Saturday, November 23, 2013

Brief Flight of Freedom

Flash fiction piece about a piece of equipment used in America's most popular game.  If I say any more I will give away what the story is about.  I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Brief Flight of Freedom

Getting stuffed into a cramped box without much room to move or any light for several years can make one reflect on what happened in the past.  That is what I have been doing for a while now as that is my predicament.  I was so happy and free for a brief time.  It was long ago, but it was exhilarating.  In fact, rehashing that event is what has kept me going throughout this dark period.

It started two years ago. I was in a box then, but in much different circumstances. There were twelve of us who all had the same shape, size and skin. Everything about us was the same, down to the placement of the league tattoo across our midsection. We were tightly packed but we knew that soon we would be free. We would be outside and in fresh air.  Each one of us in that box knew that we would soon find a better fate.

I was lucky that my turn came quickly.  As soon as all twelve of us were free, I immediately met someone.  He was a stocky man surrounded by thousands of screaming people who seemed so far away. There were a few people close by him, but they paid him no attention. The only person who did was another man wearing black and white stripes. 

He placed me on the cool grass where I felt totally relaxed. That didn't last long, however, as a pair of HUGE hands wrapped themselves around me. Then I was violently jerked back into another pair of hands.  These, however, were much smaller and smoother.  But yet again, I wasn't held too long, as the man with the smooth hands threw me in the air.

He must have had a magic touch because I experienced an once-in-a-lifetime feeling.  I was flying through the air.  I was spinning so fast I was dizzy.  I was moving at a crazy speed.  I hoped the feeling would never end. But alas, it did.

This ending was just as bizarre as the flight.  Yet another man’s hands stopped my flight.  I was clutched in his grip, then held aloft and slammed to the ground. The contact didn't hurt me. In fact, I bounced right off the turf and into the arms of someone else. He was surrounded by many others who were clamoring to grab me. How did I become so popular?

This man was the last human contact I had.  He held onto me for a long time, and then walked me out to his car.  Inside the trunk there was a box.  Then, just like in those bad crime dramas, he tossed me in the box, locked his trunk, and promptly forgot about me. 

I am not complaining, however.  No matter my final fate, I certainly have had a better life than most footballs could ever dream about. I am just glad that I had my moment in the sun.  Sun…that sure would be nice to see about now.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

A poem on an abandoned stadium

I wrote this poem when I was reminiscing today about a fateful day.  Just after the Metrodome opened in 1982, I snuck into the old stadium where the Twins and Vikings play, Metropolitan Stadium.  We called it "The Met" in the Twin Cities.   Well, that turned out to be quite an adventure so I decided today to write something about it.  Not a bad way to kill a few minutes at lunch time.  I hope you enjoy this poem.


There I was, standing on the field
Just the dreams to which I was about to yield
On top of the pitching mound, just like Kaat
Peering at the catcher, aiming for the spot.

Yet just as I was about to throw that pitch
I heard a lock click…son of a bitch!
I dashed from the mound and into the stands
Then up the stair to the gate, saw the man’s hands.

In them were keys, the ones to the park
When he looked back, he said, “Tough shit, Mark.”
When he walked away, I glared through the gate
Locked in a stadium – what would be my fate?

I knew right away where I might try
To get out of here, but I needed to fly.
To the bullpen I raced, carts did I stack
On top of each other, on the warning track.

I climbed up the pile, looked over the wall
Saw the parking lot, empty except for a ball.
Hurdled over the fence, took a nasty spill;
Never do this again when I have time to kill!

Friday, November 8, 2013

A Minute In the Sin Bin

Just before tossing out an old copy of a writing magazine, I saw this writing prompt: Write a short story of 500 words about one minute in time. At first I was perplexed. But then an idea hit me to write about a hockey player who itching to get out of the penalty box during the last minute of his penalty time. Spent the lunch hour today writing that thought out, which came very easily. So, what better place to share this impromptu story than here? Enjoy "A Minute In the Sin Bin".


As the whistle blows to signal another face off, I am still mired in a tiny cubicle. The penalty box is a place I never visited before tonight. Now, with the scoreboard flashing 1:00 under “Penalty”, I sense that I could finally rid myself of this claustrophobic sensation. How could those guys who accumulate over 300 minutes in penalties each season stand this? Why do they want to come back here again and again? 

