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The Blog Brothers

Two Black-Irish-American brothers from the mythical city of Albany, New York ponder their 20th century adventures from either side of the Pacific Ocean; Bob in Kyoto, Japan and Mick in Santa Barbara, California.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

The Softball of Death

How could I not I remember when, as a boy of 10 or so on one of those summer VFW clambakes Dad used to take the family to, I was playing softball with the men – I suppose they were trying to make a man of me - I hit the ball, ran hard for first and the strong peg from short hit me solidly on the left temple.

All the men said it was ok, no big deal, the way men in ballgames do after a few beers and heavy action in the hot sun, with steamed clams, corn on the cob and more beer in the offing, but none of them knew what I knew: that Jimmy P’s older brother, one of the godly older guys of those childhood days, had recently died in his sleep after being struck on the temple by a baseball thrown to first.

None of the men - though all had just returned from horrors of war unimaginable on the directly personal level - knew that, even as I stood there safe on first, the shadow of death was falling over me in the golden sunlight: I could see the grinning skull beneath the hood of darkness that this very night would come for me, that would take me into its bony embrace; none but I knew that this was my last day on earth, this moment - and this - and this - each the last of its kind, ticking away unstoppable...

The men went on playing in carefree survivor cameraderie as I stood there dying toward the night that would come as surely as all ends come. I had no words to say to their words, felt no joy in their joy, it was all over for me, my number was up; I beheld the mere veneer that being was, all this play and heedlessness of what was truly going on always in the depths of moments, a mere ten years of life passing before my eyes, a state of mind that went on until I realized once more that all the soda at the clambake was free!

My life has been gravy ever since.


Blogger Mick Brady said...

Bob, I know exactly what that felt like. Do you remember the night I jumped on the bed and landed on a pencil, the point becoming embedded in my knee? I was convinced that I would die of lead poisoning within hours. Hmmm. You didn't plant that idea, by any chance......

9:08 PM  
Anonymous joared said...

Would that all our major concerns when we become adults could be released with free soda at a clambake.

1:52 PM  
Anonymous joared said...

Obviously, your fleeting fear was not unfounded, I should have added.

Many years ago, the dear 15 yr old son of a friend and neighbor was hit in the temple by a baseball, collapsed on the field, died in the hospital - aneurysm, doctor said.

1:58 PM  
Blogger samcandide said...

Really enjoyed reading this, RB.

11:47 PM  

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