|Prologue||Chapter 1||Chapter 2||chapter 3|
|chapter 4||chapter 5||Chapter 6||Chapter 7|
|Chapter 8||Chapter 9||Chapter 10||Chapter 11|
|Chapter 12||Chapter 13||Chapter 14||Take me home!|
We spent most of Thursday, June 16, on the road. We crossed the border at the Rainbow Bridge, which overlooked Niagara Falls. Fortunately, the traffic was slow and heavy, so we had an opportunity to gaze at the Falls.
"I'd like to come for a visit, some day," sighed Kyle. "I was here when I was twelve. I really liked the Frankenstein Museum and the one with all the gross stuff in it, like the cat with two heads and the man with two pupils in each eye."
"I brought my boys here last fall," said Ty. "They liked the caves and the whirlpool, and the Frankenstein museum."
"I was here when I was seventeen, for the Provincial Championship. We got a tour of the Falls, the caves and the whirlpool. We saw the gross museum, but we missed the Frankenstein Museum." The misty plume of the Falls rose from the depths of the gorge to the billowing white clouds suspended in the deep blue summer sky. The sky the colour of Paul's eyes. "The funniest part was when the tour guide asked me if I was somebody's girlfriend."
"What did you say?" Asked Robbie.
"Nothing, my coach corrected her. The look on her face was priceless. Shock and admiration rolled into one."
Larry laughed. "A lot of people still look at you the same way. Did you win?"
"Yes, I pitched three of the five games." We stared at the Falls until it was out of sight. After we cleared customs we stopped for lunch, and the bus pulled into the ballpark at four-thirty. Garry told us to prepare for the series with Hamilton by going home and getting a good night's sleep. As I grabbed my bag Garry said to me, “For some of us it will be the last night's sleep for a few days." I stuck my tongue out at him. He responded in the mature way, he stuck his out, too.
At my apartment I made a healthy supper for myself and settled down to watch the Tigers-Jays game on television. I enjoyed the game, but the constant chatter of the airheads with the microphones was enough to drive me to distraction. They gave an unending stream of useless statistics, or as George called them, sadistics.
They caught my attention when they started talking about first base for the Tigers. ". . . And that's the third error this game for Jennings. Y'know Ernie, the Tigers will be ecstatic when Morrison returns."
"You bet, Burt. I talked to him yesterday and he says he’s more relaxed, swinging better, enjoying the game more."
"That's good to hear."
"He also talked about facing the first female pitcher in baseball."
"How'd he do?"
"Terrible. Oh-for-seven. All strike outs." They started giggling. "The Jays are really excited about her. She’s really hot."
"Hot in what way, Burt?" He broke up.
"They clocked her at ninety miles an hour. She's just as likely to throw OVER her catcher as she is TO her catcher. She's wild."
More giggling. "—and Moore grounds to Jennings for the final out. And the Jays trail five-to-seven."
So the game went. Tigers won, Jays lost. They didn't mention me again. It would have been nice if they had used my name.
Friday dawned warm and bright. Robbie, Larry, Ty and Pete joined me for my morning jog. Suzy waited for us in the playground at the end of our jog with the things we needed for a good workout in the fresh, morning air. She also brought some food to eat when we finished exercising.
That morning, as every morning, there were some boys playing on the swings. Usually they would watch quietly as we worked out and played a few rounds of catch. This day they came up to us and started talking.
"What'cha doing?" asked the oldest, around a mouthful of apple.
"Playing catch," answered Ty. "I have a boy your age. He lives in Nebraska."
"Is that close? My Dad lives in Oakville."
"Can we play? We brought all our stuff."
"Sure," said Larry.
The boys valiantly demonstrated their skills. The oldest fancied himself the greatest pitcher since Roger Clemens, he told us so himself. He enthusiastically threw the ball at Robbie's head. Larry suggested a game and we played until their mothers came to send them to school. We told them we were real ball players and gave them our autographs.
"How come one of your girlfriends signed and the other one didn't?" Asked one of the boys.
"Christopher!" scolded his mother. "That's the lady player who was on the news last week. You are, aren't you?"
