Elegy - Cover


Copyright© 2023 by Lumpy

Chapter 15

After our confrontation, practice more or less broke up. I left it to Seth and Lyla to make sure Marco made it to the show and headed home to change. After, I found myself standing in the middle of my room, holding my phone, debating with myself. Lyla had been right, but it still felt like the kind of thing my father would do, which made me hesitant.

“Screw it,” I said to no one in particular, and hit his contact number.

After several long seconds, Warren answered. “Hey, Charlie. I saw you called a few times, sorry I didn’t answer. It’s been a little crazy here since last week. How are you holding up?”

“Okay, I guess. We’re all still a little wigged out. Uhh ... did Kent tell you I talked to him?”

“About the lost instruments? Yes. Did you end up getting them replaced?”

“Yes. We went to Asheville and took care of it so we could play this weekend. That wiped us out though. We’re playing this weekend to essentially make up the difference and get back to just having no money. Sorry, I should have asked, how are you? How’s the leg?”

“I’m all right. I’ll be in a cast for a few months, but I’ll heal. Look, I owe you an apology for what happened in Raleigh. I should’ve checked that venue out myself, made sure it was the same management team, and made sure everything was set up right. I also should have called off the show as soon as we had the electrical problems. I knew that was a safety hazard, but I let you go on anyway. I made a mistake, and I’m sorry.”

It actually helped to hear that. I know Lyla had said basically the same thing, but I’d been holding onto my guilt for the show, since we wouldn’t have even been there if I hadn’t pushed Warren into setting it up.

“Okay, we can both feel guilty about it. Deal?”

“Deal. On the good side to address your immediate problem, the label is taking this very seriously. Legal has filed a suit against the management company and the building owners for breach of contract and negligence. That being said, they’ve already approved our paying for your lost instruments so you can get on the road again.”

“We already replaced them, though,” I said, my mouth getting ahead of my brain. Why I would try to talk him out of it, I had no idea.

“I may not have mentioned that part to my bosses. They should cut a check soon and get it to you. I know you’ll be in a tight spot until then, so I’ll do everything I can to speed it up. Between any payout we get from the management company and our insurance, I imagine we won’t have to eat any of the cost, so it shouldn’t blow back on anyone too badly.”

“Okay, well. I appreciate it. Actually, while I have you on the phone, there was something we wanted to ask about. We heard about the charity benefit show coming up next month and were hoping you could get us on the lineup. We understand it probably won’t be a paid gig, but the exposure would be amazing. We’d be fine with any spot we could get, and considering how well the New Year’s show went, I think we’ve shown we can handle it.”

“I actually already pitched that because you’re right, it isn’t that different from the New Year’s show, and the exposure would be tremendous,” Warren said.

“But...” I said, hearing the unspoken word in the tone of his voice.

“But my bosses don’t think it’s a good idea. The guy heading the show was in some of the meetings involving your father and his demands, and he is not your biggest fan.”

“So they’re penalizing me?”

“Yes. I know it sucks, but these kinds of guys hold grudges. Not forever. If you’re making them enough money, you could probably bump off one of their family members and they’d still invite you for the holidays, but if not ... yeah. It’s not fair, and it’s why I’ve been warning you about Marco. If anyone makes enough waves for them to see it, you’ll get a black mark.”

“Does that include Raleigh?”

“Not against you.”

“But they’re going to hold it against you, right?”

“For a while. I think that might be another reason for them turning us down. You could try going through Kent and see if he could get you the spot, but between what happened with your dad and my connection to the Raleigh show, yeah, it’s a tough sell.”

“Damn. This sucks.”

“Yeah, I know, and I’m sorry about it. Like I said, the only way to fix it is by making them money, so let’s focus on Philadelphia and Florida. Those are both big shows where you can still get some good exposure and make good money. We do enough of those, everyone will be out of the doghouse, and we can keep moving forward.”

“Sure. We’re already working on some new stuff for those shows. We’ll be ready.”

“See, that’s what I like to hear.”

I didn’t know if I was relieved or disappointed when I hung up. I’d been worried about either getting Warren in trouble or giving the execs another reason to be annoyed, and both of those had been true without me asking for anything. On the flip side, everyone had been right, and that show would have been good for us. I hadn’t realized that I was actually hoping we got it until I was told we wouldn’t be able to get it.

