Army Brat Ch. 03

bySlickman©

As he walked back towards the restaurant he noticed the camera on the pole and quickly ran to the boat slip rental office.

*****

"Are you alright?" Tom asked his daughter as they sat on the patio drinking coffee.

"No, Danny is very upset and I think it's all because of me. Things have changed since Germany."

"Things always change and sometimes there is nothing we can do about them. We both were hurt when your mother left us so we have to stay together and help each other get through all of this." He hugged her as they watched two birds chasing each other around a tall bird house by the back fence.

Janet had stayed away from Tom since last night and had tried to call Allan but she never got an answer. She was worried about Danny who was missing but when she heard him coming in the door she stood to meet him. "Did you see Ellen?"

"No, they were not at home so I went to the boat and it is missing. "They must have taken it out." He looked out onto the patio and saw Tom and Lisa. "I have to talk to Lisa."

Lisa turned when the door opened and when she saw Danny she stood and smiled. "Good morning."

"Can I talk to you alone for a few minutes?" Danny asked.

"Sure," she said looking worried. "Is everything OK?"

"Not really," he answered. "Right now everything is messed up."

He held open the door and waited for her to walk by him. They moved into the kitchen and stopped.

"Let's go down to the basement." He said. After moving downstairs they sat on the sofa like they were last night.

He turned before she could speak. "Why did you do it?"

"Do it? I don't understand," she said looking down.

"You've always been my best friend and have always cared for me. Why did you jump into the river and blame Ellen?"

"Danny I didn't. She pushed me and….."

"I saw the video of what happened," he said quickly. "The boat slip office records everything that goes on."

Lisa gulped and sighed. "I guess I'm jealous of you being with her. It's always been us and no one else. I didn't know what else to do. I'm so sorry because I know that this has upset you."

"Upset me? Jesus Lisa I pretty much told my girlfriend that she was a liar. She won't even talk to me!"

Lisa tried to hug him but he pushed her away. "Danny…what can I do?"

"First you can tell the truth," he said firmly. "But even then I don't think anyone can do anything to get Ellen to forgive me."

"I will. I'll tell everyone that I jumped and blamed her," Lisa sobbed. "Please don't hate me."

Danny stood and walked up the stairs. "I'll never hate you. You saved my life."

He moved upstairs and tied to call Ellen again but she didn't answer. He called Button's house but her mother said she went out on the boat with Ellen. He was tossing the ball up when his mother came in.

"Lisa told us what really happened. It's not your fault Danny. I wasn't sure who was telling the truth either." She sat on the bed. "So you actually saw Lisa jump in on the video?"

"No, the boat slip office was closed. I lied to Lisa to see if she was actually telling the truth. Mom, I really messed up with Ellen. She hung up on me last night and won't answer my calls." His eyes were red and getting wet.

"You can't turn love on and off that fast," Janet whispered. "It might take some time and possibly some flowers but I think she will come around. I think I have some damage control to take care of with Allan too."

*****

Buttons picked up Ellen's cell phone after it buzzed again. "It's him again. That makes about fifteen calls this morning."

"I know," Ellen said lying back on the seat under the hot sun.

"You need to talk to him," Buttons said. "Maybe he realizes that you were telling the truth."

"If he was that easily fooled to believe that I would lie to him then…then…maybe he doesn't love me."

"We are heading into the dock," Allan said from the bridge. "Get ready to tie up."

As the boat turned the corner they saw Danny standing by the empty boat slip holding a large bunch of red roses. "Oh god," Ellen said. "What is he doing?"

"Well unless those roses are for me I would say that he is apologizing." Buttons giggled.

"Dad, what should I do?" Ellen asked as the dock got nearer.

"If I were you I'd really milk this. Make him sweat some." Allan grinned as he saw Janet standing about ten feet behind her son. "I think I will do the same."

They tied up the boat without even looking at him. Danny helped Buttons out but when he held out his hand for Ellen she pushed it away and climbed out on her own.

"These are for you," Danny said nervously handing the flowers out.

"Give them to Lisa," Ellen said not looking at him. "It seems you care more for her than you do me."

"I know that she lied," Danny said quickly. "I'm sorry that..that..I didn't believe you."

Ellen looked at him for the first time. "You said that you loved me Danny. When you love someone it includes trust. Where was the trust when you drove away with her last night and left me standing?"

