The King is alone in a furnished penthouse apartment in the Baltimore suburbs. Month-to-month because he’s no fool; an apartment- not a hotel - because he still tastes his own greatness.
“Commercial in progress” flashes across the enormous flatscreen, and he scrolls on his phone with a vacant stare. The notifications and texts began running through in the fifth or sixth like they always do.
He feels the heat of mid-August across his face and the heavy warmth along his shoulders. The rich smell of grass and million-dollar dirt lingers in his nose, a wisp of cool salty air dances through his memories.
He’s home. The most at-home he’s ever felt, perched above the rest, toes rocking against rubber. There’s a laser focus, but he’s loose; opposing batters appear as amorphous beings on either side of the tunnel, what’s-his-face’s mitt a dark blur at the end, but everyone there that day knows the beginning, middle and end belong to him.
He went out that night to celebrate. Or maybe he celebrated at home? It wasn’t like winning the World Series, or so he’s been told. The team played nearly two more months of baseball afterwards, somehow. He gave everyone something, as a gesture of thanks after the fact, but their celebrations were all but forgotten the next day.
Coaches told him for years this was a team sport, but he always felt like it was Félix versus the world and this game proved it.
The diamond appears on the screen again and there’s a close-up shot of another man on the mound, haggard now as he approaches the end of his battle with Immortality. With each pitch, the man on the mound exhales heavily and the man on the sofa inhales, inhales, inhales until the air disappears from the room and a new tunnel forms from eyes to pixels.
Ball meets cleat. Immortality snickers, just a few centimeters shy.
The King is alone again.