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Scenes From An Offseason, Volume 2

SCENE: It is midafternoon on a Saturday. Kevin Slowey, Rick Anderson, and Nick Blackburn sit around a table in the Twins clubhouse. A game board sits between them. Slowey is drinking a fair-trade organic chai latte. Anderson gets up periodically to refill a coffee cup from a bottle of amber liquid that smells suspiciously like rum. Blackburn drinks Mountain Dew and spits sunflower seeds on the carpet.

SLOWEY: (rolls die) Let's see... He counts spaces to himself in several directions. Let's go three this way - that's brown. Arts and Literature. Rick, read the question.

ANDERSON: (belches prodigiously) All right. "Which Shakespearean character was the nephew of Claudius?" He pronounces "Claudius" as "Clouds."

SLOWEY: Easy. Hamlet, Prince of Denmark.

ANDERSON: Wrong! The correct answer is "Denis Savard."

SLOWEY: Rick, check the card. That's the answer to the Sports and Entertainment question.

ANDERSON: (flips the card back and forth five times, silently) Oh.

SLOWEY: (takes pie piece) Okay, your turn, Nick.

BLACKBURN: (rolls die) Five. I'll go here, onto the blue space.

SLOWEY: That's Geography. I'll read the question: "What are the only two landlocked South American countries?"

ANDERSON: Kevin, you know that we use the other box of questions for Nick.

SLOWEY: Dang it, why does he get to use the kids' version?

BLACKBURN: The regular version was banned in Oklahoma. Ask Gardy.

SLOWEY: Fine! (grabs card from shiny, colorful box) "Which state is north of Iowa?" OH COME ON.

Blackburn bites his lip in thought. Anderson, with an encouraging look on his face, points none-too-subtly at the "Minnesota" painted above the lockers on the walls.

BLACKBURN: I think it's a trick question. I'll say North Dakota.

ANDERSON: Close enough for me! Nick, you're in the starting rotation again next year.

Slowey grabs his pie and throws it at the door in anger. The pie sails high and wide of the door.

SCENE: A dimly lit street in the Warehouse District. Danny Valencia exits an unmarked building, but tentatively. He checks left, right, then left again before stepping down from the door and pulling up the collar of his coat to half hide his face. He walks off down the sidewalk - quickly, almost at a run. Behind him, we see the lights of a nondescript sedan blink to life.

Valencia walks as the car slowly begins to creep down the street. He hears the engine turn over, and quickens his step. The engine revs slightly higher, and with a glance behind him, Valencia moves even faster. He takes a few steps, then looks again - and breaks into a run, coattails flying behind him and all pretense abandoned. The car speeds up.

Valencia sprints for the corner. He sees the pool of light on the corner from the streetlight, sees cars beyond driving by, and we can see what he's thinking - get to the street corner, and everything will be fine. We hear the whine of the engine, and just as Valencia thinks he's made it, the car pulls around him into an alleyway and stops, blocking the sidewalk. The rear doors open, and two men get out. Both wear black trench coats and black leather gloves - the international standard uniform of men who want to leave no trace and wish to not be seen by anyone. Both men carry baseball bats.

VALENCIA (backing away): Guys, I can explain. It'll be different, I swear. I'm taking grounders. I'll learn the signs. I'll - NOOOOO!

The two men, having taken enough menacing steps for one night, leap upon Valencia. We hear his anguished cries as the two go to work. After a moment, another sedan - black and nondescript - pulls slowly up alongside. The rear window rolls down, and we see the orange glow of the tip of a cigar from within. The two trench-coated men approach the car and bend down to peek inside. A voice emanates from behind the cigar.

GARDY: You boys take care of my little problem?

TOLBERT: No problem, boss. I think we taught him a lesson.

REPKO: (examines bat) My bat just looks like I hit the pavement every time I swung. I think it's defective.

GARDY: Well, son, maybe Matt here can teach you how to get after it.

TOLBERT: And our end of the deal?

GARDY: Oh, don't you worry, fellas. You'll both be back on that 40-man roster come spring. You know how this works - I take care of my guys.

The window rolls up and the sedan drives off. Valencia lies on the sidewalk behind, breathing shallowly. The streetlight on the corner flickers, and then as if on a timer, shuts itself off.

SCENE: A warehouse on the waterfront. Thin grey clouds slide by a full moon. All is quiet... but suddenly we hear muffled angry shouting, followed by short bursts of gunfire. A radio crackles with static and an unintelligible command. A lone guard runs out of a guardhouse, across the pavement to a large wooden door. He flips shut the latch, and picks up a large steel brace to bar the door.

Just as he turns, the door splinters open with a crash. A strangely undamaged '68 Mustang bursts through the door and gratuitously blasts through a chain-link fence. More shouts and more gunfire comes from the building, which suddenly explodes into a pillar of flame.

As the car speeds by, we see its driver, unmistakable even in the moonlight - the manic glint in the eye, the strange leer of triumph, and - above all - the sheer fuzz...


Volume 1 is here.