CURVE BALL

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Chapter Twenty-Seven

Billy Dee played with his empty beer can digesting what the sports reporter Melissa told him. “He didn’t come back, huh? You mean for the World Series or ever.”

“He was gone for about three years. He hung it up in 1980 or 81.” She eyed her empty glass. “It was 81. Believe it or not he was on the Dodgers. They beat the Yankees in 6 games.”

“You sure?”

“It’s what I do but you can google it.”

He raised his eyes. “Nah, I use a flip phone. Don’t need all that other stuff.”

“Really? I couldn’t live without my smart phone.” She pulled her Iphone out of her bag. She pressed a few buttons and the screen lit up. “See, Rakow is on the Dodger 1981 roster.”

Billy Dee grabbed his glasses from his pocket. “So the lucky son-of-a-bitch was on three teams that went to the World Series. Ernie Banks played almost twenty years and never saw the glory.”

“Baseball can be cruel.”

“Nah, it’s life’s challenge. You have to make lemonade out of the lemons you sometimes get, and old Ernie did. So Ms. sports reporter where did Rakow go for those three years he didn’t play?”

“Great question. You ever see the movie The Natural?”

He rubbed his face. “Sounds familiar. That was the movie where old baseball players came out of a corn field, and the guy, hold on, Kevin Costner, built a stadium in the middle of nowhere.”

She shook her head. “Wrong baseball movie. That was Field of Dreams.”

He looked at her. Okay, let me think. The Natural I know I saw it. My wife is good at this, she’d know. He rolled the beer can several times between his hands. It’s coming to me. It was based on a book. The guy who wrote it had a funny name. Melman or something like that.”

“You’re close.”

He slapped the table. “Paul Newman was in it, and he conned this gangster dude out of his money.” He smiled from ear to ear.

“Sorry, that was The Sting. In The Natural Robert Redford played this talented baseball player who met a woman. She was crazy and shot him. It took him ten years to get back to the Majors.”

“You think Jack Rakow got shot?”

“I’m guessing whatever happened then may have something to do with the present.”

He stopped smiling, and held the beer can in his hand. “You’ve been playing me. Jesus. I knew better than to have this drink. Damn.” He slapped the table with his hands. “Who’s been leaking? Who’s been telling you all the shit about me and what’s gone down at the station?”

“I haven’t played you, Officer Jackson. Why in the world would I do that? I’m trying to give you context. I don’t know how Jack Rakow disappeared, but knowing some of his history may help.”

Billy Dee gave her a stern look but after a few seconds softened. “True, but let’s get the first thing out of the way.”

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