CIGARETTES AND STOLEN BASES
by Monica Hall
The young woman sat in the cool sand at days end.
Her little lad was diligently working the wet sand,
busily constructing a masterpiece near the water’s edge.
“We need to get going” said the young woman.
“Finish your castle, honey”.
The little boy frowned at his mother’s ignorance.
“It’s a fort” said the child, adding “for soldiers”.
“Okay, ten minutes” said the woman,
becoming distracted at a figure in the distance.
Kicking up copious heaps of sand as he strode.
As he drew nearer, the woman observed work boots.
The man was young and well built.
He stopped a few feet from the woman and child,
And with a deft hand took a matchbook from his pocket
and lit a smoke with fluid ease in the afternoon wind.
It was an artful maneuver and the woman was beguiled.
“How do you do that?” she fawned to gain the man’s attention.
“Lots of practice” said the man as he smiled guiltily.
“The doctors told my dad to quit” said the woman.
“Gotta die from something” said the young man.
The woman was intent on continuing a conversation,
and noticed the strong tanned forearms on the man.
“Do you play baseball?” she asked the man.
“You have forearms like Steve Garvey” she added.
The man laughed heartily.
“These are from swinging a hammer, not a bat”.
“I tore it up as a kid though” he bragged.
“Good hitter?” the woman pried.
“Decent” said the man.
“I’m darn good at stealing bases though” said the man.
And suddenly the woman realized –
That they were no longer talking about baseball.
They made plans for a night out.
The man took the woman to a place called Jonathans.
The woman had never been there,
and upon stepping inside realized she was sorely overdressed
for such a place as this.
The man and the woman drank beer as the hours passed swiftly,
And they kissed in the moonlight as blithely sauced patrons filed by.
Countless summers have passed since that moonlit night:
the man not as strong and the woman not as pretty.
The woman searches for a book of matches in the kitchen,
the man long ago having set his cigarettes aside,
in obedience to the woman and his doctor.
The woman calls to the man who shakes his head at the television.
“Somebody better teach Puig how to steal a damn base” yells the man.
“That big kid’s gonna break something sliding like that” the man barks,
as he slowly rises from his chair.
“Get out here and help me light the grill” says the woman.
“It’s windy, and you’re the only one who can get that dang thing lit” she adds.
The woman hands the man the matchbook,
Briefly pausing to stroke the man’s now frail forearm
as they head outside together, once again on a moonlit eve.