When we got out of the bus, Mary Hudson stuck right with us. I'm sure that by the time we reached the baseball field there was on every Comanche's face a some-girls-just-don't-know-when-to-go-home look. And to really top things off, when another Comanche and I were flipping a coin to decide which team would take the field first, Mary Hudson wistfully expressed a desire to join the game. The response to this couldn't have been more clean-cut Where before we Comanches had simply stared at her femaleness, we now glared at it. She smiled back at us. It was a shade disconcerting. Then the Chief took over, revealing what had formerly been a well-concealed flair for incompetence. He took Mary Hudson aside, just out of earshot of the Comanches, and seemed to address her solemnly, rationally. At length, Mary Hudson interrupted him, and her voice was perfectly audible to the Comanches. "But I do," she said. "I do, too, want to play!" The Chief nodded and tried again. He pointed in the direction of the infield, which was soggy and pitted. He picked up a regulation bat and demonstrated its weight. "I don't care," Mary Hudson said distinctly, "I came all the way to New York - to the dentist and everything - and I'm gonna play." The Chief nodded again but gave up. He walked cautiously over to home plate, where the Braves and the Warriors, the two Comanche teams, were waiting, and looked at me. I was captain of the Warriors. He mentioned the name of my regular center fielder, who was home sick, and suggested that Mary Hudson take his place. I said I didn't need a center fielder. The Chief asked me what the hell did I mean I didn't need a center fielder. I was shocked. It was the first time I had heard the Chief swear. What's more, I could feel Mary Hudson smiling at me. For poise, I picked up a stone and threw it at a tree.
We took the field first. No business went out to center field the first inning. From my position on first base, I glanced behind me now and then. Each time I did, Mary Hudson waved gaily at me. She was wearing a catcher's mitt, her own adamant choice. It was a horrible sight.
Mary Hudson batted ninth on the Warriors' lineup. When I informed her of this arrangement, she made a little face and said, "Well, hurry up, then." And as a matter of fact we did seem to hurry up. She got to bat in the first inning. She took off her beaver coat - and her catcher's mitt - for the occasion and advanced to the plate in a dark-brown dress. When I gave her a bat, she asked me why it was so heavy. The Chief left his umpire's position behind the pitcher and came forward anxiously. He told Mary Hudson to rest the end of her bat on her right shoulder. "I am," she said. He told her not to choke bat too tightly. "I'm not," she said. He told her to keep her eye right on the ball. "I will," she said. "Get outa the way." She swung mightily at the first ball pitched to her and hit it over the left fielder's head. It was good for an ordinary double, but Mary Hudson got to third on it - standing up.
When my astonishment had worn off, and then my awe, and then my delight, I looked over at the Chief. He didn't so much seem to be standing behind the pitcher as floating over him. He was a completely happy man. Over on third base, Mary Hudson waved to me. I waved back. I couldn't have stopped myself, even if I'd wanted to. Her stickwork aside, she happened to be a girl who knew how to wave to somebody from third base.
Thursday, September 04, 2008
For some reason the Fly Under the Bridge Academy's Committee on Life Imitating Art is reminded of JD Salinger's Laughing Man from Nine Stories: