Dad took me to a baseball game but he only had money for the nosebleeds. That’s what he called the seats we got. When I asked him why he said it was because if you go up up high like on a mountain the air gets hard to breathe and you can have a nosebleed because of it. My sister gets nosebleeds a lot but not from going up up high, it’s from picking her nose. She says she doesn’t but I know because I see her do it all the time even though Dad tells her not to because it’s gross.
We were kind of late because of so much traffic so the game had already been going on a while when we got to our seats. Dad asked if I wanted a hot dog and I said yes so he called to this guy who had a big box hung around his neck and bought us two hot dogs and Cokes. We were so high up the players looked like the size of my toy army guys but there was a big screen you could see what’s going on like watching TV.
I was a little bored but I liked the part where the team mascot came out on the field and did tricks and chased the players around, that was funny. The team mascot is a big green animal with a big green nose and I asked Dad what he is and he said I think he’s supposed to be an aardvark or something. But he didn’t really look like an aardvark and anyways aardvarks aren’t green and I told this to Dad and he said well I don’t know then Kurt. The mascot was pretty funny and one time when the manager was on the field the aardvark thing tried to pull down his pants! I thought that was pretty funny but I don’t think Dad thought so. When I tried to show him he just told me not to point and seemed like he was looking at something else like maybe just the sky.
When he wasn’t on the field the man in the aardvark suit went up and down the aisles waving to people and pulling stunts like stealing their ball caps. I didn’t want him stealing my cap so when I saw him coming I put my hands on my head and held on tight. The man in the suit came over to me and put out his big green hand so that I could shake it but I knew that he just wanted me to take my hand off my cap so he could steal it and so I didn’t shake his hand. He kept putting it out but I wouldn’t shake it. In the aardvark’s neck was like a little window that was green too so you couldn’t see it from far away but up close you could see it was like a window screen and I could see the man’s face through it a little.
I heard the man say Come on kid, don’t you want to shake my hand? I shook my head no and then he said Shake my hand! Come on! You know who I am, don’t you? I’m the Phanatic! Did you see me down there? I’m not gonna take your cap! I just want to shake your hand, Slugger! And his big red aardvark tongue came out of his mouth and hit me in the face and then rolled up again. And Dad said Come on Kurt, he wants to shake your hand! but I just shook my head no and so the man pulled his hand away and through the screen I could see him looking at me and I got a little scared because he looked really mad. Then he turned away and kept walking down the stairs stealing peoples hats and everybody kept on laughing.
Why didn’t you shake his hand? Dad asked and I just said I didn’t want to and that I didn’t feel that good and I was bored and couldn’t we go soon and he said No you’re going to sit through the game like a big boy and so we sat there and I was bored.
I kept asking Dad if I could go walk around by myself but he said No and so I sat next to him for the whole game which was boring. I was a little afraid I’d see the aardvark man again but he stayed down on the field and did his dance and everybody laughed, but I didn’t laugh because I kept thinking about that mean look he gave me.
Our team won but I didn’t care that much by then. When the game was over Dad said we should go buy a souvenir before we left and I said okay so we went down to the stand where they sell the souvenirs and he said, what would you like? And I looked and looked but everything they had there had a picture of the aardvark on it and so I said no thanks and he said you sure? and I said I’m sure and he said Well I’m going to get something for your sister, which I thought was stupid since she doesn’t like baseball, but I didn’t say so and he said Look I think she’ll like this don’t you Kurt? and I looked and it was a little stuffed aardvark. I don’t think she’ll like that very much I said. But he bought it anyways and asked if I wanted to carry it and I said no.
It took us a long time to find the car in the parking lot there were a lot of cars and Dad got us lost so we walked around for a long time trying to find it and finally we found it and when we got in Dad said Here hold your sister’s Phanatic and I said no but then I had a thought and I said okay and so he gave me the aardvark. It looked just like the big version but without the screen in his neck because there wasn’t a man inside because it was just stuffed and too small anyways. I know, duh.
We got on the highway and I was hot and asked Dad if I could roll down the window and he said No let’s just turn on the AC and I said I don’t like the AC I like to feel the breeze and he said okay but just halfway. So I rolled it down halfway and then a little more than halfway and then just a little bit more and then when it was down far enough I held the stuffed aardvark up to the open window and put his head out like a dog. Dad said Don’t do that Kurt and I said But Dad he likes the breeze and he said Kurt and then I pushed the aardvark out the window he went flying I turned around to look and saw it fall in the ditch by the side of the road.
KURT! Dad yelled WHAT DID I TELL YOU? I’m sorry I said. We need to go back and find that for your sister he said, but there was a lot of traffic and nowhere to turn around and so he just said a bad word and we kept driving. I could tell dad was really mad so I said sorry again but he just stared at the road ahead of us and anyways I really wasn’t.
When we got home my sister came running up to us and Dad picked her up and said Hey Petunia Daddy got you a present but your brother dropped it out the car window, and my sister looked at me and said I hate you Kurt, and I could see there was dry blood from where she picked her nose and got another stupid nosebleed.
Dad was mad all night and when I went to bed I could hear him and Mom yelling downstairs. I felt kind of bad but not about throwing the aardvark out the window. Just then I heard a bump like on the side of the house outside and then another one and I was scared but I got up and went to the window and peeked through the curtain.
Down there on the grass was a big fat shape and when I looked I could see that it was the man in the aardvark costume! And he was throwing baseballs at the side of the house and that’s what the noise was! I was really really scared and I ran downstairs to tell Mom and Dad.
I ran into the kitchen where they were and there I saw Dad and he was holding Mom up like she was falling over. Her eyes were closed and he was kind of shaking her a little bit and I said is Mom okay and Dad said Go to your room, Kurt! And I just stood there looking and he said again louder GO TO YOUR ROOM! I’ll be up in a minute! And he looked like he was really mad just like the guy in the suit had been so I ran back upstairs and I heard this sound and even though I didn’t want to I looked out the window again and the guy was still out there, only he was lying on the ground kind of rolling around or something and I could hear he was making this funny noise. There were baseballs all over the yard.
It seemed like a real long time then I heard Dad’s feet coming up the stairs and he came in and in a whispery voice said Listen, Kurt, put on your shoes, we have to go. And I said why? And he said I don’t have time to explain we just have to go. So I put on my shoes and my jacket because it was kind of chilly and we went downstairs and out to the car just the two of us. And I said What about Mom? And he said she’s not coming this time, we’re just going out for a little drive, just you and me. And I said but it’s night and he said I know it’s night, we’re going for a Night Drive, come on Kurt, be a big boy for me now. And he reached over and kind of patted my head and made it kind of wet and when I reached up to touch the wet part of my hair the touching made my fingers wet and I said Dad–
SEANN MCCOLLUM is head of the tiny Opuntia Press, through which he publishes his own poetry, stories and filth. He also draws and paints stuff. His blog, The Carrion Call, has been viewed by dozens and dozens of people. He lives in Portland, Oregon with his two cats and cardboard cutout of Eric Bana.