Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Play Ball!

An audio version of this post can be found at: 

  I looked around Reggie's Bar and Grill until I spotted Hank waving to me. I waved back and made my way toward him.
   "You made it," said Hank when I arrived at the table.
   "Yep." I starred at the pleasant looking woman who was sitting next him.
   "Oh, this Dorothy," said Hank, draping his arm around her chair. "Dorothy, this is Chris, Bill's nephew."
   She held out her hand to me. "Hello, Chris."
   I took her hand in mine and pumped it gently a couple of times. "Nice to meet you, Dorothy."
   Her face broke into a grin that caused plump cheeks to lift a pair of wire-rimmed glasses off her nose. "Please, call me Dottie ... everyone does."
   I let go of her hand. "Okay, Dottie it is."
   "Dottie is a big Tiger fan," said Hank.
   I sat down in a chair across the table from her. "Well, you've come to the right spot." I looked at Hank. "Where is everybody?"
   "I don't know." He looked at his watch. "We got here a little early, but ..."
   A pitcher of beer suddenly appeared in front of me. I looked up at Nancy, the ever-present waitress at Reggie's. "Hi, Nancy."
   "Hi, ya ... where's the rest of ya?"
   "I was just asking Hank the same thing."
   "They'll be along," said Hank. "No one wants to miss the opening ceremony of the World Series."
   "I'll get some more glasses," said Nancy. She turned and walked away.
   "So, Dottie, how long have you known Hank?" I asked.
   Hank answered for her. "Oh, we've know each other for ages. Dottie's my favorite cashier at VG's Market."
   "No kidding?" I said. "I'm not sure I've seen you there, Dottie."
   Hank continued to speak for her. "Oh, she doesn't work at the one you go to ... it's the one out on fifty-nine."
   I kept my gaze on Dottie. "So, how long have you worked there?"
   "Gee, I don't know," said Hank, "how long has it been, Dottie?"
   Dottie smiled, "I've been there eight years, Chris."
   Just then, Mary and Becky appeared at the table.
   "Hi, guys," said Hank. "Meet Dottie."
   "Hello, Dottie, I'm Becky." They shook hands briefly.
   Mary sat in a chair next to Dottie and introduced herself.
   Becky sat down next to me. "Hello, Chris."
   "Hi, Becky ... where's Eb?"
   "Oh, he's at book signing with Irv Nesbaum," she said. "He said he'd be here by the second or third inning."
   "A book signing with Irv?" I wondered aloud. "How'd that happen?"
   "Irv asked him to join him at an event sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce ... I guess they are acknowledging local authors."
   "No kidding?"
   Nancy came by and set a glass in front of her.
   "Thanks," said Becky. She continued to me,"I'm surprised you didn't know about it."
   "I hadn't heard a thing," I said.
   I could see her flush slightly and she turned her attention to the big screen on the wall. A beer ad was on. "They haven't thrown out the first pitch yet, have they?"

Tuesday, October 23, 2012


   "Clara's going to New York with Alex?"
   "Yeah ... better get in the left turn lane," said Billy.
   "I know where to turn, Uncle ... I've been taking you here for six years ... so what is this about?" I eased the car in the middle lane and flicked on the turn signal.
   "I need to get my lotto ticket and ... "
   "I know why we're going to Manny's ... why is Clara going to New York with Alex?"
   "Oh. She claims that Alex has a cousin in the publishing business and he's set up a meeting with him."
   I turned into Manny's parking lot. "Really? Alex has a cousin in the business?"
   "That's exactly what I said."
   "You think that something else is going on?"
   "You know, I was born at night ... but not last night."
   "So, what's your theory?"
   "Hello? Is your brain at home? Hey, there's a spot ..."
   "I see it." I turned down the row with the empty parking spot. "You think Alex is just taking her on a vacation to New York?"
   "Of course ... a cousin in the publishing business ... how lame is that?"
   I pulled into the open space. "I suppose it's possible ... besides, you don't have any room to talk ... you've gone to Branson with Alma Beeler."
   "That's different."
   I shut of the engine. "Oh? Exactly how is that different?"
   "I didn't pretend that I was going on business trip."
   "So, that make's it okay?"
   "Well, yes ... at least I was up front about it."
   "You told Clara you were going to Branson with Alma?"
   "No ... but I didn't tell her Alma had a cousin singing with the Oak Ridge Boys, either." Billy opened the door to get out. "You want a ticket?"
   I nodded.
   Billy held out his hand. "Well?"

