Joseph Edwin Haeger
“He’s the most intimidating pitcher in the history of baseball.”
“Because of the beard?”
“Well, that helps. Would you want to go against this guy?”
“I don’t know if I’d give a shit about him as much as a dude who puts people in the hospital or once exploded birds in mid-air.”
“Imagine that, but add a big, gnarly beard opposed to a sick mullet.”
“That ruins the whole argument. Sasquatch here doesn’t blow up birds. Dude doesn’t throw a consistent hundred-mile fast ball.”
“But if he did.”
“You already said he was the most intimidating. You’re backtracking.”
The buttons strained on Jefferson’s Ken Griffey, Jr. jersey. It was one of the originals, he would say, from the nineties. Not original like Griffey wore it, but original as in an MLB authentic fan jersey. This was before Griffey was a greedy prick who only played for money. Back when the Mariners were a team full of players who did it for the love of the game.
“I’m just saying I wouldn’t want to bat against him.”
“You wouldn’t bat against anyone in the majors. Probably not even in the minors,” Jefferson laughed a brittle few shots of air.
“Like you would,” Preston sank back against the plaid love seat. The fabric used to be tight and perky, but years of use had worn it down. Jefferson knew he needed to go and find a replacement, but couldn’t find the motivation. Preston’s extra weight pushed cat hair into the air, the floating particles catching the solitary source of light from the TV.
“Not only would I, but I could.”
“Seriously. Stick me up against any of these guys and watch it happen,” he said. “Wham-O,” the o was hardly audible. He made the pantomime of swinging a bat. The way he held his hand showed Preston that his friend imagined a wood bat, just like the pros. Babe Ruth would have held a bat like the one Jefferson put into his hands. The fabric clung tight against his ever expanding stomach. He’d been eating worse in the last few months, having to go to the store every few weeks to upgrade his waist size. Even the ring on his left hand felt tight.
“Looks more like you striking out, you son-of-a-bitch.”
They turned their attention back to the game. 3-2, two out, bottom of the ninth. The pitch looked high and tight, but the ump called it. Game over.
“Maybe they’ll play better on Wednesday,” Preston stood up, shaking his head and patting the stray hairs off his jacket.
Jefferson stayed seated in his recliner, staring at the TV, twirling the golden band on his finger.
“Maybe,” he said.
“I’m off. See you then?”
“Yeah, yeah,” Jefferson sighed. “See you Wednesday.”