Triptychs – Chapter 28




I sat there on the grass for long seconds, then; blinking, trying to take it all in.


Noah, as Captain of his baseball team. Well, co-Captain; but. Still.


Noah, as star athlete. Some kind of star athlete, anyway; if he could stand out in this group of running, throwing, athletically-gifted boys . . .


Actually, that was getting easy to believe; I watched him toss up another ball, and hit it with casual skill, his upper body twisting gracefully, the ‘Ting!’ of the bat, again, as the ball sailed over to the far outfield, away from me . . .


Another pause, for the ball to be caught, and thrown in again. Then – “Two outs, one runner on First,” the coach called out. I saw him say something to Noah, quietly; and Noah lofted up the ball again, and hit it gently towards third base, with a milder ‘Ting!’


Noah wanting to be a priest. Having wanted to be a priest, anyway . . .



I was going to have to think about that.



I mean, I’m not particularly religious . . . but. I was born Irish Catholic, I went to Catholic parochial school ‘til I was eleven . . . my uncles go to Mass every Sunday, well, except for Uncle Dennis . . .


Yeah. I was going to have to deal, with that.


“Two outs, bases loaded,” from the coach; then – “Oh, and it’s the bottom of the ninth, and you’re ahead three-nothing!”


And I watched as Noah tossed the ball up, higher this time, and he hit it HARD, harder than ever, ‘TING!’, his whole body twisting gracefully this time, just so beautifully –


The ball sailed high up and long, and two outfielders went pelting after it, again, one of them yelling “Ball! Ball!”


Well. Would-be priest or not – I knew one thing, anyway; I was missing out, stuck where I was. I wanted, I REALLY wanted, to get some better shots of Noah hitting like this . . . I might never get another chance. It was beautiful, what he was doing, and I was too far away, and at too poor an angle, to capture it right.


So, I did what any good photographer would do. I packed up my gear in a hurry, and I trotted in along the first-base-line to the empty bench under the chain-link fence and the stands, just a few feet away from home plate; and then I set up really quick, again, and began taking pictures. REAL pictures; the ones I wanted to take.


Hey. Photographers who ask for permission, who are afraid of trespassing . . .


Well; I take that back. If someone always asks for permission, if someone’s afraid of trespassing . . . they’re not a photographer. I guarantee it.


“One out, runners on second and third!” called out the coach, CLOSE now –


And I watched, through the viewfinder, as Noah tossed up the ball again –


This time I could see it. And get it; in burst mode.




Noah, holding the bat in one hand, tossing up the ball with his other hand.




His trunk, twisting; both hands on the bat, now, as he swung at the ball. The hollow of his throat, bare, where his t-shirt was unbuttoned; pale, in the winter light.




The graceful curve of his body, his whole body, as the bat continued all the way around, the ball sailing up, and high. The curve of his butt; his expression, as he watched the ball fly.




Noah, relaxing, now, as the catcher handed him yet another baseball; relaxing, but totally in the moment, breathing a little hard, eyes taking in the positions of the boys on the field; he so knew what he was doing, I could tell . . .








And so it went.


Actually, it went for – I don’t know, another couple of dozen of hits, anyway; the coach continuing to call out made-up situations, the kids reacting to them, throwing the ball to one base or another, with a whole lot of double-plays being made; the balls thrown low and hard and fast, between infielders.


I didn’t just take pictures of Noah. Only of Noah.


I got some decent shots of those infielders, actually; sure. But what I really wanted to capture was the half-team or so, clustered around their own bench, waiting their own turns to field. They almost totally ignored me, deliberately, I thought – so I was able to focus in on them, every once in a while; candid shots, of boys waiting, joking with each other, chasing each other with bottles of water, just generally goofing. Boys, thinking, pensive, reflective . . .


A classic shot, of two boys in baseball uniforms, standing, one leaning a forearm on another’s shoulder. Timeless, actually; totally not homoerotic, not in any way . . . just, un-self-conscious friendship. Completely un-self-conscious.


