Another Scrap

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

A bit of Midwestern existentialism.

Another Scrap

Mom had lived here for thirty-three years. Thirty-three! And “Jerry” snaps his fingers and Mom deserts our entire childhood to go live with him. As the only child still in the city, the unfortunate duty of helping my mother itemize and trash both my youth and the youth of my siblings had been relegated to me.

We were either boxing things up to be sent to a dank storage unit or shoving them into garbage bags to be tossed to the curb. I was deep in the crawl space in the basement pulling out a bag filled with my old stuffed animals when I saw the box. It was clearly very old, wrinkled and faded the way cardboard does with age. It was back in a corner covered in dust. I looked at it for a moment and then proceeded to the garbage can so I could throw the best friends a toddler ever had in with the rest of the waste next to a rotting chicken corpse and some stinking coffee grounds.

When I returned to the basement, curiosity got the better of me and I had to check the box and determine its contents. I pulled it out of the corner and wiped the dust off the top with my filthy white t-shirt. I opened it and immediately had to sit down. Mom must have put this box back here after he died. It was easier that way. Staring back at me was an old photograph of my Dad. I gingerly pulled the old photo out of the box and brought it closer to the light.

I hadn’t initially noticed but I was with Dad in the picture. It must have been before any of my siblings were born. I looked very young. Mom was nowhere to be seen and was probably the one taking the picture. Dad was wearing a pair of faded blue jeans, simple white tennis shoes and a simple blue button up shirt that was unbuttoned and untucked.

Dad looked exhausted and unshaven with deep bags under his brilliant green eyes. Even through exhaustion, he was flashing that cocky grin of his; an easy one sided grin that crawled up the right side of his mouth displaying the little dimples in his broad jaw.

That’s when I remembered what was happening in the picture. This was the day dad and I went to town for my first baseball game. It wasn’t Mom taking the picture, it was my grandfather. It was my dad’s dad. I couldn’t remember any other time in my childhood when all three of us were alive that we were together uninterrupted.

Dad and Grandpa had been practicing with me in their free time as much as possible. They were teaching me how to hit and catch and throw. Dad worked too much to volunteer as a coach but being retired, Grandpa had stepped in to ensure I received some playing time. Consequently, I was the starting center fielder for the Blueville Bombers. That was a great day.

Dad and Grandpa ensured I had everything I would ever need as a little league baseball player. My glove, hat and bat were all completely irrelevant to me when I wasn’t in the field or at the plate. Sitting in the dugout I was provided a constant supply of pizza, soda, pretzels, popcorn, and candies. Everything they couldn’t afford but wanted me to have anyway. I can just see all of Dad’s overtime from the day before slipping away.

In the game, I played well in the field. The ball was only hit out to center twice the whole day, but I easily handled both of them. One I was able to camp under and was nothing more than a routine fly ball. The other one I had to catch a little on the run. Running back into the dugout after that one, Dad was on his feet flashing that electric grin of his and giving me a standing ovation. Grandpa thumped me hard on the back in congratulations when I got back to the dugout.

At the plate I wasn’t so successful. I was frozen solid in my first three plate appearances. I was absolutely terrified of the ball. I struck out looking three times. I was so ashamed I didn’t even look at Dad or Grandpa on my way back to the dugout. Grandpa would briefly place his hand on my shoulder in reassurance when I got back in but I didn’t look at him. When I was in the on deck circle for my fourth and final plate appearance, Dad came down to talk to me.

“Hey Kiddo.”

“Hey Dad.”

“You’re not swinging.”

“I know Dad, I’m scared.”

“Of the ball?”

“Yeah . . .”

He picked up a ball in the corner of the dugout and threw it at me fairly hard and it bounced off my shin and rolled away and into the dugout. I was too stunned to do anything. He grinned (that grin!) at me and said, “I love you, James. There’s nothing to be afraid of.”

He strolled back up to his seat and sat down. I walked into the batter’s box and laced the first pitch into center field for a clean hit. I looked up at Dad and he was jumping up and down, pumping his fist in the air.

“James!” Jerry yelled, “What the hell is taking you so long, boy?” I snapped out of my nostalgic state and put the photo back in the box. I pulled the box out of the crawlspace and put it in my car. After some more thought, I threw it in the trash with the rest of the scraps. There was no point holding on to it. It was easier that way.

Submitted: September 04, 2012

© Copyright 2021 Thomas Ridgemoore. All rights reserved.

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