Friday Fictioneers – Got A Hold On Me

(Author’s Note: Nothing new to report. Here’s a fictioneers story.)

gateway-jhardy

© J. Hardy Carroll

Got A Hold On Me

by Miles H. Rost

Harley Parkinson looked at his inheritance, an old structure of a building he once lived in.

“Harley! Came to look at the place?”
He saw her. His old friend, and caretaker of the residence, Carissa Blanks.

“You’ve taken care of the place.”
“Since you left a decade ago.”
“Well, you’ve always been a good friend of the family.”
“Though, I’ve always thought it would be better to be part of the family.”

Harley chuckled, as he looked up.

“Remember what we did in the attic?”
“Yep. Have proof of it.”
“Huh?”

A 10 year old girl peeked from behind her mom.

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Hunters Of The Night

Hunters of the Night
by Miles H. Rost

Feet pounding the pavement.

Quick pacing, left-right-left-right.

Fabric of short jean shorts riding up.

Two miles to liberation.

Melinda Charles swiveled her head around as she ran, keeping an eye out for anyone who may be trying to report or record her moves. She knew that her dad would be keeping tabs on her, and really didn’t want to see herself kept locked up in her house.

Locked up for love, she mused, Sounds like a great song title. 

The 17-year old knew that her legs could take her far, in distance and in life. She was a medal winning medium-distance runner in track and field, having endurance to carry her for miles. Yet her legs were also toned, exuding feminine strength and allowing her to receive offers to do leg modeling ads after graduation. Legs that could take her far also drove the guys at school wild.

Half a mile gone. Not too long now.

She paced herself as she ran, reaching back every so often to remove the wedge of her shorts from her bum. Beads of sweat were starting to form on her neck, soaking into her shirt with every pounding of her feet. Fenceposts marked out a 1-2 beat, a visual reminder of how rhythmic she was moving.

The afternoon sun shone upon her face, the glistening sweat making her face glow, and softening the shape of her nose and chin. To her, nature was working its magic to put its own makeup on her as she ran. She had some time to see if the effects would work, but hope was welling in her heart.

One mile down. One to go. 

She thought back to the day, over a year ago, when she met this young man. She started thinking about how wrong she was at first sight of him. He looked like the stereotypical nerd, head buried in his comic books, a 17-year-old with unruly brown hair and coke-bottle glasses. She didn’t realize that under that exterior lay a man with a heart of gold, and a passion for music.

She didn’t realize it until one blustery day in October.

She remembered that she forgot her hoodie at home, and couldn’t go back and get it without being late for school. With the temperatures plummeting by the minute, she shivered while walking on her way.

“Melissa!”

She turned around and saw him. She immediately started to groan, not wanting to interact with Mr. Coke-Bottle Glasses.

“What are you doing without a coat?” he asked her.

She turned to the side, cheeks flushed.”I forgot it at home. Didn’t think it was going to be this cold this quick.”

He reached into his backpack and pulled out a green hoodie.

“Here. You can use mine for today. It’s Jupiter Green.”

She looked at him, in disbelief.

“Why should I?”
“Because if you don’t, you’ll get sick. You get sick, we won’t have you ready for the upcoming basketball season.”
“What?”
“I don’t want you getting sick. It’d make me sad.”

She stared at him in disbelief, but grabbed the hoodie. Wrapping herself in it, she realized that she was quite cold.

“Thank you.”
“When you’re finished with it, you can give it back.”

She started to jog away from him and head towards school, her schoolbag striping her hands red from pressure.

He started to walk down the street, and for only a second, as he looked up from his shoes, he noticed Melissa looking back at him, before disappearing around a corner.

Half-mile left. Time to do a little diversionary work. 

Melissa took a sharp left across the street, running into the woods and down a path that seemed to have little foot traffic. Hearing a short screech behind her, she smirked as she picked up the speed. The diversion was going to make it a little longer to make it to her destination, but it would keep her father’s guard off her back until she arrived there.

The woods opened up into a grassy field, where she followed a lesser worn trail that followed the wood line. She remembered the April day when things changed for her.

Early April, and the first of three track meets at her school had come around. When track athletes heard the name Melissa Charles, they knew that there was trouble coming. Getting ready for the 4-by-800 relay, she started to prep herself. The day was still cool, and she wore the dark green hoodie that she had received many months back.

“Hey, Makoto!”

She looked around, the voice familiar in her mind. She looked and saw him again, this time waving. She smiled, as she walked over to the fence separating the fans in the stands from the athletes.