Scenes like that, framed by the green of the backstop, the chain-link-fence above; well, a lot of the shots framed themselves, actually, it was a pretty rich environment.


I was beginning, just beginning, to feel a little better about the shots I was taking. Maybe some of them were going to be useable, after all.


“All right,” shouted the coach, “all right, change it up!” Another loud, double hand-clap. “Let’s go, hustle, hustle - !”


The kids in the outfield started running in; the boys clustered around the bench, erupted into activity, scooping up gloves, starting to run out –


And Noah and the coach were talking.


I could see straight off, they were close. I mean, they were close, physically; Noah looking up at him . . . but I could tell, by Noah’s expression, this was someone important, someone who meant something to him.


And I could see the coach saying something to him, and Noah smiling, shaking his head, a little, and holding the bat out to him; and the coach squeezing Noah on the shoulder, firm, for a second, before taking the bat, and turning away.


And then, just as Noah was turning away, turning towards me – a uniformed streak came out of nowhere, collided with him, pulled him around in a full-body hug, fierce, and long. Isaac; of course. They actually kind of circled around, twice, hugging; Isaac saying something serious, to his brother –


Snap! and, Snap!


Like, I could resist getting some shots of that - ? Noah, and Isaac, together - ? I fired the shutter two, three more times . . .


And then, finally, Isaac broke free to join the other kids by their side of the field, and Noah was trotting over to me – yeah, in that let’s-go, baseball-trot that seemed to be the only way they all moved, when they weren’t running – and then he was sitting down on the bench next to me, breathing a little hard. Shining, in a complicated way.


“Sorry,” he said, between breaths. A pause, for a second. “Sorry I was away, so long. I didn’t really want to do that.”


“I know. Your brother told me.” I grinned sideways at him; he looked my way, kind-of smiling, tilting his head a little, in that way he has. Shy; self-aware. Another classic, priceless, Noah-expression. “Are you sure you guys are related?” I went on. “He’s kind of direct.” I just couldn’t resist teasing him, just a little.


Another smiling half-shrug, from Noah. “Yeah. Yeah; we get that a lot.”


“And, he likes to call you a doofus.” I was still grinning at him, big. “Mister Team Captain.”


Another smiling, sheepish glance, from Noah; embarrassed, I thought.


“All right, all right,” from the coach; stepping up to the plate himself, now. “Two outs, runners on first and second!” and he lofted the ball just like Noah’d done, and TING!, and it was sailing out towards the left-side outfield. “Ball, ball!” came the call from one of the boys, and the whole process started up again.


I looked closer at Noah, for a second, as he looked out on the diamond. I mean, I know him well enough, by now . . . and, he kind of radiates his emotions, even under ordinary circumstances . . .


Yeah, I thought; twitchy. Really twitchy, now; I could tell.


“I’ve been getting some good shots,” I said, after a pause; lifting up my camera, again, only part of me thinking about the next set-up.


“Good,” from Noah.


“Of course, a lot of them, are of you.” I grinned sideways at him, again, for a second. “It was hard to resist; you looked like you were enjoying yourself . . . ” I focused in on a short-haired African-American kid, peering intently out at the fielders; snap!, then snap!


“I was,” from Noah; softly. I looked sideways at him. “It felt good . . . but, you know.” His voice trailing down, more softly, still.


“What - ?”


A flick of his eyes at me; then, he looked away, with one of his most complicated Noah-expressions, yet.


“C’mon, what?” I asked it gently.


A long pause, from him; a really long pause, and I began to wonder if he was going to answer me at all. Then –


“I also felt . . . out of place. A little weird.” He stopped, a beat. “It’s not my team, anymore. I mean, I love all these guys, I really do, I love being here . . . but it’s not my team, anymore.” He paused, just a second. “I don’t belong.”


Full stop. A quiet between us, then, that almost echoed.


Well, fuck-me, I thought, eventually. That’s Noah; explaining everything in just three words, all his twitchiness today, and more.


