This was the moment he had been waiting for. Or at least he hoped it would be. The rubber game had been a titanic battle. A classic. The teams were well matched with not more than a racoon’s whisker to choose between them. The lead pitcher had injured his arm which meant that Billy Joe had the chance to be the hero. And now? Now it was the bottom of the ninth with Billy Joe’s team leading by a single run. Two outs. Two strikes. Three balls. Bases loaded.
Billy Joe stood on the pitcher’s mound, thinking about all the great pitchers who had gone before him, knowing that he had the opportunity to earn a legendary nickname, like “Cyclone” or “Chief”. The noise of the crowd grew louder and louder and he could hear the supporters chanting his name over and over and over. This. This was the moment he had been waiting for.
“BILLY JOE DANFORTH!”
He was jolted out of his daydream by his math teacher, Miss Henton. Daddy always said she looked like a gator who’d swallowed a wasp, with a temper and a voice to match. Billy did his best to look calm and searched his mind, trying to remember anything from the lesson that could save him.
“Well Mr. Danforth? Do you have an answer for us?” she asked, her narrow, grey eyes boring into him.
“Er…” They were doing geometry. She’d said something about angles. There was a shape on the blackboard that Miss Henton was pointing at. “Isosceles, Miss Henton?” he guessed.
Her already narrow eyes seemed to become mere slits, making her look more like a reptile than ever, and Billy Joe steeled himself for the tongue-lashing he felt sure was coming. But it didn’t come. Instead she nodded. Real slow. Her unblinking eyes never breaking contact with his. He could’ve sworn that she even made a strange hissing noise.
“Isosceles.” She sure sounded like some sort of reptile to Billy Joe. “Correct. Perhaps there is more going on in that freckled head of yours than is readily apparent.”
His classmates’ laughter died before it had really started as Miss Henton’s gaze took in every student at once, instantly bringing the room to perfect silence. Billy Joe was sure that she was disappointed he’d got the right answer. But boy was he relieved.
He somehow managed to pay attention for the rest of the lesson. It wasn’t easy though. Not when there were so many images of shapes and angels on the blackboard that kept reminding him of the baseball field, of hitting the winning homer, of pitching the perfect curve ball. He had to concentrate real hard to not spend the rest of the time imagining himself becoming one of the greats in the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Of course the other thing that didn’t help his concentration was sitting two seats down and one to the left. Suzy Anderson. Her mousey-blonde hair spilled over her shoulders and Billy Joe found himself wishing she’d turn round so her he could see her pretty green eyes and button nose. And that smile. He wasn’t even sure if she knew he existed. He had sure noticed her the first day of school though. He’d never really paid much mind to girls before but for some reason he found himself quite taken with Suzy.
He forced himself back to his books and worked on the exercise Miss Henton had set, only stealing the occasional glance at Suzy when he was sure no-one would notice.
Eventually the bell rang and the students stuffed their things into bags and headed out the door. As Billy Joe got to the front of the class Miss Henton called to him. “Oh, Mr. Danforth? A moment of your time if I may.”