Midge’s Story Ch. 06

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Chapter 6

I.

The calculus test was a farce.

There was an hour allotted for the test. At 15 minutes in, I had finished. I knew everything was right, but I spent five minutes going back over it. I didn’t find any errors. I looked around the room. The boys were still all head down in their test. The other girls were all looking around the room. I went back to my test and changed an answer, so it was wrong. If there were a bunch of 100% on a test of this level, there would be accusations of cheating. The wrong answer would cost me four percentage points. It was still going to be a solid “A”.

I looked at Susan. She was erasing an answer and changing it too. Another girl just turned hers back over to make a change. She flipped through the test. Then she tapped her pencil three times. Stopped then tapped it three times again. She waited. One of the other girls flipped through her test. She then tapped her pencil five times, paused, then tapped it five times again. In the end, all the girls got 96% on the test, but all had different questions wrong as the one they missed. When the bell rang, half the boys were still working on their tests. The girls averaged 96% on that test. The boys averaged 78%. It was just a sign of things to come.

The rest of the day was something of a blur.

Until last period.

Gym class.

I usually loved gym class. Having it as my last period was great too. Being a three-season athlete, I was always excused early on game days. There weren’t any games right now. Spring sports had just started practices. I played lacrosse in the Spring.

I really had wanted to play baseball.

I had been pretty good in the local Little League. I was the tallest player on our tournament team and a solid hitter. I also pitched, but mostly played third base. My long arms gave me an edge defensively. We’d gone to regionals and lost in the finals.

I went to sign up the next year, and they told me that I needed to sign up for the softball league. I didn’t want to play softball. I wanted to play baseball. I knew I could have made a fight of it, but Mom was sick. It would be wrong to take energy away from anything she needed. I told my dad I would try lacrosse with the girls instead of softball. I was a passable defender, and eventually got good enough to start on the varsity. Still, I cut school every opening day.

Today gym class would be interesting. It was nice day, so we were on the turf soccer field. Our gym teacher, well, he was a drinker and late in the day classes like ours were a challenge for him. He tossed me a soccer ball and a bag of mesh jerseys in two colors and asked me to take the class down to the field, split them up and have a game He told me he’d be in his office if we needed anything.

We got down to the field. There were twenty of us — ten boys and ten girls. One of the boys made a joke that we should play boys vs girls. Among the ten boys, six were varsity soccer players. I started to speak. I didn’t really want to do that. Marybeth Mueller — the other girl whose boyfriend was absent today, spoke up, “You fag bitches want to put some skin in the game?” Marybeth didn’t mince words.

One of the guys spoke up as a joke, “Sure let’s bet your clothes vs our clothes.”

Marybeth didn’t flinch. “Losers run back through the quad.” I had hoped to avoid anything too physical today. I didn’t really know what I could do yet, and I knew I had some experience with my new, uh, skills. I’m not sure the other girls did. To be honest, I didn’t know if this had happened to all the other girls, though it had happened to all the ones I’d spoken to. My fate was seal by what happened next.

Stan Johnson, clean-up hitting third baseman on the varsity baseball team (who by the way I stuck out three times in little league) spoke up, “I can’t wait to see Midge’s tit’s flapping through the quad. This is going to be a joke.” He was laughing his head off.

There was only one thing to do.

I flipped him the ball and said, “Boy’s kickoff.”

II.

Stan was right — the soccer game was a joke.

I don’t remember the exact score; I stopped counting when it was 12-0. The boys were totally outclassed by our strength, speed, and coordination. The girls ran them ragged for an hour. They were all sweat-soaked and exhausted by the time the game was over. Most of the girls had hardly broke a sweat.

My favorite moment was a throw-in I made from just over the midfield line. I really just wanted to see how far I could throw it. I saw Marybeth on the far side of the field. She had a guy on her, but, somehow, I could tell by the way she was carrying herself, that she intended to break for the goal. Soccer wasn’t my game, but I could sense the weight of the ball, the wind, even the temperature and humidity. I knew, intrinsically, where to put the ball. I brought the ball back over my head and threw it. It sailed across the field. A week ago, I couldn’t have kicked a soccer ball that far.