I remembered the sadness that seemed to come on him sometimes, talking about his past, about baseball . . . ‘I don’t belong.’


And, all of a sudden, it made sense, it made perfect sense. I’d even felt a kind of ghost of the same feeling myself, at the end of high school, with my own swim team. Even though I’d never taken it seriously, I’d only joined to have it on my transcript for college . . . and to hang with Cole and Jason. Still, at the end of our last season I’d realized I’d miss them all, miss being on the team . . .


‘Like a family’. ‘Really tight’. That’s how Isaac described their team.




I glanced over at Noah. His face was set; I remembered, too, what Isaac said about his being strong, when it came to his self-respect. All in all, it was a perfect time for me to keep my mouth shut, to be quietly supportive . . .


So, me being me, I stuck my foot in it.


“Sure, you belong,” I said into the silence. “You played with most of these guys, Isaac told me, and look at the way they welcomed you back, of COURSE – ”


“It’s not my team,” from Noah, flatly. “My team had Ron, and Marcus – Marcus was the other captain. Ron was our best hitter. And that was last year; we’ve all three graduated. It’s not my team, anymore.”


Thundering silence, between us; again.


Out before us, the coach went on calling his plays; “ . . . two outs, runner at second - !”, and ‘Ting!’, another baseball went sailing. I looked sideways a little, and watched Noah’s eyes follow the arc of the ball, as it fell into a fielder’s glove, ‘thwap!’


“How come you’re not playing for our team? At CSUEB, I mean - ?” I asked it gently; I figured I already knew.


A shrug from Noah; his eyes still on the field, still on the ball. “Because I’m not good enough,” he said. Unemotionally.




A quick, ironic, sideways-glance from him; then he was looking forward, again. “Yeah.” He shrugged. “I did okay on this team; it’s a small high school, and the other teams we played against were from small schools, too. Catholic high schools. A Catholic league . . .  I was a pretty decent base-runner; I was fast.” A pause, then, as we watched the ball get thrown in to the infield, and fired back and forth between the bases, another complicated, imaginary play. “But I’m small; I’m too small. I can’t hit hard enough, I can’t really throw hard enough. I could never make it on a college team, not even junior college.”


“You’re not small!” It just came out of me; I was surprised.


That ironic, sideways-glance again. “What are you, five-foot-nine?”


“A little more.” I’d actually grown a little, last year, late; which was a weird experience.


“Well, I’m five-eight. The most I’ve ever weighed was a hundred-thirty-five pounds, and I had to basically eat myself sick to do it; and then I found out, it slowed me down, running.” A little breath of dry laughter from him as he said it. “No; I’m too small to go any farther in baseball, at my age level. That’s just how it is.”


Full-stop, again.


‘Ting!’ from the coach’s bat; the babble of voices. Noah’s face, in profile, was – set. Remote.


And there was nothing I could say, that would help. That would change anything.


“How about Isaac - ?” I asked, at last.


Another flicker of Noah’s eyes. “I don’t know.” A quick shrug; his eyes back on the field. “He’s still only fifteen, he’s still growing. And he’s got the skill set, he’s already a better hitter than I am. Was, I mean.” He turned to look at me, a little more directly. “You know he’s why I wear this; right - ?” His eyes flicked upward, to the bill of his cap.


“Huh - ?”


His look was impatient. “Isaac’s why I wear this cap. You have family on the team, you support them, you show them you’re proud of them. If he weren’t on the team, I’d never wear this again . . . it’d be really pathetic. Like I was stuck in high school. You know - ?”



Pause. A long pause.



I remembered what Isaac had said, about all the years Noah put into baseball, they’d both put into baseball . . . how big a part of Noah’s life, it was.


I remembered the rest of it, too; Noah getting dumped by Steven-with-a-V, Noah –


Well, Noah getting dumped by the Catholic Church, really. I mean, I hadn’t dared think too much about that, yet, Noah wanting to be a priest . . . but. I could fill in the blanks, imagine Noah finally figuring out, late, that he couldn’t be a priest, that the Church didn’t want him, as a priest, under any circumstances, as it went more and more anti-gay, year by year . . .


