Playing baseball brings up specific sounds and feelings, especially for the batter. One is the terrible ‘whiff,’ when you know you’ve completely missed the ball. The lack of connection swings through your body, jarring your elbows and shoulders.
Better is the hollow ‘thwack,’ that comes from a hit. Not perfect, but still enough to get the ball across the field.
And then there’s the sweet spot. You know you’ve found it the second the bat connects with the ball. The wood and leather meet
, and that’s when you know you’ll at the very least get to first, probably to second, and maybe even all the way home.
Much like kissing a girl.
You know when you’ve hit a potential homer.
Thinking about girls and baseball are pretty much my favorite pastimes. The feel of the bat between my palms is second nature. The feel of a girl—well, there’s nothing better.
I inhale, breathing in the warm, early summer night, and get into position to wait for the right one.
The perfect one.
The first two pitches are balls, so I let them slide past. They both land with a thud in the catcher’s mitt.
The third I get some wood on, tipping the ball back into the stands.
But the next one, I know the instant it leaves the pitcher’s hand. I see the release, the way his fingers roll off the ball, and I know. I know before it connects to the bat that I’ve got this.
The ball hits that spot. The sweet one, the perfect place, and it zooms across the field, over the pitcher, past second base and arcing over the outfield.
The crowd is on their feet before I’ve left home plate, but I circle the field victoriously, glancing up into the crowd. There’s no better feeling than this.
“I saw your game,” the girl says. Mary? Maria? Something with an M. She eases up to me at the bar after the game, celebrating the win.
“Oh yeah?” I ask. She’s pretty. Long, blonde hair. Mischievous eyes. I knew her in school—sort of. We had Spanish together and we made out once at a party. She likes jocks and tends to be wherever we congregate. Her hand grazes my arm for the third time in the last fifteen minutes. I attempt conversation. “You like baseball?”
She looks at me through long, black eyelashes and confesses, “I like baseball players.”
Happily, she links her fingers through mine and leads me past the pool tables and arcade games. We leave the music and people behind, going out the back door. Mary (?) finds a shadowy spot and pushes me against the brick wall, unbuttoning my jeans, lowering my pants, pulling my cock out.
For a brief, slight moment I consider making her stop, being a gentleman and all, but her warm, wet mouth makes all coherent thoughts slip from my mind.
“Jesus.” I tangle my hands in her hair, leading her pace.
She performs like a pro. Her cool, slim fingers stroke my balls and she teases the tip of my cock before taking me down her throat. It doesn’t take long before I’m nudging her head, giving her the warning. She doesn’t stop, instead taking me in deeper, squeezing me tighter, and I’ve got no choice but to hold her head steady while releasing everything I’ve got into her mouth.
I help her off her knees and button my jeans. “Thanks,” I say, because what do you say after a spontaneous blow job? ‘Thanks’ seems appropriate, right?
“You’re welcome.” She presses her body up against mine and I tug at her shirt while kissing her hard. Her tits strain against the flimsy cotton tank and like that, my youthful dick perks up again.
It’s nice to be the hero.
It’s Thursday night, game night, and my team is lined up against the dugout wall.
Sunflower seeds scatter across the cement floor and Owen keeps trying to hock a loogie through the fence.
“Knock it off,” I tell him.
We stare at one another, blue eye against blue. He does it again anyway, a thick, gooey string of spit and snot hitting the floor.
“Disgusting,” I say, shaking my head. A tiny part of me is jealous, remembering how I used to do the same thing in this exact dugout.
“Where’s Felix?” I ask, glancing around.
“He was at school today,” one of the kids says at the same time someone else blurts, “I think he’s sick.”
“Line up!” the umpire calls.
I start to erase Owen’s name from the roster but stop myself. He’s our best first baseman and I’m not willing to give up hope that he’ll show. Maybe his mom’s running late. It’s happened before.
“You heard the umpire,” I say to the kids. “Go line up.”
The kids run out of the dugout and I stop Sophie. “Wait up.”
“Your hair’s coming loose.” She pauses and lets me rebraid her hair, tying it tight at the bottom with a pink band. “Okay, go out there.”
She catches up to the other kids, both blonde braids hanging from underneath her cap. She’s small but she can hit. I’m starting her on third base today.
“You’re pretty good at that.”
I look up and see a woman standing at the dugout entry. Felix runs past her, past me and lines up next to the rest of the team on the third base line. I breathe a sigh of relief.
I hate losing.
“It’s one of my superpowers,” I reply, really looking at her for the first time. She has beautiful green eyes and when I walk past her to grab a bat off the bench, I can’t help but check out her legs and her ass. Both fantastic. I raise an eyebrow at the tiny bird tattooed on her lower neck.
She smiles back but the expression is tinged with confusion. Because, really, how many nineteen-year-old guys know how to braid hair?
I didn’t know, myself, until Sophie got fed up waiting for Mom to do it. So I asked a girl in my gym class to show me how. Braiding looked easy when she did it with her thin, coordinated fingers. Using my thick boy fingers? Well, let’s just say it took a fair amount of practice.
“Thanks for bringing Felix,” I say, turning my back and walking to the field. I hand the game roster over to the umpire.
He checks their numbers and uniforms and I take in a deep breath, inhaling the warm spring air. I grab a wooden bat off the rack and hand it to the first player in the line-up and wait for the words I live to hear.
“I can’t believe you caught that fly ball,” Owen says from the back seat.
“I can’t believe you hit a double,” Sophie counters. “And made it to home plate without falling down.”
I turn the music on the radio up in an attempt to drown them both out. I love them, but man, there’s only so much bickering I can take. I turn into the high school parking lot and pull up to the curb. Joseph waits on a bench, chatting up a girl.
