Just as you fix your sight on a ball as it leaves your father’s bat, another is reaching the apogee of its arc and begins to descend a few feet away. You run to that, hoping you’ll have enough time to catch it and come back to get the other. Then a whack sounds and there is a third and almost immediately a fourth coming out of the sun, then several more in quick succession, followed by an old typewriter, a twirling pig, five flapping chickens, a statuette of the Virgin Mary and a flüggelhorn, a teapot, dozens of books, a machete glinting in the sunlight (how to catch that?), an automobile tire, a tricycle, three wives, many lovers, one infant enjoying the ride (can’t catch him on the bounce!), a grandmother playing solitaire, another grandmother stuffing sausages, thousands of pages darkened by a language that isn’t yours, a black panther, a school of yellow fish, a telescope for looking out, a microscope for looking in, a small black dog, fish hooks and harpoons and Captain Ahab and Santiago the fisherman and Emma Bovary and Maritornes the wench, no Don Quixote but a Humbert Humbert, an Ursula Iguarán, a Pere Goriot, a duck, an inkwell, a feast of cannibals, a pot of beans, angels and demons fighting for your soul, a boy building sand castles in the make-believe beach of his wanting, where an island boomerangs constantly around his head.
When it is all done the field is steaming from all the objects, the names, the melting memories. You wind your way to where your father was standing. Now only the bat is left next to home plate. You feel defrauded. Who could ever catch so much in a lifetime, let alone fifteen minutes? You pick up the bat and go in search of your father and find him with his back to you urinating in some bushes behind the dugout. He turns but he is not your father. His face is bland, indeterminate, face of Don Nadie, a nobody. You ask him the meaning of this. You were simply fungoing at first, catching balls he batted out to you, and suddenly, without warning, the world rained down. His answer comes slowly, as if he were searching for the right words. You wanted to play, he says. Baseball, you say, not life. What’s the difference, he asks. Where is my father, you ask. You have no father, there never was any father. You made him up in order to play the game. How about my mother? She’s out in the field, in triplicate.
You ask him who he is and all you get in response is the smile of a not-quite-fallen angel. He walks out of the bushes and into a car that vanishes down the road. Now you look over the mess on the field and wonder if you should clean it up. You decide that while it may be your life, it is not your responsibility. You step down into the dugout and put your glove into the bag you brought with you. Somehow you missed your mother coming at you. You look back at the field one last time and there she is, as the man said, in bed retching with pain, in the hospital gurney surrounded by blue curtains, in the hot night soaping herself in her bath.