Noah, losing that huge, central thing in his life. It must have been such a huge part of who he was . . .


“Okay,” I said. “Okay.”


And fuck-me, I started blinking, some; my eyes were getting a little wet, and at that moment, all I really wanted to do, was put my arms around him and hug him, and hold him, I SO did –


“All right, all right!” from the coach, again. “C’mon, bring it in, change up - !” Another double hand-clap; boys began running in from the outfield –


I had to settle for putting my right arm around his shoulder, for just a few beats, and squeezing it, gently . . . but I put as much feeling, as much warmth into it, as I could. I really did.


And for just a moment, just an instant, I felt him lean against me, a little; warm, and intimate, and real.






The chain-link-fence thing came out again; and at first, I thought it was going to be a replay of the batting practice we’d seen, when we’d first got here.


But it wasn’t, exactly; it seemed to me like a cross between batting practice, and a real game; each kid got to hit three balls, and on the third hit, they ran like hell to first base, and the fielders tried to get them out. And if they made it on base, they acted like real base-runners, trying to steal, trying to score.


Except, the coach seemed to mess it all up, pretty frequently; he kept turning and telling some base-running kid to go in and hit again, or ordering a base-stealing runner to go back one base. Or two.


Silence, still, between Noah and me. I didn’t want to break it, by asking him what was going on.


Instead, I took more pictures. It was why I was there, after all.


‘Ting!’ from the bat, and calls of “Two! Two!!” from the boys in the outfield, and a shorter kid went scrambling around first, fast, then running hard, and sliding feet-first into second –


I wasn’t getting shots of the batters, anymore; or the runners. I was zooming in on the faces of the boys on the opposite bench. Young; excited, or bored, laughing or intent, whatever struck me, whatever scene framed itself, to me.


I glanced sideways at Noah; he was lost in thought, gazing at the field . . . and for the first time, I thought I could see open sadness, there.


And that hurt me to see; it really did.


I looked back at the field, then into my viewfinder; then sideways, at Noah, again. I took a breath, and bumped his shoulder with mine. “Hey,” I went, softly.


“Hm - ?” from Noah.


“Who’s that kid, over there - ?” I pointed with my right arm; he kind of sighted along it. “No, wait, he moved; now he’s behind the black-haired guy – ”


“Which one?” Noah turned an amused expression my way.


“Here.” I turned the camera so he could see the LCD screen, the picture I’d just taken – in the winter afternoon, it was pretty easy to see – and he blinked at it.


“Oh. That’s Will; Will Parker, he’s second base, and a relief pitcher.” He flicked his eyes back up at mine.


“What can you tell me about him?”


“Well . . . last year he was a good hitter, I think his average was, like, three-fifty, or something – ”


“No,” I went, gently, and I shook my head a little, grinning. “No, Mister Team Captain, I meant – what’s he like? What’s he like, to hang with, what’s it like, to play on the team with him - ?”


Watching Noah’s face as he shifted gears, from Baseball Stats to Real Life, almost made me laugh out loud. I kind of figured I knew the answer, just from watching them all; but I wanted to hear Noah’s take.


“Will . . . ?” He looked back out at the field, and his face relaxed into a smile; the first genuine smile I’d seen on him, in – awhile. “He’s a total comedian; he’s just way silly. He always had us laughing, even when we were losing . . . ”


I’d already known, because he was the kid who’d jumped up and taken a piggy-back ride on his friend’s back. That, plus, I’d heard his voice doing an imitation of the coach’s voice, carrying a little bit more than maybe he expected, and he’d gotten all embarrassed when the coach called him on it. ‘Par-Ker!’, the coach had went, and it’d sounded like something the coach said, a lot.