"Guilty as accused," I responded.
Larry suggested tickets to Saturday's game for the boys' and their families. We were given free tickets to every game, and we seldom used them, so we agreed that it would be a nice gesture. We mentioned that Paul Morrison, a real major league star, would be at the game.
We arrived at the park early. We changed and went out to play catch, which impressed Garry. The rest of the team arrived and we did our usual morning practices. When the batting cage came up, George called me over to the bullpen for what I assumed would be a tune up for tomorrow's start. Instead he introduced me to a man in a bright blue nylon warm-up suit.
"Annie Weston, I'd like to introduce you to Tom Bradley, roving pitching instructor. He's here a few weeks to work with you kids. He asked to meet you first."
We shook hands. He looked me up and down several times and whistled. "You really are a girl, aren't you?"
"Nah," cut in George. "Not our li'l Annie. Just ask anybody here; she's an honourary man."
He regarded me carefully. "They tell me you throw hard."
"Hard and all over." I responded.
"That's why I'm here. We're going to work until you can throw with pin point accuracy." He unzipped his jacket and picked up a clip-board. "I hear you've given Paul Morrison a hard time." He laughed gleefully. "He hates striking out. He must hate you!"
George stifled a laugh. "He certainly has an opinion 'bout our li'l Annie! Yessir, a real opinion! Just wait'll he gets here! You're gonna see real fireworks!" George laughed, holding his ample stomach. The instructor shot George a dirty look and George sobered up.
"Round up the other pitchers and get them warmed up. Okay, Weston, let's see what you've got. I'll catch you."
I quickly got into a good groove. George stood behind with a radar gun, charting my speeds. Bradley called for everything I had in my repertoire, and a few things I didn't; like the straight change-up and the breaking ball. He asked me for anything he might have missed.
He wrote in my blue binder. While he checked the others I asked Bernie to ice down my arm and shoulder so I wouldn't be stiff and sore for my next start. Bernie wrapped my shoulder securely and I returned to the bench with some ice water. When Bradley was finished with everybody he made us sit on the grass while he sat on the bullpen bench.
He began speaking, “First I'll explain what I'll be doing here. I'll be giving both group and individual lessons, along with videos and written material that all of you will find useful and informative. I'll be making videos of each of you and you'll have a chance to watch and analyse yourselves."
Wow, I can hardly wait, I thought. I have no shape and weird hair and I didn't have to see it on video tape.
"Weston, since I saw you first I'll give your critique first."
You think I should go home and take a job in Mommy Corp.? I thought.
"We have to work on balance. You tend to throw off-balance and that could explain why your pitches get away from you. We'll tighten up your motion so your not flailing all over the place. I like the way you change speeds, your slider and sinker both hang too high, I like whatever that side arm thing is, batters don't see that down here and it must drive them crazy. You need a good breaking ball, some day you won't throw so hard or fast and you'll need something to fall back on. Now, about those sizzlers,” George handed him the chart and Bradley whistled while leaning back. "Once you throw accurately--” He whistled again. “George says you're slow today."
"Yes, I start tomorrow and I don't want to wreck my arm." I peeled off the ice, which had turned to a soggy mess.
"Good, I can see you in action." He snapped the binder shut. "Now, where's Adams?"
I looked to the dugout, where Garry was calling to me. "What's up, Garry?"
"Ask him." He pointed into the tunnel, where Paul waited for me with two chocolate ice cream cones. I ran to him and kissed him. "Take ten minutes," Garry said to us.
"Thanks, Coach," Paul said. We hopped into the seats and sat on the shaded side. He put his arm around me and gave me a big, cold, chocolate kiss. "Miss me?" he asked.
"Yes, very much. I see you've lost some weight." His stomach no longer hung over his belt.
"I've lost twenty pounds."
"Nine dollars a day for food will do that."
He smiled warmly. "Guess where I'm playing?"
"Third base? Won't I distract you?"
"Oh, probably, but when you're hitting .575 a few errors are forgivable."
"I'm pitching tomorrow."