“Well, hey there, stranger. What’s with the Makoto thing?”

He smiled, his eyes crinkling at the sides.

“You’re tall, you’re wearing green, you got long legs and you have a fighter’s attitude. You’re basically Makoto Kino, Sailor Jupiter.”
“That’s a first. Do you always charm your friends with comparisons to anime characters?”
“Only people I have respect for. Besides, the word’s out. You’ll likely hear it a lot more.”
“You didn’t…”
“I didn’t. Brian Parker did. And I don’t even like him.”

She laughed out loud, a hearty laugh that got the attention of one of her teammates.

“I guess that means I should probably start looking the part, right?”

She pulled back her hoodie. Her average brown hair now had auburn tints to it, and was put up in a high ponytail with a greenish-ball hair band.

He had taken a sip of soda, when it suddenly spat out to the side. His eyes bugged out.

“You….whoa. What prompted this?”
“You, silly!” she giggled, as she started to jog in place.
As he was about to open his mouth, the call for 4 x 800 relay runners came over the loudspeakers. He smiled at her, as he walked over to a small group of classmates.

The first runners took their mark at the line, and with a shot, they took off. Melissa, as the anchor runner, stood off to the side as her classmates watched. Two runners from another high school tied for the lead after the first two exchanges. As the third runners took off from their lines, Melissa put herself into her lane. Her sweet spot was lane #3, and today was her day. She waited, as her teammate pulled past the second place runner, though she was lengths behind the first place runner. As the first place runner got the baton, Melissa’s teammate gave her the sign to start moving.

The baton hit her hands, and Melissa was off with a shot.

One-two-one-two-one-two-ma-ko-to-ma-ko-to

The mantra in her head suddenly switched, and she listened closely. The sound of her new nickname resounded through the stands when she took the first corner. A faint smile peaked on her face, as she increased her strides.

“Ma-ko! Ma-ko! Ma-ko!” said the boy, smiling as Brian Parker and others started chanting.

Taking the third and final corner, she was within touching distance of the first place runner. Taking inspiration from the character whose name she was adopting, she put lightning in gear and increased her speed in the last sprint to the finish. Pounding, pounding, her feet pounded like kettle drums in time with the chants.

One second, she pulled up to the side of her opponent.

The next second, she stretched her legs and chest further.

The last second, the starter pistol went off in the air. The entire Charter Oaks High School spectator section went up in cheers!

Melissa “Makoto” Charles had won the race by a half a foot.

She looked over to the stands as she slowed, and saw the boy, her friend, smiling at her.

500 feet. Just need to hit that last stride. 

She weaved her way around trees, making sure that she kept her opposition in her peripheral sight if she could. Looking straight, she could barely make out a flat wooden fence in the distance.

“If you could only see me, honey,” she muttered, as she dodged trees to make it closer. She got closer, knowing she was less than 100 feet from freedom.

80 feet, she swiveled her head around and saw nothing.

60 feet, she saw his shape rushing towards the fence.

30 feet, she was getting herself ready to jump onto and over the fence. She saw him stop suddenly right at the edge of the fence.

She felt a painful prick right below the back of her knee and stumbled to the ground. Within a few seconds, her leg started to go numb. She felt someone jump onto leaves and land near her head. As she looked backwards, she saw three men running towards her. She was sat up, and her head turned towards her beau, who was looking at her without his trademark coke-bottle glasses.

“I’ll help you in. Those guys won’t do anything.”

The men approached, and yelled at the two young people.

“You! Boy! Get your hands off her!”

It was her father, the man who tried to rule her life with an iron fist.

She looked up at her boy, and slowly dragged herself to the fence. She pulled herself up, standing on one leg. She looked at him, eyes focused and steely. .

“Get back over the fence.”
“I can handle him.”
“My fight. Let me do it.”

Melissa’s father growled as he continued to walk towards her. Her beau returned to his property, while she faced her father.

“You’re coming with me young la-”

Before he could finish, she fired a taser at him. As he rode the lightning, she glared down at him.

“I. Am. Not.”

He whined and growled as the electricity stopped. His nerves on fire, he laid there for a time. His men stood near him, but stayed back from the scene.

“Dad, I’ve had enough.”

He took a sharp breath as she spoke.

