By Larry Centor

Published by
Short Story Library, May  2009

The pitcher nodded at his catcher’s signal, glanced at the wisp of smoke that was the leadoff batter, and went into his windup. The ball hurtled straight at the batter, who sucked in some wisp, then bent in toward the plate.

“Strike one!” said the umpire, pumping his right fist for emphasis.

The wisp whirled around and screamed, “Are you out of your mind? That was inside!”

“This is your only warning. I called it a strike. Now face the pitcher, or I toss you.”

“You’re going to toss me?”

The umpire ripped off his mask, stepped right up to the wisp and bellowed, “You’re outta here.”

“You can’t toss me. I’m God!”

“You’re a batter in a ballgame - and you are gone!” The umpire turned away, the wisp of smoke following in a series of agitated puffs.

“I’m not just a god; I am God,” screeched the wisp.

“I don’t care who you are. Here, I’m the boss - and you are gone! Any more and I’ll take it to the league office.”

“I am the league office.”

“And what would you decide?” asked the umpire, quietly. The wisp seemed to shrink as it turned and trailed slowly off toward the dugout.

Meanwhile, up in the broadcasting booth, Marvelous Marv was saying, “There he goes. Looks like the umpire had the last word. God is drifting into the dugout, down the steps into the clubhouse. He’s done for the day.

“That Gabriel is a standup umpire. He wasn’t taking any lip. Let’s check the replay. It was close. There’s the windup, the pitch. Here comes the ball straight at God. He wisps in a bit. The ball breaks away. Could have gone either way. Temper got the better of him. He protested a ‘strike’ call, and that’s a definite ‘no-no.’

“Whaddaya think Howie?”

“It was close Marv, and one would think God would have the angels on his side.”

“I think Gabriel made the point that here, in this ballpark, the umpire reigns supreme. What kinda ballgame would we have if God always got his way?”

“Point taken, Marv. Point taken.”

“In this corner of heaven, baseball rules rule. And the gods of baseball can be quite fickle.”

“Why don’t we get back to the ballgame?”

“Good idea, Howie.”

“Now approaching the plate for the Demonics is…”

                                                                                                    © 2009 Larry Centor