For The Good of the Town

Kavin Macy was Watertown’s best hitter. He wasn’t a bad first baseman either. Teams from all over the county visibly cringed when they played the Watertown team. Not because the other teams were so horribly bad. No. It was because Watertown had themselves a Bonafide, major league hitter. Each and every time young Kavin Macy stepped up to the plate, he hit the ball out of the park.
Kavin became a local legend at the tender age of twelve when he hit his first grand slam against Rockford Heights. They thought it was a fluke until his turn came again. The pitcher: Blake Lively, tossed him a splitfinger that would make Nolan Ryan proud. Kavin eyed the ball with precision, adjusted his stance, and swung for the fence. Literally. Blake, and the rest of the team groaned as they looked skyward. The ball sailed over their heads like a rocket. Mitch Fields, the reporter from the Watertown Press wrote that “no one in the crowd that day actually saw the ball leave the bat.” It was the crack heard ‘round the world.
The ball eventually landed in the sixteenth row of Mr. Monkey’s corn field. Yes, Monkey is his name. Ted Monkey. Farmer Ted: it never gets old.
Yep, Kavin Macy was a hero to a small town that lacked heroes. Nearly every morning edition of the Watertown press presented the reader with a color photo, right there on the front page. World news and politics were moved to the inside pages to make room for Kavin, and the citizens of Watertown were thankful for it. It was rumored that scouts from New York were coming to watch Kavin as the Watertown team was set to face the team from Winfield the very next afternoon.
Kavin practiced harder than ever that whole day. It was told that he took a thousand pitches from the team’s new Heater Perfect pitching machine. To this day, those balls have not been located.
After batting practice; attended by the entire town, Kavin signed about two hundred autographs then went for a stroll up River Road with Joey Doopy, Kavin’s teammate and best friend. It was a ritual after every practice that they went to the Old Country Counter for lunch, and neither of them were going to break that tradition; not on the eve of the big game.
Behind the counter, as usual, was Big Mary Masterson. She was the owner of the Old Country Counter.
“Well look who it is!” she yelled as the boys came in. “Kavin Macy, as I live and breathe.”
“Mrs. Masterson, I come in here every day.”
“Of course you do, young man, of course you do.”
Big Mary Masterson was loud and obnoxious. And that was on normal days. Today, with a full lunch crowd she felt obligated to convey to her customers that she was a friend of the town’s only celebrity. In fact, Mary credits Kavin directly with her rapid increase in sales. For the first time in years she is in the black. Actually, it was the same wherever he went. Mr. Willis’ bike shop increased his sales by over 200% because every kid in Watertown wanted a Mastodon 350 just like Kavin; and what parent in their right mind would deny their child the greatest bicycle in the world. Mr. Sheldon Glupenbach, Watertown Middle School’s Principal, boasted that his students, (according to the National Education association) were the only students in the entire country to receive an A for the whole school year. In his speech to the school board, Mr. Glupenbach cited Kavin as a major influence on the other students.
“Better you than me.” Doopy told him. Kavin rightfully punched him in the arm and they both laughed while they finished their burgers and milkshakes before leaving in a wake of fans like the paparazzi looking for that one perfect shot. Yes Sir, Kavin Macy was a celebrity. Just like a rock star or a famous actor. The mayor had even commissioned a statue of the 13 year old to stand in the middle of the town square. It was to be unveiled during this year’s July 4th celebration.
Back at home that evening before the big game, his parents were all smiles. They treated him to his favorite meal: steak and pancakes. They couldn’t be prouder of their boy. In fact they were so proud that when the New York reporters came to the door asking for an interview they didn’t hesitate. The ushered in the crew, with their cameras and lights. Going live in five.
Kavin just sat there eating and answering questions like it was just any other day. Because it was just like any other day. Kavin took his hero status in stride and never denied a single person of the opportunity to speak to him or sign a ball for them. This was something that he had to get used to if he was going to play in the majors. That was the dream after all; to be a big league hitter. To hear the crowd cheering as the ball flew through the air. He couldn’t think of anything else that he would ever want to do with his life.
Katie Macy, Kavin’s older sister sat on the stairs and watched the whole spectacle with disgust. She hated the attention her brother was getting. Not just for what it was but for what it was for. Baseball! It’s just a fucking game! The truth was that she envied her brother. He was better at that fucking game than she was at anything. She tried, of course. She sang in the school choir and performed in the drama club. But nothing brought her the fame that her brother basked in.
During the live television interview, Katie stormed upstairs, throwing the bologna sandwich that she had made herself for dinner at the cameraman. Mrs. Macy, embarrassed, smiled and excused herself.
“Young lady! What is your problem?” Karen Macy asked her daughter. “Tomorrow is your brother’s big day. Don’t you dare ruin it for him.”
“Everyday is his big day, Mother! Why should today be any different? I’m sick of it all! When are you going to pay attention to me?” Katie began to sob. Karen Macy joined her daughter on her bed and wiped her tears from her face.
“My dear precious girl. You already know the answer to that question.”
She took her daughter’s hand and smiled genuinely. Looking deep into her eldest child’s eyes, she answered her anyway.
“Never.”
Kyle Macy sat next to his son while during the interview, making sure that the world knew that he was Kavin Macy’s father. His wife soon joined. She smiled for the camera with her whitest teeth and prettiest blue eyes. They were Kavin’s parents and they were the proudest parents in all of Watertown. It could be stated that they were the proudest parents in all the world. Ever since his boy hit that grand slam last year his insurance sales had tripled. His commission alone was enough to keep them happy. Everyone wanted to purchase life insurance from Kavin Macy’s father. It didn’t seem to matter that the premiums were twice the going rate. The signed the papers as if it were nothing.
Karen Macy became the most popular housewife in town. Her roses were the brightest and her peach cobbler was the number one requested recipe in the lifestyle section of the Watertown press. She wore the finest dresses and played bridge better than anyone. Karen Macy also held the honor of putting out the best gossip. At bridge games once a week, she would tell everyone there that Curtis Swanson was cheating on his wife with Shirley Potter. Shirley, everyone knew, had just had an abortion. She had to drive to Rockford Heights to get it down but Karen had seen her drive out of the clinic one afternoon. Quite the scandal. It was heard, but not confirmed that Judith Paulson had been in a relationship with another woman. This would explain why she could never keep a decent man.
Yes, they were proud to be Kavin’s parents.
That evening, in his room, Kavin looked out his window. It was muggy and hot. There was some thunder off in the distance and he watched as the moon dropped behind a patch of clouds. He thought about the game coming up and what it meant to him and what it meant to everyone else. He had felt pressure before but nothing like this.
Thunder roared again from the north and he thought of his teammates. The team was called the Watertown Thunder, after the storms that flooded the valley every spring. He imagined his first at bat tomorrow. The coach had him batting third in the line up. There were plenty of good hitters on the team and he would bring them home if they were able to get on base. Maybe another grand slam; in front of the talent scouts. Wouldn’t that be wonderful. It didn’t matter though, as long as they won, and they were undefeated so far because of him. He would not let let them down.
Kavin smiled and turned away from his bed. Before he pulled back his blanket, a noise came from outside. Loud, like an explosion, but like no other explosion he had ever heard before. He remembered the time when the refinery got struck by lightning and a whole tank exploded. That was loud but still not like this. He ran to the window but didn’t see anything except the streetlights an a light dusting of rain. The explosion was so loud that the echo could still be heard bouncing off the hills on the other side of the river. His door flew open.
“Did you hear that?” Katie asked, still dressed in jeans and her favorite Iron Maiden shirt.
“Yeah! Did you see anything?”
“No. My window is closed but I still heard it. I wonder if the refinery exploded again.” Kavin thought for a second. That made perfect sense, but…
“Wouldn’t we see the flames from here?” He stood to the side so his sister could get a good look. There was nothing. No commotion of any kind. Surely there would be a siren blaring anytime soon. Nothing. They sat there together eating stale corn chips and gazing out the window at nothing.

