pythonesque arm around Rex’s neck. “Rex,” he began with a knowing air, “your people understand Iraq. You
apprehend the Arab mind, and you’re much too smart to play softball with `em! Hell, back in the Eighties you bombed their reactor!
That was chut–spuh, for
“You know, Coach,
my people are kinda like—” He gestured at our mélange
of blacks, browns, whites, and Wasabi—but Roman was on a different page.
"It's Skip, not Coach—like captain of a ship. And you know damn well what I mean
about Arabs! I’m telling you, Rex, you Jews can play hardball.”
hardball,” Pat interjected—but Roman waved him off like a gnat.
“You guys don’t
negotiate with terrorists, and you’re not afraid to rough `em
up a bit. Waterboarding. Hah! That's kid stuff to the Mossad,
“Yeah, well, I’m
not sure how to say this, Coach—”
"But I’m kinda like ... American, you know?”
Roman, “but we’re all somethin’ way back. Take me.
I’m a Slovak, with an extra big order of Kraut on the side. You need to be
proud of your heritage, Mose. Hank Greenberg, Sandy
As if a switch had
been thrown, Rex glided into the aisle to recite his father’s homage to the
great Jewish pitcher while miming his miraculous pitching motion:
had the ball,
He stood tall on the hill:
Two–hundred–ten of power and grace
A kindly man with a fierce, dark face—
The finest model of his race!
He peered in for the sign
And rocked into his motion
The pill enclosed in his giant hand,
He stretched out wide his great wingspan,
And rolled home like the ocean!
“That’s what I’m talking about!” Roman
thunder–clapped, prompting M.C. and Jamonte to roll
their eyes at his off–key jive. “And the fact is, Rex, there’ve been a
few pretty good Jew ballplayers over the years, and even my dad said Koufax was
great—which for him is saying a lot. Of course, another thing you Jews have
going for you is lots of scientists and doctors and stuff, so forget the—you
know, the swindler types and all, and be proud of your heritage.” Roman’s
magnanimous smile implied that he had bestowed a generous tribute.
“You know, Skip,
it's kind of like, all my heritage,
you know? The human race? We the
people of a more perfect union?”
Roman flushed a
little, unwrapped his arm from Rex’s neck, and stared
as if reappraising an ungrateful first date. “Well I’ll say this for you, you’re a stubborn little ... Hey. And I like that!
You’re stubborn on the field, that’s for damned sure. Now listen, Mose, you do me a favor and write that Koufax poem down. There's a Jew to be proud of.” He rubbed
Rex’s head with the flat of his hand, and Rex winced like a boy whose dad is
too rough with the bath towel.
Jon Sindell writes and reads his fiction in San Francisco, where he curates the Rolling Writers reading series. His short stories have appeared in Hobart, Word Riot, Zouch, New South, Many Mountains Moving, Prick Of The Spindle, Switchback, Gray Sparrow, and elsewhere. His novel The Mighty Roman is a journey to the manly heart of baseball darkness.