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Read Right

   The door slid open and Cheryl stepped onto the deck. "What are you reading?"
   I held up the book so she could read the title.
   "High Class Games?"
   I turned the book so I could see the title. "Yep."
   "Who's it by?"
   "Richard McCoy."
   She sat on the bench facing my chair. "Oh yeah, I've heard of him. He's got a series out about ... about ..."
   "Mersey Goldman."
   "Right ... the seedy lawyer in Florida who is always getting into crazy cases."
   "That's the one." I set the book down in my lap and reached for the coffee cup at my feet. "Clara told me I have to read this guy ... that his style is similar to mine."
   "I was wondering ... I rarely see you with a fiction book in your hands."
   "You know my motto ..."
   "... 'The bad ones bore you and the good ones make you jealous' ... well, is it?"
   "Is it what?"
   "Is his style like yours?"
   I took another sip of coffee and pondered the fall colors of the trees for few seconds. "I don't know ...  I could see how Clara might draw that conclusion ... I mean, there are some things about the characters that are ... I guess you might say similar ... but that's about all I see."
   "Is it good?"
   I looked at the book in my lap. "Yes, it's pretty entertaining."
   "Does that mean it's good?"
   "Well, that's what's it all about, isn't it? I mean, if you can entertain your audience, you've done well, right?"
   "This guy has a publishing contract and about eight books out in this series ... he must be doing something right."
   She closed her eyes and turned her face toward the sun. "How's your next book coming?"
   I set the coffee cup down. "Should have it done by the time McCoy gets to number sixteen in the series."

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Virtual Frustration

   I approached the table gingerly, my eyes slowly adjusting to the dim light. Hank was the first to spot me.
   "Hey, Chris ... you made it."
   Uncle Billy set his beer on the table and looked up. "I thought you were attending that webinar ... the one about marketing books."
   Eb slid out the empty chair next to his. "Here ya go, Chris."
   I sat down. "I tried ... I couldn't figure out how to join the session."
   "I don't get that high-tech stuff either," said Eb. He put up his arm and shouted to the waitress. "Hey, can we get another glass over here?"
   "I was kinda cheesed off ... I arranged my afternoon around around that stupid thing."
   "What happened?" asked Becky.
   "I don't know ... I tried to join the session and kept getting a message that I was already in a session and couldn't join another."
   "Couldn't you log out of the session you were supposedly in?" she asked.
   "Not that I could see ... there really wasn't much information on the site ... I ..."
   The waitress set a glass in front or me. "Oh, thank you."
   She winked at me. "You're welcome, sweetie." Then she walked away.
   Eb grabbed the glass and filled it from a pitcher of beer. "Here ya go, partner."
   "Thanks, Eb." I picked up the glass and took a long swallow.
   "I had a similar experience," said Mary. "I couldn't get into a session ... but I got a message that the session was full."
   "How can a web-based meeting be full?" asked Hank.
   "Maybe the presenter only wants so many participants ... you know, so he can respond to them all." Everyone turned toward Billy.
   "What if you just wanted to eavesdrop on the session ... sorta like auditing a college class," asked Hank.
   "Who knows?" said Billy. "All I know is the game is starting and I'd like you all to shut up so I can hear the lineups."
   "You think they'll change from yesterday?" asked Eb.
   Bill ignored him, intent on the television screen.
   "He needs the official line-up, Eb," said Hank. "It's for his rotisserie baseball league."

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Winter Harbinger

   "Hand me that allen wrench, will you?"
   Uncle Billy looked around the deck. "What allen wrench?"
   I rose to my knees and reached for the tool sitting on the rail. "Never mind ... I'll get it."
   "Oh, that allen wrench." Billy took a sip of his beer.
   I grabbed it and sat back down, crossing my legs. "How was your date with Clara?"
   "What date?"
   I spun an upended table around to gain access to screws that held the legs in place. "I thought you took her to the Tiger game the other day?"
   Billy set his beer can down next to his feet and leaned back in his chair. "We went to the game together ... that doesn't make it a date."
   I pulled the first screw out and turned the table again. "I wonder if that's how Clara looks at it."
   "She looks at it the same as I do ... two people went to a ballgame."
   "Do you suppose Alma would look at it that way?"
   Billy sat forward and picked up his beer. "How would she even know about it?"
   I pulled out another screw. "I'm not saying she does, I was just curious how she might feel about you going to a ballgame with Clara."
   "Oh, that's right ... you writers are just naturally curious, aren't you?"
   "I suppose we are."
   "Okay, Bernstein, here's a question for you ... why the hell are you taking that crappy old table apart?"
   I pulled out a leg. "So I can store it for the winter."
   "Isn't that outdoor furniture?"
   I pulled out another leg. "Yes."
   "And you store it because ..."
   I pulled out the final leg. "It lasts longer if I put it in the garage for the winter."
   "Judging by the shape of that thing, I don't think your theory is sound."
   I struggled to my feet. "Hey, we've had this table for eight years."
   "That's all?"
   "I don't think it looks that bad."
   "I suppose you're going to want me to help you drag that junk around to the garage, eh?"
   "I could use a little help."
   Billy stood up. "So could this deck ... when was the time you had it stained?"
   I stood the legless table top on end. "I don't know what I'd do without your helpful insights."
   "Me neither." Billy drained his beer.