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Giants Hit the Road

[The following is an excerpt from the novel Last Days of Summer]

New York, July 17. Bill Terry’s fourth-place New York Giants begin a two-week
road trip that will take them to Boston, Cincinnati and Chicago. Whether they
can gain any ground on the seemingly unstoppable Dodgers and Cards depends
largely upon Carl Hubbell’s arm, Charlie Banks’ bat, and Jordy Stuker’s glove.
Skipper Terry is hoping that the injury-plagued lineup will be able to
repair itself in time for the pennant race.

* * *

Dear Hazel,

Right now I am stuck in a compartment all alone on The Patriot Limited looking
out of the window at Connecticut trees in the dark, and I can’t get out
because Charlie won’t let me. I’m very sad. I thought this was supposed to
be a birthday present, but as soon as we got here he turned into General
MacArthur or somebody. And the only thing I did was show my best friend Craig
what a keen train this was and after he left I played a couple games of Old
Maid with Stuke and Mel and Burge, even though I kept losing. But Charlie
yells at me for everything. Even when I was hungry and went to get a
hamburger.

Could you please tell him to lay off? Just a little bit? Smokes, I’m only
13. And maybe I’m also sort of scared because this is my first time away from
home. Thanks.

Love,

Joey

* * *

Dear Toots,

I think you better learn how to bake cakes with such things in them as files
and saws and etc. because after I kill this kid I will be doing a long stretch
in the Jug. Right now he is locked in our compartment on the train and the
only one who has the key is the porter who is not allowed to open it up for
anybody but me. But that does not stop him from trying to bribe whoever he
hears walking outside. Mel Ott almost said yes for $20.

This road trip is only 2 hrs. old and I already feel like I just played 3
double headers. I should of seen it coming before we even left the
Pennsylvania Station. Him and the Japanese kid were wearing the exact same
shirts and pants and shoes and socks on purpose so that if you looked at them
real fast and did not notice such things as eyes and etc. you would think they
were the same brat and get mixed up in the head, especially if you were a
conducter. The railroad had to throw Craig off the train 3 times while we
were still in the station and the 3d time was because they caught the 2 of
them in the diner eating burgers and shakes and charging it to the NY Giants.
So I booted Craig out the door, put Joey in the compartment, and told him not
to move until I got back. This was on account of his family on the platform
who were not finished with me yet. The mother gave me a bag of more pointy
coconut things which I should of never told her I liked due to there being
enough of them to feed Massachusets and part of Road Island, and also a
briskit with directions in writing about heating it up and gravy and etc.,
like I would know what to do with an oven even if they gave us one which they
don’t. Then it was the Aunt’s turn to give a speech about Joey’s teeth. I
always thought there was only one way to do it. You put the powder on the
fuckin brush and then stick it in your mouth and call it a ball game. But she
had enough instructions to build a B-17 bomber, and then finished by telling
me that if I did not keep him away from the bad element, let it be on my head.
What a laugh. He is the bad element. Then we left. But when I got back to
the compartment the kid was gone. Where he was was at the other end of the
smoker with Stuke’s dice and the whole team around him, rolling 7’s and saying
such things as “Aunt Carrie needs a new girdle” and etc. By the time I got
there he was in the middle of a joke that started with Superman flying over
the beach and seeing Wonder Woman lying there on her back naked with her legs
open and ended with Wonder Woman saying “What was that?” and the Invisible Man
saying “I don’t know but my asshole sure hurts.” After that I locked him up.

Before you read in Winchell that the police are looking for me, remember that
you thought this was a good idea too.

I love you.

Charlie

* * *

Dear Toots,

We have a question that nobody knows how to answer, even Stuke. If Photoplay had to
pick a picture of either Eleanor Roosevelt in a bathing suit or Betty Boop in one,
who would it be? Betty Boop, right?

Tell him he’s wrong. First of all Mrs. Roosevelt is married to the President so
she’s more famous. And second of all Betty Boop is a damned cartoon. She’s not
even real. And they don’t put cartoons in Photoplay.

