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Do you remember sixth grade – the last fun year a kid has before he or she goes into the harsh world of middle school? Walt Michaels, known affectionately as Zip, does everything he can to survive the last two weeks of sixth grade. Then, all kinds of weird things begin to happen. He falls in love with Rhonda Regen, a girl whom he once smacked in the head with a line drive, and meets the mysterious Crazy Cooter and his dog Teeth, who would just as soon eat children as look at them.
The spring softball league begins, and Walt gathers up some fellow wienies into a team of misfits. One player, Wendy, lets the ball hit the ground and stop rolling before she gets it. She’s just one example of the “talent” on Walt’s team. When Walt saves Crazy Cooter from jail, Cooter serves his community service time by being the coach of Walt’s team. Walt decides he’d rather go to jail than endure the torturous techniques Cooter uses to get his team in shape.
Walt Michaels sits in his living room with ESPN blaring.
The announcer stares into the screen, his mouth twitching with excitement. His co-anchor sits beside him, held tilted back, a soft snore wafting through the broadcast room. The clock strikes four--four a.m. that is. Harv Greavy and Mo Huck reporting.
“We are down to the last draft pick for this year. The World Champion St. Louis Cardinals have the pleasure of making that pick. Who will it be?”
The sleeping announcer’s eyes pop open for a split second. “Well, duh. There are only two players left.”
“That’s right. What a genius! The two players left are Walt Michaels and...” He pauses, puts his hand near his ear, and listens to the latest communiqué. “The Cardinals have announced their final pick.”
Walt Michaels sits straight up.
“Get on with it, Mo.” Harv’s eyes pop open for a second and then close again.
“It’s, it’s--It could be, it might be, it is! I cannot believe what I just saw--I mean heard.”
“Get on with it, Marv!” Walt screams at the television.
“The Cardinals have selected,” Marv pauses to build suspense. “Wendy Pujols!”
“Aaaaahhhh!” Walt screams and--
~ * ~
I fell out of bed and crashed onto the floor. Another nightmare. I breathed heavily and wiped the sweat off my face.
“Get your butt out of bed, Walt! Now!”
My dad. Sleeping beyond seven a.m. was an unforgivable sin in his eyes. Just because he grew up in the old days doesn’t mean that I have to act like him. It’s easy for someone his age to get by on five hours of sleep. I glanced at the clock: eight a.m. He had decided to be merciful to me for once.
I stood up and flipped on my stereo. Music from Styx filled my room at around a hundred or a hundred fifty decibels. That wouldn’t last long before I got into trouble. The interesting thing was that my dad would not be the one who yelled. Anything before 1975, he supported wholeheartedly. He was only sixteen when Woodstock happened. Music tastes were one thing we had in common. Love for all things baseball was another. My mom was the one who would eventually scream--
“Walt! Turn that noise down.” Mom’s shriek pierced the air. To avoid further endangerment, I lowered the volume a notch or two.
Sitting down at my desk with posters of Kiss, Aerosmith, Bob Dylan, and my personal favorite, Bob Seger, staring down at me, I looked at the drawing I had started the previous night: an older man I had seen riding a bicycle around town.
“It sucks,” I said and then crumpled it and tossed it into the waste can. After disposing of that particular art abomination, I opened my desk drawer and looked at the picture I had drawn of Rhonda. The likeness was pretty good, but I had taken artistic liberties and not drawn on her ugly glasses.
My name is Walt, Walt Michaels. I know it’s not a cool name. I’m not sure my dad is too happy that I’m carrying it either. I don’t think I will ever satisfy him with who I am rather than who he wants me to be. I figure that anyone over fifty just doesn’t understand kids now days. It’s not that I’m dumb or anything. I just do different things, like drawing and sometimes writing. One of these days, when I am a rich and famous author or artist, I am going to change my name to something other than what it is. That would really freak out my dad. One of these days... it’s always a long way away.
I don’t want much really. A girlfriend and a softball team that wins the spring leagues aren’t much, and one of these days...
I slipped into my favorite jeans and T-shirt and slapped on my St. Louis Cardinals hat. After I took a quick look at myself in the mirror, I started down the stairs. Remembering that it was Saturday and that my dad would be at his music store all day long, improved my mood dramatically.
Most of the kids at school figure that since my dad owns a music store he is cool. He can be sometimes.
Steve Cross is an educator and freelance writer with over 20 years experience. He has published fiction, poetry, and plays. He lives in Arcadia, MO with his wife Jean, his daughter Megan, and numerous pets.
Book Publisher: Wings ePress
No. of Pages: 188
Paper Weight (lb): 8.0
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