Paul leaned on his broom when he saw me. “What do you want? Why’re you here?”
“To help you clean up,” I said, suddenly reluctant to tell him the truth.
We jabbered while he swept, wiped up, emptied trash cans and mopped. While I hunted
through the sports sections of The Western Star’s bound-up biweekly issues from the last four
years. “Hey, this article says you pitched a shut out until the last inning of a game, and then
someone hit a home run and beat you one to nothing.”
He was already laughing before he read it. “Lucky hit,” he said.
“Yeah, I closed my eyes and the bat just happened to meet the ball. That’s the game that
clinched the pennant for us. Didn’t your team take second place?”
He slapped my arm. “Here’s an article about me knocking in a run with the bases loaded
to beat the Tigers the last game that year.”
“Now that was luck! Why’d I ever throw you a slow pitch?”
“You couldn’t get anything over the plate. How many’d you walk that game?” He pointed
at the paper. “Here it is, 13.”
I laughed. “Oh yeah, control problems.”
At 2:00 A.M. he finished cleaning. After 11:00 o’clock the only place open in town was
Frisches Big Boy. Scattered around in it we found two couples and three old lonely men. We
ordered coffee and a piece of hot cherry pie with vanilla ice cream, sat at the counter, spun on
our stools’ rotating seats, stared out the plate glass windows at the parking lot, and bullshitted,
discussing our girlfriends, planning a double date tomorrow.
Bill Vernon served in the United States Marine Corps, studied English literature, then taught it. Writing is his therapy, along with exercising outdoors and doing international folk dances. His poems, stories and nonfiction have appeared in a variety of magazines and anthologies, and Five Star Mysteries published his novel OLD TOWN in 2005.