November 28, 2015

What it takes

Man stands in an empty ball field at home plate. It’s night, half a moon, maybe less. A few clouds scud across the sky. A dull glow on the horizon, some distant city. Enough light to see, but barely. The wind moans through the batting cages. Lonely.

The man holds an old, well loved wooden bat in his right hand. Work boots, well worn jeans, untucked shirt, forearms scratched with many cuts, t-shirt flecked with dark slivers of glass. Stubble, un-combed hair. Skin creased. Eyes intense.

Behind him an enormous pile of lightbulbs. All the way behind him to the fence, twice as high as he is, they flow down to his feet, perfect in their manufacture. The ground directly around him covered with shattered white glass and the metal screw bottoms of broken bulbs. Thousands.

Holding the bat loosely, he turns and steps back. Shoes crunching on broken glass in the quiet. He leans and reaches for the pile of bulbs, picks one up. Steps back to the plate, faces the mound. Turning the bulb in his hand, he inspects it. White glass, perfectly complete. Flipping it in his hand, he catches it by the bulb. In one smooth motion, he lightly tosses it up, brings the bat to his shoulder and swings mightily.

The bat catches the bulb perfectly. In slow motion the bulb shatters, filament giving off the briefest small spark that dies in the night. The metal screw bottom flies crazily into the blackness. A slight stagger as he follows through the swing. Glass crunches again. He pauses, breathes, wipes his mouth. Turns, and selects another bulb.

Repeats process. This time a tiny sliver catches him under the eye. It bleeds, but not much. Pulls out the sliver, smears blood. Wipes his fingers on his jeans. Turns, selects another bulb.

The stars swing ‘round overhead. The mound of bulbs shrinks and moves and grows like a breathing being. The man swings again and again. Glass shatters, screw bottoms veer unsteady into the night. The moon begins to set. The broken glass around him ever deeper.

Over and over, they break, unable to stand up to reality. Over and over, he swings.

The lights of the city sputter in the distance. Light is not unavailable to him, but it is his own light that he seeks.

The man swings, the bulb explodes, again and again. A thousand times. Ten thousand. Ten thousand and more.

He turns again to the pile, selects a bulb. Holds it, inspecting. Perfectly translucent white bulb, perfect screw bottom metal. He spins it in his hand, holding the bulb. Pauses, breathes in. In one smooth motion, he lightly tosses it up, brings the bat to his shoulder, and swings mightily.

The bat catches the screw metal bottom perfectly. Sharp, grunting exhale at contact. The connection, the angle, the power, all in alignment. Slow motion, the bulb shivers but holds, arcing away, racing off toward the fences. The man watches, mouth open, hoping. Intense silent prayer follows the arc. As it flies, the bulb tumbles, the screw bottom metal now leading the way. The screws catch the air and it begins to spiral, to spin.

We see its destination now, in the distance but closing rapidly. A row of black poles, sentinels at the far edge of the field. A socket looms on some far lamp post. The bulb flies closer and closer, riding the curve of its arc, dropping out of the sky toward the socket, sliding through a perfect trajectory.

Still spinning, it closes through space to the socket, halving the distance infinitely. At 1,000 frames per second we see the puff ring of dust pushed out of the socket as the bulb enters it. The spiral motion forces it to seat itself, the bottom makes contact. The bulb blazes brilliantly, reflects off the cloud of dust motes shaken loose by impact.

Temporary victory, heralded only by the screaming lonely night. The far off seething city knows nothing.

To the left and right of the blazing light stand more socketed and bulb-less posts, black in the night. They stretch all the way around the ball field, to the edge of the world, each empty.

Back to the man. He sees the light in the far distance, his pupils widen then constrict back down. He smiles crookedly, raises a hand to his eyes to shade them.

Turns back to the pile, selects a bulb.

Trust me kid, you’ll never run out of bulbs. Just don’t run out of game.


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Nik Hawks


Nik Hawks helps run the show at Paleo Treats. Fascinated by humans in all their strange glory, Nik is harnessed in and pulling hard in pursuit of excellence with the rest of the PT Crew. Enjoy!

Too much reading...
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