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RANGER BLOOD, or: The Evening Redness in the West

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The Seattle Mariners somehow managed a nine-run comeback against the Texas Rangers. It was baseball, but it looked like something out of the old west.

Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

I- Nelson Cruz - two dingers - inning eight - Ranger Killer - RBI single - headed to the ninth

See the man. He is worn and strong, he wears a thin double-knit polyester uniform. It is cream. Outside lie dark fields leading back to the East and darker ones beyond that harbor yet a few final hopes left for the faithful. Texas. It smells like death. He picks up his thick maple stick and inspects it for imperfections. There are two. Room for one more.

See the boy. He is pale and thin, he also wears a thin double-knit polyester uniform because that's what the uniform manager told him he is supposed to do, for crying out loud. He looks at the men wearing the word of the State across their chests, the Law the only thing standing between rapturous glory and the taste of dirty lead inside the corpse of whatever the hell it was this past week had been. But they are not in Texas. This is not his Law. For a moment it is as if his eyes roll back into his head, and the hushed whispers dance around him and the fire there like voices of the dead from ages past.

ranger killer

kyle seager

ranger killer

He looks at the man with Feliz etched into his rusting badge and he spits and then he pulls his weapon and draws two, and then he wipes his mouth before the bodies begin to fall. He still hears their voices ringing in his ears as he runs towards the light

ranger killer

But still they stand bloodied and defiant, wounds left open like a torn sheet. These Texas Rangers. The Law. War was forever, they say, war was god and it would take another night to see it put into the grave with the dust and the bones of the leviathan and creatures from long ago aeons, whose eyes had seen stars long dead and turned into gas. The fight continues.

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II- James Paxton - inning three - seven runs, five unearned - Willie Bloomquist - Tyler Olson

See the dad. He was gutted and tired, throwing weak and looking like a shadow of himself when the sun rises too fast during the dew hours. Trouble. Surrounded by guns. The Law, cornered like a dog leaving a trail of fresh blood after a hunt gone awry. He looked towards his assailants.

Martin. Andrus. Fielder. Bloomquist.

He bit his lip and reached for his weapon but it betrayed him and the corner which stood behind his back was as present as it had ever been.

Beltre. Choo. Rosales. Odor. Smolinski.

Wait, Smolinski?

Yes, Smolinski. and Corporan and Martin, again, and Bloomquist. The eternal Bloomquist, as old as the fire rock burnt into the ancient Arizona bedrock.

The dad reached back and untucked his shirt so stained in sweat that it contained blood and then he was gone and in the shadows again and he felt shame, shame as the dust blew through the fence and the warm Pacific sun shone down upon his shoulders facing away, so far away from the East. He placed a handful of tobacco inside his lip and he spit toward his boots and he wondered about his horse and then he fell asleep, hoping for anything else by the time he opened his eyes again.

Everything alright? said the One in charge. Your arm? He didn't know what to say.

Possible.

Possible?

Possible. I'm really not sure.

The one named Olson was out now and he wondered if he would ever see the sun again. He thought of a glass of whiskey and he shut his eyes. He would not even see trouble brought to Olson in the hours to come because his eyes were shut save for one moment of hope a moment later. But they would not remain shut forever.

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III- bottom of the third - Nelson Cruz - a three run homer - Austin Jackson reborn

They walked back to the shadow and the man took off his hat and put on a plastic shell that covered one ear and he sat down next to the boy. He was holding his club of maple like a firstborn, cradled in arms that could both crush a man's skull and put a tiny rock over a faraway fence with the precision of a painter. Neither spoke until the man did.

Moral law is an invention of mankind for the disenfranchisement of the powerful in favor of the weak. Historical law subverts it at every turn.

What?

Oh, I don't know, that's something I read in a book once. I'm going to go hit a home run now, I'll be right back.

Alright.

The man stepped out of the shadows and he passed the dad lying prostrate in his shame and he went out there and he drew his weapon and he took three with him. There were tears streaming from the eyes of the dad. They shut again.

When the man returned to the shadows he held up two fingers as a challenge to those other men who bunked with him, who ate with him and fought with him and got their boots dirty and lost their blood together on the sun-soaked dust of the West. He held up two fingers as if to say we only need two more and that's all there is to it and then he looked at the man named Ackley and the man named Cano and the man named Miller. He looked at the man named Jackson and he said something that was difficult to understand, and then he put on his hat again and walked back into the punishing sun, vanishing like nothing more than a memory or a gust of summer wind.

The man named Jackson didn't know what to make of it, but on he rode as the sun began to move beyond the outer walls, exposing the once shadowy field to the naked sun like the light of Hope shining down on the earth on the First Day. It was not over yet. He knew that.

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IV- bottom of the ninth - Brad Miller's single - Austin Jackson - foul ball duel - 10-10 tie

The man was watching as the one named Miller fended off the Texans to take the first outpost and suddenly that strange thing called hope, even with the one named Olson exposing them all to fire in the previous skirmish. The sun behind the wall with no shadows and buzzards circling overhead, ready for a meal regardless of the color of fabric enclosing the body of their prey. Soon there would be food.

The one named Jackson thinks of the one he took earlier that day, and he thinks about the ones he let go in weeks past and he shakes his head and thinks No More as he steps into the box in front of the one wearing the badge that says Feliz and he stares with hate in his eyes, hate that grew from seeds planted in September, fertilized in March, rotting today. He stares and looks at two. One in and one outside. No More he thinks.

He fights off four and looks at another and he felt better than he had in years. His skin tingles and the bite of the sun on his face feels more like the kiss of a lover than the burn of the toil of labor. Night of his birth. Twenty eight. He takes one and he puts it out into the grass and the one named Miller evens the score and he was smiling until he looked and saw the man emerging out from the shadows.

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V- the man - walk off single - 11-10 Mariners - celebration

The one named Cano stands in the box and the Law responds with fear in their eyes and hands him the first outpost, having given it up again and again and again as the war progressed from morning into early afternoon. And then, the man.

He steps up and he gathers up his maple club in his arms against his immense and terrible flesh and he puts it right there on the ball and the one with Feliz on his badge falls to the ground and spits out blood and regret. The ball soars over the heads of the Texas Rangers as if it were the setting sun or the moon receding into the firmament of their fathers to be left in the pages of dead men long past, never to be retrieved again but for dust-worn pages discolored by ages of light. But unlike the two he took with him earlier in the fight this one falls down in the grass and means more than any that came before it.

The boy looks at the man running there and he remembers the day that he did this very same thing, and he remembers what came after and what it meant and he looks at the blood on his hands that has caked into another layer of flesh and he thinks he is ready, he is ready for it to mean something this time. He stands at the edge of the field and there are shouts and music and the men begin to rotate ponderously with a great shuffling.

And they are dancing. Towering over them all is the man, and he is dancing, his huge arms beckoning chance like a wild cat flaring its teeth at awaiting prey. He is dancing, his frame strong and terrifying. He never sleeps. He says that he will never die. He is dancing, dancing. He says that he will never die. Or at least, never lose another baseball game again. I mean, why not?