Mayfield Magic

Chapter 16-Preparations

<Aiden’s house>
It was almost midnight when Larry drove the Odyssey into the driveway and pulled up next to a white Kia that had backed into the driveway. Cal recognized the car.
“I tried really hard to talk my mom into letting me spend the night here. I thought it would be real easy—I mean who drives all the way down here from Clark Pass to pick somebody up at midnight?”
“Somebody like your mom, maybe?” Aiden asked.
“Yep, somebody exactly like my mom.”
“Couldn’t your mom have let you stay tonight and then had you stay home tomorrow and drive you to practice in the morning?” Nolan asked.
“Nope. She couldn’t do that ‘cause it’s a very logical way of doing things. It’s not like I planned on being back here at midnight. Oh, well, she has been known to change her mind, but this isn’t one of those times. Anyway, I had fun getting to know you guys and I’ll see you tomorrow sometime after dinner.”
Cal exited the car and got into the backseat of his mom’s car. Larry was standing at the driver’s window chatting with Laura Loggins in a successful attempt to give Cal time to say his goodbyes.
As soon as Cal was buckled in, Laura thanked Larry for everything he was doing for her son and said she’d drop him off “…around seven tomorrow…oh my, it looks tomorrow is almost here,” she chuckled as she glanced at her watch.  “So, to make sure everybody has it right, I’ll drop him off on Friday after dinner.” She raised the window and pulled out onto Lakeshore Drive. Aiden and Nolan had already entered the house through the garage. Larry pulled the minivan into the garage, used the remote button built into the mirror to close the garage door and followed the boys into the house.
“What was Cal’s mother like?” Aiden asked as he guzzled down a glass of water.
“She’s a nice lady. A bit different but aren’t we all. Say what you want about her and her odd decision about picking Cal up tonight, but she did give her permission for him to join the Goats and travel to California.”
“Good point,” Aiden said. “When Nolan told his parents he was going with us to the ER to check on Rusty, his mom said he might just as well spend the night here with me.”
“She suggested it, not you?” Larry asked incredulously.
“Yep. Meet the new version of my mom,” Nolan said. “She actually makes sense a lot of the time. I hope she hangs around for a while.”
“I told Nolan and Cal about my idea of having Skip take Rusty’s place and they liked the idea,” Aiden told his pop.
“I like it, too,” Nolan agreed. “He’s kinda young and all, but everybody knows him and gets along with him, and he is a good ballplayer. But, like Aiden said, you adult dudes have to figure out how to get him to Cali.”
“A lot of people have a lot of work to do tomorrow. And one of those adult dudes is ready to get to bed,” Larry grinned. They heard a vehicle pull into the driveway.
“That sounds like dad,” Aiden said. “We’ll wait and tell him goodnight and get into bed. I’m ready to drop right off to sleep standing here in the living room.”
Fifteen minutes later, Aiden and Nolan cuddled in Aiden’s bed, their touching naked bodies making them both feel warm. If they’d had any desire for sex, which they didn’t, it wouldn’t have happened anyway. Aiden was totally worn out from playing the doubleheader and getting into bed late. Nolan had been active, too, and was almost as tired as his Sweet Cakes. The boys were asleep in an instant.
<Mayfield—bringing order out of chaos>
Most of the adult dudes referred to by Aiden had endured a late night as well. But they had their alarms set—some because they had to get up for work and others because they knew there was a tremendous amount of work to do to clean up the chaos created by Rusty’s injury. Coach Hallion had assigned Larry the job of coordinating the cleanup in his new role as Administrative Assistant Coach.
Larry had taken over the administrative work involved with preparing the Goats for the BaseBrawl. His biggest job so far was being the contact person for the tournament director. He was also given daily reports from the team’s travel director, Martha Hallion, who had made all of the California travel arrangements. It looked like she would now have more to make.
Right now, there were a lot of questions to be answered, which not only created a chaotic feel to the day but needed to be answered by the end of the day. Their departure day was Tuesday, which was only four days away. The day before, Larry and Coach Hallion had discussed everything that needed to be take care of. But that was before Rusty’s devastating injury.
