First, the FAITH story. (22,500 words)
Manuel Sanchez is a boy who lives in St-Petersburg, FL, and plays Base Ball in college. One day, while waiting on the bench, he has a vision of himself walking in some alley in a big town with a lot of tall buildings around. There, he sees a drunk sleeping on a pile of rubbish. In a trash can, he discovers a base ball bat and then, he hears the man’s voice who says: “I was waiting for you. You take that bat and it will give you, and only to you, home runs at will if you are to use it in big league base ball game.” Later that same year, Manuel visits Chicago and, to be sure, he finds himself in some alley and the dream becomes reality. He takes the bat and brings it home. Somehow, the story makes it in the Tampa Tribune. The newspaper, as a publicity stunt, offers Manuel 1000,00$ to attend each game in full Ray’s uniform out of the daily’s box at the Tropicana fields every time the local team will be playing there. Frank Richantall, the richissime owner of the Tampa Devil Rays, has also an interest in the T.T. and he has judged that the scheme will help selling both the newspaper and seats in the stadium as every days, its sport section builds up the pressure for team manager Joe Black to use Manuel and his magic bat. It doesn’t take long for the story to become national, millions of fans voting YES at the right question on the FB page the journal has created. The silly disturbance continues with Frank and Joe fighting each other over the issue. Joe doesn’t want to make a fool of himself by putting a youngster in a game and the only reason for doing so being giving credence to some lunatic notion like the kid using a magical instrument. The season is 2008. That year, the Rays will qualify for the World Series. Meanwhile, considering the success of the campaign, after all Manuel is as popular a figure as a movie celebrity, the kid has gotten himself an agent who persuaded the T.T. to jack up his new client’s take to half a million dollars of the money the youngster was generating. With the proviso that it would be reimbursed out of Manuel’s first major league contract, if any. As he will sign one before the end of the regular 2008 season for 1.5 million and a 500,000.00$ bonus. But he has not played yet. In the last game of the World Series, though, he will. It is 5-2 for the Phillies. It is the end of the 8th inning. The Rays are at bat. There are three runners on the bases. The World Series are at stake. It is game 7. And Joe is now convinced for reasons of his own, that Manuel is the real thing. That given half the chance, he will get the ball out of left field.
- Kid, he says, go put that base ball on the moon.
The Phillies pitcher is ace relief Voodoo Warhead. But, still Joe has his doubt. He writes something on a piece of paper and before sending Manuel to the plate, he inserts the note in his uniform back pocket. “You read this after the game, he says.” And then, while Manuel prepares himself for his great moment by doing the usual moves at the plate, the crowd has become insane. From the dugout, Joe sees his opponent walk to the mount and confer briefly with the Voodoo. And then, the impossible happens. Before the astounded eyes of the very dejected public, the Phillies pitcher serves Manuel four balls. Manuel walks to first base and it is 5-3. It stays that way as the Phillies ace relief dispatches into eternal oblivion his next opponent batter. Then comes 9th inning and Voodoo strikes out the Ray’s bests one, two, three. This is the end of the Devil Ray's dream of winning big as the multitude in the Tropicana Fields, zombie like, evacuates the premises. Manuel is nevertheless an AL league player. He will have a three years professional career and never will he be given the opportunity to hit a base ball. Every time he comes at bat, he receives a base on ball. Later, being modestly rich, he decides to become a lawyer. After his graduation, he is back at his mother’s house and he finds the uniform that he has left there six years back. He remembers then Joe Black giving him the note and sees if it is still there. He takes it and reads what the manager has written that night: “If they let you.” That gets him a smile. Nor bad for a prediction, he thinks.
One doctor Zielgard has written it. Then he dies in Biloxi, Mississipi. A witch is being accused of murder one for having conspired with the devil to get him to do the deed. And since he did died at the place and time she has predicted and as she claims 100% credit and had motive since the doctor has been responsible for her daughter’s not surviving her child delivery while operating in a state of inebriation, a jury will find her guilty and she will be condemn to death. The lawyer Arthur who is in charge of the physician’s estate knows Peter Atritis who works at a publishing house in Tampa. He asks him to look at the manuscript and tell him if it is worth something. Peter writes his own stories and they are judged too intellectual (as in never making any sort of sense) by his peers where he works. Peter is not much of a pusher. More the passive type. He has no great confidence in himself. He read Latin and ancient Greek. Even contributes articles in magazines published in those dead languages. Why. He likes to do crossword using the silly gibberish. His stories specialised in houses with no doors and people in them who always do the unexpected craziest things. As for dialogues, they could have made the definition of the CIA for a secret code or cipher.
He will like Arthur’s manuscript, though, and decide to steal it. He will publish it under his name. He will wait a long time to do so. To Arthur, he will send back one of his own loser stories that he has copied on similar paper out of the same Royal typewriter the dead doctor has used.
FAITH will have success. They will make a movie out of the tale. Peter will get invited to the David Letterman night show. Yet, Peter is not happy as he should. Anytime he opens his mouth, he is sure to be recognized for the fraud he is. He can’t be comfortable playing the role of somebody he isn’t.
Four days before such appearance, out in Biloxi, Pralina who is a waitress at Al’s Diner and her daughter Irma as well as Mike the barber recognised themselves in some of the Zielgard characters. Moreover, there is a scene in FAITH that occurs in one barbershop and it is Mike’s place that is being described in the book. They realised then that the author of FAITH is the doctor they used to know and who was always taking his meals at Al’s diner. Consequently, it has to be an impostor that will visit Letterman’s plateau next Friday night. Irma decided to get herself invited to the show as she has formed the resolution to confront Peter on live T.V.
Meanwhile, Arthur the lawyer has took upon himself to double check Peter’s opinion about the story he has got back from him. He sends it to a publisher in California and is very surprised when they enthusiastically offer him a contract. That publisher likes esoteric writers and wants to recreate on the West Coast the Dadaism movement of the twenties. Then he received a phone call from Irma that has found him through the real estate agent that has sold the Zielgard cottage. He doesn’t call her back before Irma makes it to the Letterman show. When, he speaks to her, he realised what Peter has done. He calls him at home and learns that Peter is at some hospital in Tampa. He goes there but will not arrive in time to tell his friend that he has made it on his own in the literary world, after all. That he will be published by people who like his work very much. Peter has fall in front of an arriving bus. He has just enough lucidity left in him to die a loser in his wife embrace.