White Picket Fences Chapter 1

White Picket Fences Chapter 1

A Chapter by Gabalicious!

            His left foot was slightly turned away from the plate. I took two steps off of the third bag and looked over the infield. Mike Salazar, my nemesis stood on first and Tommy Prezminski, was leading off second. Returning my attention to home plate, I watched Phil, the only kid in school who had started to grow a mustache, grind his foot into the dirt inside the batters box.

            Dan, the pitcher signaled with a nod for me to expect the ball. He planned to pitch inside to Phil, a risky idea, but left field was Phil’s weakness. I nodded back and stepped up to grass line on the field. This was a difficult field because about a half foot into the grass lay a ridge that had a habit of popping the ball up into the third basemen’s face. If a ground ball came your way, you needed to get in front of the ridge or prepare to eat ball.

            Dan set up to deliver the ball, making the picture perfect old time pitcher. He didn’t have a whole lot of heat, but his curveball and sinker would kill you. The only problem he had was he loved a challenge. He walked Mike and Tommy and then struck out the next batter just so he could have a true contest against Phil, their best hitter. So Dan delivered the pitch high and inside. Phil, swinging, connected with the ball and sent a rocket streaking at eye level towards the left outfield.

Left foot step, jump, catch, land and step. I dropped my hand on Tommy’s shoulder as he raced for third base and then reaching into my glove I shoveled the ball to the second basemen who tagged Mike out. My parents and my team cheered as we left the field. Dan clapped me on the shoulder and laughed. “Nice job. You know you only need three outs to end an inning, not four.”

“Yeah but there’s something special about proving that you can.” We laughed all the way to the concession stand where we got a free hotdog and slushy after every game. We walked back to the bleachers and sat down, watching the younger kids run around the field, pretending to be their favorite player. The sun hid just below the west horizon, but the sky was still light enough to see. My little brother stood on the third base bag, and leapt off of it like a clumsier version of me a half hour ago.

“Ya know.” Dan leaned over to me. “It sure would be nice if one of these kids pretended to be me. Most of them are pretending to be Ryan Sandburg, or Carlton Fisk, but I’m pretty sure your brother is out there pretending to be you.”

“Oh yeah? How do you figure?” I watched him continue to try to perfect his dive for the ball.

“Well, because I don’t know any professional player that looks as silly as you did, or as silly as your brother looks making that play.” Dan gave me a shot in the upper arm and started to laugh.

“Very funny. I didn’t see you making any big defensive plays out there.”

“I’m not supposed to. I’m the pitcher. Everything I do is defensive.”

I laughed. “Your hitting is pretty offensive, though.”

“Hey, again, not my job.”

“Dan, maybe you should try to break the mold a little. You’d get more playing time if you could hit anything faster than an under armed pitch.”

“Yeah maybe. You wanna go to the batting cages tomorrow after practice?”

“Isn’t practice there so you can practice?”

Dan looked a little sheepish. “Coach won’t let me practice my hitting. He would rather me focus on pitching.”

“All right, I’ll ask my parents for some money tonight and I’ll tell you at school tomorrow. I gotta get going.” I looked around for my folks but their car was already gone. “And it looks like I’m walking.”

“Need a ride?”

“Nah, we’ll walk.” I called for my brother.

“Cool, I’ll talk to you tomorrow.”

“Yeah, later.” I spit at the ground while waiting for Jessie to catch up. “You ready, kiddo?” I slapped him on the shoulder as he put the end of my bat through my glove and tossed it over his shoulder.

“Yeah, Mom and Dad said to come straight home.” He looked up at me and smiled. “Great game. You were awesome.”

“Thanks. I saw you out there. You know, you need to be a step or two off the bag when you jump or else there is too much room between you and the shortstop.”

We both started walking home in the twilight. “Two steps off the bag. Okay, I’ll remember.”

“Well, you are kinda short. Maybe you should take three steps off.” I poked him in the side.

“Shut up.” He laughed and trotted forward a few steps and turned around facing me.

“All right. So are you going to try out for the T-ball league? I looked over at him. He was really short and really skinny, but made up for it by being feisty and scrappy.  We often went rounds wrestling. I usually just pushed him around making jokes about his size and strength, but truthfully he was a hell of a lot stronger than he looked. He probably could wear me down if he didn’t lose confidence and quit.

“Mom and Dad might start a team, so I’ll probably end up playing on it.” He turned back around and started walking forward.

“Well, that would be cool, wouldn’t it?”

