’s just step back a bit here.. see what develops.. try to avoid calling in the navy.. and the Air Force.  Let Jimmy have a look see without exterior forces complicating things.. too many armies in the field you know.. let him try a low key strikeout here.. think you can keep from calling in the air strikes ?”

“I hear ya.. I read you fine fine fine.. and where will you be “observing” from ?”

“You know me Moose… I just kind of look on from here and there.. and make sure everything is righteous.. a fair fight is a fair fight.. not a mean bone in my body..  This your van?”

“I know you ran the plates.. caught your sign… see ya did a credit check.. been into my bank accounts too?”

“I was just checking that you were getting fair interest.. no call to be grumping at me.. didn’t think your RRSP was up to snuff.. but I know you been distracted and busy… sniffing up my way..  caught your sign too old friend.. heard you were talking to my mailman over the phone.”

 “Due diligence my man.. due diligence..”

 The wheelchair rolled up thru the back door ramp.. then spun around to face the tall man. Arms crossed and feet planted wide, Hunter smiled and glanced down at the back of the van.. a slim leg shot out from under the blanket suddenly as one wheel teetered dangerously close to the edge.

“Yes? Well.. could use about four pounds in the left rear Michelin.. looking a touch soft there..  maybe Darcy could look after that for ya.. missing a bit on the number eight cylinder.. electrical I figure.. distributor cap or a wire..  and I put a little graphite in the passenger door lock.. twas a little tight I thought. Liked that CD tho… Gato Barbieri .. real smoooth.. real smooth.”

“You are one sneaky.. sneaky.. and spooky dude Hunter. You mess with my alarms in any permanent way?

“Me?   Mess with your alarms… gee Moose.. didn’t realize you had any.. Drive safely.. keep the rubber side down.. be seeing you. Got to say tho.. I do like that disguise.. almost had me fooled for a moment.. was worried for a moment that something had happened to ya.. You ever consider coming clean with that husband of yours.. let him know what you’re up to half the time? or do you still believe that what you don’t know can’t hurt you.. unless its you of course..”

“Stay out of that Hunter.. that’s just plain private.. got to go.. take care my friend..“

Rolling to the cab the figure came neatly out of the wheelchair and into the drivers seat and leaned back for a moment thinking.

“So.. Hunter is here..and on the scene. Bad news for bad dudes the Hunterman is! Never seen the like.. ever! Blew right through my alarms.. Sure hate to be on the wrong side of him.. And I’d sure have to say.. coming up against his pup would most  definitely get you there in a really bad hurry..pronto!”

Written by diamondwalker

November 26, 2008 at 1:58 pm

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