Flash Frenzy Round 29

Posted: July 26, 2014 in Flash Frenzy Weekend Flash Challenge
Tags: , , , ,

Welcome to Round 29!

This weekend, flash aficionado Karl A Russell is presiding judge.

Before we get started, here’s a brief reminder of the rules.

Deadline: Sunday at 6:00pm MST. You all have 36 hours to create your best work of up to 360 words (exclusive of title) and post it into the comments below. Please include your word count (required) and Twitter handle if applicable. For complete rules, click here. 

The winning author and their story will be featured as Wednesday’s Hump-Day Quickie, receive a winner’s page, and be crowned Flash Master of the Week.

Here is your prompt.


photo courtesy Ashwin Rao

photo courtesy Ashwin Rao

  1. Cathy Lennon says:

    The Catcher and the rye

    It was Oleta’s fault. If she hadn’t stood there with her hand on her hip and a sneer on her face, he would’ve just left him. Even after a bottle of jack. Even then. ‘Cos he’d never been a violent drunk. Not like some of the guys he knew. Dwayne rubbed his eye and the pain in his hand was like an explosion, shockwaves travelling up to his shoulder.

    Over the tannoy someone made a joke. The guys all laughed but no one turned to smile at him. He sat behind them, separate like they already knew. The people were starting to trickle down the bleachers. He watched them through throbbing purple patches.

    Coach Mercer tilted the peak of his cap up and pushed towards him. ‘You’re drinking in the last chance saloon, son.’ His eyes narrowed when he saw the bruises. Dwayne said nothing. ‘The guys are relying on you. You remember the strategy?’ He swallowed bile and nodded.

    When he walked out to the field, his right hand felt the same size as the gloved one. It burned like it was on fire. He felt the pain in every part of him and the pain would make him strong. The game was all that mattered now. Everything would be perfect. It would be sweet like his dreams. He would choreograph and control it and everyone would see what he was capable of.

    He looked out through the bars of his visor at Matty, tossing the ball from hand to hand, waiting. Dwayne crouched low and signalled, each finger stiff with agony. The buzz died away and his breath stilled, anticipating the pitch. When it didn’t come he looked from side to side. The hitter turned around and frowned. Dwayne mouthed at Matty who still held the ball in his hand. ‘What?’

    People craned forward, his team mates all looked him. Then he noticed the sirens and lights. ‘C’mon!’ he yelled. ‘Remember the strategy!’ He was still crouched, fingers pointing, when the two officers stood over him. The fat one got out some cuffs. Even then Dwayne didn’t realize it was game over.


  2. David Shakes says:

    Death in the Bleachers
    360 words
    David Shakes

    I’ve never truly understood baseball, but knew more about pain than most. It was writ large that day on the faces of all the team, none more than on the stricken features of Mark Mondell.
    Whilst others stood shouting, swearing or calling on the Holy Trinity to intervene, Mondell had already weighed the odds and decided the outcome. I liked that pragmatism. Today wasn’t going to end as he hoped.
    There’s no game on earth with more precise metrics than baseball. Mondell knew the batting averages and slugging percentages by rote. Every statistician in the Midwest said this was The Sandpipers’ year and Mondell was banking on it. Trouble was, they were being whitewashed.
    The underdog team, The Whitetails, had taken the lead in the 8th. Now, at the bottom of the 9th, coach Bob Madden called their newest signing from the bleachers.
    Young Gary Mondell took to the field looking every inch the baseball player his estranged father was in his prime.
    This was it, the factors that called me here swirling together: Mondell’s make or break bet with a nasty little bookmaker called Eddie the Saint. The shock of seeing his son at all, never mind taking the field against him. Most of all, the plaque that had broken away from Mondell’s artery wall- causing the blood clot that would prove fatal in a few moments.
    There was just time for Mondell to witness his son hit the first walk-off home run in The Whitetails’ short and mundane history. The heart attack itself was as sudden and decisive as the Whitetails’ win.
    We stood together, looking down at Mondell’s lifeless body. All other eyes were still on the field.
    “Little shit is good, I’ll give him that!” Mondell said gruffly, though there was pride and admiration in his voice. “Wonder if he’ll come to the funeral?”
    I didn’t have the heart to tell him that thanks to his bet with Eddie there wasn’t going to be much of a funeral.
    I took Mark Mondell by the hand. In the parking lot he bent down to inspect his son’s home run ball.
    “They play much baseball upstairs?” he chanced.