While Rusty was in the ER, Larry and Coach Hallion discussed finding a possible replacement player for Rusty. Coach Hallion mentioned Aiden’s suggestion of Skip Emerson. He asked Trent about it since he was not only his son but was also a Goat co-captain. Trent was in favor of the idea and contacted Scott, his co-captain. Scott thought it was a great idea. Trent also asked Mac about it. Mac said he didn’t know Skip but had heard good things about him as a player and as a person. Trent also got the input of the twins who knew as much as anybody about the social hierarchy of the Mayfield jocks.
Before Coach Hallion bedded down for the night, Trent told him that the recommendations of Aiden, Scott, Mac, Lance, and Lenny would be more than enough to convince the team that Skip was a good choice. “After all, the twins have Riley and Grant backing the decision too.”
With the choice of a replacement for Rusty, if a replacement would be allowed, the adult dudes now needed to get to work on solving the logistics of the trip. Larry started it out by calling Robert Perez, the BaseBrawl director.
“Yep, you can replace the injured player. You just need you to email me an electronically signed note from the doctor that he can’t play,” Robert replied. “I assume you read the eligibility requirements. You’d be surprised how often coaches try to sneak in an overage player as a replacement. And remember he can only pitch if he’s replacing a player who pitched for you. I’ll need to see copies of your scorebook pages to confirm that.” Robert, who was the president of the Pacific Youth Baseball Association, was an experienced tournament director.
“I read the rules,” Larry responded. “In the case of the player in question, the fact is that he is close to ineligible on the young side.”
“You mean you’re choosing an eleven-year-old?”
“Yes, I am, but a very talented one. He’s the best I could get in the small town we live in.”
“I don’t care how talented he is, the big, experienced California boys will eat him alive, just like they will probably eat your entire small-town team alive. No offense intended.”
“None taken,” Larry lied. “I will have all the information you need by the end of the day. Is there a form on your website for signing up a replacement?”
“Just call it in any time before eight this evening. Barbara can take the information if I’m not available. Otherwise call me tomorrow—except in that case, any time after eight in the morning works.”
After hanging up Larry thought about the biggest negative to having Skip as the team’s replacement. The field he played on had shorter distances between the bases and a shorter pitching distance. ‘James and his assistants will have to plan things out accordingly,’ he thought.
Larry then called Rita Emerson, Skip’s grandmother. When both his parents were working, Larry knew Skip spent the days at his grandmother’s house. He often spent the night there as well. Rita worked for the school district as a school bus driver and middle school lunch supervisor. She drove Aiden’s bus and was occasionally the driver for the Mustang team bus. She was well known and well liked throughout the school district and the town.
“Well, hello Larry Sanders. To what do I owe the honor of a call from the best high school baseball coach in the state?” Rita answered.
“Flattery will get you everywhere, Rita,” Larry chuckled. “I called to ask if Skip was staying with you today.”
“Hah, I should have expected it would be the baseball player you wanted to talk to and not the old grandma.”
“Talking to the young-thinking grandma is always a pleasure, but this is a business call and not a pleasure call.”
“Oh? You don’t coach Skip, and your son doesn’t play with Skip, so this can’t be about baseball—it must have to do with one of Aiden’s parties.”
“It’s entirely about baseball. If he’s there I’ll come over and talk to you both.”
“Does this have to do with Rusty’s getting hurt at the end of the game?” Rita and Skip had attended the games together the night before, which was one reason Larry was certain Skip had spent the night with his grandma. “Give me time to wake him and feed him and tell him the importance of putting on some clothing. I swear the boy totally believes his birthday suit is formal dress.”
“Something he and Aiden have in common. Call me when you’re ready and I’ll be right over. Time is of the essence in this matter.”
Nolan woke up around nine-thirty with a yawn and a long stretch. He eased carefully out of bed so he wouldn’t wake up Aiden. He knew how tired his boyfriend had been when they’d gone to bed and he felt that Aiden should get all the sleep he could. He pulled on yesterday’s boxer shorts and went down to see if there was any breakfast. When he stepped into the hall, he turned to the right to head for the stairs but could hear Larry talking in his office two doors to the left. He saw the door was open, so he turned left. When he got to the door, he saw Larry hanging up the phone, He knocked softly and Larry looked up from his desk.
