Take Me Out of the Ballgame II - A Craven Danger Mystery
Big Ben Bronski of Hell’s Kitchen stood in the batters box, listening to the taunts of the sparkling firecracker in the stands. He pointed his bat at Craven Danger - first baseman for The Yorkville Travelers.
“If you don’t tell that redhead a yours to cool it with the heckles I’m gonna climb on top a that empty skull a yours and pound you into an early grave!”
“Hey, Mr. Danger!” said Betty. “Throw a banana over the fence and see how high that gorilla can jump! I’m bettin' his knuckles touch the ground when he walks!”
“Betty!” said Craven, “Ixna on the orillaga. Yer gonna get me killed out here!”
Big Ben grimaced, then belted a single to left. He plowed his way down the first base line and came down hard on the bag with his left cleat. Solid steel. Size 16. Double wide.
Unfortunately, Craven’s foot occupied the bag at that moment and the sudden pain to his left ankle caused blood to rush from head to foot, convincing his knees to wobble and his arms to flail like a human hot air balloon at the Thanksgiving Day parade that had the wind knocked out of it by a bratty kid with a Shureshot BB gun.
Craven Danger hit the ground with a soft whoosh.
“Ya play baseball like ya play detective’, Mr. Private Eyeball” said Big Ben. “All sails and no wind.”
Craven lay on his back and felt the warm drops splash on his forehead.
Ah, that feels nice, thought Craven. Reminds me of rainy summers on the Jersey shore when I was a kid. The boardwalk. Those hot salted pretzels with yellow mustard and an icy cold root beer to wash it down with. Then a scoop a vanilla ice cream over a warm waffle, topped off with a murderous amount of chocolate syrup and whipped cream. If only I coulda stayed a kid.
Craven Danger opened his eyes expecting to see rainclouds, but all he saw raining down on him was the thunderous Big Ben Bronski.
The hefty batter hovered over Craven, dripping sweat from nose hairs the size of pine needles.
“Hope ya don’t mind a little sweat, Craven. I figured since ya ain’t never worked up a good sweat on yer own, I’d share some of mine.”
“Hey!” said Craven. “Ya just went an’ spoiled a perfectly good childhood appetite!”
Craven got to his aching feet and wiped Big Ben’s sweat from his brow.
“How’s it feel?” said Big Ben.
“How’s what feel?”
“Wipin’ sweat from yer brow for the first time. An’ ta think it took my hard earned sweat ta do it! Yer welcome.”
“Listen, doofus! I got my very own wiseguy in Betty! There ain’t room in my head for two of ya! Betty I can tolerate. I mean, look at that sweet, lovable beauty sittin’ over there. The one who always gives me the lovin’ eye. Even when I don’t deserve it. The one who picks me up when I’m down. Even when she’s the one that knocked me down in the first place. The one who—“
“Likes boxin’ the home-plate umpire?” said Big Ben.
Craven turned his head just in time to see the umpire hit the ground.
“Betty! You pick that umpire back up this minute!” said Craven. “I’m sure he didn’t mean ta do whatever it is you think he done! And besides! There’s no boxin' in baseball! Period!”
I gotta make a mental note, thought Craven, not ta ever take Betty ta the boxin’ matches at the Garden. That could be ugly. Really ugly.
Photo courtesy of Wiki pics.