“HeAAAAYYY Battuh Battuh Battuh. Hey Batter hey-aaaaaaaayyyyyyyyYYYYYYY SWING!”
“Strike 2,” said the umpire. He held up two fingers for strike and no fingers for balls.
Kendra choked up on her bat. Lowered her eyes.
The pitcher nodded at the catcher. A lefty, she held the softball in her glove, started moving forward head first, and circled her arm as her hips whipped out an ascending, spinning sphere of leather.
Kendra held firm – no sale.
She looked up at the loaded bases, blew her hair out of her eyes with her lower lip and stepped out of the batters box. She glanced at Phil. He smiled and gave her “the” secret signal.
She didn’t believe it.
“NOW?” she mouthed to him.
Kendra remembered the lesson and replayed the coaching session in her head. It was overcast on that day, and Phil was helping her learn to hit.
“Do you trust me as your coach?”
Kendra nodded. “You are the best coach I have ever had.”
“Okay, then I’m going to teach you a deep secret about your mind, but you must promise me that you will NEVER tell anyone of this. Agreed?”
She nodded with a puzzled look.
“I’ve got some … um … powers. And I want you to learn how to obtain them. You are, in fact, a being with infinite potential and it is my job to unlock your hidden abilities.”
She waited, skeptical.
“Put on this blindfold and hold onto the bat. and when I give you the signal, I want you to FEEL the softball in the air. For today, we’ll go slowly and you will softly hit the ball with your instinct. Remember swing slowly at first. And you even have to anticipate the pitch.”
Kendra laughed in disbelief but obeyed. She unlocked her imagination, imagined the pitch appear in her mind and she swung slowly.
She gasped. “I did it!”
“Again,” said Phil.
She waited again and swung slowly.
“I … I … can’t believe it.” She took off the blindfold.
“Now, the next time I give you this secret signal, I want you to close your eyes and knock the ball out of the park, and it will be at a time when you don’t expect it. And I promise you, it will work. ”
Phil showed her the secret hand signal.
“Only you and I can EVER know this,” he said.
Her eyes went wide as she stared at the blindfold.
She blinked those eyes back to the reality of the game, blew her black hair out her face again and cursed herself for putting her helmet on hastily. She centered herself.
“Knock the hide off Kendra!”
She got in position closed her eyes and waited. She waited for her mind to see the pitch. She felt powerful. Relaxed. In a zone. Then she heard a whoosh and a soft pat of leather on leather.
“STRIKE THREE! YOU’RE OUT!”
She looked back at the catcher and, indeed, she had the ball.
“Game Over!,” yelled the umpire.
Her teammates huffed and listlessly left the field. Kendra looked at Phil in agony.
Phil yelled at her.
“KENDRA! What the HELL were you doing batting with your EYES CLOSED?”
Kendra’s face crushed into shame. A player through her glove to the ground.
“Use the force Kendra!” mocked her friend.
As the team got ready to leave, Phil yelled to Kendra.
“Get over here.”
She walked over – mouth open palms wide open at her side, her face raging.
“Let’s go for a walk,” said Phil as he put his arm around her shoulder. “Susan! Please put the gear in the bags!”
Susan nodded and went to work.
She shrugged off his hand and growled at him.
“What do you think happened?” he said.
“When you blindfolded me at practice, you were just a few feet in front feeding me tossing pitches to directly hit the bat weren’t you? That’s why you asked me to swing slow” she said.
“And you let me be a fool in front of everyone I know.”
She spun at him, hit him in the arm and yelled, “WHY DID YOU DO THAT TO ME? WE LOST THE GAME! You ditched me! What kind of coach are you?”
“We’re in fifth place. It doesn’t matter. Remember when you told me that you trusted me?”
“Well, here is something about me you can really trust.”
He stopped and looked at her.
“I will intentionally lie to you on purpose. I will teach you amazing things, but I purposely infuse my teaching with bold face lies. It’s up to you to sort out the bullshit from reality.”
She stomped her foot and yelled.
“You lie to me ON PURPOSE? So why should I trust you?”
“So you will NEVER, NEVER, NEVER trust another person’s extreme ideas without verifying them.”
She stopped cold and Phil walked two more steps and turned to her.
“Ever,” said Phil. “You should do this for TWO AND ONLY TWO reasons. One, the truth will always bear scruitiny; two, bullshit demands it; and …”
Phil held up three fingers, smiled and continued.
