Hit Hard

📅 Published on August 16, 2021

“Hit Hard”

Written by Keith McDuffee
Edited by Craig Groshek and Seth Paul
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on CreepypastaStories.com are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available

ESTIMATED READING TIME — 14 minutes

Rating: 6.67/10. From 3 votes.
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He’s talking again.  Why is he talking?  Jesus Christ.  And my tie.  Feels so goddamn tight.  Like I’m being choked to death.  Maybe if I just stick my finger in there, pull it out more.  Get some fucking relief.  But I already did that.  God damn it, why can’t I fucking breathe?

“Bucky.”

What the fuck does he want now?

“Buck!  Were you even listening to me just then?”

“Huh?  Well, yeah, I-”

“Bucky, this is what I’m talking about.  It’s what we talked about last week.  The last time we were sitting here.”

“Uh-huh.”  Maybe if I unbutton my shirt a little at the top.  God, it smells like…I don’t know.  What is that?  Old glue or something?  God, it’s, like, burning my throat.  How the hell does he stand it?

He’s standing up now.  “Look, I know you’ve been through a lot, but for crying out loud, it’s been six months.”

Six months.

“It’s not just that you don’t have your head in the game anymore.  It’s the lying.  I mean, you’re doing it all the time now.  There’s only so much I can take.  I shouldn’t have to take any of it, really.  And I can’t.  I can’t cover up for you anymore.”

He’s still talking.  How can he stand sitting in this box all day?  Shit, would he just open a fucking window, for God’s sake?  He must be some kind of absurd vampire.

“I’ve done all I can, alright?  You’ve gotta believe that.  Chapman’s on everyone’s ass this quarter.  We either hit it hard or get hitting the pavement.  Know what I mean?  No room for slack.  He’d be here to tell you that himself but…well, he had to take off early today.”

Is that cream cheese on his tie?  Jesus, what a slob.  So that’s what ties are for.  Huh.  Stopping slobs from soiling their hundred-dollar silk shirts.  But I’m not a slob.  So why in God’s name am I wearing a tie again?  I should just take the fucking thing off.  I’ve always hated this one anyway.  Looks like a clown threw up on it.

“Bucky!”

“Huh?”

He’s quiet now.  Finally, I can concentrate on just fucking breathing.  All his talking and talking and talking.  And that smell.  God.  Is he done yet?  Well, he’s going to the door.  But this is his office.  He can’t just leave me here.  I might kill myself.  Well, there’s comfort in knowing that then it’d at least be quiet.

“Come on.  Jennifer’s got a box on your desk.  It…doesn’t look like you’ve got much, so…you can grab your personal things, and I’ll walk you to your car.”

“I – my car isn’t here.  I walked.”

“Walked?  Buck, that’s…that’s gotta be, what, ten miles?”

Is it that far?  I shrug.

“Look, I – I’ll drive you home, okay?  Or wherever you want to go.”

The office door’s open.  I think this means I can leave now.  Oh, thank Christ.  That’s just what I’ll do.  Already the air from the hallway smells better.

“Bucky?  Buck.  Buck!  Come on, I’ll drive you.”

Fuck him.  I’ve got nothing here worth keeping.  I don’t even want my coat.  Would just smell like this place for ages after I’m gone.  Gone.  Huh.  It feels good to think that.  I’m gone.  Out of here.  I’m never coming back.  This is it.  I almost feel like skipping down the hall and through the reception doors like a goddamn schoolboy after the last bell.  But I don’t.  I let my access card flop to the floor and I push open the double doors.  I hear a few of them behind me, calling out their “see yas”  and “take cares,”  but who are they bullshitting?  I won’t be seeing them and they won’t be seeing me.  And what do I have worth taking care of anymore?

Fuck this tie.  Good riddance.

When did it get so fucking hot out?  This morning it was colder than a snowman’s dick; now it’s hotter than hell.  Goddamn New England weather.  Is it too much to ask for some consistency for once?  Just for a day?  Well, at least the sun is out.  And no one’s talking.

“Excuse me?”

Shit.  No.  I don’t hear you, guy.

“Excuse me!  Excuse!  Me!”

God.  Dammit.  Maybe if I just look at this asshole, he’ll see I’m a nobody and will leave me the fuck alone and keep driving.

Nope.  Not working.

“Oh, hey.  Do you know where…”

“No.”

“…But I didn’t say the address yet.”

“Not from around here.”

“Oh.  Well maybe you’ve heard of-”

“No.  Sorry.”  Time to walk.  If this fella is smart, he’ll drive away now and not say another fucking word.

There you go.  Good boy.