Allan moved off the boat and took her hand. "I think we need to go home." Buttons joined them as they walked by Janet who looked at Allan but he didn't look back.

Danny tossed the roses in the river and sat down on top of one of the pilings. "Well, I guess I really messed up."

Janet sat next to him. "You're a man son. Get used to it."

*****

"You really don't have to leave," Janet said to Tom and Lisa as they stood in the driveway. "Lisa is welcome to stay here like we planned."

"It's better if I stay somewhere else," Lisa whispered. "I think I've messed up Danny's life enough." She looked up at his window hoping that he would at least wave to her.

"You two will always be friends," Janet smiled as she hugged the girl. "Danny just needs some time."

"A buddy of mine has a house in this district," Tom said. "Lisa has met them and knows one of his daughters very well. I'm sure that Danny and she will get back together as friends."

Janet hugged Tom and watched as they entered their car. As the car started moving back the front door slammed open and Danny came running out. He dashed to Lisa's door and waited until she opened her window.

"Bula-bula," Danny grinned.

Lisa's tears turned to a smile. "Bula-bula Danny."

It was all they said but both knew that it was enough to know that they would be close friends again but not as close as Lisa wanted.

*****

"Don't answer it," Ellen told Buttons. The phone had been buzzing every ten minutes.

"Don't you think he has suffered enough?"

"No." She painted her toenails as they watched One Tree Hill.

"I saw Jimmy Thompson this morning at Church," Buttons smiled. "He asked me if I was dating anyone."

"Really?" Ellen asked. "I think that Danny and he have become pretty good friends since he conked him in the head with a baseball.

The phone rang again but his time Buttons answered it. "Hey Danny can you fix me up with Jimmy Thompson?"

"What?" Danny asked. "Jimmy..sure..can I speak to Ellen?"

"No, but if you get me a date with Jimmy I will talk to her in your favor."

"I'll call him right now," Danny said before hanging up.

"I can't believe that you just asked him to do that," Ellen said putting the cap back on the toe nail polish.

"Hey why not? I'm tired of being the only virgin in the senior class. I used to have you with me but no…you had to go and fall in love."

"I hope Jimmy likes your buttons," Ellen teased.

"Hey they are not just buttons anymore…see!" She flopped up her shirt and exposed her tiny bumps.

"Wait! Turn sideways I think I can actually see a…rise…yes I can see it!"

"Really?" Buttons asked before running to the mirror behind Ellen's door. "You're right!"

*****

Danny had the first season game after school the next night and had his gear when he drove into the school parking lot. As he pulled into a space he saw Ellen getting out of her car. Quickly he parked and ran towards her.

"ELLEN WAIT UP!" He almost made it to her when a man with a camera on his shoulder jumped out of a van. He stopped in his tracks when a woman jumped out with a microphone.

"Are you Danny Upton? Son of Josh Upton?"

Danny looked over their heads at Ellen who turned but then moved towards the school. "ELLEN WAIT!"

"So are you Danny Upton son of Josh Upton?"

"Yes, now please move aside," he said but suddenly another van stopped in front of him and two more news people jumped out.

"Danny Upton," the man with the other microphone said. "Do you hate the Army for killing your father?"

Ellen was walking slowly and peeking back at the news vans but stopped when she heard the question. She quickly turned and ran back to the crowd. Other kids were standing around watching. She pushed the news woman aside and reached in and grabbed Danny's wrist. "Come with me."

Danny held onto his book bag and equipment bag and hustled to keep up with Ellen. They turned and saw the news crews running after them. "Does this mean you have forgiven me?"

"No, but if I do I want you to still be around." They ran into the first door and saw the coach heading their way.

"I'll take care of them," the coach growled.

*****

Coach Wright stood erect in front of the now three cameras. "I'm not answering any questions but I will make a statement."

"Coach is Danny as good a ball player as his father was at the same age?" the man with the microphone asked.

"Did you hear what I just said?" Matt asked while shaking his head. The man shut up and the coach resumed.

"Danny Upton is an eighteen year old kid that has gone through some terrible times. The news media needs to respect that and honor his father by leaving his son alone. The school grounds are, as of today, off limits for any news group and police will be around to make sure that it stays that way. The baseball field is also part of the school property so it is expected that you will honor Danny's privacy. He is a great kid so please show some respect for him and his family. That's all I have to say for now." He turned and walked away.

