Published by David Belisle on October 31st 2016
Hayward Templeton, a psychiatry grad student at the University of Iowa, grudgingly agrees to pitch in a co-ed baseball game. A stickler for research, he discovers online how to throw a screwball and excels at it. Hayward's team wins and while celebrating, they accidentally drop him on his head. As he lies on the ground unconscious, a few teammates discuss an upcoming psych quiz.
Hayward unknowingly soaks it all in. When he comes to, he begins experiencing bizarre mental disorders -- on his way to the big leagues as a screwball pitcher.
Screwball is as screwball does ...
“It’s good to have you back, Hayward.”
Rodriguez turned out the light. Hayward closed his book, turned out his light and lay back. He stared at the ceiling. 13 down, 13 to go. In his head, the monotone voice of Dr. Blitzer reminded him, ‘We need to put a face to these disorders …”
He closed his eyes and slipped into a dream …
… The stands were packed at Kauffman Stadium with sunshine befitting royally. Hayward and the Kansas City club were in their dugout, the opposing team in theirs. The baseball field looked normal except for several sandbags stacked haphazardly in front of the dugouts, giving them a bunker-like appearance.
A microphone stand was at the top step of each bunker. Every player in both dugouts wore batting helmets. A word was taped to the front of each player’s helmet.
In the pressbox, Skip Perry had the call with John Dutton doing color.
“13 down, 13 to go,” said Perry.
In the Lebanon bunker, a trainer tied up a straight jacket on Fahbri Kayshunn and escorted him to the end of the bunker and down the tunnel. The word “FRENCH” was taped to Kayshunn’s helmet.
“The trainer escorts Fahbri Kayshunn out of the game,” said Perry. “That was a nasty French fry innuendo that knocked him out of the game. It’s been that kind of meeting of the minds today between the host Kansas City Kibitzers and the always-loquacious Lebanon Liars.
The scoreboard showed Kansas City leading Lebanon 13 to 11. The two numbers were in a column under the heading “INSANE”.
“Kansas City leads Lebanon 13-11.”
In the Lebanon dugout, Ahseeyu Frumafar peered through binoculars at the Kansas City bunker. He spotted Bo “Gus” Whopper. Whopper had the word “PLANE” taped to his helmet. The Lebanese players all spoke with thick Arab accents.
Frumafar lowered his binoculars and turned to his teammates.
“We have da plane! We have da plane!”
Shammuva Traahvusti stepped to the mic in the Lebanon bunker. Perry watched intently.
“Next up to the mic is the Liars’ Shammuva Traahvusti. He’s one-for-one this afternoon with a ringing red-headed stepchild slam.”
Both teams’ bunker mics were piped into the public address system. Traahvusti cleared his voice.
“You are so mental …”
The crowd took up the cause.
“How mental is he?!”
“You are so mental, you think the Charter of Rights is a plane trip for right-handed people only.”
The crowd erupted in laughter.
In the Kansas City dugout, Bo Gus Whopper collapsed to the floor. Perry leaned forward in the press box.
Bo Gus Whopper is down! Taken down by a plane blast!”
The crowd groaned. Whopper brought his legs up into the fetal position. He began sucking his thumb.
“It’s not looking good for Bo Gus, trash talk fans. “That’s the same fetal position we saw him in last week in Kalamazoo.”
“It’s a wonder what that new anti-insanity flaxseed oil can do.”
The Kansas City trainer, Dan Wendover, lifted up Whopper’s eyelids and flashed his pocket light at Bo Gus’ pupils. No response. The trainer gave the “out” sign by flipping his arm high with his thumb out. The crowd groaned.
“Whopper is out of here!” exclaimed Perry. “Lebanon pulls within one!”
The Lebanon number on the scoreboard changed to 12. Wendover helped Bo Gus to the end of the bunker and down the tunnel.
The Kibitzer’s M.T. Werds trained his binoculars on the Lebanon bunker. The Liars’ Purjuri Slaandar had the word “FUR” taped to his helmet. Werds spotted him and zoomed in.
“Fur sighting at 11 o’clock, one-niner.”
Werd’s teammate Guff Claptrap bounced out of his seat and stepped up to the Kansas City mic.
“Here comes Guff Claptrap,” said Perry, “last year’s most vocal player. A record 27 players committed in the month of July. The Human Asylum.”
“You’re so mental …” said Claptrap.
“How mental is he?!” the crowd hollered.
“You’re so mental, you turned down a meeting with the Dali Lama because you’re allergic to fur!”
The crowd roared. Purjuri Slaandar suddenly had the world’s biggest itch.
“A direct hit!” said Perry. “Purjuri Slaandar is having a huge reaction to Claptrap’s fur-flying smack!”
Slaandar scratched himself all over. He screamed. He ran out of the bunker and rolled around in the dirt. The crowd applauded. Lebanon’s trainer arrived with a strait jacket and quickly strapped him in. The Kansas City number on the scoreboard changed to 14.
Perry turned to Dutton.
“That was quite the devilish demonstration … but in the paper tomorrow it’ll look just like an ordinary tick.”
From the Lebanese bunker, Ahseeyu Frumafar scanned the Kansas City bunker once more with his binoculars. He spotted Jesus Rodriguez and zoomed in. “Clock” was the word taped to Jesus’ helmet.
Frumafar lowered his binoculars and sneered.
“Tick, tock, tick, tock. I see a clock!”
Arteef Ishalli adjusted his regulation gown and stepped to the Liars’ mic.
“The Liars are looking to come right back,” said Perry. “They’re in an angry mood. An ugly mood. You can feel it in the air. They’re mad alright. Mad as hatters. Let’s hear what Arteef Ishalli has to say.”
“You are so mental …” said the Lebanon leader in Resolve-Breaking Insults.
“How mental is he!?” yelled the crowd.
“You are so mental, when you wanted a personal time-piece … you bought a cuckoo clock!”
Jesus Rodriguez stood stock still. His eyes went wide.
Hayward turned to see him. Rodriguez slumped to the floor of the dugout.
“N-O-O-O-O-O-O-O-O-O!” shouted Hayward …
Hayward awoke in a sweat. He jumped out of bed, rushed to Rodriguez’ bed and loomed over his sleeping teammate.
“Jesus! Jesus! Speak to me! Ohmigod, he’s dead. He’s DEAD!”
Hayward looked around in a panic. His eyes landed on Jesus’ clock radio.
“That gawd-damn clock!”
He picked up the clock radio and tossed it out the open window. Hayward stood … hyperventilating … between the two beds.
Hours later, the sun came up. Hayward slept splayed out on his stomach atop the covers. Rodriguez opened his eyes. He looked where his clock radio should be. Confusion.
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