The Ball that Disappeared – Part 2

sandlot

If you missed Part 1, click HERE

Hugo and the rest of the kids stared at the busted fence. His baseball was on the other side, and the only way to get it back was to set foot on Old Man Semos’ property.

“You have to forget about it!” said Measles. “Go over there and you’ll get killed!”

“Of course he’s not going over there!” Shouted Pudgy, with a laugh. “He’s too big of a wuss.”

Hugo took a step forward, then stopped and gulped. That baseball was the only thing he had left to remember his dad by – it was more important to him than all the pop in the world.

“Don’t do it, Hugo,” said Measles. “I don’t want you to die. Not yet at least.”

Hugo continued his slow trudge forward.

The only kid who walked with him was Measles, who adjusted his glasses then said, “Old Man Semos puts bags of candy on his front porch for Halloween every year, and still nobody goes over there. You wanna know why?”

“Why?” said Hugo. The two of them were now well afar from the rest of the gang, and only feet away from the fence.

“Because the one kid who ever took some of that candy swears on his life that it was human flesh, mixed with sugar!”

Measles stopped, but Hugo kept going.

“Don’t do it, Hugo. It’s not worth it.”

“I know,” said Hugo, before peaking through the hole in the fence. No sign of any dog, and no sign of Old Man Semos. The baseball, however, just sat there, in plain sight.

“It was good knowing you,” said Measles.

Hugo turned, then watched Measles walk back to the other kids, hanging his head like Hugo had already been mauled to death. Hugo didn’t have time to worry about that now – if he acted quickly, maybe he’d be able to live and get his baseball back.

He ripped the rest of the broken plank away. The opening was narrow, but Hugo was skinny enough to slide through. For the first time in his life he was grateful for being such a rail. By the time he spotted it, he was in too deep.

The gargantuan hound. It really was the size of a horse! Sitting in its dog house, Hugo heard it growl once his shoe touched down on the burnt-out lawn. Hugo looked over at the ball, then back at the hound.

It growled again.

Hugo took one last breath, then booked it.

As he bolted after the baseball he could hear the hound’s chain dragging through the dry brown grass. The hound ferociously barked as it raced along the ground.

It wasn’t charging at Hugo – it was charging after the ball!

Hugo couldn’t afford to lose focus now – his eyes stayed trained on the baseball the entire time. As he neared it, Hugo realized he’d have to pick it up and keep running without losing a step – this hound’s chain was nowhere close to being taught.

The hound opened its jaw and Hugo swore he saw fangs in its mouth. Hugo returned his eyes to the ground, right where the baseball sat, and swiped it up then kept going.

The giant dog still chased after him; slobber splashed up and soaked Hugo’s elbow.

He was running out of room to escape – Hugo headed straight for the screen door to Old Man Semos’ house. He busted through and tore it down, landing in a rough dive that knocked the ball out of his hand. He barely escaped the Hound, whose chain tugged the collar on his neck and cut-off his pursuit.

Hugo stayed on his stomach for a bit, breathing heavily until he caught his breath. When he finally worked up the courage, he took his eyes forward to figure out where his baseball had rolled to. Sitting on the couch, tossing it up and down in the air with one hand and holding a rifle in his other was the scariest person Hugo had ever laid eyes on – Old Man Semos.

Hugo gulped.

To be continued…

  • Thomas M. Watt
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The Ball that Disappeared

sandlot

“You can’t throw it over that fence. No one can,” said Pudgy.

The rest of the children egged Hugo on. Hugo tossed the dirty baseball in his hand, sweating his next move.

It wasn’t that he didn’t think he could do it – he knew he could. But if Hugo lost that baseball, he would have nothing left to remember him by.

“Just give me another ball,” said Hugo. “I don’t want to throw this one.”

“No!” said Pudgy. “It’s the only one we got.”

“But it’s my ball!” said Hugo.

“What’s the matter, too chicken?”

Hugo shook his head, then spit on the ground. He rubbed the spit in with his foot to buy himself some time.

The baseball had been a birthday present from his father. Hugo never forgot what his dad said to him that day:

“I know, I know. It might seem like a crappy gift, giving you a worn-out baseball and all, but I’m doing this on purpose. Hear me out, now – This baseball’s dirty, beat-up, and worthless. But none a that matters, because… Hugo, are you listening? It’s important to me that you hear this.”

Hugo rolled his eyes. “Yeah, dad.”

“Good. This baseball rolls along just like any other ball, and regardless of how hard it gets hit, it’ll always, and I mean always, find its way back home.”

He didn’t know it at the time, but those words proved to be the last he’d ever heard from his father.

“Just throw it already!” yelled Pudgy. The other kids continued to laugh.

Hugo narrowed his eyes, like something on the fence had caught his attention.

“What?” said Pudgy.

“How about I throw it at the fence? If I hit it on a line, will that shut you up?”

“Hit the fence on a line?” Pudgy turned to the other kids. “The wind has a better chance of throwing Hugo then that happening!”

Now the kids were cracking up hysterically, one of the boys laughed so hard he dropped to the ground and clutched his stomach.

Hugo snarled, then whirled the ball back and threw it with all his might.

The other kids watched with amazement, in disbelief at how fast the baseball flew.

“Woah,” said Pudgy.

The ball zipped through the air, remaining on a line as tight as a wire. It smacked the fence in no time.

“Holy crap, Hugo!” Shouted Pudgy. “You got a rocket launcher for an arm?”

The kids slapped Hugo in the back, shocked at how hard the skinny kid could really throw. The only one who wasn’t celebrating, however, was Hugo.

Measles noticed it too. “Guys,” he said, “Look!”

Measles pointed at the fence, right where the baseball had collided. Rather than the mark Hugo had hoped to leave behind, there was a hole.

