Bronson Arroyo Sits at a Booth in a Diner

diner

Bronson Arroyo takes one last, long drag of his Pall Mall then puts it out in the ashtray that now holds seven butts. He has been there for 23 minutes.

“I already told you,” he says as he exhales smoke out his nostrils. It melds with the steam coming from his coffee cup. “I’m not doing it, Walt.”

“Come on, B.A,” says Walt. “We need you. Just this one last time.”

“I’m retired.” He taps his cigarette pack against the side of his index finger until one stick emerges from the group. He brings the pack to his face and pulls the straggler out with his lips. His Zippo flips open.

“I know you are,” says Walt. “I wouldn’t ask you to do this if I weren’t desperate. This crew I got lined up, they’re good. But they need to be great to pull this thing off. You can make them great. And wait ’til you hear what this score pays.”

“Don’t care.” His mouth said it. His eyes let Walt know he meant it. He ran his yellow fingers through his yellow hair.

“There’s gotta be something I can do to convince you, something you want. Name it. Name it and I’ll get it. Come on, B.A. I need this. Do it as a favor to me.”

Bronson Arroyo slid to the end of the booth, and stood up. He slung a weathered leather jacket over his shoulders and reached into the right-hand pocket. He pulled out four crumpled dollar bills and tossed them on the table.

“Sorry, Walt,” he said through his cigarette. “I stopped doing favors a long time ago. Nothin’ good comes from them.” He turned and walked toward the door.

“It won’t last you know,” Walt projected.

Bronson Arroyo turned around slowly.

“This feeling of superiority, of finality, it won’t last. You have more money than you’ll ever need, and you got out of the game alive, but that calm won’t last. What are you going to do now, huh? You’re gonna sit at home and watch old movies? Get that stupid rock band back together? Grow those fucking dreadlocks again? No way. Just when you think you have a normal life again, it will come back. Not all at once, but over time, that itch will come back. And soon enough, you won’t be able to fight it any longer. You might catch on with that crew in Tampa or Oakland or Chicago. Just for something to do. To feel like you’re alive again. But it won’t be the same. They aren’t your crew. You HAVE a crew. And that crew needs you. Joey, Chappy, Billy, Tony — they all need you. Fuck, I need you, man. So I’m asking, one last time. But if you walk out, you’ll never hear from me again. You might see our names in the papers, but you won’t hear from any of us anymore. It’s your choice. It’s your chance. Your last chance.”

Bronson Arroyo walks back to the table. He puts out his eighth cigarette butt. His eyelids lower. He exhales deeply.




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David G. Temple is a systems analyst who writes for FanGraphs, NotGraphs and The Hardball Times. He hosts the award-eligible podcast Stealing Home. He has contributed to The Classical and The Platoon Advantage. Dayn Perry once called him a "Bible Made of Lasers." Follow him on Twitter @davidgtemple.

8 Responses to “Bronson Arroyo Sits at a Booth in a Diner”

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  1. Chris Moran says:

    Was B.A. eating runny eggs with overcooked bacon?

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  2. B.A., the numbers racket is calling.

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  3. Jenstrom says:

    Arroyo smokes Pall Mall’s? That’s the brand my grandfather smoked. He died in 1979.

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  4. me says:

    oooohhh now do one with aj burnett as the hard-boiled detective, and his wife as the sultry dame. out of all the offices in the world, she had to walk into his. she tries to convince him to retire, but we find out later it was all a clever attempt at reverse psychology orchestrated by neil huntington to get burnett to make a damn decision already. when burnett finds out, he feels betrayed by them both and tells them to shove it. he then signs with baltimore, where he can ignore his wife on a daily basis.

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  5. Oh, Beepy says:

    This really makes me hope B.A. resigns with the Reds and he wins a Cy Young.

    I’m not a Reds’ fan.

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  6. TK says:

    Ok I should probably know this, but what pop culture reference is this piece?

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