Marybeth broke for the güvenilir bahis goal on the throw. She dusted the poor boy assigned to guard her. Another guy charged and decided to challenge her for the ball — big mistake. I think he thought to knock her down while she was focused on the ball. She ran into her at full speed. The dude went flying. Marybeth barely broke stride. Her kick connected with the ball in the air. The goalie had a bead on it, but it was a powerful kick. It hit him square in the chest and carried him into the goal.

The look on the goalie’s face when he got up, wind knocked out of him, was priceless.

“That’s the game,” Marybeth told the ragged, defeated boys, “Time to pay up, losers.”

What happened next was a little scary, but also a little funny.

“Fuck you, cunt,” Stan said between heaving breaths. That was a big mistake. I started to move toward him, but Marybeth beat me to it. Stan never saw what hit him. She broke for him so fast it was almost hard to believe. Watching the scene, it was clear that Stan had no chance to react. It was like the rest of the world was moving in slow motion, but Marybeth was at regular — or faster — speed. It was clear to me that the other girls could see it too, but it was too fast for the boys to perceive.

In that flash, she was on him. She grabbed his collar, took him off his feet and slammed him to the turf. I could hear the air slam out of his lungs as he hit. He lay there stunned for a second. She released her grip on his collar. He started to sit up, but Marybeth slammed him back down with one hand. With the other she grabbed the Johnson family jewels. Stan screamed. She looked at the other stunned boys and said, “Anyone else want to try to welch on the bet?”

None of them did. They reluctantly stripped and took off at the run for the center of campus.

I didn’t bother watching the rest of their humiliation. I gathered the jerseys and the ball and took them back to the gym.

When I got there, I ran into Coach Smith — the baseball coach. He also had been coach of my little league team. I decided to shoot my shot. “Coach Smith,” I started, “Is there any reason I couldn’t go out for the baseball team?”

Coach Smith was an older guy. He was kind of nice, but, deep down, he was a chauvinist prick. He’d only reluctantly had me on his little league team. He replied, “Midge, we have been over this.” He paused, and went on, “Sure you could play with these guys when you were twelve and a foot taller than most of them, but you’re talking about playing with the men now.” He paused as if what he was saying needed time to digest. “If I let you play,” he said, trying to sound fatherly, “You could get hurt. I don’t want that on my conscience, sweetie.”

“Coach,” I said, “I’m willing to take my chances. Let me try out this afternoon. If I’m not good enough, you’ll be able to tell right away. You’ve been coaching for so long, you’ve seen everything.” I figured he’d go for a little ego massaging.

“Fine, Midge,” he relented, “One tryout, then we are done with this.”

This time, I was lying, he hadn’t seen everything.

III.

I raced home with Millie as soon school let out. I changed into a pair of old baseball pants. They were plenty long enough thanks to that early growth spurt but were a little tight in the butt and thighs as those parts had filled out — quite nicely — since then. Frankly, they looked sexy as hell, but it wasn’t the look I was hoping for to impress the baseball team. Well, they would definitely be impressed — just not with my hitting and fielding. I found my old spikes, and they still fit too — another fortunate side effect of being a twelve-year-old sasquatch.

The thing that took me the longest to find was my old mitt. It was in the attic. I hated the attic. First off, it was creepy. We lived in a house that I was sure was old enough to be haunted. The first couple of floors had been remodeled a couple of times over and were quite comparatively modern. The attic was straight out of Arsenic and Old Lace. I also hated it because I usually hit my head on the rafters. I thought I would try something. If I was remembering things like how to apply a sleeper hold after seeing it once and entire calculus textbooks, then I wondered if I could remember where I’d put that old mitt five years ago. I closed my eyes to think about it, and the location, the box, and what else was in it popped into my head.

I located the box without hitting my head on any of the rafter or disturbing any spirits lost on their journey to the afterlife. I took a deep breath and opened it. My mitt was on top which was great. Under it were some things of my mother’s that were gifted to me when she died. I put them here with the mitt because, at the time, I just didn’t want to think about them. There was a varsity jacket with letters for volleyball and basketball — mom was tall like me and she had been a good athlete. There was the veil from her wedding, some pictures of her at various places around the globe, and long wool scarf.

She’d güvenilir bahis siteleri worn the scarf all through college. It wasn’t particularly feminine and was not in the best shape. It had been her great-grandfather’s, she’d told me. He’d worn it working on the docks — he would go on to found the businesses that made the family richer than Croesus, but he’d been just another dumb mick dock worker as a young man. She told me she wore the scarf through college as a reminder — there was always a job waiting for her if she didn’t want to do the work of getting an education. That hardly seemed likely — she came from ridiculous wealth. It was still a good story.