“Okay . . . ” Another sideways-grin at Noah. “How about . . . these guys - ?” I didn’t bother trying to point them out; instead, I scrolled back through the shots I’d taken until I found the one I wanted, and showed it to Noah.


And Noah didn’t say anything, for a second; he just put his hand out to steady the camera, for a beat, while he looked at the little screen. Then – “Wow. That’s really good,” he went, softly.


I grinned at him. It WAS a good shot; zoomed-in close, a kid, in profile, just beautiful, concentrating hard as he looked out at the field, from the bench . . . and beside him, another kid, totally relaxed, laughing, legs stretched out in front of him, just saying something to the guy next to him, on the other side. But what made it such a good shot was, the two boy’s shoulders were touching, pressed comfortably together; a total contrast in style, in attitude, but they were obviously tight. Friends.


“That’s Kyle, and Max,” from Noah; looking at the screen, then looking up at the bench. Then, at me. “Max is a catcher; he’s really serious about the game . . . well, he’s pretty serious about studying, too. Kyle’s – kind of the opposite.” A shrug. Another look at the boys on the other side of the diamond. “They’re really good friends, though; like, best friends, they’re always together, outside of class.”


“Are they always getting in trouble together?” I asked, grinning; thinking of Cole and me.


“Max wouldn’t let them,” Noah went, simply; then he looked at me. “Why do you want to know all this - ?”


I lifted up my camera again, and focused in on a batter sticking his tongue out between his lips, waiting for a pitch. Snap! Cool; that would be another good one. I smiled.


“The best photography teacher I ever had, was always telling us to know our subjects; know what we were shooting. If we were doing, like, a still life with a pear and some grapes, he’d have us pick them up and look at them from all angles, in different light, and really, really LOOK at them, before taking any pictures . . . And, the same thing for people, for portraits; only, more so.” I grinned sideways at him.


He made one of his Noah-expressions; waiting for more.


“He told us, the more we knew about the person we were photographing, the better. Only, it’s the REAL knowledge about the person that counts; who they are, who their friends are, who they love . . . and, fuck-me – uh, oops,” I caught myself. “Sorry. Anyway, he was right, he was so, so right . . . ”



Well, okay, that was all true, as far as it went.


But right just now, right today – I was more concerned with that sad look on Noah’s face. With that silence from him, as he watched his old teammates play.


I wanted to get him talking; get him out of his own head, out of his thoughts. Fuck-me; if there’s anyone who knows about being a prisoner inside his own head, it’s me; you know - ?


“Okay,” I went on, after a few beats; into the silence. “What about him? That guy who picked you up by the waist - ?” I pointed to the big, blond kid, waiting his turn to bat; he was hard to miss.


“Oh,” from Noah; and I watched, sideways, as his face softened, a little. “Oh, yeah. That’s Alex; he’s a really good guy . . . ” I watched, as he thought, for a second. “Nothing ever bothers him, he never gets mad, and he’s really good with the younger guys on the team, he’s really supportive . . . ” A quick look to me, as he thought about what I’d said; the personal details I was after; I could see him hesitate. “He’s got some problems with his parents, though; they’re always kind of on top of him, and they shouldn’t be, he’s such a good kid . . . ”


And I took a couple of quick, close-up pictures of Alex, snap, snap, as Noah went on talking.


Yeah; outside his head. Outside his own thoughts. Good.



*  *  *



I kept Noah talking, on the drive back to campus.


Well, about baseball, anyway; there was so much else I’d learned from Isaac, about Noah and Steven-with-a-V, and Noah and the Church . . . but it was all so much, it was a little too much to process right now, I kind of locked it away, to think about, later –






No, that’s total bullshit. Again; again. Total self-deception. Hypocrisy, really.


No, the truth is – I was thinking about this, all-new-Noah, a lot. As we drove down the freeway, back to campus, back to campus, back to work-study and my crazy stalker father and our everyday lives – I was sneaking glances over at him, every once in awhile. This Noah, the sports star; this Noah, the Team Captain, who was so obviously loved by his teammates . . . this Noah, who had a profound spiritual life, obviously, that I’d never really understood, before . . .


