Can I live with it?

Fiction By Matthew // 4/29/2007

Can I live with it?

'Ouch, 'Tom thought as he pulled the needle out from his thigh, 'Hurts every time.'
Without wasting any time, Tom stuck the empty syringe and needle into a small hidden pocket in his bag. No one would find it, no one ever had. Quickly he slipped from his clay-covered suit into a new, clean one and stepped from the changing room into the dugout. His teammates clapped and whistled for him. They gave him high-fives and shoulder slaps. One member leaned close as he gave a hearty shoulder smack and said in a loud voice, "Go get'em Boom."
Boom was a nickname giving to Tom after he hit his 300th homerun. That night when the ball hit that bat, it made a sonic sounding boom.
Up in the stands, three girls had spray painted their shirt and now stood right next to each other cheering. Together, their shirts said GO BOOM!
It was the bottom of the 12th inning and things weren’t looking great. The game was tied at the neck at 18-18. If Tom's team got one more run in, they would win. Now it was time to bring in your best players and try to clean the game up with a win. Tom was the best hitter on his team. That's why this was his hour, but not just yet. He watched as two of his teammates got on base, flinched as one struck out, and thought about all this. The steroids he had been taking for the last five years of his carrier had helped him get where he was. Without them, he would be a nobody; just some guy that bat’s for the team. But with it, he had made history. But was it really making history when it wasn't him? Did he really deserve all this attention and fame?
Up on the big screen, Tom's nickname came up and showed his impossible seeming hitting record. His batting average was an astonishing 402. No one else had ever passed 320. Now, with two on base and one out, he was brought in to clean the game up.
His name was called, announced on those big oversized speakers, "And now up to bat, BOOM!!"
Everyone in the crowd burst into every sound imaginable, screaming, yelling, shouting, stomping, clapping, and hooting of all kinds. It was like one big wall of sound. If Tom hadn't been down in the dugout, his ears would have been having some serious problems.
As it was, Tom had some small earplugs that would quiet the noise. The cheering redoubled when Tom headed out of the dugout and toward home plate. If you looked at the higher part of the stands, it looked like star twinkling in the night, all the camera flashing on and off. Slowly the cheering slowed down and quieted as Tom stepped up to the plate and looked toward the pitcher.
Suddenly the world slowed down and went into slow motion. Tom watched as the pitcher slowed stood up, stretched, and then lugged that ball of leather down the strip at ninety miles an hour. Tom turned his head to watch as the ball sailed passed. A strike.
No one in the stands made a sound. Not because he had just gotten a strike, but because they were watching Tom. They knew how he usually batted and waited to see what he would do next.
When the pitcher threw the ball, he had made note off all he movements, the slight twist in his fingers, the left arm hanging out for balance, everything. Now, by watching that, Tom could safely know what the pitcher was going to throw by his warm-up. He watched again as the pitcher wound up like a spring ready to uncoil, which he did. The ball came burning a second time and Tom read it as a strike-ball. Just as the ball was coming into hitting range, a thought pushed into his mind. 'What if I do win this game. What then? Is it really my win. It would really be the steroids win, wouldn't it?' Tom had fought this battle over and over before until he thought he'd won, but now it came back again to haunt him. 'Why, without those steroids, you would be nothing.' 'I-' Tom started to think back when suddenly a voice close to his ear shouted "Strike One!"
The ball had flown right past him and he hadn’t even noticed it while he was thinking. The crowd went totally silent again, and this was true silence. You could ever hear a car honk it’s horn a mile away. It was totally silent.
Tom hefted his bat again and looked at the pitcher determined to hit the ball this time. But the thoughts came back, eating away at the wall he had put up against them. ‘What will you do with the rest of your life? Can you live with the shame and guilt of not really winning? All those thousands of people including your future wife and kids, all congratulating you on something you didn’t do? What could you do with that?’
He watched as the pitcher slowly wound up.
‘Now, you may think you can push me out, but could you really live with all that? Think about it.’
The ball flew towards the home plate.
‘Could I really live with it?’ Tom asked himself.


“Uh, um. Strike Three, your…uh….out.”

More silence.

Tom walked quickly back to the dugout and passed by his teammates who were still in shock about what had just happened. Quickly he went to his bag and pulled out the needle and syringe and smashed them both. The he went into the changing room to change back to his normal clothes. Though he was aching inside from what just happened, from losing his dream, from ending his career, he still felt a little happiness towards that fact that he had beaten his old enemy. It would still be tough later when he felt like taking the drugs again, but for now he had just won the first and hardest of the battles.





Anonymous | Wed, 06/13/2007


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