This was a story that I wrote fifteen or sixteen years ago. It was originally called " Fast Serve" then I changed the title to "Rocket"
I edited the story today for the first time since 1999-2000.
The goal is to get this on the Big Screen. Or at least a small one.
ROCKET by Fredo Weiland
It was a sweltering June afternoon .The bleacher was packed
with whining kids and parents attentively watching the baseball game. The team
at bat was losing 4-1 in the sixth and final inning.
The bases were loaded and there were two outs .The young
pitcher took his windup and unloaded at the batter.
As the pitch crossed the plate the batter swung and hit the
ball straight up in the air .All the fielders converged on the popup. The
runners were furiously rounding the bases .As the ball dropped quickly a group
of arms raised up and little hands and gloves
reached out for the ball .The ball bobbled in the air between these gloves.
All the fielders fell to the ground. The runners had all crossed home plate and
the umpire removed his mask and walked toward the pile of little infielders on
the ground. The umpire was a burly man about 6'2" tall. As he removed the
players from the pileup he saw the ball in a baseball cap .He raised his right
hand and spoke, “No catch, no catch the Bearcats win 5-4".
All the parents on the losing team's bleacher converged on
the umpire. Fathers smoking cigars, mothers with babies in their arms. They
were all screaming at him. As he gathered up the bases and balls they did not
leave his side. One particularly irate mother was kicking dirt on him .A
toddler was imitating the woman and also kicking dirt on the umpire.
The umpire had enough and turned around to spew his venom,
“What is wrong with you people. Get a life! Look at the example you're setting
for these kids. You people scare me .You're like a pack of wild dogs, all you
can do is whine and bark and cry. And you scream at me: hey ump you suck,hey
ump are you friggin blind?,hey ump is the other team payin you off ?,hey ump
are you doing all the moms on the other team ?You people sicken and disgust me
you're all a bunch of LOSERS!".
The group of people surrounding the umpire looked at him
with their mouth's wide open in disbelief. The umpire looked out toward the
bleachers and called out ,"Lefty ,c’mon son let's go home ".A young
burly boy started to walk toward his dad , the umpire. As the umpire hoisted
the duffel bag containing the bases he clutched at his chest. He spoke "Is
there a doctor in the house ? .Five assorted men and women said, “Yes" at
about the same moment. The Umpire collapsed and many people looked over him
including his son Lefty who spoke softly, “Please help my
Seven years later
A large young man is sitting on the bench watching his team
massacre another school in a high school baseball game. The score is 14-1 and
it's the bottom of the seventh inning. The coach is scratching his chin as he
looks at the scoreboard.
The coach shouts,
“Lefty Hilton get your butt and your glove over here now you're in the game
".The burly young man gets up off the bench and walks past the other
players accidentally stepping on a few toes along the way causing a couple
players to scream in pain as the 250 pound young man's weight descends on their
toes. The coach calls out to the umpire for a timeout.
The umpire walks over and signals for the timeout. Lefty
walks onto the field and the pitcher looking dejected hands Lefty the ball and speaks,
“Take it easy on these guys".
Lefty smirks and walks to the mound. He is going to take a
few practice pitches .He takes his windup and unleashes a screaming fastball
that is coming right at the umpires head.
The coach mutters to himself, “now if he could only figure
out how to find the goddamn plate”. The batter cautiously approaches the plate
and the catcher is laughing as the batter hesitates. The umpire looks at the
batter and says, “c’mon boy he ain't gonna bite ".
The catcher looks up at the batter and speaks, “The last
time he pitched three guys on the other team went to the hospital. But don't worry
his control has gotten a lot better .He only hits batters in the head these days.
The batter looks at the catcher with an expression of disbelief. .".The
ump screams, "batter up”. Lefty takes his windup and the batter looks on
in terror. The pitch is in the mid 90 mile an hour range. As the pitch approaches,
the batter closes his eyes and crouches down .The ball hits the outstretched
bat and falls to the ground .The catcher picks up the ball and throws it to
first base for the out.
The coach looks out onto the field and shouts ,"One
more to go boys".
Lefty takes his windup and unloads a pitch that is headed
straight at the batters head .The batter is swinging wildly at the ball .The
ball misses the batter and heads straight towards a black crow sitting on the
fence .The crow screams as the ball approaches and barely gets out of the way.
Lefty’s coach says to himself, “As long as he don't kill nobody I'll be happy”.