I took the mitt and beat it back to the school’s baseball field.

I was putting a bit on the line here. If my lacrosse coach took this the wrong way I could be off that team and still not be guaranteed a spot on the baseball team. I hadn’t thought about that until I pulled into the parking lot behind the ballfield. I had to try.

The catcalls and wolf whistles I got walking onto the diamond were not helping me win over Coach Smith. “I was starting to wonder if you’d show up, Ryan,” he said greeting me, “We’re trying to win a championship here, not put on a fucking burlesque show, girl.” He didn’t let that stop him from taking a pretty long look at my ass as I walked over the bench to put my stuff down.

I came running back with my glove. “Let’s see if you can field at this level, Juggs,” he said. The couple of players standing there laughed. Great, I thought, if I make the team, I’m going to be “Juggs” for the rest of my life. I looked down at the twins. The man had all the creativity of a ten-year-old on a playground, but that nickname may have been inevitable. “Let’s try you at second. Stills, take first. Roberts take short. Mitchell, hit her some stuff — no taking it easy.”

“Coach,” I interrupted, “I play third.”

“On a 60-foot diamond, Juggs, that’s a much longer throw on a 90.” He replied.

“Coach, are you going to give me a fair tryout?” I protested, and added, “The angles at second are all different.” I’d played third for the last three years of organized baseball and could scoop up anything hit to the hot corner. I did also pitch, but third was my position.

“We’re gonna need someone at third, coach,” It was Jason Stills, we’d played little league together. I was also his first kiss — though he wasn’t mine. He played first, but he’d gotten to second with me. “Johnson got a concussion in gym class today — probably be out a week,” he added.

“Shit,” said Coach Smith, “Fine, Juggs, you can try out at third, Roberts, take second for the double play. He turned to Jason, “You get over at first, and scoop up the dribbles that make it that far. Let’s go we haven’t got all day.”

I went over to third and set up. The first hit came right away. Steve Mitchell was a hitting them hard. He was the best player on the team by far. A pitcher, he’d thrown a league record five no-hitters in three years. He had been drafted by the Mets but was going to play at LSU instead. He was 6’4″, 250lbs, he could put it all behind a pitch or a bat.

He put the ball right where the infield dirt met the grass. The bastard is trying to generate bad hops, I realized. No one is going to help me make this team, I thought. The ball did take a weird hop, but it seemed like it was moving in slow motion. I fielded it cleanly and gunned it to first.

“OW!” Jason yelled as the ball slammed in his mitt. He took the ball out and rolled it to home. Then shook his glove hand like it hurt. I took about twenty or thirty hits and fielded each one cleanly and made the throw based on the coach’s call. (first or second)

“Ok, Juggs, you can pick up a ground ball,” Coach Smith said, and added, “Let’s see if you can hit. Get a bat and a helmet. Mitchell, you’re throwing.”

Great, I’m sure Steve is going to just lob me a few grapefruits and let me swing away, I thought. I grabbed a helmet. I tried a few bats — my old one was still with Josh and ruined anyway. They all felt so light. I picked the heaviest one figuring, if they all felt light, the heaviest one would generate the most force. I took a couple of practice swings and got in the batter’s box. The coach made a “go ahead” gesture to Steve.

I’d seen Steve pitch a few times. He had a real fastball — could top out at 96mph, but his curve was a killer. He made a lot of good batters look really bad with it. I wasn’t sure which would be coming, but it I thought this was likely the end of my very short high school baseball career.

I was wrong.

The first pitch left Steve’s hand. Again it was like slow motion. I could see the laces move. It was the heater. I swung and made contact. With a wood bat, you can “hear” a home run off the bat. It’s a little different with a metal bat — all the hits sound bigger with a clang than a crack. This one you could hear. Heads turned all over the field as the ball came off the bat. It flew over the fence in left center — well over. I must have iddaa siteleri hit that sucker 450 feet. I just watched it sail.

Steve was agape but recovered. The next pitch came — again with heat. That one I drove to center — probably farther than the first. Steve was as pissed as everyone else was awed. He came with another pitch. I saw the laces again; this was the curve. I took it to see how it broke. He brought another one. This one I drove at least 500 feet.

