Down Shaw, at the Pits


Down Shaw, an old man sleeps on his porch, head back and mouth wide open. His arms are spread like on the cross, one arm down either side of his couch. It’s not dusk, but the day is getting on and the sun, while its presence is still felt, while one can still feel it, and see it, is gone, or going, or some combination of both. In the amber light, dark green leaves hang low from their trees, like fruits.

Passing Christie Pits, baseball diamonds and soccer fields sunk in what looks like a former quarry, I pause before a park bench to watch a single loop into centre field. Beyond the park bench, I watch the hitter become runner, and then a thief, as he goes from first to third on consecutive pitches. I find a spot on the grass along the hill, somewhere up the third base line. More hits follow, and the runner scores. More hits and many runners. For the opposing team, the inning must feel endless.

In a previous entry I wrote about having “the calm of an adult” only moments after confessing thoughts that were murderous. I don’t have that. My “calm” is not the calm of an adult. My calm is tentative, like those of the squirrels I fed in that same entry. It relies on whether I am left alone or offered a crust of bread… and what the crust of bread asks of me in return.

Across the field a loud, abrasive teenage girl shouts about vodka and the viability of “Coca-Cola” as a chaser vs. a mixer. Now she’s singing a song. The lyrics are hard to ignore, for many reasons: “Fuck me now… Fuck me later… Faggot! Faggot! Faggot!” is all I can make out, but I’m not certain whether the song is real. She plays with the lines, acts with them… her recitation seems genuine, but it’s also pointed, and her male partner laughs when she enunciates her “faggots”.

“Who wants a shot? Who wants a shot?” Though I’m a good distance away, she turns and offers me cake icing. “Come on! It’s yellow! And lemon flavoured.”

“No thanks.”

My calm is Pessoa’s calm. Calm to observe and to dream, or to allow oneself to get carried on the current of the day… to be it and to feel it, rather than to live it. The smell of cut grass cooling in the dying sun. Shouts across the park. The leather metronome of a pitcher and a catcher warming up along the third base foul line.

The girl has just described getting drunk, at a recent party, on a cup of water she thought was vodka. She turns to me again.

“What are you writing? Are you documenting the game?”

“No, I’m not.”

“Being alone is against human nature! Come and have a shot of vodka!”

There’s a reason so many movies, novels, and songs feature protagonists propositioned in a similar manner, by some kind of morally ambiguous, fascinating character alien to the protagonist’s sensibilities… it’s because the authors of those narratives have been similarly propositioned, only, contrary to their protagonist, the author didn’t take them up on it.

“Sometimes it’s nice to be alone.”

It’s better not to take them up on it because the consummation of such an offer is certain to be a disappointment. Better to avoid it and think up something better yourself– along with a more fascinating character to go with it. One just as fearless, but with more sense, and more mystery as well… to put it bluntly, one less common. A girl you didn’t know, because you’ve known dozens of the girl sitting across the lawn, but one you’d wished you had.

A foul ball lands outside the fence. The girl, of course, goes down to get it.

“Do you want your ball back?”

One of the players: “I don’t know, do you want me?”

“Can you believe he said that?” (Later)

“It must be your ass.”

A running joke? She’s wearing tight pants.

(Laughs) “You’re right! It must be my ass!”

Later, as it gets darker, I leave.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s