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Jamie strode towards the bleachers on Field Nine, turning back to push the button on his remote keys to lock the truck door. Grant had bought the new Toyota Tacoma when he’d gotten his money from the insurance company after his accident last year. Jamie had really enjoyed the process as Grant had spent hours poring over web sites and information for weeks before deciding he would buy a 2009 white Tacoma with forty thousand miles on it.
Jamie had needed to work the morning that Grant had made the final decision based on what he could afford, not on what he really wanted. Still, it was exciting for Grant. Since he was going to be working at the Parks Department, a truck would come in handy. Remembering the call he’d gotten from Grant an hour after he’d gotten to work that day still made him smile.
“Oh my God, Jamie! You’re not going to believe this. Wait ‘til you see. I still can’t believe it.” Grant couldn’t slow down long enough for Jamie to ask what in the world had him so freaked out.
“Hello? Wanna fill me in?” Jamie had finally gotten in.
“Oh, oh, sorry. I am so thrilled. What colour truck did I want?” Grant had paused waiting for Jamie to fill in the answer.
“Yep. Twenty minutes before I got here this morning, a dealer from somewhere north of here showed up with the truck of my dreams, a 2011, silver Tacoma with less than three thousand miles on it. It has everything on it that I wanted. It was a dealer vehicle and guess what they wanted for it? Only three thousand more than the other one. I’m filling out the paperwork right now. I couldn’t pass it up. Is that cool or what?”
“Oh, baby, that’s more than cool. Two years newer, thirty-seven thousand less miles on it, the colour you wanted, and only three thousand more. This was meant to be. I’m so happy for you.”
That had been a good day. Now Jamie was driving the Tacoma because his Taurus was in the shop. He might have to start looking for something new now that he had his PT license and was making more. He’d dropped Grant at work today and was coming now to catch the last of the games Grant was umpiring so he could take him home.
Jamie hurried to the field because he didn’t want to miss any more of the game. He loved to watch Grant when he was umping. Grant was a different person on the field. Jamie had shown Grant many times how much it turned him on to see him out there.
Jamie liked coming to the park at night. The lights on the fields and the sounds of summertime and kids and competition made him happy. Families were everywhere, and it seemed like such a happy place. He could hear crowds on different fields yelling and encouraging players.
The crack of bats on balls from several games going on at the same time were like drumbeats marking the rhythm for the summer song. It could be chaotic but was really a well-scheduled plan that got great results for all the teams involved. He knew this because Grant had helped with it. As he headed up the bleachers, he heard his name called.
“Yo, Jamie, up here. Your boy’s on tonight. He’s puttin’ on a show. I wonder if that’s because he knew you’d be here to get him?” Tony, his neighbour and the county parks director, teased as Jamie sat down by him on the top bleacher.
“Shut up,” Jamie said, playfully punching Tony’s arm.
“Check it out, he’s between second and third. This is an important game for the Raiders team, and the crowd is wild. He’s pumped three out and flown four safe so far. Every time he does one, the crowd roars. It’s like he’s a star, and the crowd just waits for his performance. And it’s cool, he doesn’t do it every time. He saves it for the big plays. Hiring him was one of the best things I’ve done. Grant is so well-liked by workers, players, coaches, and, of course, the administration. Did you know he was getting a promotion?” Tony asked, watching Jamie to see if he was going to get to surprise him.
“No, I didn’t. How come? Not that I don’t think he deserves it. Lord, he’s worked some long hours and done some hard work for the parks. Summertime is a killer, I know, but he comes home completely worn out. I’m just glad he’s recovered so well from his injuries last year.” Pretty much all of Grant’s right side had been mangled in the wreck. A lot of good therapy had put Grant back into great shape.
“All right, look, here he goes, I bet. Watch. There’s a player on first, and this batter that’s up is known for bunts for some reason. I bet your guy’s gonna show off, especially if he saw you come in.” Tony pointed to the action on the field.
Jamie watched avidly as the play unfolded almost just as Tony predicted. His eyes were glued to Grant who was positioned just right to have a clear view of the play on second. Jamie loved the way Grant looked in his uniform. The tight, stretchy shorts let him move as he needed to, granted, but they were also beautifully form fitting. A couple of times, Grant had almost been late because he’d gotten tackled when Jamie saw him dressed up for his umpire duties.
Thunk! The ball was indeed rolling towards the pitcher who ran up for it. He scooped it from the ground, turned and slammed it towards the second baseman. The runner from first had already started for second when the ball was hit and was nearly there by the time the pitcher had the ball in hand.
The crowd was on its feet, and Jamie was yelling with the rest of them as the player slid into the base, right before the ball hit the second baseman’s glove. Grant bent from the waist, spread his arms out and stood tall with them rising into what looked like bird wings.
“Safe!” And the crowd roared. Jamie and Tony turned to each other, laughing and punching the air as they watched lover and friend/employee respectively perform for the crowd. Grant, who was usually shy around people, very unassuming, seemed to become someone else when he was out there.
“He’s having a ball. You know, he has another game to ump tonight, right? High school girls. It’s another big one that will be crowded. I’m gonna stay and watch. There’s been some trouble with one of the coaches. Grant can handle it, but I want to be here to back him up just in case something happens. Wanna get some food between the games, make a night of it?” Tony asked.