"Good,” he nodded, while crunching into his cone. "Maybe I can get a hit. That's become quite the joke in the media."
"I know. I've heard." The Tabbies were coming onto the field and Kyle was pointing us out to Bradley. "Can you meet me at the player's entrance an hour after the game? We can go to my apartment."
"I'd like that." He hugged me close, and we kissed long and hard, shutting out the sounds of the ballpark. "I've got to go now," he said.
We parted company and went to our respective clubhouses. Bradley stood inside the door and stared slack-jawed at me as I changed into my game clothes and tightened the lacing on my ratty old glove. One of these days, I thought, I’m going to have to buy a new glove and return this one to Jake. I'm gonna have to get new shoes and return these to Kenny, also.
"Huh," grunted Bradley, "I guess he doesn't hate you. So how long have you guys been intimate? So you think it's a good idea seeing how he's the enemy?"
"Oh, I'm not a man hating feminist so I don't see him as the enemy." I knew what he meant, but I've always felt stupid questions deserve stupid answers. Fortunately, Garry called him into the office.
Paul stared into the dugout through the entire game. In the fourth inning Dean hit a triple and slid into base under a close tag from Paul. "Hey, Morrison, how's it going?" Dean grinned at Paul.
"Hey Deannie-Weenie. So how come you've never made a move on Annie?" Paul returned Dean's leering grin.
"Uh—U" Dean blushed. "She's not my type."
Paul spit on the ground. "What? She's too classy for you?"
Dean turned brilliantly scarlet. Pete hit a sacrifice fly to far right, poor Dean stumbled off the bag, tripped on the grass, and slid right into the tag.
Garry was standing on the top stair of the dugout and heard everything. "When are you going home, Morrison? When are you gonna leave my guys alone?"
"It ain't your guys I'm interested in, coach." Paul looked at me and winked.
"Get outta here, butt-head!" Garry laughed. "Hey, Annie!" He looked back at me.
"Make him strike out tonight, okay?"
I gave him the thumbs up sign. "Sure, Boss. Anything for the team." Paul looked horrified, then laughed with the rest of us.
After the game Tom Bradley offered to take the entire team out to dinner. "I'm sure everyone here would be delighted to accept your invitation," responded Garry, "But I don't think Annie will be coming "
"Oh, she's coming," cracked Kyle. "Only later and not with us." Pete thought that was so uproariously funny he dropped the bucket of balls he was carrying in from the field. The two then high-fived each other.
"I'm seeing Paul," I explained. "He's my boyfriend and this might be the last time I see him for a while." Might be the last time I see him, ever, I thought.
"So he really is your boyfriend." Bradley looked at me with an odd expression on his face. "So when did this start?"
Nosy bastard, I thought. "I have to leave now, I don't want to be late." I said my good-byes and exited to the parking lot.
Paul was standing by his Ferrari with a bunch of his team-mates. I went up to him, we kissed, and he gestured to the group. "These guys are taking us out tonight. Remember John Gregory?" He pointed to the walrus.
I held up my hand and said, "Yo dude!"
Paul continued. "We made a bet and they lost."
"It wouldn't have anything to do with the number of errors you supposed to make?" I elbowed him in the ribs.
John laughed and elbowed Paul in the ribs, also. "You guys don't have any secrets, do you?" He winked. What a sight! A walrus winking!
"You don't mind?"
"As long as I have you to myself later."
We went to the fancy place beside Ziggy's, sight of the jerk episode. Nobody said anything, but all looked sideways at the bar, then looked at me and then to the ground. It was quite uncomfortable. Paul squeezed my hand, I assumed in sympathy. During the dinner we talked about some of the parks we had played in. We compared notes on which ones were the nicest and which ones were the worst dumps. I related the story about the mushrooms, and we agreed that one was the worst.
Paul's favourite park was, of course, the new Tiger Stadium, baseball historians and purists be damned. The old one didn't have a swimming pool and exercise room and more colour televisions than men on the team. His favourite road park was Kansas City, because he liked the fountains in the outfield. He said the whole park was almost perfect, the only thing that would make it better would be if they ripped out the artificial grass and put in the real thing. His least favourite was the expansion Arizona Sundogs' stadium, because of the extreme heat.