Sunlight from the open window hit Kavin’s face like a fastball and he was up and out of bed. The hit-around was in two hours. Just enough time to get ready. Shower, teeth, toilet, breakfast. He was not surprised one bit to see his parents up and preparing breakfast, but Katie, awake on a Saturday? Before noon?
“Good morning superstar!” His sister gleamed at him from her spot at the breakfast counter.
“What’s the matter with you?”
“What do you mean?”
“You never say nice things to me. Especially on a game day.”
“Well,” Katie thought for moment. “I just thought it was time that I show my little bro some support. That’s all.”
“Oh Katie, that’s so sweet darlin.” Karen was dressed and ready for baseball. “Kavin, tell your sister thank you.”
“Thanks?” His mind was in an entirely other place. “Oh, hey, did you guys find out what that explosion was?” Karen and Kyle looked at him as if he had just brought home a penguin and was asking to keep it.
“What explosion, son?”
Katie took over. “It was loud. Around two in the morning. North side of town. You guys didn’t hear it?”
They shook their heads, unconcerned about any of it. Kyle dropped a box on the counter in front of Kavin. Bigger than a shoe box, blue and red with a big R on the top.
“What’s this?” He asked his old man.
“You tell me, slugger.”
Kavin lifted the lid. There, underneath thick white tissue was a Rawlings 11’ HOH R2G series First Base glove. It was maroon with a gold pocket and laces. The same as the team colors.
“Holy crap!!!” He pulled it out of the box. “No friggin way!!!”
“I thought that this special game called for a special glove. So, I went into Boston last week and ordered it. It almost didn’t make it in time.”
“Thanks dad.” He jumped into his father’s burley arms and squeezed. Then looked at the kitchen clock. “Gotta go!”
“We’ll see you there sweetheart. Hit twelve out of the park for me!”
“I hope he does well.” Katie told them. “I can’t wait to see him play.”
Kyle and Karen both gave her an odd look. It was so unlike her to want to be involved in anything having to do with her brother. But there was no time to worry about Katie. There was tailgating to prepare for. Which is another thing that the Macy’s were known for. They made the best pregame food. Hamburgers, hot dogs, various sausages, steaks and pork chops as thick as a baseball bat. Kyle was the king of the backyard grill, and when his son was playing, everybody ate like a king. Nobody left a baseball game hungry in Watertown.
With the van packed, the Macy’s drove through town to Beggar’s field. Home of the Watertown Thunder.

Two blocks away from the field, in an office building made of black steel and glass, five men in suits sit at a conference table. Seated at the head of the table is Mayor Holden Phelps. Next to him is Wilton Davies, the wealthiest man in Watertown. The other three are lawyers, representing various business interests.
“Let’s get to the point, gentlemen, shall we.” Wilton was a man unfamiliar with beating around the bush. He was a shrewed businessman. And when there was money to be made, he made it his business. “Kavin Macy will be the youngest baseball player ever to be drafted by a major league team. Watertown will become the next Cooperstown. Your clients will want their businesses here. Mr. Short, Watertown currently has no major hotel. This should have you salivating. Mr. Grantham, Watertown is about to become the mecca for baseball enthusiasts around the globe. Don’t you think that Rick’s Sporting Center should be where they purchase their equipment? And Miss Stein, as this town grows exponentially, we will need jobs. A shopping mall south of the river is just what this town needs.”
Wilton Davies demanded attention, and he got it. He was tall with perfect black hair, and a perfectly trimmed beard. He was a fitness junkie, working out everyday. Including a 5 mile run each morning before breakfast. He stood and circled the table.
“Look, I understand your trepidation. Really I do. And to be honest, I don’t need these deals. I have plenty of money.” Mayor Phelps shot him a disapproving glare. Wilton winked. “But this town…This town is special. It’s people are special. We are tired of not being included on the map. With Kavin Macy, we can finally be on the map.” He paused here for dramatic effect. “I wasn’t going to say this but, currently there are plans in place to start a professional team here. It would be a shame if your clients weren’t included.” Wilton sat back down and pulled the contracts out of his briefcase. Mayor Phelps spoke to them as he passed them out.
“I’ll tell ya’ what, folks. Come on down to the game and see for yourself. If your still not convinced, you can walk away. But if you like what you see in Kavin and that boy’s potential, then we’ll come back here, and you can sign these papers.
The three agreed and were escorted down to the lobby.
Wilton Davies was livid. He had never been thrown under the bus quite like this before. He turned on Phelps and pushed him against the wall.
“If you’ve ruined this deal for me, I will crucify you on that punk kid’s statue. For this whole fucking town to see.”

