FanPost

My Writing Project (rather long, sorry...)

Remember this topic? http://www.mccoveychronicles.com/2008/1/30/155854/577#comments Later, I went and hinted that I might turn that into a story for Creative Writing class (http://www.mccoveychronicles.com/2008/1/30/155854/577#1258673). So, I sat down and wrote this story as my final project.

Disclaimer:
They always say to write what you know. I am an internet addict. I also love the San Francisco Giants. I also also love random humor. This is an attempt to combine all three.

Characters are based on members of various message boards I frequent.

The Fruit Loop thing actually happened. As did the line about the spoon. I have strange friends.

Also starring Weena Mercator as the Hopping Woman.

The Phantom of the Ballpark, or, Men in Catcher’s Masks Cannot Be Trusted

The internet is a busy place. Bits of information are batted around the digital world like so many batting practice ground balls. Nowhere is this simile more appropriate than at the Cove Chronicles, a blog devoted to Major League Baseball’s San Francisco Giants… and other websites having to do with baseball. The Chronicles’ devoted regulars, known to themselves as "The Coven," trade witty remarks in and amongst observations on trades, players, and the games themselves. The site’s founder, Trey Baciocco, is notable throughout the baseball blogging world for his sarcastic and imagery-laden insights into the world of the Giants. He also writes a column for Fox Sports Net and has been quoted often in the San Francisco Chronicle.

Well, at least he was…

***

It was your typical February late morning in San Francisco – that is to say, the sky was a dreary shade of gray, the wind was blowing, and the city’s famous fog was just beginning to burn off. On this particular Friday morning, Peter Carson was sitting in his cubicle, making it look like he was diligently at work. In reality, the world of sales and marketing for Elliott Dry Erase Pens wasn’t as fast-paced as his supervisors made it out to be, and Peter was logging in to the Cove and nibbling a Pop-Tart into the shape of the state of West Virginia. He’d heard a rumor of a new trade by the Giants, and he wanted to see what Trey had to say on the subject. Trey and Peter went way back, since the day they had sat next to each other at a Giants game and found out they attended the same high school. A mutual love-slash-fanaticism of baseball kept the two thirty-somethings’ friendship strong. So when the site loaded, and no new posts headlined the page, Peter knew something had to be wrong. There was no way that Trey would let news like this slip through his fingers. He immediately picked up his cell phone and began to dial Trey’s number as quickly as he could.

***

A few hours later, and across town from the Elliott building, two young girls sat together in the dining hall of California University San Francisco. To the sea of students that filed past their table, these girls were for some strange reason fascinated with the floor six feet in front of them, but Janie Grace and her friend Daphne knew exactly what they were doing.

"Part of me wants to put up a fence around it to protect it," Daphne mused.

"What – a wildlife sanctuary for Fruit Loops?" Janie replied from behind her laptop while a song by Rick Astley played softly from the speakers. "Doesn’t that kind of defeat the purpose of all this – we’ve been watching that blue Fruit Loop for twenty minutes now, just waiting to see when or if it gets stepped on. Part of me wants to go step on it right now, because I’ve only got twenty minutes before I need to leave for class, and I don’t want to be left wondering what happened to it the rest of the day."

"You wouldn’t!" Daphne exclaimed, mock-hurt.

"You’re right," Janie acquiesced. "It would just be mean to kill an innocent Fruit Loop in cold blood…" She paused, pulling her curly auburn hair off her shoulders. "Wait. Cold sugar? Cold milk? How would you kill a Fruit Loop? Oh, I don’t know. Wait," she said as her attention turned wholly to her laptop screen. "What’s this?"

