by Paul Beckman
Quinn, after dinner, while sipping brandy with his wife, Mary
Elizabeth, and talking about their respective days tells her that he’s moving
out of their New York apartment and taking
a new job in California. Mary Elizabeth puts her glass on a coaster and
rushes to him, sits on his lap, and begins kissing him.
“I’ve always wanted to live on the west coast in warm weather,
Quinn. What a great surprise. When are we going?”
“We’re not,” Quinn says. “I am. This has been a nice
together but I want something better than nice. I want exciting.”
Mary Elizabeth hops off his lap, furious at herself for acting
the fool. She walks around the room. “Is there anything we can do to make our
lives together more exciting for you?” she asks, picking up the fireplace poker.
She pokes the logs. Sparks drift up the chimney.
“You don’t have exciting in you,” Quinn says. “It’s
fault. You’re sweet and lovable and we get along fine, but I want more.” He
drones on and Mary Elizabeth’s mind goes to her safe spot—the ball field.
This is for all the
marbles—deuces wild, two balls, two strikes, two men on and two outs in the
bottom of the ninth, and Mary Elizabeth is facing a mean knuckleballer with
World Series written all over him.
Mary Elizabeth holds her
hand up and the ump calls time.
Knucksie yells something
from the mound I can’t repeat on TV.
Mary Elizabeth tightens her gloves,
takes a couple of cuts with her Louisville Slugger and steps into the batter’s
Knucksie throws, and Mary
Elizabeth fouls it off.
Three more pitches and three
more foul balls.
Knucksie is frustrated and
starts ragging on Mary Elizabeth, and she dashes off to the mound, and they go
The umpire walks out, breaks
up the jawing, and walks back to home plate.
Knucksie turns his back on Mary
Elizabeth; she stands, bat resting on her shoulder, prepared to follow the ump back
to the plate.
She turns, steps into her
home run swing, and connects with Knucksie’s head.
“How’s that for exciting? Mary Elizabeth asks, as she drops the
bloody poker on the carpet next to Quinn’s head.
She picks up his brandy and takes a sip.
younger years Paul
Beckman was a numbers runner, a fence, and hung around with the bad crowd. He
still hangs with a dubious crowd.