Lucas Checks In (part 1)

Lucas called me yesterday. We’ve been texting pretty steadily, but we haven’t had a long conversation since he left for Ohio.

He called while I was still in bed. I don’t think he’s grasped the time difference between here and Ohio yet lol.

I always mumble something incoherent into the phone when it wakes me up.

“Hey, man. How’s it going?”

“Lucas? Hey. It’s going. I’ve got a new job and it’s keeping me busy.”

“Did you see the game last night?”

“Yeah. That whole Wild Card Round was bullshit, but at least it’s over and we can get on to the real posteseason. And you gotta admit Kershaw was lights out.”

“If only he stays that way now that it counts. I had a study group Wednesday night, so I missed that game, but I managed to catch up with Seager’s home run on YouTube. I caught something else on TV Wednesday night, though.”

I knew what was coming. So I asked straight out:

“What did you think of it?”

“Couldn’t you have at least shaved?”

“I didn’t know that the camera was gonna be there that day…and, besides, it turns out that some of the Facebook buzz likes me unshaven.”

“Facebook buzz?” Lucas sounded as surprised about that as I was when Joyce first mentioned it.

“Yeah. Some of Maya’s viewers post what they thought of the show on her Facebook page. Kinda like Monday morning quarterbacking reality TV-style. And…well…there’s some interest in what the baseball tutor looks like with his mask off.”

“Yeah…wait till they see how ugly you are.”

“Fuck you, man,” I said with a laugh. “They’re gonna find out soon enough. They’re filming me the pool on Monday.”

“That’ll be good and gayass.” Lucas laughed. He doesn’t usually talk that much shit. I guess they were teaching him something in college after all lol. “You’ll probably get like tens of admirers from that…and not just chicks. Don’t forget Maya Bedrossian has a huge gay following.”

I groaned, partly because I was still half asleep.

“But how come we never did those fly ball drills? They look super fun.”

“I didn’t think of them until I needed to come up with a way to let Jacob run wild and still have it be about baseball. When you get back we’ll do a few,” I said.

“And what about the younger brother, the one you were playing catch with? He doesn’t look like he wants to be a ball player.”

I didn’t know it was so obvious on TV.

“He doesn’t,” I told Lucas honestly. “I was kind of hired under false pretenses. The kids are home schooled and I’m pretty much the gym teacher. I can work on baseball with Jacob for hours, but – you heard it here first – they’re putting Matteo on a weight loss program and keeping track of it on the show. So all of America will see him lose 15 pounds. They got some fancayass Beverly Hills place to come up with a diet and exercise program, but I’m the…”

“Enforcer?”

“Pretty much.”

“How old is he?”

“9”

“That’s fucked up. You know I’m all in favor of strength and conditioning and proper diet, but I was in high school before I started that kind of program. 9 years old is way too young for that kind of stuff. He doesn’t even look so fat on TV.”

“He’s not.”

“At least he’s got you looking out for him.”

“Yeah…lot of good I can do.”

“I’d rather have you on my side than a lot of other people I know,” he said. Then he changed the subject:

“Any word from the hotel on when you’ll be going back? Or shouldn’t I mention it?”

“I got no idea,” I said. “I haven’t heard from Mr. Balsam since August. But the Bedrossian gig is paying my rent, and I’m pretty dang grateful for that.” (I think I need to clarify something: it’s the Bedrossian gig plus the money I saved by not having to pay my rent in September that covered the October rent. Maya’s a generous employer, but I’m still there only 8 hours a week.) “It doesn’t leave a whole lot of money left over for shit like food…so I’ve been eating a lot of ramen noodles.”

“I’m a starving college student,” Lucas said. “I’m not gonna feel sorry for you because of that.”

Given the money the Andrews have, I was surprised to find out that Lucas was starving. I know he’s on some kind of meal plan at college, but maybe the food sucks and he’s falling back on grossass ramen because there’s nothing else to eat.

“What else is going on?”

“Well…I wanna kill my roommate for starters.”

“It hasn’t gotten better?”

“Shit, man…it’s gotten worse. He’s terrorizing the whole hallway with his bullshit about being a light sleeper. Everybody’s got to fuckin tiptoe past our room and now you have to be super quiet when you close any of the doors. And the asshole fuckin goes to sleep at 9:30. So forget about my being able to lie in bed and read or anything with the light on. One night I was texting Carter and he woke up and complained that the light from the phone was bothering him. Dude…I so wanna take a swing at the asshole and put him to sleep that way.”

“That’ll probably just get you in a shit ton of trouble,” I said. I got into one fight in college, and, let me assure you, you get into a lot more trouble for it in college than you do in high school.

“Dude, it’s even worse than that. He’s a total pig when it comes to keeping the room clean. Clothes are all over the place, books and papers are everywhere, he saves old pizza boxes…and he can’t keep his fuckin mess on his side of the room. I’m no gayass neat freak, but I can’t live like this. Oh…and then I had to take down the Halloween decorations I put up on the door because he said they ‘triggered’ him.”

“You’re kidding, right?”

“Dude, I can’t make this shit up. There’s worse still: he brought caterpillars into the room.”

“The fuck?”

“He says butterflies are endangered and they chopped down some lameass plant that the butterflies lay their eggs on so he decided he was gonna raise the caterpillars like they were fuckin pets. He even gave them names.”

“Ok, that’s fucked up. You gotta say something to someone.” Keaton’s wrong that complaining is always gayass. This is one case where it’s justified.

“I tried…but they blew me off. They said they weren’t moving roommates around unless it was a medical emergency. Apparently his being fucked in the head like that isn’t a medical emergency. So I’m gonna kill him and hide the body parts all over campus.”

“That’s one approach. I think you gotta go back to the dean – or whoever it is you talk to about changing roommates. This dude’s not fuckin normal if he’s keeping caterpillars as pets.”

“He hand-feeds them leaves.”

“Dude, I can’t stand it. Do something.”

“Yeah, but we’ve got a real nice room and I probably won’t be in such a nice one if they move me. And who knows what kind of a roommate I’ll get.”

“You could get a dude who doesn’t keep caterpillars as pets and one who’d let you read in bed at night.”

“Yeah…but…”

“Don’t make me tell you to man the fuck up,” I said. “Nobody’s gonna think it’s gayass of you if you want out of a roommate situation like that.”

“Ok, Hunter…I guess you’re right. Carter just tells me that he always got on with his roommates…”

“Yeah, but not everyone’s Carter…and there are some crazy fucks out there. Like the ones that spoon feed caterpillars in their bedrooms.”

I asked him about classes, and then about masks and social distancing, and he said that he and his friends are all doing their best to abide by CDC guidelines, but that not everyone on campus is that careful. So he’s trying to stick to people who are. He says he’s made some friends. There’s one dude from Florida who’s a huge Rays fan…so life’s gonna be interesting between them for the next few weeks lol. But it means he’s got someone he can talk baseball with.

That wasn’t where we hung up. There was a whole other half of the conversation yet to come.

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