  3. “He Swung”
    343 Words
    by Jaime Burchardt

    Barney couldn’t bear to see the sight of his teammates at that moment. They were on their feet, excited, just an out away from winning the last game of the season. It was the win they needed to get into the playoffs for the first time in franchise history.

    The main reason why they were in that position is because Barney hit the home run that put them three points up just minutes ago. It was a home run that was swung with such a force that the crowd gasped. And then they cheered.

    When we walked back to the dugout, his teammates were rejoicing. They patted him on the back, yelled his name with praise and jumped up & down. The whole time during, Barney had to force a smile. The biggest fake smile he’d ever worn. His teammates were happy, his fans were happy, but he wasn’t, because he knew he was screwed.

    What the history books will never know, or at least he hoped they would never know, is that Barney was supposed to choke at that moment. At the request of some rather unfriendly loan sharks, he was supposed to strike out, take his base, and watch his team get their hearts broken. He was almost there, too. He had two strikes in his pocket, and was gearing up with a third. But before the last pitch was thrown, he saw something that put him in a frenzy.

    A bee. He hated bees. So much so that he forgot where he was for a split second and just…swung.

    A goddamn bee.

    The crowd, and his teammates, were all on their feet now, about to explode. Barney looked down at his legs. Those gams, as he used to call them. And then he started thinking about the back-up outfielder, David. Yeah…David better start warming up tomorrow, he thought.

    His head was completely down now, as he couldn’t face the sight. It was then that he saw a bee sitting on his shoe. It flew up and stung his forehead.

  4. Voima Oy says:

    One Small Step

    358 words

    You won’t read this story in the box score. It was, in the grand scheme of things, a minor league game in the Carolina League, that night the Mavericks beat the Flyers. Johnny was the Mavericks pitcher with the flashy stuff. Manny was the catcher, his best friend and battery mate. The big game of July 20, 1969, was the first men landing on the moon.

    Johnny “Flash” Gordon was as excited as everyone else. In fact, he had discussed changing his nickname to Apollo just for the occasion. After all, he wore number 11.

    “Flash, you are crazy,” Manny laughed. “That sounds like a porn star!”

    “Why not? Okay, okay, how about Armstrong?”

    “Forget it.” Manny said. “Just play the game.”

    It was a hot summer night for a ball game. The crowd was buzzing over the moon landing. Johnny glanced briefly at the bleachers, where the girls were thick as mosquitos. Then, he forgot everything.

    That night, Flash Gordon had the right stuff. Sometimes, the universe conspires in a perfect balance. Years later, when he was coaching, he would try to explain it as Zen concentration. It was as good an explanation as any.

    Three up, three down. Three up, three down. The scoreboard was a string of zeros.

    By the sixth inning, the joking in the dugout fell silent. His teammates left him alone on the bench, the Latin players whispering “Sagrada,” sacred. Only Manny stayed beside him, real and solid.

    It was quite a pitchers’ duel. The other guy was good, too. But the Mavericks had managed to eke out a run, on a sacrifice fly and an error when Flash took the mound for the ninth inning.

    He went into his windup as the crowd went wild. The loudspeakers blared, “One small step for man!” as the ball slipped out of his hand.

    The crack of the bat, a solid hit! He turned to watch the perfect parabola, going, going, gone–like a rocket to the moon.

    The Mavericks finally won 2-1 in the 11th inning. Later, he would say all the right things. But he had no words for the ball in flight, the moon between his fingers.

  5. Image Ronin says:

    Twilight of a Champion

    The crack of bat upon ball momentarily silenced the gathered masses. Flint peered up out of the bullpen, watching the white meteor arc across the perfectly blue sky. He turned away as the swelling roar of the home crowd confirmed his fears.

    Home Run!

    Flint didn’t watch the runners jogging their way around, high fiving, punching the air. The bases had been loaded, that ball the final nail in his coffin.

    He threw his mitt to the floor, walked away, down the corridor, past the locker room. Out of the stadium.

    There was nothing else to do.

    The next morning, sunlight blasted away the cobwebs spun by beer and whisky chasers. Head pounding, he dry swallowed two aspirin as he stared at the bloodshot eyes of the zombie lurking within the mirror. As Flint ambled down the hallway, the headlines that his mother framed when he was first drafted only worsened his mood. Headlines that declared him to be the Messiah, the boy who would one day become a Goliath destroying all.

