The Ball that Disappeared – Part 3 – Story Finale

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If you missed Part 1, click here

If you missed Part 2, click here

Hugo remained where he landed – on top of the screen he broke down after diving into Old Man Semos’ living room. The harsh landing knocked the baseball out of his hand, and Old Man Semos had picked it up.

Hugo pushed himself up to his feet. The giant hound continued to bark ferociously as Hugo wondered what would happen next.

Old Man Semos wore a a big straw hat, and he chewed on a long piece of grass. A rifle lay in his lap, and Hugo had no doubt he’d used it before.

“What you doing over here, son? Some people get killed for trespassing.”

Hugo gulped. “I’m not afraid of you.”

Old Man Semos turned the rifle barrel and aimed it at Hugo. He squinted one eye, and locked in on his target.

“Pow!” He said.

Hugo flinched and took a quick step back. Old Man Semos laughed outrageously, then set the rifle aside. “Sure look scared,” he said.

“Give me my ball, sir.”

“What do I get?”

Hugo cautiously approached Old Man Semos. “Nothing.”

“Then I can’t give it to you!” shouted Semos. He grabbed the rifle and aimed it at Hugo again.

“Please sir, that baseball is the last thing my dad left me!”

“Your dad?” Semos lowered the gun, and arched an eyebrow as he stared at the ceiling. “Your name wouldn’t happen to be Hugo, now would it?”

Hugo kept his eyes locked on that baseball. Semos was holding it in his hand still, which was at his hip and level with Hugo’s eyes. One quick snatch and he could have it.

“No,” said Hugo.

“What is it?”

“Pudgy.”

“Pudgy?” Semos said, staring curiously back at the boy. “You sure? Can’t imagine any real folks would be dumb enough to name their kid that.”

Hugo’s eyes went wide. “I swear it’s my name.”

“Well, that’s too bad then,” said Semos, before sitting down and tossing the ball up and down in the air. Hugo watched it rise and fall. Semos continued.

“Cause if you were a little boy named Hugo, I might just be able to tell exactly what happened to your dad.”

Hugo stopped tracking the baseball, and looked back at Semos. “What happened to Hugo’s dad?”

Old Man Semos grinned. “He left town altogether. His boy will never see him again, not for the rest of his life.”

Hugo’s heart sank. He knew his dad had left, but hearing he was gone for good made nothing easier. He turned around, then started walking away with his head down. “You can keep the baseball,” he said on his way out.

“Funny thing about that boy Hugo, though,” said Old Man Semos.

Hugo stopped at the doorway, and turned around. Semos tossed him the baseball and he caught it.

“I heard his pops telling people, right before he left, about that boy. Said he’s got an arm like you wouldn’t believe, and so much potential he has no doubt that his kid’s going to be someone special someday.”

“So why did he leave then?”

Semos grinned. “Well, Hugo’s father felt it wouldn’t be fair to the other boys if he stuck around to raise him. Said the only way he could possibly imagine his kid not succeeding, is if all the odds are stacked against him. Says no boy is tough enough to make himself into a man.”

“He said that?”

Semos nodded.

Hugo tossed the ball up, then caught it. “Huh.” He started toward the backyard again.

“Oh, and Hugo?” said Old Man Semos.

“Yeah?”

“As long as you don’t run, my dog isn’t going to chase you.”

Hugo nodded, then walked back through the yard. He squeezed through the fence, ball in hand, and found all the other kids waiting for him on the other side.

“Woah, he did it!” said Pudgy. “We thought you were dog food.”

“Way to go, Hugo,” said Measles, before tossing a friendly punch at Hugo’s shoulder. His reach wasn’t long enough so his elbow straightened and jammed instead. “Ow.”

Hugo smiled as he walked, tossing the ball in his hand as he did. The rest of the kids followed after him.

“What are we gonna do now?” said Measles.

Hugo looked around. He spotted an old, abandoned house way out in the distance. “Betcha I can hit that house.”

“From here?” said Pudgy, before laughing hysterically. “I’d like to see you try, straw man! Ten bucks says you can’t even throw it halfway.”

“I thought your mom gave you that money because you said you needed a better plunger?” said Measles.

“Shut-up Measles,” said Pudgy.

Hugo smirked, then whirled his arm around and let the ball fly.

THE END

  • Thomas M. Watt

The Ball that Disappeared

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“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