From the story, When Murray Met Helen

Monday had been muggy. Tuesday had been wet. But Wednesday a front had come through in the morning and left in its wake a clean window of blue sky, with mares tail clouds reaching beyond Wisconsin, out toward Michigan’s upper peninsula. It can be cold in Miller Field’s right field seats, as they catch the shade earlier, and so Murray wore a leather bomber jacket, an ancient Milwaukee Braves emblem on the back, a still working zipper on the front, and a wool cap rolled up like a beret in the shoulder strap.

Helen wore her Gorman Thomas souvenir jersey. She’d put her hair in a ponytail so that it extruded through the hole in the back of her ball cap, and she wore Jackie O style sunglasses.

She surprised him by how much she knew of the players, on both teams. She even knew the name of the town in the Dominican Republic where the Brewers’ center fielder had gone to grade school.

He surprised her by how at ease he was in the joyful melee of baseball fans, buskers, and vendors. You don’t expect to see people in their eighties behaving as though they’re still in their prime, still in their milieu. But so it was with Murray, this Wednesday night at the game. The Brewers won 6-5, not having to bother with their last at bat because the big Dominican in center field pegged a throw to the plate to shut off what would have been the tying run.

Along the way, Murray took lots of good-natured shit from the guys in right field for being in the company of a young, attractive woman who, they’d learned, was neither a daughter, a granddaughter, or a great-granddaughter.

“You can’t fake experience guys!” he’d shouted back. “This ain’t like hair club!”

Of course Murray and Helen joked and traded jabs between the two of them all night long. She brought him back to his drive way at 10:30 and only then began to notice he was tiring.

“This has been so much fun,” he said. “A great time. With you.”

“You’re not getting serious on me are you?” she toyed.

He finally had to pause and think for a couple seconds about what he wanted to say.

“Oh no,” he finally said with little grin. “I’m done with serious. I’ve seen too much serious. I’ve bled serious. Bled serious all to hell.”

And then she noticed a tear in the corner of his eye.

“You okay, Murray?”

“You know Helen, there’s some things about me I haven’t told you.”

He was searching for words, his eyes becoming even more moist.

“Well, keep in mind Murray, I do have to work in the morning.”

Though he gave a little chuckle, she wondered later if that last bit of jest was so wise.

“You know, I’m not proud of everything that’s true about me,” he said, finally. “But I’m not afraid of it either.”

She set her hand on the top of his near arm to comfort him.

Then he said good night, and stepped out of the car.
WWoB slice

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