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

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