February 24th, 2019 by Patrick Starks
It was the spring of April when it all happened. It was a nice and sunny day as expected, and out of all the years they’d been on a losing streak, the Bone Marrows, for once, were headed to the finals. We’d have homecourt advantage, playing in our hometown, Plummet city. The referees would be on our side, we hoped. But in all honesty, we were playing against a team that everyone in the country and internationally hated, the Dundee’s. And the Dundee’s went to every final and won every game, which not even the owner himself of the team could explain. And so, he says. But either way, we all knew, for the most part, the referees always had something to do with it one way or another.
By the time me and my wife, Rose, arrived, the whole crowd sounded like they were already on their feet, rumbling the inside and the outside of the stadium like an earthquake. It was electrifying. We’d never seen the city so excited for anything in our whole lives, although, it was going to be one of our first championships if we won.
When we entered, the place was completely jam-packed, lines so massive that they curved all around the stadium. I guess everyone had decided to skip breakfast too, I rolled my eyes. Eager to get settled in, me and Rose decided to skip the food stands and find our seats—section one hundred and fourteen, seat eight. But once we sat down our stomachs growled, and Rose would give me an I told you glare. She had tried to tell me earlier that morning that we should’ve made breakfast or stopped to get something to eat on the way. But I hated being late and I hated dealing with the city traffic, so, we hopped into our two thousand and five Tahoe, and headed straight to the game instead. Little did I know, that everyone else would be thinking the same. Parking took at least half an hour to find, but I guess the good thing was that we had already bought our tickets a month in advance. So, there really wasn’t any rush.
The smell of chili dogs lingered in the air.
“Aha, there he is!” pointed Rose.
Rose always did have a keen sense of smell. It was Bone Marrow’s faithful mascot, Marrowgton. He had a gigantic golden beak, brown fur, one brown eye with a pirate patch covering the other, flailing wings that stretched out no further than what any human could do with their own arms. But to be honest, that’s exactly what was under the suit. Nevertheless, you just weren’t a fan of baseball if you didn’t have one of Westlake Stadium’s chilidogs in your hand. I’d bought us two-foot-long chili dogs, with everything on it. And to compliment them, two sodas, one cherry coke, and one sprite.
Roars of the crowd never faded. It kept its tempo. The pitcher was pitching his best. Strike after strike and the Bone Marrows would be back up to bat again. By the way things were looking, the game would be over faster than how long it took us to find a park, I thought. Chaz Sumo was the best damn pitcher the Bone Marrows had ever brought onboard. One of the best I’d ever seen. Better than Rondel Hasselman, who I honestly have to say played a big part in our losing streak throughout the years. But thankfully to Chaz, we were redeeming ourselves.
My hunger had been satisfied. The chilidog had gone down well. And like a baby, Rose would take a napkin and adorably wipe way what remained around my beard. Not a moment later, my stomach would growl again but this time in a different way. I’d take a few sips of sprite, hoping that it would calm it a little, but it seemed it only made matters worse.
“Hey hun, I’m gonna run to the bathroom really quick,” I said. “You want anything when I come back?”
Rose looked at me hysterically.
“Only you Tyson… But yeah, grab me something sweet but not candy. Like food, okay?” she said, giving me a peck on the cheek.
I then made my way up the stands and through the entrance way. I could tell I was getting a little out of shape because when I’d reached the hallway’s I felt relieved to just be walking on a flat surface again. It was like having a cold glass of water after being stranded in the desert for a day.
Above a big sign in front of me said “Men’s” but below was a line of twenty, if not more, to go in.
“Damn chili dogs,” said a man, making his way out of the bathroom.
After ten minutes of constipatingly waiting, eventually, I’d enter the bathroom. It was ridiculously dirty, graffiti all over the walls, and smelled like something had died long ago in it. Three times the toilet flushed and out came a man about the same height as me. He had sharp eye’s, like a snake. Muscular, athletic, and wore more clothing than what he needed for how warm it was out—about eighty-two degrees that day. We locked eyes only for a moment, awkwardly mimicking each other’s movements as we tried to move out of each other’s way. Just before exiting, a rectangularly shaped item fell from the man’s coat. It looked like a remote of some sort. But before I could really verify what it was, he picked it back up, fast, and placed it where it had fallen out. Suspiciously, the man smiled back at me with a sharp grin, bearing teeth that looked as if they’d seen many years of coffee. Still, I smiled back, involuntarily.
