Academic journal article Nine

From out of Left Field

Academic journal article Nine

From out of Left Field

Article excerpt

"Gettin' short, Danny?"

"Man, I'm so short I need a stepladder to put my boots on."

One of the Delta Company grunts laughs and says, "Stubbs is short. When you gettin' out of 'Nam, short-timer?"

"Two days and a wake-up. Is that short, or what?"

A second grunt asks, "Yo, short-timer, how come it is, you riding herd on three new guys, bringing chow out here?"

"So I could laugh at y'all, still in the boonies while I swoop to the world." Danny makes hand movements indicating an airplane taking off.

"Yea, Danny. You the man."

You the man. Danny sinks into his favorite reverie and replays that last game. Proud in pinstripes he trots out to left field and waits while the other eight take their positions on the sun-drenched green, red, and white geometry. He shifts his weight from foot to foot, pounds his fist into his glove, and joins in the chatter of anticipation flying from player to player. It's the top of the ninth, and his team has a 1-run lead. Soon, two of the opposing batters are retired, but the next sends a hot grounder past the third baseman. Danny Stubbs charges the ball, like a streak from out of left field, scoops it up on the run, throws it fast and straight and just in time to first. The Lee High batter trudges off the field, glaring at Danny to the delight of the hometown partisans. The Azalea Springs cheerleaders bounce and chant, "Danny, Danny, he's our man. If he can't do it, nobody can!"

Now, two years later, Danny tunes out the chatter of his Marine comrades and reflects on the bitter irony that, off the field, he had hardly been their man. He sullies his comfort in present camaraderie by reminding himself that no cheerleader would date a guy whose widowed mother cleaned rooms, a guy who lived in a trailer and had no car, a guy soon to drop out of high school and enlist in the Marine Corps. Maybe so, he tells himself, but they had cheered for him. One fine day, the pretty girls in short skirts had cheered for Danny Stubbs. …

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