"What’s what?" Daphne asked, leaning over to see Janie’s computer. Janie had logged into CoveChronicles.com, and a frantic note was splashed across the page:

Trey is missing!

posted by homerunking at 11:46 am

Hey everyone. Peter here. Guys, I’m really worried. This trade was announced hours ago, and Trey hasn’t posted anything yet. He’s usually on top of things like this. What’s worse is that he’s not answering his cell phone, and his girlfriend says nothing is wrong with either of their families. It’s a long shot, but he did once threaten to give the front office a piece of his mind. I think we need to find him and talk him down if we have to. If anyone is in town and available, meet me at Luigi’s Pizzeria across the street from the park at 3 pm. Ask for Peter. We’re going to need some numbers if things go bad. Who’s in? 

"Ooh, I wanna go!" Janie squealed. "And it’s right after class. I am so in. Oh, I know. I’ll call Smith!" 

"Who’s Smith?" 

"He’s dating my sister. Actually, they’re practically married," Janie explained, pulling out her cell phone. As she dialed, she continued. "He was hanging out at our house one day and I found out he surfed the Cove, too. And yes, Smith is his first name. He’s got ‘creative’ parents." A few seconds later, she was on the phone. "Hey Smith, it’s Janie... You heard too?... Wanna go?... Sweet, meet me at the tower at 2:30, and we’ll take my car... Well, okay, your car works too... See you there!" Quickly, Janie turned back to her computer and typed: 

posted by sunXstars at 12:24 pm

I’m in – and I’m bringing NastiMøøse. Save us some breadsticks! 

"Let me know how it goes," Daphne said as Janie gathered her belongings from the table. "Oh no!" she cried, pointing the departing Janie’s attention to the floor. "I can’t find the Fruit Loop. Did someone kick it or something?" 

***

Just before 3:00 pm, Smith and Janie entered Luigi’s Pizzeria. He opened the door for her, and the host directed them to a table near the front window, joining Peter and a woman. This woman was fellow Cove member Drea Ryan, otherwise known online as Bride_of_Torgo. The group introduced themselves to each other, and then Peter stood.

"So this is what we’ve got to work with," Peter started. "Just to make sure Trey hadn’t gone crackers, I called the Giants’ front office. The receptionist said she hadn’t seen him, but someone has been leaving odd messages all over the office. On people’s computers, scribbled across the glass of the copy machines, and spelled out on the general manager’s office floor with every ballpoint pen in a twenty-foot radius. So anyway, here’s the plan. One: we go and try to find Trey in the ballpark. Two: we try to talk him into his senses, and three: we hope we don’t get lost or hurt doing it. Are we clear?"

"That doesn’t seem like much of a Three," quipped Smith, running his hand through his short, unruly brown hair. Peter shot Smith a death glare in return.

"Whoa," Drea declared. "Retrofire there, Chief. Maybe we could focus on the task at hand? Does anyone know where in the park we might be able to find Trey?"

"I don’t really know," Peter offered, "but my cousin works the grounds at the park, and he’s taken me around about every inch of the place. It’s not hard to get in. Besides, he lent me his keys." Peter pulled a key ring out of his pocket and jingled them for good measure. "What do you say we save the day?"

"Works for me!" chirped Janie. The group paid their bill and walked the short distance to AT&T Park. The plaza out front was empty except for the four of them and an artist sketching the area. The stadium’s green steel beams and brick towers stood out against the pale winter afternoon sun.

"No matter how many times I come here, I always get a little giddy when I see this place," Janie commented, looking up at the statue of Willie Mays featured prominently at the street corner. "It’s one of my favorite places in the world." She looked back at where she thought the Coven members were, but they were currently at the front gate, which was being unlocked by Peter. She quickly ran over to catch up.

"Hey, girlie. Don’t run off like that, or we’ll have to use the buddy system," teased Peter. He opened the gate and the three others filed inside. They had only been walking around for ten minutes before they found a note scribbled on a wall in orange paint near a door marked "Authorized Personnel Only." The note read, "I CAN HAS GOOD BASEBALL TEAMZ???"

"That’s gotta be Trey," Peter remarked. "He always secretly liked those cat caption things."

