“It’s something. Hey, you know, I got a ball, so does Rafael I’m sure.”

“I do indeed,” concurred a shorter brown skinned boy with black hair and a confident disposition.

“I know, but the teams are uneven now and it’s super hot. Let’s do something else.”

“Like what?” asked the greasy haired boy, annoyed at not being able to play some more.

“Well Aaron,” Tim raised his eyebrows and leaned his head in his direction, teasingly. “Let’s go take a dip in that waterway at the end of Exigency Lane.”

Aaron took off his cap and wiped his greasy hair away from covering his pimply face, tucking it behind his ears. He let out a deep sigh, paused and then said, “Yeah, you know what, that sounds good. Let’s do it.”

By now the rest of the boys had gathered around Tim. They were dirty and sweaty and a bit worn out from the tense competition in the hot sun. Tim raised his head to address them. “Who’s up for some swimming? We’ll get together here again tomorrow around ten o’clock for some more baseball, but how ‘bout some swimming right now?”

“Sounds refreshing!” said David with exaggerated enthusiasm and a sheepish smile.

“Si! I am also interested,” spoke Rafael. “Esta muy caliente.”

“I can’t,” said a red haired boy, pale and freckly. “I don’t have a swimsuit with me.”

Tim laughed a bit. “You don’t need a swimsuit. Come on, you’re clothes are already covered in dirt, what does it matter if they get wet?”

“My dad would kill me if I went anywhere near that water,” said a boy whose skin was the color of cocoa and his short hair the color of coal. A bunch of other boys nodded in agreement and started walking off the field, some shouting back. “See you tomorrow!” and “Nah, you guys are crazy, we’re going home!” Tim, Aaron, Rafael and David were suddenly standing together, alone, in the middle of the field.

Tim lifted his cap, took the bottom of his Iron Maiden Powerslave t-shirt and lifted it up to wipe the sweat from his face. “You guys have your bikes?” he asked.

They nodded and began heading toward their respective rides. Tim, Aaron, and Rafael all rode BMX bikes, while David had a department store brand junior ten-speed. It was a cheap bike, especially next to Tim’s Mongoose, but he loved it just the same. He could ride much faster then the others, for longer distances, and still do a few jumps and tricks. Not tricks like he had seen in the film “Quicksilver”, but he could balance on his back wheel and ride for a bit and spin around a couple times. He wasn’t trying to compete with his BMX buddies, after all there are things that only a BMX can do.

But for this endeavor, a long distance ride, some of which uphill, he had the perfect bike. He still had a bunch of energy; the game hadn’t really exhausted him in any way. That slide for second was the only action he had gotten the whole contest, and that ended up being it for the day. So, as the others bunny-hoped and did curb endos and foot plants, laughed and made fun of each other, David slowly turned his crank and began pacing out a nice even rhythm. For a time he paced out with his buddies, gyrating in the background while they did their BMX tricks. Once his rhythm found a groove he began out pacing the other boys.

“Hey you guys!” I’ll meet you there!” He didn’t wait for a response, but flew off down the blue spruce and cottonwood lined suburban street, the fresh summer breeze blowing through his blonde curls. It felt good. This is what he liked about having a ten-speed, cheap or not. He clicked into the highest gear, stood up and powered his way down the flat stretch toward the outer lying hills where the waterway was located. The cement lined “stream” flowed out of an archway built into the side of a forest covered hill, which was only the foot of an extensive terrain of rising hills surrounding a snow covered mountain that ascended into the sky. The water was very clean and cool, composed of rain water and snow run-off from the distant mountain, and they had swum there on three different occasions already this late spring. The most secluded part of the “stream” was up at the white cement archway, at the base of the hill, allowing the boys to swim in their underpants without being seen.



“You’re out! I tagged you David!” The ten-year-old held the dirty baseball against his friend’s side, imploring him to accept the outcome.

“No I’m not, dude! I had my hand on the base when you tagged me. You were too late!” David shook the blonde curls about his head emphatically. “I slid and touched the bag before you tagged me. I swear!”

“I don’t know. I’m pretty sure I got you before you tagged!” The taller, more muscular, boy with unkempt dark hair threw his shoulders back and stuck out his chest, as if that would sway the argument in his favor.

“I’m telling you the truth, Rich!” shouted back David, not intimidated by his friend’s bullish stance. He was shorter and skinny, but he had been raised by a no nonsense father who had taught his boys to work hard and to stick up for themselves. “You were too late.” He said the last sentence slower, enunciating every word, since it seemed to him that his friend was having trouble understanding him.

The other boys began to walk over to second base, seeing that the argument may need some intervention and also a little annoyed that the game was being held up. They had been playing for a couple hours now on an unusually hot spring day, and they were sweaty, dirty, and tired. The game was in the seventh inning and the score was tied, it had been a seriously competitive game, each side desiring the win badly.

“What’s going on? Is Dave out or not?” asked Tim as he approached from the dugout. He was a couple years older then the other boys and often acted as mediator over disputes, as well as counselor and guide when the need arose.

Rich relaxed his shoulders and turned toward Tim. “I tagged him ‘fore he touched the bag!” he said certainly. “That’s all I know. I’m pretty sure that means he’s out.”

“You did not!” David was still shouting. “I swear Tim; I slid and had my hand on the bag before he tagged me.” David was covered in dirt; his jeans, Allenville Body Shop T-shirt, neck and face. Sweat was sliding down from his curly blonde hair, making snail trails through the brown crud on his face. He was wide eyed and earnest, whereas the dark features of Rich’s face were tense and scowling. Tim studied them a bit longer, after a thoughtful moment he reached his open glove out for the ball and Rich handed it to him.

“He’s safe.” He turned and headed back toward the dugout. He really didn’t know who was telling the truth, and they probably both were, but he wanted to get on with the game and he liked the look on David’s face better.

Rich was mortified. “What?! Bullshit! He’s on your team! Bad call! Bad call!!”

“You couldn’t see whether he touched the base or not from where you made the tag, Rich. I believe he’s being honest,” Tim shouted back over his shoulder.

“Bad call!” Rich raised his mitt above his head and threw it down in disgust. “That’s it! Game called!”

“No, come on Rich!” implored a lanky but sinewy boy with straight greasy brown hair that glissaded out from under a beat-up baseball cap, who was standing a few feet behind second. He pulled down his cap a bit and punched into his glove a couple times. “I want to play some more. He’s safe, so what? We’ll get the next out.”

Rich’s face was red, he was hot, sweaty and irritated. He picked up his glove and walked very quickly toward Tim until he had caught up with him. “Give me my ball!!”

“What?” Tim turned around. He had the ball clasped in his glove, with his free hand he took off his cap and wiped his brow with his forearm. “Really?”

“Yeah! Really!” Rich was in full pout mode. He crossed his arms and stared intently at Tim with a snotty justification. “Come on!” He reached out his glove and opened it.

Tim let out a sigh of disgust, extended his gloved arm and dropped the ball into Rich’s glove. He then threw his arms up into the air and called out to the other boys, “Game called due to crybaby selfishness!”

“Fuck you Tim!” shouted Rich as he hurriedly walked away from him, on his way off the field. The boys that heard Rich were shocked, none of them really cursed that much, and he never did.

David walked up to Tim. “He sure got mad.”

“What else is new?” replied Tim a bit peeved. Then he relaxed and said, “He did get more upset then usual, maybe it’s the heat.”