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Who’s on first?

Queen takes knight.

See you on the flip side.

The thinner they sliced, the less they knew.

The area under the curve shrank until it became quantumfied and, thus, small ball rules could be invoked.

Stilbee fanned the webbing of his mitt in anticipation. Hit it here. Hit it here. The mantra repeated. Stilbee knew it had an effect.

Somewhere. In some universe.

He wasn’t that particular. A Stilbee somewhere would catch a home-run ball hit over the wall of left center. Then there would be the Stilbee who flubbed the catch and got beaned by the ball. That Stilbee vid would be shown over and over on the jumbotron and sports highlight channels. It was as inevitable as 1, 2, 3 strikes you’re out. Measurable. Precise.

A crack of the bat brought Stilbee’s attention back to the game. He stood up and smacked his fist into his mitt. Was this it? The ball arced high in the true-blue sky right in his direction.

Too high. The center fielder drifted easily over and smothered the ball.

Not this time. Stilbee sat back down and let his mind slip through time and space. He was catching a ball, a World Series game-ender. The chessboard of every conceivable move involved in the imagined catch played within the intricate neural connections vibrating (an inaccurate verb to be sure, but what was the word for the motion of sixteen-dimensional matter?) to shake consciousness and construct a new reality. A delicate balance. The artifice of accuracy.

Innings slipped by with Stilbee lost in the gestation of the scenario. He knew it was out there. Imagined. Projected. Permitted.

“Play ball!” The shout came from up and behind his seat where a fan was waving his fists as the catcher, short stop and pitcher conferred at the mound. The home plate ump huffed his way out and the game resumed.

Time was growing short and Stilbee sensed it. Shadows lengthened almost swallowing the mound. The lights came on as Newton’s calculus divided the day into increments that could not escape the night. On the back of his neck, Stilbee felt an electric thrill. Premonition. Recognition.

Before the batter swung, he was on his feet, his mitt raised. The barrel of the bat hit squarely. Action and reaction. Ball and bat giving, then rebounding. Force. Mass. Acceleration. An event horizon at the end of a bat.

Stilbee willed it. Every measurement made to push the ball his way. A principle of uncertainty to create certainty in his mind. No longer a pawn, he shielded his eyes with his free hand and opened his mitt wide. Fans were cheering. A final calculation.

The end of the imagined.

A reality established.

Here and there.

The ball spinning, rotating into his grasp. Contact. Equal and opposite. Could he hold on?

Stilbee clutched the present.

All he could ever do. Hold tight. Know the moment precisely. Later it would end.

As always.


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