(This is the continuation of the serial novel Nine Innings in Baltimore. Read the previous chapter here.)
It was not for nothing that Alvarez and Basilio didn’t like each other.
[Mary Lou, Peggy Sue, Barbara Ann, Polly Jean just to name the B-sides.]
After their drunken dust-up earlier in the summer at Miss Bonnie’s Saloon (fists and bottles when Basilio learned that Alvarez kept a file on his cousin Nieves, had tracked her to Mexico City), they went out of their way to avoid one another.
Soon, one of them would begin change slowly for the better and one would sink below the ninth ring of hell.
But tonight, it is only the top of the second for the mediocre Baltimore Orioles against Stump Merrill’s even worse New York Yankees at Memorial Stadium in Crabtown, USA.
Yankee right fielder Jesse Barfield was the first man to the plate in the top of the second.
Alvarez didn’t cover baseball, or any sport unless the police got involved. Like the time a small gang of teenagers from Waverly were breaking into cars on the stadium parking lot and, as the crowd roared for an Eddie Murray homerun, found the body of a long-dead Pennsylvania housewife in the back of a Dodge Dart.
But the reporter was in good with the Orioles’ public relations office and in the summer months used his press pass to have a few beers at the ballpark on long supper hours from the City Desk.
As he settled into the press box with a cold one, Barfield hit a 2-and-2 pitch to deep left field for his 19th home run of the waning season.
One to nothing, Yankees.
As Barfield rounded the bases, Alvarez leaned over to the beat writer for the East Baltimore Guide and said, “Remember when Barfield dropped that can of corn in Milwaukee?”
“Said he saw a UFO, dropped the ball.”
The PA announcer gave the attendance at 24,589. As Yankee catcher Rick Cerone settled into the batter’s box, Alvarez thought he recognized someone sitting near the third base line and left the press box to get another beer.
Rafael Alvarez has lived in Baltimore his entire life except for a brief and cautionary exile in Hollywood. A former City Desk rewrite man for the Baltimore Sun, Alvarez has published books of fiction, memoir and very provincial history. Best known works include “The Fountain of Highlandtown” and the on-going “Orlo & Leini” stories, each detailing life in Crabtown, USA. Alvarez also worked as a reporter for the Baltimore Sun prior to starting a career in television. He has worked as a writer and story editor on the Home Box Office drama series The Wire and a writer and producer on the crime dramas Life and The Black Donnellys. He has written several books including a guide to The Wire, a non-fiction guide to the archdiocese in Baltimore, a short-fiction anthology and two collections of his journalism. He can be reached via email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.