Shit, is it hot.  I would’ve thrown my jacket away, too, if I had it.

Looks like there’s a dead cat by the side of the road, up ahead.  She’s got one of those long coats, too; that annoying, fluffy kind that drags along the ground and makes for massive hairballs.  I don’t know how animals stand it, having a coat they can never take off, in heat like this.  Damn thing is fresh, too.  Maybe this heat drove it nuts, and getting flattened by a car was its only source of relief.  She just couldn’t take it anymore.  It was too much.  Can’t take the heat, might as well get moving.  Or … what was it Frank said?  “Get hitting the pavement?”  You and me both, poor girl.  You and me, both.  Unlike you, my brains are still on the inside, but I bet they feel just as bad.

What’s it been now?  Four?  Five miles?  The sun is just not letting up.  Hasn’t anyone heard of planting fucking trees along the road?  Neighborhood beautification, save the Earth and all that shit?  I think I just need to sit down, somewhere out of this godforsaken sun.  My choices right now are a bank and a little league field.  Or the crumbling sidewalk, I guess.  I’d consider the bank outright if it wasn’t for the smell of food from the field.  I thought I wouldn’t catch myself dead going back into one of these places again, but right now, I just about feel close to death.  And, damn it, I’m hungry too.

“What can I get ya?”

“Dog…and a beer.”

“Beer?  No beer here.  This is a little league game.”

I’m trying to look disappointed, but I doubt my expression is changing much at all.

The old concession guy leans in.  “Can’t say what the other folks are bringing into this place in their coolers and whatnot, though.  Know what I mean?  Eh?”  He mimics a drinking motion with a cupped hand.

“Uh.  Yeah.”

“So a dog and…?  Anything else?”

“Just a water then.”

“Alrighty.  Eight seventy-five.”

Jesus.  I hand him two sweaty fives I fish from my pocket.  The old coot picks the crumpled bills from the counter like they’re radioactive.  Whatever.  I take the food and the buck he hands back.  I leave the quarter.

There’s a game going on, but I just need to sit.  There aren’t a whole lot of people; maybe fifteen or so.  Probably all the other parents are still at work.

Work.  Shit.  I just lost my job, didn’t I?  A job that paid for this $8.75 sorry example of a meal?  The one that paid for all my meals, and the ones after this.  But…not anymore.  One last paycheck, and then that’s it.  I feel like I should give more of a shit, but I don’t really.  This’ll be the best fucking six-dollar hot dog I ever had.  It’ll taste free.  Freedom’s got to taste glorious.

“Jason!  Jason!  Look alive, will ya?  Don’t be hanging back like last time.  You see the chance to take a base, you take it, understand?”

Freedom apparently doesn’t include not having my ears raped by some douchebag.  One of the coaches, I’m guessing.  I can’t see his face, but I can sure hear the shit it’s expelling.  He’s ripping into one of the kids.  Said kid, Jason, has got both feet on first base, looking up as a helicopter flies by overhead.  Despite the asshole he’s got to listen to, he looks like he’s enjoying himself.  Good boy.

“Ah, man.  JASON!”

Please.  Please just shut the fuck up.  Leave the fucking kid alone.

I look at the half-eaten hot dog in my hand.  What the hell am I doing here?

I can’t hear the crack of a bat, but the reaction of the people around me some kid made a hit.  Jason’s still in whatever world his head is in.  It’s just not this one right now.

Some woman’s yelling to my right.  “Run!  Come on, run!  Go!”

The ball is somewhere near third base.  Infielders are scrambling around for it.  And the batter is not slowing down.  He and Jason are a ball of dirt and dust on first.  Jason lands three feet away, face-down, next to his hat.  The first baseman catches the throw; tags the poor kid eating mud.  He’s looking around like he doesn’t know what hit him.  Half the stands are groaning; the other is half-assedly applauding.  I’m finishing my hot dog.

“JASON!  The dugout!  Now!”  It’s that asshole again.  He’s really getting on my nerves.  And now my tie feels tight again.  Only I’m not wearing one.  Damn.  Where the fuck’s my water?

There’s tapping on my back.  “Hey.  Dropped this.”

“Huh?”

“Here.”  The guy behind me hands me my water.  Must’ve fallen off the bench.

“Thanks.”

“Which one’s yours?”

My mouth’s full of water.  “Hm?”

He points to the dugouts.  “Your boy with the Badgers or the Trojans?”

“…Trojans?”

“Trojans.  Ah!  You guys are four-and-oh.  Tough team.”

“Oh.  Yeah.”

“Nice we could get out early to see ‘em play.”

I nod and keep drinking.  A pop fly’s caught, and the field clears.  Jason’s wiping his face with the back of his glove and heading toward right field.  The son-of-a-bitch coach made the poor kid cry.  For being a kid.

Water boy behind me claps his hands a few times.  “Alright, David!  Nice catch!  Good inning, guys!”  He leans forward.  “Sorry.  That’s my son.”

I have nothing to say to that.

“I’m Paul Gordon, by the way.  This is Sally.”

Oh, for crying out loud.  Can I just tell Paul and Sally to fuck off right now?  Would that be an okay thing to do?  I’m thinking probably not.  I should probably answer him.  It probably won’t make him go away, but maybe if I speak with my back turned…

“Buchanan.  Fairchild.”

He’s quiet.  Thank Christ, I think it worked.

“Wait…Fairchild?  Buchanan Fairchild, not like…Bucky Fairchild?”

Oh fucking fantastic.  I should’ve known.  “Junior,”  I say.

“Ho-ly… Sally, you know who this is?  This is Bucky Fairchild’s kid!  Man.  I grew up watching your father.  Holy crap, he knew how to hit.  I got to see a game once at Fenway, and your father sailed one ten feet over the Green.  I’ll never forget it.”

“Yup.  He was a hard hitter, alright.”

“So…what about you?  You a ballplayer now?”

Just stop.  STOP!  Stop.  Talking!  I’m going to say it.  I swear to God I’m going to say it.

“Nope.  Got a, uh, bad arm.”

“Aw, shit.  That sucks.  Sorry to hear that.  Accident?”

No, you nosy, insensitive prick!  You want to hear about how my father nearly tore my right arm off my torso when I failed to catch a fly ball he hit my way?  How he continued to turn and turn until my shoulder popped?  And even then, when whatever sick lesson he was trying to teach me was done being taught, and while I screamed and pleaded for him to please stop stop STOP hurting me, he kept on twisting.  We told Mom and the hospital that I hurt it falling out of the treehouse.  I couldn’t move it at all for over a year.  I was never good at throwing with my left, and I never tried.  I was done.  No, you don’t want to hear that.  No one wants to hear that.  You and everyone else wants to hear about the great hero, the man who could do no wrong and who’d never lay a finger on another living soul, much less his own wife and son.  It’s the only thing you’ll accept.

“Yeah.”

“Well…I’m sorry about him passing away.  Five years ago and all, but I still wanted to pass on my respects.”

Respects.  For him.  There’s only so much laughter I can contain.

“Sure.  Appreciate it.”

“At least you’ve got your boy in there, right?  Well, uh, where…did you say your kid was again?”

Just go the fuck away.  Please just leave me alone.  I should be sitting in that goddamn bank right now.

“Uh.  Right there.”  I point out the pitcher.  Stupid.

“Who?  Derek?  Isn’t that Randy’s kid?”

Shit.  “Huh?  Oh, uh, no.  That’s him, there.  Right field.”  There’s Jason, already busy counting dandelions on the field.  Sweet kid.

Sounds like that shut Paul up.  Hopefully it’s not because Jason is another kid he happens to know.

This time I hear the hit.  It’s solid.  A popper to right field, clear over the head of my boy.  Of course, he’s oblivious.

“JASON!  Wake up!”  It’s that ball-busting coach again.  I’ve about had enough of him.  “JA-SON!  Get.  The.  BALL!  MOVE!”

Jason’s head is up, but it’s too late.  The center-fielder has it.  He lobs it back to the mound, since the batter’s already safe on second.  Parents of Badgers cheer; Trojans groan.  Except for me.  I’m clapping my fool hands off, because, hey, that’s my goddamn boy out there.  “Looking sharp, Jason!”

Paul’s leaning in again.  “I thought you said your son’s name was Jason.”

“Huh?  What did I say?”

“You said ‘Jeffrey.’”

Bullshit.  “Uh.  No, I didn’t.”

“Yeah.  You did.”

A few heads are turning to look, with expressions that question whether I’m kidding or not.  Fuck them all.  No, I am not kidding.  Come on, the kid’s enjoying himself.  That’s what the fuck it’s all about!  That’s what life is about, you pretentious dicks.

Jason’s looking up to the stands, his eyes shielded from the sun with his glove.  I give him a wave.  I’m his dad, after all.  Hello, son.  It’s me.  Go on; keep eyeing the weeds, kid.

Thought I’d feel better by now, but I feel like shit.  My stomach’s in fucking knots.  Probably that sorry excuse for a hot dog.  The water’s gone right through me.  And this goddamn heat.  How are those kids playing in this shit?

Well, I drained every last drop from the bottle.  Now I’ve got an urgent need to go drain myself.