"During a game last summer the on field temperature was a hundred and sixty. In the seventh inning I went into the dugout and fainted. When I came around I was on a stretcher in the trainer's room with a bunch of paramedics hovering over me. That's the first time that's happened and I've played in some serious heat! Some of my buddies were almost puking right on the field! And they wonder why they can't sign big names, like me." He pounded his fist on the table to hammer home his point.
"I hear they're only scheduling night games next year," someone commented.
"Only mid-night games, I hope." Paul said as he drained his mug of beer in one massive gulp.
The conversation turned to other things. Paul suggested we make a graceful exit. We drove back to my apartment with his stereo blasting rock and roll music into the dim twilight.
When we arrived at my apartment I opened my sofa-bed and Paul presented me with a gift. I opened the package and found a lacy negligee that left nothing to the imagination. I went to the bathroom to put it on. When I returned he had stripped down to his t-shirt and underpants. I did a pirouette and he whistled while patting the bed beside him. I snuggled up to his warm, hairy chest.
"MMMMMMM. . .You DO look good in white lace and ribbons!"
"That's about all there is to this. Thank you. It's very pretty."
"I really bought it for myself, you know." "I know that! My sister-in-law says women buy themselves underwear and sleepwear while men buy women lingerie and that's why the equality gap will never be bridged."
"Is she some kind of feminist?"
"No, she's a writer and she has a strange way of looking at the world."
We cuddled and kissed for a while. "I'm returning to Detroit at the end of this series," he said quietly.
"Oh," I said, feeling a little sad. "I guess this is one of the last times for us."
He lifted my face so I was staring right into his eyes. "I have your phone number so I can call whenever I want. Hell, I'm a millionaire, I can afford it. Before you know it, September will be here and you might be called up. We might play against each other in Toronto. We can see each other in the winter. You could come to Michigan and I can come to-- to--"
"St. Jeromes, Ontario." I prompted.
"Yeah, there. We still have two more nights like tonight." He wrapped his arms around me and pulled me close. His lips brushed my ear as he whispered, "Somehow you got through to me, Annie. I don't know how but you did."
Tom Bradley made us sit through the two of his fascinating training videos. If there are any people who produce these little marvels of movie-making reading this, let me give you a piece of advice: hire professional actors. The one was so poorly done that the message of the film was lost and some serious points came across in an unintentionally hilarious manner. The line about gripping the ball in a firm yet gentle way was priceless when delivered by a guy with a beer belly who spent most of the film scratching his crotch.
The seats were filling as George, Robbie and I went to the bullpen to start my warm-ups. A family of five sat behind the fence in the front row and I recognized the youngest boy as one of the kids from the playground.
"Hi!" I waved to him.
His eyes lit up. "OH! Mommy! That's the lady from the playground. She's there every morning, almost. She's a real pitcher." He bounced in his seat. "I'm gonna play second base for the Blue Jays when I grow up."
"That means you'll be playing here. You gotta play here before you play in Toronto," I said to him between pitches.
"Then Mommy and Daddy can come and see me everyday." He continued to bounce. "Does your Mommy and Daddy come to see you?"
"No," I answered. "They live far away. They've only seen me once."
"Where do they live?" asked the man whom I assumed to be his father.
"St. Jeromes, Ontario."
He thought a moment. "That's not so far; only an hour's drive."
"Yes, but I don't mean distances that you measure on th map. My Mom has a little trouble with a daughter who spends all her time in a locker room with thirty men."
The mother pulled her little girl close in mock horror. "I might have trouble with that, also!" she laughed.
On my jog to the pitcher's mound I received a rousing ovation. I tipped my hat to my fans. I enjoyed playing up to the crowd. Last year, the largest audience I played for was five hundred. Herman This afternoon fifteen hundred people filled the park to its capacity. The crowd chanted my name over and over as I took my final warm-up pitches. I felt as if all the blood in my veins had been replaced with electricity. It's a feeling nothing can compare with, not even sex.
