Next Stop - The Show (cont - 4)

Kevin had enjoyed working at Wuxi the year he went down there to meet Shu. It didn’t take him long to think about it. “That could be a possibility. I enjoyed it when I was there a couple years ago. That is where I met my wife. Well, actually I met her before Wuxi and that was the main reason I went over there. It would give Shu an opportunity to spend some time with her parents and it is only a 45 minute train ride from Shanghai. I’d have to check with Shu to see what she has on my schedule. She’s like a mad woman making up my schedule for our trip to China after the season. I can’t believe what people are willing to pay just to have me appear somewhere.”

“Proof of what I was telling you. Your skills are better utilized leading. Not playing. We could use some coaching help in the minor leagues. You live in the area and I can see some openings coming up at Bowie. If you have any interest I’d like to talk to you about managing at Bowie?”

“What about Joe Palmer. I’d feel bad taking over his job.”

“You don’t have to worry about Joe Palmer. We’re bumping him up to Norfolk. Wendell Parson has told me this will be his last year. His knees are bothering him and he wants to rest to spend more time with his family.”

“Good for him. He never looked happy at Norfolk.”

Larvell drained the cup dry, went over to the water cooler to refill it. “Glug, glug, glug” came the sound from the water cooler. “So do you think we have an agreement in principle for you to lead a contingent we send to Wuxi for training and when that is done possibly manage at Bowie? We can discuss the terms after the season. I just want to gauge your interest.”

“I’d like to talk to Shu first to see what she has on my schedule. It would depend on the time frame, but I think we have an agreement in principle if everything works right on the schedule.”

Larvell drained the cup dry a second time. He let out a sigh. “When the owner of the Cubs offered me a future position with the team he bought me a number of drinks. I feel kind of bad the only beverage I can offer you is water. Stale water to boot.” He brought out an empty cup from the box of cups sitting on the counter. “Drink?”

“No thanks. You can get me next time.”

“Jason’s got five more innings to break the shutout streak. A lot of people are pretty excited about the streak. He always seems to do something to amaze me. If he’s not striking out five hitters in an inning he’s pitching seven innings of a perfect game. Now 55 innings of shutout ball. The kid is amazing. He is on a roll right now. You think he’s got five more innings of shutout ball left in him to break the streak?”

“I think he’s got a lot more innings of shutout ball in that arm of his. If he stays focused no one can touch him. Five more innings will be a cake walk.”

“You keep him focused then.” Larvell walked across the table to extend his hand toward Kevin. “I prefer to keep a young man like you in the organization. We’ll talk again after the season.”

Kevin got up from his chair and grasped Larvell’s hand as they shook. “Appreciate the opportunity Mr. Blanks. That’s it?” The talk had lasted longer than Kevin had expected. Kevin only now realized Jason was in the locker room waiting for him. There was a sudden urgency to depart now, while things were ending well. The fear of release still hung in the air.

“That’s it.”

Kevin turned to open the door. Just as he reached the knob Larvell spoke again. “There is one more thing I forgot to tell you.” Kevin turned his head to look at Larvell. He saw a smile on his face. It was not a smile a general manager would give if he was releasing a player. “I want you to report to the Orioles on September 11th. You’ll be catching for Jason. We’ll get you that one at bat in the major leagues.”

Kevin’s hand stayed frozen to the door knob. “You serious?” A flood of emotions surged through him. He almost felt like he would collapse to the ground. He did his best to keep his eyes from getting moist from the tears and kept his legs firm to the ground to keep them from collapsing underneath him.

“I’m serious. You deserve it. Welcome to the big leagues Kevin Beamer.”

“Thank you.” Kevin wanted to rush over to hug Larvell, but his hand stayed glued to the door knob as he fumbled to pry it open. He needed to get out of the room before Larvell saw him get too emotional. When he walked out the door he did not have any purpose to his steps. He forgot the direction he was walking towards. He stopped, looked around. He did his best to stop from letting out a scream of joy. “Got to stay calm,” he kept repeating to himself, wiping his eyes from the moisture dripping from his ducts.

The locker room was empty now but he still felt a need to keep his emotions in check. He couldn’t get too excited. That is the way he played the game. That is the way he lived his life. Still, he had never felt so happy, not since his wedding to Shu.

Only Jason was left in the locker room among the players. Jason must have seen the smirk on Kevin’s face. He was fully dressed sitting on a stool banging his fingers on his phone playing some video game. If he had been gone an hour Jason would be in the same position. “So? That not look of we-leased play-ah.”

“I’m going to the major leagues. You and I appear to have some more pitch and catch to do.” Jason jumped up from the stool to reach for Kevin’s hand to congratulate him. Kevin grabbed Jason with a big bear hug, trying to wrap his arms around him. They collided awkwardly. Kevin couldn’t hold back the tears any longer. They were rolling down his cheeks like a river. ‘I am going to the show.” Kevin broke suddenly from Jason’s grasp. ‘I’ve got to call Shu.” He felt a little embarrassed with the tears and began wiping them away with his hands. “She will be excited to hear the news.”

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