Sunday was the first baseball game of the year, and it wasn’t going well for us. Both teams had scored early, putting up runs in the first inning. After that, it had turned into a pitcher’s duel, and no one had managed to score another run. There had been lots of foul balls, and the count had gone full more times than I could count. We had to sub in David as our closer in the bottom of the fourth, and he was already starting to get winded.

They were better behind the plate than us. Except for one incredibly lucky triple that turned into an infield home run after an error, we hadn’t scored another hit all night. They, on the other hand, had gotten multiple men on base. We fought each time to keep it from turning into a run, but it hadn’t been easy.

Worse, they were up in the bottom of the inning, which gave them another chance to tie it up or win the game. And David was running out of steam.

I didn’t have room to judge anyone since I’d had a terrible game so far. I hadn’t had any serious plays in the outfield, yet, and I’d struck out looking two times. Heading out to the field, looking at my teammates, it seemed like we all had a bad feeling about how this inning was going to go.

The leadoff batter strode up to the plate, smacking his cleats menacingly with his bat. David glanced at Coach, who gave him a nod of encouragement. We were all nervous, but I think David had it the worst. The first game of the year would set the tone for the whole season, and he didn’t want to let the team down, not when our opener had done such a good job holding things together. I wouldn’t say these guys were better than us, but I also couldn’t completely deny it. I could see David tense up from where I stood in the outfield. That was a bad sign.

The first ball left his hand, curving low and outside.

“Ball!” the umpire called.

He shook it off, took a deep breath, and threw again. The second pitch sizzled over the middle of the plate.


The batter stepped back, slapped the bat against the bottom of his shoe, and went back to the plate, pulling his bat back up, ready to swing. He didn’t really need to bother. The third pitch veered off course, nearly hitting the batter.


David put his hands on his hips, looking down for a moment, clearly frustrated, before holding up his glove for the catcher to throw the ball back. He took a deep breath, stood up tall, and let another one go. I don’t know if he tried putting too much on it, overcompensated, or if he just lost control, but this one dipped low over the plate, the batter letting it pass unanswered.


David tugged at his ball cap again. Three balls, one strike. The batter had the advantage, and I was pretty sure he knew it. David paced around the mound, taking a moment to refocus. His next pitch had to be perfect. He wound up and snapped his arm forward, releasing a fastball straight down the middle.

“Strike two!” the umpire shouted.

The batter tensed up now that the count was full. David reared back and threw with everything he had. The ball rocketed towards the plate, and the batter swung with all his might, not even coming close.

As the guy stomped off, I exhaled in relief. One down, two to go. Hopefully, he was starting to settle down.

The next batter fouled off three pitches in a row, each barely over the line. David managed to get two strikes in, filling the count, followed by another four foul balls. If he kept this up, he wasn’t going to have enough energy to make it through the inning. He wiped his brow, adjusted his cap, and all I could do was stand out here in right field, waiting for something to come my way.

David threw again. The ball spun end over end, arcing toward the plate. The batter’s eyes lit up as he swung and connected solidly. A line drive into right field.

I sprinted left, tracking the ball’s path. My outstretched glove was inches away from snatching it out of the air, but the ball was just a fraction of an inch too high. Soaring over my glove, it hit the ground a few feet away and continued rolling. I cut hard to get back to it, scooping it up and rocketing it to second as the runner neared the base. I wasn’t going to stop the double, but I could at least keep it from being a triple.

“Damn it!” I muttered under my breath.

I saw Harry gesturing my way and knew he was making some remark about me missing the catch, but I knew Coach Dean had seen it and would recognize that I gave it my all, and it was just too high for me to reach.

The next at-bat was short but very much not sweet. He hit it right out toward left-center field, but our shortstop intercepted it and tossed it to the third baseman. The only thing that saved the runner at second from getting caught in a ‘pickle,’ between second and third, was his hesitation. He’d waited to see if the shortstop was going to get it, and so was close enough to get back to second base before we could tag him out.

The source of this story is Finestories

To read the complete story you need to be logged in:
Log In or
Register for a Free account (Why register?)

Get No-Registration Temporary Access*

* Allows you 3 stories to read in 24 hours.