“Well, good morning, Nolan,” Larry grinned. “I take it your blond bombshell is still asleep.”
“He was dead on his feet before we even got into bed,” Nolan answered, which Larry took to be a yes. “Can I go downstairs and get some breakfast?”
“Feel free. This house is as much yours as it is Aiden’s. You are now a member of the Miller household.” Even though Larry had kept his last name of Sanders when he married Phil, he and Phil referred to the family as the Miller family, as did all of their friends and acquaintances. Larry noted that even as an extended family member, Nolan wasn’t yet ready to step into his office naked. “But first I need a favor.”
“Sure, what do you need me to do?”
“I need you to wake up Aiden. There’s a lot going on and a lot of that has to happen in a hurry. I’d love to have him, and you, help me with some of it.”
“And you want me to be the bad guy instead of you, right?”
“Exactly. But, while you play bad guy, I’ll play good guy and rustle up some bacon and eggs real fast. You guys can pop in your own toast. Tell him the wakeup call is for some very important Yard Goat business.”
Not surprisingly, Aiden moaned and groaned and spat and cursed at being woken up. At his best, Aiden was a cranky morning person until he’d had his morning shower, his orange juice, and his breakfast.
“Hey, you got almost ten hours sleep,” Nolan told him.
“I need fucking twelve hours sleep,” Aiden groused.
“Let’s shower.”
Aiden got out of bed, watched his boyfriend strip out of his boxershorts and then followed him to the bathroom. They lovingly washed each other in the shower, and finished off with a long, passionate kiss.
“Sorry about being an asswaffle,” Aiden said as they dried off.
“Hey, you played long and hard last night, Mr. Champion. You’re allowed to be grumpier than usual this morning,” Nolan chuckled.
“What do you mean grumpier than usual?” Aiden asked forcefully. Then he took a quick breath and said, “Never mind. I need to find a way to have better mornings, especially with you around all the time. I don’t like getting grumpy with you.”
“Talk to that AA sponsor dude about it. Maybe he knows a thing or two about grumpy mornings.”
The two boys walked out into the hall and back to Aiden’s room. “I want to talk to him before I go to Cali. Especially since today is Sammy’s birthday. And so you don’t have to ask, he’s sixteen today.”
“Wow, he’s getting to be an old man.”
“That’s what I’ll call him when I see him. But right now, it’s time to have some breakfast and for me to find out why my pop wanted me to get up at the crack of dawn.”
They went downstairs in the nude. For whatever reason Nolan felt more comfortable being naked around Larry and Phil when he was with Aiden.
Aiden learned that Larry wanted Aiden and Nolan to accompany him to his talk with Skip. “If Skip gets stubborn and doesn’t want to do this, you are the guys who can talk him into it. And if he’s ready to go, which I think will be the case, then you can welcome him to the Goats,” Larry told him.
As soon as Larry said “Goats” the house phone rang. Rita and Skip were ready for Larry and the boys to drop by.
They headed to Rita’s house as soon as the boys finished breakfast. On the way, Larry made a detour and stopped at the Hallion house where Trent met them. He handed Larry a package and told him his mom would be waiting for his phone call. When Larry invited him to ride with them, Trent ran into his house to tell his mom where he was going and jumped into the Odyssey.
Skip was sitting on the couch wearing gym shorts and a Mayfield Explorers t-shirt. As soon as Larry told Skip what the purpose of the meeting was, Skip left no doubt what his answer would be. His loud, “YIPPEEEEEE!!!!!” almost shook the lamp on the end table. “For real? I’m gonna be a Goat and go to California?”
“Only if you want to be,” Aiden said with mock seriousness.
“Who wouldn’t want to?” Then Skip paused and asked, “Do you think I’m good enough to play with the big boys who are, like, league champions and everything?”
