One Story Leads to Another . . .


An Upper Like Mickey Mantle’s

The company had rented the long room at the country club for the party, and I was the designated host. The party was going well. People were mingling and talking and laughing.

A man came from somewhere out in the night and stood outside at the big window, a man wearing baggy old clothes. He rapped on the window. He pressed his face against the window and made faces at us. Some people didn’t think he was so funny.

I myself have never had much use for jerks like him.

I said, “I’ll run him off.”

I strode out the door into the darkness. The man turned toward me. I said, “That’s enough. Get your ass out of here.”

He got out a gun from somewhere in his baggy clothes.

I ran back to the main room.

I stood there on a high step and called out to the crowd, “Take cover. He’s got a gun.”

People stared at me. The first sounds of alarm began in the crowd, but there was also some laughter. I then ran for cover.

I ran the length of the room. People stared at me as I ran by them. Some of them kept laughing. I ran out of the door at the far end of the room.

I ran across the golf course into the darkness. I heard shots. I heard screams and yelling.

I ran on. Other people came running, too. I outran all of them.

As I ran I was experiencing a terrific upper. In that very same moment of the upper, I knew I was soon going to experience a terrific downer. I also knew that I might owe the world a suicide, a debt that I knew I would not pay. I knew all of this in that one moment.

But right now the moment belonged to the upper. Have you seen that action photograph of Mickey Mantle in his prime, a photograph re-published after his death? He’s running at full speed to beat out the throw to first base. He’s running so fast that his feet don’t touch the ground. He’s running in the air. He’s all speed and power and grace and joy. That was for me that moment that night, running for my life in the darkness of the golf course.

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