So this is the final part of the little story. I hope you all enjoyed it, as I certainly had fun writing it. It helps that you all have such interesting personalities and many inside jokes. I might write more in the future if you like this last installment. Disclaimer: zk, your image has been repaired. You're welcome. Without further ado...
Okay, DCO, concentrate. Who will emerge as our savior? Have I been dead the whole time? I just want to make sure that I won’t pull an M. Night Shyamalan. I’m not here for a cop-out, you know. Really, these suggestions for endings are horrible. I have to come up with something huge. Something unexpected. I think they won't--damnit! Stop revealing the ending! Okay, okay, I have an idea. Now, let's make this ending a reality in a fictional story!
"Hey, Loony, wake up!" Stacey whispered. I rubbed my eyes and realized I had been fast asleep. I adjusted to the bright, beating sunlight, and scanned my surroundings. Everyone was staring at me.
"What's wrong with taking a quick afternoon nap?" I said, feeling uneasy about my comrades' judgmental stares. "Okay, why are you looking at me like that?" O'sFan21 crossed his arms over his chest, his eyes not leaving my own confused gaze. I shook my head (yes, I do that a lot).
"Now, DCO, we're not going to scream because some people seem uncomfortable with our interpretation of the Coen Brothers. We might yell and shout, but screaming is off the agenda. What happened to you being our self-appointed 'fearless leader,' which, granted, I was okay with at first. But falling asleep on the job? Falling asleep when we're looking for answers? I don't like it. I'm afraid you'll have to step down from being Fearless Leader. Stacey will replace you. We figured we still need a female presence," O'sFan21 explained. Naturally, I was speechless. Truth be told, the position had become tiring (TWSS). I wasn't about to tell Stacey that, as she needed to figure it out on her own.
"I'm sorry, Loony. We don't mean to hurt you," twisted said. His sympathy was evident, and the judgmental glares softened into genuine sadness.
"This," Phil agreed almost inaudibly. I was prepared to take it in stride, but I couldn't find the right words.
"Can I make one last speech?" I asked. They glanced from one to the next, and Stacey inched forward.
"Of course," she said sweetly. I smiled, but my happiness quickly faded. I sighed heavily, breathing in the, contrary to popular belief, very polluted country air.
"I'll start with a quote from the film Hoosiers: 'If you put your effort and concentration into playing to your potential, to be the best that you can be, I don't care what the scoreboard says at the end of the game, in my book we're gonna be winners.' Sure, it's cheesy. And sure, the scoreboard does matter in this case, but I think the core point applies. Even if we can't beat these stupid motherfuckers, just try not to get slaughtered. I'll be content if we lose by less than ten runs. Anything more than that is an embarrassment, and, even though I won't be your fearless leader, I'm the best shortstop you have. And I think you can guess why--I'm short and I stop things. It all makes sense. If we can't win the right way, I walk. I'm not saying I'll join King Douchiness and his court, but I'm going where you guys don't dream to go. You have to dream. That's the only way people will respect you. If you dream, you can win. Okay, if you really suck then that's not true. But it is. Believe in yourselves, and life will hand you some breaks. Congratulations, Stacey, they're all yours." I stopped. I think I was about to cry. Damn, I was such a weak person. I didn't realize how much this team meant to me.
"That was beautiful. Maybe... maybe you should stay on. You love this team like no one else. You may be young, but you have a lot of wisdom. You deserve this title," Stacey said. I beamed, and the others agreed. "We were dumb to doubt your abilities." I breathed deeply, channeling my inner Buddha. I'm not sure why I was looking for answers in Buddha's teachings.
"Do you guys ever feel like converting to Buddhism? I mean, I'm Jewish and I love it, but Buddhism is a beautiful concept, and I calm down when I think of his cute, pudgy belly," I said, talking to myself more than anyone.
"Wait, you're Jewish?" Phil piped up.
"Um, yes. How have I not made that clear?" I replied, and scoffed. The bumpy ride continued, and I was unable to sleep. "How long until the road is paved again?"
"I'm not sure. Duck is taking some stupid scenic route," zk said. I was incensed. What nerve! I wasn't prepared to face off, though. Duck was like an epic (that's right, I said it) version of Chuck Norris. I leaned back, recognizing that I had no control over the situation, and I might as well enjoy the forest that was passing me by.
We finally got to the ballpark, and it was a sight to see. Our ballpark was, well, awful and on its last legs. The MFY used their riches and royalty to build a large, open stadium, complete with a jumbotron, a personal masseuse (if you paid up), people with large leaves to fan... everyone. It was nice, to be sure, but it felt so self-righteous. What were they trying to say? "Look at me! I have a shitload of money and I'm going to use it!" Evidently, that's exactly what they were trying to say, and it was extremely effective.
Truth be told, it was all very intimidating. My eyes widened as I stepped out of the car. Andrew made a move to run back in, but zk caught him by the sleeve of his shirt and pulled him back. What a hero! I trudged through the parking lot, through the mass of Rolls Royce and Bentley vehicles--honestly, what were they doing at a baseball game? I was curious, but at the same time, too preoccupied to care. There was a game to play, and we still needed one more player.
Suddenly, a voice bellowed from the sky. I looked up, but nothing was there. I thought there might be some guy in the sun like the baby in Teletubbies, but alas, that was not the case. The voice grew louder, and my eyes darted back and forth, looking for the source.
"I will play. I will play and I will win the game. And then I will die tragically, unless you can save me. Are you up to the challenge? I bring another man, a man who has been hurt by your insensitivity. A man who is not just a man, but a man in a pigeon suit. I bring you... BIRDMAN! And my name is WestcoastO'sfan, but you can call me Westie," the voice said. Westie and birdman emerged from behind the bushes, Westie holding a megaphone and birdman flapping his "wings".
