Military brat, reader of books,
sensitive child in his
first civilian neighborhood.
Sixth grade. A predictable disaster.
Ten fights later,
he hides in a magnolia tree.
His mother finds him there,
talks him down with a sandwich.
Go back to school, she says
and the first kid who so much as
(an angel, really)
looks at you wrong
(wouldn’t hurt a)
Tim Spencer never saw it coming.
Having earned his psychopath merit badge,
the sensitive child tries out for Little League,
and one day receives a provocative instruction:
fake a bunt, pull it back and
punch the ball through the infield.
So he fakes a bunt, pulls it back and
punches the ball over the left field fence.
Very few things garner respect from
sixth grade boys, but hit a home run and
they will build you a Gothic cathedral.
At the end of the year,
he is voted Most Likely to Succeed,
but makes up for it by winning the
annual paper airplane contest.
Directly after, he receives a visit from
Ben, who will one day play third-
string quarterback for the Chicago Bears.
Ben grabs a fistful of his shirt and says,
You know what I do to guys like you?
No, he says. What?
I straighten their collars.
And so he does.
From the collection Fields of Satchmo
Photo by MJV