The game went well. Every time Paul struck out the crowd gave a standing ovation and I took a deep bow. I threw fast and his swing would be slow; I threw slow and his swing was in front of the ball. He couldn't figure out what I was going to throw next.
In the third inning the walrus, John Gregory, roped a hanging curve ball over the fence and into the parking lot. That's baseball slang for "He got a home run on a poorly thrown ball." When he came to the plate in the sixth I plunked him in the leg. That's baseball slang for "I hit him on the leg with the ball, by accident." I would never hit anyone on purpose, even if they did break up my no-hitter. As he walked to first, as the rules allow, he put on his own show for the crowd. He gripped his leg and limped and moaned and groaned. When he got to first he started laughing. He laughed until he fell backwards, banging his butt on the bag. That made him laugh harder. Paul came up to bat.
"How come you've never plunked Paul?" He called over.
"Hey! I never plunk people on purpose." I almost kept from laughing.
"At least I would get on base." Paul pouted petulantly. "That's better than striking out all the time."
"You love it," I said. "You love all the media attention." He then struck out to a standing ovation.
After the game Paul offered to buy groceries for me and cook a big supper. I had almost no food in my apartment so I was very agreeable to his idea. A ninety dollar grocery bill is barely a dent in the wallet of a guy who makes five million a year. We wandered the aisles, looking at everything as the grocery cart filled with food. He picked up a huge capon and dropped it in.
"Do you know the difference between a rooster and a capon?" he asked, stifling a laugh.
"No, but I'm sure you're going to tell me."
"A capon can only say a-doodle-doo, a-doodle-doo." He laughed like he told the funniest joke in the history of humour.
"Look out or you'll be going a-doodle-doo when I'm finished with you." I gave him a good, sharp elbow in the ribs.
Paul's face greeted us from the cover of a tabloid newspaper. The headline screamed, "The secret of the descent! From Hero to Zero!" Another rag offered "The Tiger and the temptations!"
Paul made a face. "That's part of the price of fame. Your private life becomes public property. And when they can't find what they want, they make stuff up!" He paid for the food and loaded it in his Ferrari.
He made corn on the cob, fried mushrooms, a Caesar salad, and baked potatoes to go with the bird. My tiny apartment was filled with delicious smells. While he was cooking, he sent me out to the frozen yoghurt place for desert. When I returned he was on the telephone. Judging from the conversation, he was talking to his mother.
"No, Mom. . .I'm not sick. . .No, Mom. . .Really, I am." He was quiet. "No, I am. . .really. . .so how long do I leave the bird in the oven? I don't know. . .it weighs as much as Randy's baby did when they brought it over in January." Quiet again. "Stop laughing, Mom!"
The capon turned out perfect. It wasn't burnt and it wasn't raw. Within an hour we were both as stuffed as the bird had formerly been. We cleaned up the kitchen and by ten thirty we were stretched out on my bed with the television on.
"This is so nice," I purred.
"Sure is." He burped loudly. “ ‘scuse me.”
"Know what I like most about you."
"My eyes? My sparkling personality. My impeccable manners? The big orgasms I give you?"
"No silly, the way you always feed me. I feel like I'm always hungry, then you come along, and I'm satisfied."
"Oh," he laughed. "So it IS the sex. Food and sex are closely related. I satisfy your sexual desires and therefore your other desires are satisfied, also."
I threw a pillow in his face. "That's bullshit. If I was hungry I wouldn't have any energy for sex, all I would think about would be food. When I'm full, then I'm interested in sex."
He burped twice during my speech. "In some cultures burping is considered polite. In some cultures burping is considered a compliment to the chef."
"Those cultures must live in baseball locker rooms."
He sat up. "I have a question that all the guys are dying to know the answer to: do you get naked and shower in front of all those men?"
I hit him with another pillow. "No way, stud. They curtained off a shower just for me at home. On the road Garry gives me a few minutes before he allows the guys into the room or I shower when everyone else is gone or I wait until I'm at my motel or I sit on the bus all moist and aromatic. None of the guys have seen me naked."
