Saturday, July 28

Score Bored

Challenge courtesy of Wordsmiths Unlimited.

This is a work of fiction. Copyright © 2007 Bolt, Ink. All Rights Reserved.
No portion of this work may be copied, retransmitted, reposted, duplicated,
or otherwise used without the express written approval of the author.

Score Bored

“God damn it!” Eddie had cursed both the offending scoreboard and me in the same breath. “This is the second time! San Antonio is in town again. I’ll never live it down. Fix the fucking thing or find a new job!”

I stand at the pitcher’s mound. Looming over center field is a $100,000 hunk of technology that refuses to work. No numbers, no letters, no nothing, just a matrix of squares flashing multicolored jibberish. Every random twinkle is a dart in my confidence, a refutation of my assurances that Boulder Field is now part of the twenty-first century. Eddie, the owner of our minor league Mountaineers, is furious. I can’t blame him.

Beside me Gus the groundskeeper spits. His expectoration describes a glistening arc under the late spring sun, ending with a muffled splat on the grass near first base. “It was better when we turned the score tiles by hand,” he says.

“Maybe,” I say. “But Eddie will have my head if I don’t fix this before the Generals game.” Gus spits again.

“Screw the Generals. Nuthin’ good ever came outta San Antonio. Eddie can suck my balls.” Gus folds his thin creaking frame behind the wheel of his handyman’s golf cart. The wheels leave barely perceptible tracks in the diamond’s clay. Tools clatter in the handmade wooden totes.

I have checked every wire and every bulb. I have discussed problems of timing, compatibility, and reliability with our vendors. I have made lists of connections and fuses and transformers. I run them all through my mind. I must have missed something, but standing in the middle of Boulder Field brings no answers.

I hike the stairs to my office. The bunker-like quality of concrete and overhead conduits always makes me smile. The fans know the grand green view and hot dog smells of the stands. They would never guess the bland and boring everydayness of operations. It is part of my job to perpetuate that illusion.

In my office I check the scoreboard software for the hundredth time and find nothing again. After two hours of pondering, my stomach reminds me it is time to eat. I munch a bland sandwich in the employee lounge. It is located high above third plate, affording a view of the entire stadium. I watch the sprinklers make their familiar chk-chk-chk sound as they water the outfield. The answer hits me like a bump to the funny bone, both painful and obvious, and I laugh out loud.

I will talk to Gus, the old cuss, and tell him I know about his irrigation patterns. I will talk to Eddie, the owner, and describe the solution. Gus will keep his job, Eddie will keep his pride, and I will keep my reputation. We will all win.

Go Mountaineers!


tiff said...

Shit - now I have to think. Is Gus purposefully sabotaging the system? Yes?

I still don't know how you cram so much detail into so few words.
Really liked the description of the spitting, and the way you work in such mundane but telling activities like that.

I understand that the second and third sentences in the second-to-last paragraph are there to put the narrator in the lounge, where his epiphany takes place, but getting him there struck me as a little awkward. Why does he need to go there to eat? Whay not just have him go there for a change of scenery, a head-clearing?

Kingfisher said...

Tiff, you're right. This was a pretty pitiful attempt. First person narrative is not my strong suit.

I'll just chalk it up to mistakess learned and throw it away.

tiff said...

NO nononononono. Gah!

It's not pitiful, it's just that I didn't understand. Jeez. Try a tiny rewrite and this thing will sparkle. The details and wry story are strong - and the fact that you DO tell a whole story is key - it's not easy to do (and I usually FAIL at it).

Skully said...

There is a ton of info in a small space indeed, that ain't easy.

Compared to other things you have written, this is not your best but I bet even Stephen King has a few boxes of stuff that didn't make it.

Kingfisher said...

Skully, that is the most honest critique I've ever received. Thank you.

I firmly believe that every writer has four boxes of crap for every 500 glowing words. The trick is understanding the difference.

Wordsmsiths is all about dredging up the boxes, because cowards show only their best stuff.