The Guy Who Took Buster’s Season

Posted: August 28, 2011 in Fiction
Tags: , , , , , ,

The Guy Who Took Buster’s Season
By Perry Bradford-Wilson
Author of Tales of McKinleyville: Big Doin’s at the Chinese Baptist Church, Tales of Placerville: Booksellers to the Savage West, and co-author of Midnight in Never Land

It doesn’t matter who I am. I could be white, African-American, Japanese or even Antarctican. I could be a Born Again Christian, Buddhist, Muslim or Wiccan. I might be a closeted gay, married with four children, widower, or eunuch. None of that matters. The persona forced on me by the story has subsumed whoever I actually am.

I am now, completely and forever, The Guy Who Took Buster’s Season.

Sometimes, in the morning when I shave, I look in the mirror and realize that I don’t even remember myself. Details of my former life have started to fade and, like the reflection that I am staring into, I have become two dimensional. This flat vessel in the glass no longer has the space within it to adequately contain the person I was. It is an image, only pixels deep, a paper maché mannequin made of newsprint with the same headline repeating endlessly on its surface.

Even after all these months (has it been years yet?) I still go back to that moment that defines me and wonder that such a tiny sliver of a man’s life can be the point of divergence from which the entirety of his existence will proceed. No slow motion technology has been invented that could analyze those precious nanoseconds in more desperate scrutiny than I have. What conditions lead to what happened? What emotions in those shards of time drove me or others to this particular fate? What quantum fluctuation might have made everything turn out differently?
My natural survival instinct has suggested just a single course of action; let it go. It is hard enough to overrule human emotions, unburden myself and move on. But with the entire world stuck along with me, constantly putting me back in my place, it is impossible. “What? You want to be something else?” they ask me, as if I have shown unbelievable hubris. “You are not allowed to… we have branded you. You are The Guy Who Took Buster’s Season. You may not be anything else. Perhaps… if you behave yourself… we will grant you a second act someday.”

The hardest part to live with is that I am guilty. I know it. In that instant where paths diverged and my options were set before me I chose this, although I had no foresight of the consequences of my actions. I wanted to be The Guy Who Took Down Buster. I wanted to be a hero to my teammates, a hero to the fans, and to cement my place in the pantheon of baseball demigods. I wanted to show that I was at least as good a man and player as this wunderkind and Rookie of The Year. It was nothing personal, of course. I had no intention of injuring him (at least physically). Perhaps I wanted him and all those who make it seem so easy (especially because, for the rest of us, it is so hard) to feel a few hard knocks and to take him down a few notches. But I didn’t want to hurt him (I don’t think). It didn’t occur to me in those fleeting seconds that I might become The Guy Who Took Buster’s Season, that I would become the focal point of fan’s hate and anger instead of their adoration.

The other day a color commentator mentioned that Buster’s team was doing just fine and that Buster was healing and expected back in good shape by next year. He said that the other team (my team) had fallen on hard times, intimating that this was karma, a payback from the gods of the game for my naughty behavior. He also mentioned that The Guy Who Took Buster’s Season was no longer on the active roster. My name, if he even remembered it, wasn’t worth uttering anymore. The brand name called up everything the audience needed to know.

That’s alright. It doesn’t matter who I am.

© 2011 Perry Bradford-Wilson

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