Story Time: Mrs. Stephens 6

De La Rosa looked to home plate.  The batter was one of the Dodgers best, and didn’t look like he was messing around as he stepped into the box.   His cheek was nearly full of chew or seeds.  It was hard to tell which with the camera angle.  There was no one on base, and Jorge focused completely on the guy at the plate.  He stepped back, rose his leg and drove forward.  The batter never had a chance at the 90 mph fastball.  It went right down the middle and into the catchers glove.  The ump called strike and the catcher got up to throw the ball back.  Starting the game with that kind of velocity was a good I thought.  He’d made a statement.   “I’m not injured.  Bring your A game.”  The message would no doubt be well broadcast to every other player on the bench.   I took a sip of my drink and sat back a bit while I waited for the next pitch.

I grabbed a slice of pizza and took another bite.  It was seriously decadent.  The place had put extra cheese and pepperoni for me.  When I ordered with Nell she wouldn’t eat the meat and tore them off the pizza if I gave her a slice with it.   So normally I’d just get regular pepperoni or none at all so she’d eat better.  So tonight I got to treat myself to extra of the stuff I liked.  I intended to pig out.  Jorge threw again, but this time was fouled off.  That was fine.  The batter was now down in the count and our pitcher could waste a few bullets trying to bait him into a no hit.  I swallowed and took another long drink of my bourbon.  It had cooled enough to drink heavily now.  I blinked in surprise as the throw went straight down the middle and through the strike zone.  Jorge meant business today.  And even the batter was surprised he’d throw a strike on the third pitch.   I watched all this through the bottom of my glass.  One drink, one strike out.   I got up and went to the kitchen to mix another.

Walking into the kitchen I again felt a “pang” of something.  I couldn’t quite focus on what it was.  Like a waft of a subliminal message, or fade of lights you see when you close your eyes.  It was just outside my perception.  I stopped for a moment and tried to catch whatever it was.  It eluded me.  I shrugged it off and mixed another drink.  This one was clearly 50% whiskey and probably harder than it needed to be.   Much harder if I was serving to someone who liked their drinks sweet.   I took a drink.  The tea kettle was still full of hot water so we were good to go.  I returned to the living room just in time to see the next batter ground out to second base.   I sat down, and finished my drink again by the end of the inning.

I noticed the pain in my arm was non existent.   I didn’t even notice the pain fading.  I set my hand down and relaxed completely into the barcalounger.  I felt dizzy.  That last drink must have been a little too strong because I was feeling it.   I looked at the TV and watched the commercials a bit before a news break started playing.  “Jim Salo here with news 2.”  Jim had a serious expression on his face.   “Police have announced today that 3 women managed to escape the confines of the Colorado Mental Health institution.   They report that 2 of the women were almost immediately captured, but one remains at large.  Authorities have not yet notified the affected parties.  They caution people to make sure to lock their doors and be cautious of unknown parties knocking at your door.”

The game came on.  At least it must have, but I’d stopped paying attention.  I stopped paying attention because all at once that pang of outside recognition came crashing down.  Jane’s perfume always had that lingering sense to it.  Sometimes I’d smell it hours after she’d gone.  I sat there completely quiet.  At first I thought the foot falls on the stairs were just my imagination.  The thought was proven wrong with each thud of her decent.  Only Jane would make sure to get some perfume before she broke in.  I could already see her spraying it on herself in an effort to cover the stench of the mental institution she’d just escaped from.  I couldn’t move.  In the back of my head I already knew that must be her doing.  Try as I might, my muscles would not respond to my wishes.  I could only move my eyes and barely move my head as she played with my hair from behind.  “Oh Dick.”  She said.  “What a pair we make.”  I wanted nothing more than to get up and knock her hand away.  Instead, I just sat there, paralyzed.