“Sorta, I guess.” He kicked a rock off the street. “I don’t want to play right field, and that’s where they always put me.”

“Oh, don’t worry about it, I’ll help you practice for tryouts.”

“Really! All right, I’m gonna kick butt this year. Will you teach me to play third base like you?”

“Sure I will.” We continued walking home as the humid summer night set in. He kept talk about the things I could teach him, and I tried to encourage him to expect the best from himself. School was almost over and baseball season was starting. It was my favorite time of year, and I planned this summer to be the best summer yet.

We got home and my Mom and Dad were in the backyard with our dog, barbequing. Jessie ran into the back yard with the great news of his upcoming baseball training. With a warm hug, my mom told him that was great and to go wash for dinner.

“Great game, honey.” My mom came up and gave me a hug.

“Thanks, Mom. What’s for dinner?” I asked, looking at my dad standing over the grill with an Old Style in his hand.

“Chicken. Why don’t you go take a shower and change? Dinner will be ready when you’re out.” 

“All right.”

“And take off your cleats before you go in the house.”

“Yes Mom.” After taking off my shoes, I disappeared into the house.

 

My Dad was lost trying to cook anything in the kitchen, but put him in front of a grill and he could turn anything into a work of art. Resting on the picnic table in our backyard was an assortment of chicken thighs and legs so tender the meat fell off of the bone. Enormous baked potatoes waiting for sour cream and butter, and corn on the cob, all cooked on the black Weber grill that sat a few feet away cooling.

            We all crossed our hands in front of us and bowed our heads. “Come Lord Jesus be our guest, let this food to us be blessed, Amen.” Uncrossing our hands, we all reached for our chosen piece of corn, chicken, and potato. Bringing it all onto our plates, we prepared our food and set to eating.

            “Hey Dad, can I go to the batting cages with Dan tomorrow after practice?” I began mashing my baked potato with my fork.

            “Isn’t that why you go to practice?”

            “Uh huh, but the coach only lets him work on his pitching and he would like to get some practice hitting.”

            “We can go tomorrow after dinner, but only for an hour.” He picked up a chicken leg and took a bite.

            We finished our dinner in relative silence. About halfway through our meal I noticed a collection of the neighborhood kids hanging out on my front lawn. Mike, Tommy, my next-door neighbor David, and another Mike who we called Ulster, his last name. My Dad was also very aware of the growing collection of kids. He gave me a look daring me to turn my attention to them rather than the dinner table. I didn’t bite.

            After dinner my brother and I cleared the table and ran into the backyard. “Mom can we go play now?”

            “Did you do the dishes?”

            “Yes, and Jessie dried and put them away.” I was just waiting for the word.

            “Okay, be home before dark.”

            That was the response that we always wanted. Before dark was such an objective time that we almost always-wandered home right before the last light disappeared from the summer sky. Jessie and I ran into the front yard where 15 other kids from the neighborhood lounged. It was time to start the summer tradition, Capture the flag. Everyone lined up and Mike stood next to me in front. I flipped a coin and Mike called heads. After he won the toss he immediately called out Tommy. I called out Jessie, mostly because if I didn’t he would be mad. We slowly picked teams and divided the group in two. After choosing our respective flags, we chose each groups jail. We searched for the most defensive place we could find. My group chose our front porch, which could be defended by only two people leaving the other five kids to hunt for the flag. After choosing our jails we also set up the boundaries. 8 square blocks anything outside of that and you are out of bounds. Mike and I each took a bottle rocket, which were to be lit when our flags were placed. After the second bottle rocket pops the game is on.

            Taking our flag, Jessie and I fled into the neighborhood. We crossed the street and ran through a yard. Climbing a chain link fence we entered another yard and moved on to the next chain link fence. Running across the green lawn of another back yard, we waved hello to Mr. Davidson who was barbequing in his back yard. He waved back and went back to his dinner. With a running leap, Jessie and I attacked the eight-foot chain fence on the other side of Mr. Davidson’s yard. Landing in an overgrown bush we slowly fell like a pinball to the ground. “Hey, where are we?” Jessie looked around the dim yard.

            “I’m not sure.” I looked around the yard. It was dark even though the sun was still high in the sky. Towering pine trees blocked out the blue sky, and the perimeter of the yard was covered by over grown shrubs. “I think we should put the flag here. We can put it in the middle of the yard and hide in the bushes. If anyone comes to get it we can run out and tag them.”

            “This place is a little scary and I’m not sure where here is. Let’s find somewhere else to put it.” Jessie looked around the yard.

            “It’ll be fine, got set off the rocket.” I handed him the matches and the firework. He ran off over the fence while I crept further into the yard. I placed the flag, which was a yellow hand towel, in the middle of the yard at about the same time as I heard the bottle rocket go off. I drew back into the bushes and waited for the snap of Mikes bottle rocket. It wasn’t long before Jessie, who had rejoined me, and I heard the second pop. The Game was on.

            I could hear some of the kids making noise in the yards around us but after twenty minutes we still saw no sign of anyone in the yard. Jessie and I sat staring into the yard hoping someone would wander in and find the flag. After an hour of waiting I heard a noise coming from the back of the house. Hunkering down, I looked at Jessie, who also looked ready to run out and tag whoever was in the yard. Peering around one of the branches of the bush I could see movement coming from the house.

            “It’s Pete! We’re in Pete’s back yard, let’s get outta here!” Jessie’s eyes were popping out of his head.

            “Shhh, we’ll go after he goes back in the house. If he sees us he’ll kill us and eat us.” I pulled back into the bushes.

            Sitting there in silence, I hoped Pete wouldn’t know we were there. Pete was the neighborhood hermit. We knew very little about him except that he was married, even though no one had ever seen his wife, and that he hated kids. It was common knowledge that Pete killed Nick, a kid that used to live across the street from us. The poor family never knew what happened to their son.

            Jessie and I sat, holding as still as we could. I could hear him moving around in the yard. The noise was strange though, it sounded like he was dragging a baseball rake along the ground. I slithered on my belly and moved out to get a better view of what he was doing. Looking through the branches I could see Pete, he was dragging a wooden box out into the yard. He pulled the box into the yard and left it on top of the flag. The box was made out of the same type of plywood my dad was remodeling the house with, although the length of the pieces were smaller at about five and a half feet long and about three feet wide. After pulling the box into the yard, he walked back to the house and returned with a shovel. He began to dig in the yard. I looked back at my brother who was white as a ghost. My attention returned to Pete when I heard him speak.

            “Well Milly, I never wanted it to be this way. I always thought you deserved better, but you left me no choice. I’m sorry.” Pete ran a hand over his ragged face and looked at the box. His hair had turned all white, and half inch white stubble stuck out of his face. He looked like the bums I saw every time I went downtown. “Milly, forgive me.” He pushed the box into the hole he had dug.

            Jessie Screamed and took off up the fence. Pete turned and took a step towards me. “Hey, you kids!” I ran over the fence after Jessie.

 

 




© 2008 Gabalicious!



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cute!

Posted 9 Years Ago


His left foot TURNED SLIGHTLY FROM THE PLATE (WHICHONE?) I ADVANCED two steps off THIRD AND SCANNED the infield. Mike Salazar, my nemesis COMMA, HELD FIRST and Tommy Prezminski, LED off second. Returning my attention to home plate PERIOD. Phil, the only kid in school who SPROUTED a mustache, GROUND his foot into the dirt DELETE THE REST--YOU ALREADY SAID HE WAS IN AT HOME PLATE box.

Dan, the pitcher signaled for me to expect HIS pitch inside to Phil, a risky idea, but left field HAD BEEN Phil's weakness. I nodded back and stepped to grass line on the field. about a half foot into the grass lay a ridge that had a habit of popping the ball up into the third basemen's face. If a ground ball came I'D EITHER get in front of the ridge or prepare to eat ball.

TIGHTEN YOUR SENTENCES, AVOID THE "TO BE" VERB AND AVOID STRESSING YOUR POV WITH PHRASES LIKE "I WATCHED, WAITED, HOPED, ETC." YOUR CHARACTER IS THE POV AND THE ONLY ONE WHO CAN PRESENT WHAT IS UN OBSERVABLE.

I was just passsing through and your story caught my attention.
HoboNovel Guy


Posted 9 Years Ago


I really liked this. NIce straight forward style with good imagery. It had a very nostalgic feel in the beginning and then turned sinister. I can't wait to read more and find out what happens! I'll let you know as I read each chapter.

As far as editing goes, it looks pretty polished to me. :)

Posted 9 Years Ago



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Added on February 9, 2008
Last Updated on February 14, 2008


Author

Gabalicious!
Gabalicious!

Denver, CO



About
I was born and raised in Chicago, where my family still lives. Thanks to them I have a large amount of material to draw from in regards to my writing. I have finished several short stories, one of whi.. more..

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