This is Part III of the Brian Hawthorne saga.
If you missed out on Part II, click here and go check it out.
“Hey Hawsy!” yelped Salverro as they got off the bus. “A few of us are gonna head for the bar and celebrate some more. You in?”
“Nah, I think I’ll pass,” answered Hawthorne. “I wanna go hang out with Sarah; I haven’t seen her all week.”
“Alright man. Have fun. See you at practice tomorrow.”
Hawthorne gave the team a wave and headed off across campus to Sarah’s dorm. It was a perfect spring night. the temperature was comfortable enough for him to make the cross-campus walk in his LSU Baseball t-shirt. The humidity of the Baton Rouge afternoon had long since faded away. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky and it seemed the whole expanse of the universe was visible overhead. Hawthorne paused for just a moment to take it all in.
“Wow, this is what it’s all about,” he said out loud to no one in particular. “We’re SEC Champions, NCAA Tournament-bound and now I get to curl up for the night with the girl I’m probably going to marry someday.”
When he arrived at Sarah’s dorm, Hawthorne called his buddy who lived down the hall to come open the door so he could truly surprise his girlfriend. He headed down the hall for her suite, found the front door propped open, headed into the common room, turned the corner, walked into Sarah’s room…
… and stopped dead in his tracks.
Hawthorne couldn’t believe his own eyes. There was his girlfriend, sound asleep, wrapped in the arms of some guy with a shaved head and bulging biceps. Their clothes were strewn about the room, and what was that on the floor? Hawthorne bent down to pick it up. A condom wrapper. Hawthorne flung it aside as he stood back up.
“Well, at least you’re practicing safe sex, you whore!” Hawthorne shouted as loud as he could, shattering the peace of the night and scaring Sarah and her boy toy wide awake.
“Oh my– Holy– Brian! You’re here earlier than you said you’d be.”
“Yeah, too early for you, I guess,” answered Hawthorne, his words slathered in sarcasm. “You want me to leave and come back at a better time for you?”
“Brian, it’s not what it looks like.”
The rage flickered in his eyes. “Oh really? Well that’s good, because it sure as hell looks like you’re a cheating skank!”
“I don’t really like the tone you’re using right now.”
“And I don’t really like his dick in your mouth while I’m in Alabama!”
A crowd had now gathered. All of Sarah’s roommates had been awakened and were in the common room in a sleepy haze. Half the people on the floor were standing in the hallway outside listening to the carnage.
“Brian, you really need to calm down,” pleaded Sarah as tears started to well in her blue eyes.
“Oh, go fuck yourself,” answered Hawthorne as he turned to walk out the door. After a couple steps he turned and shouted a parting volley over his shoulder: “Or better yet, just have him fuck you again.”
Hawthorne put a hole through the wall in the common room with his right foot on the way out for good measure.
Beep… beep… beep… be– *CRUNCH*
Hawthorne put his fist straight through his alarm clock the next morning.
“Yup, still angry,” Hawthorne grumbled to himself as he climbed out of bed.
But, where had he seen that guy before? So many of the details from last night were jumbled in Hawthorne’s head. He was so stressed, so disheveled and so irritated that his brain was a mostly useless lump of gray jelly for the moment. But there was one thing he was sure of: he knew the dude who was sleeping with his girlfriend. It was all he could think about as he went through his morning routine. As he made breakfast, as he showered, as he got dressed; all he could think about was the man with the shaved head, broad shoulders and ripped upper body. Who was it?
Then, as he began to brush his teeth, it hit him.
“Fuck!” he yelled as he flung the toothbrush across the room. It clattered off the tile wall and clattered around on the floor of the shower. “She’s fucking the fucking Hawk!”
Leon “The Hawk” Hawkins was a junior power forward on the LSU basketball team. Of course Hawthorne recognized him; he had spent all winter watching from the student section as Hawkins led the Tigers to the SEC title and an appearance in March Madness. They had talked to each other at the bar after the SEC Basketball Championship game. Hawthorne had vowed that the Tigers baseball squad would match the feats of the hoops team
“I wonder if she slept with him that night, too,” Hawthorne wondered to himself as he headed out the door for the gym.
Kyle McDermitt was the first teammate Hawthorne saw when he got to the weight room. The junior pitcher had a dark purple ring around his right eye.
“What the hell happened to you?” Hawthorne asked.
“Things got a little out of hand last night,” McDermitt answered with a grin. “We got into a bit of a bar brawl with some tourists from Kentucky.”
“Oh wow, wish I had been there,” said Hawthorne.
“No you don’t,” replied McDermitt. “I’m sure you had more fun with Sarah.”
“Yeah, something like that,” muttered Hawthorne under his breath as he headed off to start his workout.
Catcher Danny Salverro was the unofficial captain of the LSU baseball team, especially of the infield when they were out in the field on defense. Salverro could see everything from his station behind home plate. He could track the ball, he could see where all the fielders were, he could see where the baserunners were, he could position his teammates as if they were so many chess pieces on the checkerboard of well-manicured grass in the field. Salverro would notice when a purple and gold uniform was even one step out of position in left field during a blowout, so he certainly noticed that Hawthorne was perhaps a tad out-of-whack in practice on Monday.
Every time the ball came Hawthorne’s way in the field, things didn’t go quite right. Salverro saw his normally sure-handed third baseman boot the first ball hit his way during infield drills. One error wasn’t cause for alarm in itself, but once the catcher saw Hawthorne throw the next ball away, he started paying more attention as the team moved into its intra-squad scrimmage.
Manager Lenny Menkler liked the Tigers to play at least three innings amongst themselves every day in practice. Especially as the season wore on, he felt it kept everybody having fun and kept their minds in game condition while breaking up the monotony of the everyday drills. After all, as Menkler often reminded his club, what better way to practice baseball than actually playing it and being forced to react to game situations?
Hawthorne normally enjoyed these intra-squad scrimmages. He loved to ratchet things up to game intensity on a daily basis. He loved the adrenaline rush he got from competing, even if only against his teammates. He also felt it would help prepare him if he got a shot at professional ball, where he would be expected to play almost every day for months at a time. But today it was simply three innings of hell for the senior third baseman. Nothing he could say to himself could focus his mind on the scrimmage and away from the events of the night before.
Salverro watched as his third baseman let a routine ground ball go straight between his legs. He watched as Hawthorne flat-out dropped a relay throw from left field. He watched as the normally mentally-sharp senior failed to charge towards home plate on a sacrifice bunt. He even watched as Hawthorne threw the ball into right field when his squad was throwing the ball “around the horn” after a strikeout. He saw Hawthorne fire his glove against the wall of the dugout after the scrimmage was finished.
“Hey Hawsy,” said Salverro as he approached the third baseman in the corner of the dugout. “Is everything alright?”
Hawthorne’s head was spinning so much at the moment that he didn’t even know how to respond. On the one hand, he wanted to sit down, talk about everything and see if he could put it all in perspective. On the other hand, he wanted to be alone with his thoughts and didn’t want to be any kind of a burden on the team with the NCAA Tournament right around the corner. So what was he to do?
Once again, it’s your decision. Two options this time around. Hawthorne can either spill everything to Salverro or keep plugging away on his own. Vote here, vote via IM, vote whatever way you please. Then check back next week-ish to see what happens.