fenway’s green monster
where nets caught homeruns we sit
upon steel baseballs
in hand but body
in sick bed
manny be greedy manny—
less soapy redsox
“Hey kid, sorry about taking your popcorn,” I offered to the wide eyed little old man still looking at the trading cards.
“Awwh, that’s OK mister. She sure is a pistol,” he surprised me and then upped the anti by continuing on with, “Hey, how about you repay me by buyin’ me one of these cards?” He looking up at me like a droopy hound dog who has been around this place longer than dirt.
“What?” I exclaimed in surprise.
“Yah. Yah. He burst. Look, see, I’ve been payin’ down on this Ted Williams card for a couple years now. All I need is another twenty-two bucks and it mine. Sweet Ted. Mister did you know he is last guy to hit over .400 ?”
“We’ll yah, of course I do. Everyone knows that, ya little squirt. Is that why you want the card,” I asked both of us now eating the popcorn like we were at the movies watching a Godzilla double feature.
“No, I want the card cuz he is coming back and I want to get him to autograph it for me. Wouldn’t that be something! I’d be rich if I could get his autograph on his card,” he said, clearly having worked his investment out; calculated the appreciation.
“You mean, you think Ted is coming back?” I asked getting real thirsty and starting to wonder how close we were to the cry of “Play Ball” .
“Well yah, of course. He’s all frozen proper like out there in the desert or dessert, Alcor is the place; it’s only a few miles from my grandparents place. Googled it. Anyway, Ted and his head are just waiting and when he is ready, he is coming back and I’ll be right there when he walks out of the facility, flashes blazing like the fourth of July, me calm like. I will I’ll be there. And I’ll get him to sign the card. So mister, can you help me get the card? Step up man, I won’t tell your wife about this Vi dame,” he added, as if he was plopping down a weird bruised cherry atop a sundae just served up.
“Kid….why I….well, you are impressive. I’d be delighted to help you get this card,” I decided. “Hey Vi,” I yelled across the store, “can you give us a hand and get this kid his card. I somehow think you know him. Put the balance on my tab, I gotta run. I can hear the crowd.”
I could still smell the ocean through the exhaust of the idling limos and sidewalk sausage grilling on Yawkey. The game was scheduled to start at 7:05 PM, I made it there at 6:55. Traffic was the usual mess but me and the Indian nabbed a sweet commercial space gone civilian, over by the museum. Nice walk over too. From the look of the brooding sky and humid late June breeze blowing in over the Fenway, I was probably looking at a rain-delayed start….
I wandered into the store after having my ticket scanned at a gate A turnstyle, this time their wanding didn’t bleep my ankles…. When I was a kid I never entered on the Yawkey side of the park; the best I could ever do was the Landsdown side entrance— bleacher seats, sunburn and segregated park access.
“Can I help you with anthing, Sir?” offered the leggy women in the striking outfit. Her voice was sweet but sonorous like a really fine very dry mead; behind the glass display counters filled with baseball ephemera I noticed her curious heels and Redsox colors.
“Ahh, you know how it goes, just lookin’, but thanks doll,” I growled, softly.
“You know, I hear that hundreds of times a day but….” pausing as she turned her sculpted back to me, fixing a slightly bent Boston Braves hat, her lowrise mini revealing a New York Yankees tattoo, the one with the bat, nestled in the small of her back, “you Sir, actually seem to mean it,” she continued turning her head, looking over her left shoulder, dark eyes locked on my eyes, which were unfortunately locked on her tattoo, like Manny on a piece of center plate cheese. Stand tall and watch it soar.
Deciding I had the time and no better way to recover from my guilty gaze, I mildly screamed like a hormonal teenager: “She has a Yankees tattoo! She has a Yankees tattoo!” pointing and grimacing at her, here amidst the merchandising realm of all that is Redsox.
Impressed, the Yankee Babe smiled, waved to the few people who bothered to look her way and stepped toward me leaning over the glass, presenting me with a pair of fuzzy baseball dice. “Ding Ding, you win! That sure is funny way to tell a lady you like her new tattoo,” she smoldered sweetly tilting her head and her long black and red hair flouncing about her shoulder.
“Well, actually…. Viv, I don’t like your tattoo. Nope not one bit….well may….nah, I don’t really care for tattoos. Especially ones located their…. Girlfriend, that is just too obvious,” I tisk-tisked looking her straight in the chest with my tongue hanging slightly out of my mouth, my finger wagging like a Crazy Cat tail on a neon lit dinner wall clock.
