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Standing In Shadows - 2. Chapter 2


As I slid into the driver’s seat of my blue Pontiac G6, which I received after our team went to the state finals. Dad was proud of me when I passed for over four hundred yards in the game before with no interceptions. It had been the best game I had played, but we lost the next game and the car was the only good thing that came out of the hard loss that year. The park wasn’t that far away from the house as this part of town was more spaced out it allowed for a large playground park to be built. It had been neglected through the years since there wasn’t much use for it other than for the parties and camp outs on the hidden side of the park near the river.

When I arrived I saw a large group of people setting up the grassy part of the open park for the baseball game. I didn’t recognize some of them, but others I knew from school. I parked the car and slid out of the seat after I closed the door I saw everyone stop what they were doing to look in my direction. That was when I noticed Jenny standing off to the side with her friends Katy and Amber. I let out a sigh walking up to them not liking the glares I received from Jenny. I wanted to turn around and leave, but the attention I had already received would make me look like a coward and everyone from school already knew of the break up Jenny and I had before prom.

“Hey,” I said as Greg walked away from the group of people and shook my hand.

“No glove?” Greg asked as he examined me. I shrugged ready to be dismissed for not being prepared.

“I told you I didn’t play much baseball,” I answered then he walked around me to his green jeep. He opened the door and flipped up the driver’s seat. When he closed the door he had an extra glove.

“I figured,” he responded, “you better hope it fits.”

“I probably won’t be any good so it doesn’t really matter,” I said as we walked towards the others.

“We ready to play Greg?” Someone I didn’t know asked when we stopped.

“Yeah before we lose daylight,” Greg answered, “Corey these are my friends Aaron, Jimmy, and Sam.”

“Hey,” I greeted as they each shook my hand. They were all college guys around the same age or older than Greg.

“The star quarterback not have to work?” Jenny asked causing me to look at her. I frowned when I saw her cross her arms. She was still mad at me, I knew that and I was planning on avoiding her until next year when she’d move on and forget all about me.
“Yeah,” I answered, “congrats for Sara on getting married.”

“Whatever,” she snapped rolling her eyes, “you’re not invited your parents are.”

“High school lover spats,” Sam said, “do you remember those Jimmy?”

“Sure do,” he said as they both smirked. I glanced at Greg who looked just as amused as everyone else and I wanted to leave. Jenny looked less angry with me and more embarrassed that she had made a scene in front of everyone and I was relieved when she grunted and stomped off to the other side of the made up baseball field.

“Now if that’s over with we can play let’s pick teams,” Aaron said as he punched his fist into his glove. “Greg and I are team captains.”

“Right,” Greg said and we flip a coin for first choice.

“That’s fine,” Aaron agreed shoving Greg playfully, “you’re still going down though.”

“Call it in the air Aaron,” Sam instructed as he placed the quarter on his thumb ready to flip it. When Greg nodded Sam sent the quarter flying in the air above our heads.

“Tails,” Aaron called and Sam opened the palm of his hand and let the quarter land in it. He then closed his fist and then opened it again for everyone to see. Aaron had won the coin toss ass everyone lined up ready for the picking to begin.

“That means Greg plays offense first,” Jimmy said taking his spot beside me. As Aaron took his time looking everyone over I glanced around as well and noticed that most of the guys I knew was on the baseball team in high school. Football had always overshadowed them in the town, but I was in the same social circles as a lot of them as was Jenny.

“Alright I’ve made my decision,” Aaron said, “I’ll take the tall guy what’s your name again?”

“Me?” Bryan asked pointing to his chest. He was the centerfielder for the baseball team and probably one of the better athletes in town. “Bryan.”

“Well Bryan you’re on my team get your ass over here,” Aaron responded and Bryan walked over to stand beside Aaron. I was picked next by Greg, which surprised me after I told him that I didn’t really know anything about baseball. Then Aaron picked Jimmy and when all the guys were chosen the three girls were left standing and waiting to be picked.