“You have been restricting everything I’ve been doing. The one time I get something I want, you try to take it away. You got me kicked off the track team because you didn’t want me hanging around with him. You monitored my cell phone, because you wanted to know if I was with him.”
“I only…wanted to keep…you safe…”
“From what, Dad? Someone whose dad you put into a locker during high school? Someone who has very little to do with his life?!”

Her dad grimaced, as he slowly sat up.

“I got the story from him, Dad. I found out why you had him followed. You were afraid that he was going to use me to get to you in revenge. But with everything you did to try to protect me, you forgot one piece of information: He hasn’t talked with his dad for 10 years.”
“That’s…a lie…”
“NO! When he says dad, he means his stepdad. If you weren’t so shallow minded, Dad, you would have actually known this.”
“That’s…”
“Shut it. Just…stop, Dad. When he told me about all of it, he asked me if I was with him because of revenge. I told him the truth, that it was because he was a nice guy, even if I had it ingrained in me that girls like me could never be with a nerd.”
“You little…”
“I told you to shut up, Admiral!” she screamed, pointing at him. “You do not get to talk until I am done!”
She slowly lifted her legs and tried to slowly scale the wooden fence.
“Dad, you showed me how to fight for what’s mine. And that’s what I’m doing right now. He loves me, and showed me that he loved me that first day with the hoodie, the green hoodie that you absolutely hated.”

She lifted herself again, sitting on the top of the fence with her long legs dangling down.

“The hate that you had for him and me became the love that we have. He’s my nerd, I’m his Makoto. If anyone is responsible for that, it’s you. ”

Her father spat on the ground, as he started to stand. The pain was evident and obvious on his face. The man with him and another man walked over and lifted him to his feet. Slinging his arms over their shoulders, they held him up to look at her.

“Daddy, I love you. You need to give me time, but I will be back.”
“And yet, you run…”
“No. I’m 18 tomorrow. I have made a decision to not be with you. I will come back to you, a woman and someone who can give you the respect you deserve, in time. But you have to earn the respect of a father. You don’t have it because of what you’ve been doing.”

Her father just glared at her, as she flipped her legs over the top of the fence. She looked back at him.

“Dad, he and I are hunters. We’ve been searching for each other and found…us. Now let me live, and let us live.”

Her father just stared, as they turned to walk him out of the woods.

Melissa looked at her father, as he walked away, and slowly lowered herself off the fence and into the waiting arms of her man.

“You really are like Jupiter, Melissa.”
“Because I stood up and fought?”
“Because you took charge and won the day.”

The young man looked out at his property, and smiled.

Melissa turned his head and gave him a tender kiss. After a few seconds, their lips parted. He moved to carry her, until he heard the “uhn-uh”.

“Nope. I’m walking off this Novocaine. You’re gonna just have to wait for me.”
“Can I at least help you walk up to the house?”
“You can lean on me,” she smirked
“Lean on you?”

They laughed, as they hobbled their way up to his house.

 

Reflections (aka How I Survived…)

Reflections
(How I Survived…)
by Miles H. Rost

(Author’s note: This is a fictional account based on stories relayed to the author by a third party.)

PFC Rocky Andersen was not a happy camper.

He was laying on the ground, grumbling in pain as he waited for help to arrive. The stocky marine had problems with his legs in recent days, and having to climb telephone poles at his base was not a good thing for him to do. Camp Pendleton was the Marines’ West Coast base, and it was also known for being remote in some parts. This meant that help may not arrive for a half an hour or so.

At the medical truck approached his position, his gunny, Gunnery Sergeant Charles “Brick” Brigman, leaped out.

“Andersen! What in the blue hell happened to you?”

“I was climbing the telephone poles, Gunny Brick, and I got blindsided by a bird,” he said, crisp yet with a strip of pain.

“Well, what are you laying there for?! Get up and walk!”

“Gunny, I can’t move.”

Hospital Corpsman Roger Baltrick had run over from the main truck and took a look at the PFC’s splayed legs. After a cursory exam, he looked up at Gunny Brick

“I can tell already that his right leg is broken in two places. We’ll have to look at his left leg back at the infirmary, but I have a feeling we may have a double break.”

Gunny Brick furrowed his brow.

“Well, this is just fan-freaking-tastic, isn’t it?! Andersen, you may have just lucked out. Your platoon is being called to Vietnam! They’re outta here in 2 weeks, and I hope to see you on that flight out.”

Rocky just grimaced, as the threat from the imposing Gunny reverberated through his head.

Two weeks after he arrived back at the base hospital, Rocky looked out the window of the room, his leg still elevated and bound in casts and slings. He looked down at the field, where he saw his fellow platoon mates lining up to head to the airfield at El Toro to fly out.

