“Look!” I sounded like a kid. “I can see it!”
It seemed to take as long to get over the stadium from the moment I saw it as it took for us to get to Los Angeles from Carson. Another blimp passed us, heading away from the game. Larry and Rango waved at the pilots. I was filled with contentment and a feeling of rightness, of being a part of something bigger than myself. I’d only felt that during orchestra practice in college, and only when everything was going right. The percussionist was spot on, the conductor spoke in a manual language as easy to understand as the written word, and we all followed as if lifted by the same tide.
As the feeling slipped away, I wanted nothing more than to recapture it. I pulled my headphones off and faced Jonathan. His eyes were visible from the lights on the pilot’s dashboard. He pulled his microphone out of the way. I kissed him, and I didn’t care who saw. I molded my lips to his and fed him my tongue. He took his hand from between my knees and put it to my cheek, warmed from my body, gentle to the touch. I extended that feeling of rightness for another minute until the gondola seemed to blaze with light.
I opened my eyes. We were right over the stadium. I took one last look at Jonathan and mouthed the words, Sure thing.
He mouthed back, I know, and I smiled.
I’d never seen a game like that before, and I found it disconcerting initially. I was used to television, where I could see every twitch and nod of the pitcher, and live games from the bleachers, where I could tell the direction of the ball from the sound it made coming off the bat. From the blimp, the players looked like white flowers on a perfect lawn.
I put my headphones back on and leaned into the window. The announcer was going on about pitch counts and men on base, and I heard the guys in the gondola doing much the same. The Yanks were up. Men on first and third. One out. Harvey Rodriguez was on deck.
Larry cut the engine, and the noise reduced. “We’re gonna hover until a commercial, then fire it up again.”
Jonathan put his lips to my ear. “Rodriguez is a lefty. They’re going for a double play. Watch the infield.” The shortstop and third baseman took two steps toward first. “They step toward right field because a lefty pulls that way, and forward to get the ball on the jump so they can pop it to second on the force play. And they’re playing it a little forward because there’s a guy on third who can go for the steal on a wild pitch or a sac fly.”
“But what if the fly is shallow? They’ll miss it, and it’ll be a mess. The outfield just came in a little, too. I mean, Rodriguez barely has to work to sac a guy in.”
“You take your chances. They’re down by two, so if a guy strolls home on a sac fly, it’s a bummer, but there’s not much difference in the middle of the game between being down two and down three. There’s more to gain with the double play.”
Rodriguez walked. Bases were loaded. Some moments in a ball game were more important than others. They weren’t the grand slams or the fat, bobbling errors at shortstop. They were the bases-loaded, one-man-out moments where either someone scored or someone was stopped dead. They were unpredictable, uncontrollable, and oftentimes silent as death. Like the one extra foul ball that would have been a third strike. Or the pitcher catching the line drive that would have sent a man or two home. Or a walk to load the bases.
“I can’t watch.” I covered my eyes. I couldn’t see anything from up there anyway. I just saw dots move around and heard the broadcast. But Jonathan reached from behind me and took my wrists, pulling them down.
“Come on. Play with me. Don’t bail.”
“Yes, sir,” I said, joking on his use of the word play. The infield moved way in, practically to where the dirt met the grass, and Jonathan’s arms tightened. His hands, now warm, draped over my crossed forearms. “I know they’re playing in to catch the guy at home plate if they have to,” I said.
“Yes.” He kissed my neck once, twice, three times, each one softer than the one before. Each lingered longer than the last. I tingled all over, and it took all my self-control to keep from bending my head back and leaning into him. I would have looked exactly like what I was: a woman in heat.
We were interrupted by the crack of a bat through the headphones we’d taken off. The white flowers scuttled across the lawn. The shortstop fielded the ball, got it to second, and then Val Renault, an unimposing fielder known for his hitting, got the ball out of his hand and to first quickly and accurately enough to complete the double play.
An hour and a half later, the game ended with the Dodgers winning by a run and forcing a seventh game. The six passengers on the gondola erupted at the last out. We high-fived and cheered and headed back to Carson.
I was a little wobbly getting off the gondola, but Jonathan put his arm around me and pulled me close as we went back to the bike. We thanked the employees we passed as they got the blimp back into place with ropes and pulleys. If their attitudes were any indication, managing a tire company’s blimp was the most gratifying job in the world.
We approached the bike holding hands. “Thank you,” I said. “That was probably in my top five dates ever.”
“Top four, maybe.”
He faced me. “What?”
I shrugged. “It was a compliment.”
He pressed his lips between his teeth. Before I could decide if he was suppressing rage or laughter, he ducked and thrust forward, throwing me over his shoulder. I squealed and kicked, bouncing as he ran. He pushed me against the side of the metal shed with a clang, pressing my shoulders to the wall.
“Name your top three. I’ll beat them.”
“With what?” I asked.
“I’ll take you to the f**king moon and have you back in time for bed.”
“Oh, Jonathan. The moon? Really?” I rolled my eyes.
He just smiled, all teeth and joy. “You’re getting such a spanking tonight.”
“Kiss me first,” I said. “Maybe you’ll get in the top three.”
He took my hands and yanked them over my head, then kissed me. Or to be more accurate, he attacked me with his body. He pinned my hands hard and pushed his c**k against me, grinding his lips against mine. His tongue filled me without finesse, as if he was f**king my mouth. I pushed myself against him in a rhythm until I groaned. I had to have him. He pushed back against me as if trying to get me, through our clothes, to beg for him.