Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Kid From My Cover ;)



...following a solid month of gray and gloom, of chilly temps and infinite rainfall, the sun found a crease in the sky, and within a day, Summer had returned.

Bottom of the last inning. No outs. Bases loaded. Winning run at the plate.

Unable to remain in the dugout, I inched my way through the dust and lowered to a kneeling position under what little shade was provided from the nearby bleachers.

As the opposing fans rose in anticipation, I studied my pitcher with gathering dread. A lanky ten year old kicking up a cloud of dust, the brim of his cap shadowing fear etched into his brow. His throwing arm was misbehaving. Trying to protect our three run lead, he'd walked the first two batters to start the inning, and plunked another in the rib cage.

I turned to my assistant coach. "What do you think?"

"Gotta pull him. Kid's tired."

"Yeah, geez. But for who? Bases are loaded. No outs. Can't ask any of them to dig us outta this mess."

I listened to the rattling of phlegm, the wheeze of a smoker's cough, then, "Put in The Heater."

Standing at the shortstop position was our best pitcher. A lefty, feared throughout the league. He boasted a fastball that screamed.

I exhaled a breath, lifted a hand toward the home plate umpire, stopping play, and rose to my feet. "But he's already got too many pitches under his belt," I said over my shoulder.

"What choice do we have?"

A pair of wiry shoulders sagged with my approach. I stood before the boy, held out my hand for the ball. "You did well, son," I said. "But I think that arm of yours has had enough."

"Okay," the boy mumbled.

I glanced over his shoulder, making eye contact with The Heater, who'd already started toward the pitcher's mound.

Then I caught sight of the kid standing alone in the outfield. A thin silhouette rising under a skyline set ablaze. He noticed and straightened, as if fearing he'd done something wrong.

The kid from my cover. A shy thing, too short for the coasters at an amusement park.

I entertained a thought, released a giggle, and motioned him in.

"You're using him?" The Heater asked, jaw hanging open.

I nodded. "You've thrown too many innings. Head back to short. Stop every ball in your path."

The Kid From My Cover stood atop the mound, a wiry set of fingers reaching for the ball.

I dropped it into his hand, lowered myself to his eye level and asked, "Are you okay with this?"

He squared his chest, offered me a nod. "I'm good."

"Good enough for me," I said. "Keep it low in the zone. 1-2-3 and we go home."

"Okay."

I returned to the dugout, studied my assistant's shocked expression. "Call it a hunch."

"Hmmph."

The Kid From My Cover can throw a nifty fastball, but had been knocked around a bit during his last stint on the mound. That thought in mind, I figured maybe he was due.

He struck out his first batter in three pitches. Low fastballs. I offered my assistant a wink. He answered with a grunt.

The second batter knocked two foul balls into the stands, then swung at a low change up, missing badly.

Two outs.

My assistant rose to his feet. Joined me at the dugout fencing. "No way he strikes out the side," he mumbled. "Ain't got it in him."

The Kid From My Cover tossed a lazy fastball that managed to stay in the strike zone just long enough to get the call. "Strike!"

His second pitch was swung at, ripped down the first base line, foul by inches. "Strike two!"

"One more, Kid!" I encouraged. "Blow one by him!"

The Kid From My Cover dug himself a foothold in the dust. Gritting his teeth, he reared back, an arm thin like spaghetti, searching for an ounce of added strength.

He launched forward, released a baseball set aflame, and followed its trajectory over home plate. The batter swung, missed by an inch, and left his bat at the plate.

Game over.

The Kid From My Cover pumped his fist, offered the crowd a sheepish grin. That smile of his...this would be a night he'd remember for quite some time.

Come to think of it, I think I will too ;)

The Kid From My Cover, "South of Charm," is available through my publisher's website...

...and through Amazon


"South of Charm" is currently featured on the book review site, "Reading at Dawn," available on the link below. Check it out :)


EL

19 comments:

stacey said...

Nice! Can't wait to read!. On my summer list!

Jules said...

