First of all, I present Eric Burdon and the Animals, doing "House of the Rising Sun", because OMG THEY WERE SO DAMNED YOUNG. I always imagined Eric looking, well, sort of thirty-ish and scarred and tough, but this kid looks barely young enough to be smoking behind the gas station, and his band mates aren't any older. (Yes, I know they're lip-syncing for the video, but dammit, that kid had to sing this song at least once, right?)
So, since they won't let me embed it in my blog, go see it on YouTube-- it's fairly amazing.
I've actually had my head pretty far down the creativity rabbit hole--honestly, it makes it hard to blog.
But I HAVE finished a book called Seasons in the Sun (tentatively) and its the first in a series of what should be seven books set mostly in the minor league baseball team called the Sacramento Mud Wumpets.
No, I don't know what a Mud Wumpet is, but seriously, I'd go see them play.
Since the book won't be out for a while--and, yes, it's my first time writing het in a while--I thought I'd give you a snippet of it, just to, you know, get your toes wet.
Also, nothing interesting at all is going on inside my head except knitting and writing the fourth Manny book.
So, here you go.
Mud Wumpets. Enjoy.
* * *
August Mortimer eyed the rookie pitcher at the mound in the first inning of the practice game and tried to decide if he had enough juice in his arm to beat the little bastard up.
He stretched, he jiggled, he rubbed, and then he wound, tight, lifting his leg to counterbalance, throwing his arm out, sweeping his leg back and…. Boom! Boofuckinyah!
The rookie cried, “Ouch!” and dropped the ball, and Gus chuckled to himself.
“Gee, Mr. Mortimer, I know you gotta be getting tired, so don’t worry about bringing the heat. We’re just practicing today, right?”
Little prick. Who in the hell was “Mr. Mortimer” anyway?
To his left, Dash Brosnan snickered from first base. “Gee, Augie, you didn’t have to sizzle the poor little bastard.”
Augie was his nickname—the one they put on the stat board when he was batting. Only the people who knew him before pro-ball called him Gus.
“Kid called him Mr. Mortimer,” Roscoe Tennyson drawled from third.
“Jesus. Fry the fucker.”
Gus pulled up a corner of his mouth, narrowed his eyes, and showed his teeth. “Sure.”
Batter? What batter.
By the end of the game—held early because it was officially pre-season--little Elvis Macklemore had to go ice his hand and Rufus Cowell, the pitching coach, was up in Gus’s grill.
“That was mean,” he said, spitting with practiced ease on the concrete of the dugout. He didn’t chew tobacco anymore—just gum. But Rufus was in his fifties, grizzled and sardonic, with jowls and a day’s growth of graying stubble at any time. Gus figured he just liked to spit.
“He called me Mr. Mortimer.”
“Oh, well then. By all means cook your arm and poke it with a stick to shut him down. That’s adult, Methuselah. That’ll get you through another season.”
“Go ice your arm and apologize to the rookie.”
Gus grunted. “He’s too sweet.”
“Make sure he stays that way.”
Fine, fine. Wasn’t the kid’s fault Gus was in a mood.
He overtook the kid on the way to the locker room. “Ice, kid,” he muttered. “Here—I’ll go to med bay and get you some.”
Kid was sweet looking—not tall, but short like his best friend in college. Curly hair, brown eyes, a sweet little pursed mouth. Yeah. Poor Tanner, following Jeremiah around, loyal as a puppy.
Gus owed that memory.
“Did I say something to make you made Mr—“
“Augie,” he bit out. “Kid—don’t you get it? The minute you take the scholarship, take the paycheck, take the material gain for that thing you love, the clock starts ticking. Nobody likes to hear it—you understand?”
Elvis bit his lip and nodded. “Sorry, si—Augie.”
“You’re straight out of high school, aren’t you, Elvis?”
“Two years of junior college before I took the draft,” he confirmed.
Gus sighed. “Well, don’t let old bastards like me bother you. It’s a good game. Just, you know. Treat it with respect.”
The kid didn’t smile, but some of the kicked-puppy look faded and Gus felt marginally better.
“Stay there. I’ll go get ice.”
A half an hour later the kid was still sitting in the corner, looking surreptitiously at the guys in the shower, and Gus felt a sort of yank in his chest.
Tanner used to look like that.
He thought about going to say something to him—thought about what it could mean if he spoke up, said, “Hey, it’s okay—don’t grab anybody’s ass, but nobody’s going to know if you don’t tell them.”
Thought about how that might freak the kid out more.
Just about the time Gus thought, “Hey, I should text Tanner and find out,” he checked his phone and smiled.
Dinner w/me and Jer Saturday. Bring dessert. Inviting Juniper too. Well, it made sense. The season began in earnest next week. The blessings of a really early Easter and spring training were an extra week on the schedule to have practice games.
Presumptuous much? But Gus was smiling. Haven’t said hi since Christmas!
You could text too, you arrogant fuck.
Course I’ll come over. I might even bring dessert.
Did you see the thing about Juni?
Gus grimaced. Fourteen years, they’d managed to steer clear of each other. Of course, for some of those years, Gus had been playing for Atlanta, but for the last few months, he’d been here in Sacramento, within spitting distance of the first girl he’d ever loved.
Seeing her at Tanner and Jer’s small private Christmas party every year had burned. A different guy, every year, every one of them with glasses and a beard—hell, the last one had a man bun.
All of them wide-eyed at meeting the great Jeremiah Westfall, blind to the treasure at their side.
Or at least that’s how Gus saw it—he really was not excited by any of the guys she’d brought in to replace him over the years.
Juni, on the other hand, didn’t seem to be missing him at all.
Yeah. I heard. We’re grownups. We’ll deal.
You’re children, but you’ll still deal. Saturday, seven. See you then.
Well, good. He’d ask Tanner then, about talking to that poor scared kid. He’d read enough accounts of athletes coming out after their careers to know that one person—one good friend—could be the difference between a decent career and a whole lot of misery.
Watching Tanner and Jeremiah over the last nineteen years had hurt his heart.
He looked at his phone again and thought, You know where she’s working. You can be in town in time to see her before you meet at Tanner’s.
What would the purpose of that be?
You could see her, moron.
He could ask her how she’s doing. How’s life been treating her. If she managed to find the right manbun to make her happy.
If she’d taught anybody to fix their pitch using physics lately.
He could hear her voice in his head, frustrated, near tears actually, as she sat in the stands of the stadium at Davis...
Seasons in the Sun
by Amy Lane