On the next pitch the batter ducks and the ball hits the tip of the bat and
pops into Lefty's glove for the third out.
A cheer erupts from the bench as Lefty runs off the mound
and gets swarmed by his team on the way to the dugout..
After the celebration ends Lefty is greeted by his Uncle Ted
as he heads toward the locker room. Uncle Ted speaks, “Good job Robby, I mean
Lefty, nobody had to call 911 today. A day without causing bodily harm to your
fellow man is a day you can be proud of .You know it's too damn bad this team
doesn't appreciate your talent. What you need is a sport where you can rely on
your wits .Use your power without having to rely on eight other guys to do
their part. Not that there's anything wrong with team sports .But you son
you're a different breed, a mutant breed.”
As they continue walking they pass by a poster that reads
“Win 500 DOLLARS Enter the Pro Tennis Fast Serve Contest, if you can serve up
the heat you can win COLD CASH"
They fail to notice the poster and keep walking until they
get to Uncle Ted's truck.
Uncle Ted and Lefty approach Lefty's house in Ted's pickup
truck when a jet comes screaming over their heads about 100 feet above the ground.
Uncle Ted screams out ,"Incoming" ,and puts his hands over his head.
Then they hear a large thud hit the back of the truck.
Uncle Ted screams,"Goddamn blue ice hit my truck again nephew,
that stuff is so disgusting: makes me want to puke".
Lefty shakes his head and laughs ,"Uncle ,at least you
don't have to live next to Runway 13 and hear jets screaming over your head 24
hours a day. Have blue ice falling on your driveway every single day of your life.
I wish we could move away from this toxic hellhole.
Maybe even to New Jersey, it’s cleaner in the Garden
Uncle Ted shakes his head and has a faraway dreamy look in
his eyes,"Ahh New Jersey, Shangri La, someday nephew someday".
As Lefty get's out of the truck a jet screams over his head
and he instinctively ducks so he won't get hit. In the distance Uncle Ted
Lefty enters his house and a young boy and girl are chasing
each other with their arms outstretched .The boy screams out,"I'm a 747 vroom
". The girl shouts,"I'm a Lear jet!
That’s carrying movie stars and Cheerios". Lefty laughs
and corrects the girl,
"It'sCeo's! ,Chief Executive Officers , Martha".
Martha makes a face and says,"Chief Executive Ossifers,big deal!".
Another boy is sitting in front of a TV reading a comic book
titled, "Romeo vs. Juliet" .The TV is on the local 24 hour News
Channel .The reporter is dressed in a pair of gym shorts and a t-shirt. He speaks,"This
is Alex Andrews live at the site of the 5th Annual-Harbor Village Pro Tennis
Smashfest that benefits the Boys and Girls Clubs in the Metro area.
I'm here with the Swanson brothers to introduce the Smashfest fast serve
contest that will pay 500 dollars to the winning contestant, amateurs only folks.
So guys what is the fastest serve that you can crank off your racquets?"
Cooke Swanson speaks first,
“Is that as a lefty or a righty Alex?"
Alex has a surprised look ,"Wait a second you can serve
as a lefty or a righty? Folks can you imagine if a pitcher in baseball could
throw his heat with both hands?"
Gorton Swanson speaks up ,"Cooke can switch hands but
I'm the one with the heat ,watch this !"
Gorton goes into his windup and hits a booming serve that
registers 130 on the speed board that the camera focuses in on.
Alex picks up a racquet and starts to speak as he prepares
to hit a serve, “Well there it is folks booming serves with the Swanson
Brothers at the Harbor Village Pro Tennis Smashfest this Saturday at 10 AM. is
the fast serve contest. Racquets will be provided courtesy of Dunlop"
Alex grits his teeth and hits a serve with all his might as
the camera focuses in on the speed board it registers 57 MPH. The anchors in
the studio are laughing at Alex's serve.
The female anchor speaks, “You really smoked that one in
Alex , looks like you could barely get a speeding ticket on that serve."
Lefty stares at the TV and scratches his head , "
Tennis , I always thought that was a sport for wimps. But hey if they're gonna
pay me 500 bucks to throw a fastball then I'll be a wimp for a day". Lefty
then looks out towards the garage and speaks to the boy reading the comic
book,"Hey Russell what did you do with that old racquet we used to kill
Russell looks up at Lefty and speaks ,"Well actually it
wasn't to kill them it was to trap them to see how they metamorphasize based on
their captive environment taking into account factors such as light,noise,smell
and a diet of Twinkies and Mountain Dew. It proved to be a breakthrough study
.It had serious enviro-political consequ....".
