The Storytellers Ch. 15byParis Waterman©
Authors comment: I admit to being perplexed over the scant number of readers this novel has attracted thus far. I am surprised and depressed by this and will finish the piece off as quickly as possible. For those few who have stuck with it, well I apologize for this, but I hope you understand the amount of time and effort that goes into such work. I wish I knew how to reach a wider audience. evidently I don't. PW
Ebbets Field -- 1947 World Series
I entered the famed portals of Charlie Ebbets ballpark with Dennis at my side. We stood on the Italian marble floor under the baseball bat chandelier while the crowd swirled past us.
"Ever been here before?" Dennis inquired as we walked toward our seats.
"No, I've been to Wrigley of course, and Comiskey too. Caught a couple games in Detroit once and both ball parks in St. Louis. But although I've been to New York twice, I've never seen a baseball game here."
We came out into the open and a sea of green greeted us. It was, as it always is with me, a breathtakingly beautiful sight.
Before us, on the field, the batting cage was in place, and Pistol Pete Reiser was hitting. The Brooklyn pitchers, except for Hatten, the starter, were running in the outfield. The rest of the team lounged alertly on the field in their immaculate whites with the blue trim. Some infielders were in the outfield shagging the balls hit there and some outfielders and catchers were cavorting in the infield, making behind the back catches of pop flies.
"They seem relaxed after losing two straight," I said.
"That's in the past," Dennis said, "They're professionals; it doesn't matter if the Yankees kicked their asses 18-0 yesterday. Today is a new day and a new ballgame.
"Bobo Newsom's going today. I said.
"Yeah? Well several Dodgers see him real good," he replied.
An usher showed us to our seats behind the Dodgers dugout on the home plate side rather than the first base side. "These are great seats," I told Dennis.
"Yeah, well it's who you know."
"My guess is you know a lot of people."
"I've been around. You get to know people if you're around long enough."
"The fellow gave you the ducats seemed kinda nervous," I said, fishing for more information.
Dennis bit, and told me, "He had every right to be nervous. I caught him with the Mayor's right hand man's dick up his ass."
"Wouldn't that be more of a problem for the Mayor's man?"
"Might be if you weren't the City Comptroller."
"Hmmm, you have a point there."
"I always have a point, Roy. Now Robinson's going to take his turn, let's watch him."
We watched as the first negro to play in the major leagues in this century hit line drive after line drive to the farthest reaches of the ball park.
"Reminds me of Stan the Man," I said off the top of my head.
"Some, yeah," Dennis smiled. "More like Lajoie, you ask me. See how he looks like he's gonna fly apart as he starts his swing and then his bat levels off and meets the ball squarely? That was Lajoie."
"I never saw Mr. Lajoie hit," I said.
"Didn't see him field either, right? He was nearly flawless in the field. And him with that little-bitty glove they used back then."
"I've read that he was renowned for his defensive play," I replied.
"No one ever played a better second base, although some might argue Eddie Collins was better. Collins was great too, but better? I doubt it."
We watched Robinson hit another screaming line drive off the Schaffer Beer sign in deep left-center and then vacate the batting cage.
"Stanky will be gone next year," Dennis said knowingly.
"And you know this... how?" I asked.
"They got a kid named Hodges needs to play. He'll move from back-up catcher to first. Robby will take over at his natural position. For that to happen Stanky has to go."
I didn't argue with him. His knowledge of baseball and its inner workings far surpassed mine. What he said made sense, Stanky, although one of the better second basemen in the majors was getting old; and if Hodges could hit with power... well you'd be hard pressed to keep him on the bench. As for first base, Robinson was clearly uncomfortable there. It was entirely possible he would blossom at the four position with his speed and agility.
The crowd continued to file in, and the excitement rose with each passing minute.
"We missed seeing DiMaggio hit didn't we?" I said.
"That must have been about an hour ago," Dennis replied laconically. "Usually its only the kids get here that early. They catch one of his longer shots he might sign the ball after he's finished batting."
"That's nice of him," I said.
"He's a shy guy, but likes the kids. Adults make him uncomfortable. When he goes out its usually with an entourage. They fend off the bothersome types. He's a regular at Toots Shor's although you can't get near him.
We each had a beer bought from a vendor bouncing up and down the steps while a Dodger coach swatted long, lazy fungoes out to the outfield. The crowd, mostly men, many of them with boys, scorecards clutched in their hands, filtered slowly into their seats.
Over the loudspeakers, Buddy Clark was singing "Linda."
