Erskine had been caught before, but never with a jumbotron showing him and a blonde and the word “CHEATER,” and not with an entire stadium’s booming laughter and boos, so he tells Kari they should leave, to which she says her name is Shari, and someone shouts, “Nice job, big boy,” either for his philandering with the beautiful woman or for his prolonged struggle to rise from the too-small seat, so he bumbles alone down the row, smashing others in blue and white uniform, and because his hands hiding his face also hide the vendor in the aisle, down go the men and the beer, cans bursting golden foam, ice bouncing off concrete steps, spinning end over end like Erskine toward the glass railing that earlier, while noting the precipitous drop, Kari/Shari had leaned her weight on, and he’d joked, “If I did that, I’d bust right through”; stairs hammering his back, Erskine tumbles past the rival wearing yellow and black who when Kari/Shari passed before first pitch had hollered, “Hot damn,” the rival whose amazed face when Erskine cussed and threatened resembled his father’s upon discovering the bastard anagram nicknames (Erik and Rex and Kin) his son used in middle school—“You were named after a legend,” dad scolded—before he grew tall as a forward and husky as a linebacker, for nothing since his father demanded the son play America’s pastime, just as he demanded the son reconcile with Patricia (whom Erskine two-timed after she left for college) because he was “in her league,” which proved false, she being smart enough to discover the chatrooms he used to attract attractive, semi-damaged women (“Sending pictures of yourself from high school… it’s sick,” Patricia shouted, knocking trophies from their home office’s paneled walls, breaking the fit golden men on top that Erskine believed to be him), and smart enough to tally a dozen dates since opening day and to retaliate if he continued, and cruel enough to ask why, why he would do this to her, and when Erskine didn’t answer, she’d shouted, pained tones that Erskine thinks he hears again as he rolls, though maybe it’s Kari/Shari or the crowd, watching the jumbotron and yelling for him like some foolhardy player stealing home to stop—so his hands reach for railings, for seatbacks, anything to grab at, to stop his speedy somersaults down stairs he’d strained to climb many times to seats he’d supposedly bought to reconnect with his father over bats cracking and hotdog scents wafting sweetly, not burnt like at the family cookout when Patricia asked her father-in-law about the games, and the elder warned Erskine, privately, about playing with fire, to which the son replied, “Big deal,” since he’d been caught before without cost or consequence, which he now regrets as he rolls faster toward the ledge—yes, regrets even the times he was not caught—because, he realizes, nearing that thin glass partition, there is no one there to catch him.


James Figy is a writer from Indianapolis and MFA candidate at Minnesota State University, Mankato. Find his creative work in Hobart, Midwestern Gothic, Punchnel’s, and the anthology Bad Jobs & Bullshit. Follow him (@jafigy) and check out the Fail Better interview series he runs for Fear No Lit.