“Amber,” Greg picked but she held up her hands. She didn’t have a glove with her like Jenny and Katy. Amber was one of the most high maintenance girls I knew. She didn’t like sports and only did cheerleading to look good in the uniform and to get in free to games. She didn’t know how to do the stunts that the other girls did, but she was small so she ended up being on the top of any pyramid and even then she seemed scared to be part of it. “Alright then Katy.”

“Not going with the ex?” Aaron asked as he looked in my direction. I frowned and diverted my gaze to the ground hoping to get the gave started and over with so that I could escape the embarrassment Jenny and I had already caused one another.

“Shut up Aaron,” Jenny said, “you may be my future brother in law’s brother, but it doesn’t mean I have to like you.”

“Right back at ya babe,” he said laughing as she took a swing with her glove he dodged her then started jogging out on the field, “let’s get this game going.”

“You’re batting first,” Greg said, “Aaron is going to be pitching and he throws the ball pretty good.”

“I’ll probably mess up,” I said as I grabbed the light weight aluminum bat and stepped up to home plate, which was a small bright orange plate that had probably been bought just for this game. I looked down and saw that the price sticker was still on it. When the first pitch went past me I let out a breath that I was holding and watched as Aaron caught the ball that was thrown back to him by Bailey another baseball player. I took a swing at the second ball and missed, but the momentum I had took me on around and I had to struggle to keep from falling to the ground.

“Watch it there bud it’s just a ball,” Bailey said an I looked down to see him ducking, “you about took off my head.”

“Sorry,” I responded, “I’ve not played this too many times.”

“Your Dad keep you practicing with that arm? Bailey asked as he held up his hand telling Aaron to wait a few seconds.

“Of course,” I answered annoyed that I didn’t know how to do anything fun, but play football.

“Don’t close your eyes and just watch the ball and count to four and swing,” he instructed and I nodded my head, “but you owe me a strike out next inning for giving you tips.”

“Deal,” I responded as the ball was released, I counted in my head watching the ball. When my bat connected with a metal clink I dropped it and took off running towards first base. The ball was a fly ball and when Jimmy stopped running I smiled. I had hit a home run. Small orange flags had marked the end of the outfield and the ball bounced a few feet beyond that. So I jogged around the bases looking at the group of guys ready to congratulate me on my hit. When I touched home plate Bailey stood and grabbed my elbow stopping me.

“That was your first and last tip,” Bailey said as he playfully shoved me on past him.

“For a guy that doesn’t know shit about baseball you did great,” Greg said as he patted me on the shoulder.

“Lucky shot,” I countered modestly as Katy stepped up to bat second. Unlike Jenny and Amber she played softball during the spring and when she hit a ground ball past third base she was able to run to first safely. I watched Aaron stomp around the pitcher’s circle after Katy got on base. He was competitive and I couldn’t help but laugh when Greg got a hit after Jenny ran from the ball that would’ve been the first out for Aaron’s team. It was hit well enough to get Katy home and Greg to second. After a few more batters were up it was finally our turn to play defense. Greg was able to score as well before Aaron’s team got the three outs and when Greg handed me the ball I tried to give it back to him.

“You’re pitching, show off that football arm,” he said and I looked down at the small baseball in my hand.

“You’re shitting me right?” I asked again trying to give him the baseball.

“Look I can’t pitch worth shit and I want to win,” he answered smiling, “so win the ball game for me bud.”

“Yeah right,” I countered as I turned in the pitcher’s circle to see Aaron waiting for me to start pitching.

“Get things sorted out?” He said as he took a practice swing.

“Yeah,” I answered, “can I have some practice?”

“Nope,” he responded smirking and adjusting his sunglasses as he stepped close to the plate ready for me to pitch.