Lefty was losing patience,"The racquet Russell ! Where
is the racquet Mr.BrainCramp?"
Russell scratched his chin, “It’s on the bottom left shelf
behind the cannisters containing blue ice from Halloween and The 4th of July.
I’m studying the sugar /fat ratio in the diet of airline passengers during the
peak periods of aberrational food intake."
As Lefty walked away he passed his Mom who was sitting at a
Lefty spoke, “Mom are you sure Russell wasn't accidentally
left at our doorstep, cause that kid ain't normal he's a freak of
nature"."Mrs.Hilton spoke, “Robert, um ….Lefty, I have five wonderful
beautiful children all unique in their own way. The twins are very intuitive and
always full of energy ,your sister Sarah is a talented singer and dancer, your
brother Russell has a great mind possibly the mind of a future Nobel prizewinner,
and you um Lefty you are fun to be around and could be something someday".
Mrs.Hilton looks up and whispers, “Something dear lord anything".
Robby made a face and spoke, “Mom I could be a famous
ballplayer one day. Coach says I've got the arm it's just that I can't seem to
find the plate."
Lefty's mom laughed ,"Your father may he rest in peace
would have wanted you to be a doctor .I would settle for less ."
Lefty shook his head ,"Mom ,the sight of blood gets me
sick to my stomach. Besides Uncle Ted said I was a mutant breed ."
Mrs.Hilton smirked, “Oh yea Uncle Ted said that?".
Lefty walked away and waved his hand, “I gotta go find that
old tennis racquet in the garage .There's some contest for hitting a tennis
ball as fast as you can.First prize is 500 bucks and I think I've got a pretty
good shot to win."
Mrs.Hilton shook her head,"Rober- ….. uh Lefty you
never picked up a tennis racquet before in your life and you are going to win
the contest". Lefty nodded ,"That's right mom I'm gonna hit that ball
so damn fast it'll break the speed gun .I better go take a few practice swings.
Call me when it's time for dinner ".
Mrs.Hilton cleared her throat,"Ahem , you mean I should
ring you when your feast is served master Robert? If you want to eat then I expect the table to
be set in exactly 17 minutes. So run along and practice your tennis cause now
you have only 16 minutes and 54 seconds".
Lefty hustled outside and into the garage. He dug behind the
cannisters labeled Blue Ice.He picked out a Wilson T2000 steel tennis racquet.
He took a few practice swings in the air.He then went to a bin that was full of
different kinds of balls .He grabbed a tennis ball and a super bouncy ball. He
went outside the garage and threw the super ball up in the air and took a
vicious swing and the ball disappeared into the air. Over at the airport a man
was yelling at his wife ,kids and the baggage handler. The man had his mouth
wide open and the super ball flew directly into his mouth and covered the hole.
His kids ,wife and, the baggage handler all laughed.
Lefty picked up the tennis ball tossed it in his hands a few
times and took aim at the ball with a vicious serve that went straight through
the garage window .Inside the garage was the sound of stuff getting knocked
over and a cat making a loud screeching meow.
As Lefty approached the Harbor Village Park he spotted many
people dressed in tennis wear .It seemed as if everyone was heading towards the
makeshift stadium that was the site of the pro tennis Smashfest and the fast
serve contest .Lefty was dressed in a pair of cutoff jeans and a tank top shirt
with a picture of Bob Marley, the reggae singer.
Lefty was holding his T-2000 racquet and singing the
National Anthem .When he finished the song he made the sound of a crowd
cheering and held up his arms.
Lefty then walked up to a desk that read “Fast Serve Contest
Registration”. Lefty looked over a release form that required the signature of
a parent or guardian if under 18.Lefty walked away for a minute and signed the
form with a scribbly signature and then he handed it to a lady at the desk. The
lady quickly glanced over his entry and then looked up at Lefty and spoke,
"Well Mr. Hilton you will have 5 chances to serve into the correct box .
Speed matters but accuracy is more important. If you need a demo racquet they
will be provided courtesy of Dunlop Sporting Goods. Good Luck Mr.Hilton!".
Lefty nodded and said,"Thank You". Lefty heard a
stereo playing the songs from the Jock Jams CD .There was a group of guys from
Lefty's high school tennis team that were standing in a semi-circle with shirts
that read Mead Valley High Muskrats .There was a tennis racquet insignia on
each shirt .
