So, turns out, Dale has a funny story, been too embarrassed to tell you all about it till now. Remember when Dale had that crazy day, back in May — when he maxed out on Icers and accidentally smoked crack from a bong, notched an ol’ Save-a-roo-ski, and ended up knocking on the door of a house that looked familiar somewhere late at night, having to pee an’ puke?
Turns out — this is the funny part — that was Dale’s mom’s house.
Because Dale lives by one rule and one rule only — Call Your Mother — I knew she was out of town on little trip she does with the aunties every spring. So, after pukin’ over the porch into the rose bushes, I grabbed the spare key from around back of the house and went in.
So I’m thinkin’: first things first. What’s Ma got in the ol’ liquor cabinet for Dale? Nothin’ but ointments. What about the fridge? Dale could use an Icer or two to clear out that vomit taste. No Icers. Okay, the freezer. Come on, Ma, don’t let Dale down.
Peach schnapps. Haha. Good ol’ Ma. I remember she always had this in the freezer when I was a kid.
So I polished off the schapps, easy. Dale’s not too good for peach schnapps (or for puking in Ma’s rose bushes). Stumbled into the living room; took a lean by the staircase, noticed something on the shelf that near broke my heart: picture of me from back in December, when the Padres first signed me — had gave it to Ma in Christmas card.
Well, ol’ Dale plopped down right there under those stairs, stared long and good at that photo. Seemed like a different Dale. Hell, that photo shows a Dale that’s had about twenty-five hundred fewer Icers than the one that’s telling you this story. Several dozen fewer bong rips. One or two fewer broken hearts. (Those’re stories for another time.) A few fewer Giant Sluggers. Lookit: that Dale ain’t even got no fuckin’ facial hair, barely got any hair on his chest, balls’ve barely dropped. I might as well’ve been a teenager in that photo and it wasn’t taken but ten months ago. I’m 30, 31 years old now. Hell’s happened since December. Drink hell. Food hell. Woman hell. Job hell. Urethra hell. Just kidding. Dale’s clean as a whistle.
Lookit that Dale, holding that baseball like it’s a giant ass diamond or something, and not the bane that it’s proven too be — or like it’s Alyssa Milano, bunched up baseball size, and she just gave Dale an ol’ kiss-a-roo-ski. Baseball’s a boon, sure. But a bane, too. Get closer’s job, lose closer’s job, bouncin’ around the ‘pen, twisting my fucking moustache, waking up with my arms through the leg holes in my skivvies like it’s a tank top, with both big toes in the holes of wide-mouth Icer cans. I been everywhere — feels like it anyway — since that photo was taken. Seen everything.
But now, looking at this photo of little Dale, sans moustachio or whatever, now I have seen it all. It’s like time travel, or another dimension. This Dale belongs here, in his mother’s house, rooting around, hidin’ titty mags in old shoe boxes at the bottom of the closet, sneakin’ schnapps from the freezer.
The present Dale, the one I am now, tellin’ you this, he belongs in hell. Not necessarily because of the things he’s done — I ain’t done nothin’ ‘specially wrong, unless you consider imbibing every now and again a sin, and I know some people do consider it a sin — but more just because this Dale, me now, the present Dale, he ain’t fit for earth and he sure ain’t fit for heaven, so where’s left? Where’s left to go?
Aw hell, Ma shoulda thrown this photo out with the card…