It was a scratch game. There was a field behind the high school and they’d get together and play a little ball after class sometimes. Nothing special mostly. But it was different that day. It was raining and a bunch of the guys said let’s come back tomorrow. It’s gonna be nice tomorrow. But the others said no, we said were gonna play, let’s play. There were seven of them and they needed one more guy to make the teams even.
Kelvin was waiting for Lacey. She was supposed to show up a half hour before with a burned copy of Kannon. He didn’t hang out with guys like them. They were other. Separate. There was an understanding that they should ignore each other and that would be best for everybody. Kelvin was ok with that. He was quiet and tall and weird and he wore shirts with bands nobody had ever heard of on them. Those guys, Chuck, Scotty, Johnno, their buddies, they all played baseball together and went to parties and didn’t have to think too hard about anything.
Kelvin eyed them. There was no sign of Lacey. They’d made out that one time, but he’d thought they were over that. He was starting to feel nervous. They were deep in conference, and they kept looking back at him a few seconds at a time. Probably deciding whether to ditch the baseball game and stuff him in a dumpster. They did that kind of thing. Not to Kelvin usually – they let him slide because he didn’t suck at sports and maybe one or two of them were afraid of him because of his dad and all – but to guys he knew, guys he considered friends. Kelvin knew he could’ve done something, could’ve helped them, but he never did. It was easier to stay off the radar. Except now he was on the radar.
Hey, you, somebody yelled. Kelvin squinted through the rain. It was Scotty. They’d been friendly in grade school, before his dad, before the sentencing, but then Scotty’s mom, like so many others, told him to stop talking to Kelvin. You don’t want to get mixed up with people like that, she said. He heard her. She was in the playground after school and he was standing right there. He knew she saw him because she blushed and hurried Scotty away, but nothing was ever said about it again. Kelvin looked over at Scotty.
Me? Yeah, you, Scotty yelled back. We need a pitcher. Wanna? Kelvin shrugged and ambled towards them. Why not? Scotty grinned and threw him the ball. He looked down at it and tossed it from hand to hand. He thought about what his life might have been like if he and Scotty Dunsmere had stayed friends, about what it could be like now if he got this right, about what it might be like to be one of them. He thought about his dad. Then he wound up for the pitch.