October 7
by Jack Fay

The nurse walked past the end of the bed and tapped my foot. “Try to rest, Mr. Hurley.” Rest? Is she kidding me? How can a man rest when his daughter is leaning over his head with a handkerchief stuck up her nose and crying like there’s no tomorrow. For the love of Mike, it’s only an infected hip. I should tell Bridey to be quiet but I won’t treat her mean. She’s a good girl. The only time she ever got my dander up was when she married that bonehead from Dorchester who’s standing out there in the hallway acting like Mr. Bigshot.

This place is a dump. All they do here is fix up the losers who get stabbed or shot. Do you see a knife in my gut or a bullet in my head? ‘Course you don’t. All I got is a little infection from that time I broke my hip. The hip’s not hurting but sometimes I get a little pain in the stomach. But I’m not gonna say anything about the stomach. Tomorrow I’m outta here and I ain’t coming back.

Oh no, the guitar guy. Every day he comes to cheer us up. That’s what he says, but he never cheers me up. The guy plays like he sings, awful. And he plays that weird stuff. A bridge over something or other. Maybe it’s the bridge over the Mystic when it’s fulla dead fish. What I want to know is whatever happened to good songs like Peg O’ My Heart. Now look at that, willya. Guitar guy is bowing like Arthur Fiedler. I wanna say, “Get outta here you bum and don’t come back until you learn something good.” Guitar guy leaves, promises he’ll be back tomorrow. Doesn’t matter to me, I’ll be home by then.

Bridey’s still carrying on, blubbering like the world’s gonna end. I never saw so much crying, not since her mother died. I’m at the wake and some lady I don’t know says to me, “Your Agnes is with God.” I tell the lady if there’s a God how come He let my Agnes die. She never hurt nobody, she went to mass every Sunday, gave money to the poor. And what does she get for it. Nothing.

Wait a minute. What did I hear somebody say? “Pawtucket?” Does anybody remember Pawtucket? That was a long time ago. I was in the 12th grade at Boston Latin when a Mr. Howard comes to the house and wants to talk with me and Ma. Me? Who wants to talk with me? I ain’t even outta high school. Turns out Mr. Howard is a scout for the Sox. Says I got a tryout with the farm team down in Pawtucket if I want it. Did I want it? You got to be crazy if you think I’d give up a chance to try out for the best baseball team there ever was.

I played one season down in Pawtucket, and they told me to go home. “Good glove, weak stick,” they said. The Sox like sluggers. I didn’t have it. But I’m not mad. I love the Sox, always will.

Now I’m feeling real drowsy, but before I can drop off, the doctor shows up. He’s got that clipboard and he’s writing on it. The discharge papers, I’m thinking. Tomorrow I’m outta here.

Bridey kisses me on the forehead, says, “I love you, Daddy.” I want to remind her she needs to be right on time picking me up tomorrow. But I can’t tell her because I’m really drifting off.

I guess I was sleeping for about two hours when someone pats me on the shoulder. My eyes clear up and what do I see? A line of guys in baseball uniforms standing around my bed. The guy who patted my shoulder has red letters on his chest that say Red Sox. The guy is Ted Williams, the best damn hitter ever. Ted’s smiling at me when he points to the other guys. There’s Bobby Doerr, Johnny Pesky and Carl Yastrzemski. Yaz gives me a little wave and nudges the person next to him. It’s Carlton Fisk. I can’t believe it. All these famous guys come to see me?

I’m sitting up when Ted nudges me on the shoulder and says, “There’s one more guy who wants to see you.” I look around but don’t see anyone else.

Then a voice I remember comes from the back. “Let me through, boys,” and they cream back to make way for Joe McCarthy, the manager of all managers. In a bullhorn voice, Joe says, “Hurley, I’m sending you back to Pawtucket. I think you’re ready for the big time.”

“I’m ready as I’ll ever be, Coach.” He gives a flip of his head toward the door and says, “Let’s go then.”