The impact sent the bucket of Gatorade crashing to the floor, covering the concrete with a sticky yellow mess.

Colton Zephyr spun around and directed his venom at a human target.  He zeroed in on his third baseman, Gary Butler.

You cost us the game, he yelled.  You stupid little butthead.   Zephyr got a firm grasp on the bat and took a stride toward Butler.  As he prepared to take a swing at the defenseless player, three teammates tackled him.

Perennial All-Star Gordon Howard took the lead.  You’re coming with us, Volcano, he said as he gave Zephyr a shove back toward the clubhouse.  When they reached the clubhouse, Howard shoved Zephyr into a storage closet and locked the door.  Stay in there and cool down, Volcano.  Someone will check on you after the game.  Maybe.

With no further eruptions from Colton Volcano Zephyr to distract the team, the Bears clawed their way back into the game before Gary Butler and Gordon Howard hit back to back jacks in the ninth to send the fans home happy.

As he watched his team celebrate the hard-fought win, Skipper McGee headed back toward the clubhouse to take care of business.  He unlocked the closet and marched Zephyr back to his office.  The manager collapsed into a chair on the opposite side of the desk from the pitcher.

McGee thought about the situation for a moment.  A couple of years ago, Colton Zephyr had been a top shelf starting pitcher a rising star in the league.  Some observers felt that the Bears had achieved a coup by retaining Zephyr at a cost of $90 million over 5 years.  It was a lot of money, but the New York Bombers seemed willing to pony up even more cash.

Zephyr had always been an excitable player, but halfway through his contract, he was becoming a serious distraction to the team.

McGee looked up at Zephyr.  The pitcher glared back at him.

Colton, my boy, we need to have a talk.  You’re becoming a serious distraction to the team.

Zephyr interrupted his manager.  Yeah, yeah.  I’m sorry.  It won’t happen again.  I’ll get some counseling.  Yadda yadda yadda.

You’re right, agreed McGee.  It definitely won’t happen again with the Bears organization.  The boys upstairs made the decision several months ago.  The next time Volcano erupts, he’s gone.  The Bears are going to sever ties with you.

Colton Zephyr laughed hysterically.  Is that supposed to be a punishment?  I get to escape from one of the worst teams in the league!  It’s a guaranteed contract, so you still have to pay me.  Thanks for cutting me loose, Skip.  Just cut me my check and I’ll be on my way to the bank.

No so fast, countered Skipper McGee.  Actually, you’re going to retire from baseball and forfeit the money left on your contract.

Zephyr laughed.  Walk away from $45 million?  Why would I do that?  You’ve been out in the sun too long, Skip.  You’re getting a bit soft in the head.

We discussed this with our in house counsel

And the quack lawyers told you that you had a leg to stand on?  Forget it, Skip.  The money is guaranteed and the union will crucify you if you try to steal it from me.

We had them review video footage from your previous incidents.  In their opinion, you have committed no fewer than six felonies and a dozen misdemeanors.  If we were to turn the videos over to the district attorney and have your teammates serve as corroborating witnesses, you would be facing some serious time behind bars.  Twenty years was the conservative estimate.  If you walk away from the game and leave the money on the table, we’ll keep the DA in the dark.

You can have the $45 million, continued McGee, or you can have your freedom.  The choice is yours.


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Kosmo is the founder of The Soap Boxers and writes on a variety of topics. Many of his short stories have been collected into Kindle books.

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