Scenes from the Dead Zone . . .


At a dingy bar in Nordeast, the smiling hulk that is Kent Hrbek can be seen, barely, over a huge bowl of fried pork rinds and a trio of empty beer mugs. The florescent lamps flicker so badly that peering across the bar puts one in mind of the days when a solid haze of cigarette smoke added to beer goggle effect and made any woman in the establishment past 9 o’clock a solid 8 or better. Another big man has stepped through the door, and he has that forlorn yet hopeful look that a lot of the middle aged bachelors in this establishment wear on their mugs. But Tom Brunansky is looking for Hrbek. Herbie helps him out.

Hrbek: Bruno! Over here! Hey bar wench! Set me up again – yeah, three more Grain Belt. And a couple for my bud here. (he stuffs a handful of pork rinds into his maw.)

Bruno: Herbie! It’s good to see ya, man. (He takes a stool at the high table, starts to lean on his arms, sees the slops of beer and thinks better.) Good t’ see a guy who could hit the ball.

Hrbek: Yeah? Well, ya look like a guy who just shot his own dog. Have a brewskie and lighten up. Geez.

Brunansky: Easy for you to say. You don’t have to try to get Aaron Hicks to hit a inside curve ball.

Hrbek: Aw man. Shop talk, eh? WAITRON! Where are the beers! (A harried looking waitress unloads five mugs and turns to deliver the rest of her tray . . .) No, no! Leave those, too. I think I’m gonna need ‘em.

Brunansky: Man, I thought this was going to be fun, hanging out in the clubhouse again, getting’ pumped when these kids start whackin’ doubles into the gap. Instead we have unlikely bastards like Suzuki hitting, and everybody else. . . Well, they hit like they’re afraid it’ll sting their hands. (He takes a long drink from a frosty mug) Thanks for the beer.

Hrbek: Well, I think these were mine, but you can pay me back when your tray comes.

Brunansky: But you said! . . . (Hrbek glares) Yeah, whatever. Herbie, you like Gardy much?

Hrbek: I guess. I think he may know less about more than I do, so that makes me like him some. Plus the funny names thing.

Brunansky: Funny names? He calls me "Ski-Ball." (Hrbek chuckles, a low dull sound worthy of Lenie from Of Mice and Men") I guess they can be funny but it all depends on how he says ‘em. Lately "Ski-Ball" is sounding like a nasty curse. And then he gives that flinty look. Dude, I think he knows he can’t fire me, so I’m worried he’s coming up with other options.

Hrbek: I always thought it was a twinkle in his eyes.

Brunansky: Sure if he’s giving that toothy grin. Otherwise put a flashlight under his chin and he’ll make campers shit themselves. I try to have Hicks nearby when I go through the clubhouse so old lazar-eyes can focus on that poor bastard

Hrbek: (glug glug glug glug) Belch.

Brunansky: Um. That’s all you have to say?

Hrbek: Eh, it’s like Gaetti all over again. All "feelings," and "boo-hoo." Are you getting religion or something?

Brunansky: No! . . . Wait. Could that help?

Hrbek: Lissen pal. Take credit for teaching them not to swing. We have like a jillion walks, and since they are all too pussy to hit dingers, that’s the best way to not get outs.

Brunansky: Well we don’t have the baggie hanging within an off handed throw of the second baseman any more. You would have had a lot of warning track outs at Target Field, Herbie. (Hrbek belches "bullshit") Yeah, Yeah. You were a hometown stud. But now they say I’ve broken Mauer.

Hrbek (with the dangerous glare of a guy it up like a Christmas tree): Well. Did ya?

Brunansky: No! Ah forget it! Waitress! Beer me!

Hrbek: Now you’re talkin’! Hey, don’t forget you owe me one!

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