By Tom Holmes
Pastor Walter Mitty leaned over to Trudi Becker during coffee hour after last Sunday's service and whispered, "Is something going on between Eric and Debbie Anderson? They're sitting on opposite sides of the room."
"Cubs and Sox," Becker said, frowning.
"Cubs and Sox," Becker said again. "You know. Debbie grew up on the South Side and Eric on the North Side."
"But that's not. . . ."
"It wasn't until last Tuesday," Becker explained.
"Yeah, Tuesday, when Lackey drilled Abreu twice and Davidson and Monca, too. Three in one inning."
"Oh, I heard about that," Mitty said. "But didn't Lackey say it was unintentional?"
"You don't understand, Rev," Becker said, leaning closer to her pastor. "With those two the Cubs and the Sox are like Mitch McConnell and Chuck Schumer debating health care. Debbie insists that it was intentional. You don't hit Abreu twice and not be trying."
"And I suppose Eric believes Lackey's explanation?"
"Sometimes I'm glad I never got married," Mitty thought as he left Becker to greet his parishioners sitting around other tables.
Monday morning, the pastor of Poplar Park Community Church woke up at 6:30 a.m. refreshed after a good night's sleep. He made a pot of his special recipe coffee — half donut shop blend and half French roast — washed the dishes and decided to take a walk downtown along Main Street. Zaphne's Retro shop wasn't open yet but the door to the army surplus store was ajar to take advantage of the cool morning air.
"Well look who's here," said Sarge, the owner, with a grin. "I didn't think your liberal friends would let you come in here."
"Come on, Sarge," Mitty said, blushing. "You know I'm an independent."
"I know," Sarge said. "But I have to give you a hard time every once in a while."
Mitty could see the shoulder to wrist ink on Sarge's left arm which he'd gotten while in Vietnam. Mitty kind of liked the guy, even though he had made it known all over social media that he was cheering Trump on for all the executive orders he had signed.
"Seriously, though," Sarge continued, "I do think the big deal the liberals in Washington are making about the Trump campaign's connection with Russia is typical of these so-called progressives. They don't have a shred of evidence that the campaign did anything illegal, but they keep bringing it up over and over instead of helping pass the legislation that we need."
Mitty was about to straighten Sarge out on some facts, considered his chances of changing the guy's mind, and decided to just say, "You might be right, but we'll see."
As he continued down Main Street he saw Bernie Rolvaag stocking shelves in his book store, and, noting that he was not serving any customers, he walked in.
"Hi Bernie," Mitty said. "What's happening?"
"I'm so pissed off," Rolvaag said. "Excuse my French, but Kellyanne Conway was interviewed on the news, and with a smile on her face she lied through her teeth. Can you believe it? She had the audacity to stand in front of the cameras and declare that there had been absolutely no collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians."
"But, but Bernie, they haven't proved anything yet, have they?" Mitty said.
"Oh, come on Walt," Rolvaag said. "You and I both know that it's just a matter of time when they'll have enough evidence to impeach this clown we have for a president."
Pastor Mitty pretended to be listening to the bookstore owner, but in his mind he was going back to the 1958 World Series. The year before the Milwaukee Braves had beaten the New York Yankees four games to three. His dad had taken him and his brother Harman to County Stadium twice that summer to watch Hank Aaron and Eddie Matthews, Joe Adcock and Billy Bruton pursue their quest for a second National League pennant.
He remembered anxiously listening to game seven on the radio. Bob Turley was on the mound for the Yankees and "fidgety" Lou Burdette was pitching for the Braves. Burdette had pitched against Turley in game two and the Braves had won 13-5, but this time the tables were turned and the Yankees won 6-2. He and his dad had both felt like the world had come to an end.
He knew what it was like to attach your emotional well-being to the fortunes of a baseball team, and he still felt some pain at how the Gore had won the popular vote but Bush nevertheless was inaugurated that January.
He hadn't taken sides with anyone but he had wanted to. On the way home, the thought about Eric and Debbie having a silly argument about two baseball teams and two merchants on Main Street who viewed "reality" through such different glasses that they couldn't even agree on what they facts were.
And as he walking a wave of foreboding swept over him.