"COACH IS DANNY A GOOD BASEBALL PLAYER?" The man yelled. A short girl walked by him and stepped on his foot really hard. "OUCH!"

"Sorry," Buttons said.

*****

Danny and Ellen stood at the door and peeked out while the coach made his speech. "I miss you," he whispered. He tried to take her hand but she jerked it away.

Ellen wanted to turn and kiss him but held back. "Is Lisa coming to school today?"

"She's not living at my house anymore. They left last night."

"She left?"

"She said that she was sorry for what she did." He looked into her baby blue eyes. "I should have believed the girl I love."

"You should have," she repeated. They moved back as the coach walked in.

"If I know the news media they will soon be after your mother," Matt said to Danny. "You might want to give her a warning."

"Thanks coach for everything," Danny smiled. "One of them asked me if I hated the Army for what they did to my dad."

"Most of them are good people but some are scum," Matt said. "Don't even give someone like that the time of day. Ignore the ass holes." He turned to Ellen. "Sorry."

"He was an asshole," Ellen giggled. Buttons walked in and smiled.

"I stepped on his foot," she giggled.

A bunch of students stood back watching. Jimmy Thompson walked out. "Are you ok?" Jimmy asked. "We never knew who your father was."

"Yeah, I'm fine," Danny grinned. "I just want to be one of the guys on the team. That's all." The bell rang and they all headed towards their home rooms. Danny stopped by Ellen's.

"Do you forgive me?"

"Not yet Danny. You really hurt me." She turned and walked into the room.

*****

Janet looked for Allan when she arrived at work but found out he was already in surgery. She finished her morning checks and around 9:00AM got a call from the front desk. "Who wants to talk to me?"

"Reporters and news people," the receptionist said. "They are all over the place."

"Oh God," Janet said after hanging up. She sat down at the nurse's station. A minute later Allan walked by and saw her nervous look.

"Do you need a doctor? He joked.

"I'm not sure what I need?" Janet answered. She saw a couple of other nurses nearby. "Can I talk to you?"

They moved down the hallway and into an empty room. "First of all I'm sorry for not being supportive the other night at the restaurant."

"It's ok," Allan smiled. "You were caught in the middle."

"Is Ellen ok?"

"She's fine. She's just not going to make it easy on Danny for not believing her."

"That I completely understand," Janet said. "The receptionist just called and said the news is here to interview me. I guess the secret is out."

"I'll get security to run them off," Allan said as he took her hand and lifted it before kissing it. "I'm here for both you and Danny."

"Thank you," she smiled before moving her lips to his.

*****

Danny sat next to Ellen at lunch time but she basically ignored him while she talked and laughed with Buttons and another girl. He purchased her some chocolate pudding which he knew she loved.

"It's going to take more than that," Ellen whispered as she slowly licked the spoon.

"Chocolate cake?" He grinned.

She managed not to laugh. "Hit me a home run tonight and I'll forgive you."

"OK," he smiled.

*****

The team got to the field early to take batting practice and noticed the five police officers standing guard. "What is that all about?" Corey asked.

"It's because of me," Danny replied. "My dad's name is Josh Upton."

Corey tossed his gear bag on the bench. "Hey man..I'm sorry you know.."

"Thanks," Danny smiled. "Let's not let all of it distract us from winning."

Once on the field Danny managed to forget everything and was happy again. They ran some laps and were taking infield practice when the other team showed up. Corey and Danny stood by second base when the team came into the gate. Both about shit their pants when they saw Todd walk into the dugout.

"Shit," Corey said. "This team was our big competition last year and almost beat us in the title game. I heard that Todd was joining them but I didn't think it was true."

"He's just one player," Danny said watching Todd stretch by the dugout. He still remembered why Todd was kicked out of school.

As the Panthers ran off the field the Ravens ran on. Todd rushed out to speak to Danny. "Hey man I hope that things are cool between us. It was all a misunderstanding."

Danny smiled although he wanted to lay him out. "Just stay away from her."

"No problem," Todd grinned. He reached out his hand to shake Danny's hand but Danny turned and ran behind Corey.

