The Ninth

by Osmond Arnesto

The clock is loud. The boy wonders how people can fall asleep in here with its beat echoing through the halls. The halls were empty, save for the scuffle of a nurse or the clicks of a wheelchair.

“The Cubs had a great game last night.” He swung his feet. He still wasn’t tall enough to sit in a chair like a man.

“Some nights are good.” His grandfather lay in bed, covered with blankets and the iron shadow of a curtain. “Some nights are bad.”

“They might make it to the World Series this year.”

“They could.”

“That’d be something, wouldn’t it? The Cubs, in the World Series. What I wouldn’t give for tickets to that game.”

“They’ve had a bad year though.”

“Maybe. But there’s next year right?”

“Who knows? Cubs ain’t what they used to be.”

“They’re the best.”

The old man smiled. He closed his eyes and breathed in the dying light of the evening. His chest rose and fell like in waves. The boy couldn’t hear the clock anymore, and he slowly placed a hand on his grandfather’s. He searched for the beating of a clock.

“Passeau’s one hell of a pitcher. You just watch. The next game he’s not going to let any of them through.”

“Don’t curse like that.”

“And that Cavarretta, boy, he hit one right out of the park! Everyone stood up and cheered, it was the best thing.”

“It’s tough. It’s tough getting into the Series.”

“Remember when you taught me how to play catch?”


“You told me, be more like the Cubs.”

“Let them go.”

“They don’t ever give up.”

The grandfather clamped his hands over his mouth, and his coughs shook a body that used to be taut with muscle. He held his hands there, until finally letting them return to their place at his sides. The boy kept his eyes from wandering to the spattered flecks of blood and focused on his grandfather’s face. The sun dipped under the horizon, and took with it the warmth and baseball. The boy thought of how outside the hospital, it must have looked like someone putting out a candle.


Osmond Arnesto looks into the California sun without blinking. And still he wonders why his eyesight is going.
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