(first appeared at runningoutofink.com on 4/1/2013)
This story takes place where all great stories take place. Nevada. In the sleepy little town of Johnsonville, not too terribly far away from Reno. You might wonder how a town that has a disproportionately large number of prostitutes can be sleepy but I assure you, it’s sleepy. This is where the hookers live, not work. When they are at home they are just like everyone else.
Anyway, for the past 50 years the town has played a charity softball game against a rival town called Heartland. I might as well get it out of the way right now and tell you that Heartland doesn’t have any prostitutes living within its borders. Why I even mentioned that Johnsonville does is beyond me. It’s not really relevant to the story but I guess it added a bit of sex appeal so I included it. A decision I’m now regretting because I’m trying to tell you about a softball game and now all you can imagine is how much better the Johnsonville team looks in their uniforms than the Heartland players and that plays no part in the actual plot.
Or does it?
You be the judge.
Anyway, the first couple of decades the rivalry was heated and in the end caused more hard feelings than good so it was decided these games would end every year in a draw. Actually “decided” isn’t quite accurate. There were no meetings or votes, it just turned out that the players sort of let things always end in a draw and everyone seemed happier that way. And that’s the way things have been going for the past 30 years. 5-5. 8-8. 2-2.
You get the idea. Fun and camaraderie routinely ruled the day.
But there were forces working within Heartland that threatened to end this idyllic sporting tradition. Namely Jeannette and Gary Wilston. They felt this annual display of goodwill between the two towns had gone on quite long enough and it was time to reintroduce the spirit of competition to the event. Well, that and they were sick and tired of being nice to a town that harbored so many filthy whores.
Ok, I guess the prostitute thing did end up playing a rather significant role in the story despite my attempts at downplaying it. My apologies.
Although truth be told, a neutral observer might place more of the blame on the fact that Heartland was suffering more from the poor economy than Johnsonville and the true roots of this newfound animosity might be more economical than moral but you know how humans are wired.
So on this pleasant afternoon all was well until the top of the seventh inning. The game was seven innings in length and the score was tied 5-5. To all eyes it appeared to be another lovely day of softball with everyone looking forward to the postgame picnic. In fact, a lot of the crowd had already turned their attention to the picnic tables surrounding the field and were busy unloading sandwiches and potato salad from their various cars and minivans in anticipation of the end of the contest.
But not Jeannette and Gary Wilston. Oh no. After some quick changes to the batting lineup they made sure that the bases would be well populated when “Big Gary” came up to the plate. And they were. And he did.
There was a nervous titter in the audience. In the resulting tittering/chaos a container of baked beans was lost to the forces of gravity and the unsavory nature of the grass below. A hush fell over the field.
It was the bottom of the seventh now and Jeannette Wilston had taken over the duties of pitching. Have I mentioned she was a star softball pitcher during her college days?
Soon the only noise daring to be heard was the whistling of the ball followed by the loud crack of it hitting the catcher’s mitt as she warmed up.
Everyone leaned forward on the bleachers as the first Johnsonville batter approached the plate. An attractive woman named April. Too attractive if you asked Jeannette and her first pitch was high and tight. In softball they call it a little chin music. In Johnsonville they call it being a bitch.
April conveyed these thoughts to Jeanette.
The second pitch hit April and not only was she awarded a base but she was also given an interesting bruise to show her customers the following day.
Calming down Jeannette returned to her college form and struck out the next two Johnsonville batters on consecutive pitches.
Agnes the librarian was next up and held in her hands the hopes of all of Johnsonville. The birth of Agnes the librarian predated the beginning of the softball series between the two towns and probably the invention of softball itself. Perhaps even chess.
She strode confidently if not slowly to the plate. Mostly slowly to be fair. There was a steely look to her gaze … but it might have just been the glare of the sun.
A smile unfurled across Jeannette’s face as she fired in the first strike.
And then the second.
But on the third pitch, the lovely and wonderful third pitch, she hung it a little and Agnes got all of it.
Not only did it go sailing over the chain-link fence signifying a home run but it bounced into an adjacent parking lot and it took five full minutes for a swarm of small children to even locate the ball. Which was fortunate because that was just about the amount of time Agnes needed to finish rounding the bases.
And next up for Johnsonville was their best hitter. Also a former college softball player and also a prostitute.
The fans on the Johnsonville sideline began a chant of I Want Candy, the iconic Bow Wow Wow song from the 80’s and also a song that Candy routinely started off her set down at the nearby gentleman’s club where she was a favorite. Now just to be clear, the entire Johnsonville team wasn’t made up of hookers; April and Candy were the only ones on the squad but ended up being featured so prominently in this little tale due to nothing more than fate and my personal affinity for typing the word hooker as often as I can.
Anyway, she never lifted the bat from her shoulder. She stood there smiling and Jeannette stood there glowering. It wasn’t until after she’d thrown the third strike that Jeannette understood that by the game ending in a tie that she had lost.
Everyone poured out onto the field to celebrate and poor Agnes was lifted up and nearly died of a coronary in the excitement. I regret to also inform you that at least one tub of coleslaw was knocked over in the celebration. It’s always the side dishes isn’t it?
Later that same week “Big Gary” Wilston was busted for running a meth lab out of his basement.