“That’s Old Man Semos’ yard!” said Measles. “You’re not actually thinking of going over there?”

“Why not?” said Hugo.

“Because Old Man Semos got a guard dog as big as a horse!” said Pudgy.

Hugo gulped.

“And if that doesn’t kill you, Semos will,” said Measles.

To be continued…

  • Thomas M. Watt

INTP – The Logician

albert einstein

Intp. That’s my personality type. The “Logician.”

It means that logic is my go-to for decision making. So when there is a group debate, and everybody is getting along fine and dandy by tossing around their feel-good ideas, I’m the asshole that puts someone down for bringing up a concept that has no actual foundation. For instance, when I attended my second writing group ever last week, and the group leader asked if we sought to include underlying moral principles in our stories, I opened my trap and explained that she was referencing theme, which is at the heart of every story, and is the driving motive behind every work of fiction that’s ever been written. While plot may be what a story is about on the surface, theme is the reason you tell it – you want your readers to experience and understand your worldview. It’s the reason you write, whether you understand theme or not.

Anyway, INTPs make up 5% of the population. We are fiercely independent, care little for social status or merits, and spend our lives consumed by life’s most profound philosophical problems.

The ‘T’ in INTP stands for thinking, as opposed to feeling. This is a problem; my method of communication is flawed. Maybe not flawed, but not typical. It’s not a good way to be for a writer, because readers come to stories to be emotionally moved, not to watch a protagonist take action based on logical deductions. Nonfiction writing is more natural for INTPs.

I don’t know; this has bothered me all week. To top it all off, I took the test again and answered with responses that were opposite to how I actually think and interact with the world around me. The result listed me as the most popular personality type, one who is wired to follow plans, do things the standard way, and generally find the simple path to success. I don’t know, I’m really distraught to discover just how bizarre my thinking is. It can be argued that it is a gift, because some of our greatest philosophers and scientists were INTPs, but personally I find it annoying. I guess the simplest way to explain it would be to say, I’ve discovered that the ways I find most comforting, the thinking that I find most rational, and the social dynamic that I strive to live by, is the polar opposite to the ‘right way’ of doing things. If I ever want to fit in and be less of a freak, I must engage in a behavior that is directly opposed to my instincts.

Do you understand how infuriating that is? It’s as if I’m an alien who’s human in appearance. Every move that feels appropriate to me is going to appear unconventional to others, and every ‘correct’ move is going to seem unattractive to myself. Should I just start doing the opposite of whatever my instincts tell me to do??

I don’t know. Don’t mean to rant, but honestly it wasn’t an accident, so the logical answer is ‘yes I did mean to rant.’

Take the test here if you want to discover more about your own personality type. As discouraged as I am, I promise you that taking it will be a rewarding experience.

  • Thomas M. Watt

The Great Protagonist

protagonist

A protagonist is regarded as a hero because they take up a quest to attain something they have determined to be worth risking their life for. Their journeys are filled with obstacles and adversaries that at first appearance seem impossible to overcome, but the protagonist’s resiliency and resourcefulness often leads them to victory.

Whether we are pursuing a promotion, an accomplishment, or a personal goal, we should keep in mind that the obstacles along our journeys are an integral part of our own stories. Just like a memorable protagonist, we should allow conflict to fuel our desire to become stronger, and constantly adapt to meet the problems we are facing.

Will you allow your antagonizing force to defeat you, or will you rise above it? And in the moments when your demons creep up on you, will you undergo the internal change necessary to continue on to your own finish line?

Something to think about.

  • Thomas M. Watt

Tinder Fun

tinder

A good friend of mine, let’s call him Harry, has this strange fascination with acting like a complete idiot in front of strangers. On a recent night of boredom, he decided to go on tinder and make a complete ass of himself. In case you’re unfamiliar with Tinder, it is a dating app where people match with potential partners then communicate to see if they have any chemistry. It is not uncommon for men to initiate conversations with pick-up lines. Harry, however, is no ordinary pick-up artist. Here are his results:

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PART_1439869431074_IMG_3611 PART_1439869430908_IMG_3607 PART_1439869430681_IMG_3613 PART_1439869430581_IMG_3610 PART_1439869430347_IMG_3609 PART_1439869430191_IMG_3608

  • Thomas M. Watt

‘Master’ Progress

writer

I’ve just passed the midway point in Master (10000 words), and I’m very happy with how it is turning out. Spent yesterday evening figuring out a fulfilling way to end it, and though it is going to be complicated, i think it will have the emotional impact I’m looking for; the kind that makes for a climactic finish.

I’ve also gone to two writing groups in the past week. Though I’ve always had an aversion toward these groups, I’m pleased to say that I’ve met a couple of people who are serious about their pursuit of becoming published authors. Unfortunately, a large portion of these groups enjoy the creative freedom of writing too much to submit their work for criticism and analysis, and that is the kind of group I’m truly looking for.

If anybody out there is looking for feedback on their current work in progress, drop me a line in the comment section. My current work is going to be 20,000 words (100 pages), but I’d be happy to swap small sections at a time.

  • Thomas M. Watt

Update From Berkeley

zombie-t-shirts

Spent all day yesterday shooting improvised scenes with my buddy. He wants to do a parody on MTV’s True Life. This particular episode focuses on a young man named Trent, who is obsessed with himself. I play Trent’s best friend, who tries to help Trent see the errors of his ways.

I think we got some good shots yesterday. I also felt that the more alcohol I consumed, the better an improvisational actor I became.

Today’s going to be more of the same, and I’d be lying if I told you that acting for my friend with a video camera in a public space is something that comes easy to me. At the end of the day, though, the people willing to make asses of themselves in public are the same people who give themselves an opportunity to make money doing it.

Happy Sunday.

  • Thomas M. Watt