The start of a novel about someone who thinks his father was the Boston Strangler.
"Gail, that is the most difficult question. What would make me happy? I feel a bit like a contestant for the Miss USA pageant, wanting to respond with some bull about world peace, preventing hunger around the globe, and topping it off with an answer to the federal deficit. But while those things may help me, it would not make me happy."
"I would love to drop a few pounds and meet the last true love of my life, but that seems a bit incomplete. I guess the one item that could bring me a level of happiness is knowledge. I want to know why your mother sold that 57 Chevy to my father for a buck and the significance of whatever may have been locked away for the past 50 years in that safety deposit box he shared with John Bateman, for that matter, who the heck is this Bateman? I want to know more about how our families are connected and why my father's behavior seems odd."
Maybe even more immediately; it would make me happy now if sharing our first kiss would be welcomed, I wonder.
Leaning forward and tilting my head slightly with eyes closed, our lips meet for the first time, and in the back of my mind, I can hear Jay and the Americans singing this magic moment as a cool breeze lightly brushes my arms, causing goose bumps to appear on my arms; or was the kiss pushing this physical reaction. In the time it takes to share this kiss, I almost forget everything else, the car, the key to the safe deposit box, and the ill feeling I get when thinking about my family's past.
Prolog July- 1959
A sun-filled summer day, and no better place to be than Pynchon Park, the home field for the Springfield Giants. Well, no better place if you don't have cash and time to travel to a big-league park in either Boston or New York. But to see the big Giants, you had to travel over 3,000 miles to San Francisco to the left coast. No wonder many local fans were turning toward the Red Sox and an aging Teddy Ballgame or, even worse, toward the Yankees and a youthful Mickey Mantle. The times were changing.
The peanut vendor sold old stale peanuts that had been slightly heated in a pizza oven. Finding a sale among a trio of older men, each wearing a white dress shirt with open collars, the hacker tosses three bags of peanuts as the single dollar is passed back. A decent profit is made a bit sweeter when one gent nods and lip sync, "Keep the change."
As the three men snap open peanuts before the start of the game, the oldest asks, "Whatever happened to Carl? He hasn't been to a game in weeks; he was the first one except for Leo the Lip to predict great things for Juan Marshall."
"Leo also has not been around; baseball became less important to him when he lost the job running the Giants. I bet if he had been involved in the decision to move the team, he would have favored leaving the team in New York. As far as Carl, ever since he married that young thing a couple of years ago, he has become scarce. Fewer and fewer ball games, poker games, and forget about any time at Smithy's."
"I don't mean to interrupt but look at that kid warming up? He has one very odd delivery with the high leg kick. We better have cannon at the backstop, or the other team will be stealing bases faster than the Dillinger robs banks." the rotund man, with a stain of unknown origins that would usually be hidden behind his tie, remarked. "Is that Marshall?"
"You need to wake up! Juan Marichal, not Marshall, and you better take a picture; he won't be in Springfield much longer. They may steal bases on him, but that is only after discovering a way to get on base. Just the type of hurler Carl would have liked. Has anyone spoken to Carl lately? I stopped by the paper mill a week ago but was told he had not been at work in a long time; they canned him."
"Nah, maybe we should look for him; think getting married to a gal 20 years younger caused him to have a late-night heart attack? Should we start calling the hospitals?"
No words were spoken between the three baseball fans as the band was playing the national anthem from Classical High School.
Not more than a deep fly ball from Pynchon Park, an older woman dressed in an old floral dress and white hair wrapped in a bun under a hair net made the worst decision of her life. She opened the door for the handyman. The man was dressed in coveralls with grease stains and completed with his name sewed above his left pocket, proclaiming him to be "Carlton." His tool belt was holding various tools that rattled as he walked into the apartment, his slight limp not noticeable to anyone not looking for it.
"Hello, thanks for coming over on a Saturday. I still appreciate all you have done with these silly repairs over the years. My late husband, Bill was as good at these repairs as you are; then again, he was hard to motivate.
"Liz, I am happy to lend a hand even if my wife does not fully understand why I would spend time doing this for you. She knows the circumstances behind how we became friends, but I can't convince her that she doesn't need to be jealous.
The woman moves toward the radio on the table and turns it on; I almost forgot that the ballgame would start; the least I can do is tune into it. As she listened to the announcement of the visitor's line-up while watching her friend, the repairman limping toward her ice box, she remembered a day many years ago, a day she had not forgotten even with the passage of twenty years or more. "Bill would listen to the games as well. As much as I used to complain about it, I now miss Bill and the sounds of that Curt Gowdy."
As the star-spangled banner played on the radio, the slim-faced man took a couple of tools from his belt and turned to the woman "Liz, hang in there. You will someday be reunited with Bill, as I am sure he also misses you. I want to think he is keeping an eye on you and will be ready to welcome you to the pearly gates real soon."