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Walter Maroney



Curt Schilling and The Lord of Hosts


I. Curt Schilling On A Saturday Morning In the Mind of God.

Yahweh is sitting in the bleacher seats of Fenway Park. For the moment, he is alone, an old man, bearded and wizened, his age both indeterminable and unimaginable. Yahweh sips a beer, eats popcorn. For him, time is geologic. For him, the process of punishment is truly eternal.

In the old days, when he consorted with the Patriarchs, he had a sense of humor. He could bargain with Abraham over the numbers of good people in Sodom and Gomorrah; he could wipe out Jobís family on a bet with Satan. He could make Adam and Eve naïve enough to fail. Of course, they were in his image then: frail creatures of mud, spit, and bone. He was young then, too. Just beginning to understand his powers. Still drunk from separating light from darkness, water from land.

Heís diminished now. The beer tastes good in the morning sun. He remembers the long days when he gave himself over to human form in the desert. He remembers breath, light, the softness of women, the song of menís stern bodies in the starry night. He dreams of riding horses again with Mohammad: the taste of blood licked from a sword. Of course, even those adventures ended in pain.

Jesus screaming; Ali staring in wonder at blood on his fingers.

Yahweh sits in the bleachers, contemplating time. He looks at his wrist. Here, so far from the Middle East, where he is still believed in with a passion, albeit under a slightly altered name, his skin has become translucent. But he is growing brighter now. When he contemplates how few places he is truly believed in this world that he has made Ė by the sun-crazed Arabs, in the whispery corridors of the Vatican, and here -- it angers him.

So he soothes himself by the thought of how he has planted himself in this place. He had been such a fool, Frazee. 1918. With his straw hat and no idea that the club he owned was holy. For him the vice was mammon, and, of course, women. The two most common, and especially then, in the early part of what they called the twentieth century in honor of him, here in this place, this America despoiled, his first children all but extinct and the Europeans who had taken their place flush with wealth, the world before them for the taking. And oh, they would take it alright, he had seen to that. But they never knew what it would cost them.

Like Frazee. Sitting, talking to him in Locke-Oberís place, believing him to be nothing more than a financier, a middleman with ties to New York, where even then, American money flowed and swirled like one of his own profligate galaxies.

Sure I can do it, he had said to the straw-boatered idiot. But itíll take the kid, the pitcher, the one from Baltimore.

And Frazeeís smile had been as bright as the old Light-bearerís eyes. And as empty as the builders of that great damned tower in the earliest days.

Sure, Frazee had said, his mind already awash in chorus girls. I could do that.

Itís a deal then, God had said. Frazee's smile, he remembered, had been as reptilian as any he had seen on any human face since the old, old, half forgotten days when there were only the mud and bone ones on his earth and he had leaned down and whispered to the woman about the tree. He reached across the table, and he and Frazee shook hands.

And it was done. Just like that.

You can damn yourself in an instant, God thinks. The sun goes behind a cloud and emerges again, a burst of light and warmth on an old manís shoulders. People just donít understand that anymore. For a moment he feels the slightest hint of remorse. He likes Schilling, the guy reminds him of the Patriarchs. But that was why it had to be him in the end. The irony was so direct. So obvious. It should have been enough. He is amazed at the incapacity of these post-Enlightenment humans, with all their electronic information buzzing around his world and filling their brains almost to blindness, to discern divine purpose.

Oh well, God says, standing up slowly, his joints creaking with age. He limps down the concrete steps to find a bathroom and take a piss. He loves the troughs in this old place. Eventually, theyíll look at this and understand, he thinks bleakly. Theyíll have to. Frazeeís burning in Gehenna and Iíve got all the time in the world.


II. Curt Schilling Talks To God.

And so it came to pass that when it was over, and the shouting was done and the streets were covered with confetti that was rapidly turning to mush in the soft cold rain, it is Schilling who climbs up the stairs of the bleachers to sit with the old man in the top row. Walking, he favors his ankle so that he lists slightly to one side, resembling a little the rolling gait of John Wayne as he walked out the doorway from darkness to light in the last frames of The Seekers.

God is sitting with his back to the green wall, in a spot where, in the Seventies, he used to hang out with a crowd of half-crazed Cubans who came to the Park to smoke cigars and worship Luis Tiant. He is smoking an El Cubano now, thinking about the old days. The air smells sweet and burnt around him.

"Aaach," says Schilling disapprovingly, "You smoke that shit?"

"I'm God," God shrugs, "I can do anything I want."

Schilling sits beside him. The field spreads out in front of the two of them, blurred by darkness.

"So," says Schilling.