"Oh." He almost sounded disappointed.
"I've seen them naked."
"That's not fair!"
"Neither is life." I hopped on top of him and kissed him. He wrapped his arms around me, rolled me over, and laid on top of me.
"All this talk of sex and getting naked is getting me excited." He yanked off my t-shirt and quickly pulled off his. He straddled my knees and unzipped my jeans. I sat up so he could unhook my bra.
"You're a sex maniac," I said as I worked on his pants. "You made me this way." He sat on the edge of the bed and pulled off his pants and socks. "Look at me, I'm so turned on I feel like I'm about to burst."
I laid on top of him. "Don't burst yet," I whispered in his ear. "I want you to tell me what you like, where to touch you, what gives you pleasure."
"I'll teach you everything you need to know." He kissed me and pushed his tongue deep into my mouth. He guided my hands and mouth all over his body, touching, exploring, probing; his breathing came in ragged gasps as he moaned in ecstasy. He rolled me onto my back and kissed and touched me until neither of us could wait any longer. He thrust himself into me and both of us came to an explosive climax at the same time. Around two-thirty we collapsed into a deep and dreamless sleep.
Sunday was my rest day. Boy, did I need a rest! Paul was glassy-eyed, also. When he was in the batting cage there was no zing in his swing and on the field there was no strut in his butt. In the game he grounded to shortstop once, and back at Blake, the pitcher, twice.
Bradley sat beside me on the bench for one inning. "So what did you two do on your date last night?"
Garry must have overheard because he went into a coughing spasm. "Paul stuffed a bird and then I ate him," I responded. My answer made Garry cough more. Bradley looked blankly at me. Blake very wisely called him over for some help with his throwing; thereby saving me from more of Bradley's questions.
Paul left on Monday morning. Chad and Ty were driving me the park, where the bus would take us to our next three games. Paul would then leave for Detroit from my place; his Ferrari was packed and ready to go. The morning dawned grey and warm, and the smell of rain hung heavy in the air. The wind from an approaching storm made the leaves in the trees rustle and flap. We sat on the sidewalk by the parking lot in the back of my building.
I kept telling myself not to cry, that I didn't love him, that it was just an affair, but a big part of me couldn't be convinced. "I'm going to miss you," I said as I leaned my head against his shoulder.
"I'll miss you, too." He draped his arm around my shoulder.
"You're my first real boyfriend."
"I know." He smiled sweetly at me. "I take that responsibility very seriously. I'll never hurt you." We sat quietly. The breeze was freshening and the sky began to rumble. He looked up where zig-zags of lightening played tag with the churning clouds. "There's a storm rising," he said.
My eyes suddenly filled with tears. "I know," I said weakly, letting out a sob.
“Oh, baby," he said, "Don't cry. . .don't cry, honey." He snuggled my face into his chest. I could smell his cologne.
"Will you forget me? Will I become just another girl in another town?"
"No, I won't ever forget you. I will call you. In the winter I will come and visit you and you can come to Michigan. I don't want to forget you. I've never met a woman like you. You're unique."
"Yeah," I laughed bitterly. "I'm the only girl who can keep up with your baseball talk."
He kissed my cheek and smiled at me. "Remember that. Remember your first love. Not me, your first true love. The one thing that keeps you going through sleazy motels, sweaty locker rooms, and fights with your Mom."
"Yes. You've got a future in the game. Don't be untrue to your first love."
"In other words, I'm not to let you distract me."
He gave me a kiss and we sat without speaking until Chad's car pulled into the parking lot. We hugged and kissed one more time. "See you later, Annie."
"No, not good-bye."
"See you later Paul." I got into the car and drove away, leaving Paul standing in the soft, summer rain.
|Prologue||Chapter 1||Chapter 2||chapter 3|
|chapter 4||chapter 5||Chapter 6||Chapter 7|
|Chapter 8||Chapter 9||Chapter 10||Chapter 11|
|Chapter 12||Chapter 13||Chapter 14||Take me home!|