Bathrooms aren’t too far.  Not surprisingly, it smells like bleach and stale piss.  At least I’m alone.  Sweet relief.

Outside, there’re more cheers and groans.  They die off as someone steps up to the urinal beside me.

“Hey.”

Fantastic.  Another talker.  I just won’t say anything.

“God, what a painful inning.”

His voice.  I know it.  Fuck, I know this voice.  It’s for sure the jerkoff coach who’s been screaming at the kids all day, but not that’s not all.  Randal Chapman.  Up until a couple of hours ago, he was two heads up the totem pole from me.  Of course it would be him.  There’s at least some solace in knowing he keeps to the golden rule of men’s room etiquette: Eyes forward.  He doesn’t see who I am.  Last on my list of things I wanted to do today was talking to-

“Bucky?  What…?  Uhm.  What are you doing here, Buck?”

“Watching my son play.  He’s with the, uh, Badgers.”  I flush and head to the sinks.  I need to get the fuck out of here.

“Really, I…I didn’t know you had another kid.”

“What?”  Another kid?  What the hell is he talking about?

“Well I…just that, well, what was his name?  Jeremy?  Jeffrey?  Figured he was all you had.”

What the fuck is going on?  God, what is it?  I feel like I could throw up.  The smell?  Listening to Chapman chew my ear off again?  He flushes and stands at the other sink.

“Well, whatever.  So I gather that Frank gave you the news.  Y’now, with you being here and all.  I didn’t want it to have to go down that way, Buck.”

Deep breaths.  Deep.  Breaths.  Let the cold sweats pass.  Swallow down that choking lump.  You can do this.  You can.

“It’s been a tough year so far.  Last quarter was for shit.  Had to let four go then, too, remember?  I didn’t want to have to do it.  In fact, I didn’t do it.  They did it to themselves.  I know, I know.  I’m always the bad guy in all of this, but I’m not the one deciding who’s bringing in the dollars, know what I mean?  You guys all decide that for yourselves.  And you know we’re not all bad guys, Bucky.  We make concessions all the time, like for you with…well, with what happened with your son.  But we can only do so much of it for so long.  Then it’s back to doing what you’re here to do.  Get your head back in the game.  You hit hard or-”

“You hit the pavement.”  I’ve heard this one.

“Right.  Right.  It’s a shame you had to do the latter.”  He pats me on the back.  Bastard didn’t dry his hands.

“Get your fucking hand off me.”

“What?  Excuse me?”

“I said get your hand off me, you heartless piece of shit!”  Deep.  Breaths.

“Heartless?  Oh really.  Now you-”

“Hey, Randy!”  It’s Paul.  Can I not get rid of this guy?  “Your boy Derek gonna ease up on us out there a little or what?  Hey, Bucky.”

Randal looks stunned.  “Bucky?  Paul, you know this guy?”

“Well, we just met, but yeah, this is Bucky Fairchild.  Sorry: Junior.”

“Fairchild?  What, like the ballplayer?”  Randal doubles over with laughter.  “Bucky Fairchild Junior?  He wishes!”

I think I’m about to pass out.  Don’t pass out.  Inhale.  I cannot pass out.  Exhale.

“I don’t get it,”  Paul says.

“This guy works – sorry – worked for me.  We just let him go.  His name’s Buchanan MacGowan.  He wishes his father was Bucky Fairchild, I can tell you that.  This Bucky’s father: You know who he is?”

Paul shakes his head.

My legs feel like limp noodles.  “Shut up, Randal.”

“No, no.  Let me finish.  This guy’s father is Dick MacGowan.  The Richard MacGowan.  Ring a bell?  It was just last year.”

“Jesus.”

“Right?  Named his son here after his favorite ballplayer.  At least the first name.  You got the first part of it, but you’re stuck with the soiled-up last.  Isn’t that right, Buck?”

Paul backhands Randal on the chest.  “Randy.  C’mon, man.”

It’s dark in here.  Is it that late already?  I need to get outside.  I can’t stand another second next to these putrid stalls, listening to Randal-fucking-Chapman.  And I’m certainly not going to puke in front of them.

I lean into the barrel outside and fill it with half-digested hot dog, water and bile.  I’m not sure I feel any better.  It’s so fucking hot out here.  Aren’t there more buttons I can undo on this shirt?  Fuck it.  It can join the hot dog.  Just a t-shirt’s fine.  I can hear those two still squawking in the bathroom behind me.

“Randy, you can sometimes be a cruel bastard, you know that?”

