A group of young men looked at me suspiciously as I crossed under the ancient railroad bridge, but I ignored them. I was a big guy, and the bat I was holding was essentially a club.
I was too excited to care. My objective was in sight: I could see the faded sign, half-collapsed, which read. “Wrigle… Home of th…”. I completed it in my mind: “Wrigley Field, Home of the Cubs”. I redoubled my pace.
There was no one at the door, so I hurdled a rusted turnstile and entered a dark corridor which sloped slightly upwards.
Glass crunched under my shoes as I walked towards the only light visible ahead.
It came from a window overlooking the seating behind home plate. The glass was long gone, so I walked into the stands and all the way to the edge of the playing field.
It was a mess. The grass grew to knee height, and the infield, though still visible, was overgrown with weeds. The ivy along the back wall looked more like a jungle than a decoration.
I thought I would cry. This was the dream, my last hope.
“Whatcha doin’ here?”
I’d been so absorbed that I hadn’t realized that someone was sneaking up on me. I turned with my bat raised. There was an old, dark-skinned man behind me, hardly a threat.
I shrugged. “I came to play.”
“Son, that field hasn’t been used since I was nearly as young as you are. Baseball is played inside people’s minds nowadays, by gamers, not by players. I guess you can only get the games if you have the right implants. I never wanted them. That isn’t real baseball.”
“I heard the Cubs were still playing, in a local league, the last great ball club.”
“Didn’t you look it up on the Mindnet before coming?”
“It doesn’t talk much about the outside world.”
“It figures. Well, no games here. I used to play for the Cubs, you know, on their last team. Not many could hit my curve. But then we shut down. No one cared enough.”
“I guess I’ll go back then.”
“Where are you from?”
He thought about that for a minute. “You got a ball in that bag?”
“And a mitt?”
“An old one, but it should work.”
“Give them to me.”
He took them and walked to the mound, kicked it a couple of times and swung his arm in circles.
“Well, watcha waiting for? I’m not getting any younger.”
I quickly dropped the bag, hopped the remains of the fence and put the bat on my shoulder without even bothering to look for home plate.
He wound up and released. He got pretty good velocity on the ball for an old guy, but I’d seen better out in the corn fields.
I swung for the left field bleachers, the jungle becoming the ivy of my dreams as the bat hit the ball.
Gustavo Bondoni is an Argentine writer with over 170 stories in print. His latest book is an ebook novella entitled Branch.