I went into the stall and proceeded with handling my business. There was barely any toilet paper and to make matters worse there were no seat covers, which meant I only had two options. A, take the remaining toilet paper that I had and put it around the seat, at risk of not being able to wipe my own ass. Or B, not use the toilet paper for the seat and sit on it bare cheek, at risk of catching something. But I’ll never tell a soul which one that I chose, not even Rose, who I trusted to keep a secret more than anyone.
In the stall, all kinds of things ran through my mind. What could Rose possibly want besides candy that was sweet? What was the item that fell from the man’s pocket? And what kind of chili dog did Marrowngton give me, more so, everyone that had been in the bathroom that day? For some odd reason, things just didn’t feel right, excluding everyone’s constipation, of course.
It had been about fifteen minutes before I finished. Again, I won’t say what I did afterward, but I will say that I did wash my hands. That’s at least more than what I can say for the rest of the men that exited the bathroom.
I was back in the hallway now, and the lines to the food stands were a lot short than when we first appeared. I could’ve chosen any one of them to go to—pizza, popcorn, ice cream, burgers, and the worst of them all, hot dogs, which probably should have been shut down by the lynch mob that surrounded it.
For whatever reason, I decided to go with chocolate popcorn. It just sounded good at the time and it wasn’t candy, so, it had to be the right choice.
My phone pinged. It was Rose, and she was growing a little un-patient for how long it was taking me. Must’ve been close to half an hour since I’d been gone. As a man, I should’ve known better than to make a woman wait.
Haste for time, I told the couple in front of me that I’d give them ten bucks each if they let me cut in front of them. At first, they were a little unsure, but seeing how ten bucks each would easily pay for their popcorn and more, they agreed.
The popcorn smelt sweet and buttery all in one and tasted like it too. I just couldn’t help but take a few bites on the way back.
“About time,” said Rose. “I thought you might have fainted or something.”
I gave Rose a kiss on the forehead.
“Almost. For you,” I joked.
“Oh, shut up,” she laughed punching me in the chest. “Give me what I asked for you goof.”
We continued to watch the game. It was forty-one to twelve. Finally, someone was going to give the Dundee’s a taste of their own medicine. And it was hysterically pleasing to see Bootmaker kick over the water bucket out of frustration in the dugout. All the Bone Marrow fans laughed.
The lights in the stadium then began to flicker, and not long after they’d shut off completely. As the day was getting darker, there was no way they could continue the game. One of the referees had come out with a microphone in his hand, explaining what would be done next.
“Oh, come on! Suspension my ass!” yelled a Bone Marrow fan from behind.
Everyone then began throwing empty cups of soda and half-eaten chili dogs onto the field out of frustration. Even Rose, who couldn’t finish hers.
“Your chili dogs sucked anyways!” yelled another, to our right.
All of us were then told to exit our way to the hallways until things got fixed. It was the last thing that was needed for a claustrophobic guy like me, but Rose wrapped herself around my arm tightly for comfort.
“Hey Tyson, could you hold onto my things? I’m gonna go to the ladies’ room really fast. Are you going to be okay?”
Everyone was shoulder to shoulder. Back to back. It was humid. I was beginning to sweat profusely. How in the hell would we get out if something…?
“Tyson… Baby…” said Rose. “You okay. I can stay…”
“Y-yeah. Of course, I’ll be fine hun. Go ahead, I’ll be right here when you come back,” I said
Rose vanished into the crowd, and it had then dawned on me that the chili dogs must have finally gotten to her as well. She only ate half of hers, but surely it had to have an affect on her. Oh, Rose… Only you, I wanted to tell her, but it was too late for the comeback now.
