Saturday, October 29, 2005

A Utility Player (Part I)

This Saturday morning I thought I would head over to Dallas Parker's house to see why he blew off practice yesterday. I tried the number that the coach gave me but it was disconnected. Worse scenario was that if he wasn't home, I would make my way over to several U18 games in Melbourne. Needless to say, I never made it Melbourne.

Dallas lived out in the sticks. I took State Road 46 out to a little town called Sorrento. Passed the railroad tracks and then made a right turn at the first intersection. Went north a couple miles until I passed a graveyard. A mailbox with the name "Parker" suddenly appeared from behind a big oak tree on the right side of the road. Going too fast as usual, I passed the driveway entrance. Putting the car into reverse on this deserted country road wasn't an issue.

As I turned into the entrance, I could see a single-wide trailer set back about 50 yards. No cars were parked out front. The property did have at least twenty mature oak trees which provided a nice thick canopy. The grass driveway was well worn and grooved by years of tire traffic. I parked next to the trailer and verified the house number the coach gave me with the numbers glued over the front door. Perfect match.

I jumped out of my car, hurried up the steps, and knocked on the trailer door. No answer. Gave it another knock. Again, no answer. However, I did start to hear a faint giggle from a little girl. I couldn't tell if it was coming from inside the trailer or perhaps behind it. All the blinds were pulled and I couldn't see inside. The giggle started to get a bit louder. It had to be coming from the back yard. I made my way down the steps and slowly walked around to the back.

About 25 yards behind the trailer was an old weathered swing set. A little girl with long blonde hair was swinging away from me in the other direction. She was giggling but in between swings she had this terrible cough. Really deep sounding.

Pushing her was Dallas. Even with his back to me I could spot him from a mile away. He was dressed in a white t-shirt, faded jeans, and flip-flops.

"Push me higher, Daddy," the little girl said.

Dallas obliged. And I was crushed. I too had a little girl once and I could swear that she said the same thing to me over and over at our neighborhood park. I used to push her for hours. She would laugh and I would reluctantly count the minutes until I had to go to practice. We would rush over to the ice cream parlor before meeting up with her mother at the stadium. Oh, did I hate practice. It took me away from spending time with my little girl. I didn't even know her and she was almost six. Before I knew it she was ten and her brother was three. Then thirteen and six. Sixteen and nine. And now thirty-one and twenty-four respectively.

Yeah, Dallas had some personal issues alright. And I was determined to help.


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