Elliot you totally rock! I actually felt the diamond grit settling on my face. And I have those same spaghetti arms :)
Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

Anne Gallagher said...

What a great story! I miss baseball so much. I can't get the Red Sox here. So thanks for that.

And as soon as the money comes in, I'll be buying your book.

Flying high in the sky.... said...

WoW!! will your book be available in India in stores??

Lola Sharp said...

Oh, CONGRATS, Elliot!! So exciting! :)

I'm sorry I missed your debut day and haven't been around the blogs lately. I got really sick in early April and that triggered my asthma in a bad way. I spent some time in the hospital getting breathing treatments, etc. Anyway, the point is, I have missed you and all my writer friends.

I will put a link to your blog in my next post to help support you.

Also, I *think* it sounds like you have The Girl living with you now!! I hope so. I hope she thrives and becomes part of your family.

Huggles,
Lola

The Golden Eagle said...

Congratulations! That's so cool. :)

L'Aussie said...

Hi Elliot. I loved this. I hope some of your followers come on over to read the review.

Denise<3

Elliot Grace said...

...and two days later the kid's still bouncing off the walls ;) Thanks for reading!

Hey Stacey, Thanks, hope you enjoy the read!
Hey Jules, "Grit settling on my face," love that line. Kicking myself for not using it in this post:)
Hey Anne, glad you liked it, and yes, there's plenty of baseball tied into the story.
Hey Flying, doubt you'll be seeing it in India anytime soon, but it can be ordered through Amazon and shipped anywhere.
Hey Lola, thanks for the upcoming link, and it's good to hear from ya. I knew you weren't feeling well. Great to have you back!
Hey Eagle, thanks for stopping by!
Hey Denise, I thought it tied in well with the review link. Thanks again for everything!

Thanks for reading:)

EL

LisaAnn said...

Hi Elliot, and thanks so much for stopping by my blog. This post is AWESOME, and I can't wait to read more of your posts. (I looked for the "follow" button and couldn't find it... Am I missing something?) :)

Donna Hole said...

Yeah, its this voice that has intrigued me into buying the novel. I'm only a few pages into it, but anxiously looking forward to this weekend when I can sit through the entire read.

I'm slow El, sorry, but I've no doubt I'll add a review to the interview.

You've been so patient so far I feel guilty for any delays. Two weeks? Less I think.

PS: I read LisaAnn's comment above me. Nope, blogger is messing with followers again. They will return, they always do. Its a conspiracy plot to turn everyone to Google Chrome.

Loved the guitar string Google logo the last couple days. Way cool.

......dhole

Samantha Sotto-Yambao said...

So cool! Congratulations!!! :-)

Jodi MacArthur said...

I wish we could all see life that way. Despite our disappointments, sometimes there is magic around the corner just waiting to happen. This is a wonderful recounting and makes the cover that much endearing. Thanks for sharing.

Fresh Garden said...

Wonderful! Absolutely wonderful!

DEZMOND said...

I no nothing about baseball since it's not played in Europe, but this story was lovely as always, El!

Elliot Grace said...

Hey Lisa, thanks for stopping by, and as Donna put it, Blogger's been misbehaving again!
Hey Donna, no worries! Enjoy the story. Deadlines are for suits...and we're writers:)
Hey Samantha, always honored by your visit. Thanks for stopping by!
Hey Jodi, your words humble me :) Thanks so much!
Hey Garden, glad you liked it. Thanks for stopping by!
Hey Dez, and all this time I thought you were stateside! Thanks for stopping by and keep an ear to the ground for those Hollywood rumors! Love 'em :)

EL

Helen Ginger said...

Not only was this a wonderful story, you put us right there on the mound with the Kid on Your Cover.

Michael Offutt said...

I'm going to have to check this book out (adding it to the to be read pile).

Candice said...

This is so fantastic! Your writing is great, I love the way you paint a picture with your words!

I am officially a fan. :)

Adeeva Afsheen said...


Banned complain !! Complaining only causes life and mind become more severe. Enjoy the rhythm of the problems faced. No matter ga life, not a problem not learn, so enjoy it :)

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