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Gary D. Wilson

Why the Ball Stayed in the Park
and Other Mysteries of Life

Even the blind man and the kid with blue hair trudging up separate aisles of the stadium know that crack doesn't do justice to the report of a perfectly thrown pitch meeting a perfectly swung bat. Even they recognize it's deeper than that, bolder, sharper, an audacious, perfect sound so complete in itself the crowd goes silent, all eyes finding and following the flight of the ball into the summer night sky, for the moment a pure white dot on its way to a place in the firmament, void of all but hope and possibility, a perfect new world in a perfect new creation. They keep watching, even as the ball slows in its trajectory -- is it the breeze blowing in from right field? heat and humidity or lack thereof? the bat a tenth of an inch off dead center after all? the gods, fate, dumb bad luck? -- and release a final collective groan when the outfielder, head tilted to the darkness, ambles back toward the warning track like someone out for a leisurely stroll, fists the pocket of his glove twice for good measure, and without breaking stride, plucks the ball from the air for the final out. He lifts it from his glove on the long trot to the dugout, rotates it several times in his hand, a quizzical look on his face, as though unable to understand what it is, where it came from, and why he of all people has ended up with it, then tosses it unceremoniously toward the pitcher's mound. The blind man shakes his head, turns and resumes tap-tapping his foot to find each next step. The kid with blue hair makes a wise-ass remark to the girl in the seat next to the aisle, locates the guy yelling down in front, and gives him his proudest finger.

©2004 by Gary D. Wilson

Gary Wilson lives in the Chicago area. He teaches fiction writing at the University of Chicago Graham School of Continuing Studies. His fiction has appeared, among other places, in Quick Fiction, Glimmer Train, Speak, Orchid, Quarterly West and Witness.

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