Lefty approached the group of tennis players who were mostly
tall and wiry guys. All the tennis players stared at Lefty with a somewhat
surprised expression. A blonde guy spoke up," Hilton am I seeing a vision
here .I thought you said tennis is only for squeaky voiced sissies.So what's
the deal ?"
Lefty laughed and shook his head,"Yea I did say that
but I heard about this fast serve contest and I decided to put aside my pride
and self-respect for the sake of cold hard cash.
I know I can serve faster than any of you beanpole geeks.”
One guy in the group looked at Lefty with a serious
expression and shook his head ," But there is one problem. Accuracy
!" , he shouted ," I don't think you can get the ball into the box
The whole team chanted in unison, “Can’t get it in the
Box! In the Box! Can’t get it in THE
Lefty grimaced and spoke up ," Oh that's gotta be
tough. Hitting the ball into a box that's the size of my car .That's a lot
tougher than throwing a baseball over a plate the size of a medium pizza . I
don't think I can handle that”.
A curly haired guy mumbled to himself," Tougher than
hitting a batter in the head ".
Lefty looked at him coolly, “What was that you said?".
The curly haired haired guy spoke ," It's uh gonna be
tough facing you head to head".
Lefty walked away and entered the stadium where he showed
his entry form to an usher and was shown a seat in the 5th row of the
contestants seating. The Swanson brothers were hitting against each other on
the court and doing trick shots between the legs and behind the back .Then over
the sound system a deep voice announced, “Welcome to the Harbor Village
Smashfest Fastserve contest .All contestants please enter courtside in an orderly
fashion .Remember five serves per contestant .No racquet throwing or foul
language will be tolerated .Good luck everyone ".
As the servers took turns aiming at the service box many
tries were in but very slow or very fast but way out.
Lefty approached the baseline and a ball was tossed to him
by a ball girl who was no taller than his waist. Lefty took the ball and
bounced it twice before he tossed it up and took a huge swing at the ball .The
ball flew over the other end of the court and hit a chair that created a domino
effect on all the chairs around it causing them all to be knocked over.
The announcer spoke,"I bet you can't do that again
". Lefty raised his hand in acknowledgement to the announcer . He smiled,
gritted his teeth went into a stretch
baseball windup and took his next serve which was 85 mph and in the box . His
next serve approached the 98mph mark
putting him 12 mph short of the record . On his fourth serve he tried with a running start like in volleyball. As
he got up to the baseline to release his serve and jump his foot slid on the
white thick baseline and he sort of slid stomach first towards the net. The
tiny ball girl came over to see if he was okay. He made a strange noise like
one a cartoon character would make when they got hurt.
Lefty stood up with the hand of the tiny ball girl out
stretched to help him.
He slowly walked back to the baseline.
Then he had a flashback to his Uncle Ted saying,"you
are a mutant breed, a mutant breed."
Lefty looked at the
ball and the box and unloaded a serve with a loud scream that was clocked at
The announcer was half dozing off when he heard Lefty's
scream and the ball sounding like a rocket pass by his ears, "Goddamn! That was a Rocket at 122 mph putting Mr.
Booby Lily Hurtgroin in the lead ." Lefty looked over at the announcer and
cleared his throat , "The name is Hilton , Robert LEFTY Hilton ". The
announcer shook his head," I'm gonna call you the Rocket "..
No other contestant could match Lefty's serve especially the
guys on the tennis team at Lefty's school. They all looked on with surprise and
disgust as he was presented the check for 500 dollars and a large trophy.
The announcer patted Lefty on the back ,
"Congratulations young man on winning the Harbor Village Smashfest serving
contest .Next weekend you are invited to see Lefty the Rocket serve and play
points against the top professionals in an exhibition before the finals of the
Smashfest pro tournament .That's next Sunday at 1pm .Lefty the Rocket versus the
Lefty was looking at the announcer and could not believe
what he was hearing .All the guys on the tennis team at Lefty's school were
laughing at the idea of Lefty playing tennis against the world's best pro's .
Lefty had never played tennis before in his life .As Lefty walked out of the
stadium he was in a daze .He could not fathom playing tennis against pros .He
probably couldn't even play against the guys on the tennis team .Then he
spotted a table that had a big sign that read "ITS" Instant Tennis Skills
.Sign up now and learn how to play in six hours .Lefty grabbed the flyer and
studied it carefully .The guys on the tennis team walked over and looked at the
flyer .The curly haired guy spoke, "That is not going to help you .However
for a small fee I will teach you the basics in 5 lessons ".