I roll down the window. “Let’s go.”
Joseph holds up a hand, trying to buy another minute or two. I don’t blame him. The girl’s cute. When she sees me behind the wheel, her eyes light up and she nudges him along. Everyone in town knows who I am. What I do. Even this little girl.
“Is he going to kiss her?” Sophie asks.
Owen makes a retching sound. “Gross.”
I tap my fingers on the steering wheel. “No, he’s not going to kiss her because, seriously, LET’S GO!”
Owen and I may have the same blue eyes, and Sophie and I have the same slim fingers, but Joe and I look the most alike. Shaggy, blonde hair. Tan skin from being out in the sun so much. He’s starting to fill out from all the yard work he’s doing this summer. By fall, the girls will be all over him.
Joe shoots me a look from the passenger seat after slamming the door, but I don’t care. I’m tired and the kids need to go home and get to bed. Halfway home, I glance over and notice him chewing on his nails.
Damn. It’s always something.
In the driveway, the kids jump out of the back and run past Mom’s car, into the house. I stop Joe and say, “She’s cute.”
“Lindsay Walker is more than cute,” he replies. “She’s hot.”
“I’m not allowed to think fifteen-year-old girls are hot, but yeah, she’s a good choice.”
He smiles and I grab him by the neck. It’s our version of a hug. Everything is so complicated and confusing. Everything is exhausting.
I pick Tyler up at ten in my Jeep. With the top down, the music spills into the night air. and the minute we pull away from the driveway I feel like I can finally breathe.
“How was the game?” he asks.
“Good. Won.” He grips the window ledge and holds on as I take the curve too sharp. “Sophie’s got a pretty good swing.”
“Eh, he’s a wildcard. If he focuses, he’ll be alright.”
Tyler and I played together in high school but he never had aspirations to go any further. He just finished his first year at college, ROTC, hoping to land a spot in helicopter training.
We arrive at the house and I pull to a stop on the grassy lawn next to some other cars. “Do you know whose house this is?” I ask, hopping out of the Jeep.
“Nope. Cassie invited us, though. Should be a bunch of kids from school.”
The last time and place anything felt normal for me. The last time I’d been a kid—really a kid, without responsibilities and shattered dreams. I follow Tyler up onto the porch. He pumps us both a beer from the keg.
Tyler sees some friends and goes to talk. I find a spot on the couch and settle in. There’s no one here I really want to see, and I don’t particularly want to hear how awesome their lives are while I’ve been trapped in limbo.
“Coach Jensen, right?”
I look up and see a girl, standing over the couch. She’s pretty—gorgeous even. Dark hair worn loose around her neck and shoulders. Black halter top. She looks a little familiar.
I raise an eyebrow at the formality. No one calls me “Coach” but twelve-year-olds and their parents. “I’m Tucker.”
She holds a red party cup in her hands and sits next to me. Her shorts are short and her long, tan legs catch my interest. I look at her face again and try to place her. “Have we met?”
“I brought Felix to the game earlier.”
The porch is dark, only lit by paper lanterns, but even so I can see the deep green of her eyes. I feel a little rush knowing that little tattooed bird is hiding under her hair. I wonder what it would feel like under my mouth. “Right. Sure,” I say. “I get a little focused on the game—sorry.”
“No problem,” she says. “You’re the only person I know here other than Cassie. I live next door. Well, not that I really know you.”
I’m not really one for talking—what’s there to say? High school graduate, former baseball star, current surrogate Dad to three siblings, son to a shattered mother? She’s pretty though, and I can see the edge of her light blue bra strap and that’s enough to keep me engaged.
“Yeah, well, thanks for bringing Felix, he’s my star first baseman. Without him, we’re screwed.”
She laughs softly and I like the way it sounds. I’m not sure what she wants—I’m not getting a sex vibe off her.
“Glad to help.” She glances at the door and gives me an apologetic smile. “I should go give Cassie a hand. Maybe I’ll see you later?”
I frown at her leaving, because she’s unusual. Different—most girls just sidle up to me and stick by my side all night. In fact, her spot is taken immediately, by Karen (Katie?) a girl I’ve seen naked and a girl I know is fun. She knows my story, my sad, pathetic story, and from the warm smile on her face I know she’s willing to do whatever she can to make me feel better. They all want to make me feel better. To save me or some cliché shit. I’m damaged, so they say.
Karen slips her hand down my thigh, grazing my dick with her fingers through my jeans.
“Come on,” I whisper in her ear, pulling her off the couch.
She gives me a coy smile. “Oh, yeah?”
I push through the crowded porch, Karen on my trail. I look for somewhere dark. Somewhere private. Somewhere her mouth and lips and body can make me feel better.
I do see her again. Bird. That’s what I’ve started calling her because I don’t know her name and in general I’m not too interested to ask. She drops Felix off for practice. I’m not sure why this is her job or what has changed in his house but I’m not going to complain. She’s even prettier in the daylight.
“Who’s that?” Adrian asks, his eyes perking up.
“I don’t know,” I say dismissively. No chance I’m letting him know I’m interested. “She’s been bringing Felix to stuff. Maybe a babysitter?”
“She’s…” he trails off. Here we go. Adrian falls for a new girl every week. I prefer to live the other way around where one falls for me every week. The less entanglements, the better.
“Come on, guys,” I call. Sophie shoots me a look. “And girls.”
This is my second season coaching Little League. I always figured I’d be here someday, just with my own kids and not my brother and sister. But no one thought our dad wouldn’t be here to do it himself.
I divide the kids into groups, instructing half to go out to the field, the rest to work on batting. “You guys go with Coach Adrian,” I point to the grassy area. They look confused.