“This should be pretty easy, bud.” Joey told Kavin as they threw a ball around before the start of the game.
Kavin nodded. Then remembered.
“Did you hear that explosion last night?”
“No,” Doopy answered. “What explosion?”
“Something exploded last night. I was really fuckin’ loud.”
Joey shrugged and threw in the ball and the rest of the team ran to the dugout.
Kavin was confused. He was sure there was an explosion last night. Katie had heard it too. Why didn’t anyone else hear it? He wasn’t crazy. He asked Tommy Randall. Nope. Shiner Phelps; nope. Hunter Alvarez; nothing. Nobody heard a thing. They were probably all asleep by the time whatever it was exploded.
The Star-Spangled Banner.
A bunch of announcements about this and that.
Team introductions.
Kavin hated this part. His friends were great players too, but when they called his name, it was like the President had arrived.
“Batting 3rd. First baseman, KAVIN! MACY!!!” It was so embarrassing.
The Wranglers were up first. Doopy was pitching and he was throwin some heat. First batter, strike…ball, low and inside…strike…grounder to first. Macy gets the stop. The managed to get on base but Doopy put’em away with a change-up.
“Now batting, center fielder; Tommy Randall!” Tommy got a nice round of applause. He deserved it too. Good hitter. Tommy takes the first pitch and clobbers it towards left field where it drops right in no-man’s-land for a double.
“Now batting, left fielder; Joe Doopy. Joey’s got a good grounder past the short stop if he can get the right pitch. Kavin wonders if maybe it was a bomb.
Coach Miller spies the infield and sends Joey a sign at the plate. Joey acknowledges with a smile. The pitch; It’s a bunt! A perfect bunt right down the first base line. He runs it out. The infield wasn’t ready. Two men on, and the crowd goes wild. The afternoon air is electric.
There is a man in the bleachers wearing a Red Sox hat and a Nirvana T-shirt. He pulls out a note pad and an expensive looking pen. In front of this man is Kyle and Karen Macy, decked out in adult-size Thunder jerseys.
“Now batting, first baseman; KAVIN! MAAACCCYYYY!!!”
The applause is thunderous. The ground shakes from all of the jumping. Kavin snatches his bat and walks to the plate. His heart is pounding. He can feel it. Sweat trickles down his neck and he digs his cleats in. The bleachers are absolutely silent as the pitcher winds up. Kavin tracks the ball leaving the pitcher’s hand. Like a military radar, he watches it dance through the air; cutting left, then right until it is upon him.
Pitch…swing…strike 1. For a brief moment, the air left the ballpark as the four hundred plus in attendance inhaled at the same time.
Pitch…swing…strike 2. It’s an old tale; O’ how the mighty hath fallen. Kyle Macy hung his head and prayed. His wife, sitting next to him began to cry, real tears. How could this be? Kavin never misses. An uproar began to surge through the crowd. The pitcher was cheating somehow.
All at once, the attending audience turned to face Kyle and Karen Macy with rage in their eyes. It was their fault. They raised a lazy child who refused to practice. He was probably one of those homosexuals. Kavin prepared for his third pitch. The last pitch was straight down the middle. He felt the catcher move to his left and adjusted.
Pitch…swing…strike 3.
Kavin, always humble, raised his hand to the crowd in an effort to say that all was well, he’d take care of it his next at bat. But he didn’t. Three appearances at the plate. Nine strikes, and three outs. It didn’t matter to anyone that the Watertown Thunder had won the game 14-7. No, what mattered is that Kavin broke his promise, his promise to bring these loathsome people out of their depression and give them something to live for. In a single afternoon, this boy had shattered their dreams.
While the team celebrated their victory on the field. The crowd in the bleachers was growing hostile.

