Daylight seeped under the door and into the closet. Teddy blocked out as much as he could with loose clothing, but some light still got through. He could still see some but not enough to not need his Batman flashlight. After stuffing a couple of socks at the hinges he clicked on the flashlight which he had taken offhis Batman utility belt, the utility belt that Kim Chambers from down the street had caught him wearing at the park one day. He was embarrassed enough by her finding him in a cape and Batman utility belt that he climbed into a tree and tried, very un-successively, to hide the cape and belt. Now he runs and hides every time he sees her. The flashlight was just a small yellow plastic light with a black Batman sticker on it but it came with a clear, a blue and a red gel piece to change the color, it originally had a cutout gel piece that when lit it displayed the Bat signal just like on the TV show, but that only worked if you shone it on something close to you and their dog had chewed it up anyway.
Teddy skooshed back into his little reading nest he had built up with two spare blankets his mother kept on the shelf in his closet. He picked the top comic book off his stack, since he always read in the same order, oldest to newest, he knew the first comic he would read would be the first comic he ever got, a Sad Sack army comic followed by an Archie and then a Beetle Baily. He pulled two Hydrox cookies out of his shirt pocket, not as good as Oreos he thought but his mother would say, They are just as good and few pennies saved really adds up.
He opened the first comic with the same excitement he had the first time he read it even though now he almost knew it word for word. The closet door suddenly opened and there stood his mother.
“Teddy, I’ve been calling you, and what are you doing in here anyway?’ She stood there waiting.
“I was, uh, um, no I didn’t hear you.” Teddy suddenly felt guilty but of what he wasn’t sure he was just reading comics after all.
“Well hop to it, your father is on his way home and wants you to be ready.”
At the mention of his father, Teddy shrank a little deeper into the blankets.
“Don’t be like that Teddy”, his mother said, “He sounded in a real good mood.”
Teddy slowly got up. He wouldn’t become Ted for another four years and was a freshman in high school and his dad would have been gone for more than a year by then. “Ok if you say so. Are Brian and Davey going too.?”
“No, just you.”
“What does he want?” Tedddy asked.
“Well,” his mother started, “It’s a surprise. He wants to do something with you.” She smiled wide at Teddy. “Just you.”
His dad’s car horn honked just then.
“Hurry now Teddy he’s here, don’t want to be late and ruin his mood.”
Knowing how easily his dad’s mood could change Teddy got up quickly and started to run outside to where his dad was waiting.
“Teddy, walk”, his mother cautioned. “You know how he feels about running in the house. Teddy did know his dad’s thoughts on running in the house, his father’s belt had taught him and hisbrothers about running in the house. Teddy slowed to a quick walk and went out through the garage to the driveway where his dad was waiting. Teddy went up to the driver’s side window, which was rolled down.
“You ready Teddy?” His dad had a big smile that looked uncomfortable on his face.
“I guess so” Teddy replied, “I don’t know where we’re going though”.
“That’s because it’s a surprise.” That uncomfortable grin again, “Now hurry up, go get your glove and let’s go.”
“Yes, go get your glove. Don’t make me say it again.”, the grin fell into a grimace.
“Yes sir, right away.” Teddy turned and fast walked into the house to get his glove.
Pulling into the lot at Dodger stadium, all Teddy could think of was how hungry he was. He had a bowl of Sugar Smacks for breakfast but that was it and it was now past lunch time. He still had a Hydrox in his shirt pocket but was going to try to save that for when he got really hungry, because there was one thing he knew about going to games or really anywhere with his dad, was there was no food or drinks bought there. Too expensive, should’ve eaten before we left.
“What’dya say when we get inside, we find our seats and then grab one of those famous Dodger dogs and a soda. How does that sound Ready Teddy?”
Teddy was momentarily stunned, “Sounds good. I’m pretty hungry,” he finally got out.
“Great, let’s get some tickets and get inside.”
Inside the stadium Teddy began to both relax and feel excited at the same time. They got seats along the first-base foul line and his dad reminded him to keep an eye out for foul balls, “That’s why I had you bring you mitt, never know when one is going to come your way.”
Teddy began to watch every pitch and swing because, like his dad said, you never know. His dad reached over and ruffled his hair, he’s rubbing my head thought Teddy, he never does that. Dad doesn’t touch us; he doesn’t hug us he’s not that kind of dad. Teddy grinned then smiled only the way a happy kid smiled. No shame, no embarrassment, just happy and if was going to tell the truth he’d have to say he was smiling because he was with his dad and he loved him.
“Hey Teddy boy, I’ll be right back.” His father got up, rubbed his head again and walked up the aisle. He was back in about ten minutes; he had a beer in one hand and tossed Teddy a shirt. “Here, see if this fits.”
Teddy held it up, it was blue with the Dodgers logo written across the front.
“It looks a little big, should we try to get you a smaller one?” he asked.
“No, I like this one. It’s fine I love it; I want to keep it.” Teddy clutched it to his chest.
“Okay if that’s what you want, I’m sure you’ll grow into in no time.”
Unable to help himself Teddy leaned over and hugged his father hard.
“Okay Ready Teddy, don’t spill my beer now.” Teddy’s father put an arm on Teddy’s back and let Teddy hug him without pulling away.
That night at home, as he wore his oversized shirt to bed, Teddy could hear his parents arguing. The same argument, it was always the same argument. His mother would tell his father that, As quick as you get it you spend it or bet it away and his father would counter with, Well I earned it I should decide what to do with it. It had replaced and became Teddy’s nightly story time.
“Ted, are you in here?” Ted’s wife Kim had come into the basement without Ted hearing her.
“Yeah I’m here, sorry, daydreaming, were you calling me?” Ted looked up, he was sitting on a snow tire an open trunk in front of him, holding an old faded blue t-shirt with flaking white lettering on it.
“Just didn’t know where you were is all.” She walked over and placed a hand on his back. This woman whom Ted used to hide from when he was still just Teddy rubbed his back and Ted leaned into it.
“That thing again? How many times a year do you look at it?” She took it from his hand and held it up. “There’s not much left to it is there?”
Shaking his head, “No, no there’s not, not much left of the memory either.”
“Do you want me to try and save it, put it in a better box or something?”
Taking the shirt back and putting it back in the trunk along with some tattered comic books and a child sized glove, “Nah, I’m okay with it fading away. The memory of my dad has been fading for a long time and I’m okay with that too.”
“Then why do you keep taking it out?”
‘I don’t know, maybe because it was the last good day, things got dark after that.”