“Oh, please!  You should’ve heard how he was talking back to me before you came in.  Like he’s better than me.  Yeah.  Well, let me tell you: He’s a primetime loser.  He’s no different than the dozen-or-so pieces of trash I had to let go in the past month.  They just don’t step up to the plate.  They don’t.  Hit.  Hard.  They become cannon fodder.  And then he comes here to, what, tell me off?  For telling him the God’s honest truth?  So now he’s got a set of balls, and that’s how he uses them?  Fuck him.”

“But…the guy lost his son, for crying out loud.”

Jeremy.

“Come on, Paul.  Really?  That was six months ago.  How long does the guy need that crutch to hold him up, huh?  What, like, a year?  The company can’t afford that.”

Dad, stop!  Dad, you’re going to hurt him again!

You shut the hell up, Bucky!  You’re teaching this boy of yours that it’s okay to slack off.  Like his father.

He’s just being a kid!  He doesn’t want to play the stupid game your way!  Let him be!

Are you seriously talking back to me, boy?  Because it sure sounds like you are.  You may be old enough to sprout kids, but you’re still a chicken-shit little boy to me.  I’m finally let out, and then I come home to more of this shit?  Do I need to teach you another lesson, too?  Huh?  Maybe take that other shoulder of yours, make them match?

STOP!

Not like you’re using them for no good no more.

Stop it!  Shut up!

Just stay in the house, Bucky.  Do something useful and bring me another fucking beer.  You!  J.B.!  Step up to the plate!  NOW!

Dad!  He’s done!  He doesn’t want to play!

You dodge this pitch again, boy, and I will take that bat to your puny skull, you understand me?

No!  Daddy!  DADDY!  Tell him I don’t wanna!  He throws them too fast!

Jeremy!  It’s okay, Jeremy!  I’m coming!  DAD!  STOP!

Here’s.  The.  PITCH!

“Jeremy!”

Jeremy.  He’s gone.  He took Jeremy from me.  Took him from everyone; from the world.  Took him from everything he wanted to do and everything he ever wanted to be.  He wasn’t even old enough to know what that was yet.  Because he didn’t need to.

“Bucky?  Bucky, you okay, man?”

“Leave him alone, Paul.  Let him get it out of his system.  Then maybe he can get on with his life and make a goddamn difference.”

I didn’t want to remember.  It was easier that way.  To live life, if this is what living a life is supposed to be.  But it’s not.  I’m not fooling anyone, and I can only fool myself for so long.  But I’m tired of it.  This isn’t who I am, and it’s not who I’m going to be.  I can’t forget anymore.  I won’t forget.  Now I can be who I’m supposed to be.

There are too many pieces of shit in this toilet of a world telling me to be someone I am not.

My knuckles are a mess.  How long have I been sitting here punching at pieces of sidewalk?

“Jason!  God DAMMIT!  Jason!”

There he goes.  Even from here, I can hear him.

“Jason!  Off the field!  NOW!  Brian, you take his spot.  Jason and I need to have a little talk.”

I’m on my feet now.  Feels good.  I can breathe again.  And I’ve got what I need.  It fits just right in my hand.

Paul’s coming down from the stands as I walk by.  “Bucky.  Jesus, man.  Your hands.  You alright?”

Not now, Paul.

Randal’s face is inches away from the boy’s.  He’s got the front of the kid’s shirt balled up in his hand.  “Jason, I swear to God, if you don’t-”

“Randal!”

He lets go and turns to face me.  “MacGowan?  Well, what the hell do you want now?  Can’t you see I’m in the middle of something?”

“It’s time to step up to the plate.”

“What?”

“Step up to the plate, boy!”

“Are you nuts?  Get the hell off my field!”

There’s one good thing I can say about this heat: My shoulder hasn’t bothered me all day.  In fact, it feels…fantastic.

“Remember what you’ve always said, Randal?  You’ve got to hit hard.”

“Jesus, you really are nuts.  Your loony father really rubbed off on you.”

“Uhm.  Coach?  Who’s that?”

The fingers of my right hand close around the broken piece of sidewalk just right.  It feels heavy; feels good.

“Will you shut it, Jason?  Can’t you see that-”

It feels even better when my fingers part and I let the heater fly.

“Get your head in the game!”  I say.

It’s a hit.  Strike three.  Final out.

Look at that.  He looks a bit like that cat now.  Just could not take the heat.

“You hit it hard, or you get hitting the pavement, Randal.  Isn’t that right?”

And the crowd goes wild.

Rating: 6.67/10. From 3 votes.
Please wait...


🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available


Written by Keith McDuffee
Edited by Craig Groshek and Seth Paul
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

🔔 More stories from author: Keith McDuffee


Publisher's Notes: N/A

Author's Notes: N/A

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