KELSO'S SWING, CHAPTER 12
While the girls hung out with their men near the poolroom, the coaches sat at the bar by the dart area and observed the girls, who did not seem disheartened by their loss to Murphy’s.
“That Murphy’s third sacker, she’s got the rabbit ears and the red-ass,” Kelso informed his assistant.
“What she’s got is the best ass on a white girl I’ve ever seen in captivity,” Marstrulavich retorted. He flicked ashes, sipped his drink. “The kind of pile-driving ass that keeps you up all night thinkin’ about holding onto it while you feast on those thighs and that pussy.”
Kelso took a deep breath. “She can play, but she swings too hard, pulls her head. A little discipline, she could be a force. That coach, goddam volleyball god, doesn’t know shit. He gives those show ponies too much love.” He ordered a round as Marstrulavich puffed. “And that smug, stuck-up shortstop, little miss perfect, acts like she invented the game. The way she carries herself oughta inspire our girls to hate her guts and beat their asses.”
Marstrulavich shook his head slowly, flicking ashes. “I’m not sure women are built for the kind of hate you’re talking about—the kind of hate you displayed when you played. You’re talking about the kind of hate that leads to blows. Women aren’t supposed to be that way. You’re asking them to mutate into something repulsive and hateful, and alien to their nature. They’re nice girls. They’re not haters.”
“We can teach ‘em to hate. Hell, we both know the ball field’s a perfect breeding ground for good, rancorous hating, the kind that brings out the worst in the enemy and the best in the haters.” He nodded toward the girls as they partied. “I want the enemy to be terrified of our girls.”
“The enemy?” Marstrulavich shook his head. “It’s a slo-pitch softball league, a game you refuse to play cuz it desecrates the real game. You’re taking this way too seriously. They’re just a bunch of good-time girls wanna play ball and have a little fun, win a game now and then, so they no longer disgrace themselves and party afterwards.”
“Bullshit. They tasted victory, and they like it, I want ‘em to hate losing so bad they provoke the enemy into hating them, like everybody used to hate me.”
Kelso ordered shooters. They downed them. Marstrulavich lit up, blew a smoke ring, watched it dissolve, then turned to gaze across the crowded, noisy bar into the poolroom area, where the girls were playing doubles. “Those are some of the nicest people I know, Kelso. The guys, too. They’re mature, educated, classy, decent, with fine futures. They’re actually happy, probably happier than they know. Unlike you, they’ll possibly go through life happy, and spread happiness wherever they go, like model citizens who make it a better world. I don’t think I can name one person who dislikes those people even mildly, unless they’re twisted to the core, because those people make it a point to LIKE everybody and NEVER say an even slightly negative thing about anybody. So, for you to attempt to make haters out of those girls, ands turn them so hateful everybody in a rinky-dink softball league hates them, that is a despicable act and the mark of a psychopath and at least a sociopath who should probably be locked up somewhere so he has no influence over people who care, and count, and contribute to the good of all.” He ordered another round, tapped ashes into his tray. “In fact, you are the biggest asshole I’ve ever known in my life, in a class all by yourself.”
“You’re not far behind,” Kelso informed him, puffing.
“I’m far, far behind, and I do consider myself a pretty big asshole, as assholes go.”
The round came. Money was extracted from piles before both men. They drank.
“You’re not really an asshole, Marstrulavich. It takes substance, and involvement…and commitment to be a true asshole, an asshole who makes a lasting impact, the kind of asshole who infuriates people to the point they’re so distracted and distressed they can no longer function and probably need to turn to religion.”
Marstrulavich nodded. “I can’t argue with that angle. Guess that’s why I’m assistant coach. And I don’t know how long I’ll last. My life’s been running smooth for years—no bumps in the road. The last thing I need is getting embroiled in the kind of mean-spirited mayhem you got in store for those chicks. One of these nights, well, I might not show up, and you can find somebody else to put up with your nasty, hateful, abominable ways.”
Kelso drank, and almost sneered. “You’re a real trooper, Marstrulavich, a real foxhole buddy.”
“Hey, those ladies didn’t ask ME to coach. They asked you.”
“Yeh, well, I can get along just fine without you. Lotsa guys’d jump at the chance to coach those chicks. And I know I’m on the right track, whether you think I am or not, or you’re behind me or not.” He drank, puffed. “None of the girls’d miss you anyway, except our worst player, Annie. You’re practically useless. You’re not even very good at hitting infield. In fact, all in all, compared to me, and the way I stand out and run the team, you’re about as insignificant a draft of humanity as has ever come down the pike.”
Marstrulavich finished his drink, watched his friend finish his, and signaled for two more. He peered toward the poolroom area, where the girls were becoming loud and boisterous.
“I think the only way you can get those girls to win it all, not just a few games, is to get them to hate you more than they’ll ever hate anything or anybody in their lives—even their husbands—as long as they live.”
Their drinks came. Kelso tapped Marstrulavich’s glass with his. “That shouldn’t be too hard.”