Over the previous two weeks, various platoon mates with the nicknames of “Grunt”, “Pickle”, “Big Zeb”, and “Sticky” all came by to say their goodbyes and swap stories of what’s been going on. Even on that last day, Gunny Brick even came in to say goodbye, though no one would call it a “goodbye”, formally.

“Andersen! You better get out of those casts and get on the next flight once you do!” he said, looking down with a slight smile on his face.

“Gunny, where are you guys heading for?”

“Our next orders are apparently going to be Khe Sanh. Seems like more of our boys are there right now.”

“Thank you, sir. Drop me a postcard once you arrive.”

Gunny Brick smiled at Andersen, shaking his head as he left.

“Don’t get thrown in the brig while I’m gone, Donut. I don’t want to have to come back to bail you out again.”

Andersen laughed, being reminded of the many times he was thrown in the brig for being UA or being stuck on “weird duty” at Treasure Island.

—-

The middle of February was unusually cool for California. It wasn’t normal for the temperatures to be any lower than the 60s, but it got into the high 40s at night during this period.

Rocky was finally out of his casts, but he was on restricted duty until his legs healed permanently. That means five more weeks of therapy and processing papers, along with such fun jobs as helping in the mess tent or assisting in other tasks. His gunny sergeant for this end, GySgt. Mike Layton, was less abrasive but more of a rules-man. He appreciated Rocky’s work, though wouldn’t always say so.

Rocky was finishing the stamping of important base requisition forms, when Gunny Layton walked in. Rocky saluted.

“Andersen, as you were.”

‘Yes, Gunny.”

“Andersen, I received some news this morning from Cam Ranh. It’s about your platoon.”

“Gunny, sir?”

“Your platoon landed at Khe Sahn. As they were deplaning, they were hit by mortar fire and  snipers. Gunny Brick and about half of your platoon didn’t make it to the terminal.”

Andersen’s blood ran cold.

“What’s left of your platoon is being merged with another in Khe Sanh. You and 5 others who are still here will be assigned to a new platoon.”

“I…understand, sir.”

“Andersen, you can be real with this. You don’t have to hold it in. Ya lost some of your friends, and so have I.”

Andersen used his crutches to move himself a few feet back to his desk, and sighed.

“I was supposed to go, Gunny.”

“Yeah, I know. But, Andersen, you have to realize that things happen for a reason. Gunnery Sergeant Brigman and the others had to go over there. Apparently, someone else had plans for you.”

Rocky blinked, as he sat looking straight at his superior.

“When are they arriving?”

“Within a couple weeks. They will be brought to Oakland from Da Nang, then either families will pick them up there, or we’ll bring them back here for the families to identify and receive. I would like you, if you can, to accompany the ones who will be brought back to Pendleton.”

Rocky sat for just a moment before giving a salute and a “yes, sir.”

“You’re relieved of duty for today. Head on back to the barracks, and you can do what you usually do. Consider this time to grieve.  Be back at this post tomorrow at 0800.”

After a salute, Gunny Layton turned his heels and departed.

Rocky lifted himself on his crutches, and hobbled out the door. The 15 minutes it took him to cover the length from the main base office to his barracks, he though about all of his buddies who were over there…and those who were gone.

He barely made it back to the barracks. Seeing no one around, he collapsed on his bunk. His tears, for part of that evening, were his only companions. And while he felt like he should have gone over with his boys, he yet realized that for him, he was given a gift that many in his platoon did not receive: The gift of being able to live to an older age.

This gift would be borne out in 3 children, who he was able to see grow up and become their own people. He would never forget the contributions of his platoon, as it was his children who were the result of that sacrifice.

(This is your birthday gift, Dad. Semper Fi, and I love you.)

 

 

 

Friday Fictioneers – Willy!

Author’s Note: Welcome again. Things were busy this week, and I’ve been confined to my bed due to a nasty head cold that my unforgiving students gave to me. So, nothing new came out since last week. Hopefully, things will change this week.

copyright Dee Lovering

Willy!

by Miles H. Rost

“I saw something like this in London.”

Margot Boyndon looked bored as her family zipped through the streets.

“Oh, really”, her brother asked.

“Yeah, it was in the center of this square. It looked like a willy.”

“Margot! Don’t use those words in the car!” Her mom screamed from the front, whipping her head around to glare at her only daughter.