I never wanted to come here. After all, if you are sent here by the referee, it means you were caught breaking a rule. Jeez, I have to stop whining about this. Maybe then the time will go faster. Let me glance at the scoreboard – 0:55. 

Only five seconds? I better try another way to get this sentence expired. Instead of stewing, I’ll watch the play in front of me. This is a great game tonight. Many fans paid hundreds of dollars to see this, and the view isn’t as good as mine. Yeah, that’s an idea. Maybe by concentrating on watching our goalie Smitty perform his magic the penalty time will be killed faster. There goes a shot - wow, how did he keep the puck out of the net that time? How much time is left? A glance at the scoreboard produces a much better result - 0:35. 

Okay, so concentrating on action has helped pass this sentence faster. It’s amazing how a two minute shift on the ice is over in the blink of an eye, but a two minute penalty takes forever to complete. Not that I ever knew about this penalty stuff, since this is my first penalty ever, but I know torture during a game and this is worse than any check or hit I ever received. Another glance at the scoreboard reads 0:20. 

I am getting closer to the end – thank God! I better concentrate on the game again, since I will be skating into the middle of the action. When I do get out, Jones will be on the ice. Since he is out there for them, it makes me even more impatient. Jones is the reason I’m here, the son of a bitch. The little pipsqueak whacks me on the back of my knees, and even though I crumple to the ice, the ref doesn’t see it. Oh, no, but when I get up, skate over toward Jones, and give him the same treatment, THEN that blind jerk of an official decides to raise his right hand and penalize ME! Dammit, how much time is left? The scoreboard reads 0:05. 

Finally, I can see the end of this misery. The guy who opens the door to this hell hole is standing up. This means my sentence in purgatory is almost done. Where’s Jones? I’m gonna find that sucker and... 

I hear the sound of a latch unhooking. The door is open and I am free! That last minute in the sin bin had to be the worst one in my life. I am going to search out Jones since he suckered me here. Ah, there he is. Look out, Jones, here I come….

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

9 vs.18

My favorite golf course closed at dusk this past Sunday. Since it was my last weekend to play there, I couldn't decide whether to play a nine-hole round, which is what I usually play, or eighteen since it WAS the last weekend. The back and forth that ran through my mind inspired me to write this short essay about it. The first of what I hope will be many passages on the games we love that I create and share with you.

9 vs. 18

It is said that golf is a mental game. This is true not only on the course, but also for any other aspect of the game, even when the decision is whether or not to play. I realized this little bit of wisdom on a recent afternoon.

I had only one thought – play golf! But then the mental torture of deciding how many holes to play began. More thoughts went through my head than when I am trying to decide whether to use a 5 iron or a 6 iron from 175 years away. The following is a transcript of my mind battle for this impromptu round.

“If I play nine holes, my wife won’t be upset since we’ll have the entire evening together.”

“Yeah, but how often do I get this chance? Play eighteen!”

“But it’s cheaper to play only nine.”

“So? You just did the finances – don’t go cheap! Enjoy the game!”

“I enjoy any golf I play, no matter how long the round."

“Weather’s great, I’ve got the time, money and permission. What’s the friggin’ problem?”

“I am not sure about eighteen. It may get dark before I am done with the round. I may be too tired to walk eighteen, and… “

"Oh, stop! Enough excuses. You want to play right? Just go to the course, see what it’s like, and go from there. If you want to play nine, then play nine. If it is eighteen, then play eighteen. Sheesh!”

It’s a good thing the other mental aspects of golf don’t weight me down as much as this mind battle did. Finally I stopped arguing with myself and did what I do when faced with that 175 yard shot. I made a decision and stuck with it, the other voices in my head be damned.

There is another mental aspect of golf that is fascinating. It can change the entire personality of the player. A normally upstanding person can curse a blue streak after splashing a ball. A normally introverted person will do his or her best Tiger Woods fist pump after sinking a long putt. A man who will usually fight off trying to commit to any type of decision will hear everything about all possibilities once in his head, and then make a decision.

That last description is my golf experience and it is why I love to play. Sometimes a person has just got to change and that is possible for me on the course. I am converted from my normal wishy-washy mode to a determined, focused player. The scores may not show it, but the change is clear and will translate into other aspects of life as well.

Oh, the result of the inner argument? I played nine holes and had a 175 yard shot in which I used a 5 iron and placed the ball 20 from the flag.