Lefty smirked," I'd buy a book on tennis before I
listen to you guys.”
At that moment a very attractive woman walked up to the
table and turned to Lefty ,"Can I sign you up for my course honey ,I think
you'll love it ".She winked at Lefty .
Lefty shook his head, "What the hey as long as you are
the teacher I'm in. Too bad my friends here are already expert players
otherwise they could take the class also."
The tennis team guys looked on with envy as Lefty signed up
and laughed with the attractive tennis instructor.
Lefty was in bed with the night light on and reading a book.
Every few lines he would pause and make some sort of body movement as if he
were swinging something. Then he reached out with his right hand to point at
the air and then he would swing as if he were throwing a punch .After one of
these punch like moves the book fell to the ground and his swing knocked over
the night light. Lefty fumbled to find the light and when he flipped it back on
a sock was stuck to his head from static cling .He picked up the book titled
"Tennis in a Hurry ". He read two more pages and then fell into a
sound sleep .He started to dream that he was in the stadium of the tennis
tournament on a pitcher’s mound and his whole team was on the field/court. A
batter approached the plate in a tennis skirt and it was the very attractive
woman tennis instructor from the ITS table .Lefty looked at the catcher for his
sign and threw the pitch .The ball came straight at Lefty and hit him in the eyes
.He fell to the ground with a thud .The woman stood over him and shook her head,
“I think this guy needs TRT".
There was a murmur in the group surrounding Lefty until the
catcher raised his hand, “What is TRT ?".
The woman smirked, “Tongue resuscitation technique".
With that she started to kiss Lefty who had a big smile on his face .In reality
,Lefty's cat Maxine was kissing him.
Lefty woke up and screamed loudly but he could not be heard
by anyone in his house because at that exact moment a jet was flying directly
over the roof of their house .Lefty pushed the cat off the bed and fell back
The next afternoon Lefty stuffed his books into his backpack
and ran down the steps at school and barely made it onto the crosstown bus that
would take him to his tennis class.
The woman that signed up Lefty for the class wore a nametag
that read, “Hi my name is Jennifer" and she greeted every person as they
entered the court enclosure. Jennifer also handed every student a racquet
courtesy of Dunlop Sporting Goods.
Jennifer then spoke, “Our first lesson is called the high five.
Can anyone give me a high five?”. A short, older woman in her early seventies
reached up to Jennifer who was 8 inches taller and slapped her five .Jennifer
clapped ,"Now using your racquet give the ball a high five ".The
older woman obliged using Jennifer's technique and almost hit Jennifer in the
After this Jennifer instructed the students to form two
single file lines
All the students took turns doing the high five technique
.Jennifer kept all the students moving very fast and after 7-8 minutes of this
they were out of breath .All the students took a minute to drink some water
.After this they were introduced to backhand high fives. After doing the same
7-8 minute routine the students need another rest .After the water break
Jennifer introduced the forehand groundstroke by dropping and lightly stroking
the ball. Jennifer emphasized to lightly stroke the ball .Five of the students
achieved their objective. Lefty was not among those five .Lefty's stroke caused
the ball to get jammed into the top of the chain link fence surrounding the court.
This was not bad considering the other two students in the class simultaneously
hit a man drinking out of a brown paper bag on a nearby park bench .The man
raised his fist and yelled out something that was gibberish. The class laughed
and then Jennifer explained to keep the wrist firm, “No spaghetti wrists guys,
keep it firm and stroke lightly in the center of the racquet."
On the next try six of eight students including Lefty
succeeded in the drop stroke .The other two shots left the court enclosure. On
the next try all eight shots were placed in the court close to the target that
Jennifer had set up in the middle of the court. Jennifer divided the class into
two lines in the mid-section of the court and gently tossed balls to the student’s
one at a time.
Throughout the remainder of the course all the students
gradually gained skills and confidence. They were able to hit the ball back and
forth at a slow speed. Jennifer congratulated all the students on their
progress and invited them to join her to watch the pros play at the Harbor
Village pro tennis event ,"There is a clinic on Sunday at twelve given by
myself and some top touring pros such as the Swanson brothers .You can register
with me today .At one o'clock there is an exhibition featuring the Swanson
brothers, and Manny “The Slammer” BamRoni a leading senior tour player; and the winner
of the fast serve contest Robert Hilton ".Lefty's face turned beet red and
he coughed loudly .
