Betting on the Outfield

by Channie Greenberg


Henry T. Port slugged back more ale and fixed his ankles on the box beneath his table. He adjusted the reception and admired the clarity of the picture on his screen.

Mighty Joe McKenzie was up to bat. One hundred bucks were riding on the outcome of this game; Sly Leonard had upped the ante during coffee hour and Henry had bitten fully. Truth be told, though, those hundred bucks had been meant for groceries.

The crowd suddenly cheering, on the other side of the screen, broke Henry’s reverie. Something important had happened and he had missed the event because he had been busy musing about potatoes and cereal flakes.

Henry tugged again at his bottle. Drained, it burped back at him. An instant replay revealed that Mighty Joe had lived up to his fame and had hit one high into the outfield. Little Timmy Owens, the opposing squad’s champ, was running fast and wide to intercept the ball.

The telecast bleachers were in an uproar. Fans flashed body parts painted in team colors and joined together in performing wave after wave. Little Timmy kept on running.

A sudden constriction brought Henry to his feet. He hurried to the bathroom.

Twenty-five minutes later, he returned to the tube. The game had been interrupted by talking heads who were babbling about some sort of invasion.

Henry flicked the remote. The same heads, the nation’s flag hung behind them, were gabbing on all available channels.

Brushing the crumbs from his chips into a napkin, Henry clicked off the sound and brought his crumbled bits into the kitchen. He open and closed his fridge hoping that more than an old egg and half of a stale roll might suddenly appear.

As he was swinging wide that door for the third time, the light inside that appliance went out. The refrigerator stopped humming, too. In fact, all of the electricity in Henry’s apartment abruptly stopped flowing.

The hungry man pawed his radio off of a kitchen shelf. Fortunately, it ran on batteries.

Not quite fumbling, he dialed until he hit a live station. The same voices that, moments before, had addressed Henry from his TV were talking out of his boom box.

Intelligent satellites had broadcast findings of a fleet of ships approaching the solar system. Nuclear deterrents had decimated all but one of the alien craft. That last warplane was hovering around Jupiter.

If that predator succeeded in blasting back to Earth, most of the population would likely be lost. Alternatively, Earth could be saved if the skipper of the Imperial Air Force, the highly decorated Tommy Owens, twin to the baseball player of renown, got to the asteroid belt first.

Henry sucked at the dregs of his bottle of ale, lifted his television off of his table, and placed his radio in its stead. It was always exciting when a game went into extra innings.


Copyright © 2009 by Channie Greenberg

Home Page