Read You Can Call Me Al Online

Authors: Crimson Cloak Publishing

You Can Call Me Al

 


You Can Call Me
Al”

by Doug
Rains

All Rights Reserved

Cover Art By
Helen Rusinoff
Edited By
Veronica Castle
Published by
Crimson Cloak Publishing

All Rights Reserved

Copyright October 2014

This book is a work of Fiction. Names,
characters, events or locations are fictitious or used
fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons or events, living
or dead, is entirely coincidental.

This book is licensed for private, individual
entertainment only. The book contained herein constitutes a
copyrighted work and may not be reproduced, stored in or introduced
into an information retrieval system or transmitted in any form by
ANY means (electrical, mechanical, photographic, audio recording or
otherwise) for any reason (excepting the uses permitted by the
licensee by copyright law under terms of fair use) without the
specific written permission of the author.

Chapter 1

Johnny Meyers was hurrying home from school,
and he was going to be in trouble. He had to stay in detention
after his last 8
th
grade class because he had made a
‘not so smart’ remark to one of his teachers. He was only trying to
be funny, but it had backfired; now he wasn’t going to be able to
finish his chores before dinner. He also had a note that his Mom
would have to sign, from the teacher who had detained him. It
described his lack of proper behavior. It had been raining all day
and Johnny had lost his new umbrella that his Mom had given him
this morning. Well he didn’t really lose it, when he went to the
cloak room it had been gone. Some other kid must have picked it up
while he was being detained.

Johnny lost his footing on the wet pavement,
tumbled over and fell flat on his face into a small puddle. His
math homework, that he had been doing while in detention, fell out
of one of his books, and was now lying face down on the wet
sidewalk. He got to his knees and slowly picked it up; it was
soaked, and his numeration was now illegible.

“Oh, no! 1 1/2 hours of work ruined, what
else could go wrong today?”

“Here, let me help you up.” Johnny’s eyes
darted up to a tall, sandy-haired man with blue eyes.

“Thank you, but I can manage,” Johnny said
as he struggled to his feet.

“What is that?” the sandy-haired man said,
pointing to the wet document in Johnny’s hand.

“It was my math homework: now it is
ruined.”

“May I see it?” Without waiting for a
response, the sandy haired man took the piece of paper and gently
held it up to his face.

Seconds later he handed it back to Johnny.
“Looks okay to me, but you made an error in one of your steps in
your third calculation. You subtracted instead of adding.”

Johnny looked at his homework in disbelief.
It was now perfectly dry and once again legible, and this man was
correct: he had made an error in the third problem.

“Here,” the man said. “Looks like you are in
need of one of these.”

He seemed to have produced a small umbrella
out of thin air.

“Sorry sir, but my Mom doesn’t want me to
accept gifts from strangers.”

“Someone is only a stranger for a second,
until you meet them; my name is Al, by the way. You are getting
soaked; here take this before you catch a cold.” Al shoved the
umbrella onto Johnny’s chest.

Johnny grasped hold of the small umbrella,
it looked a lot like the one he had lost, not exactly, but
similar.

“Well, thank you …”

Al had disappeared.


Well, maybe Mom won’t notice the
difference,”
Johnny thought as he set down his books for a
moment and opened the umbrella.


Who am I kidding, Mom always notices
stuff.”

Johnny was fortunate; his Mom only gave him
a 5 minute lecture about his detention after she signed the note
from his teacher. She did inquire why he had left with one umbrella
and came back with another. Johnny explained to her that while he
was staying after school some nasty kid had stolen the umbrella she
had given to him, then on his way home, some stranger had given him
an umbrella and before he could refuse the offer the man had
disappeared.

His Mom didn’t quite believe this story
because she frowned at him and gave him a cold stare: luckily the
phone rang, and his Mom got into a long conversation with a friend.
They had just finished dinner, so Johnny took up the dinner plates,
silverware and glasses and rinsed them off in the sink. His mom
would then load them in the dishwasher later. He then raced into
his room to finish his homework; he was off the hook for a while
anyway.

Johnny lived alone with his mother, Melody.
He had never really known his dad; he had left after Johnny was
born. His Mom wouldn’t talk about him very much, she just told
Johnny that his father had to “go away”.

The next day Johnny had softball practice
after school, it was cloudy and overcast but no showers had moved
back into the area. They were going to play another Jr. High
school’s team that Saturday. Johnny had gotten up early to complete
his chores that he had not finished the night before.

Johnny wasn’t one of the best players on the
team, in fact he may have been close to the worst. He probably
would just sit on the bench all day Saturday, but it was fun
practicing anyway.

The coach put them through some fielding and
hit and run drills. As the practice was coming to a conclusion,
Johnny spotted that man who had called himself Al. He was standing
by himself in left field halfway up the foul line.

Johnny ran over to him and asked “Are you a
new teacher here or something?”

“I am a teacher of sorts, Johnny, but I am
not assigned to this school.”

The school system had strict regulations
against strange adults hanging around the playgrounds where young
children congregated. The students had been encouraged to report
any suspicious activity.

“Are you following me? What do you
want?”

Before Al could answer, a couple of Johnny’s
teammates yelled over to him from the dugout.

“Hey Johnny, what are you doing over there
talking to yourself? Come into the dugout, the coach wants to give
us some last minute instructions before the game tomorrow.”

“Can’t they see you?” Johnny asked in
surprise.