Jennifer looked at Lefty and laughed "Robert , are you
ready to face the pros?”. All the students looked surprised and turned to face
Lefty as his face maintained it's red color. Lefty explained how he was a
baseball pitcher and that enabled him to serve very fast. He asked if anyone
would help him practice for his big match .The elderly women was the first to
Lefty and his new practice partner Ester Choi set up two
practice sessions after Lefty's baseball practice. Ester was a big help to
Lefty because she reminded him of the fundamentals. Lefty was getting nervous
as the big showdown with the pros got closer.
Ester advised Lefty that he needed a partner who hit a
little harder. Maybe he should call one of the guys on the tennis team. A few
houses down the street from Lefty's house there was a girl who was a serious
tennis player. Lefty remembered seeing her leave the house early every morning
when he went out to get the morning paper. Her name was Ivy Bucca and she would
leave her house wearing a warm-up suit and carrying a tennis racquet bag.
After Ester's advice Lefty stopped by Ivy's house on the way
home .There was no way he would call one of the guys on the school team for
practice .Lefty had his pride ; he also was somewhat attracted to Ivy. A short
stocky man smoking a fat cigar answered the door at Ivy's house. Lefty
stammered and then he got out the words, “Is I-I-Ivy uuuhhhhh HomeSirrrr ?".
The man raised his eyebrows and looked Lefty up and down .He
walked out the door and leaned over the step and spit out some cigar juice,
“Step inside Hilton I'll go get my daughter”.
Lefty shook his head, “Thanks Mr.Bucca".Mr.Bucca yelled out ,"Ivy
Iveee you got a visitor”. Ivy was upstairs studying while practicing different
yoga postures. Ivy closed her book and descended the stairs .She looked a
little confused when she saw Lefty. Although they would pass each other in
school and on the street and say hello their conversations never went beyond that.
Lefty explained his situation to Ivy .About entering the contest and the smart
ass guys on the tennis team .About his tennis class and his practice partner
Ester Choi.About his upcoming match against the pros at the Harbor Village
Smashfest .Lefty explained that he needed a practice session with a tougher
player and he thought of Ivy.
Ivy agreed to do it under one condition .That she could
attend the match and meet with the pros .Lefty agreed to her condition and so
they arranged to practice the next day.
Lefty met Ivy at her house the next morning at 6:15 am
.Lefty was half asleep and carrying the racquet given to him at his tennis
Ivy led the way to the neighborhood park .Lefty was wearing
his gym shorts and NY Yankees T-shirt . Ivy took six tennis balls out of her
bag and bounced one on her racquet. Lefty walked to one side of the court .Ivy
took the other side and hit the ball to Lefty . Lefty bunted the ball back and
Ivy hit a huge shot that whizzed right by Lefty.
Lefty and Ivy repeated this scenario a few times until Ivy
told Lefty to get his racquet back earlier. Then there was more hitting back
and forth with Ivy dominating the rallies until Ivy abruptly stopped the ball
with her racquet .She suggested that they serve and play points. Ivy hit serves
with heavy spin that gave Lefty much trouble .Lefty hit hard fastball serves
that Ivy blocked back as fast as Lefty hit them. Lefty asked Ivy about her spin
serves and she gave Lefty a few pointers. Lefty added some spin to his serve
and it gave him better control .Ivy looked at her watch and realized it was 8am
and she was hungry .Lefty joined her at the bagel shop and he treated her to breakfast.
As they ate Ivy talked about her tennis career. How she could have played on
the boys team .How she made it to the finals of the state championships. How
she dreamed of playing pro tennis someday. How Lefty had the potential to be a
very good player. Lefty said his dream was to be a pro baseball player .He
asked Ivy if he belonged on the same court with the pros.Ivy said he should
play within himself not get too fancy. Lefty told Ivy about how he wanted his
family to move away from the airport to a quieter place.
Sunday came faster than Lefty had expected and he slept very
little on Saturday night. During the night Lefty had a dream that a pro tennis
player was facing him across a net .The ball hit by the pro came at him so fast
it turned into a jet airplane and was headed straight at Lefty's head. Lefty
was swinging madly at this ball/jet in his sleep and knocked himself out of bed
onto the floor. When he woke up he was sweating profusely. He fell asleep on
the floor in the fetal position.
The trip to Harbor Village was an interesting one indeed
.Uncle Ted was driving very fast and talking a mile a minute, “I knew you had a
calling nephew .I knew you would have a shot at the big leagues."
