A tangerine sky had been painted above an old textile baseball field. Above the bleachers and avocado green grandstand, a child’s hand-drawn clouds chased each other around a hippie-inspired sun of brilliant yellows and oranges. Old Sol featured a smiling, female face with almond shaped, green-blue eyes.
A stiff breeze blew out to right field but clouds seemed to move in any direction they wished. The US flag, in vivid colors I didn’t recognize, and pennants in mauve, purple and gold, snapped and popped as the wind swirled. A pink, blue and green, paisley print flamingo soared above the thermals, riding the wind…high, higher, highest.
Wooden bleachers built when Methuselah was a child, were weathered to a gray patina, the boards rough, warped and twisted. The roof of the old grandstand was rotted with jagged holes allowing bright sunshine to leak through, highlighting men in white dress shirts, sleeves rolled up above their elbows, their fedoras pushed back on their heads. I saw them in black, white and gray, as if from an old newsreel.
The one women I saw was surrounded by pastel colors from a Monet painting as she strolled on boardwalks that shouldn’t have been in a ballpark. Twirling her parasol, she strolled by in a long-sleeved and high necked dress. The hem of the ethereal gown, lacy in pinkish beige, swept the old boards of the esplanade.
Her gaze was distant and pensive under hair piled high and restrained by a straw boater. The flat brimmed hat was pushed forward at a jaunty angle to accommodate her dark brown tresses but her stare was anything but gleeful.
Watching from my vantage point in my head I wondered how she could sit wearing such a large bustle and how she could stand the corset that made her waist so small.
The field was of dark green, perfectly maintained grass…grass marred with red clay and sand baselines and infield cutout. Sharp white lines were arrow straight and ran toward the infinity of the outfield foul posts. Sack bases gleamed in the technicolor sunshine as a ground crew finished the field with earth movers and bulldozers.
It wasn’t an LSD trip, just a dream…a dream that featured a heavenly figure dressed in Yankee pinstripes and a Satan in tie-dye. God was a midget who looked like Yogi Berra, Satan could be no one else other than Billy Martin. Martin glared at me from behind dark sunglasses his cigarette smoke twisting and turning, rising into the tangerine sky. He held up a martini glass in an empty salute…as empty as the glass itself.
I was playing right field…I think it was me. I looked like Tom Selleck in Mr. Baseball and I openly wondered why Babe Ruth or Roger Maris wasn’t available. Yogi said Maris was on a mountain top contemplating the asterisk after the number sixty-one in the “Good Book”. Ruth was holding court in street clothes, smoking a cigar while drinking a beer and eating a hotdog. A high school chum was there too but he looked more like Thurmond Munson than the friend I remembered from fifty years ago.
I don’t normally dream so vividly. I blame it on a sinus infection, the drugs that treat it and the left-over quesadillas my wife brought me after her luncheon with a friend. There is something about cilantro that sometimes fuels my more psychedelic dreams. Cheaper and less dangerous than peyote or hallucinogenic mushrooms, not that I really know.
I had died in my dream, the casualty of a falling treetop and found myself in a heaven of my own creation. No blazing white mansions or streets of gold. No old, bearded white men in long gowns, No call to a warm and embracing light. Just a perfectly laid out baseball field and hot dogs to die for, an all-star team of dead Yankees playing an all-star team of devil’s minions. Both teams cheered on by men in a black and white newsreel and a woman in pastels. The call was to the Big Leagues not into the light.
It seemed I had awakened from one dream into another, my death from being shish kebabed by a treetop to a heavenly baseball game. Speaking in cliches, Yogi told me the game was being played for all the marbles, good versus evil, winner takes all. As I jogged to right field he growled, “Don’t forget! It gets late early out there.”
Though I desperately tried to stay asleep, my dream ended before the game was decided. With the game tied and a runner on second in the ninth, Ty Cobb stepped to the plate, or a devil’s imp appearing to be Ty Cobb. Depending on whose history you read, in real life, he might have been the devil incarnate. Razor sharp cleats glinted in the tangerine light as he taped the dirt off them with his bat. Watching him step into the batter’s box, I awoke as a puppy dog pawed me, blind eyes saying “Open the door, I need to potty.”
I don’t normally remember dreams but this one was just too vivid, just too real…just too troubling This one I want to remember despite the fear I felt in the pit of my stomach. It’s too good of a subject for a short story and I can end it any way I wish.
I need to remember it today because my plans were to cut down the dead tree that killed the dream me. I think I will let Mother Nature do her part and cut it up after it falls.
The image I used is TANGERINE SKY by Fran Slade. It may be purchased at https://artpublish.glopal.com
Books by Don Miller may be purchased at https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM