Friday, November 16, 2007

Pete's Last Out

I believe this belongs to you Cap." “It doesn’t belong to me, officer; it belongs to the department.” Captain Jack Doyle looked at the baseball in the outstretched hand of the young recruit. "Who had it?" "Let's just say that it magically turned up on the late Sergeant Brown's desk." Jack figured the young lady knew who had the ball but did not want to stick her neck out by revealing the culprit. "Fair enough, we got it back, that's what's important." Jack Doyle sat in the back of the small Anglican Church listening to the eulogy of Ebenezer Benjamin Brown; Ebb to his friends and co-workers, when living, he was a short, barrel chested, ham fisted tank of a man that walked precariously on a pair of spindly bowlegs. He was a twice decorated officer, who after thirty years on the force, was set to retire in a month. You would have thought that he would have met his demise many times over with all the risks he had taken over the years and not to have died peacefully in his sleep. 
 Quite a turnout for a man who has no living relatives, then again, he did work thirty years for the force. A man like Ebb can make a church full of friends in thirty years. By the rough looks of some of the people attending the service, it would be a good guess that they must have been acquaintances from Ebb's amateur wrestling days, when he was known as 'Bulldog Brown'. It was in those years as a wrestler that gave Ebb his distinctive pugnacious persona. In fact with his cauliflower ears, flat nose and scars on his forehead. He bore a striking resemblance to his wrestling moniker, ‘Bulldog’. Ebb told Jack one time that he had broken his nose no less then five times and there was no longer any cartilage left, so it just lay flat and off to the side, as if it no longer had the will or the way to stand out from his face. Which caused Ebb to snuff and snort, like a bulldog, after a quick walk on a hot day, or every time he had to run up a flight of stairs. There is a story that goes around the station that in all likelihood has been embellished over the years. Once when Ebb was a junior officer, he and his partner were about to make an arrest of a very drunk belligerent offender, who was carrying a baseball bat, on seeing Ebb coming at him the criminal shouted to stand back or he would beat him until he was handsome. This caused his partner to howl with laughter, which in turn gave the assailant the giggles rendering him helpless to Ebb. Ebb couldn't understand what was so funny; the man was drunk and didn't know what he was saying. Some wit, one day, decided to give Ebb the nickname ‘Wheezy’. The wit was told immediately, by Ebb, that under no circumstances was anyone to call him that. He didn't appreciate being made fun of for something that he could not control. The thing about men in the company of men, that tend to spend a lot of time together, whether it be in sports, or in closely knit units be it military or law enforcement. They cannot help seeking out weaknesses in their fellow comrades. It could be an ugly tie, or a badass haircut, anything at all, as long as it provided side-splitting hilarity. Anything that will relieve the boredom and provide entertainment is fair game. It will be pounced on like a pack of starving hyenas on a crippled wildebeest. Most women don't understand this, but men, especially if they have yet to grow up, and that would be in the majority of the species, feed on opportunities like this. The fact that Ebb found this distasteful and unacceptable just meant that someone exposed a festering scab. Let's pick at it with a stick was the only option, that made sense. It came as no surprise to anyone in the room that the wit uttered, "Ooh look guys, the wheezer don't like his new name." The big surprise came when Ebb jumped out of his chair and applied an awesome sleeper hold on him. The poor guy turned red, then white, and finally purple, just before he passed out, much to the delight of everyone in the room. The herd learned two things from this incident; this is how men learn things, ladies. The first thing they learned was never to call Ebb Wheezy, to his face and the second, from that time on, to call the wit Sleepy. The fact that Ebb didn't like the nickname and the fact that he acted so violently towards anyone who dared call him that, just made the name all that more appealing. Whenever anyone referred to Ebb as ‘Wheezy’, a quick shoulder check was necessary to confirm that Ebb hadn't magically appeared from behind. It became a game amongst the veterans to see if they could get the new recruits to call Ebb ‘Wheezy’. One young man got body slammed onto a Black Forrest cake, which was sitting atop a folding table. The cake was for Ebb's birthday and "Happy Birthday Wheezy" was all it took. There were many other incidents of jocularity throughout the years at Ebb's expense. Jack Doyle’s particular favorite happened during the investigation of some very disturbing homicides, which were happening to prostitutes that worked in Chinatown. They were all sitting around, the War room, and brainstorming, trying to find a common thread that connected all the killings. Ebb was leaning back in his chair throwing a baseball in the air above his head with one hand and catching it, with the other. Up in the air and back down into his meaty hand, Up and down it went, higher and higher. He said that it helped him think. It was not just any baseball; it was an autographed 'Pete Rose' ball. Ebb's favorite all time player. Nicknamed Charley Hustle for his play, above and beyond the call of duty, on the field. Everybody knew that Ebb was the Charlie Hustle of the 51st.. Ebb kept flipping the ball above his head and catching it when someone who should have known better, a veteran by the name of Jim Lord, chuckled and said; "Be careful you don't miss the ball and break your nose again, Wheezy." The whole room went silent, even the clock stopped ticking and the ball just hung there in the air like a mini Zeppelin. Someone weeks later swore, that he had looked out the window and the traffic had stopped, then someone at the back of the room muttered, "Oh Shit." The next thing Jack remembered was the ball bouncing off Jim Lord's forehead. It made the sound of a coconut being hit by a hammer and it caromed back into Ebb's hand like it was the most natural thing in the world to happen. Ebb immediately inspected the ball for damage. Jim Lord collapsed in a heap, on the butt-strewn floor. Jim Lord was a good twenty feet away, when Ebb threw the ball, and the chances of it hitting him square in the forehead and bouncing back to Ebb must have been one in a million. Ebb looked down at the moaning detective, who sported a new a golf ball sized lump, with a perfect set lace marks across it’s surface, and said, "Maybe one of you a-Holes should give him some first aid.” "After this incident no one ever called Ebb ‘Wheezy’ to his face, or otherwise again, and Jim Lord, he became known as ‘Lumpy’.” Jack Doyle looked down at the ball in his hand and smiled. It may be a Pete Rose autographed ball. It may one day be of great value, but Jack Doyle and everyone that was there that day will remember it as the infamous throw from Ebb to Lord and back to Ebb to retire the side-kick.


