Chapter 30 - I Keep My Word
Darla Lang was as tom boy as they could come. She was the first and only twelve year old girl to make a boys Little League team in Greensboro, NC. She was then of course hated by many and loved by a few. She simply was just one of the coolest and most talented twelve year old girls around. Her parents had to file a petition with the little league board and then go before the board to win permission for her to try out for the boy’s baseball team. She only received the chance to try out as there were four women on the board out of seven. Those four women changed history in Greensboro North Carolina Little League Baseball as they gave Darla Lang a chance.
Pretty much the entire community showed up that Saturday morning to watch Darla Lang try out. Some wanted her to succeed, but unfortunately, many wanted her to fail; especially every one of the coaches except for one. The chatter among the parents was the coaches weren’t going to let a girl become part of their league. They didn’t count on one certain coach though.
That coach was a young man named Coach Robby Sacco. He was one of those coaches all the wives loved and all the dads liked but were actually concerned by. He pulled up this particular Saturday morning in his decked out 1985 Camaro that sounded like it had more horse power than any vehicle that had ever driven up to those ballfields. It was this deep burgundy color that had painted racing stripes and chrome wheels. There wasn’t another car like it in Greensboro. He had his T-tops out and mirrored shades on like he always did. He exemplified coolness and confidence to all that came in contact with him.
Robby was single, a ladies man and he knew what he wanted in women and he knew what he wanted on his team. He was an individual that simply wanted the best players for his baseball team and he could care less if it was a boy or girl. He was different than the other coaches for sure. If the kid could produce on the field and at bat, than Robby Sacco wanted them. That’s how it is supposed to be in competitive sports and that is the only way he knew to be. All the other coaches hadn’t yet accepted to think like he did and wanted to keep girls out of their league.
It took about five minutes for most everyone to see that Darla Lang was the best player on the field. She could throw harder, swing faster, and could catch any ball thrown or batted her way. She was an athlete true and true. This made many hate her even more than they already did. Not one coach picked her that day except for Coach Robby Sacco.
And that is how Darla Lang, made it into the Greensboro Boys Little League baseball division of 1986, and eventually how it led to Coach Robby Sacco’s team winning a championship. The
following year after Darla played in the boys little league, it led to six other girls trying out and four being picked on different teams with coaches other than Coach Sacco. Darla was a leader from an early age and it would pay off in her future.
“What do you mean what do I know about Bryan Morrissey?” Darla asked straightforward.
“I mean, what do you know about Bryan Morrissey?” Detective Henry asked again.
“Well, for starters, I know he’s dead.” Darla said.
“How do you know he’s dead?” Detective Henry asked.
“I know things.” She said confidently
“Oh you do, do you?” Todd was now interested.
“And it’s a secret.” Darla said and she was serious.
“What kind of secret?” Todd asked.
“The kind of secret that doesn’t get told.” Darla said sternly.
Challenge accepted Detective Henry thought. Now he was really interested.
“Your bullshitting me Darla Lang. Aren’t You now? You seem to like facing things head on not like your wimpy boyfriends.” Detective Henry said sarcastically.
“They ain’t my boyfriends Detective.” Darla said firmly but impressed he used the word bullshitting, “but for sure they are wimpy!”
Again, she didn’t sound twelve years old and he couldn’t believe he was having this conversation with her.
Detective Henry quickly summed up the situation. Here he was, in these stupid woods, with a girl that’s just twelve years old that sounds like she is in her 20s, having a dual of words over some secret she says she has. Obviously she can’t be intimidated. Did I just think that? A twelve year old girl can’t be intimidated by a police detective. Really? Todd chuckled to himself. Well, she is smart, she is analyzing me as I am her. She hasn’t looked away from me once. I don’t think she has even blinked. She’s waiting to see what I do. Now then, what should I do?
“Well now Darla Lang, what do you think we should do?” When in doubt, come back with a question thought Todd.
“Well you’re in charge don’t you think?” she said with a smirk.