“If we didn’t, we wouldn’t have asked you,” Larry assured him. From what Larry knew of Skip’s baseball acumen, he had no doubt Skip was skillful enough to play with the older boys. The issues were, was he physically big enough and strong enough and did he have enough experience and fundamental knowledge to play with the big boys? One thing he did have going for him was that the players on the Goats were ready to welcome him to the team. That attitude started right there in Rita Emerson’s living room with the welcoming attitude of Aiden, Trent, and Nolan. Trent stood up and asked Larry for the bag he had given him. Larry handed it to him. Trent walked up to Skip and told him to take off his shirt. Skip shrugged but wasn’t about to question the captain of the Mayfield Yard Goats. He stood up and pulled off his t-shirt and tossed it on the chair. He looked up at Trent to see what the next move was going to be.
Trent reached into the bag and pulled out a Mayfield Yard Goats t-shirt. Skip’s grin almost broke his face as he reached for the shirt. He missed it, however, when Trent pulled it back. Aiden looked over at Nolan as they both wondered what Trent was up to.
Trent unfolded the shirt, told Skip to raise his arms, and put a sleeve over each arm and soon, with a nip here and a tuck there, had dressed the new Goat in the shirt. Trent was pleased with himself when he saw that he hadn’t put it on backwards.
Trent gave Skip a long hug and then Aiden and Nolan did the same. “Welcome to the Yard Goats,” all three Goat members told him.
Larry told Skip that practice would be at ten the next morning at the middle school. Skip grinned and said he would be sure to be there early.
“Mrs. Emerson, do you think Skip could spend the afternoon at my house?” Aiden asked.
“As long as he’s home before seven—that is if it’s okay if he stays for dinner with a couple of his new teammates,” she answered.
“It’s good with me,” Larry said.
“There’s also going to be a team party at my house after practice, tomorrow,” Aiden informed her.
“He can go there, too, but he has to be home by dinner this time. I’m already planning a dinner for the whole family before Skip leaves for California,” Rita said. “But a quick question before you go. When you get to California, how will you be getting all of these boys from the airport to where you’re staying and from there to the baseball fields?”
“We have rented two twelve-passenger vans,” Larry told her.
“Which you coaches will be driving, I assume.”
“I volunteer to drive one of them, or you could rent a 24-passenger bus and have all the boys together and also rent an eight-passenger van to take small groups somewhere or running errands or whatever. My niece works for a transportation rental company in San Diego, and I think we can get us a pretty good price. Plus, I’m licensed to drive any size bus. If you don’t mind, I’ll look into the comparative costs. But I think you’ll really like having your team all together when you travel. I will talk to Martha and see what she thinks.”
“Go ahead and investigate. I like the idea as long as the price meets the approval of Seth.” Larry was referring to Seth McCall, who was the financial officer for the Mayfield Baseball Club.
“I will get to work.”
While they talked, Skip had gone to his room to change to a pair of more substantial shorts and get his flip flops. Larry and Rita were finished talking when Skip came back out.
Larry thanked Rita and herded the boys to the Odyssey. Trent thanked Aiden and Larry for the invitation but said his mother wanted him to return home after the meeting with Skip.
“You don’t need to drive me home,” Trent said. “I can walk—in fact I’ll probably jog home. I’ll see you guys at practice tomorrow.”
Aiden, Nolan, and Skip gave Trent a wave good-bye as Larry pulled away from the curb. When they got to Aiden’s house, the boys went down to the basement and stripped for swimming. Skip hadn’t asked if the swimming would be in the nude, he just assumed it would be and was happy to learn it was.
Larry went up to his office and set to work to continue bringing order to the chaos. The hard part was done; Skip would be their replacement player. Now came the logistical work. A phone call would turn the work over to Martha Hallion. But first, he needed to call James and tell him he would have a full roster at the Brawl.
<The Goat support team at work>
While Aiden, Nolan, and Skip enjoyed their skinny dipping, Larry talked to Martha Hallion to tell her what needed to happen. During the afternoon the supporting adults did the following:
Martha Hallion booked a flight to San Diego on Monday morning for Rita and Skip and a return flight back. When the Yard Goat uniforms had been ordered, she had ordered 20 uniform shirts of varying sizes. She kept the spare shirts in the hall closet and grabbed the five shirts that were stored there for Nolan, Calvin, and Skip. They were four varying sizes and from what she’d seen the three boys wore three different sizes. If there was a duplicate, one of them might have to wear a larger shirt. The Goats wore white uniform pants, as did the Mayfield Explorers.