“He threw the game!”
“He’s a bum!”
“Arrest him!”
The crowd was becoming angrier by the second. Kavin turned away from his teammates briefly to see a man wearing a gray t-shirt punch his father in the face. His mother was on the ground as the other mothers were kicking her in the stomach and in the face. He stood on the mound and watched it all; frozen with terror.
Back in the parking lot a fight had broken out between Mayor Phelps and Wilton Davies. The lawyers had left after the first out. Davies was furious.
“You’d better get on home.” Coach miller told him.
He didn’t hesitate. He ran to the dugout, grabbed his glove and hopped the fence. Just before he got to his bike he heard coach Miller call to him.
“Macy! You fucked us, boy!”
Kavin shook his head in disbelief and jumped on his bike and zoomed through the parking lot. He stopped behind the visiting bleachers. He saw his sister beneath and called out to her. She didn’t answer she was acting very strange. Mayor Phelps had Mr. Davies in a headlock and was squeezing so hard that his eyes popped out of his head. He dropped Mr. Davies on the concrete and looked up at Kavin.
“See what you made me do!!!”
Kavin pedaled quickly to the bleachers. He screamed as he saw Katie hanging by her neck from a noose tied to the bleachers. She had scribbled a note on a piece of cardboard and strung that around her neck as well. Her lifeless eyes stared a hole through his soul. He thought of all those times she refused to go to his games saying that it was just a fucking game. She was right. It was just a fucking game. A breeze came in off the river that made Katie sway like a tire swing. The sign around her neck, in big bold, black letters stated: FOR THE GOOD OF THE TOWN.
The crowd began pouring out of the ballpark like lava from a volcano. Crying, he turned to leave and stopped right in front of Big Mary. She was bald now because someone had lit her diner on fire.
“This is all your fault, you little shit!”
She reached out with meaty hands and got hold of his neck. He rammed his front tire into her crotch and she doubled over. He sped fast down School Street and turned left on Brown. Up ahead just past first avenue, a crowd was gathering. No, not a crowd, a mob. He was far enough away that they didn’t see him but it was obvious what they were doing. They had torched his house. Flames licked the late afternoon sky. The fire department was on their way, but the crowd was blocking the streets.
“Let it fucking burn!” Kavin heard them chant.
He thought about his parents and a lump swelled in his throat. They were dead more than likely. What in the hell is wrong with these people.? He thought.
Kavin needed a place to go, now that home was out of the question.
He spun around and made for Sixth street like a rocket. Angela. She would help me. She liked me, and her parents were cool.
Last year, right before school let out for the summer. Kavin and the rest of the gang were standing outside the front doors. They were making plans. Not just about baseball games but about life. Fun, girls, Trever Meeks and his dad’s playboys; things that all teenage boys talk about. A girl came up behind Kavin. A tall girl with shiny brown hair and big green eyes. She was wearing jeans; the kind of jeans that boys want girls to wear.
She pulled him around to face her. She was as tall as he was. He looked at her quizzically at first. His mind tried to process the information to quickly. He couldn’t remember her name. Ann, Annie, Annabelle, ugh, Angel. That’s it!
“Angel…Angela!”
“Hey Kavin.”
Without another word, Angela locked her lips on his. She opened his mouth with her tongue and slithered inside. She placed both of her hands on his face and brought his body closer to his. And before he knew it, she was done. She grabbed his yearbook from he hand and turned to her picture and wrote her phone number down.
“Don’t be a stranger.”
He knew where she lived. Katie and her used to hang out. Katie. Right on Jackson. Up two blocks to Monroe, and left Liberty and it’s right there. This would be a strange visit. Would she be home? Was she at the game?
The sky began to turn a dark gray, even though it was still early. Kavin realized with a sudden fright that the mob was after him, burning the town to ciders looking for him. This is crazy!
“Macy!” The voice came from across the street. He recognized it immediately.
“Doopy?”
“Over here!” Kavin looked across the street and saw Joey hiding behind an old rusted pick up truck parked on the street.
“They burned down my house, Doop.”
“Mine too.”
“Why is this happening?”
“Don’t you know?” Kavin nodded and hung his head in shame.
“This is all my fault.” Joe Doopy grabbed his friend by his jersey.
“You’re right it’s your fault. And if I don’t turn you in, they’re gonna hurt me.”
“What?” Kavin backed away. Doopy pulled out coach Miller’s whistle and gave it a blow.
“He’s here! I found him! He’s right here!”
“Fuck your mother, Joe.”
Joey Doopy Shrugged his shoulders and pointed as Kavin rode away. Kavin had to laugh to himself a little at the thought of the entire town being so angry at him because he didn’t hit a homer today that they would send, of all people, Joe Doopy, to find him. Such a ridiculous notion made all of the afternoon events seem insane.
On Monroe Street he saw a police barricade with a bonfire behind it. The sun had dipped below the horizon and the officers that stood in front of the blaze gleamed orange in the fire light. He was being hunted. He skipped Monroe and went up a block further on Liberty until he came to the back of Angela’s house. He didn’t notice if the lights were on or not, but it didn’t really matter. He knocked quietly and listened. Any sound that might come from the house was drowned by the riotous mob burning and destroying everything. He knocked again. This time, the light over the back door came on. Kavin backed up, expecting to be murdered.
“Kavin?” It was Angel’s father. He was a tall man, but not slender. He was a truck; a fifty-foot box of iron ore. But he was also the kindest man Kavin had ever known, apart from his father, of course. “What in God’s name are you doing here? Don’t you know what’s happening? This whole town has gone crazy. Why aren’t you at home?” Kavin dropped his head in shame.
“I’m sorry Mr. Ross. I have nowhere else to go. If you’re gonna call them on me, can you wait ‘til get a head start?” Melvin Ross looked at the boy. He understood the game of baseball. Hell, he even played it himself back in the day. And when you’re a kid, you just want to be a kid.
“Get in here, quick.”
Kavin walked through the Ross’ kitchen. The lights were all off and there were empty beer cans tossed all over the small kitchen table. Something was wrong. When Kavin entered the living room he instantly regretted knocking on that door. More to it, he regretted waking up that morning. Angela sat on a leather chair. Her mouth had tape across it and her hands were behind her back. When she saw Kavin, her eyes went wide. Mrs. Ross was on the floor face down. Her hands were behind her back as well, but he couldn’t tell if she was alive or not. This was a mistake. He took a step towards the front door.
“That would not be smart, young man. Ya’ see, I know what’s goin on here in this town. I knew it was comin, I knew it. I told everybody. Once you start flirtin with evil, you end up gettin fucked by the beast himself!” Mr. Ross was drunk and carrying a rifle. Kavin saw other guns poking out of his pants. The walls of the house were full of holes, and Kavin thought, doesn’t Angela have a baby brother? Mr. Ross pointed the rifle at Kavin and told him to sit. He fell back next to Angela. Her dad far too drunk to figure out the mistake he just made. He whispered.
“Are you okay?” She nodded.
“Is your mom…dead?” She nodded.
“What about your brother?” She gestured up the stairs.
Kavin reached behind her and untied the shoestring that was around Angela’s wrists. Keeping an eye on her dad, who was now in the kitchen getting a beer.
“We have to get out of here.” She nodded.
Without even knowing what he was doing, Kavin stood and readied himself. When Mr. Ross stumbled back into the living room, Kavin tackled him. He passed out instantly and the two teenagers ran out the door.

