Saturday, June 30, 2012

Dickey's Secret of Imperfection

June 29, 2012, 2nd inning

R.A. Dickey stands on the rubber. He knows Thole is there, 60 feet and a bit away, crouching for some reason. Behind him, an old guy wearing a mask. Funny old man, thinks R.A. I bet he wears mismatching socks on Tuesdays. All these peculiar fellows, Dickey knows they are there, but he doesn't see them. He sees that aggressive lad with the wooden bludgeoning object least of all. Sure, there are blurry forms whiffling and waffling in the air. Humanoid clouds, you could say. No, what R.A. sees are lines. They squiggle from the ball that rotates breezily in his hand and take a variety of lost-in-the-woods paths toward the white pentagon. Thole's dinner plate he calls it.

He selects one of the lines, yes, that will do splendidly, winds up and tosses. The ball follows the invisible line like it was on a train track arranged by a think tank of chaotic lunatics. R.A. feels a subtle breeze from that guy to Thole's left waving the stick. He had tried to study the various stick wavers, learn their particular dances, but there were so many dances with so few stories. Rarely a narrative solid enough to hang a hat on. Instead...

January 13, 2012

R.A. Dickey stands on the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro. Winds that could break the sound barrier if they really felt like it lash him from all sides, but he does not mind. He's made it to the top. It's more charming than he ever could have imagined.

"The mountain," he says, dashing a little whiskey in his tea, "it's got a real charisma."

"Sure," says Kevin Slowey, "nice view."

"It really gets to know you. Each step, is like a step the mountain takes into your soul. We've taken twenty-eight thousand nine hundred and fourteen steps on this mountain. It was the least I could do."

Their guide pointed out various landmarks, such as the Sphinx and Norway, but Dickey couldn't hear. He was having a different sort of conversation.

"Sup?" said the mountain. Only R.A. could hear.

"I didn't expect you to be so..." said Dickey. Everyone could hear him.

"I get that a lot. So what brings you here?" the mountain asked. Like a bartender, it had some stock questions to get people going.

"Well, I was sitting in the dugout one day, trying to figure out some stuff about will power and quantum probability, and I got stuck, so I said, 'Shucks! I'm climbing the highest mountain in Africa!' Turned out that was you."

"Oh," said Kilimanjaro. "Easy 'nuff."

A mighty gust blew straight at R.A. He absorbed it completely, though it did sting. Mountain wisdom is not to be turned away from.

He opened his eyes. The people around him were fuzzy orbs, but all the paths down the mountain appeared to him as squiggled lines scratched into space. They hung there, definite and clever.

"Oh, Dickey?" said the mountain, "one thing."

"Yeah dude?"

"The magic will wear off if you ever use it to perfection. In every adventure, there must be one stumble, one error. Do not deal in perfect forms. I mean, I did once and look at me. Now I'm a mountain!"

Dickey and the mountain chuckled (which for a mountain means a small earthquiake).

"Nice one!" said Dickey.

"Sorry, a little cheesy mountain humor," it said.

"No, that was good. I'm going to tell that one to friends back home."

"Nah, it only makes sense if you're a mountain. And remember, at least one baserunner every game or you have to climb back up here to re-up."

"Cool," said Dickey. "Later."

Kevin Slowey stopped taking pictures for a moment. "Hey R.A., great view huh. By the way, who were you talking to?"

June 29, 2012, 3rd inning

Aaron Harang hits a catchable bing bong to centerfield. As Dickey watched it from the mound, he felt perfection welling up within him. The discoball of pure excellence rotated invisibly, threatening to reflect its beam directly into Dickey's forehead.

Just then, Andres Torres thought about his recent trip to a mushroom sorting plant. Well this is interesting, he recalled himself thinking. And then he realized that he had had that EXACT SAME THOUGHT about a falling palm frond that he had observed from a Los Angelos taxi cab. Ain't that somethin'. The ball dropped in front of him for a lazy single. Perfection averted.

R.A. Dickey took the ball again, ready to throw it perfectly straight and bend the world a few inches this way and that while the ball was mid-flight. Somehow Thole always caught them.

Mt. Kilimanjaro watches the game on its laptop.

"Hey Nile," it says, "I taught this guy everything he knows."

"What are you talking about?" gurgled the River Nile.

"This pitcher. His name's R.A. Dickey. I'm the reason he's so good."

"That doesn't make any sense," was the bubbling reply.

"Whatever. Hey, could you throw me a beer."

And then, Mt, Kilimanjaro drank a beer.

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