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April 1, 2009 | BASEBALL, Fiction

Defending Reggie

Litsa Dremousis

Defending Reggie photo

"Becca, you're in charge," Mom said, craning her neck around the driver's side burgundy vinyl headrest. "I'm picking you kids up in three hours at this exact spot, in front of Gate D. Do not, I repeat,do not be late. I have a lot of studying to do tonight and I don't have time to park and go looking for the three of you."

My brother, Tom, his best friend, Petey, and I sat in the back seat of the Mercury Marquis station wagon and nodded perfunctorily, eager to trek the fifty feet to the nearby Kingdome entrance, produce our tickets for the parka-clad stadium drone, and climb the vast and circling concrete ramp that would lead us to our second-level seats in right field, where we intended to cheer for Reggie Jackson with all the sustained volume our near-adolescent lungs could muster.

"Okay, Mrs. Lucas," Petey said. "Thanks for driving."

"You're welcome, Petey," Mom said, seemingly glad that someone appreciated her time away from her law books, even if that someone were not one of her offspring. "Kids, anything you want to say?" she asked and looked at Tom and me.

"Thanks, Mom!" "Thanks, Mom!" my brother and I rattled off in quick succession.

"Okay, fine, go," she replied and smirked. "You've got your lunches and your snack money. And remember, I'm trusting you to behave like adults."

***

I led Tom and Petey down Row 27 to seats 13, 14, and 15, politely declaring, "Excuse us!" every few feet and careful not to whomp anyone in the head with my backpack. We arrived and sat down and my brother unzipped his windbreaker to reveal the #44 New York Yankees jersey he'd purchased with his neighborhood lawn-mowing earnings. The previous week I'd pretended to drizzle orange juice on it while we were doing homework and he'd flicked my ear and called me "a spastic" and Mom had made us study in separate rooms that night.

"Dude, your Reggie shirt is rad," Petey declared in admiration. "I need to get a Bucky Dent one."

"You kids know this is a Seattle Mariners game, right?" A man seated directly in front of Tom had turned around and was facing the three of us. "And that you're all in Seattle?" He seemed to be with his grandson, a redheaded boy about our age and both wore bright blue caps emblazoned with the hometown's yellow trident "M" insignia.

"We know, sir," I replied, wary of talking to strangers but not wanting to be rude.

"'Sir!' Get a load of the princess over here," the man said to the redheaded boy and I noticed a faint slur to the man's words.

The boy looked at Tom, Petey and me. "The Yankees are a bunch of stupid idiots! And Reggie Jackson is a big crybaby! I bet he even wets his pants!" The man laughed and patted the boy on his shoulder.

"And now, ladies and gentlemen, please turn your attention to the field and welcome the New York Yankees!" the announcer's voice boomed from the stadium's loudspeakers.

Tom turned to Petey and me. "Come on, you guys. Let's go get some Cokes."

***

The off-duty police officer handed Mom a paper cup of water, but she shook her head and refused. "Try not to get upset, ma'am. Compared to the stuff I see on my beat, this wasn't too bad. That's one reason I like working game security." He crossed to his grey metal desk ensconced beside a cot and a miniature first aid station, picked up a clipboard, and gave it to Mom. "You'll have to sign some forms before I can release the kids to you. Official Kingdome policy."

Tom, Petey, and I remained seated on the wooden bench facing Mom and the officer. I watched Mom skim then sign the paperwork and felt bad for her. She had put me in charge and now she wouldn't get to finish her studying tonight. Still, I felt proud of what we had done.

"Have you ever fired your gun when you're on duty?" Tom asked. Petey laughed and before the officer could respond, Mom glared at the three of us.

"Petey, I can't speak for your mother, but Tom and Becca, at this moment, I am tempted to leave both of you here. Perhaps this nice man will take you home because I can't even look at you right now. Do you know you committed a misdemeanor assault? When I gave you money for snacks, it was not so you could" — she read from the clipboard — "purchase two twenty-four ounce sodas and pour them down an elderly man's pants."

"Actually, we drank some of it first," Tom said, as if this clarified everything.

"What in the name of God has gotten into you kids?" Mom yelled and slammed the clipboard on the officer's desk. "This is not how you were brought up."

"Well, it sort of is," I said. "You told us to act like adults and this man and a boy called me a name and then made fun of Reggie Jackson so we got forty-eight ounces of pop and drank some of it so it would be forty-four ounces and then poured it down the back of the man's pants."

"Like for number forty-four," the officer said approvingly. "Jackson's a power-house. I think he's going to break .300 this year."

***

We drove home in silence and after we dropped off Petey, Mom told Tom and me that we were grounded for a month. Two weeks later, the officer called Mom and asked her for a date. They went out a few times and while Tom and I had a hard time seeing Mom with anyone new, we were cheered by the fact he wasn't like that last guy, who was a Red Sox fan.

image: Aaron Burch


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