“We need to move away from the mob!” Angela yelled from her bike, in front leading the way.
Kavin was confused. He was happy that she was with him but it made no sense. Nothing made any sense. He wished to himself that it was all a dream. A horrible, long, dark, vivid nightmare. He could wake up anytime now. Jump out of bed and run downstairs to see Katie and his parents still alive like nothing had ever happened. But it’s not a dream. This is some crazy science-fiction shit for sure, but it’s all real.
Angela turned left on River Road and headed towards the school. The streets down here were clear. The mob was heading west looking for him. They didn’t expect him to double back to the ball field.
“We can hide in the dugout!” Great idea, Kavin. Ya perv.”
Kavin remembered the kiss. He wanted to do it again. He wanted to do it a lot more.Angela was pretty. But how could he even think of things like that with all that was going on.
“Ya, we can hide in there until the morning and then go to the police.”
The police. Not a good idea kid. They’re in on it.
“Sure.” He answered.
But when the lights came on over the field, Kavin knew that it wasn’t the police that were in on it. Angela kissed his cheek.
“I’m Sorry, Kavin. I really did like you. All you had to do was hit the ball.”
She had set him up. Angela and her father both. Did they kill her mom too? Kavin stood alone now, near second base. The field was surrounded en masse. There was nowhere for him to go. Too many people. He couldn’t escape. He dropped his bike and fell to the grass, crying. What had happened last night? What had changed? He had never missed a ball before. The explosion.
The crowd started walking towards him and he recognized many of them. The more people he recognized the harder he cried. The whole town was going to beat him to death. Was there no on that would protect him?
Under the lights he saw the Chief of Police, Jack Finnley and his family. Principal Glupenbach and his wive and children. Kavin started to breathe heavier than he was used to, and as they got closer, he noticed that some of the men were carrying something; something big. Coach Miller was at one end, and Mr. Ross was at the other.
“It’s just a stupid fucking game!” He cried and the mob stopped in their tracks. Kavin’s heart was beating so hard and so fast he thought he was gonna have an attack. Then, from behind him…
“Kavin Macy!” The voice was coming from the PA system. “You’re a hard man to find, boy. We had to firebomb most of the city to find you, you know that? Ladies and gentlemen, here is your local hero, Kavin Macy.”
Distracted by the voice, Kavin didn’t notice that some of the crowd had come forward and began digging a deep hole in the pitcher’s mound.
“All you had to do was hit the ball, Kavin. None of this would be necessary.”
Those that were gathering around Kavin were speaking. Not to him exactly but more like chanting. He couldn’t make out what they were saying over the guy on the speaker.
“Kavin, stand up. Take a bow, would you please.” Kavin remained seated in the grass. “I SAID STAND UP! NOW!!!” This, of course changed his mind and he stood and looked around some more at the people that were around him. Joey Doopy and the rest of his teammates, Mayor Phelps was carrying something and Kavin winced when he realized that it was Wilton Davies’ head. He searched the crowd for his mom and dad but saw only strangers. Strangers that he used to know very well. His friends, his teachers. All of them now something that Kavin could not comprehend.
“For the good of the town.” The chanting became louder and more pronounced as other men hoisted a large wooden pole near the hole that was dug in the pitcher’s mound.
“You see, Kavin…I was once just like you. I played sports and had friends and it was all fun. Then I got married and had a son. My son wanted to play baseball. But he wasn’t very good. He tried out over and over again until one day, he was good enough. He was good enough to sit on the bench all summer long while the ‘hero’ made us all happy. I had to tell my boy that it was for the good of the town.”
“For the good of the town.”
“And now Kavin, it is time for the town to give back to you, our hero. When all you had to do was hit the fuckin ball. Gentlemen…you may proceed.”
“For the good of the town.”
From different areas of the crowd, four men came toward him. He backed up, terrified. But it was no use. The took him by his arms and legs and tied him to the pole. His hands were tied behind him around the pole. His neck was bound and his feet rested on a plank nailed to the pole. Then it was lifted into the hole and Kavin was at least ten feet off the ground.
“In everyday life, Kavin, sacrifices must be made. Sometimes we have to take the good with the bad so that everyone can benefit from the outcome. You understand, don’t you? This my dear boy is progress.” For the good of the town, for the good of the town.
“Now, before we begin, is there anyone that would like to speak on this little shit’s behalf?”
From Kavin’s right side, near the concession stand, two figures walked slowly towards him. They each carried a lit torch. Kavin noticed right away that they were limping and badly hurt.
“Oh my God, no!!!”
Mr. And Mrs. Macy walked as best as they could towards the pitcher’s mound. Tears mingled with the blood that was caked there from the earlier beating. They were held responsible for their child’s behavior and were found unfit to continue to live among decent hardworking people. But before they were sent away, they were given one last opportunity to redeem themselves. They reached the pole that held their son like Christ on the cross. Only their son was no savior. He was the beast that had ruined everything. They had provided him with everything a boy could ever want. And this is how he repaid them.
“All you had to do was hit the ball, son.” For the good of the town.
Karen Macy did not speak. She wished to, you see but her mouth had been sewn shut when she first demanded that they leave their boy alone. She hung her head with her husband and left the burning torches at the foot of the pole. Before exciting the field. Mr. Ross stepped out and put a bullet through their heads.
Kavin was in such a deep state of shock that he could no longer see what was happening below him. He didn’t see the hundreds of torches being dropped at his feet. He didn’t feel the flames getting hotter as they raced up the porous wood. And when at last the flames finally consumed him, all of Watertown exhaled and dreamed of a bright, new future.

At Summer’s End – Part Two

On one particular night that stands out in my memory, one of our beach front neighbors must have been displeased with something because at approximately 11pm, the police arrived. Luckily for us we had dispelled with much of the evening’s enhancements. However, Peter was visibly drunk, as usual and had gotten himself arrested. Like a pack of wolves following a leader, we trailed the cops to the police station. Peter’s father had been called and was waiting there when we arrived.

            Winston Kingsley is a short, ugly man with an even uglier disposition. Despite the late hour, Mr. Kingsley was dressed as if he were attending a high-brow event. Most notable was the gold heirloom on his left pinky. The story is, as I have heard it, King Richard the First; King of England, also known as Richard the Lionhearted, was in love with a poor farmer’s daughter named Isabella. This, of course was forbidden of the young king. Not only was he already betrothed to the Spanish princess, Berengaria of Navarre, Isabella was not royalty. After the wedding, the two lovers kept their affair secret, and as a token of his love for her, Richard commissioned a golden ring. He gave it to her on a cold night, under the light of a purple moon.

            The next day, the King learned of Isabella’s death. He was so distraught that he locked himself in his chambers for days, refusing to come out. Berengaria, the Queen begged him to at least come out and eat.

            “I have a present for you.” She told him.

            If only just to make her leave, Richard opened the door. Berengaria placed in his hand, a small wooden box. The King opened the box to find the ring that he had given to Isabella. The Queen smiled and walked away.

            Rumor has it that Winston Kingsley bought that very ring at an auction at Sotheby’s while living in England. It was supposed to be a wedding gift to his wife, Peter’s mother. However, he never took it off his finger.

            So there we were, and there he was. He stood there, blocking the front door as they brought Peter in; hand cuffs and all.

            “This is your doing,” he yelled. “The lot of you!”