I sipped my beer as we listened to it. Dennis finished his cigarette and snubbed it carelessly with his foot into the stadium's concrete flooring. I saw that it wasn't completely out, and a small acrid twist of smoke rose from it still. I leaned across him and snuffed the butt until it was completely out.
"What do you think...?" He started to say, but I interrupted him.
"Of the girls? I like the both of them. Why, do you favor one over the other?"
My question caught Dennis off guard. It may have been the first time I ever did so.
"Yeah, the girls; they'll put out, I guarantee it. And to answer your question, no, I don't care which one I wind up with."
"You, um, visited them?" I asked, suspecting as much.
That got me a wolfish grin. "Of course I did."
"Like most women, their first consideration was are we matrimonial material? In that regard we passed with flying colors."
"But Lizbeth's married," I protested.
"He's in Germany. Might get killed at any time. Who knows? It doesn't hurt to have a fellow in the bull-pen, so to speak."
"How callous is that?" I said.
"The ladies think ahead. They have to look out for themselves."
"So, is Beatrice really a virgin?" I asked, knowing he had the answer.
"Surprisingly, yes. Her mother has kept the men at bay. It seems Lizbeth got the hots for guys early on. She had a close call with pregnancy at eighteen, and that was before husband number one. That had the mother on the alert to anything in pants. Anyway, Lizbeth married him just before her twentieth birthday, and got knocked up in a flurry of frenzied fucking just before he shipped out."
"What else is there to know about Beatrice?"
"I would add that Lizbeth is about as horny these days as a woman can possibly get. Did you see her checking our packages out?"
I had to admit that I hadn't, and said so.
"Well, she did. Took a long hard look too, and I mean at both of us. Beatrice saw her do it and almost bit her lip off, she was really surprised by her sister's actions. But knowing women, they'll have a long, detailed discussion about us before we meet them tonight."
"You think Beatrice will tell Lizbeth what we were doing to her?"
"I'd bet on it."
"But why? How?" I blurted, unable to conceive of the younger sister telling the older what had gone on in the Pullman Car's powder room.
"She'll see how horny her sister is. She knows Lizbeth won't want to go out with us and will use her marriage as an excuse. But little Miss Beatrice wants to get laid. For that matter, so does her sister. They'll meet us and we'll wine and dine them."
"And then?" I asked like a love-sick teenager.
"We take them to our hotel room for a night-cap and fuck their brains out. I intend to screw each of them in turn. You can too if you want."
It had never occurred to me that we might share the sisters although I had fantasized about nailing each of them; only not the same night.
Glancing out on the field while thinking of what to say in answer to his last remark, I saw the starting pitchers' ambling down to their respective bullpen's to warm up. A moment later the umpires began gathering at home plate. The managers strolled out a minute later and presented their respective lineup cards while the crack of a fastball landing in a catcher's mitt reverberated throughout the ball park.
Then the player's from each team were lining up along the foul lines, followed by the playing of the National Anthem, and then George Stirnweiss was stepping into the batter's box to face hard throwing, Joe Hatten.
Stirnweiss rapped a slow curve into right field, but Henrich promptly grounded into a double play and the Dodgers were out of the inning one batter later.
The Dodgers rocked the Yankees in the 2nd when catcher, Bruce Edwards doubled Hermanski home and scored when Reese singled to center. Then with two out, Hatten singled to left; and when Lollar allowed a passed ball the runners advanced to 2nd and 3rd only to score on Stanky's double off the right field wall. That made it 4-0 and the beloved Bums weren't done.
Vic Raschi replaced Newsom only to give up a base hit to Robinson moving Stanky to 3rd.
"Oh, look at this!" Dennis exclaimed. Out of the Dodger dugout came Carl Furillo swing three bats. They were pinch-hitting for Reiser!
Moments later I thought it was a stroke of genius as Furillo promptly doubled scoring the two base runners. Dodgers 6 Yankees 0, after two innings.
But the Yankees weren't rolling over just yet. In the top of the third, the first two men got on base, and with two out, Johnny Lindell singled one run home; and DiMaggio drove in another with a single up the middle, before McQuinn struck out to retire the side.
In the bottom half of the inning, Spider Jorgensen single Hermanski home, making it: Dodgers 7, Yankees 2.
"Looks like we've got a high scoring game today," I said to Dennis, who nodded his head in agreement.
"The pitchers don't have it today. You know, some days the ball won't move as much as it normally does. This seems like one of them."
"Does the wind have something to do with it?" I asked.
"You're from Chicago, what do you think?" He replied, and wasn't smiling.
