“I ain’t gonna get sick,” I called out to my mother, who was watching the clouds in the distance. The black skies were elsewhere distracted, but it had begun to rain nonetheless.

I was ~7 years old, baseball practice at Riverside Elementary School had just finished, but we had not yet had enough. The gentle rainfall was as much a deterrent as a no crossing road sign to a possum.

A few of us had begun to play pepper, an ageless game which teaches bat control, and the rhythm of baseball.

Throw hit catch

Throw hit catch

Throw hit catch

The pace of the game picked up, the black skies perked up in the distance, and the rain was gentle no longer.

“Y’all wrap it up, you’ll catch a cold,” I heard my mother yell, no doubt predicated on a feeling of instinctual trepidation.

I responded on autopilot, intent not to disrupt the intensifying rhythm of the game.

Alas, my bat control lapsed, sending a lazy line drive into the glove of a teammate, akin to the boxer’s range finding jab whose job is not to deal damage, but rather illuminate the ring.

As the game dictated, another took to the plate.

Throw hit catch

Throw hit catch

Throw hit catch

The black skies had arrived, rallied by the game’s drum beat.

I lobbed the ball in, and readied myself, assured that I was prepared for the bounded set of outcomes. The black skies smirked, nothing is bounded. They saw the controlled load…the adductuion of the right arm…knob towards ball…barrel on ball.

I saw nothing. Throw hit CRUNCH

The crack of ball to nose reverberated through the heavy rain, to the ears of the onlookers. This was no range finding jab, but a devastating cross. The black skies cackled and slowly moved on, their call to chaos fulfilled.

My mother leapt into action, her trepidation validated, and fear shoved aside. A few towels for the blood, and a race to the hospital for surgery.

I smile, the recovery and the return baseball is certain, where the black skies shall again be drawn forth.