Slave of Softball
I'm not sure what pushed me over the edge that night. Maybe the stench finally got to me. Maybe it was one of the scrawled comments excoriating me for my inability to get all the scores right or the standings correct. I had answered a call at home earlier that evening from some indignant and well-lubricated coach wanting to know if I were the clearly prejudiced, transparently incompetent so-and-so that the newspaper had inflicted on the softball community.
Whatever the specific provocation, the consequence was that I burned the score sheets, every last one of them, and flushed the ashes down the toilet in the men's room. I dispatched them individually, savoring the sight of the consuming flame like a religious ritual, until it got so close to my fingers that I had to drop the page into my ashtray. I even dried out the wet ones to prepare them for their fate.
What amazes me, in retrospect, is that no one else showed up during this process. Even at that hour, the newsroom was rarely empty, and there was also a cheerful and rather loquacious fellow named Bill who cleaned the building overnight. Perhaps he was working a different floor, or had stopped by his locker to partake of the refreshments he stored there, which were arguably the source of his perky disposition.
But no one saw me. I finished my work and left a note for Wayne DeNeff, the sports editor, saying that--mysteriously, unfathomably, and to my considerable bewilderment--not a single score sheet had been dropped off that night. It wasn't much of an explanation, but it was all I could think of.