“Damn,” I whispered as I looked at the catcher’s glove trying to talk convince myself to calm down. I had to wipe the sweat from the palm of my hand and when I threw the ball as hard as I could I watched as it hit the ground right in front of the plate and bounced over the catcher’s head. I heard people laughing and I shuffled my feet in the grass not wanting to try again. The ball was quickly recovered and thrown back to me and I rolled the ball around in my glove. The second pitch was better, but it was still too low for Aaron to hit. I saw the catcher shake his glove as I had thrown the ball too hard. When Greg jogged up beside me I glanced at him.

“You’re throwing the ball like a football,” he said and I turned to look at him.

“That’s because I am a football player,” I responded shaking my head, “how else am I supposed to throw a ball?”

“Well you have to pick a spot on the plate where you want the ball to go and you don’t always have to throw it as hard as you can,” he explained stepping behind me. He grabbed my arm then put his hand on the back of my hip on the small of my back. I wanted to move away from him, but his firm hand kept me still. “Now move your hips slightly to the side and lift your leg closer to home plate before you release so that you steady the momentum.”

“Right,” I said, “like they do it on television.”

“Yeah,” Greg said laughing as he stopped touching me and moved to stand beside me, “think you go it?”

“Probably not,” I answered, but he turned and jogged back to second base anyway.

“You two lovers done talking?” Aaron asked and I wanted to hit him with the baseball when he asked.

“You ready to strike out?” I asked as confidently as I could while I remembered what Greg told me and picked out the spot of the plate I wanted to send the ball over and lifted my leg letting the ball go. I watched as the better technique paid off and Aaron took a swing missing the ball.

“There you go,” Greg called out behind me, “now pick a different speed and a different spot.”

“Ok,” I said as I concentrated on the second pitch, but when Aaron hit it I watched as the right fielder caught the ball. I let out a sigh of relief, but I was able to strike out the next two batters.

By the end of the long game Greg’s team had won. Aaron didn’t like it, but as soon as the park’s field was cleared away Greg and his friends were back to joking and goofing around in the small group. My arm was tired, a lot more tired than it had been playing football. I knew Dad wouldn’t like me using my arm like this, but I wasn’t going to tell him that the throbbing in my arm was starting to hurt when I got back home. Everyone was starting to leave as the sun was setting and I looked down at Greg’s glove and ball still in my hands then over at him standing in the middle and talking. I saw him smiling and laughing with them and I hesitated in disrupting them.
“Can we talk?” Jenny asked surprising me as she leaned against my car.

“About what?” I asked not really wanting to talk to her right now.

“About what happened before prom,” she answered crossing her arms and looking down at her shoes.

“I thought we talked through that already,” I stated but leaned against the car a few inches from her. I pulled the glove off my hand and put the ball in it before I laid it on the roof of my car.

“Why did you dump me before prom?” She asked, “I mean the real reason I know your Dad wanted you to go with me and everything so don’t lie.”

“I don’t like proms,” I answered shrugging, “and you were making too big of a deal about it, I’m sorry though.”

“Well prom is a big deal,” she countered, “and I really liked you Corey.”

“I wasn’t looking for a long term relationship Jen,” I said not wanting to hurt her, but the look on her face made me realize that I was going to hurt her regardless of what I said.

“Then why did we date for as long as we did?” She asked, “just to end it before prom.”

“You got another date,” I said as I avoided the question, “it’s not like you went alone.”

“And I hated it,” she hissed as she reached up and wiped tears from her cheeks. I wanted to hold her as I hated to see girls crying, especially over something that I did to them.

“Come here,” I whispered as I held out both my arms. She looked at me for a few seconds then stepped into them and I wrapped her into a hug.

“You smell like sweat,” she said and I smiled, but looked past her to see Aaron, Jimmy, Sam, and Greg looking over at me. I wanted to break the hug, but when I heard her sniffle my attention was brought back to her.

“I’m sorry I hurt you,” I responded, “and that I made our junior prom suck, can’t we just be friends?”