“Yes they can, I am not invisible, but they
choose not to. I can cast an aura of indifference around myself.
Unless they are specifically looking for a person of my description
they won’t notice me. Now hurry, your coach is waiting.”

Johnny didn’t even try and attempt to
understand that last remark as he sprinted back to the dugout.


That Al guy sure is a little bit on the
strange side,”
Johnny thought, as he later walked home from
practice.
“Maybe I should tell Mom about him. No, I’ll just keep
it to myself for a while and see what happens, I don’t want to
worry Mom unnecessarily.”

Saturday came and despite another forecast
of rain it turned out to be a bright and sunny day. Both teams were
warming up on the field. This would be the last game before
graduation. As usual they would play 7 innings. Their coach called
them into the dugout and read off the starting line-up. As
suspected, Johnny would not be starting. Johnny had only gotten
into a few games this year, always during the last inning when his
team was either well ahead in runs or so far behind that it didn’t
matter anymore.

They were playing on their home field so the
other team came up to bat first. Two singles later, a tall lanky
kid came up and drove the ball over the left field fence. Just like
that, they were down 3 to 0. When Johnny’s team came up to bat in
the last half of the inning, Jason, their second baseman, hit a
sharp grounder between the third baseman and the shortstop. It went
out into left field and Jason tried to stretch it into a double.
The throw came in from the outfield and it looked like it was going
to be a close play at second. Jason slid hard into the base, just
beating the throw. His team cheered, and then the cheers quickly
subsided as Jason called time and began to hobble around. He kept
bending over and looking at his right ankle. The coach went out and
examined the injury, then helped Jason off of the field. His ankle
had swollen up like a balloon; the coach was going to have to send
him to the nurse who was on duty this morning. Jason would be out
for the rest of the game.

Second base was also Johnny’s position.
Maybe he would finally get into a game early. Johnny looked up
expectantly at his coach.

“Horace, go and pinch run for Jason and take
his place at second base next inning,” his coach instructed.

Johnny was crestfallen. Horace was a short
chubby kid, he could hit the ball pretty well but was not really a
good infielder. He was also very slow. Johnny wasn’t a good hitter
or fielder, but he could at least run fast.

Johnny watched Horace waddle out to second
base.
“Horace is as slow as a milk truck with four flat
tires,”
Johnny thought disdainfully.

Two outs later, Ken, their first baseman,
hit a sharp single to right. Horace chugged around third and the
coach waved him home. The right fielder threw a perfect strike to
the catcher and Horace was out by three feet.

“I could have made it,” Johnny said quietly
to himself.

It was now the top of the third inning and
Johnny’s team was still down 3 to 0. One of the opposing players
hit what looked like a routine grounder to second. The ball,
however, took a wicked hop and Horace misjudged it. It hit him
square in the throat and Horace went down like a sack of potatoes.
The coach and one of his teammates helped Horace off the field.

“Okay Meyers, I guess you are in,” his coach
said unenthusiastically.

Johnny was so excited he raced off the bench
without his glove.

“Here Johnny, you might need this,” the
coach said, as he tossed Johnny his glove.

The rest of his teammates laughed and Johnny
turned beet red as he ran out to take his position.

There was one out and there were runners on
first and third.


Oh please, don’t let the ball be hit to
me, I’m not quite settled yet,”
Johnny thought wishfully.

Johnny didn’t get his wish; a hard hit
ground ball was hit to his immediate right. Johnny could handle
grounders that were hit right to him but this was going to be
difficult. He tried to back hand the ball but knew he had missed
it, but instead of trickling out to right field the ball suddenly
lodged itself inside Johnny’s glove. Johnny looked at it in
surprise then stepped on second base and threw to first to try and
complete the double play.

Johnny had gotten too excited and had thrown
off balance. His coach had told him time and time again, to plant
his back foot before he tried to throw. Now his throw was going to
go wide and the other team would score another run. Somehow, Ken,
their 1
st
baseman, was able to spear Johnny’s errant
throw while keeping his foot on the base. The double play was
completed. Johnny shook his head in wonderment and trotted back to
the dugout.

“Good job, Johnny,” his coach said in
obvious surprise. Several of his teammates were patting him on his
back.

It was the bottom of the third inning. After
two quick outs it was Johnny’s turn at bat. Johnny noticed as he
stepped up to the plate that his teammates were getting their
gloves and preparing to take the field.


I guess they don’t have much faith in
me
,” he thought bitterly.

Johnny’s stomach felt like mush, he stood at
the plate and timidly waved his bat. The opposing pitcher smiled
and seemed to sense another quick out.

The first pitch was inside. Johnny tried to
back away but the ball hit his bat and rolled foul.

Strike one!

The next pitch was low, Johnny tried to
check his swing but he had already followed through.

Strike two!

The next delivery was way outside; Johnny
was too anxious and swung anyway. As he went through his swing the
ball suddenly curved back inside and caromed off his bat. The ball
sailed into left center field and dropped between the two
outfielders. Johnny was so excited he almost tripped getting out of
the batter’s box. As he rounded first base he noticed that the
centerfielder had just caught up with the ball. Johnny made it into
second base, standing up.

There were yells and squeals of approval
from his teammates. His coach looked on in quiet disbelief.

The next batter hit a slow grounder that
just made it through the infield past the 1
st
baseman.
The right fielder charged the ball but he had been playing a little
deeper then he should have and Johnny rounded third and ran like
his life depended on it towards home plate. Johnny beat the throw
easily and scored his team’s first run.

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