“Oh, right. I understand. Your one of them classy Joes,” she says as she sticks out her unusually long and expressive tongue, curls the tip and strings the fuzzy baseballs dice from her pearl tongue piercing! Shocking me into biting my own tongue, in a sort of complex, weird involuntary gag reflex, something out of a Jerry Lewis movie, I trip over the carpet and stumble like a hobo into a oblivious and passing group of shoppers.
“Damn it Viv,” springing up and pressing my manicured finger tips against the glass counter for grounding, “what in the hell are you doing with the beyond-yesterday primitivistic shite?” I asked in an confused huff, straightening my tie and mammoth bone cufflinks.
“Well big boy, gimme a chance and let’s find out together,” she pauses a beat then bumps out in front a tick with: “You ain’t seen but half of it, and…. you clearly,” adjusting my tie with her long painted yet strangely dry hands “don’t know how I operate.” Leaning back slightly on her heels against the counter, arms akimbo, legs visibly flexed beneath silken whipped cream white sanitary stockings rising out of red leather stirrups chemically welded then punched into what could have only been marine brass three pronged five inch spike heels. She’s been busy I thought. The bite of those things would put the spike of any cleat to shame. They looked like something that leapt out of a crackersjackers Helmut Newton attired baseball shoot. How do you walk in those things….
“Wow, I did not think you were going in that direction, ever going to ever, do that,” I said looking at some old trading cards under glass while pinching my tongue between my left thumb and pinkie ringed finger “thaths jus godstha hurt, babe,” I symphathisized sloppily my hair falling across my cocker spaniel eyes as I looked over at Viv.
“Yah, I’m full of surprises and empty of inhibition…. Hey, I never thought you’d get that freakish implant either Coop. So you goin’ to the game, you meeting Braid?” she asked relaxed, front fading, wiping the spiddle off of my lower lip scar with my silked cotton bandana, her eyes wide.
“Yah, should be if he shows, have….”
Interrupting she spurted out, “He’ll be there, he wouldn’t miss it…. I mean. Hey is Cocoa with you….Coop, I been hearing some stuff about a package, a blimp, some stuff….,” looking around the store at the cameras and flow of fans she lowered her voice to lipglossed whisper, “He’ll be in his usual spot in front of the mural down third base side. He’ll have his tooth on so….”
Interrupting and taking back my bandana, “Great, that’ll be swell then. I really need to talk with him.” I was hoping this gesture would confuse things and avoid the momentum I could feel building toward the latenight rendezvous with Viv that she and maybe even I would regret, quickly asking “so is the Japanese stuff still selling or what?” emphasizing the what with a hardness.
“Oh, yah I guess,” she said “the Japanese who show up here actually buy the regular stuff, it’s the college kids that tend to buy the Japanese language stuff,” voiced musically as she brushed off her leather skirt, “kids love different stuff, exciting stuff,” extending and splaying her fingers, red nails glinting, pressing down on her skirt with her palms arching, pulling up just enough to reveal her white stockings corseted and terminated with alloyed steampunkish garters, “So how about after we meet….”
“Yes. Absolutely.” I found myself blurting out, between hand fulls of popcorn from the clueless kid standing beside me, he drooling, over a 1950-ish Ted Williams Topps, me over the peek I got through the glass counter at Viv’s gams and wares.
“The usual place?” she asked also taking some popcorn from the kids carton nibbling on a puff as though she were Harry Bailey’s new wife standing aside the steam rising locomative just having arrived in Bedford Falls.
“OK.” I agreed, “But, I, we, will be there no earlier than midnight, Viv.”
“Swell, Coop. Your a genius in research. We’ll have a real nice, or maybe not so nice,” snapping her fingers “morning. Hopefully you’ll get to the bottom of this mystery,” she smiled glancing down her hips as she starts to rock down the aisle, nibbling popcorn, backward glancing, trailing the long column of glass counters, her triple spiked heels clicking and softly grinding on the concrete floor, a raggtimey dub, nails scratching randomly at the vintage repro apparel, mannequin, old man, hangers tinkling, counterpoint mixed laughter and chatter, a cheer….the bustle of this dame, my partner, amidst this hardball emporium.