“I don’t know if we can be friends,” she whispered stepping a step back breaking the hug. “I really had feelings for you and you’re hot and I really wanted us to be together after prom.”

“What do you mean?” I asked growing nervous. I hoped no one else could hear what we were talking about.

“I mean I wanted us to have sex,” she said, “after prom.”

“Jen!” I hissed, “we’re too young for that.”

“No we’re not,” she countered smiling, “I thought we were close enough to take the next step.”

“I wasn’t ready for something like that,” I responded lowering my voice. I could feel my face getting hot when she studied me. She looked confused and disgusted at the same time and I didn’t like the look at all.

“What kind of guy passes up sex?” She asked crossing her arms, “unless you’re gay.”

“I’m a gentleman,” I responded, “and if you’re gonna call me a fag go ahead, I just didn’t want to.”

“Calm down,” she said grabbing my arms and uncrossing them. I saw that the others had abandoned Greg and were starting their cars and leaving. “I don’t think that.”

“Good,” I sighed, “can we talk about this later I really gotta get home.”

“Yeah me too,” she answered smiling, “nice talking to you again Corey.”

“Yeah goodnight,” I said as she walked around me as I leaned back against the car and ran my hand through my sweat dried short hair. It was the first time that I had been called gay and it sent chills through my body as I replayed Jenny’s voice saying the words over in my head.

“You two back together?” Greg asked and I looked at him. He was standing by the mirror of my car and I hadn’t heard him approach.

“No,” I answered, “not going to be either.”

“It seemed like you two had patched things up,” he said, “wanna talk about it?”

“No,” I responded getting defensive, “I don’t even know you I just wanted to get out of the damn house.”

“Hold on there,” Greg said waving his hands, “sorry I guess it’s still an issue with the two of you.”

“I thought it was over,” I said as I slid down the side of my car to sit in the grass no longer wanting to leave to go home. “She don’t want it to be though.”

“So you want to talk about it now?” He asked still standing by the mirror. I looked up at him and he offered me a careful smile.

“I guess I had this coming,” I said not answering his question. He took it as a yes anyway and sat down beside me. I was surprised when our legs touched as he crossed his. I glanced down at them before I turned and looked straight ahead.

“What did you have coming?” Greg asked and I leaned my head against the car.

“Her hating me for dumping her before prom,” I answered and I waited for Greg to say the same things Jenny had, but when he started laughing I turned to look at him.

“Sorry dude,” he said, “but you have balls for dropping a chick before prom.”

“I guess so,” I commented not liking that he was laughing at me, but I found myself grinning when he tried to stop himself.

“I mean really,” he said, “prom is right underneath wedding day in their list of importance.”

“It was our junior prom,” I said shrugging, “and I didn’t want to go in the first damn place.”

“Well you dumped her,” he said, “why did you dump her?”

“She wanted to be serious and I couldn’t be,” I answered shrugging, “does that sound bad?”

“Not at all,” he answered, “you’re still kids no one expects you to be serious.”

“I’m not a kid,” I grunted shooting him a glare. He seemed amused by it, but never apologized.

“Yeah,” he said breaking the silence as he stood, “so no more Jenny and you?”

“No,” I answered, “even if Dad and her wants it to happen I don’t want it to.”

“Have your sights set on someone else then?” He asked as he offered his hand to help me to my feet.

“No,” I answered as he pulled me to my feet. “All free for the summer.”

“Good,” Greg responded and I studied him then I felt him let go of my hand. When he glanced down at his watch he shrugged. “What time do you gotta be back?”

“I don’t know,” I answered. “I’ve never had the summer away from work before.”

“Really?” He asked. “Then we can’t have you coming home too early.”

“You think I won’t be pushing it if I stay out longer?” I asked glancing down at my own watch and saw that it was approaching nine. It wasn’t late, but I wouldn’t have too much time before I would be expected home to go to work the next morning.