This Noah with his own sorrows and problems. Problems every bit as profound as mine. Or more.


Yeah; I would have to think about this, some more. I mean, this was NOAH, this boy I’d known for a quarter, and more . . . my boyfriend, whatever that meant, this guy I was dating, going to hot-tubs with . . .


And glancing over at him, I felt a little funny, inside; I felt things stirring, inside me. Stirring pretty strongly, actually; more than they’d stirred for him, ever before.




Me being me . . . the sensitive, communicative, perfect-date-boyfriend that I am . . . I totally avoided any of that substantive stuff. I kept him talking about baseball, instead; because it was safe. What a fucking coward; huh - ?






Baseball was enough, for now, really.


And it was interesting, fascinating, actually. Just hearing his experiences, totally opened my eyes.


It turned out, Isaac was right; Noah’d been playing competitive baseball since he was seven; all sorts of baseball, including Little League, including baseball camp . . . competitive baseball. League baseball; baseball in uniforms, with rankings, and stats, and standings . . .  It was all a bigger part of his life than I could have known, than I could possibly have guessed.


A bigger part of both of their lives; Isaac did everything Noah did, at least when it came to baseball.


And the more I listened – and believe me; I asked a lot of questions, to help the flow of words; Noah doesn’t exactly volunteer information that easy – the more I listened, the more I wondered at it. The whole structure, the whole edifice of youth baseball.


I wasn’t sure I liked it very much.


I mean, here was this sport, it seemed to me, that ate up kids’ lives, way, WAY more than swimming ate up my life, with our measly two practices a day . . . it ate up kids’ lives, year after year, packaged them into these incredibly tight, skilled teams, slotted them into something like a semi-professional baseball industry –


And then, when a kid like Noah aged out, reached the limit of his ability, the limit of his body strength, the limits of his body mass – it spat him out. Cold. Sorry, you’re out.


Noah accepted it, though.


“That’s the way it is, in baseball,” he said; as we drove along, warm, now in the cab of the truck. “For everybody. For every thousand high-school players, maybe one gets into the minor leagues. Well,” he went on, a little embarrassed; “I don’t know the numbers, really. It might be more, but it’s probably less. And for every hundred minor-league players, just a few get to play in the major leagues at all, even once, one time in their lives. And fewer than that get a place, a real place, on a major league team. And once you’re injured, or you lose your pitch, or your swing – you’re out of the sport.” He gave me a sideways look, a Noah-look. “That’s how it is, for everybody.”


Maybe so. Maybe it was. But I didn’t like it. And, I didn’t like what it had done to Noah.






And so, we talked on; and I steered the conversation to the concept of teams.


I mean, yeah, I’d been on a swim team, for three years . . . but. Swimming is a completely different kind of sport; you compete against yourself, basically, or against the guys in the lanes on either side of you. Except for relays – which are a lot of fun, actually – it’s almost like golf, it’s pretty solitary.


Well, that’s not entirely true. You do feel pressure to do well for the team, not let them down too badly . . . But. Still. It’s you, and speed, and the water.


Baseball, I could see, was different; and I told Noah as much.


“What really impressed me, was, that you guys . . . ” I glanced at him, quick – “I mean, those guys, are so, so – coordinated, I guess, is the word. The way you guys in baseball react so FAST, you know exactly where to throw the ball, you back each other up . . . Jesus. All those double-play moves they practiced; they were perfectly executed, just perfectly.”


A quick, ironic glance from Noah’s side of the truck. “Practice, you think?”


“But . . . it’s so exact! It’s like you guys . . . you guys in baseball, I mean – you act like a single unit; a single, entity, maybe.” I shook my head a little, and braked for some red taillights in front of us. “It’s nothing like swimming; I know that much, anyway.”