“THREE, it’s the honest true believers who will really do you in. With scoundrels you at least know what you’re getting.”
He reset his baseball cap so that it was out of “parallel coaching mode” back into “45 degree relaxed mode.”
“So do you get my point?” he said still pointing to his heart and temple at the same time.
Phil reached into his back pocket and handed her an envelope.
She opened it, inside was a lottery ticket that was worth $ 10,000 dollars if the scratch-off symbols lined up. The ticket was already scratched. The symbols lined up.
“What the …” she said.
“That’s tuition money so you can go to softball camp as well as help with your mom’s medical copays so you wont go into debt. I … um … got lucky today.”
Phil mocked excitement and jumped up and down.
“AND HERE IS HOW! Here, look at this antique wrist watch I wear. It actually is not only an A-11 World War II standard issue wrist watch, it’s a device that is more powerful than Harry Potter’s wand or the green lantern’s ring or the Doctor’s Tardis. It can even pick winning lottery tickets if I depress the surface and use morse code!”
“Bullshit,” she said smiling. “You got lucky and you are kind.”
“That’s my girl. And tell your mom an adult bought it for you for good luck. It’s against the law for someone under 18 to buy a lottery ticket.”
She clenched her fist. She hated being condescended to but she let it fly because of the lottery ticket.
She rubbed her chin in a faux display of wisdom.
“Right now there is massive starvation and poverty. If you and your mighty wrist watch green lantern decoder ring thingy are so much the awesome, why don’t you stop people from … well … dying? And why just ten grand when you could make an heiress?”
Phil’s smirk lifted to the right.
“Well, that’s a good question, and my answer is to say that as a keeper of so great a power, it’s more important to not draw attention to it. It’s better to use it for little tasks and play the long game and live a life that is largely … unimportant.”
“Still sounds like bullshit to me,” she quipped. “Let me look at it.”
She grabbed for the watch.
A wave of nausea struck her as she looked at the weathered watch surface.
“Wh-wh-what is that?” she asked softly.
In front of them, a grove of trees swayed back and forth. In the first three second it looked like the wind moving the trees. But then the trunks themselves were swaying.
“What the …” she said.
“It’s not the wind blowing the trees, it’s space rippling,” said Phil.
“Did I do that?,” she asked.
He sighed and looked at her.
“Fuck, I’m sorry Kendra, I just hope I can finish out your season, you are doing AWESOME,” he said.
He started depressing the glass surface of his A-11 in morse code frantically.
“Damn it!,” he yelled. “I messed up. WHY did you choose MORSE FUCKING CODE! CASSANDRA! Why not an iPhone instead of a stupid old WRIST WATCH!”
Phil morsed the word “CLEAR” and a beep went off signifying the clearing of the device and he started morsing again.
“DAMN IT. SHIT! PISS! FUCK! I DID IT AGAIN,” he said as he morsed “CLEAR” again.
“Beep! Beep!” went the A-11. Phil’s face showed distress.
The ripple got bigger in the grove of trees. A small point of light appeared in the center. It became the size of a frisbee, then a large trash can lid in the span of 54 seconds.
Phil telepathed Cassandra.
“Cassandra, I’m in trouble and my fingers are stupid, I botched two watch links. How much time before they breach?
Cassandra’s voice echoed in his head. “It looks like you have three minutes and 44 seconds before the portal is operational. Remember, if you have to clear one more time …”
“I know, I know, the watch goes down and has to reboot and that … takes fucking DAYS. Who are they?” asked Phil.
“Unknown. I think they have sensed an unusual inter-dimensional power in this universe and are merely exploring. My manifestation there reports no knowledge.”
“No knowledge?” thought Phil. “Isn’t that your job?’
“Yes. It’s also my job to accurately inform you of dimension breaches and how long they take. And unfortunately, they work like projected internet download speeds – a minute is sometimes ten and an hour is sometimes five minutes. Your time just dropped to five seconds. I suggest you act stupid and do the standard gendeflecting ‘Welcome to earth’ schtick right … NOW!
The portal opened. The trees stopped moving. Kendra stomach felt better.
Phil took Kendra by the hand.
“This is our story, I’m your touchy-feely zen-minded softball coach and you are a serious softball player and we are freaking amazed that an alien from another dimension ACTUALLY just walked through the universe. We are nobody really important.”
“THAT’S NOT JUST A STORY!” yelled Kendra.
“Um … yeah it is…”