Brighton - Michael Harvey Page 0,1

cellar three different times, but he just kept going back.” Bobby skimmed the stone, four skips before it caught an edge and sank. “Then I figured it out. Some things are just better off dead. And there ain’t no use fighting it.”

Kevin stared across the infinite void of space and watched the world spin and tumble in the pale orbits of Bobby Scales’s eyes. Life, death, and everything in between. After ten minutes, the bag hadn’t surfaced. Bobby stood, Kevin in his shadow, and the two of them left.

PART ONE

1975

1

HITTING’S ALL about hips and hands. Unless you thought about it too much. Then it was impossible. But Kevin was fifteen and the world was still pretty simple. See the ball. Hit the ball. Hips and hands.

The kid from Charlestown stood behind the mound and rubbed up a new baseball. Just like Catfish. Kevin stepped out and picked up a handful of dirt. Just like Pudge. The pitcher climbed back up on the mound. Kevin let him wait. The backstop behind him was packed with hard, white faces. Someone told him to get the fuck back in the box. Kevin told him to piss off without looking back. Then the catcher mumbled something and the umpire took off his mask and yelled at everyone to shut the fuck up. Kevin leveled the bat back and forth, testing its weight and feel. His eyes were on the pitcher now. Watching him watch. Kevin stepped back in the box, dragging his spikes through the loose gravel. He was in an 0-2 hole and shortened up an inch or so on the bat. Tommy Doucette danced off second. Someone yelled from down the third base line. Kevin pointed his bat once, twice, at the mound. The pitcher wound up and threw. An inside fastball, but not inside enough. Kevin opened up his hips and let his hands fly. The moment he hit it, he knew the third baseman had no chance. The only question was whether it would stay fair. Kevin snuck a look as he ran. The ball caught a lick of chalk and skittered into a pack of locals who scattered in a flurry of Styrofoam and beer bottles. The umpire screamed fair as Kevin hit first and dug for second. He slid out of habit, but the shortstop already had his glove on his head. Tommy Doucette was on the bottom of a half-dozen teammates at the plate. Brighton was in the other guy’s park but had been designated home team for the city semifinal. And now they’d won, 3–2.

Kevin stood on second and felt his heart thump in his chest. His teammates turned and began to run toward him—a series of grass-stained images framed forever in his mind. He pulled off his helmet, never knowing where it landed as they fell upon him, crumpling under their weight on the hard infield while a couple hundred Townies watched and cursed. At fifteen, the game was easy, a world unto itself. That time, however, was drawing to a close. And somewhere inside Kevin knew it would never be like this again.

They drove out of Charlestown in a daze. Kevin sat in the backseat of Teddy Boyle’s rusted-out convertible. Teddy was an assistant coach for the team. His claim to fame was that he’d been arrested after his wife was found dead in her bed by a neighbor. Teddy swore up and down he’d slept in the same bed with the corpse for two nights and never noticed a thing. Teddy told the police his wife had always been a sound sleeper and the couple never talked much anyway. When the coroner’s report came back as a massive cerebral hemorrhage, the cops let Teddy go. And he had a great story for his buddies at the Grill.

Teddy had given each of the kids a bat before they left the parking lot, just in case they had trouble getting out of Charlestown. Teddy wore a porkpie Budweiser hat sideways and had a cold bottle of the stuff tucked in his crotch as he tooled through Thompson Square, laying on the horn and flipping off the locals. Once they hit Storrow Drive, he told the kids to put away the bats and gave them each a beer, sharp and wonderful at the back of their throats. Teddy did seventy-five on Storrow, leading the car in chants of Brighton and city champs as they cruised past Harvard and its clock tower, gleaming crimson and white on