“It’s true. It looks like some private part that’s been pointed in the air. Kinda like Dad’s.”

The car swerved slightly, her father trying to regain his concentration.

“Margot! How dare you!”

“C’mon, Mom. I walked in on you two dussying it up in the living room.”

The rest of the trip was quiet, as they made their way…in the car…to the Portugal/Spain border.

Angelia (Nothing But A Photograph)

Author’s note: A welcome to all the new followers of Music and Fiction, especially those who are on the new Facebook page (can be found at THIS link), and from Twitter. 

Angelia (aka “Nothing But A Photograph)
by Miles Rost

Colin Marchese did not know the pain his father went through.

Dominic “The Dom” Marchese was a major gangland figure in Cincinnati, Ohio. He made a name for himself, and was on the way to being a big name. Something changed in 1988, however, and 15 years later, the shell of “The Dom” had just been laid to rest. His college-aged son, the inheritor of the estate, sought to get the family fortune out of the “family business”, just like his father in the later years.

But Colin still had questions.

Why did my dad suddenly turn from his path? Why did he become so…distant?

Part of being the inheritor of the estate, he was able to see the contents of his late father’s desk. No one besides himself and one trusted confidant, who died months before, ever went into it.

He opened the main desk drawer, and immediately found a small leather-bound notebook. It was well-worn, and when it was opened, the smell of his dad’s pipe tobacco rushed into his nostrils. He turned the yellowed pages of the little book until a date caught his eye: December 14, 1987. Colin stood up from the desk and walked to his favorite chair in the corner, looking out toward the small pond on the estate.

December 14th, 1987,

Ah, bella! I met the most wonderful lady today. Flying from Genoa to London, to the Big Apple, it was a treat to see this beautiful vision. Her name is Angelia, and she was my stewardess for this flight. Belissima! She’s such a sweetie. Her family is Italian, they’re actually from a village near my own, but she’s been living in London for a long time. She makes things so sweet around here, and she’s going to be on the flight to New York! I’m hoping to get a chance to talk with her more. 

He paged further through the journal to see more about this ‘Angelia’ that seemed to capture his heart. He soon enough found an answer in a later entry.

March 27th, 1988,

Ah, the trees are blooming their beautiful flowers today. They are very bella serra. Angelia and I spent a weekend together, going through the old haunts of New York. I showed her Lugee’s Pizza, which is now some sort of sandwich plane. Nothing like Katz’s, though. I showed her that place. She seemed impressed by the fact I could pound the pastrami down like no other. Wait until later on tonight. Heh heh.

Colin had to laugh, reading the rest of the entry. Apparently, Dad liked her a lot, and he decided to show her how much. He decided to read on through 1988 to see where things went wrong.

December 20th, 1988

Angelia called me just before I went to bed. She said that she’ll be flying back and spending Christmas with the family. I am hoping little Colin can take a liking to her. It’ll be the first time he’ll meet her, and it is important if she’s going to become the new mother of my children. I love her very much, and I cannot wait to make her the new Mrs. Marchese. She’ll be perfect for the family, perfect for the biz, and she’ll make the new empire proud. 

He smiled, though he was a little fuzzy on who she was because he didn’t remember meeting her, even though he was 4 at the time. He turned the next page, and read. The mirth that was on his face dropped as he read on.

December 22nd, 1988

I cannot believe it. Morto infinito. I am crying so much. The news just said it. Pan Am Flight 103, the flight my beautiful Angelia was on, blown up over Scotland. Why? Why, God? Why did you take her away? She was going to be my wife! I just… <scribble> I don’t <scribble> get the bastards. I don’t know what to do… 

Colin realized, much too late, that his dad’s turn to introspection and reservedness was caused by this. He looked for more information, more reaction, when he came up to the last page.

January 2nd, 1989

She left me with nothing but a photograph. All I have of my bellissima, my beautiful Angelia, is a photograph. I don’t see how I can go on. She was everything, just as much as Diana was before she passed on. I just don’t know where to go from here. My kingdom for my bellissima.

He looked at the next page, and instead of writing, he found a photograph of the woman his father had pined for. The one who was the love of his life, and the one who moved him to eventually slow down the family operation. His father was right, as she was a very beautiful woman. Beautiful brown hair down to her shoulders, dressed in the powder blue Pan Am uniform that hugged every single curve of her Italian frame, and a smile that could warm the coldest heart.