“Like you said, you’re not a kid,” he answered smiling. “I’ve been forced to stay in this little town all summer to attend a wedding so.”

“Yeah so you’re one of the best men?” I asked remembering the wedding that I still didn’t know if I would be invited to.

“Yes,” he answered. “I also happen to hate weddings and shit.”

“Me too,” I added and he smiled and looked over at his car. He hadn’t gotten a haircut earlier so he ran his fingers through his hair, but the baseball game and sweat had ruined his styling.

“There’s a party going on, but I don’t know where,” he said turning back to face me. “Do you know?”

“Probably in the old logging fields next to the river,” I answered shrugging. “It’s where they always are, but I’ve never been to one.”

“Hard working schedule and such?” He asked and I nodded. “Want to go check it out then?”

“You’ll be partying with a bunch of high school kids,” I said not wanting to go. I knew who had their parties there and I didn’t want to go. The only three people that I didn’t get along with.

“Beer is beer,” he said shrugging. “So you comin?” I studied him for a few seconds after he invited me to come along. He seemed like he’d be disappointed if I didn’t go with him. I didn’t know him that well and he had other friends, which made me curious about the attention he was giving me. Not having my two best friends here to enjoy the summer with would mean a long boring summer.

“Sure, I’ll go,” I responded and he smiled.

“Fantastic,” he said as he walked around to the passenger seat of my car and opened the door sliding in. I opened the door and got into the car as well. He looked at me as I started the car and backed out of the park field and started down the road deeper into the neglected side of the small town we lived in. The smoke off in the distance let us know that we were headed in the right direction and when I found tire tracks in the field I turned and followed them. It was a long bumpy road to the secluded clearing beside the river, but when we arrived and parked I saw the party was already well known about. I was surprised though to see Jen at the party hanging all over Cj. The very person that I would consider my enemy in High School, his father once owned a highly successful farm, but when he sold it to developers he quickly became the richest. Now he was the mayor and that meant Cj got to do anything he wanted, even have illegal parties on private property like this.

“For kids you guys know how to put on a party,” Greg stated as he opened the car door and I followed him. When we both closed the doors behind us a few people glanced in our direction then instantly ignored us again. I let some of my guard down when that happened, hoping that I would just disappear into the crowd of people and maybe enjoy the first party.

“When are you going to stop callin us kids?” I asked shoving his shoulder. He stumbled, almost falling. I wanted to apologize but he just shook his head.

“Watch it you jock,” Greg countered. “Not know your own strength?”

“Don’t want to mess with these guns,” I answered posing and flexing. He laughed and I let my arms relax as we walked up to the crowd of people. Cj had the back of his truck loaded down with coolers full of beer and he had his gas grill fired up cooking burgers. His friend Clinton had his car radio blasting with his windows down, the high powered speakers made the car and the ground around it vibrate when we got closer. The only light was the large bonfire off to the side close to the slow flowing river.

“Looks like none of my friends cared to tell me they changed their plans,” Greg said as he scanned the crowd. I didn’t see them either and I was hoping this would make him want to leave. When he casually walked up to one of the coolers and grabbed a bottle of beer I watched as he twisted the bottle cap then offered the opened beer to me. I accepted it then looked down at the brown bottle. When he clanked his own bottle to mine I looked up and he smiled. “To a free summer.”

“Yeah,” I agreed then took a small drink of my beer. Still not liking the taste I faked another smile.

Copyright © 2014 Krista; All Rights Reserved.
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You know baseball and pink do kind of go together. :P So is Corey going to fall for the college boy?

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On 07/01/2011 07:25 PM, Foster said:
You know baseball and pink do kind of go together. :P So is Corey going to fall for the college boy?
Might. ;)
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Baseball can be so boring :P Not a game I know much about. What´s wrong with Corey´s arm?

Why has Corey´s summer work prevented him from doing other summer stuff, like parties? Surely he hasn´t worked every day and all day?

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