That got a short silence from him. Then – “Well, I don’t really know about swimming; I didn’t really know anybody on our swim team. But in baseball, that’s what teams are all about; you know your teammates so well, you don’t have to think about doing something, you just DO it. ‘Don’t think, act!’ That’s what our coach drilled into us, all the time . . . ” A short pause, from him. “We were really tight, on my team . . . ”


Back to that thundering silence; the memory of Noah’s sadness, filling the truck cabin like a fog, at least for me. Way to go, I told myself; way to go; once again, is there anybody better than me, at sticking his foot in his mouth - ?



A couple more miles passed, quietly; taking us closer to campus, to assignments, work-study, and – tomorrow night – my next session of hunting for my dad, assuming my mom went to Stockton like she said she was going to do . . .


I could almost smell the stale beer and the stale piss already; and I blinked, and I tried to push it away, I really did, no, no, think about school work instead –


“Your pictures – the ones I’ve seen – they’re wonderful,” from Noah. Deliberately; fighting back against his mood, maybe. I figured. A brief pause, then – “You really caught those guys; I mean, I KNOW them, and you really captured them. It’s a really great look at the whole team . . . ”


A pause. And I blinked. And, I blinked again.








Have you ever had that experience, when an idea just seems to kind of, flash into your head, out of nowhere - ? And it’s kind of blinding, and vivid, and, and, it just seems so RIGHT, so inevitable, all at once - ? That, lightbulb-moment - ?


And of course, that’s not how it really works; what’s happened is, your mind’s been working on a problem, and working, and working, on some level you’re not really aware of, and when it hits a solution, then, ding, ding, ding! the lightbulb lights up. Lucky you!


Well, I had that flash, right then; a flash, an idea, and it was PERFECT, it solved so many problems . . . the details just went cascading into place. Yeah, there was no way I could finish the film by the end of the quarter, hell, the season didn’t even end until – June, maybe? And there’d be all the post-production after that; if I did it all right, the way I wanted, I might not have a finished piece until next Fall –


And it didn’t matter. Because, I could sure as hell get a script out of it, a preliminary script, anyway, for my Communications project, this quarter . . .


And more important than that – a thousand times more important than that – it’d make a great documentary. A great film. The story of a season; the story of a season, for a high-school baseball team; all those kids, all their stories, in one, compact, tight-knit group . . .


“What - ?” from Noah; he’d seen the huge grin, just spreading over my face.


Oh, it’d be complicated . . . there were a lot more details to work out. Like, the releases; all the kids would be minors, I’d have to get signed releases from their parents. Hell, I’d have to get the school, itself, to let me on to school property, to film the interviews, and the kids playing . . . And, of course, the coach, or coaches; I couldn’t do the film right, without the coaches, they’d be key –


“Okay,” from Noah, patiently. “What?”


But it wouldn’t be a problem; I was pretty fucking sure. I mean, what parent WOULDN’T want to see their baseball-playing kid in a student-filmed documentary, a legitimate, sympathetic, story-of-a-season documentary; a timeless slice of their kid’s life - ?


And it would be helping out a poor, needy student filmmaker. Meaning, me.


And – and this was key – I’d have Noah to vouch for me; to introduce me. Noah, as the interface with the boys, the coaches, the parents . . .


If he was willing. If; it would be a lot of time with his old team, and he’d already been twitching out, about that . . .


But it might even be good for Noah. I mean, he’d have a role; I’d need him, as my technical advisor, I couldn’t even begin to do the film or the script, without him as a technical advisor, to tell me what the hell was going on . . . In some way, at least some sideways – way, he’d belong, there. I thought, anyway - ?


“Sorry,” I went, finally; and I took my eyes off the road, a second, and glanced over at him. Still grinning, big time. All the details still crashing through my head, and crashing into place; like it was all inevitable. “Sorry, I was thinking . . . Um. Could you, maybe, do me a favor - ?” I looked at the road, for a second; then back at Noah, and I could just feel myself, grinning, huge, almost losing it, almost busting out, laughing. “It would be a really big one, actually . . . ”






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