When we had away games, you could brag if you grabbed a ride with Mr. Myers. He drove a red S-10 pickup, and three of us would press shoulder to shoulder next to him into the cab, and Mr. Myers, smelling sharply of liquor and sweat, would screech out of the school parking lot and onto Route 43, music of our choosing vibrating from the circular speaker, our cherry cleats dangled beside, and we would nervously laugh and flatten our hands on the wool seat cover and watch the speedometer so we could report to the others how we too went up over 85 and then 90 as he slashed over the double yellow and cursed at cars.
One time we were flying down I-76 when Mr. Myers’s radar detector screamed. He stomped on the brakes, and when we flew forward, my chin bashed the passenger’s side window, and I heard the howl of tires and twisted to see an orange car behind us, nose to the ground and rear end rising in the air as if it were about to flip end over end, and it ripped suddenly into the right lane, and then ripped back left and shot off the highway into the grassy median where a chunk of sod hung in the air and dropped heavily onto the hood.
The car sat there smoking in the weeds, and I saw the dazed expression of the man holding the wheel and the woman in the seat beside him. It felt like we were suddenly crawling at 60 as we drove away.
“That’s what you get for fucking tailgating,” Mr. Myers said, slapping the dashboard. “Gonna kill somebody out here, driving like that.”
We looked straight ahead. The inside of my lip was bleeding, and I sucked the blood slowly over my bottom teeth as we drove quietly past the Goodyear buildings with all the windows knocked out by rocks and bottles.
“I’d give my left testicle to go out there and battle with you guys tonight,” he said suddenly. “I’d give my left nut.”
We nodded our heads and kept silent, and it was understood that we wouldn’t tell our parents. I never heard anybody question why Mr. Myers would be hanging around the twelve-year-old baseball team. He wasn’t really a coach and didn’t have kids of his own. I guess we just attributed it to a love of the game.