Steve was getting pissed. Some of the guys in the dugout where laughing at him. The next pitch was the heater again, but way in on my hands. The son-of-a-bitch was trying to brush me back. The next one came at my head. I bailed out. I got up and dusted myself off. He’s trying to kill me to prove a fucking point, I thought. The next pitch was inside again, but I wasn’t having it. I could see the pitch well enough to put it anywhere I wanted, and I did.

It came screaming off the bat right at Steve. It was way faster than he could react. It missed his head by an inch. I dropped the bat, took off the helmet and started to walk to the dugout. I wasn’t putting up with this bullshit for the next three months. I proved I was good enough, that was, well, good enough.

“Later, bitch,” came the yell from the mound.

That was a mistake. I turned, walked over there, stood about two feet from him, and asked, “What did you call me, Steve?”

“I called you a bitch, bitch,” He answered.

“Well, I just took your best stuff deep three times. I think if anyone here looks like a bitch, it’s you.” I said, then gestured to the guys looking on, “Ask anyone.”

“I was wrong,” Steve said, “You’re a cunt.”

I almost hit him, but that’s not how I wanted this to go. I kept my cool and told him, “Speaking of cunts, I’m going to go do to your girlfriend’s cunt what I just did to your weak arm.” Then I put it over the top, “She told me she really needed someone who could make her cum.”

Steve was a true bitch. He took a swing at me. Me. A “defenseless” girl.

Just kidding. I dodged his pathetic punch like he was hardly moving. I grabbed the arm and threw a hand into the back of the elbow. It bent back the wrong way with a loud snap. He screamed as the tendons tore and the elbow dislocated.

He wasn’t going to be pitching for the Mets or LSU in the fall.

IV.

I didn’t want to go home after what happened on the baseball diamond.

It got kind of ugly. Coach Smith called the cops and the dean. As the ambulance was leaving with Steve — his arm in an air splint, the cops were asking me what happened. Coach Smith just saw his championship season go rolling off to the hospital. He was blowing up what happened as me losing my cool after not being successful in my tryout and told the cops and the dean that I attacked Steve without provocation.

The cops came to talk to me. I gave them my name, told them I didn’t want to talk, and asked if I was under arrest or free to go. I think that surprised them. My dad’s a lawyer. He was prosecutor for a lot of years, but eventually decided he didn’t want to be part of a system that seemed so bent against the poor and minorities. Mom had a trust fund — we could live a very comfortable lifestyle on the interest alone. Dad quit his job as a prosecutor and took on criminal defense and eviction cases at whatever the client could pay. I got the “Shut the Fuck Up” lecture on my 14th birthday. Not talking to the cops was the closest thing to a religion I had left.

The cops were irritated and a little taken aback by so confident a response from an 18-year-old-girl. It ended up not mattering. “The incident” as it came to be known happened in full sight of the team. Aside from Coach Smith’s lie, every other eyewitness gave the same story. They all told the cops, Steve had gotten mad after I kept going yard on him, he’d started trying to bean me, I started to walk away rather than get hit, he called me to the mound, we talked quietly, then Steve lost his shit and tried to punch me. From there things were a little fuzzier. I had moved so fast, most of the guys didn’t see what happed. Half said they thought Steve missed with his punch and fell — breaking and dislocating his pitching arm. The other half couldn’t figure out what happened, because they knew Steve was screaming before he was on the ground. The general theory there was I did some kind of martial art dodge and throw using Steve’s body weight and momentum against him.

None of that mattered much. What did was that Steve had clearly attack me — a “defenseless” girl. That was enough for the cops and the dean. They considered it a case of self-defense. The cops asked me if I’d like to press charges against Steve, but I demurred. Obviously, it was not okay with Coach Smith. It was pretty clear my baseball career was over before it started.

I grabbed my glove and bag and headed for my car. Tomorrow, I’d have to go beg the lacrosse coach to forgive me for missing practice for this debacle. I’d hoped that it would go unnoticed, but, with all the ado, there was little chance of that. I’d probably also have to explain things to my dad. This was shaping up as a pretty shitty afternoon. I opened the trunk of the car, tossed in my bag, and grabbed my sneakers to change out of my cleats.

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