"Hey, look at this!" exclaimed Smith. A trail of orange paint led right up to the door, which had been forced open. Smith opened the door wide to show a long corridor. The floor was dotted with the occasional globule of paint. "What is this place?"

"We should find the clubhouse along here somewhere," Peter mused. The Coven followed the paint trail until it stopped in front of another door. "Yeah, we’re close to the clubhouse now. This is the equipment closet. We’d better stop in here and gear up. Who knows what might happen when we run into Trey."

The four each made their way through the gear, choosing something to protect themselves from whatever lay ahead. Peter chose a catcher’s mask and Smith picked out a chest protector. Janie took a pair of fingerless batting gloves – when asked why, she replied that she "thought they looked cool" – and everybody picked up a batting helmet, with the exception of Janie, who didn’t want to end up with hat hair. Drea picked up a baseball bat and started swinging it powerfully.

"Dude," remarked Smith. "Where’d you learn to do that?"

"I played softball in college," replied Drea, pulling her blonde hair out of her eyes. "Made all-conference team two years in a row and won the batting title my senior year."

"Note to self: don’t make Bride mad," quipped Peter, referring to Drea by her internet name. 

"So, where do we go from here?" Janie asked. "How far away is the dugout? I’ve never seen it up close." 

"Just out that door," Peter replied, pointing at a doorway at the far end of the room. "But I wouldn’t..." The rest of whatever Peter was going to say trailed off as Janie ran out the door just as Peter called, "Hey! Sunny, get back here!" He ran after her and found her standing on the dirt near home plate. "What did I say about using the buddy system?" 

Janie was silent and could only point, mouth gaping, toward the center field wall. Peter followed her outstretched finger and found, splashed in that same orange paint, another note: "ANOTHR CENTR FIELDR: DO NOT WANT!" 

Peter groaned in consternation. "Great. I can only imagine what they’re going to do to him when they see this." He and Janie walked back to the rest of the group, where Drea was giving Smith pointers on his swing. "Okay, I’ve got an idea of where Trey could be," he said. "Let’s go." 

Peter led the Coven through many various corridors and concourses, past all sorts of public and private areas of the ballpark, until they arrived near the immense Coca-Cola bottle and equally gigantic baseball glove beyond the left-field wall. He once again used his cousin’s very large key ring to let everyone inside a door just behind the stadium’s massive scoreboard. 

Once Peter closed the door, everything turned dark. From not very far away one could see a small light and hear the faint sounds of the familiar "Charge!" fanfare. Drea held her bat at the ready as the group slowly inched their way toward the sound. After a few more bars of "Charge!" the music changed to "Everybody Dance Now," and when they finally reached the source of the music, they found a black-haired man in a catcher’s mask and black baseball jersey playing yet another song on an organ. "How did he get that in here?" Peter whispered. "There’s never been an organ here before…" 

"Is that… the theme song to Monday Night Football?" Smith asked. "Dude, that’s the wrong sport!"

The organist spun around to face the Coven members and pushed his catcher’s mask to the top of his head. It was Trey. "What do you know?" he sneered. "Besides, it’s one of the few songs I know how to play." He stood up from his bench and walked over to them. "So, what have we here? It’s my dear friend Peter. What brings you and your friends to my humble lair?" He paused. "Isn’t it awesome? I’ve always wanted my own lair. I decorated it myself."

"Yeah, it’s very nice," Peter replied quickly, scanning the room, which was too dark to show exactly how it was decorated. "We came to find you, Trey. What in the name of Jesus, Matty, and Felipe Alou are you doing here?"

"Finally taking action. This team has only succeeded in tainting the once-great name of the San Francisco Giants. What was I supposed to do? So I decided it was time to show the management that I’m not going to take it anymore."

"What’re you going to do?" Janie asked meekly.

"Send them a message that they won’t soon forget. Directly above us is the Giants’ precious new hi-def scoreboard. And in this room are all the leftover fireworks from last season. I think a giant, sparkly explosion just might send them the message."

