[dropcap]I [/dropcap]was a terrible centerfielder, but I wasn’t half as bad as our left-fielder, Charlie. He was god-awful. He threw the ball like his arm was only half-attached at the shoulder.
When we were sixteen, Charlie and I lost a regional championship for our team together. The coach called us Abbot and Costello, because neither of us ever knew “who the hell was on first.”
The end of Charlie’s sports career came when he began fraternizing with the wrong crowd of people. Sometimes, he’d come to practice looking like the bottom of a horse hoof, half-hungover. Still drunk.
I remember the day the coach cut him from the team, that day Charlie smelled like vodka and cigarettes. He started crying in front of the whole team and promised to clean up his act.
But he didn’t.
Eventually, Charlie dropped out of school. Then, he started using stuff a lot harder than vodka, and living in his car. He got down to ninety pounds, and gossips rumored that he’d died of an overdose.
Well, it’s been thirteen years, and Charlie is anything but dead.
The last time I saw Charlie, he was a different man. Clean as the preacher’s sheets. Sober as a house cat. “It was my uncle,” Charlie said. “He saved me. Took me to meetings. He and my aunt fed me – from their own table.”
Charlie looks good. He can bench press quadruple digits, he doesn’t drink, doesn’t smoke, and he’s happy to tell you about it. And even though, Charlie probably still throws like a girl; I know the truth.
He’s the most superb left-fielder I ever knew.