Richard Daybell – Novels, stories and short humor
Several nights’ movies, actually. With our 13-year-old grandson visiting, along with a teenage grandnephew, Linda thought baseball movies would be fine entertainment. Our grandson doesn’t particularly like baseball movies; he prefers action movies with high body counts. But it’s our screen and both boys learned to grudgingly, sometimes very grudgingly, go along with it.
Why wouldn’t someone who wants car chases, armed mayhem and 57 varieties of violence love “Damn Yankees?” Well, our grandson doesn’t really gotta have heart, and as far as he’s concerned, whatever Lola wants, she can have.
“Bad New Bears” fared a little better. It’s got swearing, minors drinking beer, and it’s funny. “A League of Their Own,” a nice homage to wartime women’s baseball, also did okay. But the clear winner all around was “build it and they will come.” We’d seen all these movies before, and watching “Field of Dreams” was like visiting an old friend. The magic of a baseball field in the middle of a cornfield, Shoeless Joe Jackson, the “eight men out” Chicago White Sox – you could hate baseball and love this movie.
The players stepping out of and disappearing into the cornfield is mesmerizing. There’s something about a cornfield – picturesque but at the same time mysterious and even threatening. They’ve certainly hidden plenty of evil in many movies. And, a corn maze, even in daylight, can be terrifying.
As can sugar cane, I discovered during a tour of St. Kitts many years ago — perhaps even more terrifying, particularly if you stand surrounded by it imagining someone coming toward you, harvesting the cane with a huge machete. I used that bit of paranoia for a scene in Voodoo Love Song in which Huey becomes lost and disoriented in a cane field, fearing that she’s being pursued by all sorts of somethings or someones.
(Did you notice how cleverly I segued to a blatant book promotion? It’s a technique I learned in college while taking tests. It’s a matter of getting from the question asked on the test to the answer you know in as few words as possible.)
Anyway here’s a bit of the scene:
Huey backed farther into the sugar cane as she heard the men approaching. She could barely see to the pathway, and then the opening was overshadowed by one of the men. He was standing still – would he follow them into the cane? She continued to back away, the cane crackling underfoot sounding as if a thousand creatures were scurrying through it or an army of pirates pursuing her. She worked her way down a passage that stretched off perpendicularly, hoping to move parallel to the pathway then make another turn and reemerge on the pathway at a safe distance from the men.
She turned and pushed through the cane until she was convinced she should have reached the pathway. Thinking maybe the path had dead-ended, she turned again to reverse her course. After a few minutes in this direction, she knew she needed to turn again – but right or left? She didn’t know anymore. She stopped and even as she stood still, the cane rustled above her, laughing at her confusion.
She wanted to yell to Paul, to follow his voice back to the pathway, but she was afraid she’d summon the four men instead. She thrashed through the cane just to keep moving, the sounds overwhelming her, taunting and threatening. Who were her unseen pursuers? Rats or snakes or mongooses? A panther? The four men? What if people were harvesting the sugar cane with huge machetes, not knowing she was there? Keep moving, in just one direction; the cane has to end somewhere.
She tripped and fell. As she struggled in the dry leaves at the bottom of the cane, she could feel a living carpet of snakes slithering under her, an army of rats scurrying across her back and mongooses, in a feeding frenzy, nibbling at her fingers and toes. Then for just a moment, she was back in Disney World, a duck once more, and a huge snake had wrapped itself around her, hissing ‘trust me’ as it squeezed the life out of her. The sounds brought her back to the cane field. The rustling above had become a roar. And now another sound – not above, but nearby; not the familiar rustling but the sound of movement. Someone was moving through the cane in front of her, toward her.
Shoeless Joe Jackson perhaps. And if our grandson had his way, wielding a machete.