Interior, an outlet mall. Two sisters are attempting to find maternity clothes.
ME: How about this one? [holds up a shirt that says “IT’S ALL ABOUT THE BUMP."]
MY SISTER: Ew.
ME: This one? [holds up shirt that says “Baby...loading” with picture of loading icon]
SISTER: Do you even know me?
ME, defensively: Yeah, well. They’re all like that. [Desperately checks phone. Sees that James Paxton has gone 1-2-3 in the first inning, escaped trouble in the second, and the Mariners batters have rewarded him by managing not a single hit in the first two innings. Buys sister shirt that says “Just kickin’ it” with a pair of gold lamé footprints emblazoned across it because what does it matter, anyway.
Interior: the Lighthouse Bar, in Des Moines. Two TVs are turned to the Mariners game, two to the Angels game, and one for karaoke. I promise my sister we will leave before karaoke starts.
SISTER AND MOM: [Engaged in lengthy discussion about baby gift registry.]
ME: [yelling in direction of television after Paxton has again worked a 1-2-3 inning in the third] SCORE HIM SOME RUNS YOU GOOBERS. Steve Clevenger ropes a double after working a ten-pitch at-bat, accounting for one-third of the pitches Colby Lewis has thrown all night in one fell swoop. ME: [indistinct screaming]
SALLY, a BARFLY: They told me I couldn’t sit there, why do you get to sit there.
BARTENDER: They’re watching the game, Sally, leave them be and let them watch.
OTHER BARFLY, urgently: The Dragon Gate is closed. I tried to open the door and it was locked. So the Dragon Gate is closed tonight.
ME: [After three ground outs cost the Mariners a chance to score] I’ll have another drink and the fried chicken.
BARFLY 2: Don’t try to get chicken at the Dragon Gate tonight. They’re closed.
MOM AND SISTER: [Politely wondering aloud when we can leave]
ME: [Politely but pointedly ignoring them]
ADAM LIND: [Hits home run, grins out to television audience. His beady little eyes seem to see all the way to this basement bar in Des Moines.]
Interior, my sister’s house. She is packing boxes to take to the storage unit to make room for baby. Babies take up lots of room. I am ferrying boxes to the car between batters.]
ME: [Sitting on box to watch Edwin Diaz pitch] I’m glad Servais left Pax in to get one more strike out, let him leave on a high note.
MY SISTER: This kid is supposed to be pretty good, right? [We sit on the couch in silence and watch Diaz falter, then recover to get a ground out and a force out to end the inning. She slaps me a high five. On the break, I carry more boxes to the car. The air is fresh and cool and lightly scented with pine and saltwater. The Mariners batters continue their parade of ineffectiveness]
[Cishek gets two outs in the ninth. I smile and pick up a box to carry it out. Facing the door, I hear a sickening crack.]
ME: That was not what it sounded like.
MY SISTER (who does not care that much about baseball but cares about me a lot): I’m sorry.
Interior, car, gliding home at night across streets just barely slicked with rain.
ME [yelling at radio]: COME ON MIKE I HAVE BEEN PULLING FOR YOU ALL YEAR AND THIS IS HOW YOU’RE GOING TO DO ME.
[Hope flares, for a moment, after Dae-Ho Lee singles, before it is stubbed out, a cigarette crushed underfoot.]
Interior, my house
ME: I know how this is going to end. Why am I going to watch this? Why am I doing this to myself? I shouldn’t watch.
[I watch anyway.]