I am liking Darla more and more, Todd thought. Todd continued and said, “I mean, you have a secret. I need to know that secret. I think you want me to know this secret. So the question is, how can I know this secret without you just telling me so you don’t break your word?”
“Seems like a Detective could figure that out.” Darla said as she spun her pedal on her bike.
“How about I ask some questions and you answer what you can and when you can’t, I will know that’s part of the secret. That’s fair isn’t it?” Todd asked.
“Yea, that seems fair. Shoot, just not with that plastic toy gun on your hip.”
Cocky, Todd thought. I can’t believe she’s only twelve.
“Did you know Bryan?”
“Yes, of course I knew Bryan.” Darla replied.
“How?” Todd asked.
“He was in my 5th grade class. Mrs. Babb’s class.”
“Were you all friends?” Todd asked.
“Yes, he was my best friend. He wasn’t like the other boys. He had a kind soul.” Darla said.
Second time today he had heard that he thought to himself.
“A kind soul you say? How do you mean?”
“He could be a brat, hell we all could at ten and eleven years old.”
Did she just say hell? Todd thought. She says it like ten was so long ago. She is only twelve. I can’t believe she is talking like she is.
Darla continued, “But he understood things, like I do, like I get this game with you. He had that way about him like me as he was pretty smart. Still a kid, but he considered things differently as I do. Not the brightest, but not the dumbest. I liked him a lot. Like I said, he was my best friend, but no one really even knew we were friends. It was odd, but good.”
Todd still couldn’t believe this girl was only twelve years old and speaks so clearly and confidently. Todd thought for a second and replied,
“Did he tell you a secret?”
“Yes” Darla answered bored.
“Is this the secret you won’t tell?” Detective Henry asked.
“Duh.” Darla said.
“Why not?” Todd quickly asked.
“Because I gave him my word and when I give my word I don’t break it like everyone else does. Like my loser father who left us and never came back. Like my mother who keeps telling me she is going to stop smoking, but doesn’t even try. Like my grandfather who says he’s sorry he drinks so much and is going to stop, but never does. Like my loser two friends that took off on their bikes that gave me their word they wouldn’t steal anything today and still stole as they think it’s fun. No one keeps their word. I do and I always will!” Darla said very proudly.
Detective Henry was now for the second time in one day at a loss for words. This wasn’t happening to him he thought. He wasn’t really listening to a twelve year old kid talk about understanding life in a way that many never do. It was hot out and Todd was feeling it with his sport coat on. He took off his coat and folded it over his arms and said,
“So why are there no other kids coming in here right now? I heard everyone has been coming here since these apartments are starting to go up and no one has passed us.” Again, defer with a question so I can get a grasp on this.
“Because they see your unmarked police car parked out there on the street and they know you are in here. They ain’t blind Detective. Stupid, but not blind.” Darla stated.
“So back to this secret.” Detective Henry said. “So Bryan told you a secret about something that you think led to him disappearing?”
“You say the word ‘so’ a lot. Did you know that?” Darla asked in a bored tone.
Todd rolled his eyes and replied, “I never thought of it but I guess I do. You’re pretty observant for a kid. Now back to the question, SOOOOOOOO” (said with loud emphasis. This brought a smile to Darla)
“He told you a secret that you think led to him disappearing?” Todd asked.
“He didn’t disappear. He’s dead. I know it. I feel it.” Darla said.
Detective Henry looked around as he kept expecting to see hidden cameras from the officers in his department to run out with a good laugh as they set all this up. He looked and looked.
“I trust my gut too Darla. That’s all we each have is our gut instincts. I believe you, and unfortunately, I agree with you. I think he’s dead too.”
“You do?” Darla asked surprised.
Finally, a normal response Todd thought.
“Yes Darla I do. And you’re going to tell me why you think he’s dead too before we leave this trail one way or the other.”
And this is when Darla Lang realized, all cops aren’t dumbasses after all...