Rita Emerson called Seth McCall and got his okay to change the van rentals to a 24-seat bus and an 8-seat van provided she could get both for a comparable price. “Your one bus idea gives me an idea,” Seth told her. After telling her what he had in mind, she said she was all for it.
Seth McCall called Ed Michaels, the CEO of the Centralia Clark Pass and Pacific Railroad, who was all for his idea. He next call was to the general manager of Northwest Venture Buses, a Lewis County based tour bus line. Seth was a part owner of the line, which was a big help in getting a good price quote. His last call was to Coach Hallion, who loved the idea. As a result, with donations from McCall Trucking and the CCP&P Railroad and a cut rate price from the bus line the Yard Goats would have a full-size bus transport them to the Portland airport on Tuesday and bring them home to Mayfield from the airport after their return flight.
Larry Sanders called Skip’s mother, who was easier to get hold of at work than Skip’s father, to see if she could electronically sign Skip’s permission form and email it to Robert Perez, which she was able to do. She and her husband would also need to fill out a couple of forms that Larry would carry on the trip in his briefcase, but he could get those from her the next day.
Larry also called Rusty’s mother and asked her to ask Dr. Hamilton to send his report on Rusty’s injury to Perez. He talked to Rusty for a couple of minutes and was happy to hear that while he still felt soreness in his arm, he wasn’t in pain and that he had a nice, white cast on his lower arm. Larry knew that the cast wouldn’t stay white for long once the Goats filled it full of signatures and get-well messages.
Larry’s final calls were to Robert Perez and Coach Hallion. Perez told Larry that all the paperwork was in order and Ralph was good to go. Larry had to pause a moment to recall who Ralph was, then remembered it was Skip’s real first name. Nobody, not even his mother, called him Ralph—except when she was angry. Ralph William Emerson was his full name. At least his parents didn’t give him the middle name Waldo; that would have been too much. Larry totally understood why Ralph went by the name Skip from the time he entered preschool.
“Remember that Ralph can’t pitch until I’ve seen copies of your scorebook showing that Russell pitched for you.” Russell was Rusty, of course.
“I’ll show the pages to you on Wednesday,” Larry told the director.
“Good enough. Safe travels,” Robert said and ended the call.
<Skip and Californication>
Aiden, Skip, and Nolan enjoyed a little over an hour of skinny dipping while Larry worked diligently on organizing the chaos of the day. Larry took time off from business to call the boys to lunch.
“Can we eat down here on the patio?” Aiden asked.
“Of course,” Larry answered. “Just remember to clean everything up.”
“We could eat on the deck,” Skip suggested.
“We could, but we’d need to put shorts on, since most of the deck can be seen from the road or the water,” Aiden told him.
“I don’t see any boats, except yours.”
“You never know when somebody might come by,” Aiden said. “And that reminds me, my dads said they’ll be taking the boat out for water skiing tomorrow.”
“Naked water skiing?” Skip asked hopefully.
“Not quite,” Larry laughed as he came out on the deck with a plateful of sandwiches. “Swimsuits are very strongly advised, and life jackets are required.”
“I can’t wait to go. I’ve never been water skiing though.”
“You won’t be alone,” Aiden told him. “I don’t think Cal has done it either. My dads will teach you and you’ll love it, as long as you don’t mind falling into the lake a few times.”
“Not as long as it don’t hurt.”
“You’ll be fine. I’ll be on the boat being your spotter.”
“Sweet,” Skip grinned. “I feel better knowing you’ll be with me.”
Larry didn’t say what he was thinking regarding Skip having more faith in Aiden watching out for him than the two adults teaching him. He’d been around pubescent and adolescent boys enough to know their patterns of thought.
After finishing lunch, Skip told Aiden he wanted to do it.
“Do what?” Aiden asked. “I haven’t mentioned anything we could do outside of heading back to the pool.”
