Friday, March 14, 2014

Billy Saddle, the Baseball Novel, Chapter Thirty-Two: Enter the Blaines

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 Number Five: Yosemite
A little hard to identify at first, this ring of cliffs and monoliths finally surrendered its identity with the familiar silhouette of Half Dome. El Capitan provides the gatepiece, but the most intriguing feature is Yosemite Falls, equipped with a pipe ready to supply the clifftop stream with water. The layout seems to call for a gimmick-free approach, the “green” to be placed on the Valley floor.

“Mr. Blaine?”
“Mr. Blaine’s my father. Call me Thomas.”
“Actually, Thomas, this is about your father.”
“My name’s David Falter. I’m a history teacher in Ocean Shores, Washington. We’re a little tourist town on the coast. Recently, we have made a rather astounding discovery. Something your father built.”
“Well, that’s impossible. My father never… Wait. 1960?”
“The year after your mother died.”
“Well, I…”
“Howard Blaine? Blaine Concrete?”
“It’s a miniature golf course.”
“You mean, a small golf course?”
“I mean a putting course. When I was a kid we called it a mini putt-putt.”
Thomas laughs. “I used to love those things.”
“Only in this case, it’s not windmills and giant clowns. It’s these rather extraordinary replicas of the world’s great wonders. So far we have Macchu Picchu, the Golden Gate Bridge, Diamond Head, the Arc du Triomphe, and this morning we dug up Yosemite.”
“Dug up?”
“Yes. He preserved the pieces by covering them in layers of sand and adobe.”
Thomas clears his throat. “Well my gosh. That’s the first thing you’ve said that actually sounds like my father.”
“He never told you about this?”
“Dad was a pretty no-nonsense type, Mr. Falter.”
“David. Typical of that generation. Very focused on working his ass off so his children could do better. At times, it worked a little too well. After my mom died, I was too busy trying to pass the bar to spend much time with him. Didn’t even realize he had taken off until I got a postcard from Devil’s Tower, Wyoming.”
“Hmm. I get the feeling we’ll be digging that one up.”
Silence. A long one.
“You’ll have to excuse me, David. You have caught me completely off-guard. This is like finding out he was doing voice-over work on Porky Pig cartoons.”
“Tell you what. My son is taking photos and writing descriptions of the holes as we uncover them. I’ll have him send them to you so you can see what we’re dealing with.”
“Yes. Thank you. You’re absolutely sure it was him?”
“I have his signature on a deed, and an old-timer here who used to hang out with him.”
“My goodness. Now that’s a man I’d like to talk to.”
“I’ll send you his info. Name is Gerry Kolder. Great guy. And listen, Tom. Well, you’ll see this in the photos, but your father was a very talented man.”
Tom chuckles. “I guess I knew that. Thanks, David.”
“Take care, Thomas.”

Photo by MJV

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