I thought he might be testing me, but didn't know why, and so I said, "The wind certainly helps the ball leave Wrigley Field some days, that's for sure, but I don't see it affecting the game in any other way."
"What about the humidity, or even a windless, or almost windless afternoon, like we have today? I've seen those kinds of days when a good curve ball pitcher can or cannot snap his pitches off in the usual manner. Those days the pitcher sucks it up and throws the heater until his arm gives out."
I waited, knowing he'd have more to say on the subject.
"At the moment, the Dodgers have Hatten on the mound; he's a breaking ball pitcher. You watch, the Yankees are going to score again in this inning."
And they did. Hatten couldn't find the plate and walked the third baseman, Billy Johnson. One out later, Lollar doubled off the right field wall, scoring Johnson. Hatten got the pinch hitter to fly to Hermanski in left, but hung a curve to Stirnweiss, who slapped it to center where Furillo bobbled it as Lollar scored and Stirnweiss took second. The Yankees had narrowed the Dodgers lead to 7 -- 4.
"Well it looks like you were right," I said and waved a vendor over to buy two Shaffer beers. "Drinks on me," I said.
"Good, and thanks. Now watch, Chandler's coming in for the Yanks, and he's a breaking ball pitcher. If the wind doesn't pick up the Dodgers will rip him for a few more runs."
Dennis was right again. Chandler couldn't buy a strike. He walked Stanky, got Robinson when he sacrificed Stanky to second; and I would add, he bunted a pitch that was well outside the plate. Chandler proceeded to walk the next batter and it seemed he was almost forced to throw the ball over the heart of the plate enabling Walker and Hermanski to single up the middle, scoring Stanky and Furillo in turn. So the Dodgers matched the Yankees with two runs in the 4th inning, making it 9 -- 4 Dodgers.
The Yankees almost came back after "Joe D" hit a two-run blast in the fifth, Tommy Henrich doubled home a Yankee run in the sixth and Yogi Berra added his own homer in the seventh.
Unfortunately, it was too little - too late and the Dodgers held on for a 9 - 8 victory.
It's worth adding that the breeze picked up in the fifth inning after Hatten gave up DiMaggio's home run and Branca, a fastball pitcher came on. And as it proving Dennis' point, following Berra's two-run homer in the seventh, Hugh Casey replaced Branca, and Casey, whose slider was his best pitch, effectively shut down the Yankees the rest of the way. Final score: Dodgers, 9 -- 8.
We made our way out of Ebbets Field along with thousands of happy Dodger fans, boarded the subway and thirty minutes later were back in our hotel in Manhattan. It was ten minutes to five. Dennis excused himself for a moment, saying he had to make a couple phone calls. I bought an afternoon paper and caught up on the latest news, comforted by the fact that I had borne witness to the real latest news wherein the Dodgers had beaten the Yankees. I didn't even wonder what Dennis, AKA Bill, was up to.
At any rate, I found out soon enough. Some ten minutes later, Dennis strode into the hotel's bar where I sat nursing a scotch and soda.
"We're set for tonight," he said smugly.
"Oh...?" I said, hoping that Beatrice and Lizbeth were actually going to meet with us that evening.
"We've got tickets for A Streetcar Named Desire and Lizbeth and Beatrice couldn't be more thrilled."
"You got tickets... for Streetcar?" I couldn't believe my ears. It was the smash hit of the season; tickets were absolutely unavailable to all but the 'In Crowd' and biggest celebrities about town. I had just finished reading in the Daily News the night before that Walter Winchell was having trouble getting tickets for the show, and here was Dennis coming up with four for tonight, with a phone call or two. And the girls were joining us! The guy was incredible!
That's when I realized that his ability to merge with others around him might present a danger to me, and part of my conversation with Arthur came back to me. "Arthur, is Bill dangerous?"
"Not to you, nor do you pose any real threat to him. Again, I see no reason to fear him as long as you call him Bill. Please, Roy, keep that thought foremost in mind when conversing with him."
"Roy, there is one last thing."
"Don't trust him."
Dennis was taking a sip from his martini when I asked my next question. I won't ask how you managed to get those tickets, but how did the girls sound when you invited them?"
He laughed, paused to light up a Camel, and I realized he seldom had the same brand of cigarettes on him.
"They're going to put out for us, Roy. I guarantee it."
I started to say, "How can you...." But stopped, he could and they would. He'd already shape-shifted with each of them and he knew what they knew and would use it to seduce each of them. Hell, he already had seduced Beatrice, except for taking her virginity, and that would fall later tonight.
To be continued...