CURVE BALL

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Chapter Five

“All right ladies, Billy Dee is going home now. Better not give my replacement O.B. no trouble. I’ll hear about it if you do. Y’all have any questions?” Billy Dee banged on two or three of the cell doors to make sure everyone heard. He walked down the rows until he came to cell 14. “Hey Rakow, you still breathing? Don’t go do something stupid like kill yourself. That wouldn’t be good for the both of us. You’d be dead, but man I’d be left with a mountain of paperwork. The white shirts would be all after me with dumb-ass questions and in the end my ass will be out on the street. Forty years gone. So you better be a man about this.” He didn’t hear a response. “Shit.” He opened the slot. Rakow was curled on the floor next to the toilet.

“You gotta be freezing,” Billy Dee said.

Rakow stirred and sat up. He rubbed his arms and legs. “A little.”

“Can’t do anything for you. Wish I could, but blankets can be used for other things besides keeping warm.”

Rakow stood up using the wall to balance himself. It took him a few seconds to take several steps toward the door. “Not asking for anything. I just want to know how long I’ll be here?”

“Can’t say. The dicks must be running around getting what they need. I noticed the Fed cocksuckers are also involved. Those sons-of–bitches can do anything. Have you called anyone in your family?”

He shook his head. “Nah. They don’t need to know.”

Billy Dee shrugged. “Have it your way, but let me tell you, I’d call someone. Move a little closer to the door, Rakow.” Billy Dee lowered his voice. “You didn’t hear it from me but your shit aint goin’ away. N-o-o way. Dey want to make an example of you, you know, bein’ a celebrity and all that. You goin’ to be fucked every which way to Sunday. Get yourself a lawyer. This aint no damn baseball game.”

Rakow blinked. “I suppose you’re right. Thanks for the advice.” He moved to the far end of the cell, and slid down the back wall, until he was again sitting on the cold cement floor. “Don’t worry, I’m not going to do anything stupid. Not my nature. I’ve been through worse.”

Billy Dee sighed, “Whatever, Rakow, I’ll see you in the morning.” He closed the slot. It made a loud click when it shut.

Rakow stared at the heavy metal door. There wasn’t much more to see. The walls of his cell were cement blocks painted beige. A florescent light hung beneath a drop ceiling and never varied in its brightness. Constant daylight-- like Las Vegas without the pizzazz. The ding, ding, dings, weren’t slot machines. They were cell doors opening or closing.

“Yo, Rakow.” A man’s voice seeped through the wall near his bunk. “Hey, I heard what old Billy Dee was say’n.”

Shit, not only were the cells freezing, but the walls were thin. “Yeah? We didn’t have a conversation,” Rakow said.

“Don’t fuck with me. What about you and baseball?”

Rakow sat up. “It ain’t your business.”

“Hold on man, I’ve heard of you. Rakow, you Jack Rakow?”

Rakow rubbed his face. This asshole could be going on all night. “Yeah, that’s right.”

“You were a pitcher for…. Jesus what the fuck was the team….Twins. It was the Twins. My old man, was at that game. Said it was the most fucked-up thing he ever seen. You struck out Mantle, Maris, and Howard with the bases loaded. It’s about the only thing my old man talked about.”

Rakow didn’t move. His hands dangled between his knees. The memory brought a smile.

“Yo, you there?”

He couldn’t resist. He moved toward the bunk. “Yeah, that… that was me. I walked the first three Yankees. Lets see, the first guy up that inning was the pitcher. Walked him on four pitches. Then Bobby Richardson came up. Out of the five balls I threw, only one was a strike. Kubeck followed. Didn’t take his bat off his shoulder. Mickey came next. He was in the batter’s box before Kubeck touched first. The crowd went wild. They wanted to tear me limb to limb. I can still see the smile on Mickey’s face, Jack thought. But aloud he said, “Three pitches later, Mickey went back to the dugout.”

“Shit, my old man was sell’n peanuts or some shit. Said, he stood in the aisle and didn’t move. He couldn’t believe it.”

“Neither did I.”

There was a pause. Rakow put his ear to the wall. “You there?”

“Uh huh. What you in for?”

Rakow moved away. The metal bunk felt colder than the floor. He rubbed his face with his hands. “Who are you?” he asked.

“Tydell Mason. The man said I stuck up a couple of grocery stores or some shit. Never did, wasn’t there, no how.”

“That’s good. Hope it works out.”

“Come on man… what they got you for?”

He gazed around the room and then leaned against the wall. “A lot of bad shit.”

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