Bed Bug Stew Excerpt Ten
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Here are some excerpts of the book!
From the short story Ends With a Y
AMERICA’S NATURAL TAX on the poor is legal gambling, from lottery tickets to slots and tables to the on-line sports book. Rich people can throw their cash wherever they want, but they didn’t get rich, or stay that way, being loose with their pile of coins. Poor people skip lunch to buy scratch-offs.
Rural America hides its guilt by giving casino licenses to ethnic groups who have been systematically maligned and cheated since the Founding, steadily and progressively and ending in one sure thing. Cultural annihilation in practice, if not in fact. Gambling and its mother, money, do not cure the rot at poverty’s core. The government as father usually gets it all wrong.
This corner of the state was poor by generous standards with a large aging population buoyed by effective medications and social security checks and a natural hatred of leaving the town “I grew up in.” No employment except a thriving service industry, most of it around the casino and a small regional airport. The sisters of service to gambling, the legal, spiritual, and body ink parlors, were always busy.
From the poem Wasted
Two more years of my life I have wasted.
Sip coffee, idle chatter in shops and arcades
Walk a dog, not a child, the hollow charade.
Schools and degrees, a costly mix of regret
Love my plaque on the wall, not much more to get.
Oh, the pain and the time I have wasted.
But I love my life, my friends, why put this at risk?
“Don’t be a spoiler, sweetie; you must try the bisque.”
Drift at a party through false friends in sea green
The rocks and the shoals and the cuts of the mean.
From Book Two: Yankee Coaches and Greats
One of the camp requests to each of us was to give a brief favorite Yankee moment. Mine is easy.
I was working in Atlanta in 1996, through the Olympics and the World Series there. Exciting time, to say the least. The Yankees/Braves series started poorly at home for the real Bombers, who took a 2 – 0 deficit on the road to Georgia.
You know the rest, the Yankees ran the table, winning three in a row to a mixed Braves/Yankees crowd and going back to the Big Ball Orchard in the South Bronx for Game 6.
Third baseman Charlie Hayes caught the last out, a routine pop-up in foul territory. I will never forget the sheer joy and relief I felt when Charlie caught that ball, thrusting his arms in the air, giving the Yankees their first World Championship title in 18 years, a helluva drought. I can still see his catch and leap nearly 30 years later.
These are important snapshots in time for the individual player and for the team, certainly, but I can only pray that these Greats realize these moments, like Charlie Hayes’ catch, are among the greatest moments in the arc of our own lives, shared with millions of people. It was communal, the excitement, the kinship. This is what they mean by the Yankee Family: the collective taste of victory or defeat. Yes, they were and are paid professionals, but we can never repay them for the sheer thrill of it all.
I couldn’t put that into words to Charlie Hayes. I hope he saw it in my eyes, or the clasp of my mitt in his iron handshake.
These Greats didn’t just capture lightning in a bottle – they were inside it when lightning struck. They will always be part of the Yankee association, and I am sure they love their lives, but to a man these Greats would rather have Derek Jeter’s bank account than their own.
The short shelf life, the pinnacle, of the Greats’ respective careers were the shoulders that Jeter and Mariano stood upon on their paths to immortality. The pros are notorious for grinding them up and spitting them out, the sports meritocracy (the last real one in this age) of what-have-you-done-for-me-lately.
I suspect there isn’t a day that goes by and they think, “What could have been…”
But the Yankee organization seems to have found a formula for these former Greats to stay that way. Sure, a silly camp for crazy fans, but they wouldn’t be there if they didn’t want to be.
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