“She would have made a wonderful mother,” he said to himself, out loud, as he looked out the window. He had business to do, but he would have to remember to take a trip to Scotland to give his possible mother the honor due her from the family.

 

Diamond Girls

(With thanks to Jamie Cross for inspiration)

Chelsea Paragovian, known to the rest of the world as Chelly Price, looked out the window at the brilliant lights of New York City. The twinkle of the skyline would be incredibly mesmerizing for a first-time girl in the big city. For someone who was there, it was a fading light that reflected the fading spark in her spirit.

Chelly Price was the main attraction for the new millennial musical movement, up there with the Demi Lovatos, Victoria Justices, and others of their ilk. Her first album, made when she was just 17 and a newbie in New York City, had gone platinum within 6 months. She was a hot commodity, and the various backing bands loved having her up front to bring the numbers in. After the concerts, she would swing through the party circuit. Sleep through the day, party all the night, press the flesh at music signings and celebrity appearances on TV shows.  Her second album didn’t do as well, but did hit gold within 9 months.

As she looked at herself in the mirror, as the sun came up on that September morning, she finally caught the realization of everything she had been doing. The lines on her face, the premature worry-lines, the stress and the wear of the road was finally getting to her. She had success, she had the money, but she had nothing else.

She had one person left who could bring her back to earth.

She held onto the cell-phone, the flat phone that kept only the most important numbers. She clicked through the hundreds of contacts until she found the one that she was looking for, listed under the letter Z. It had the name “Zero Hour” on it, and she knew that when she called the number, things would never be the same. She clicked the entry, and waited.

One ring. Two rings. Three rings.  *Click*

“Hello?”

“It’s me.”

“Chelsea? Sweetie? Is that you?”

“Yeah, Daddy. It’s me. I’m sorry for calling you so early. I know that it’s probably the middle of the night over there…”

She heard a big yawn from the other side of the phone, and started to yawn as well.

“No, no, sweetie. It’s alright. I haven’t heard from you, it’s been so long. So, how is New York treating you?”

“It’s…it’s…it’s alright, I guess.”

“Is there something wrong, sweetie?”

Chelsea hesitated. She knew that if she said the wrong thing, it could doom her future. She believed that if she said something, that it could come to fruition in ways that were never meant to be.

“I looked in the mirror.”

“What did you see?”

“I saw lines. I saw myself as tired.”

“How long have you been doing this stuff that you’ve been doing?”

“2 years. I am due to go into the studios here in the next month to record the third record.”

“What do you think? Do you think you have enough for another one?”

“They keep supplying me with songs, but they’re not really that good. I really want to expand my horizons.”

“Do you remember what I told you when you first left on that midnight plane to New York?”

“You told me that diamond girls aren’t made to grow old.”

“Do you feel old?”

“I look old. I feel tired. But, I know that there’s a spark still in my heart. I just don’t think it’s here.”

She chuckled, thinking that it was silly she was having this discussion with her dad, who was a simple wood-mill worker, not a big entertainment man.

“Maybe what they’re asking of you is not what you want. Have you thought much about what you want to do?”

Chelsea paused. Have I really thought about it? she asked herself, in her mind.

“I am not sure. I am thinking about leaving the parties and the other stuff behind. Maybe refocusing my music, in a way?”

“Honey, whatever you plan to do, I’m behind you 100 percent. Did you hear about Bernie Griffin?”

“Big Bernie? The guy who slung the slats?”

“Yeah. He got drafted by the Dodgers. He’s heading to Florida, I think. He’s gonna be in the minors now.”

“How did he get into baseball?”

“When you saw him last, he was on the high school team. He was at a company baseball gathering, and some guy saw him. Put his name in with a scout, who saw him work, and signed him almost on the spot.”

“Wow. Who would have thought?”

“People thought the same thing about you, Chelsea. They didn’t realize that you were being picked up for a recording contract. A 3 record deal was a big thing for the people around here.”

Chelsea thought about that for a moment, seeing herself like Bernie, and chuckling to herself.

“What I’m trying to say to you, Chelsea, is that you need to do what you think is right. Diamond girls aren’t made to grow old, and you’re my diamond girl. If you think that going a different direction will be a good thing, then trust in what your heart is saying.”

“Daddy, I just need time away from this city. I want to come home for a while.”

“Your bed is ready when you need it. We love you and support you, and if you want to come back at any time, just give us a heads up so we can pick you up at the airport.”

Chelsea started crying right there, on the phone. She knew what she was going to do, and it may have to mean paying the price of her soul with her career.