Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Streak - 71

Back in his room, Evan drifted off to sleep again and fell into a dream.

They were playing at Yankee Stadium, about to take the field at the start of the game. Evan could not find his glove. He tried one on but it was too small. He scrambled around the dugout now as his teammates jogged onto the grass for the "Star-Spangled Banner." He began to panic. There was a pile of gloves on the bench but as he rummaged through them he found that they were not really gloves. Many were merely heavy scraps of cowhide with no discernible opening nor fingers. Still, Evan hoped to find something suitable among them. As he dug deeper their form deteriorated further. The last few appeared to be wet rags. I have to find some kind of glove, he thought to himself. He rued having previously discarded a perfectly good, albeit small one. It did not occur to him that he might now be able to retrieve it. In the peculiar logic of dreams this was not a possibility, and he knew it without thinking. The longer he waited, the worse his options seemed to get. The anthem drew to an end and he saw his mates taking their positions. He absolutely had to get out there. Suddenly Jim Bosworth stood beside him. "Take that one!" he yelled. Bosworth was pointing at a newspaper hat, resting where the pile of scraps and rags had been. Evan gamely put the hat on his hand. "Not on your fucking hand, you moron!" the manager shouted. "On your fucking head!" Bosworth punctuated Evan's humiliation by smacking him behind the ear. Evan ran out to third base in his paper hat, desperately hoping that Bosworth wouldn't notice his naked hand. Maybe he wouldn't get any balls his way, he thought. "Where's your glove?" Kyle asked. "Right here!" Evan replied, holding up his hand. For some reason he now was sure he wore a glove. Except it wasn't a glove. It was a gun. The first batter hit the first pitch sharply towards Evan. It hopped once, twice. Evan aimed at it carefully, holding the gun in both hands. He squeezed the trigger but the mechanism was spongy and reluctant. He squeezed harder. Harder. No shot. Somehow, the ball had come to a rest at his feet. He reached down to pick it up. It was exceedingly slippery. Every time he thought he had a firm grasp, it slipped out. A phone rang nearby. The opposing team's third base coach handed the receiver to Evan. "It's for you," he said. Evan looked up and found that the coach was Babe Ruth. Fleetingly, he wondered why Ruth worked for the other team. "I can't talk now. I'm busy," Evan said. "It's important," said Babe. "Can't you see I'm busy?" Evan insisted, growing angry, and he awoke to the dreary truth of his surroundings: a hotel room, curtains drawn, the phone on the nightstand ringing.

Evan picked it up. It was Joe.

"Evan, we're ready for you to rendez-vous with the subject."

"Thelxie?"

"Correct. You are to phone her and have her meet you at the earliest."

"Then what do I do?"

"Glean. Names, numbers. Strategies if possible. We need to know who she works for and why."

"I'm supposed to ask her that?"

"No. Let her do the talking. You'll be wired. Matt and I will be sitting nearby. Earpieces in our ears."

"Sure. OK."

Joe gave Evan Thelxie's phone number and some guidelines as to when and where.

"Tomorrow's not going to work, Joe. I'm a starter in the All-Star Game."

"Oh, by the way. You're not."

"I'm not?"

"We've extended your incapacity due to undisclosed personal reasons. We can move mountains, Evan. Mountains have been moved."

"At what point do the reasons have to be disclosed?"

"Depends. The more serious we paint the situation, the deeper it gets, probably never."

"Really?"

"The more strenuously we refuse to disclose, the more the refusal to disclose supplants, in the public imagination, the ostensible personal reasons in the first place. I wrote a thesis about this at Syracuse."

"Wow."

"We gotcher back, Evan. I'll reach out to you again soon."

Evan hung up and immediately dialed Thelxie's number. He made a date with her for later that night in the hotel bar. She seemed happy to hear from him.

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