Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: North (05/05/16)
- TITLE: Shepherd's Field
By C D Swanson
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“Michael, my sweet boy, you’re always thinking of me. How blessed I am to have a son like you. It’s not your responsibility, we’ll get by somehow.”
“I gotta go! I wanna be first on line. I’ll see you later Ma.”
“Be careful, I’m so sorry I can’t come with you, I wish I could but—”
“Ma, I know…it’s okay, you gotta work…” Michael finished the bite of toast before grabbing his duffel bag. “Later Ma.”
The signs were posted throughout the neighborhood, “North of the Red Fence Home Run Contest.” It was to be held May 12, 2016, at Shepherd’s Field, at 11:00 A.M. Michael was running ahead of time, but that was good, he never was late for anything. He just wanted to help his “Ma” who provided for him since he was about five years old.
“I’m gonna win this contest. There’s no way I won’t!”
Michael hadn’t realized he spoke aloud until he heard, “What’s that Son?” A man with a pleasant face smiled as he waited for his response.
“Oh…I was just kinda talking to myself is all, I didn’t really say nothing.”
The man chuckled, “Oh, okay. Well, I do that all the time too.”
Michael thought about the prize he’d win. The first prize was fifty-thousand dollars. The lucky person to receive the prize has to go yard—which is a home run— north of the red fence. His “Ma” had been sickly, and the bills piled up. They were in danger of being put out by the landlord. He had to do something to help her. She was kind enough to take him out of the orphanage. It’s been a good life for the past ten years. His baseball skills were going to pay off, they had to.
“I gotta do this thing, or I’ll don’t know what’s gonna happen next.”
The man sitting near him sensed he was deeply troubled. These days when you offer help to a “youngster” it could be misconstrued in this politically correct world, so he hesitated a moment before reaching out to him.
“Son, my name is Jack Warner. I can’t help but feel you’re troubled or worried about something. Can, I help in any way?”
“Oh, yeah…but, no, it’s okay, I got this.”
“I’m sure you have, but sometimes it helps to speak to a stranger, it really can help sometimes. It you’d like, I’ll listen.”
Michael peered at him. He had a kind face and seemed sincere in his gesture to help. Something told him it was okay to talk to him.
“Well, it’s my Ma. She’s been sick, and the bills piled up. You know, kinda like a sad movie, or cheesy book, that’s our life right now. We’re about to be thrown out by the landlord because Ma hasn’t been able to pay the rent for this month yet. And, we’re two months behind as of yesterday. I’ m going over to Shepherd’s Field to try and win a contest. I know it’s a long shot, kinda for real. I gotta hit a home run north of the red fence in order to win the big prize. That’s about it…and so now, I’m just worried that I won’t hit it out of the ballpark.”
Jack let out a low whistle, “That’s a lot of pressure for a young man to have riding on his back.”
“Tell me about it.” Michael nodded his head, “It’s all I could think of these past weeks since I saw that sign posted about this contest.”
“Well, at least you’re trying. Trying is half the battle, and you’re already ahead in that department. I’m sure your Ma is very proud of you, no matter the outcome. You seem like a great kid. I don’t have any children, but if I did, I’d sure hope he’d be as kind and dedicated as you.”
Michael smiled as he stood up, “Well, here’s my stop. Thanks Jack…”
He made it to the field and was first on line. It seemed to take forever before he walked out to home plate. He waited patiently for the right pitch, “Whack!” It soared higher and higher, the ball headed north…almost, but not quite.
Michael slowly walked off the field; head hung low, unshed tears glistening in the sunlight.
High above in the stands, Jack Warner, the millionaire, watched…
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