Horse and rider emerged from the yawning chasm beneath the field, as if escaping the jaws of some unfeeling limestone beast. He sat his horse and glassed downcountry. Through a veil of dust coppered by bloodred sunset he could make out the number 411 painted on a fence. Just beyond that number, swaddled in bootblack darkness, lay his warrant. A place whose dominion belonged neither to God nor man but a purgatory of whose provenance none were certain and all feared but him. He would go to the bullpen and exact a confession of all its truths.
He scabbarded his rifle and put bootheel to horse’s flanks and they rode on. As they rode he looked up at the flags mounted atop the edifice surrounding him, flags that pointed downward sullenly like some ancient penitents. They bore the crude markings of years once thought remarkable and now thought of not at all, as though they belonged to another world entire. 1965. 1987. 1991. A world beyond imagining, preserved only in ancient scribes’ faded memories, palimpsests upon which now showed only the bottomless abyss of now, faint tracings of Jeff Reardon giving way to the stark outline of Alexander Colomé. Though lately he hadn’t been too bad. They rode on.
He looked into the stands at the fans, their brokenness unable to be hidden by the grotesqueries they were committing with the barrelsized ales and meats lacquered with sauce embalmed in bread they unceasingly lifted to their mouths, trying without recompense to atone for what they were witnessing of their own free will. Is this how one baseballs? No it is not. Only the damned baseball such as this.
Here was another. He held a crude placard aloft, beseeching an unseeable and unknowable God, Circle Me Bert. A plea for a faithless arbiter to encase him in a telastractic orb, thus consecrating him as worthy of notice on the sprawling contraption electric, so that all his kin may know his life was of some brief consequence before his vanishing from the world, yet unaware this judge had been judged himself to be without merit and banished from the Hadean landscape upon which he now trod.
He arrived. He pulled up the reins and dismounted and knocked on the door. From within he heard low murmurs and scuffling of metal on dirt. Sounds unencumbered by bravery. No answer. He knocked again. Silence. There will not be a third knock, he said.
He heard a thump, a creak, and the door swung open. The reckoning was at hand.