            “What the fuck are you talking about, old man?” that was Michael. Michael had a tendency to be somewhat outspoken at times, and when it came to Peter, it was Michael that always seemed to hold a soft spot in his heart. We were never sure why but Michael was always there when Peter got into trouble; which was all the time it seemed. “He just got drunk. You remember drunk, don’t you Mr. Kingsley? Or have you forgotten the time when you were so fucking drunk that you attacked my mother?” We turned our heads like dogs spotting a squirrel. This was one we hadn’t heard. “You want to stand there and blame someone? Blame yourself. Go home, I brought my wallet, and I will bail him out.”

            To be truthful, Michael is a bit of a mystery, Even to Georgia. All I know about Michael Windemere is that he comes from German aristocracy on his Father’s side and is related to the Kennedys on his Mother’s side. Michael is extremely competitive. When we played football in high school, it was Michael that everyone on the team looked to for success. Michael was the kind of guy that everyone wanted to be around. Georgia always said it was his long black hair and dreamy blue eyes. But to me, it’s something deeper. Having said that, if it wasn’t for Michael, I would never have met Rachael. Unknown to everyone else in the group, Rachael and Michael were cousins. It wasn’t a secret that they kept hidden. It was just one of those things that you didn’t talk about.

            We decided to stay outside the police station and wait. It was a good hour before Peter and Michael came out. Smiles all around. Peter was still drunk and faced a court appearance in a few months for being disorderly.

            “Let’s take the boat out tomorrow,” Peter announced. “What do you say?”

To be continued…

Book Review – Rovers by Richard Lange

Rovers takes place during America’s bicentennial year of 1976. At its’ core, it’s a story about loss, about redemption, and about the agony of the road. I would imagine that if Steinbeck were to write a dystopian world, it might look similar to this one. It is clear that there are similarities to Of Mice & Men here, however, those similarities are fleeting.

The best way to describe this book is to first define what exactly a Rover is. In Richard Lange’s world, a Rover is like a vampire in that it is immortal. A Rover feeds on human blood, sleeps during the day in a darkened room. With that being said, there is none of the romanticism of the common literary vampire in this book. They only need to feed once or twice a month, and the two things that will kill them instantly is the sun or the removal of their head.

Jesse, the main character, travels the country with his younger brother, Edger, who still has the mental capacity of a 9-year-old. Jesse steals to keep the two of them alive. In a sense, Jesse and Edger are honorable rovers. But there is a dark side to this world, The Fiends. Any rover will tell you that you don’t want to anger the fiends. Too late…

My only negative criticism would be the ending. It seems unfinished.

I Love America

Mark Twain wrote “Loyalty of country, always. Loyalty of government, only when it deserves it.” Never was a statement truer than this is today.

We’ve all heard this story many times in grade school or otherwise… A young Thomas Jefferson is employed by Benjamin Franklin and John Adams to pen a letter of declaration to the king. This is the document that the continental congress had been waiting so long for. Declaring our independence from England, this document was signed and dated July 4th, 1776.

What does this history lesson mean to the average American? Not a lot, actually. Because after 246 years, many Americans haven’t a clue what July 4th symbolizes, and that’s okay because it means something different for all of us. Historically yes, it is the day in which our founding fathers chose to stand up against “a long train of abuses and usurpations.” (Jefferson, 1776). But shouldn’t this day mean so much more?

To me, the 4th of July symbolizes the American dream that burns in all of us. In today’s hotly debated political climate, our freedoms are being threatened just as they were nearly 250 years ago. In order to fight back against those that wish to subjugate our freedom, we only require one thing…pride.

I love my country. With all of its faults, and all of its differences, I stand with my hand over my heart and pledge allegiance to that flag. I understand that this is not a popular statement to make these days. However, I know that I am not alone. I am not the only American that fights back tears when we stand for our national anthem. I am not alone when I long for the days of patriotic parade floats, hot dogs dripping with mustard; a frisbee flying past, and the screams of joy while we sit, nestled close to our loved ones, and watch the annual fireworks explode against the darkened sky.

Freedom is not free, and I will fight every day of my life for it, so that every man woman and child can gaze upon that flag, as I do and say: I love America.

At Summer’s End. Part one.

The year was 1975. I was just a punk kid then. Seventeen years old and full of vinegar. So sure of myself and what little the world had to offer. Nothing, that’s what. Like all other teens my age, we waited for what was meant to come to us instead of reaching out and grabbing it. We cared nothing of work. Our only misery came during the hours that we were forced by our parents to be sober. Each summer we would gather nightly on the beach and regurgitate the daily grind of being noble children to captains of industry.

            There were ten of us altogether. Each had his or her story to tell about boarding school, boring vacations skiing in Switzerland, and how much our fathers had paid to get us each into Harvard, Yale, or Princeton. Our mothers were all alcoholics or pill poppers. It might be evident to say that we inherited that behavior. However, each of us would attempt to explain that we chose our own paths to self-destruction. It is difficult to relate but I cannot shrug off the feeling that we were truly happy then. When I say that we hadn’t a care in the world; I mean that literally. The only care that I had was Rachel, and I would like to think that I was hers, having spent so many summer evenings together on the beach; our bodies peacefully intertwined.

            My father, Leonidas (Leo) Grandholm inherited his fortune from my grandfather, Harris Grandholm. Harris had predicted the crash of 29’ and sheltered his earnings by removing them from all accounts. When the stock market crashed, Harris Grandholm became the second wealthiest man in the world. Don’t ask me what he did after that to increase his holdings because, despite my inquires, the answer that I am consistently given is that it is a ‘family business.’ Upon Harris’s death, Leonidas was put in charge of the family business. My father was no fool. He made several wise investment decisions after World War II and increased the family’s wealth to three times that which Harris had left him. I thank you, father.

            Despite my friends and their desire to sustain their debauchery, I considered myself somewhat level-headed. Nonetheless, the summer of 1975 was beginning to look like it would be the grandest summers of them all. Except for Peter, who was a full year younger than the rest, we had all graduated. This would be our last hurrah before we left for our respective universities. We were all under legal considerations that in order to gain our expected inheritances, we first had to graduate. I myself, was looking forward to school. Rachel and I were both attending Yale in the fall. Though my father had insisted that Harvard had the best pre-law departments in the country, I chose Yale. For the sole reason of course, that Rachel had already been accepted on a full scholarship to their journalism program.