“Yes, you did, and you promised to do it before school started.”
“Um…do you mean you want to, like, do IT?”
“That’s what I said.”
“What do you think, Nolan?” Aiden asked his boyfriend.
Nolan knew about the promise since he and Aiden didn’t have secrets between them. “Can’t it wait until we get back from California?”
“It can, but I want to do it before I get to California because everybody there has probably done it,” Skip responded.
“I doubt that, and I bet most eleven-year-olds haven’t done it or even thought about doing it, just like everywhere else.”
“But there is one reason I would do it that’s got nothing to do with California,” Aiden said. “And that’s the train trip Nolan and I are taking after we get back from California. Then school will be close to starting and peeps will probably be here for swimming and skiing and just plain messing around. Today it’s just us and maybe it’s the best time to do it.”
“Serious?” Skip asked eagerly.
“Yep, except there is one thing you have to agree on this time.”
“I’ll agree to anything, cuz I don’t want to be a virgin when I go to California—I don’t care what eleven-year-olds don’t do there. What do you want me to agree to?”
“You have to let Nolan watch us do it.”
“Say what?” Nolan asked. “Hey, I don’t mind waiting outside the room while you do it—I know what it’s like doing it for the first time and, well, doing it in private is pretty important.”
“You won’t feel left out?”
“I will feel left out if you don’t let me watch the NEXT time you do it. How does that sound?”
“Sounds good to me. What about you Skip?”
“He can watch today, but yeah, if he does it next time that means there’s gonna be a next time,” Skip answered.
“Skip’s a pretty smart dude,” Nolan grinned.
“I gotta be since I’m playing on a team of big boys. But I want you to watch and not be left out and me and Aiden will do it in private next time.”
Aiden agreed to Skip’s proposal and the three boys started upstairs to Aiden’s bedroom. Aiden thought it would be a more comfortable environment than the beat-up old couch in the basement backroom, but halfway up the stairs he remembered his pop had been working in his office and might be there now. He hesitated for a few seconds and then decided to go on to his room. If his dad was upstairs working in his office, he’d use that as an excuse to go back downstairs.
It was then that Aiden and Skip caught a break. Just as the three of them entered the foyer, Larry came out of the dad reading room.
“Hey guys, I was just going to go downstairs to tell you I would be meeting with Mrs. Hallion and Mrs. Hazen to talk about how they could help once we get checked into our hotel.”
“I knew Mrs. Hallion would be going, but not the twins’ mom. I thought the twins’ family didn’t have much money,” Aiden said.
“You didn’t hear it from me, but an anonymous donor is helping her pay for the trip because of all the work she does not only for the Goats but for the town of Mayfield.” Leslie Hazen was a member of the Mayfield Baseball Club board as well as a parent very active in community affairs. Plus, her postgame cookies for the Goats were legendary.
“Okay. If you see Lance and Lenny, tell them all of us said hi.” Aiden thought for a moment and then said, “The brat isn’t going, is she?”
“Aiden, please,” Larry admonished him.
“Sorry.” Aiden took a deep breath and with a great deal of formality asked if Brenda was going to be travelling with her mother.
“No, she’ll be spending the time with her father.”
Aiden wanted to say it was a big surprise when the twins’ and Brenda’s father spent any time with them but decided it would be best if he kept his mouth shut—at least for now.
“I should be back in a half hour or so,” Larry said. He looked down at Skip, who had been sporting a boner just over a minute ago and said, “Don’t let anybody talk you into anything you don’t want to do.”
Aiden decided that statement required a rebuttal. “Dad, when have I ever done that? You know that the rule is ‘NO is NO.’”
“Yes, I do, and I apologize. I’ll see you guys soon.” Larry left knowing he could trust Aiden and Nolan, but he wanted Skip to know there was adult support available if he needed it. He also was pretty sure he had mishandled the situation.
“Okay, Skip, let’s make you an honorary California boy, whatever that is,” Aiden said. The boys hurried up the stairs to take advantage of their break. If he had known the term, Aiden might have said he was going to take care of the Californication of Skip.
Next: Special Preparations