    Goliath, the name had stuck. As a young man he had enjoyed the sensation it created, the posters of him smiting down inferior rivals, wrecking havoc. Indeed in that first season he had set the strike out record for a rookie. He was a god amongst insects. Then, as injury and abuse clouded both body and mind, so it was his waistband, not his trophy cabinet, that filled out.

    Now he was not even a player, just a fat old balding guy with a dodgy elbow and nothing else. By the front door stood old faithful, the bat that, as a kid in that dusty diamond, would smite everything thrown his way. He examined the initials scratched into the handle, how the polished wood still felt right in his grip, an extension of his very being.

    They were waiting in the kitchen, the table laden with a breakfast that made his stomach boil with resentment. They were there, his young family, mocking his failure with their patronizing smiles.

    He hefted the bat in his hand.

    Maybe he just had one innings left in him after all.

    358 words


  6. We Can Do It Better

    I think the idea probably grew from a conversation about “athletes” and how rarely the word applies to street dancers, and physical theatre specialists. A varied bunch to be sure, but we’re are all people who have to be in peak physical shape to do what we do.
    However it came about, we found ourselves, a collective of physically artistic people who come together to work on expanding our choreography and repertoire, deciding that we would have our own baseball playoffs.

    We would follow the basic rules of baseball; number of innings, running the bases counter clock-wise, etc, but we would be free to use whatever strengths we had to make the plays happen.
    We would even wear traditional style baseball uniforms. Fool the viewer initially.

    The sense of competition in the air had little to do with flat out beating the opposite team but by getting from base to base with the most flair. My teammate, Danny, hit the ball out into left field, he sped over to first base and full of confidence began to steam ahead towards second. The ball was thrown to a guy standing between first and second and as he bent to scoop it up Danny barrel rolled over his back, landed, and quickly summersaulted to land his finger tips on the base.
    I watched spritely girls bounce and twirl away from outstretched hands and a guy launch his friend into the air to pluck a ball from the sky. Limbs stretched, dip, whirled, a stream of performances as all the figures moved in their roles on the field.
    Then little Natalia came up to the pitcher’s mound. She pulled an gymnastic illusion hoping to use the momentum of her spin to throw the ball faster.
    She was a blur and then there was a crack. A wave of gasps immediately surged up through all the players. She had gotten speed, but not aim and had pegged one of the mimes in the side of head.
    Ball accuracy may not be our thing, but I bet the baseball players can’t grand jete for shit.

    351 Words

  7. Joe

    Joe squinted toward home plate where Arnie signaled the next pitch—three fingers pointed toward the dust. Joe shook his head, rejecting the slider. Arnie responded with one finger: curveball. Joe nodded and spat over his left shoulder, warning the Yankee on first to stay put. In the batter’s box, Duarte pawed the ground before lifting his bat to his shoulder and crouching, poised to swing.

    All eyes fixed on Joe. He wound up and let loose. The ball hurtled toward home. Grunting, Duarte swung with enough force to knock himself sideways. But the ball dropped, hitting Arnie’s mitt with a satisfying crack.

    “Strike three!” the umpire called. The crowd erupted. Miller, halfway to second base, turned and loped back to first. Joe allowed himself a smile.

    As the next batter came to the plate, Joe took off his cap and wiped the sweat with his sleeve, ignoring the pain in his elbow. Arnie settled into his squat, flashed two fingers. Fastball. Joe hesitated. Arnie flashed the signal again. Joe gritted his teeth and nodded. Romano’s bat made contact, a high pop foul that Arnie caught with ease. Two outs. Joe’s elbow throbbed. He spat.

    Another Yankee. Another signal. The ball whistled toward home plate. A loud crack, and the crowd moaned as the ball soared over the centerfield fence. Joe cradled his right arm in his mitt, grimacing. While Anderson made his slow turn around the bases, Arnie jogged to the mound.

    “Your elbow?”

    Joe gave a curt nod.

    Arnie signaled the dugout, and Hank trundled toward them.

    “Come on, Arnie. I’m fine.”

    Arnie fixed Joe with his blue eyes.

    “You’re not. Look, Joe, no hard feelings, but we’ve got a game to win.”

    “What’s going on?” Hank looked from Arnie to Joe.

    “His elbow.”

    “All right, Joe. That’s it.”

    Joe toed the ground, looked up. “I can finish the game.”

    “Maybe,” said Hank. “But then can you finish the season?”

    Joe looked away, shading his eyes with his mitt. He shrugged, wincing, and handed the ball to Arnie. Joe walked to the dugout, head down as the crowd’s cheers echoed around him.

    354 words

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