"Birdman, I--I--I wanted to apologize. I can't--I don't know. You're my best friend, and, while I don't really understand the pigeon thing, I accept that you are different and unique. C'mere, buddy," zk said. He ran towards birdman, who was skipping (flying?) towards zk. They embraced, and in my head I was hearing that song from Scrubs where J.D. and Turk express their... ahem, platonic love. I touched my hand to my heart and with the other, wiped a single tear from my face.
I looked away and turned my attention to Westie.
"So, what are you? Pitcher, hitter?" I asked. Os'Fan21 stepped forward, the anger welling up in his chest.
"I'm the pitcher goddamnit!" he shouted.
"Now, let's be mature about this," Phil said, always the mediator. Twisted put a reassuring hand on O'sFan21's shoulder, then remembered their ongoing feud and removed it.
"No! I won't be mature! That's my spot! It's the only reason I joined this fucking team! To relive my glory days!" he... yes, screamed. He threw himself on the ground and pounded his fists on the asphalt, kicking and crying like a five-year-old. I looked on in shock.
"Let's just... leave him alone," twisted said. We all agreed with that sentiment. I turned back to Westie, who was witnessing this tantrum with bewilderment clear on his face.
"Erm, I was about to finish. I play shortstop." I began to feel uneasy. I understood O'sFan21's feelings, now, although I wasn't planning to have the same reaction. "...And I play left field." I breathed a heavy sigh of relief.
"You'll be left field. Congratulations, and let's beat these mothafuckas!" I shouted, and ran to join the group. O'sFan21 was taking deep breaths and counting to ten. He would be fine in a moment. We ran through the visitors entrance, and into the ballpark we so desperately wanted to destroy. Well, not literally. We wanted to crush the souls of opposing fans and crush the hubris of the players.
When we arrived, we were met with laughs. Goddamn laughs.
"DCO, I thought you and your band of players who are horrible weren't gonna show. I'm glad you did, to be honest. It's going to be fun to see your souls crushed," Sodoffguez quipped. I moved to punch the daylights out of that jerk, but Phil held me back.
"Channel that anger, but for now, think Buddha. He will guide you through this journey--"
"Are you a Buddhist?" I asked Phil.
"Heh, well... no. But his stomach is quite adorable," he replied. I chuckled--we actually had something in common... for a change. It was nice. I needed to stay focused, so I accidentally pushed Phil to the ground. I apologized quickly, but gave no explanation. I marched forward with purpose. This was far from over. It was only the beginning of the end of everything ever. At least we would get the chance to beat them before the rapture killed us all. It was a comforting thought.
I scanned the crowd. The fans jeered and taunted us. I was getting more furious by the minute, but Buddha was guiding me through these tense moments. What an awesome dude. We finally got to the field, and saw the other team in their swanky uniforms and populated bench. What did we have to show? A guy in a pigeon suit? The day was getting more outrageous with every waking moment.
We began warming up, and I remembered why everyone didn't want to play the greatest team in the sandlot league. We sucked, and they didn't. It was simple: we were going to get murdered. I was not prepared, but I had to say something, and I did just that.
"Guys, I know you're losing confidence, and I am too. But I'll tell you that we're not giving up. We're probably going to lose by more than ten runs, maybe even twenty. I guess--I guess I thought we could do this. And you know what? I think we still can. We may be weak physically and don't work as a cohesive unit, but we've got something those fuckers don't have. We've got spirit. We've got a soul. And we know right from wrong. You might ask what that has to with an amateur baseball game, and I can't tell you that it does. I just thought it was inspiring. And now that I've explained it, it's probably not inspiring. Ya see, inspiration can only be measured by results and--ah fuck it, I don't know what I'm talking about. Just get out there, play your fucking hearts out, and you're winners," I told them. They said nothing, and the roar of the crowd seemed like a distant noise from miles away. I let them stand in silence. Zk clapped suddenly, breaking the tension, and yelled, "Play ball!"
"Fuck, that was cheesy," I muttered under my breath. The defensive layout went as follows:
Fake mascot: birdman
"PLAY BALL!" The umpire shouted. We were up to bat first. I bat leadoff. I stood in the batter's box, frozen in fear as the fat pitcher stared me down. I relaxed, and gritted my teeth in an attempt to seem scary. It did not work. The pitch came buzzing down the plate and I was almost knocked off my feet.
"What the fuck was that?!" I exclaimed. I extended my arms in frustration.
"A pitch," the pitcher replied flatly. I mumbled some obscenities under my breath, and then resumed my stance. I won't go into every batter, but we struck out in every at-bat through the first four innings. The score was 10-0. It was, as I predicted, a slaughter. And it wasn't fun. I sighed as Westie, the so-called savior, stepped up to bat. He struck out, of course, and birdman slid into the seat next to mine.
"You know, I can play. I'm good. I can be a hero," he said, more to himself than to me.
"You want to play baseball in a pigeon outfit?" I said quizzically. He thought for a moment. I looked away.
"Nothing else is working. Maybe this will." It was a fair point, and I decided to let him pinch hit for duck. Duck was perfectly happy to get out of the game, as all of us were. It was the final inning, and we only needed a few runs. Maybe just one, and we would lose by less than ten. That was certainly an accomplishment.
Birdman stepped up to bat, pigeon costume and all. He might have been on to something--maybe the pitcher would be so distracted by the pigeon costume that he might throw a bad pitch. Birdman cocked his bat, and the pitcher threw the pitch in the middle of a bellowing laugh. And just like that, birdman hit one way out of the park. I couldn't believe it! If we had faith in birdman from the start, we might not be in this mess!
The story is a familiar one, but there's usually fewer inside jokes and the hero isn't wearing a pigeon costume. But that's the end and I hope you come clamoring for more.