Two Must Pull Each Arm

I jumped out of the water first. I scampered up the hill of ice as he clawed his way to the crest of the hill where he could stand. Just as he got a foothold, he turned and spotted Leon and Dalton coming up from the water.

“Come on, come on!” I exclaimed, “Get up the hill, hurry!” Leon didn’t need to be told twice, as he was already well in the ascent. Dalton paused to stare at me with a look of horror in his eyes. There was no time to waste as Greg and Carlton bumped up behind him, and pushed him forward. Poor Dalton, it was his first real swim.

I stood at the little ledge of the hill pointing the others toward where Leon stood catching his breath. Watch the water! Keep count, you fool! There’s Edward. Watch the water! Harry, Allan, Tyrone. Watch the water! Oh no, where is Bill? “Frank, Wendell, you’ll never make it; that side is too steep! Come up this side! Where is Bill? Stephen, Max. Watch the water! Ulysses, John. Watch the water! Bill, oh good, there’s Bill.”

Bill hurried up beside me as Roger and Quincy filed past us toward the others. “I have my group; it looked like it had us for a second, but we are alright.” He told me. I nodded, “That’s better than we usually do. Keep an eye on the others, and keep an eye on Dalton; make sure he doesn’t panic.”

Suddenly, Tyrone shouted from the top of the hill. His fin pointed in the direction of the water. Bill and I turned our heads toward the water, and spotted a large black line in the distance. As it neared, the water tailed off on both sides, and the line grew inch by inch, second by second. I ushered Bill up the hill with Xavier, and motioned the brothers Nathan and Oliver away from the sleek ledge Frank tried to scale earlier. Pascal came up from the water, but saw me waving at the brothers; he called the determined pair in his unique and vulgar way, and both immediately hastened towards us. I turned once again at the black fin that rose from the water we swam across in fear and desperation not too long ago. Where I stood wasn’t so safe either, so I waddled up the hill just behind the other three, when Bill screamed from the top. The look in his eyes spelled trouble, and the others around him knew it as well.

“Kevin! Where’s Kevin?!” Bill exclaimed. The count, ye gods, I forgot the count! I forgot to wait for Kevin. I turned and found an injured Kevin paddling in the water ahead of the oncoming black line; his arm was sore from the diving training session we had back home, and in all the panic he injured it again. I could hear him calling me for help as he choked on the water splashing into his throat, but I couldn’t move. The black line, as big as it was, began sinking into the water as it approached our little glacier. The black line. That black line. That small black line. That small black tip.

Kevin was near the edge of the ice flow, when I heard a commotion coming from Bill and the others behind me. As I turned my head, Dalton bumped into me as he slid down to Kevin!

“Dalton, no, it’s too late!” I said.

“Let me go! We can save him!” Dalton argued, pushing away as best he could. The black tip was getting closer to Kevin now, but Kevin couldn’t climb up with his injured arm.

“Dalton, no!”

“Kevin!” Dalton put up a fight, and broke loose! Quickly, he slid the rest of the way, and grabbed Kevin’s good arm. At that moment, the black tip behind Kevin disappeared, and the sea slowly became calm. We all stood in silence as the splashing waters receded, and all we could hear was Dalton struggling and Kevin gasping for breath as Dalton pulled his friend out of the water. I could hear Kevin’s words to Dalton.

“Thank you.” He said. Dalton nodded, and they looked at me as they walked up the hill.

I wanted to say something, but I forgot what it was.

Suddenly, the black tip arose from the water revealing the massive whale underneath! Its mouth opened up from out of the water casting a shadow over Dalton, Kevin, and the knob of ice beneath their feet. I heard their screams mere seconds before the mouth of the whale closed down on them and shot pools of water all over me and that half of the ice flow. The force of the whale crashing on the ice knocked me to the ground, and I rolled over as the water splashed on me like a waterfall.

I couldn’t hear Kevin. I couldn’t hear Dalton. I couldn’t even hear the whale.

There was genuine silence for a minute, before my ears could hear Pascal screaming from the top of the hill. Meanwhile, Xavier was on his stomach, Nathan and Oliver were standing in shock, and Wendell walked several feet away from the group to where some new snow drifted the night before and vomited. Everyone else was crying, but not Bill. No, Bill just tilted his head at me, and shook his head. Still numb to the shock, I stood up, and turned towards the gaping hole in the side of the glacier a few meters away…

“What do you always tell me, Bill? ‘Two penguins must grab each arm’. Yes, that’s it. Two must pull each arm.”

