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July 7th Ballard's Resort Lake of the Woods

Part TWENTYTHREE – continued from last week’s episode –

“What the hell dude!” exclaimed Rusty as the snowmobile slid sideways to a screeching halt.

Buzz dismounted in a leap and simultaneously flipped up his shield while drawing a revolver from the inside chest of his leather jacket. In a monotone voice he replied, “You need to shut the hell up, or you’re going to be a dead walleye on ice, DUDE.”

Waving the pistol and directing Rusty to dismount, he flicked the outside light of the fish cleaning house and unlocked the steel padlock. Inside, Sally had the knob turned, in anticipation of the lock being removed and the door swinging open.

Next, with the gun still fixed on target, Buzz deliberately approached his captive and ordered him to remove his helmet. Slowly, unhitching the chin strap, Rusty briefly obeyed.

“Buzz… Is Sally inside that building?” Rusty queried. “Because whatever this is you’re doing, let’s sort this out between you and me.

Gritting his teeth with a low growl Buzz responded, “It’s too late for that Flathers, and if another word comes from your pie-hole, I’m gonna put a bullet in you like I would a sucker fish running up a shallow ditch”.

Buzz turned to remove the lock from the latch, and in that millisecond, Rusty launched his helmet full-send in effort to dismantle the back of his former friend’s noggin. The helmet spun with the forward rotation of an overhand curveball, but quickly tailed to the right and missed the intended target.

With two outs in the top of the 9th inning Rusty sat comfortably alone at the end of the bench. It was “senior day” at Farkwaller Field, and his home team was winning the baseball game 11-0.

Unexpectedly, Rusty’s head coach exited the dugout to signal for a stoppage in play… He then turned back toward the bench and hollered “Hey Flathers… You’re going in!”

You could have heard a pin-drop amongst the players. Rusty could feel his teammates eyes on him but continued to gaze toward the field.

“Flathers… I said you’re going in!” mouthed the coach as he approached the fence near the bench.

Again, Rusty sat motionless and the turning of heads inside the dugout became frantically uncomfortable.

At this point the coach now stood directly in front of Rusty with hands grasping the fence. His eyeballs were piercing as he shouted “Flathers, are you deaf?”

Rusty’s attention had now been officially caught. And, with that, he truthfully responded, “p-p-p-partially.” Immediately a roar of laughter exploded from the dugout! Included was a sideways head shake and an ear-to-ear grin from his coach.

With a comfortable 11 run lead and two outs in the book… Rusty left the bench with what felt like at least two splinters (possibly three) in his right ass cheek and took his place on the pitcher’s mound. He stared down the barrel to Buzz’s catcher’s mitt and awaited the signal. Buzz called for a fastball.

Squeezing the life out of the baseball, no one on base, and only needing one out, he reared back and fired. Ker-plunk! He hit the first batter he faced right in the back and high between the shoulder blades.  Ouch! Runner on first.

The opposing team jeered from their dugout when the next pitch went wild past his catcher and easily allowed their runner to forward a base. Rusty’s fastball had sailed high right, behind the hitter in the box, and was still gaining upward trajectory when it ricocheted off the backstop.

Back on the mound he felt the vile liquid of venom creeping up into his throat. His stomach was in knots.  Then he glanced to his home team dugout where Ellie Waylayer and her entourage were behind the screen jumping up and down shouting encouragement.  Wow… Ellie was a looker, but her jiggling halter-top offered little to subdue his nerves.

He raised back and fired on the 1- 0 count. Again, the pitch sailed wildly to the backstop, and now the opposing runner advanced to third base on another wild pitch.

To make matters worse (as if they could get worse) Skip and Scoop were hanging from the fence (they were always climbing like caged monkeys) behind the plate and the errant throw struck Scoop’s one and only remaining index finger at full velocity. Rusty would take a beating in the barnyard for that one.

One plunked batter… And now a 2-0 count with a runner on third base.

Into the windup, Buzz had called for a curveball, and with Rusty’s release it short hopped in the dirt striking him square on the hard plastic “athletic cup”. The shell shock was immediate. A vast majority of men in the over-crowded stands wept aloud. Women gasped for their breaths and covered their children’s eyes.

Buzz was in the dirt coughing up dust and an odd colored phlegm. Rusty was on the mound, bent at the knees, vomiting a pregame hot dog from the concession stand. He should have taken smaller bites, like Aunt Dolly had always preached.

“Flathers… I don’t think you could hit the broadside of a shed right now,” uttered his pitching coach who had quickly visited the mound and removed him from the game. “Take a seat son.”

The snowmobile helmet crashed against the outside wall of the fish cleaning house… Buzz spun on his heels facing Rusty and squeezed the hair-trigger. There was a fire in Rusty’s right arm as his world went dark.

With Buzz hovering over him… He could faintly hear, “At least you hit the side of the shed this time.”

–            To be continued –