Sunday, November 05, 2006

rest of chapter one

first part here

Sorry, this isn't the best writing, but I'm trying to keep on pace. This is from day 2 and meets the bare minimum word count - 3400.

When dawn crept through Casey’s bedroom window in the morning, it brought the alarm clock to life. A groan arose from deep inside him before daily thoughts of calling in sick poked his brain. It wasn’t that he hated mornings – he just wasn’t good at them, especially since he had to suffer through a day in that office again. A shower, a shave, a brush, and he was out the door, stopping at a little café owned by a Pakistani guy for his daily espresso fix.

The Pakistani guy, Vivatma, was a big Reds fan, thanks to Casey, who had persuaded him to watch baseball after hearing him talk about cricket. Vivatma fell in love with the game. Numerous baseballs could be found throughout the café, and a framed, autographed poster of Adam Dunn hung from one wall. A Ken Griffey, Jr. bobblehead stood next to a statue of Siva, as if Griffey were a deity himself. Vivatma had once tried to serve his drinks in the souvenir cups they sold at the ballpark, but after a few washings, the pictures came off, so he sadly went back to standard glasses.

Vivatma was in awe of the home run. Every morning during the season that Casey stopped in for a coffee, Vivatma would relate the previous night’s home runs or lack thereof, telling stories of the “majestic arch,” “liner drive,” or “baseball bomb” with such fervor that his voice often went up an octave in the excitement. Casey enjoyed these conversations immensely, as Vivatma’s enthusiasm for the game mirrored his own.

The sun began to squeeze itself between the buildings as he walked to work, a welcome relief from the dull Midwestern gray, but it was a light defined by its weakness and had no intention of disguising the bleakness of autumn. The office swallowed that light and laughed while doing so. Casey settled into his darkness and moved his hands towards the ever-growing stack of dead wood on his desk, but he began to feel dizzy, like he had just ridden a backwards moving roller coaster or had read a book in a car. Leaning back in his chair, he suddenly had a flash of memory that had been buried deep within the confines of his subconscience. It was a baseball game – he was sitting in the red seats at Riverfront Stadium, the top six rows, which cost three dollars then. He couldn’t have been more than six or seven. Birds soared below him, the numbers on the polyester uniforms were barely discernable, the players were like ants. The day was sticky hot – Casey couldn’t even eat cotton candy, for it melted in the air. His dad turned to him and said, “Isn’t this great?” He meant it, too – it was the only time his father had come close to expressing any sentiment towards his son.

The memories of Riverfront with his father were more than priceless – they were divine, gifts from God or whatever was responsible for creation. The baseball games were rare times when Casey got to spend time with his father, who worked eighty hour weeks for a company that suddenly let him go one day, as if the hours, the profits, all of the work he had done to make the company successful had never happened, like they could erase history. At least they couldn’t touch the history of the trips to Riverfront.

“Oh, hi Peter,” Casey said upon an intrusion by an obnoxious sales manager. Pigeon, they called him, not only because he resembled one, but also because he fed from the scraps of everyone else. He made it a habit of pecking at the scraps of others, cutting and pasting from their work and claiming it as his own. He was a rat with wings.

“Did you get the memo?”

“What memo, Peter? We get a dozen memos a day.”

“The one from me, Casey,” he said in his way that attempted to be condescending or demeaning, though it never worked; no one had enough respect for the man to feel belittled by him.

“You mean about the formatting of the sales reports?”


“You sent it too late, Peter. I already turned them in last week.”

“You’re going to have to redo them.”

“I’m not going to redo them. If you knew about the new format last week and just got around to informing us yesterday, then you better redo them.”

“Are you being insubordinate?”

“Do you want me to tell Mr. Grass you didn’t tell us about the new format because you were too busy playing video games online?”

“That’s not true!” he replied with a hint of fear and panic in his face. “This insubordination will be included in your next evaluation.”

“Fine, and I’ll get five or six people around here to sign a memo to Mr. Grass about your ‘work’ habits.” Casey loved to play mind games with Peter, who for some reason thought he was everyone’s boss. He even submitted evaluations for employees, whose real bosses were amused and shared the evaluations with them over lunch from time to time. The video game knowledge came to Casey through the IT guy who had befriended Casey from his first day at work.

“God, I hate this job,” Casey said aloud when Peter had gone. He saw a couple of nods in cubicles around his and felt an air of agreement floating around him. He had to get a new job.

The muffled ticking from his desk drawer reminded him that time existed and that it wasn’t moving. Suddenly, a strange feeling overcame him, like something was happening somewhere else and he was there to witness it. A trade? A free agent signing? It’s a good one, isn’t it? A shortstop?

A shortstop! The web told him the breaking news with the force of a Trevor Hoffman fastball. Not only did the Reds have a shortstop, but he was the best in the business. A.J. Sullivan had speed, power, range, a canon for an arm, and a .355 career average in five seasons, all the tools of a future Hall of Famer. And he was going to play for the Reds!

Casey got up to tell X, a guy in accounting who was also a fan. Did you hear the news? What news? We got a shortstop! Really? Who? A.J. Sullivan. Oh, right. I thought you were serious. I am! Check the website! Oh my god, you aren’t kidding! This calls for a lunch celebration!

The two of them went to the Inn Between for lunch, a sports bar right across the highway from Great American Ball Park. The place was full of electricity, of stunned fans so happy some of them fought tears of joy. A.J. Sullivan! The name echoed throughout the bar between bites of sandwiches and swigs of forbidden lunchtime beer. World Series, here we come!

X was the closest thing to a friend Casey had. Aside from the Reds, they had nothing in common, though it hardly mattered since they both lived Reds baseball. They went out after work to do more celebrating, and they weren’t the only ones. Christmas had come early in Cincinnati. Winter was a bit more tolerable that year, a bit less gray, almost like a tint of color – red – had been added to it. Snow closed schools and businesses a few times, cold rain fell on occasion, the annual week of sixty degrees in January came around, and then pitchers and catchers reported to spring training. It was the beginning of a new season, a rebirth of life, of hope and a return of respect to the Cincinnati Reds Baseball Club. It was also the beginning of the year the course of Casey’s life would forever be changed.

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