Long Loss

That ball fucking soared over the left field fence, a no doubter, and goddamn do I need a distraction.

I'm getting coffee. A generic cafe, but it's the regular spot. This is often a good part of my day, a chance to escape for a few minutes, to say hello but no more, to feed an addiction. I know the staff and their mannerisms, and they likely know mine despite never sharing between us more than a few words. They know I'll be around tomorrow, and I assume they will be, too. The detachment is quite real, though unspoken of course. They take my money, I get something I crave in return. Sometimes they're friendly, other times rushed, curt. Sometimes I wonder if they enjoy their work. I tip here and there, but never in excess. It's just a coffee, no frills. Used to be I got free drinks, free espresso, but I get the feeling they've been cutting back on those recently.

It's physically difficult to walk quickly. It's just ambling, tired ambling and everything is heavy. The smattering of rain helps nothing. It's raining in Detroit, too, the same scattered band of showers doing a late summer tour of the Great Lakes. Dusk comes prematurely, faded grey lack of sun being replaced by dripping darkness. This rain prolonged the misery by about thirty-five minutes. No one can say they saw this coming, but then again no one is at all surprised after the initial shock. In my distraction I do happen to make it across the parking lot, but it's a long trip. Everything really does hit at once: the rain, the drear, the weight, the self-involvement, the dimming light and in it the realization that yesterday was longer than today, at least on paper.

On paper.

Last year. OctoberNovemberDecember, running together. Uncertainty, but clear, defined hope. Wishes. Fucking dreams, reader. We got what we wanted, early Christmas presents, faith going back to the fans, We. Are going to do. This. A reward for bearing less-than-acknowledged mistakes, a tacit understand between giver and the ones in position to truly give. There was such promise. Take it in. Remember that feeling, how you were on a certain day, during a certain week. Short days, cold weeks, with the certain promise of good things to come. Pause. Breathe, reader. It's there. We're here. This is our destination, like it or not. The door squeaks sharply when I pull. It has since I can remember and every time why don't they fix it.

I can't make eye contact. It's not in the cards. Ordering, voice lower than usual somehow. Just coffee. Medium, no room for cream. I know what I'm getting. It's still summer, but the coffee is mercifully not too hot. Very good. Bitter, but very good. You take comfort in these routines.

Back in the car, Isaac from the south side won't listen to facts. He's angry and grieving. The radio host cuts him off, but Isaac keeps talking. Some people call in, they loudly throw their thoughts at the world, never take a step back. Perhaps this is their catharsis, talking and talking, not saying much, and usually spilling blind inaccuracies. The incessant talking, I do this to avoid vomiting sometimes. It's a trick to keep the mouth dry, to stave off the excess saliva. Maybe it's the same for the callers. Maybe they will feel better knowing that their opinions took over the airwaves for minutes at a time. Isaac gets to be right in his mind, he gets to have that peace, and I also want it, not that I'll call. Goddamn you, Isaac.

A friend says "I'm glad I didn't see it." His football team won, and that's enough for him at this point. He was surprised at the outcome, of course, but his emotions fell short of shocked. "It's really damn fitting to this season." I hesitate to let a regular season game hold so much meaning, though I have no choice but to agree. He says, "Lemme see Addison Reed. Lemme see Beckham make strides." Another facet of the game, sure, but not redeeming enough for me. Yes, I will watch. We will still come back tomorrow and do it all again, but now every play comes with a caveat: It's over. It doesn't truly matter. But we move on, individually, these future memories to bind us closer.

It's fully dark now. The crushing reminder of inseparability, of failed distance between me and my team, hangs in the humid air. Cabrera turned on a slider and I realize the depth of this relationship.

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