"Okay, Doc," Uncle Zeno says. "Keep your eye on the ball. Here it comes."
The baseball in Uncle Zeno's hand is almost invisible, a piece of smoke, a shadow. The woods on the far side of the pasture are already dark as sleep; the river twists through them by memory. Uncle Zeno tosses the ball gently toward the boy, who does not see it until its arc carries it above the black line of trees, where it hangs for a moment like an eclipse in the faintly glowing sky. The boy is arm-weary; he swings as hard as he is able. The bat and ball collide weakly. The ball drops to the ground at the boy's feet. It lies there stunned, quivering, containing flight beneath its smooth skin. The boy switches the bat into his left hand, picks up the ball with his right, and throws it back to Uncle Zeno.
"I hit it just about every time," the boy says.
"Batter, batter, batter, batter," Uncle Al chirps in the field.
"Say, whatta-say, whatta-say, whatta-say," chants Uncle Coran in the ancient singsong of ballplayers. The uncles are singing to the boy. He has never heard anything so beautiful. He does not want it to stop.
"Okay, Doc," says Uncle Zeno. "One more. Now watch."
Saturday, August 8, 2009
Summer Reading #5
From Jim the Boy by Tony Earley: