Monday, July 6, 2009

Price of Fame - Chapter 4


Well it's Monday again and I need your help. These are starter chapters for my book that began with My Gallery post, which was the beginning of the story. If you haven't read that one, please start there so you know where this is all heading. Then came The Painting and The Dream.


I need your help with comments, suggestions, critiscim, just whatever you feel compelled to offer, throw it out there. I am so open to these things. I hope you enjoy this chapter as it was one of my favorites to write.


Love and Hugs ~ Kat



Price of Fame


It’s something everyone wants at some point in his or her life. They want what Indiana Jones would call ‘Fortune and Glory’. They want to be rich and famous. I mean who wouldn’t. Never having to worry about money again, it would always be coming in and you would have your dream job. Something you loved to do.


Some play their favorite sport and make millions at it. Imagine waking up one morning and while most people get up early, get into their car, kiss their families goodbye and head off to join the many millions of rats in the rat race of the job market, I get to go play baseball.


Just like I did on my summer vacations or practicing playing ball with my dad in the front yard when he had the time. He always did say I would make it someday if I worked hard enough and believed big enough, nothing was impossible. He was right. It wasn’t. It came natural to me.


First I started in T-ball, since my coordination wasn’t quite there yet at 7. It was as real to me today as it ever was. I had the same old nerves when I sat at home and waited to get ready to go to practice. My mom had laid out my nice, clean, white, jersey, with my own special number on it. It was 27, but it wasn’t like I was the 27th best player in my league. It was a number given especially for me. It was ‘my’ number. My fingers traced over the number 2 and then the 7 as if I was drawing those numbers with my finger for the first time.


Soon my Dad would yell for me that it was time to get dressed. If I lagged on school mornings getting ready for the bus, I more than made up for the speed that it took me to get into my uniform today. Once I was ready, I ran into my parent’s room, and eyed the boy that stood looking back at me in the mirror. Wow, I looked like the pro ball players I had watched on TV!


My dad would stand proudly looking at me from the doorway, smiling at me. He was never more proud of me in his life. He had "father’s pride." Something a dad feels for his son when watching the baby steps his son begins to take, as he slows becomes a man. He is both proud and sad at the same time. It breaks his heart because he wants to hold on to you so tight that you never grow up, yet steps back and lets you bask in your glory of the reflection in front of me. He holds this moment in time, like a photograph. He will always remember this day.


Now it’s me and my dad sitting side by side on the bench seat of his old 57 Ford Truck. I sit there quietly, careful not to dirty my uniform. Hands folded in my lap. I look over at my dad. He is sitting tall in the seat, one hand on the wheel, the other out the window with his elbow resting on the door. I try to mimic him, but only manage to get my hand out the window.


I can feel the breeze blowing back up against my hand and I push it down against the wind. The wind draws my hand up and then down again. I smile when I imagine that if me and my dad where to do the exact same thing and put our hands out the window waving them up and down, the truck might fly. So I look over at my dad and notice his hand is out the window waving up and down in unison with mine. He turns and looks at me and smiles.


"Think if we both do this, we can make the truck fly?" he asks me.


"Not sure. What do you think?" I respond.


"I think anything is possible if you believe and want it bad enough." Says dad.


So I close my eyes and start to imagine the truck leaving the roadway just like an airplane would take off from a runway. I can imagine soaring over the cornfields of Applewood Creek, passing over the river that separates the two counties and land smoothly just outside the Baseball Park. When I open me eyes, we are there.


From T-ball practice to Little League, Little League to High School Baseball and then the scout that showed up during one of the last games of the season during my senior year. I didn’t even know that he was going to be there. All I just remember is playing my best game ever that day. Everything went perfect. I pitched a no hitter that night and brought our team to its winning victory.


Dad was so proud that day. He never missed a game either. Even though as time slipped by his health continued to deteriorate much like old age does. It steals the people we remember and love. It takes the life out of them every day that goes by. Yet Mom always found a way to get Dad there. No matter how sick he was, Dad made sure he would be there. He never let on either if the pain was too much for him. Everytime I would look at Dad, he had a smile on his face. The same smile that Dad and I alone would share. It was something that only happened between Dad and me. It was our moment.


It was my moment to be proud of my Dad. I dedicated that game to Dad. After it was over, I walked out from the locker room to find him waiting for me, still sitting on the bleachers. He needed help to get back to the truck, but when he saw me, a smile. My smile.


"Hey Dad! I am so glad you made it. Did you see it? My first no hitter game!" I shouted as I walked up the bleachers.


He waved at me to let me know where he was.


"So proud of you son! I knew you could do it. You can do anything if you believe in it long enough and hard enough. If you want it bad enough, nothing is impossible." He said attempting to stand up. He had one hand on his cane and the other steadying his wobbling frame on the bleacher.
I ran up to him, catching him just under the arm to steady him.


"I’m here Dad." I said holding him carefully and slowly began making out way down the steps to the field below.


I helped him into the truck and handed him his cane. Before I shut the door I held my hand out to him.


"What’s that?" he asked looking down at my hand.


I opened it and held out a white baseball. He put his hand out and I rolled it into his hand.


"It’s the game ball Dad. Saved it just for you." I said trying hard not to let the tears roll down my cheeks.


He didn’t say anything yet, looked up at me with tears rolling down his cheeks and smiled.
We didn’t say much that night after the game on the ride home. I knew he was as proud of me and he had ever been. Not only for what I had achieved but also for now growing into a man.


I was offered a spot on the Majors from the talent scout that was there that night. After many offers, and talking it over with Dad, we agreed upon a team close to our hometown. It was for more money than my family had ever seen in all the years dad had worked and the promise of so much more.


The downside was that I wouldn’t be home so much anymore. Dad encouraged me then like he had my whole life. To believe in the impossible. He told me opportunities like that should be snatched up the moment they come along. So I left.


I knew the day I left, I wasn’t sure if I would see him again. Time was slowly ravishing his body and taking away the Dad I knew and loved. I wanted to make him proud. I wanted him to see me play in the big leagues.


When I moved to the big city, I had so much money I didn’t know what to do with it all. I stayed in fancy hotels at first, with room service and movies I could pay a fee for and watch without having to leave my room. This was living. I could eat at any place I wanted and shop at any store for anything my heart could desire.


Before long, I bought my own house, a new car and got myself a girlfriend, I could shower all kinds of gifts on. We lived a lifestyle only few people would ever know, except people like myself. Since I was now one of the big league players, I was invited to all the fancy parties. So I went and brought along my girlfriend. I had new friends now as well. I began drinking too much and started to experiment with drugs my so-called new friends introduced me to.


Even when I was in training, my trainer recommended some treatments to make me better at playing ball. I was able to pitch longer and faster than most pitchers my age. I was hesitant at first but then I tried it. I realized at the end of the day, I wasn’t as sore as much as before. My pitching speed was faster and I was striking more people out.


After a few seasons of pitching the baseball administration began investigating players use of performance enhancing drugs. Shortly after that, my trainer packed up his things and left. He never said why, just that he had a family emergency to deal with at home. He wasn’t sure how long he would be away but that the ball club would get someone else. He wished me luck. Not sure what that was suppose to me.


A random blood test happened later that day for all of us on the team. We were advised if we were taking anything, we would be fired from our team. I was more than worried. I knew that I was doing all kinds of street drugs and not sure if that would pose a problem. I could always say I needed help and call myself an addict. Yeah that would be my excuse if they said anything.


They never did. Just received a phone call into the owner’s office late one night, where they told me, I wasn’t going to be playing baseball anymore. I was no longer part of the team. I was numb. I tried to use the excuse that I was addicted, but they said you can’t become addicted to steroids and my recreational drug use wasn’t the issue. It was my new pitching miracle cream. I was devastated. My fame and fortune were now in the toilet. I was also told to keep my mouth quiet as not to embarrass the team or myself.


My dad called me a lot in the beginning. He called just to see how I was making out in the big city with all the major league players. We used to talk all the time, but then I got too busy. I would come home and find messages on the answering machine or at the hotel lobby when my team was playing out of town. Sometimes I didn’t return his calls for weeks.


It seemed like the longer I took returning his calls; the guiltier I would feel for not calling back sooner. So I wouldn’t call. If he called back again, I would claim I didn’t get the message, that someone obviously had not given it to me. Yeah that was my excuse.


I didn’t even realize it when he stopped calling at all. Was it a week? A month? Certainly not that long.


Then I got a message at the hotel lobby that night. One instructed to be given to me the very moment I got in that night. I took the message from the night clerk and got into the elevator. I was drunk again. My girlfriend hung on me for support as I tried to guess which button to push to get me to the floor I was on.


As I reached out to push button number 17, my girlfriend slipped down from my arm and slumped down on the floor giggling. She sat there laughing while me as I put down my bags and tried to help her back up to her feet again. Then we both fell down on the floor laughing. Two drunks in an elevator. How pathetic had my life become?


The bell in the elevator rang and we both managed to find our feet again and I grabbed my bags and stumbled down the hallway to our room. Upon opening the door I managed to turn on the light and toss my bags in. I helped my girlfriend up and got her to the couch. The door to the hotel room closed. She had passed out as soon as she hit the couch. There was no reviving her. She was drunker than I had ever seen her.


I looked down at my hand and saw the message crumbled up inside it. I unfolded it and smoothed it out. It simply said that my mom had called. It was marked urgent and to call no matter what time it was. The time on the message was 2:26pm. I looked at my watch, it was almost 12:45am.


I wondered if perhaps I should wait till tomorrow morning before calling my mom at this hour. The message did say to call no matter what time it was. So I called.


As my mom spoke, I sat numb on the floor. My mouth hung open and endless tears flowed down my cheeks. My father had died and the funeral was in two days. I don’t remember much else about the call except telling my mom I would be home tomorrow. I had no where else to go anyway.


I called the front desk and informed them I would be checking out tomorrow and would need an airplane ticket to Applewood Creek as early as possible. Money wasn’t an option. I would need a taxi to the airport as well. He said to give him some time and he would call back when everything was arranged.


Time stood still at that moment. I packed my things in my bags and waited for the phone call. I stood looking out my hotel window at the lights of the city below wondering where my life had detoured. The phone rang and I was told that a taxi was waiting and I could take the red eye out of the city tonight and be there first thing in the morning.


I left my girlfriend that night. No good-byes. No note. We used each other in this wild game and now that it was over and now that most of my money was now gone, I owed her nothing. I picked up my bags and left the hotel, closing the door on that life forever.


I climbed into the taxi for the short ride to the airport. I arrived home just before noon the next day and saw how much my own mother had aged. We held each other for hours and cried. We cried for times lost and for the memories I would never get to share with my father.


Over the next two days, I helped my mom get my fathers affairs in order. We made all the funeral arrangements and picked out a nice wood casket. The days rushed passed. Before I knew it the minister had delivered my fathers funeral sermon and I sat on the chair staring at the man lying within.


I stayed there for hours, after making sure my mom got a ride home with our neighbors and my aunt. I wanted to stay and talk and just be with dad.


The clouds started to turn dark and the winds picked up, pulling at the canopy that covered my father and me. The trees in the cemetery seemed to whisper all my failures my father never saw.


"You’re a drunk" whispered the pine to my right.


"You’re addicted to drugs. Look at the man you’ve become." Whispered another.


"You father believed in you. What a disappointment." Still another.


"You never called him."


" You were too late."


"You left your dad."


"You killed him."


"ENOUGH!" I screamed at the trees.


No one was there to hear me just me and my dead father. It started to rain. First lightly and then it increased in intensity like I was being punished. Beaten down. It came down in buckets. Flashes of lightning filled the sky and rumbles of thunder.


More whispers from the trees.


"Liar."


"Cheater."


"Loser."


"Murderer."


The ground began filling up with mud as I sat out there with my father. I began to cry, pounding my fists into the chair beneath me. I stood up and started to throw the chairs out of the way. All over the cemetery. One took out the leg of the canopy and water poured into my father’s casket. I screamed and ran over to where it stood and slammed down the lid. I placed my hands across the cold, wet, wood casket as if to hug him one final time and I sobbed.


I would never be the man my dad once remembered. I lost my belief in myself and in the end realized just what the price of fame had cost me. It would haunt me for the rest of my life. This lasting memory now dripping wet with the paint from my tears as it hung there in front of me to torment me for eternity.

12 comments:

3 Blessings said...

Another great chapter :)
Amy

RCUBEs said...

Sad but true. How fame can blind us just like that if we are not careful. Great story sister Kat!

When I started doing Spiritual Sundays hosted by 2 sisters, Charlotte was one of them and married with bro. Clif. He is a retired minister and now is a book reviewer so I'm not sure if it's appropriate for me to mention here but I felt like I needed to tell you. You can email him if you want to ask something. His url is http://clif74.blogspot.com [Musings of a Minister]

Was it you then laughing hard when I was watching the baby, elephant, tiger and sloth skidding down the ice? I was the one snoring:) Yup! We must be watching "Ice Age"at the same time. [except my eyelids were drooping]...

Andrea said...

You have a gift and I expect a signed copy when this hits the press...it is awesome!!

Blessings, andrea

Heart2Heart said...

Rosel,

I tried the link but it said it was invalid? Not sure if it still is a working blog.

I would love to run the idea by him.

Andrea: I plan on giving everyone a signed copy if it ever gets published.

Amy: Thanks for you vote of confidence!

Love and Hugs ~ Kat

Heart2Heart said...

Rosel,

I just googled his name and got it. I will let you know what he says once he emails me back. I just forwarded the first chapter to him.

Love and Hugs ~ Kat

LisaShaw said...

WOW!

Kat, keep writing and sharing from your heart. I look forward to the entire finished work -- a great book in the making.

Thank you dear one for your encouragement on my blog earlier.

Love ya.

RCUBEs said...

Good thing I came back here sister Kat. Go on my right side bar and click on the "Musings of a Minister". That's bro. Clif's site. I hope you'll get through. God bless.

RCUBEs said...

Never mind :) Didn't see your other post that you had gone through anyway. May the Lord open a great door of opportunity for you sister. My prayers are behind you but the Lord is ahead of you.

Billy Coffey said...

I'm really liking this, Kat!

Prairie Girl said...

again - so profound. bravo.

christy rose said...

I really like this chapter Kat!

Warren Baldwin said...

Just took a quick look for now, but will try to come back later and read more slowly and carefully. Looks good. Looking forward to reading the whole thing. My book of devotionals on Proverbs is at the printer now. wb