Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Truth Behind Beltran's Injury

October 12th, 2009

Carlos Beltran deftly leaps from rock to crag to cliff. The cold bites, but it does not bite him. The wind howls, but it is speaking to someone else. Beltran, as long as he doesn't think too much, can move between the elements in a wordless negotiation. Deft as a cat-monkey, he makes his way up the mountain, dressed from shoes to cap in his Met uniform. There is a man in a cave. The cave is unarguably a cave. Everyone would call it that. Not so much the man. Man is a sort of shorthand used by men. It is not clear what he/she/it is, and it is not given that we, given the range of experience we collectively have, could fully understand it, even if articulated accurately.

Beltran spots a blackness a ways up from him, and recognizes it as the cave mouth. He briefly calculates a cost-benefit between methodical and more efficient but also more dangerous. With a running start, he brings himself part way up a rock face, and from there decides that he can make it up the rest of the way easily enough, which is not to say easily.

Just before he is at the top, a collusion of voices stumbles out of the cave. Wangari Maathai (happy), Arlen Specter (grumpy), Eckhart Tolle (bashful), Bill Bryson (sneezy), Aesop Rock (sleepy), Jayson Stark (dopey) and Oliver Sacks (doc) all came out of the cave among a cloud of bluebirds. Beltran watched them conversing. Sacks and Maathai talked about the ferns around them. Stark made half-meaningless while Bryson took notes. Tolle and Rock walked together, mostly in silence, Eckhart with a casual vest and precise hair, Aesop wrapped in a blanket that he would modulate between covering his nose and not. Specter navigated the rocks and occasionally tried to sociable so that no one could say he wasn't.

They all descended down the path, and after they were gone, Beltran pulled himself up onto the ridge and, dusted himself off and walked into the cave. There was a blue light within it that seemed to carry invisible frequencies. Beltran sensed them, but he wasn't sure with which sense. Leaves were spread over the cave floor, looking both arranged and blown in as they were.

"I know," came a voice from within. Beltran continued to move inward, waiting to hear if it would reveal what it knew. "I know why you're here and what I will offer you."

"Do you know what I will say?"

"No. That's what I don't know."

Beltran put one hand on the cave wall as he walked. It was surprisingly warm.

"You are here because you want the Mets to be successful this year. I will offer you increased goodness, greatness and wins in exchange for six months of your speed, agility, instincts and muchness. After the six months, they will slowly come back, though in what form, I can't say."

"Six months? The season starts in six months. Spring training before then."

"Not my problem."

"Will the team be even better than they would have been without my help?"


"When would it start?"

"As soon as you left the mountain."

Beltran pondered the offer. The Mets were paying him a lot of money to help them win. He had sacrificed certain comforts to help them achieve this goal. And he would do it again, even if meant lying. Lying to his fans, his team, to everyone except the man. The man who was not a man.

"I'll do it," said Beltran. "Enjoy my gifts."

As Carlos walked away from the foothills, he felt a weakness in his muscles. Walking seemed arduous. Even thinking felt like heavy lifting. "For the Mets," he gasped. "For the Mets."

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