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Uncle Billy delicately balanced the food tray in his hands as he edged past the couple at the end of the row and slipped into his seat. "That was an ordeal."
"You sure were gone a long time," I said. "You missed Miguel slapping a single to right to drive in Jackson."
"Well, it wasn't by choice. The line at the hot dog stand was ten deep ... it took forever to get this." He handed me a hot dog and a wad of napkins.
"I appreciate it, Uncle ... in fact I appreciate this whole thing."
"Hey, it's not everyday I can help my nephew celebrate a birthday."
I spread the napkins on my lap and set down the hot dog down. "This should be good series ... The Royals are gonna be tough this year."
He handed me a beer from the tray. "Maybe ... but I couldn't pass up the deal ... Tony Swanson ... you know, the guy across the hall from me?"
"He was gonna take his grandson, but the kid couldn't get out of school, so he gave the tickets to me."
"I thought, 'hey, it's Chris's birthday .. I'll bet he'd like to go to the game'."
"Well, I appreciate it ... and these dogs and beer aren't cheap."
He held up a bag of peanuts. "Neither are these ... good thing Tony had 50% off coupon for the food concession."
A cheer went up in the stadium. I watched Cabrera round third, heading for home. Martinez slid into second with solid double up the gap in right field.
I set the beer in the cup holder in front of me so I could clap. "How about that?"
Uncle Billy glanced at the score board. "We're only down three runs now."
I sighed. "Well, I just want you know that I'm enjoying the hell out of this."
"I'm glad you are, boy ... I appreciate all the stuff you do for me." Uncle Billy took a bite of his hot dog.
I looked over at him. It was the first time, at least the first time I could remember, that he had openly acknowledged anything like that. "Gee, Uncle, that's mighty nice of you to say."
Billy kept his attention on the field as he chewed. Dirks took a mighty swing at a big curve and struck out to retire the side.
Billy swallowed and said, "Great ... we strand another runner."
I ignored the hubbub in the stands around us as people started moving for the bathrooms and concessions. "It would've made mom very happy to know that you are so close to Cheryl and me these days."
Billy took a sip a beer and stared off at the skyline behind centerfield.
"You miss her, don't you?"
Billy took another swig of his beer, sniffed and said, "Yeah ... but I've got her son and his wife to keep me company."
"Gee, Uncle I ..."
"Now, if Porcello can get his slider over the plate ... maybe we can stay in this ballgame."