He speaks with a tone that I don’t like: “There’s a game on, you know.”
It is not an infuriating tone, but one that does make me roll my eyes. “Not until two, fucktard. I’m not an amateur.”
His retort comes as no surprise. “Then explain BABIP.”
“Ah, shut up,” I say, swatting toward him. He laughs.
Linc, who was only called The Avatar back when he was nameless, leans back in the stadium seat and angles his face toward the unobstructed sun and the blue sky. The Ballpark is ours, as it always is in this parallel universe, this imagined existence. Linc is wearing a simple outfit of jeans and one of those grey tunics that has three buttons down the middle from the collar. If his real-life counterpart were hanging out with me in an empty ballpark, this is how I imagine he’d be sitting.
His eyes are closed as he soaks in the sun. “Who says ‘fucktard’ anymore, anyway?”
My own outfit is much simpler than Linc’s because it is a reflection of what I’m wearing in real life: faded running pants that ought to be replaced sometime soon, and a baggy t-shirt. It is not especially flattering, but I’m not leaving the house today, except to escape here.
“I’m detoxing,” I reply irritably. “I’m here to decompress. You’re not helping.”
In this world, there are always sounds of traffic in the background and the city is exactly as it appears in reality, except that no one’s around and the streets are actualy empty. It is an interstitial reality born from selfishness and yearning.
“Do you think anyone ever sneaks into AT&T Park like this?” Linc asks, sleepily.
“You tell me. You’re the one who works here,” I say with a shrug and a yawn. His somnambulism is contagious.
I lean back in my seat the way he does. We’re in the nosebleed section, called “view reserve” in the terminology of AT&T Park. The dugout is just beneath us. This is the kind of day that Jon Miller would find some lyrical way to describe as the perfect day for a ballgame, and as Linc has mentioned, there actually will be in the ballgame here, in the real world. But this is Our Ballpark, and though related to its counterpart, baseball here exists in its own form and dimension.
“The heart of baseball,” proclaims Linc. His hand, which had been draped over the arm rest of his seat, moves to drape over my own hand, except that there is no contact. I cannot feel the warmth of his flesh nor the electricity of his touch because I have never experienced them in real life. The appearance of Linc is a cruel manifestation of hologram and apparition, yet I reach for him in return, in yearning.
“Yeah,” I reply with a labored, cynical sigh. “‘The heart of baseball.’ Fat load of crap that’s gotten me.”
“Hey. Don’t talk like that. I thought you were detoxing.”
In the real world, my cell phone is turned off and my calendar is clear. I have a book to read, a story to write and some movies to watch. Perhaps I’ll even listen to the game.
If I think hard enough, I can perceive Linc’s hand over mine as the breezy wake of a ghost that has just spirited away.