Lefty raised his eyebrows, “It’s just an exhibition Uncle.
After today its back to being Lefty Hilton, last string pitcher for the Mead
Valley Muskrats" .
Ted shook his head ,"Lefty it's just like hittin' big in
Vegas. You can take your winnings, drink your complimentary drink and hide out
in your little safe world out there in Airportville hell or you can parlay it
into a bigger payoff ."
"What in the hell are you talking about ", Lefty
"College my boy, college scholarship for hitting a
little fuzzy ball a four year free ride ", Uncle Ted put out his hands.
Lefty smiled and shook his head," You are deranged, Is
your metal plate picking up signals from that spy satellite again? I can't play
college tennis .I could barely beat Ester Choi and she's pushin’ eighty years
Ted sighed,"just leave it to me boy I'll take care of
the whole deal as long as you don't screw up out there today."
Lefty started fake crying to himself .When they arrived at
the tournament site. Lefty passed Ivy and called her by the wrong name ……Monica.
" Monica ,ahem it's Ivy ! .Earth to Lefty do you read
me? A little nervous are we about the big match ?" Ivy spoke
Lefty gave her a frantic look ," No I'm a little worried that my
Uncle Ted doesn't do something totally freaky and somehow hook me into one of
his bizarre schemes. But nervous about the match? Hell no! .I'm about to
play a sport I only took up a few days
ago in front of hundreds of people with three guys who earn millions of dollars
a year playing professionally. Nervous? Are you kidding me? I'm cool as a cucumber
cool as a freakin' cucumber ....that's been sittin’ in a batch of bitter
vinegar and lactic acid fermenting into one of the most sour pickles that ever
made contact with your taste buds. I’m a wreck a nervous bloody wreck !"
He put his head in between his hands as he leaned over and his waste.
Ivy looked Lefty up and down and shook her head and walked
away laughing as hard as she could and mumbled to herself, “Now he knows how I
feel before every match I play."
Lefty walked into the tournament office to report for his
match .People were shooting by him in every direction .Phones were ringing and
fax machines were humming. Lefty stood in one spot for five minutes with his
mouth wide open and his left index finger extended as if to make a point of
getting somebody's attention but it was not going to work . Lefty then cleared his throat and
cupped his hands together on either side of his mouth and started to shout,"My
name is Lefty Hilton .I was invited to play an exhibition match with three pros
today on the stadium court at one o'clock if anyone in this office can help I
would appreciate it otherwise continue doing your jobs and I will just stand
here wasting away until I am carted off by the building's security
All faces in the office had turned to stare at Lefty. Some
people had their mouths wide open in amazement at this boy shouting at them
.After Lefty ended his verbal spew everyone resumed what they were doing except
one young man who emerged from behind a stack of folders he was carrying in
both hands. “So you're Lefty Hilton ,the Rocket .I'm Mitch Carroll , player
liason.I am here to help you get through the day with smooth sailing. First
stop is the locker room to meet the players and pick up some clothes, shoes,
and racquets that have been provided for you courtesy of some of our sponsors
.Then it's on to the training room where a pre match stretch routine conducted
by our tour trainer Bill Green .Then it's onto the court for a short press
conference and warm-up .Then as you know it's match time .Any last requests
before you are thrown into the world of professional tennis for the next few
Lefty nodded stumbled backwards and hurled into the closest
trash can he could find and without missing a beat looked up at Mitch and spoke
cheerfully, “Buddy you know where I can get a bagel or something. A piece of
bread maybe or a cracker that would be really nice right about now.Y'know it
would be really very helpful to me ".
Lefty then remembered his promise to Ivy ." I promised
my friend that she could meet the pros .Her name is Ivy Bucca."
Mitch nodded ,"Ivy Bucca she's a good local player .
Sure no problem ."
Lefty was impressed that Mitch knew who Ivy was.
Mitch and Lefty walked into the lockerroom and found an
empty locker for Lefty to use.
From a room off to the side of the lockers a man was
screaming .Lefty had a look of serious concern on his face and motioned to
Mitch that maybe he should go to see if the man nee
Mitch laughed , " Don't worry that's “The Slammer”
BamRoni getting physical therapy on his shoulder.He feels like screaming helps
to release the pain . "
After Lefty had his racquets together in his new bag he went
to the snack table and found some fig newton’s and a can of Canada Dry Ginger Ale .
