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There is a sudden sound of wood slapping a ball. I look up to see that one of our boys has hit a single. He holds at first base, almost out of breath.
Osborne is now up to bat. His parents don’t come, usually. Most parents get in the way and annoy me with their talk of strategy and push, push, push of how to win the game. If I really wanted to win every game, it would be pretty easy with a few veves drawn out in chalk at night in the woods, or singing rune charms under my breath during the recorded national anthem. But why? Baseball is a poem, and poetry is not something to be made into a trophy sport. Unfortunately, Osborne’s parents don’t realize that he is a poem too. So they dump him off and play a little golf, or get a sweet fuck in before the game is over. Then they show up, open the door of their blue Dodge van, and tell him to hop in like their pet rabbit. And he does, because he doesn’t know yet that he is their pet rabbit. He actually thinks he is their son.
I watch Osborne go up to the plate. He gets very serious in the batter’s box. He stares at the pitcher, as if to read his mind. And maybe that’s what he is doing but he isn’t really aware of it. The pitcher winds up, and floats the ball toward home plate, like a huge scoop of vanilla ice cream dripping the words “long ball” through this holy baseball diamond body of existence. The bat seems to move of its own self, and Osborne is just dancing with it. There is contact. His feet turn. He is running. The ball has wings and, like a pigeon, does not fly a straight path. It curves over the shortstop’s head but stays in the air until it hits the fence in left center field.
Osborne is rounding first base as the ball rolls back on the field. The left fielder was too close to the fence and now has to run back to get the ball. He picks it up and drops it once.
Osborne is rounding second base. Then the left fielder must realize how much his parents want this game, his trophy, his future major league salary. And the poor little bastard finally picks up the ball while Osborne is rounding third base and about to catch up with the base runner in front of him, who is slow and winded.
The throw seems like it comes from heaven. It will probably give the boy arthritis later in life. It is one hell of a throw, a perfect arch right into the mitt of the catcher, who drops it. Our first player crosses home plate, and so does Osborne. But I see a black foot, a large, black foot, the foot of a man, of an umpire, of the figure of justice in this divine game, trip Osborne as he crosses the plate. It happens over and over in my mind, like that film of JFK getting his head blown off on a nice Texas day. It reruns in my head several times within a split second.
I grab the first aid kit and run onto the field. Osborne is bleeding in the palms of his hands, where he has some pebbles ingrained under his skin. But he gets up, smiling. He wipes the blood on his jersey and asks for some Band-Aids.
“Let’s put hydrogen peroxide on it,” I say.
“I did it,” he says. “You have to tell my dad so he knows it’s true.”