Sunday, March 29, 2015

Mascot, Chapter Thirteen: Electric

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Some kind of pressure trough has been pulling air from the Gulf of Mexico and turning San Jose into a hot and muggy place. On a night toward the end of July, the humidity comes with nasty-looking clouds. It reminds Zelda of summers visiting her aunt in Nebraska. Could grasshoppers and fireflies be far behind?

The patrons are not so enthusiastic. They spend the first few innings picking at their clothing, and seem vastly relieved when the sun disappears over the Santa Cruz Mountains.

When the sixth inning arrives, Zelda heads downstairs to assemble her outfit. It’s the Giants’ annual Grateful Dead night, and the team is playing in tie-dye uniforms. She dons one of the jerseys and adds a few more touches: a painted daisy around one eye, a string of love beads, a woven headband and green circle sunglasses. After the last out, she reports to the third base line. The PA delivers “White Rabbit.” Zelda skips around home plate, throwing in a couple Deadhead swirls. Gigante meets her in front of the Giants’ dugout, wearing a rakish black fedora and suit, holding in his teeth an enormous red rose. He shimmies and extends a hand. Zelda gives a shy giggle then relents, racing to his side. He takes her by the waist and spins twice, the centrifugal force lifting her into the air. When he stops, she slides to the ground, raking a hand down his leg. As Jefferson Airplane’s Bolero drumbeat rings louder, he takes her hand and lifts her into a clinch. On consecutive beats they turn their heads left, right and opposite, then they aim their arms forward and conduct the expected march across the green. Gigante stops, reaches an arm around her waist, and they tease each other with a duel of footswirls. They lock hands and Zelda falls into a spinning descent, stopping just before she hits the ground. Gigante whips her sideways. She locks her knees, allowing him to pull her back to her feet.

They turn toward right field and conduct another march, this one with dropbacks, shifts, spins. Zelda trails behind; Gigante pulls her back till they’re face-to-face. As the music rises to its end, Gigante drops her into a dip, settles her to the turf, then takes the rose from his teeth, puts it in her mouth, and rises to leave. Zelda grabs desperately for his foot. He drags her for two paces, then, as the music reaches its ending climax, he shoots a hand toward the horizon. They hold the pose for two beats. A lightning bolt strikes the parking lot beyond centerfield. The crowd lets out a communal gasp, then a burst of laughter and applause.

“I don’t suppose you planned the special effects.” Zarita cracks a shell and tosses the peanuts into her mouth.

“Planned it hell,” says Zelda. “Scared the crap out of me.”

Zarita holds up her Flipcam. “Got it on tape.”

“No!” Zelda hands her a beer and sits down.

“I think we’re talking viral,” says Zarita. “Ooh. Sanchez coming in. Rrowr!”

“You are incorrigible.”

“Somethin’ ‘bout them Latin boys.”

“And what would your gringo boy say about that?”

Zarita waves a hand. “Jackson says he doesn’t care who winds me up as long as he gets to wind me down. Rrowr.”

“Is that your new thing? ‘Rrowr’?”

“Rrowrrrr.” Zarita cultivates a grin that threatens to sprain her face.

Zelda points a finger. “Lots of sex going on with girlfriend.”

Zelda takes a draught of beer, a summer hefeweizen that hits all her thirst nodes. Sanchez nails the outside corner with a cutter.

“Yes!” says Zarita. “Hey, speaking of sex, that tango was pretty hot.”

Zelda giggles. “How can you tell? I’m dancing with a gorilla.”

“Oh, I can tell. When you have a certain amount of sex, you develop a kind of…”

She stops when she sees how hard Zelda is working at holding back her smile.


Zelda’s eyes go this way and that. Zarita’s tone rises.


Zelda swallows, then delivers a stage aside. “I am fucking the gorilla.”

Zarita’s eyes expand exponentially. She slaps Zelda on the shoulder. “No! How did this happen?”

“We have an arrangement. I offer him the use of my shower. If I have time, we screw.”

“Then he takes another shower?”

“Yes. And then he comes to the coffeehouse and tries not to stare at me. And I try to work while my legs are turning to Jell-O. And then it gets too much, so I drag him into the back for a blow job.”

“Aiee!” Zarita slaps Zelda’s extremities repeatedly.

“Stop!” Zelda squeals. “Guy-eeh! What are you, twelve?”

“This quantity of hormones in my bloodstream, I am an infant.” She gives Zelda a sly look, peering out from beneath her magnificent eyebrows. “Soooo… what’s he like?”

The batter swings through a slider. The fans give a golf clap. Zelda searches the sky.

“Remember how I so rudely insulted him, and he responded by running off to get me some Red Vines?”

“So he’s… generous?”

Zelda slumps in her seat, as if someone had just sucked the bones from her body.

Beyond generous. Selfless. He’s a fucking artist. He’s…”

Zarita is surprised to see tears tracking Zelda’s cheeks. She reaches over to grab her hand.

“Sweetheart! You’re in love.”

Zelda smiles and whimpers a two-note birdsong meaning “Yes.”

The next pitch gets away and nails the batter in the arm. The crowd lets out a gasp.

Photo by MJV

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