Restless after Breakfast

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Thousands of noises buzzing inside Paul's ears all at once; the endless flow of the crowds, the intoxicating scent of pretzels and hot dogs spicing the air. Paul and his father made it to their seats just before the game began, Paul clutching a bag of popcorn and relishing the salt and butter on his tongue, his father clutching a Corona and booing the other team, they were terrible seats, cheap and narrow, miles from the field up in the sky, but still Paul was dumbstruck, it was quite possibly the most amazing thing ever, as he said to his father, and the nostalgia of stadium-scale joy pulled him back to that baseball field day after day waiting and waiting for his father to return and take him to another Mets game.

In the final inning the third batter smacked a blistering line drive right at the pitcher, who snatched it from the air like an action hero, and the crowd erupted, and exhilaration flooded Paul's fingertips, and he hugged his father, who was on his third Corona on his feet, wobbling, cheering, screaming. That catch ended the game.

It was every morning the summer before he left for college, although Paul remembered it as the summer after his father died, and he lingered on the hard sand for hours, eventually he took to eating his Froot Loops in the car in the parking lot and then wandering around the diamond and the field talking to himself, or else singing the song of the stadium.

On the last day Paul came to the field to wait for his father, the last day he would ever come to the field, he idled on a chain-link swing, singing softly to himself the song of the day, trying and failing to release all of his bastard nostalgia into the sweet summer air.

"And it's one, two, three strikes, you're out, at the old ball game!"