Dark Hill

Sitting up in the hospital bed, he first noticed the IV protruding from this left arm.  He then noticed a baseball resting on the tray beside his bed.  An instinctual impulse to grab it led to an unfortunate series of shockwaves, knocking what little wind he had out his lungs.  Unsure why he was here, but sure he needed to see that baseball, he took more a measured approach on his next attempt.  Slow and steady won the race this time, as the tip of his middle finger was able to roll the ball off the tray and onto his lap.  There was writing on the ball, the first letter barely smudged.

YOU LUCKY GUY, JACK!

Jack?  Was that his name?  It didn’t ring a bell, but neither did anything else.  In fact, he had no idea why he was here, or why he was in so much pain.

Below the compliment was a signature.  It took him a bit, but the name came to form.  He heard a stranger’s voice—his own—sound it out.

“Can-dy Mal-do-na-do.”

He remembered.

***************

“Fucking ay!  I managed to score you a ticket and you don’t show up until the 4th inning?”

“Sorry, man,” he said, annoyed.  “I was with an important client.  And you know how traffic is this time of night.”

“Pfffttthh.  You’re missing a good one, too.”

“Oh yeah?”

“Reuschel’s retired nine straight, and Uribe scored last inning to tie the game.”

“Awesome.”

He disengaged from his friend and surveyed the field.  There was a runner on first.  He couldn’t tell who.  He heard the crowd react.  It was a wild pitch.

“Go go Mitchell you shithead go!”

So it was Mitchell on first.  Now on second.  He turned to his friend.

“You know, I don’t think he heard you.”

“Lighten up, dude.  It’s just a…oh shit, look out!”

He turned around in time to see a foul ball hurtling towards him.  He raised his hands up in defense.

****************

He looked at his hands.  They appeared fine, quite unlike his right leg, which was in traction.

He looked at the ball again.

“Nice catch!”  He looked up to see a doctor approaching.  “So, how are we doing?”

“Fine, I guess.”

“Who’s the current President?”

He racked his brain.  “Reagan?”

“No, but you’re closer now.  Last time I asked you said Ford.  Okay, well, your vitals look good.  Nurse tells me your pain has subsided.  Lookin’ good.”

“Doc, do I have amnesia?”

The doctor sighed.  “Too soon to tell.  It could be the anesthesia from the surgeries, but it’s unusual for a patient to not remember their name.  Still don’t?

He shook his head.

“I’m not too worried yet.  And hey, if you don’t get your memory back, maybe you can play center field next week.”

He hated funny doctors.

“So how’d you get that autograph, anyway?”

He remembered.

*******************

Flying down the road, his mind wandered.  He wished he could go straight home.  But he had to fly out to Seattle in an hour for another client and wouldn’t be back until Tuesday.  Even worse, he was out of gas.  The next exit had a Shell station.

As he squeezed the pump, his mind raced.  He’d need to double-time it to the airport if he didn’t want to hurry inside the terminal.  And then there was presentation he didn’t know how to finish.  The gas pump was unbearably slow.   He looked at the man at the next pump over, who also seemed a bit impatient.  The man caught him staring.  Oh, shit!  He recognized him.

“Um, hi.  I don’t mean to intrude, but is your name…Candy?”

The man flashed his white teeth in a broad smile.  “It might be.”

“Wow.  Well, uh, it’s a pleasure to meet you.”  He extended his hand.  Candy shook it.  “Hey, I caught a foul ball you hit tonight.”

“Really, man?”

“Yeah!  Would you autograph it for me?”

“Heh.  Sure thing, man.”

He practically threw open his passenger door and found the ball.  He couldn’t believe his luck.

*********************

“Hey you, wake up!”

His eyes fluttered several times before he opened them.  The voice appeared to come from a pretty woman standing over him.

“Nurse?”

“No, silly.  It’s me.  The doctor said we could finally see you.”

“Oh…”  He looked her up and down.  Nice body, too.

“So! Just look at the mess you got yourself into.  You’ll do anything to get attention, won’t you?”

He said nothing.  Turning his head, he saw someone else on the other side of the bed.  A young man, maybe ten or eleven.  He squinted his eyes.  Nope.

“Oh,” the woman said.  “The doctor said you might…”

“I don’t remember.  Who are you?”

“I’m your wife, Denise.”  She choked back tears.  “And this is your son, Jack.  Oh Michael…”

He looked at his son, hoping beyond hope he’d remember.  He picked up the ball.  “I guess this is for you.”

***********************

The trip was a success.  Michael had secured another client, and he had an autographed ball for his son.  As he cruised down the Nimitz Freeway, he turned on the radio.  The legendary voice of Jack Buck greeted him.  He grinned.  Sure, the Giants were down two to nothing, but they were at home now.  And Garrelts was pitching.

A loud thunk jolted Michael.  He wondered if he hit something. Turning his focus back to the road, he looked ahead.  The southbound lane of I-880 was above him.  And now it was falling.

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