The trainer walked over and introduced himself to Lefty. “My
name is Joe Green and I am here to help you improve your flexibility ."
The first stretch involved touching the toes .Lefty was very
stiff and his hands went no further than his knees.
After fifteen minutes of going through a routine of
different stretches Lefty was very relaxed and ran in place very fast and beat
his chest like a gorilla .
Mitch then rejoined Lefty and brought him into the stadium
where the audience was sparse and showed Lefty to his chair . Lefty spotted Ivy
and motioned for her to come down to the court .Mitch then introduced Lefty and
Ivy to the Swanson brothers and Manny
BamRoni . Ivy was flirting with Cooke
Swanson and The Slammer was giving Lefty a few tips on where to stand
and what to do .
The announcer on the P.A. stystem introduced the four
players to the small but growing crowd .The pros received scattered applause
but when the announcer introduced Lefty the audience went wild .As the players
took to the court ball boys and girls handed balls to Lefty and the three
pros.Lefty was so nervous that on his first shot he hit a cameraman in the head
.Lefty then noticed that TV reporter Alex Andrews was on the court and heading
for the umpire's chair .Alex climbed up into the chair and tested the
microphone .Alex then brought all players up to the chair introduced himself
and shook hands with each player.
Lefty and Manny won
the toss and elected to serve . Manny served the first game and the Swanson
brothers played to Lefty as if they were taking it easy on him .Murray hit a
high ball to Lefty that he swung at and missed but Manny right behind Lefty and
smacked the ball for a winner. Eventually it was Lefty's turn to serve and he
he did some circular motions with his arm as if it were an airplane propeller.
Gorton Swanson was standing on the other side of the net not really paying
attention when Lefty tossed the ball up and unloaded a serve that was headed
straight at Gorton’s groin .Before Gorton had a chance to react the ball hit
him squarely in the his groin and he had a look of shock on his face and he
fell to the ground groaning .The other players converged on Gorton to check on
his condition . Joe Green ,the tour trainer appeared with an ice pack and helped
Gorton into a chair . It appeared as if the match was over when Lefty looked
over at Ivy and motioned her to the court .Lefty suggested that Ivy fill in as
a replacement for Gorton who was obviously incapacitated.
Ivy was introduced to the crowd and the match restarted.
Ivy was ecstatic that she was playing on the court with the
touring pros .
Lefty was relaxed because Ivy was playing.
Manny was a real showman and could be compared to a tennis
version of a Harlem Globetrotter .
In the crowd Uncle Ted was talking to a coach at Central
Coast University about Lefty's skills as an athlete and potential as a member
of a team at Central Coast University.
Cooke and Ivy pulled out the victory in a close tiebreaker .
After the match Uncle Ted rushed courtside holding a piece
of paper in his hand.
The paper was a date for meeting with the baseball coach at Central
Coast to discuss scholarship possibilities. Lefty laughed as he took the paper
from Uncle Ted ."You're a piece of work uncle ." Ted shook his head
and spoke," Oh by the way Lefty I think I worked a deal to get me and the
family to go with you to Central Coast .It seems as if you're brother Russell
is like a damn genius or somethin' and they want to recruit him for their
physics department ."
Lefty could not believe what he was hearing .He managed to
get a baseball scholarship but he would be entering college as a freshman along with his
twelve year old brother.
Lefty started ranting and raving to everyone in sight about
Russell being his classmate. He had a daydream of coming back to his dorm room
after a date and having Russell scold his date for keeping him out late.
Lefty let out a loud scream that was heard by everyone in
the Harbor Village area.
Heads turned all around at the sound of the scream but this
was quickly muffled out by the sound of a large rocket that was launched from
the back of Lefty's house by Russell .The rocket headed straight toward the
Harbor and as the rocket descended to Earth a parachute opened and the
parachute blanketed Lefty who was still ranting and raving about Russell .
Uncle Ted shouted out ,"Lefty shut up boy for one second.
The University is going to help find your mom a job and a house down there.
Russell won't be your roommate. Alright so just chill out . On the other hand
the coach did mention he may be your tutor in chemistry and physics
Lefty let a loud scream ,"Tutor.....that obnoxious
squirt hah I'll show them."
Uncle Ted grabbed a tennis ball and shoved it into Lefty's
mouth and smiled as he heard a jet flying overhead and saw an object heading towards them he shouted ,"
Uncle Ted dropped to the ground and muttered to
himself,"Blue ice goddamned blue ice I'm gonna miss that shit !".