            The summer began as it always had, with a rip-roaring beach party. Included in my father’s estate was a small cottage on the Cape. When I say small, I mean four bedrooms, three full baths, a wonderous backyard complete with a hot tub and a service gate that opened directly onto our private beach. This was where I lived each and every summer. My parents did not care. Frankly, I’m certain that their were pleased to have me out of the house. Rachel stayed with me on most nights; as did, much to my chagrin, Michael and Georgia, William and Jennifer, and Peter. Poor Peter.

            Peter Kingsley was far from poor in a financial perspective. In truth, his was the wealthiest family of us all. The Kingsley’s were oil magnates who traced their lineage back to the Civil War. Peter’s third Great Grandfather, Faraday Kingsley, an uneducated sort who fled Kentucky when the confederates came to town searching for conscripts. One afternoon in 1865, Faraday struck gold; not the shiny type but black gold…oil, while digging in his meager yard on the north Texas plain. He ran uncontrollably into town and explained to a group of, shall I say, ruffians, that he needed to engage employment from them. Certainly, they didn’t believe him but after seeing the deep hole of thick, bubbling black ink, they were each compelled with a promise of a percentage. Within days, a well was built, along with storage and transportation systems. Within six months, Faraday purchased the 35 acre plot of land and constructed seventeen more drills and wells. A full two years after the young fool first struck oil, Faraday Kingsley was the richest man in the world. At the time of his death in 1882, Faraday was worth 18 million dollars.

            The summer went on, and on. We dined on lobster and New York strip. We drank wine and champaign directly from the bottle and enjoyed more cocaine than I would’ve thought was humanly possible. In our little place in the world, we were royalty. We commanded the sun and the moon to rise and fall at our whim. On independence Day, we sat together on the sand with our toes in the water, watching fireworks explode from a barge just off the Cape. We had never been happier. But that happiness would come to a terrifying halt at Summer’s End.

To Be Continued…

Athens and Sparta: A Comparison of Ancient Greek Cultures.

Comparing Athens and Sparta is much like comparing apples to oranges. Both unique in their own way yet differing greatly even though they were neighboring cities. For example, the Athenian form of government was democracy, or demos, meaning the people. Each election year, the Athenian men, usually limited to between 5,000 and 6,000, would gather for consideration. After much heated debate, which lasted days upon days, the candidates were then narrowed down to 500 men. Out of those 500, they were split up into groups of 50. Each group would then be in charge for a month. The groups would use a system called ‘Lot’ or voting, to decide all matters, including military, social, and political. Sparta, on the other hand, was an oligarchy, which is derived from the Greek word meaning few. This oligarchy held elements of democracy as well as monarchy, and aristocracy. At the top of the political food chain were two kings and five senators underneath them that were elected by the people annually. General assemblies were held to vote on motions and pass legislation. As a law, the senate had the power to overrule the kings with a unanimous vote. However, this consideration was rarely used.

Their lifestyle and social cultures were just as different. The Athenian people considered themselves to be modern and quite forward thinking. They valued education and the arts. They maintained a strong military but did not recruit by force. Spartans put no value in education. They were proud people, but their priority was the strength of their military and defense. And they gave little concern to the outside world.

The women of Sparta were often held in the same regard as men. Many Spartan women were fierce warriors as well as loving mothers. Instead of being regarded as property, the women of Sparta owned property alongside the men. In contrast, Athenian women were legal property of their husbands or their fathers. Their duties were to their families and their homes. They had daily routines that they were forced to follow rigorously. Even though the two cities were in close proximity, their lives and cultures couldn’t have been more different.

The Professor’s Words

On a cold January morning in 2020, I pulled my car into the only empty parking spot available, which was a quarter of a mile from the front door. My boots crunched upon hard-packed snow as I walked along the path to my dreaded, dead-end factory job. I hated what I was doing. The pay was…I guess worth it. But still, there was no meaning to any of it. I’m not even going to get into how much I loathed the elitist punk that I worked for. However, I digress. I trudged another quarter mile to the office that held my desk, flung off my coat and flipped on my outdated PC. To keep myself from vomiting daily, I plugged my ear pods into my phone and quickly turned on some much-needed musical inspiration. Rush was the choice of the day, as their music always seems to put me in a positive state of mind.

I worked through the morning. Page after page of mindless data entry and paralyzing production scheduling. Then came the text message that froze me. My phone buzzed. I received a text from my brother saying that “Neil Peart has died.” I instantly stopped what I was doing and searched for confirmation. Sure enough, there it was. All over the internet was news of the drummer’s passing; at the age of 67, from brain cancer. That beautiful mind. The news was a virtual punch in the gut. I was stunned right there at my desk. The company-line toing goof that sat next to me asked: “What’s the matter?”

“Neil Peart just passed away.” I told him, shocked that I was even able to speak the words aloud.

“Who’s that?” he asked. The rest of the day is a blur in my memory.

Since that day, myself and countless fans across the country and the world, have become more aware of not just the drummer for Rush, but the man himself. I learned decades ago, as did so many other Rush fans, that Neil Peart was the bands sole lyricist after joining the band in 1974 in the wake of the release of their self-titled first album. What I didn’t know then was just how much of an impact his words would have on my own writing and my life.

That evening, after hearing the terrible news, I drove to my girlfriend’s house and cried. I had insisted that Siri play the Rush song, “Afterimage,” over and over again. A childlike sob emanated as I sat and listened with a face full of tears.

Suddenly you were gone, from all the lives you left your mark upon – Neil Peart, 1984.

They say that time heals all wounds. It is true, life does go on. Since the death of my hero, I became partly obsessed, with the band’s music and the professor’s words. From the many documentaries and some of my own research, I discovered that Neil would handwrite his lyrics in such a way that one might be compelled to frame it as art. I will share some of this art with you here, in honor of a man that had so much influence on my playing and my writing.

I had given a lot of thought to compiling Neil’s lyrics. I still might, but this is for myself at the moment. In Anthem, Neil conjures the idea of self-worth. Based on Author Ayn Rand’s story of the same name

Anthem from the album Fly by Night, 1975
By-Tor & The Snow Dog from the album Fly by Night, 1975

Neil was a ferocious reader. During his downtime on the road during those early years, he would read as much as he could handle. Many of his chosen subjects were science fiction and fantasy.