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The Baseball Stain

ty_cobb_sliding2-edit1Baseball is unique to any other team sport because individual accomplishments or failures, compiled over a season or in one game, determine the success of a team as a whole. Ever since I started playing the sandlot game in 2008, I collected numerous jerseys, pants, and knee high socks, and each stain or tear tells a different story.

One such story is of the unsure rookie who caught a deep fly ball over his shoulder in left field, and for his effort made a deep grass stain behind his left shoulder on a steamy Saturday afternoon in June. Then, there was the overconfident back shortstop one cold and rainy August, who muffed a catchable pop fly, tracked mud all over his gear, and watched as the next batter laced a triple in deep left centre field gap scoring the tying and winning runs in that game.

How about the mud splattered pants with the blue piping that were ruined six years ago, the black baseball socks torn the day the MCL went bad, or the blood-stained Colorado Rockies jersey (that’s a story for another time)? Keep in mind, there were more good stories than bad, such as looking at a black Pirates jersey with pride and flashing back to the night my old church team won the city championship.

 

A common thread links every baseball story, much less every baseball stain collected in the last seven years: That person, whoever they are, has a purpose, a goal, and a dream tied to every pitch, hit, and run, however that person was part of something much larger. True, the actions of that individual were integral to the success of the team, but just as significant the success of the team is integral to the development of the individual. Baseball is weird that way.

Facing 2016 and an uncertain future, I pray there will be opportunities to tell more baseball stories, and make more baseball stains. Living with the same hustle and heart expressed on the diamond is the best way to find more of those opportunities. That’s the only connection I have to the sandlot player, and I owe it to them and the team in this life to drive and succeed.

Epilogue

If you do play baseball, it’s best to dirty your jersey at some point during the game. Most people won’t remember how you dirtied your gear, but they’ll assume you did it doing something fantastic. 😄 ⚾️

 

Care Bears: The Running Joke

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SHE’S GOING TO KILL ME FOR TELLING THIS STORY

Do you ever tell a joke everyone knows is fake, but you inadvertently convince someone it’s real, so you go along with it anyway? Disclaimer: I don’t advocate lying to your friends. What started out originally out of jest blossomed into a four-year running joke full of intrigue, wild storytelling, and a beloved bunch of plush bears spreading goodness and happiness to all they encounter.

During my days in university, I convinced one of my friends there were several Care Bears movies. Originally, it was a joke, but she entered the room in the middle of a conversation about non-Disney animated films from our childhood days, and she overheard me musing about the potential for the Care Bears franchise, if they made a darker movie called Care Bears V: The Search For Noble. For the next two minutes, I conjured a lame storyline about how one of the first Care Bears crash landed in the malaise of crime-ridden New York in the late seventies, and how Noble “rose above the muck and mire to show humans a better way.”

Care Bears V: The Search For Noble was one thing, but as she asked about other films I recalled old Care Bears classics like Care Bears VII: Return To Care-A-Lot, Care Bears IX: Legend of the Doomsday Device, and my personal favourite Care Bears XII: The Battle of California. With help from a Second World War theory book, which analyzes different “what if” scenarios in the Pacific Theatre of the war, I told her in detail about “that famous dogfight scene” in the twelveth instalment of the Care Bears movie series, how No-Heart went back in time to help the Japanese win the Battle of Midway over the Americans, and how the Care Bears traveled back in time to 1942 to stop No-Heart’s invasion and destruction of the southern California coast.

I never knew I could spin a story like that, and parts of me even wished such movies would be true, but eventually the plot holes and misquoted movie titles caught up with me. “They’re fake, you know?” I said.

“What’s fake?” She questioned.

“All of it. All the Care Bears movies; they don’t exist.” I replied.

“Oh, I knew that.” She responded, much to my surprise.

“You knew I made up the whole thing?” Now I was perplexed. “Why didn’t you tell me, then I wouldn’t make up so many movie titles and wacky storylines?”

“You seemed so good at making up stories on the fly. I didn’t want to stop your funky flow.” She answered. “Also, I went to the video store, and ask if they had Care Bears VI: The Death of Tenderheart, and the clerk just looked at me funny.” She then left for her next class.

So, it was all a hoax. Spellbound by the story I spun, I sat down and asked “Did Braveheart really reveal No-Heart’s secret identity in CB12?”