tweed, at the grand and unchecked age of nine, stopped looking up.
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his father had pushed and goaded him into little league and tweed had been assigned to play left field. a stint at second base had evidenced slow reflexes, a short attention span, a tendency to daydream, an inability to throw to first - or anywhere else - with any accuracy, and a lack of coordination altogether. in left field he had little to do, as most of the boys his age rarely hit the ball out of the infield, and so his fielding deficiencies and lack of interest in the game in general went mostly unnoticed and did not prevent his team from reaching the divisional playoffs.
so it was that on a crisp september afternoon, after what already seemed like hours of baseball, tweed reluctantly put on his big brother's oversized hand-me-down glove and again trudged out to left field. he had neglected to note either the score (tied at 3) or the inning (bottom of the ninth) despite the growing hoot and clamour in the stands. he knew only that he had predictably struck out three times, or two maybe or four, and that his father was in the stands, his red irish face reacting with twitching grimaces to tweed's every wretched, sluggish swing of the bat.
tweed had no fanciful notions of redeeming himself on the field and hoped only to halt his ignominy where it stood. if a ground ball leaked past the infield he would retrieve it and throw it (girlishly) to whichever teammate screamed the loudest at him to do so. if a fly ball appoached his appointed domain, the shortstop or center fielder would dash ahead of him to catch it (as always).
alas. for tweed, golden-glove heriocs were as unlikely as his hitting a home run and being carried off the field on the shoulders of whooping teammates. and so, inevitably, a long fly was walloped to left, out of range of both center fielder and shortstop, and inevitably, tweed was thinking of something else - whether aden was in yemen or qatar, or which was cement and which concrete. he was shocked out of his reverie only by the frantic screeching exhortations around him: tweed, look up! he did. he looked up and saw nothing but sun, yellow fire, flashbulb blindness. he heard a dullish thump a dozen yards off. by the time he had grasped his failure and the magnitude of it, the shortstop had fielded the ball but his true and powerful throw to the catcher was not in time to prevent the game-winning in-the-park home run.
the walk back to the dugout was as painful as tweed expected. sneering, insults, threats of retribution. denny the shortstop smacked him in the head with his mitt. asshead. tweed didn't dare shower, just changed into his courdoroys and plaid shirt, and was sitting like a lump on the curb when his dad pulled up in the chevy.
they drove home in silence and pulled into the driveway. tweed's father, who several blocks back had started wheezing with such force that tweed had a momentary surge of hope, now turned to him and said, with what tweed considered to be excessive hostility, "look UP, you friggin little faggot - look UP!" and slapped him across the forehead.
tweed resolved never to look up again. what was the point? where was the percentage in it? clouds and constellations dropped quietly from his visual vocabulary. a bird was a song, a plane was a drone, lightning was thunder. he no longer looked up to his father; dad was a fading harsh catarrhal voice. at the onset of puberty, he refused the urge to look up a woman's skirt. he stopped looking up words in the dictionary. he slept face down. when he died - celibate, monastic, myopic, illiterate - he was not unhappy.