He keeps forgetting the most important part of it. Who in Hell wants to think about
E. Roosevelt in a bathing suit leave alone see her in one?

Like Betty Boop is somebody you would want to kiss either. At least if you smooched
Mrs. Roosevelt you wouldn’t get ink all over your mouth. Hazel, guess what? We
beat the Cubs today 5-2 and I got injured right in the middle

He didn’t get injured. It was the 8th inning at Wrigley with a tie score and the
bases full of Cubbies. I had D. Marantz on mine who I use to room with in
Springfield and for some reason he thinks this is suppose to make us buddies or
something even though he must of forgotten that we hated each other. (He snoared
and always pissed on the toilet seat.) Then B. Sturgeon came up for Chic. thinking
he was going to play The Hero by parking a haymaker in the lake, though even the
Cubs know he cannot cross the street without getting lost first. So what happened
was

I called him a weenie-head and he tried to kill me. Then I had brain surgery. They
sawed off the top of my skull and

He got hit in the ass by a foul ball. And it served him right on account of showing
off for some little 12 yr. old tootsie in the stands instead of doing his job.
Afterwards they took our team picture and they wanted him to sit in the front row on
the ground, though he will probably not be sitting anywhere until at least Tuesday
due to B. Sturgeon picking a bouncing curve to glim him with.

I even got to hold Charlie’s sax in the picture. And by the way C last night I
learned how to play “Moonlight Serenade” on it and Charlie still can’t finish “In
the Mood”.

Two things. (1) Yes I can. And (2) If that was Moonlight Seranade how come the
hotel called up and said they would throw us out if he ever played it again? You
know what a fake he is. If you took even 3 of anything he says serious

Look who’s talking. You know what he did? In Cincy he said that him and the team
were going to eat spaghetti and see the Andrews Sisters but that I couldn’t go C and
just because I answered one of my Bar Mitzvah questions wrong. But when I went
downstairs and got a paper to see if there was a Bogey movie I could sneak into, I
found out from page 18 that the Andrews Sisters were in Detroit that night. He made
it all up, even the spaghetti part. Him and Stuke were really in Mickey Witek’s
room listening to the radio and dropping things out the window on people, including
guava jelly sandwiches. Smokes, what a phony.

But guess who knows his Tora inside and outside now? So ha ha. For a present, me
and the team took him to see Glenn Miller tonight. Even Mister Terry went. They
have a new song I like called “I’ve Got a Gal in” someplace I never heard of but

“Kalama-zoo-zoo-zoo-zoo-zoo-zoo-zoo.”

Stuke tried to buy a High Ball for Dorothy Walker who sang it, but by the time it
got there he changed his mind and drank it himself by telling Mister Terry it was
sasparilla. (D. Walker did not sing so hot anyway.) We would not let Joey have
anything but ginger ail all night but somehow by 11:00 in the P.M. he was walking
sideways and saying “excuse me” to such things as chairs and etc. So Stuke followed
him around and found out that what he did was wait until people would get up from
their table to dance and then snitch their glass before they even made it to the
floor.

Old ladies were the best. They don’t walk real fast, so you have more getaway time.
And they all drink Slow Gin Fizzes.

So after he got good and soaked and danced the jitter bug with Dorothy Walker 3
times (which you should of seen, due to his head not even coming up to her you know
whats), he had a long talk with Mister Terry saying that if Stuke gets drafted he
should put Burge at 1st and move Witek to 2d and then bring Demaree in from Center.
We were all waiting for Mister Terry to say “Who gave you permission to think?” like
he always does, but instead he got some paper and wrote it all down. I don’t get
it. If I tried something like that, he would chop my head off.

Maybe if you listened to him instead of

We can finish this when we come home. I just looked at the clock and saw what time
it is. Say goodnight Joey.

Goodnight Joey.

We love you.

Charlie

* * *

last days of summer

___
Steve Kluger lives in Boston, Massachusettes, the only city in the world. Visit him at SteveKluger.com. His most recent novel is My Most Excellent Year: a Novel of Love, Marry Popins, and Fenway Park.

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