God nods, takes a deep draw on his cigar. He is scruffy in today's incarnation. The Lord of Hosts looks like he hasn't shaved in a week.

"Well," God says slowly,"You did it. You won."

Schilling nods.

"You know," God says. The cigar sits between his teeth, glowing like a distant fire. "You always reminded me of Abraham. That old bastard. Gave me a hard time all his damn life. Fathered a kid when he was eighty." God reaches down and squeezes his own balls. "A real nacher that one. You know Yiddish?"

"Nope," Schilling says. "But I get it."

"Tried to talk me outta' burning Sodom and Gomorrah 'cause he had some nephew living there. I almost gave in." God smiles and chuckles at the memory.

"Almost," Schilling says.

"Yeah, well I was younger then." God says.

"You wouldn't do it for Fisk," Schilling says. "So why now?"

"I gave him the home run," God answers. "That coulda' just as easily gone foul."

"But it didn't," Schilling says.

"Nope."

"So why now?"

God snorts and blows out a great cloud of smoke. "What makes you think I let it happen?" he asks. "I just took off the reins, is all. You gotta' leave some randomness in the system, y'know? Omniscience gets boring."

Schilling is quiet for a while, taking it all in. "Einstein," he says after a minute.

"Huh?" God asks.

"Einstein," Schilling says. "He once said that God doesn't play dice with the Universe."

"What did he know?" God grumbles. The cigar glows briefly as he takes another puff. "Besides which, he knows better now. Hell, half of what goes on down here is like fuckin' Foxwoods. Maybe more now, I'm gettin' old. I don't know what the hell I control anymore."

"Sucks to get old," says Schilling.

"You don't know the half of it," God says after a while. "The bloody sock, though. That was a nice touch. Took real balls. Of course, taking on the Lord of the Universe, that takes balls too."

"So what happens now, old man?" Schilling asks. In the dark, God can see him smiling. Bright white teeth. Today, God's teeth are yellowed from an eternity of smoke.

"I ain't sure," God says. "I think I'll just head over to the Middle East for a while. I started out there, they still believe in me. Might make me feel young again for a while."

"Muslims and Jews," Schilling says.

"Yeah, still fighting after all these years." God says. "Yahweh, Allah, what's the difference? The point is, they still remember me like I am. Talk to me three times a day. They're the only ones left who believe in a real Old Testament God. Sometimes I like to just sit on top of Temple Mount and watch Ďem all and remember. You'd think eventually they'd figure out they got something in common."

"So why don't you do something?" Schilling asks.

"Do what?" God takes the cigar, which has burnt down to a wet stub, out from between his lips. He stands up and throws the butt outward toward the field. Schilling watches it fly through the air, a comet, traveling farther than it ever should under the laws of physics that guide his own life on the mound, until it lands in the batters circle around home plate. "Y'know, sometimes I don't think there's anything left for me to do. Sometimes, I think I'd be better off just buyin' a condo and spending a couple thousand years in Palm Beach with all the other geezers."

"Hey," Schilling says softly. "I'm a Christian. I believe in you. That's important to me. You can't just leave us."

"Why not?" God says. He takes a deep breath that fills his lungs with the airy beauty of his creation. "I didn't take sides during the Crusades. Took most of the last century off. You got on okay, except for this thing here," he gestures grandly toward the park "You did fine without me. A little too much bloodshed maybe. And Iím sorry about the Holocaust, yíknow. That bothers me. But then I think, the hell? Iím older than dirt. Hell, I created dirt. So I'm thinkin' I'll just maybe take a little vacation. Figure out what I oughta' be doing for a living." He starts walking away. The old man's limp is worse than Schilling's. "See ya around, kid." God says over his shoulder.

"Hey," Schilling calls after him.

God stops and turns to him. "Hey what?" he asks.

"Thanks," Schilling says softly.

"What for?" God says. "I didn't do nuthin'.Ē He coughs, smiles, turns away, and continues walking down the long stairs of the bleachers toward the bullpens and, beyond them, the perfect field.



©2004 by Walter Maroney


Walter Maroney watched the Sox lose to the Cardinals in '67 in his family's basement in Andover, Massachusetts. He watched Fisk's home run in a beer-filled cafeteria at Smith College, and Bucky Dent's homer off Mike Torrez in a bar in New York. He saw Bill Buckner lose the ball through his legs in his girlfriend's apartment in Springfield, Massachusetts in '78, and watched the Sox win it all at around midnight in bed in Manchester, New Hampshire, along with his wife and two sons. His work has been printed in lots of small magazines and Web sites, including previously in Slow Trains. He's currently working on a novel about virtual baseball on Mars.


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