Party Boy • November 17th, 2019BROOKLYN — A mechanic and a surgeon walk into a bar. “Permission to party?!” they shout. “Permission to get a booth, maybe,” says the bartender. “Find some friends.”
They walk. “That guy seems dangerous.” “Very dangerous.” “How’s that different from dangerous?” “I don’t know…fire?” They get him. They find a mob of women clobbering a guy with paternity suits. “That’ll do.” Same moment there’s an explosion at the police station and a guy high steps out. “We’ll venmo the bail,” they call. “Could you venmo me something too?” says a guy spreading the seas. “No. But come with us.” The seas close and there’s a guy writing poetry in fragrantly disintegrating heavy metal tshirts. “Let’s go.” They find a young guy. “Yes. Everywhere.” There’s shouting from an Alabama bar and a guy sits quietly at the center. “The hell you doing in here?” they ask. “Making a list of people to kill,” he says. “Looks more like you’re checking your fantasy team.”
They return to the bar. “Permission to party?!” they shout. “Is this some kind of vagrant boys choir?” demands the bartender: “Go find some nutz.” “How?” they ask. “Have you considered trying to hit a tennis ball onto the interstate with a dowel?” the bartender asks. “No,” they say. “You’ll need a tenth,” says the bartender. A drunk Italian looks up. “I’ll play.”
They examine him. “No deal.”
They play with nine. They determine teams by shouting “Fuck the blacks!” and “Fuck the reds!” and seeing what altercations arise with locals. They realize no one knows each other’s names and devise nicknames by throwing darts at transcripts of the president’s phone calls and when they’re done no one’s sure how The Surgeon and The Mechanic retained such nifty titles when the rest are faintly deprecating.
They walk the infield. They walk the outfield. They run their fingers along the foul lines and press their pelvises into the towering concrete wall. They hear the subway, highway, yahweh. The temperature clicks 32. Brooklyn towers above. Bud heavies crack below.
First pitch: a sense of omen. A parking cone saves a liner. A woman sprints past with a stroller. Body Double pirouettes and puts first fuzz on the interstate while the Mechanic hauls down a frozen rope and cries, “I got long balls!” and they pour out their beers for reasons they can’t quite place. The cold clamps down, Mr Mojo rises and dreams of LA women turn to visions of Mother. The scoreboard says 4-3 Blacks but their hearts sing Sultan of Swing but that’s too on-the-nose and the slab comes alive thundering Sabotage and Deadbeat equalizes with a triple and Body Double put him in and a crowd gathers but Solo Shot cauterizes the bleeding with A Double Play and The Surgeon triggers a passenger-side airbag to put the Blacks ahead for good, 6-5, even as he slips and takes a dangerous fall. “Classic.”
The leaves shatter and gather. The north wind moans. Next game toodles along ’til Drunk Tank gooses a tie-liner in the fifth, 3-3, and the dudes start peering around the glass and steel city fingers wondering about the sense of magic and men they’re getting from the asphalt when a white pigeon drops a black feather that spreads to a red field of nipples and cobras and a scoreboard reading 13-8 Blacks. “What do you think it means?” they ask. An old lady collects their empty cans. “That Reds must stop committing errors,” she says. They don’t. Game three, Reds hemorrhage baserunners yet some swinging secret diamond sex keeps shepherding mo runs onto their half of the scoreboard despite a peanut gallery packed with farting cops, rooks and empty time machines. “This is how I pictured the inside of a young girl’s mind,” says Stink Mitt. “I blame it on your love,” hums 8 Ball. 7-4 Reds and the Blacks’ 8-inning run drought doesn’t go unnoticed.
By the Blacks. They come out harassing the highway to go up 8-0 in the third and there’s a sense, if only a faint kernel bobbing in the East River, which soon expands to a full petaled question no one voices until the wind swirls through the outfield billboard and asks: “Do teammates hurt?” “Do teammates hurt?” they ask. “Do teammates hurt?” the wind repeats. “Do teammates hurt?” they repeat again. “Yes you fucking dipshits,” the wind says, “I’m asking if it’s better to have fewer players on your team.” They start breaking each other down, each swing, form, needed fixes, hit distribution, a man’s fielding, positioning, his hands, his pitching, tendency to hug, ability to ignore. First they argue about four versus five players but expand to greater examinations of quality versus quantity, nature versus nurture. They quote Nietzsche, Hobbes. They pause to acknowledge the Blacks winning 14-9 but on seeing the fish they’re back to the individual versus the collective, the school, the herd, whether this game with four, five, seven, two or twenty guys on a side isn’t played outdoors but very much indoors, fortified against the tedious incursions of the far more extravagant games blundering around them. Games without rules. Games without winners but packed with fucking losers. Games that reach over the foul lines and try to scratch their rules in ghostly chalk across the low tender walls of a man’s heart.
“Are you done?” the old lady asks.
They give her the last empties. They clean the dugout. They press their palms against the concrete a last time. Dark approaches. Winter arrives. They go to the bar.
“Permission to party?” they ask the bartender.
G1: R2s 5; B2s 6
G2: B2s 13; R2s 8
G3: R2s 7; B2s 4
G4: B2s 14; R2s 9
The Red 2s were: Soy Peligroso, The Mechanic, Body Double, Lefty Moses and Stinkmitt.
The Black 2s aka the Champs are: The Surgeon, 8 Ball, Solo Shot and Drunk Tank
HRs: Surgeon, 7 (15); Body Double, 7 (12); Solo Shot, 3 (3); Mechanic, 1 (3); Soy Peligroso, 1 (1); Lefty Moses, 1 (1)