A Perfect Game

“Wally’s at it again.” Anne’s husband sounded concerned.

 “What’s he up to now?” Anne dipped her tea bag a couple of times and placed it on a small tray beside her cup.

“Who knows? He said something about watching a game with Mabel and asked to borrow Brian’s chest protector.”

“Well, I’m sure he’s got something in mind.” Her brother Wally had been living with them since his wife Mabel died. Wally was an inventor and was always building something, most of which Anne didn’t understand.

“Anne, I know Wally was a phenomenon when he was younger, and that he created some spectacular things.” Frustration crept into her husband’s voice. “But recently, he spends most of his time chasing wild ideas.”

“I know.” Anne had noticed that Wally’s inventions had become more unusual-looking.

Her husband looked down at the cup he was holding, and then back at Anne. “I think it’s time we talk about what we’re going to do with Wally.”

Anne knew the conversation was coming but didn’t welcome it. “What do you mean? Wally’s fine.”

“He’s not fine.” Her husband responded quickly. “He spends all day tinkering in the garage and muttering about Mabel. He’s scaring the kids.”

“You’re right, but Wally has been through so much, with Mabel’s cancer and the loss of their house because of all the bills.” She was saddened remembering the look on Wally’s face as he carried the last box out of his house.

Her husband sat down across from her at the table. “Yes, and we took him in to help him get back on his feet, but his inventions are no longer practical, and he seems to be losing his grasp on reality.”

She took a sip of tea. “Let me talk to him,”

When Anne got to the garage and looked in at her brother, a knot formed in the pit of her stomach.

 Wally sat in a lawn chair with a basket-like contraption on his head, wearing her son’s chest protector and holding what looked like the tray from her daughter Claire’s old high chair covered with knobs, switches and wires.

“Wally,” Anne said softly, “are you okay?”

“Never better,” said Wally cheerfully.

She looked at the mess around him. “You’ve been acting a little … preoccupied lately.”

“I know, I know. But I think I‘ve found the answer.” He tightened a screw and gestured toward a machine with his screwdriver. “I’m sure this is going to work, and things will be better.”

“I’m worried about you, Wally.”

Wally looked up and smiled at her. “Don’t worry, I’m going to be just fine.” He started to fiddle with a knob, totally absorbed.

Anne stared at him for a minute, her eyes misting slightly, and then she turned and left him alone in the garage.

Wally pulled some earphones on and settled into his chair. He flipped a switch and twisted two silver knobs until the static cleared. There was a brief pause and then Mabel’s warm, comforting voice came through the headphones.

“Welcome, Wally dear.” Mabel’s voice sounded just like he remembered. “It’s a perfect day for a game.”

Mabel had always loved baseball. They had met at a baseball game and he always enjoyed going to games with her. He especially enjoyed going to the Old-Timers games when she would get excited about seeing old stars she hadn’t been able to watch while they were playing. “Who’s playing today?”

“The Yankee’s greats are playing the Old-Timers. Some of my favorite players of all time are here today.”

Wally slipped his goggles on and smiled to himself as the field came into view.

“It’s the top of the third. Lou Gehrig and Jimmy Reese are on base. The Yankees are down by two and the Babe is stepping into the batter’s box.” Mabel sounded extremely happy.

Wally was happy as well. His invention had worked, and he had a chance to watch a game with Mabel again.

Wally watched Cy Young nod at the catcher’s sign and begin his windup. Mabel’s voice filled his earphones again. “I’m glad you could join me, this is turning out to be quite a game.”

A perfect game, thought Wally.