Jodi Cleghorn November 16, 2007 at 4:53 AM  

I really enjoyed this insight into how Men give each other nicknames and how it pokes them in the sensitive parts of their psyche.

I especially liked the bits with lumpy and sleeping ... shame we didn't get to hear about the other 'five dwarves' who made up weezy's own version of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves (sorry I'm in a particularly silly mood - sleep deprivation will do that to you!)

T L Reynolds November 16, 2007 at 8:31 AM  

The ball is such a wonderful tool. It serves as a weapon but it is essentially a thing for play.

Square1 November 16, 2007 at 1:51 PM  

I love Ebb's handling of the situation. "Maybe one of you *bleeps* should give him some first aid." That was such a great line!

d sinclair November 16, 2007 at 4:20 PM usual you've filled in all the blanks and given us a complete picture - just wonderful. I look forward to reading more of this..

(ps. i use alchemist as a screen name too)

Awareness November 16, 2007 at 5:35 PM  

I can just picture this scene. Great writing.

Weezy and I have something in common. Charlie Hustle was my favourite too. I did get to see him play once live.....a spring training game in Florida....but I never managed to get an autographed baseball.

oh, and my nickname? Muskie. Not after the fish or the senator.

Jo November 17, 2007 at 1:59 AM  

Hey this is very well done. I like the style.

myrtle beached whale November 17, 2007 at 5:38 AM  

Nicknames can be great but some are cruel and are based on a physical or psychological characteristic. Those always seem to stick.

gautami tripathy November 17, 2007 at 6:37 AM  

My three brothers have nicknames for each other. It is a sacrilege to utter those outside of family!


tumblewords November 17, 2007 at 3:00 PM  

Laughing. It's quite a load to carry - but, sounds like they're up to it!

wordology February 13, 2008 at 12:31 PM  

Nice nickname angle. I wil also try the same,hahaha