"You wouldn’t!" cried Peter, and he turned to Janie and Smith. "Sunny, Møøse, go find help. It shouldn’t be hard to…"

"I’m afraid you can’t do that," Trey laughed. "Don’t you know that it’s kind of stupid to close a strange door behind you, Peter? You’re all locked in here, same as me. And unfortunately, once those fireworks go, we’ll all be crushed under the large pile of dirt waiting for Sunday’s monster truck rally. A small price to pay, I suppose." He turned to Janie. "You probably should have put on a batting helmet like the others. We wouldn’t want that pretty little head of yours to get hurt, now would we?"

At that, Janie had started to sniffle and cry. Smith immediately put an arm around her shoulder and tried to console her. "He’s going to kill us," she whimpered. "I only wanted to help, and now we’re all going to die! They’re going to find us under a ton of dirt and stuff, and everybody will be sad and everything, but they’ll all be secretly thinking, ‘Holy crap, what a lame way to go!’" At this idea, Janie started to cry some more.

"You freak!" Drea shouted at Trey. She began to charge toward him with her baseball bat, but Peter kept her back.

"She’s right, you know," Peter began. "That is without a doubt the stupidest, most pointless plan I’ve ever heard of! Blow up a scoreboard? Geez! What were you thinking, man?!" He began to pace back and forth as he ranted. "Did it ever occur to you that maybe destroying half the stadium would only hurt the team? And to get yourself killed in the meantime? Wow. Way to go, genius!"

Trey had no response but to scuff his shoe against the concrete floor, like a child that was being scolded by a parent. "I don’t know," he muttered. "I’m sorry. I really am. It seemed like a good idea at the time…"

"It seemed like a good idea at the time..." Peter echoed sympathetically. "You poor sap. You got overemotional and you snapped. Come on, let’s get you home." Peter moved to put his arm around Trey’s shoulders and pull the catcher’s mask from Trey’s head. "Maybe you just need a break from baseball, a new sport to follow – a nice, quiet sport. How about hockey?"

"Hockey sounds good. The Sharks are in town this weekend," Trey added quietly, mentioning the team in nearby San Jose. "Can we get tickets?"

"Sure we can," Peter soothed. Trey allowed Peter to lead him toward the door, which opened without any problems. "I thought you said we were locked in here," Peter commented, to which Trey could only stare at the floor and mumble. With Janie and Smith close behind, Peter surreptitiously turned to Drea and whispered in her ear, "Call the front office and tell them we found Trey."

A few minutes later, as everybody walked through the ballpark, Drea whispered to Peter, "They called the police. They’ll be here in a few minutes."

Sure enough, when the group arrived at the front gate, a police cruiser was waiting. "Hey!" Trey shouted upon seeing the officers. "You said we could see the Sharks this weekend!"

"I’m sorry, Trey," Peter said. "They just want to ask you a few questions. "We’ll go see the Sharks next time you’re free."

"Yeah, in five to ten!" Trey retorted as the officers took him by the arms and escorted him into the car. "You are so off my season tickets list!"

Peter sighed as the car drove down the street. "Yeah, I know."

"That wasn’t exactly the nicest thing to do, you know," Drea pointed out. "Tricking him like that."

"I know," Peter sighed again. "But it had to be done. He’ll thank me someday, I hope."

"Hey, man," Smith interjected. "I’m going to take Janie home. Catch you around!"

"See ya. Take care!" Peter called after the leaving pair. "Say," he looked at Drea. "Could I interest you in some coffee?"

As Smith and Janie walked back to Smith’s car, he was still doing his best to cheer up his friend. "You gotta hear this. I was at your house yesterday, and your brother was making some cereal, and he pulled a knife out of the drawer instead of a spoon. So he’s looking at the knife and says, ‘I thought the dish ran away with the spoon. So does this make the dish a home wrecker or the spoon a whore?’ And I said to him..."

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