Published by
, February 2005

While Ben Enterman was returning from his successful mission to Ur through Rather Warped Factor T, Starship Command suggested he take a look-see at an execution in the same geographic area at Stardate April 6, 28 AD.

Enterman reported concisely:  “Nothing special.  Three men executed on a hill -- two of them robbers, one a religious fanatic.  In the absence of more precise data, I will assume the occasion is of little historical significance.

[It must be noted parenthetically that Enterman might at least have observed that the method of execution -– crucifixion -– offered a strong promise of fad potential in the form of religious items.  Properly marketed, it is possible the crucifix might have become extremely popular, at least for a time.]

Enterman’s starship was an interstellar vehicle, capable of traversing the infinite timelines of the galactic cosmopolis.  It had a Time Warp Factor, designated Rather Warped Factor T, used by the commander at his discretion, and at the direction of Starship Command, to set right what appeared to be appalling in the cosmic timeline we refer to as Earth’s history.

Having made his report on his trip to 28 A.D., Enterman and his starship returned to the present, and began routine patrol in the New York environs.  After about half an hour of uneventful cruising, he received instructions from Starship Command to proceed to Yankee Stadium to assist in crowd control; a riot seemed to be in the making.  While it seemed to be outside the normal mission parameters for Enterman and his starship, an assignment was an assignment.

The Yankees were playing the Texas Rangers.  Enterman phased his starship into its starhack mode and sped across the Triboro Bridge, up the Deegan Expressway and off at the first stadium exit.  He parked his spaceship, reconfigured so that it now appeared to be nothing more than a taxi, in a restricted zone, flipped the visor with his Starship Command ID and hurried into the ballpark.

Command was briefing him along the way.  “Crowd estimated at 20,000 has been monitored at noise levels far in excess of what should reasonably be expected.  Game dull and uneventful.  Best available intelligence suggests activities among fans and or players may have precipitated circumstances which may be verging on the hysterical.”

Toting his Recorder Pack V with him, Enterman made his way into the grandstand.  Most of the crowd seemed to be concentrated in the lower deck between home plate and first base.  And far from sounding like a riot, as far as Ben Enterman could tell every man, woman and child in attendance was laughing fit to bust a gut.

Reporting that the threat of violence appeared minimal, Enterman slowly made his way through the crowd.  After a while, he neared the center of the action.  Stadium security personnel formed a tight circle around a young lady, a girl really, maybe sixteen years old.  The security team was laughing too.  Spotting Enterman, the officer in charge nodded.  “Hack outside, Ben, or are you here as a fan?”

“It’s official.”

“Then I think you’d better escort the lady home.  We’ll square the tab with Starship Command.”

“Right.  Come on along miss.”  The girl took Enterman’s hand, and let him lead her out of the stadium.  The laughter continued unabated.  Reaching his ship, Enterman opened the door, saw that the girl was comfortable then asked, “Would you mind telling me what happened, Miss uh...?”

“Carla.  Carla Burton.”

* * * * *

Carla Burton, Accidental Nurse, settled back in the starhack. Moments ago, she had been standing in the middle of 20,000 people in Yankee Stadium.  And they were laughing at her, after she had tried so hard during the entire game to be of assistance to those around her.

She had been sitting between home plate and first base, really quite close to the field and just behind the Yankee dugout.  In the first inning, one of the Texas Rangers ripped a line drive foul into the first base seats.  It rocketed off one seat, hit another and landed gently on top of the head of a gentleman who was dozing peacefully.

Carla didn’t know the man had been sleeping and that he was, in fact, under the influence of one too many beers.  She thought the ball had knocked him out.  The ball had fallen to the ground where some twenty people scrambled for it.  Everyone ignored the drunk, everyone except Carla.  She immediately shouted, “I’ll help.  I know what to do.”  She really didn’t know what to do from a practical point of view, but here was an opportunity to put all of her extensive reading about nursing into practice.

“Don’t move him.  Someone get a blanket.  We must prevent shock.”  No one offered a blanket.  Who goes to a ballgame in July with a blanket?  The drunk wasn’t moving.  He didn’t even know a ball had hit him.  He was dreaming of surfing in Tahiti, after which he intended to quaff a few more brewskis.  “Is there a doctor around?”  A Ranger smashed a long fly ball to left, and the Yankee outfielder made a leaping catch against the barrier.  Everyone ignored Carla and the drunk.

In the absence of a blanket, Carla started taking sweaters and light jackets from the backs of the seats around her.  No one seemed to notice –- or care.  She even used some old newspapers to cover the drunk.  When she had finished, all that was exposed was the drunk’s mouth, wide open and exposed to the night sky.  And then it happened.

The Yankees were now at bat.  The hitter lofted a high, foul pop in the direction of the rightfield stands.  The ball arced gently and hit a seat two rows in front of the dozing drunk, then bounced high.  A number of fans had followed the flight of the ball as it drifted toward the drunk.  It gently hit the seat in which he was sprawled and sort of hopped into the drunk’s agape mouth.  He didn’t even move, not a twitch.  He certainly wasn’t dead because a sheet of newspaper covering his nose was moving rhythmically up and down.

Then the fans took note.  They saw the drunk covered from head to toe with sweaters, jackets and newspaper, with a baseball perched in his open mouth.  And the laughter started, becoming contagious as other fans came to see what was happening.  The laughter built in intensity until it became convulsive.  It didn’t stop until someone shook the drunk awake.  He excused himself with what he must have felt was dignity, removed the ball from his mouth, put it in his pocket and went off in search of another brewski.

By then, Carla Burton was on her way home in the starhack, her dreams of nursing dealt a temporary setback.

                                                                                       ©2005 Larry Centor