By game time the stands were overflowing because the word had gotten out about Danny. Although there were no big cameras or microphones the news people sat in the stands with their small notebooks and flash cameras.

Buttons and Jimmy had talked before the game about going out so she was really rooting for the team as Jimmy warmed up to start the game.

"Would you sit still?" Ellen asked her little friend.

"I can't. I think I'm in love."

"Right. Never gone on a date or even kissed him and you're in love."

"Yes."

The first batter was a lefty so Danny moved into the gap between first and second. He spotted Ellen behind their dugout and tried to get her attention but she was busy talking to her friends.

After two balls the batter swung on an inside fastball and popped it up behind first base. Danny and the first baseman gave it a chase and as Danny's glove engulfed it he tumbled over into the stands.

They all watched to see if Danny was ok. A few seconds later he held up his glove with the ball still inside. "Out!" the first base umpire yelled.

"Is he ok?" Ellen asked Janet who had just sat next to her with her father on the other side.

"Yes," Janet answered. She was happy to see that Ellen still cared a lot for her son.

Jimmy settled in and struck out the next batter and then Todd came to the plate.

"Oh God it's him," Ellen whispered to Buttons.

"Hit him JIMMY!" Buttons screamed.

"Shhh," Ellen whispered.

But Todd dug in the batters box and worked a 3 balls and 2 strike count. As Jimmy came in with a hard fast ball Todd smacked the ball hard down the third base line.

Danny ran over to cover second as the left fielder caught the ball off of the wall. He was straddling the base when he caught the throw and pivoted around to tag Todd.

Todd could have easily slid into the base and made it safe but he wanted to hit high on Danny's leg. His spikes smashed into the tender thigh as Danny whipped his glove around. Todd never touched the base.

"OUT!" The umpire shouted.

Danny fell back behind the base and saw the blood on his pants. He quickly jumped to his feet and thought about pounding Todd but remembered what his father told him to keep the fighting off the field.

Todd flinched as Danny came at him and was ready to take a punch if it meant getting Danny kicked out of the game. But Danny handed him the ball and ran by him.

"That bastard," Ellen said softly noticing that Danny was limping some. "He did it on purpose."

The baseball scouts were also scattered in the stands. Seven of them took notes as the game progressed. After the first two Panthers got on base Danny walked out towards home plate.

"We just need a hit Danny," Matt yelled from the third base coaching box.

Danny took his position batting on the right side as the big left hander stared in at him. He took the first pitch for a strike and the second one for a ball. As the pitcher threw Danny waited and swung for the fences. "STRIKE TWO!"

Danny moved out and glanced up at Ellen who smiled at him. Again he got ready but when the slow change up came in he was way out in front. "STIKE THREE!"

"Shit," Danny whispered as he walked with his head down back to the dugout. He knew that he should have been ready for that pitch.

Corey walked but the next two batters stuck out leaving the bases loaded.

Danny made two more great fielding plays to save Jimmy's shutout and in the third inning he again came to the plate. "Relax," Matt yelled knowing that the kid was under a lot of pressure now that everyone knew who his father was.

Danny was anxious on the first pitch and tapped a small grounder back to the pitcher. He made the first out of the inning. The next two batters didn't do any better and the zero to zero score went into the fifth inning. Danny stood in the on-deck circle as Coach Wright walked up to him.

"You're pressing too much," Matt whispered. "It looks as if you are trying to hit every pitch out of the park. Just do your normal swing. We need some base runners."

Ellen too knew that he was pushing himself too hard and remembered what she had said about hitting a homerun. As Danny walked towards the plate she ran down behind the backstop. "Danny. I forgive you. I love you."

Danny stopped and smiled at her. A few fans and school kids clapped as he moved into the batters box. Again he took the first one for a strike but as the second one moved to the outside corner he went with the pitch and smacked it hard over the first baseman's head.

The first base umpire signaled it to be fair so Danny took off for second base. He saw the shortstop jump up to catch the high throw as he easily slid into the base.

"He's back," Allan grinned as he took Janet's hand. He heard what Ellen had yelled to Danny. "I think we are all back.

Danny led off of second keeping an eye on Todd since the batter was hitting from the right side. With no outs he knew that he couldn't take a chance stealing third. The pitcher was cautious pitching to Corey so he ended up walking him. Now with runners on first and second Danny took a big lead.

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