I waited around as patiently as I could, but I needed to find a spot that wasn’t as crowded. It was just too much for me to handle. About a foot, away from me was a room. From the sign that was bolted to it, it was obvious that it was for employee’s only but screw it, some rules were meant to be broken.
The crowd wasn’t budging. I’d asked politely if I could get by, however, some just weren’t trying to help a brother out. But somehow, I’d made my way to the door. When I entered, there was not an employee in sight. I even had to turn the lights on, shockingly. Get it. Yeah, moving on.
My stomach still ached. I needed to find something to calm it and I knew Rose would also need the same later. So, I went through the employee staff refrigerator but found nothing but an old half-eaten birthday cake that looked like it had been there for two weeks. I closed the refrigerator back and continue to look around more. Hanging on the wall next to the front door was a first aid kit. I opened it and what do you know, Pepto Bismol—just what everyone needed who’d been victims of the chili dogs that day. I took a few sips and already could feel myself coming back to normal again.
To the right of me, voices became louder as they approached. Maybe the employees, I presumed. Needing to hide, I shot straight for the closet across the room. I was expecting there to be a lot of coats within it but most of the stuff that I stood immersed in was just junk—broken vacuum, a broken broom, dirty towels, worn out boots, and strangely, a guitar with broken strings. But I had still had visual, and from what I was seeing through the crack of the door were two employees that entered the room.
“Shit man I’m hurt… No one told me messing with the fuse box would be so dangerous… Had I not pulled away in time, I’d probably still be down there, barbequed,” said a man.
“Shut up man before someone hears you,” whispered the other. “I told you, just stick to the plan. You heard what the boss said. We need to hold everyone in the hallway. They’re paying us too much dammit, and I don’t know about you but I’m looking to get the fuck out of Plummet city and maybe go to Canada or something. The Dundee’s must win the finals tonight.”
“Wow. You still bitter about the city not giving you your refund on taxes?”
“Shut up man. This city is a scam and you know it!”
“Yeah man, whatever you say, but… I really wasn’t expecting to put in overtime tonight. I’m supposed to be going on a date you know. I mean, Charles, you gotta see this woman. She’s an angel. I’m still surprised she’d even agree to go out with a guy like me, a janitor of all things, but she did.”
“Screw her man! Trust me, there will be plenty more like her when we get this job done. Now let’s go.”
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I never thought anyone could stoop so low, although, it all started to add up. The chili dogs and then the lights. It was all rigged. The Dundee’s were not only trying to kill the spirit of the fans but also cheat on the Bone Marrows. But how?
My phone began to ring. It was from Rose again. I did my best to silence it as fast I could, but the two men had already locked their eyes towards my direction.
“Hey, did you hear that?” said the man.
“Yeah. I think it was coming from the closet. Sounded like a phone. But it’s probably Shawna’s. You know how boss feels about having phones out on the job, and Shawna has always been notorious for her texting” said the other.
“Yeah but from the closet? I don’t think so. I’m gonna go check it out. Wait here.”
One of the men then begins walking towards the closet. He was short and stocky, with a crown for baldness. He wore a yellow vest and khakis.
“What are you two doing! I told you to keep the crowd together and you’re in here dicking around,” yelled a man, coming through the front door.
It was the guy from the bathroom. Sharp eyes, but minus the cynical grin. Which I’m not sure if I preferred more from the way that he looked now.
“They got the electricians here and the powers getting ready to come back on soon. I need everyone in their places!”
The man by the closet then stepped away and exited the room with the other two men. I’d gotten a text message from Rose.
“Smh. I told you we should’ve eaten before we got here. What the hell was in that chili dog! I’m gonna be a minute. You owe me, mister. Smh…” it said.
I laughed. Welcome to my world, I text back.
I exited the room and already the hallways were beginning to be cleared out. Everyone was headed back to their seats. As I waited for Rose, I pondered on who was behind what was going on, and how they planned to turn a game that was pretty much over, back into the Dundee’s hands. I was tempted to tell the security guards, however, was skeptical if they were apart of what was going on as well. No doubt about it, Rose was the only one I could trust, so, I waited for her. I just hope I don’t sound crazy when I explain it to her.
To be continued.