Do you think the narrator is going to commit a crime ? Go on reading and you will find out

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  1. Additional reading
  2. AFTER-READING ACTIVITIES
  3. AFTER-READING ACTIVITIES
  4. AFTER-READING ACTIVITIES
  5. AFTER-READING ACTIVITIES
  6. As you can see it varies very much in spelling and structure from the English you are reading, but you certainly recognize it as English of Caxton to whom we owe so much.
  7. Complain, dream, hear, remind, remind, think, think, warn
  8. Crime Prevention Conference
  9. Crime Scene Interpretation
  10. Crime Scene Processing Protocol
  11. Crime Will Be Out Sooner of Later

 

I go to see a man I dont know personally, though I have seen his face peering at me from the financial pages of the local newspaper, and the Wall Street Journal, and I have been watching his profile at the baseball stadium, two boxes to the right of me, for several years. He is a fan. Really a fan. When the weather is intemperate, or the game not close, the people around us disappear like flowers closing at sunset, but we are always there until the last pitch. I know he is a man who attends because of the beauty and mystery of the game, a man who can sit during the last of the ninth with the game decided innings ago, and draw joy from watching the first baseman adjust the angle of his glove as the pitcher goes into his windup.

He, like me, is a first-base-side fan. Ive always watched baseball from behind first base. The positions fans choose at sporting events are like politics, religion, or philosophy: a view of the world, a way of seeing the universe. They make no sense to anyone, have no basis in anything but stubbornness. I brought up my daughters to watch baseball from the first-base side. One lives in Japan and sends me box scores from Japanese newspapers, and Japanese baseball magazines with pictures of superstars politely bowing to one another. She has a season ticket in Yokohama ; on the first-base side.

Tell him a baseball fan is here to see him, is all I will say to his secretary. His office is in a skyscraper, from which he can look out over the city to where the prairie rolls green as mountain water to the limits of the eye. I wait all afternoon in the artificially cool, glassy reception area with its yellow and mauve chairs, chrome and glass coffee tables. Finally, in the late afternoon, my message is passed along.

Ive seen you at the baseball stadium, I say, not introducing myself.

Yes, he says. I recognize you. Three rows back, about eight seats to my left. You have a red scorebook and you often bring your daughter...

Granddaughter.

One of my greatest regrets, says this tall man, whose moustache and carefully styled hair are polar-bear white, is that my grandchildren all live over a thousand miles away. Youre very lucky. Now, what can I do for you ?

I have an idea, I say. One thats been creeping toward me like a first baseman when the bunt sign is on. What do you think about artificial turf ?

Hmmmf, he snorts, thats what the strike should be about. Baseball is meant to be played on summer evenings and Sunday afternoons, on grass just cut by a horse-drawn mower, and we smile as our eyes meet.

Ive discovered the ballpark is open, to me anyway, I go on. Theres no one there while the strike is on. The wind blows through the high top of the grandstand, whining until the pigeons in the rafters flutter. Its lonely as a ghost town.

And what is it you do there, alone with the pigeons ?

I dream.

And where do I come in ?

Youve always struck me as a man who dreams. I think we have things in common. I think you might like to come with me. I could show you what I dream, paint you pictures, suggest what might happen...

He studies me carefully for a moment, like a pitcher trying to decide if he can trust the sign his catcher has just given him.

Tonight ? he says. Would tonight be too soon ?

Park in the northwest corner of the lot about 1:00 a.m. There is a door about fifty yards to the right of the main gate. Ill open it when I hear you.

He nods. I turn and leave.

The night is clear and cotton warm when he arrives. Oh, my, he says, staring at the stadium turned chrome-blue by a full moon. Oh, my, he says again, breathing in the faint odours of baseball, the reminder of fans and players not long gone.

Lets go down to the field, I say. I am carrying a cardboard pizza box, holding it on the upturned palms of my hands, like an offering. When we reach the field, he first stands on the mount, makes an awkward attempt at a windup, then does a little sprint from first to about half-way to second. I think I know what youve brought, he says, gesturing toward the box, but let me see anyway.

I open the box in which rests a square foot of sod, the grass smooth and pure, cool as a swatch of satin, fragile as babys hair.

Ohhh, the man says, reaching out a finger to test the moistness of it. Oh, I see.

We walk across the field, the harsh, prickly turf making the bottoms of my feet tingle, to the left-field corner where, in the angle formed by the foul line and the warning track, I lay down the square foot of sod. Thats beautiful, my friend says, kneeling beside me, placing his hand, fingers spread wide, on the verdant square, leaving a print faint as a veronica. I take from my belt a sickle-shaped blade, the kind used for cutting carpet. I measure along the edge of the sod, dig the point in and pull carefully toward me. There is a ripping sound, like tearing an old bed sheet. I hold up the square of artificial turf like something freshly killed, while all the time digging the sharp point into the packed earth I have exposed. I replace the sod lovingly, covering the newly bared surface.

A protest, I say.

But it could be more, the man replies. I hoped youd say that. It could be. If youd like to come back... Tomorrow night ?

Tomorrow night would be fine. But there will be an admission charge... A square of sod ?

A square of sod two inches thick...

Of the same grass ?

Of the same grass. But theres more.

I suspected as much.

You must have a friend...

Who would join us ?

Yes.

I have two. Would that be all right ?

I trust your judgement.

My father. Hes over eighty, my friend says. You might have seen him with me once or twice. He lives over fifty miles from here, but if I call him hell come. And my friend...

If they pay their admission theyll be welcome...

And they may have friends...

Indeed they may. But what will we do with this ? I say, holding up the sticky-backed square of turf, which smells of glue and fabric.

We could mail them anonymously to baseball executives, politicians, clergymen.

Gentle reminders not to tamper with Nature. We dance toward the exit, rampant with excitement. You will come back ? Youll bring others ?

Count on it, says my friend.

They do come, those trusted friends, and friends of friends, each making a live, green deposit. At first, a tiny row of sod squares begins to inch along toward left-centre field. The next night even more people arrive, the following night more again, and the night after there is positively a crowd. Those who come once seem always to return accompanied by friends, occasionally a son or young brother, but mostly men my age or older, for we are the ones who remember the grass.

Night after night the pilgrimage continues. The first night I stand inside the deep green door, listening. I hear a vehicle stop ; hear a car door close with a snug thud. I open the door when the sound of soft-soled shoes on gravel tells me it is time. The door swings silent as a snake. We nod curt greetings to each other. Two men pass me, each carrying
a grasshopper-legged sprinkler. Later, each sprinkler will sizzle like frying onions as it wheels, a silver sparkler in the moonlight.


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