In By-Tor & the Snow Dog, we see a glimpse into the future as Neil composes lyrics using complex themes. What I find to be cool (for lack of a more appropriate word) is that on all these beautifully crafted lyric sheets, Neil feels the presence of mind to jot down where they were in the world at the time.

Overture from the album 2112, 1976

In Overture, Neil once again summons the world of Ayn Rand with the complex and highly popular 2112. It is important to note that it was the album 2112 that gave them the autonomy that they longed for. Like Ayn Rand’s Fountainhead, the individual stood strong against the system and triumphed.

Never again would the boys have to worry about what the record company thought. This was the essence of what 2112 was all about. They were going to make the music that they wanted to make, or they would make nothing.

Entre Nous, from the album Permanent Waves, 1980

Neil takes a somewhat oblique course with the song Entre Nous, as he comments on the complexities and subtleties of personal relationships. The line “the spaces in between leave room for you and I to grow.” is genius.

With the album, A Farewell to Kings, the band wrote one of their most complex pieces that spanned multiple albums. Neil continues his love of science fiction with the epic Cygnus X-1 book one. In this story of the mysterious black hole, Neil outdoes himself as he creates worlds to ultimately be destroyed. I absolutely love the final entry… To Be Continued.

Neil Peart’s words and music transcended time and space. Everything he did, he did with absolute enthusiasm and fascination. The things that he accomplished in his 67 years on this planet will forever be etched in history. He was so much more than what he displayed. More than a drummer. More than a writer. He was a father, a husband, and a man all to himself. Neil kept his personal life extremely private, and though he may not like the adoration of the millions that admired him, he certainly set the bar high.

Thank you, Professor. Rest in Peace.

The Birth of Democracy. We could learn a few things from the Ancient Greeks.

The classical period of ancient Greece lasted for 200 years. During this time there was a grand feeling of transition. Wars were fought and freedom was established, though not without some discourse. Many Greeks that held power were fearful of a democracy that would force them to relinquish it. The elites of Athens, for example, supported the oligarchy. However, it was the average citizen and the middle class that brought about change. Though it was a popular idea with the middle class, there was still some lingering reluctance. Several elements were key in order to gain favor of a democratic system. These elements include but were not limited to:

  1. Rise of the city-states. Each separate city was governed by its own citizens. The basic elements of this self-governance included: urbanization and architecture, a social hub, and marketplace for the exchange of commerce, sacred areas such as temples or alters, common public areas such as theaters, protective elements and military, and the manufacture and distribution of its own money.
  2. Greco-Persian Wars. Essentially, the Persians sought to conquer Greece through a series of conflicts that lasted many years. The Greeks fought hard but were continuously outnumbered. In the year 480 BCE, the city of Athens was burned in the largest campaign mounted by the Persians. However, the following year, Athens, along with the allied city-states, defeated the Persians, bringing an end to the invasion of Greece.
  3. The Overthrow of King Hippias. In 510 BCE, Athens, along with support of neighboring Sparta, successfully overthrew the tyrant, King Hippias. Afterwards, much debate was made as to who would ascend the throne. With much support from the middle class, Cleisthenes took control. Considered by many to be the father of democracy, Cleisthenes presented the citizens of Athens with a path to equal rights. Thousands of citizens gathered and made their voices heard as new administrators and city officials were elected. The goal of this democracy, as Cleisthenes saw it, was to allow the people to govern. In the following years, Athens saw the rise of other political interest groups, giving birth to a democratic, multi-party system.

Book Review – The Island by Adrian McKinty

Just like “The Chain”, this one got me all worked up. It takes talent to be able to stir up so much tension in a few hundred pages. This is my go-to niche… Girl in trouble, nasty men chasing after her, girl becomes a bad-ass-bitch and kills everyone. There’s more to it than that, actually but you get the idea.

Heather didn’t want a family. She wasn’t even sure she wanted a husband, but in the blink of an eye, she had it all. When Tom Baxter, a wealthy Seattle surgeon, decided to take his new bride and his children that hated her along to a conference in Australia, the last thing he considered was that it was going to be the worst conference in history. The plot of this story is so acute that I literlly cannot write anymore about it without giving it away. We don’t do spoilers here! What I will say though, is that The Island by Adrian McKinty knocked me on my ass. If you’re looking for a thrill ride that rips your heart out and leaves it lying on the kitchen floor like spilled tomato soup, than this is the book for you!

Book Review – Speaks the Nightbird by Robert McCammon

How in the world, and I mean this with every ounce of marrow in my bones, have I never heard of Robert McCammon? As with most writers, I am an avid reader. I read with a passion equal to a fly on a rotting carcass. I am up on all the new releases as well as the classics. I attempted once to read Ulysses by James Joyce. That did not end well I’m afraid. However, I try to read something new whenever I get the chance. This book: “Speaks the Nightbird” by Robert McCammon was a suggested to me by Goodreads. I passed over it a number of times, choosing instead the mundane psychological thriller that I am usually more comfortable with. If I had known what I was passing up, I would’ve relinquished all hope of finishing the Netflix series I was binging, grabbed my blanket, lit a candle or two and settled in for a long dreary night. For this is not just a book, no sir. It is a work of art. It is a volume of epic proportions.

Published in 2007, Speaks the Nightbird is set in 1699 South Carolina in the fictional port town of Fount Royal. The citizens of Fount Royal are happy to see that the highly respected magistrate from Charles Town has finally arrived. You see, Fount Royal has a problem, and her name is Rachel Howarth. She has been charged with the murder of a minister and her husband. The citizens claim that she is a witch, doing to devil’s work. There are several witnesses that have testified to the woman’s crimes against God. Magistrate Woodward has come to sentence the unholy wretch to death and have her burned at the stake while the citizenry looks on.

Madame Howarth loudly protests her innocence. However, having not a single person to come to her aid, she has succumbed to the notion that she will ultimately burn. That is until young Matthew Corbett, the magistrate’s clerk comes to the realization that not only is Rachel innocent of the murders, but she’s also not a witch. So, if she is not a witch, then why are so many of her fellow citizens claiming so?

This is a wonderful yet shockingly brutal story of good versus evil. That evil being mankind himself.

If I were to have any negative critique at all it would be in the editing. This book is 800 pages long and suffers many typographical errors. A little more diligence on the part of the editor would’ve done the book so much justice.