Welcome to Sucky Story Sunday, where my goal is to prove Ray Bradbury wrong and write 52 bad stories. This story is a kind of sequel to this one https://susanhaven.com/2018/07/10/tee-time/
“Not again.” Josh was walking back up from the creek that was between the thirteenth and fourteenth fairways. It was a hot summer evening. He and I made our summer spending money fishing golf balls out of the creeks and roughs of the Euless country club. Mr. Holland, the old pro, would pay us a quarter for every ball we found. It wasn’t until we were older that we realized those were the balls he was selling as experienced golf balls for a buck each in the pro shop.
Anyway, Josh was walking up. He had a blue Wal-Mart bag full of wet golf balls in his left hand. In his right hand, he held a silver pocket watch. I was standing on the cart path with my sack of balls clicking as I swung it around. Tonight was looking good; I could tell we each had nearly thirty balls apiece. That should get us tickets and popcorn for the new Space Rangers movie. Now Mr. Holland might throw in a reward for finding his watch, again.
He was always losing it. It was a dull silver color, not the shiny stuff. His wife had given it him after they had been married for a year or so because he was never on time. Since the watch spent more time out on the course than in his pocket, I didn’t figure it did him much good. They’ve been married forever, so Mrs. Holland probably gave up trying to be on time.
Josh was holding the watch out, away from his body. “It still spooks me,” he said, “Weird things happen around this watch.” We still remembered the first time we found the watch. Mr. Holland gave us five dollars apiece for finding it. We don’t ever talk about it, though.
Josh handed me the watch. I opened it up to see what time it was. The hands read five ‘til seven, but I could hear the bells of St. Andrew’s church ringing for the seven o’clock Mass. So, I thought I’d do Mr. Holland a favor and reset the time for him. I pulled out the little knobby thing and started to turn the hands.
“I don’t,” Josh started to speak, then stopped suddenly, his mouth hanging wide open. I turned to see what could make Josh speechless. Nothing looked weird or anything, I didn’t see Mr. Holland. Just a golfer teeing off on number fifteen.
Josh looked funny, almost like he was frozen. “Shut your mouth, Josh, it’s ugly,” I said, pushing the knob back in.
“Think you should be messing with that,” Josh said.
“Messing with what?”
“That watch. It’s possessed or something.”
“I only reset the time, see?” I pulled the knob out to show him what I did. Josh froze again. It was weird. I looked around and realized that everything was frozen. A golf cart was stopped on the golf path, and a golf ball hung in the air just in front of the golfer who drove it. The man himself was stuck in his follow-through. “His follow-through could use some work,” I thought. Then, I started to understand. “I’m doing this. I can stop the world.” I pushed the knob in and out a bunch of times. The golf ball looked like it was in freeze frames at different stopping points in the air. Josh was spitting out one word at a time. This was cool.
“Slice.” Josh didn’t seem to notice what I was doing. Even cooler.
“Josh, this watch! We can freeze time!”
“What? You’re crazy.”
“No really. Here take it and pull out the knobby thing.” I handed the watch to Josh. After a second or two, he handed it back.
“That is too weird.” He said. “The birds were just floating. Did you see?”
“No, I didn’t notice when you had the watch.”
“I guess you have to be holding it to make it work for you.” Josh’s eyes began to get shiny and he was having a hard time standing still. “Wes, think about this! Think about what we have! Think about what we can do! Do you realize we never have to fail a test again?” He was almost dancing.
“What are you talking about?”
“The watch! We could bring it to school. Taking a vocabulary test? Don’t know the answer? Stop time and walk over to the teacher’s desk to get the answer. Sit down, restart time and get back to work.”
“Josh, that’s cheating. We couldn’t do that.”
“OK, Mr. Rogers. What about baseball? Every hit rolls to the fence for a double? Fly balls get dropped by infielders?”
This was starting to sound good, in a way. The next night, we played the Rangers to see who would go on to the district playoffs. They were the best team in the league. It sure would be great to beat them. “Maybe we could return the watch the day after tomorrow,” I said.
Josh slapped me on the back, hard. “Now you’re talking.” District playoffs were in Arlington and the trip always included a day at Six Flags over Texas. There was a new roller coaster we were dying to try. “The Superman ride is going to be awesome!” The best thing about having a friend like Josh is that we thought alike.
After an argument about who would get to keep the watch overnight, we decided that I would spend the night at Josh’s. We sat up until one-thirty, working out plays for the game and torturing Josh’s older sister, Britney. She had the best scream I had ever heard.
The Rangers were a complete package. They could pitch, field, and bat. Just to make us mad, the pitcher and the catcher were standing in front of us with the Six Flags park map, planning which rides they would go on first.
Our team, the Marlins managed to keep up with them until the ninth inning. They ended the top half of the inning leading 4 to 2. Josh and I looked at each other every minute or so, and giggled. We needed three runs. This was doable.
Our first batter singled to right field but managed to make it to first base standing. The Ranger right fielder didn’t have much of an arm. Next, our shortstop hit a grounder to the first baseman. The lead runner got to second. The third batter got a single, moving the lead runner to third. Josh was next; he was the go-ahead run, the winning run. He swung big and caught all of it – A line-drive double. Two runs scored and Josh was set on second, hand on his pocket. I felt my pocket and realized that Josh had the watch.
We had already planned what would happen now. When Josh rounded third, he would pull the knob. When time stopped, he would reposition the ball, so that the catcher would have to chase it. Home base would be clear.
Troy was up at bat. I watched from the on-deck circle, swinging my bat just in case. Troy’s bat smacked the ball into a graceful arc. The ball gently thudded into the shortstop’s glove. That meant it was up to me. I could hear the coach’s voice in my head, “Don’t get greedy, all you need is a base hit,” and tried to let it drown out the chatter of the Rangers’ fielders and fans. I knew the pitcher was good. The first pitch whizzed right past. Strike one. I took a breath and reset my feet. Ball one. Ball two. I looked at Josh and he tried to wink, but it looked more like he was wrinkling his nose. The pitch came and I watched the ball hit the bat. As soon as I felt the bat vibrate, I dropped it and ran for first. The first baseman was watching the play at home. I turned to see Josh collide with the catcher. A silver thing flew into the air and crashed down in the dust by the backstop. The umpire threw both arms to the sides and yelled “Safe.” Our entire team emptied the bench to dogpile on Josh. The team was a wriggling mess of teal worms. We did it. We beat the Rangers.
I walked over to the backstop. Mr. Holland’s watch was on the ground. I picked it up and opened it. Broken glass spilled into my hand. The knob was missing. Josh came up behind me. He held out his hand, palm up. He was holding the knob. “The knobby thing broke in the second inning,” he said grinning. “I never got to see if it would work. We really did it.”
It took a lot of found golf balls to pay for the repairs on Mr. Holland’s watch. But he said it was as good as new. And he never asked why we brought it to the baseball game in the first place.
We never did get the nerve to ask if all the features still worked.