the aliens arrived in peace.
which was fortunate, as the armies and other military organizations all over the world had already begun disbanding in preparation for the new era of peace that would begin with my inauguration.
as i was still technically just a citizen of the soon to be defunct united states, the aliens explained to ms ali mendoza-jones of the united nations that they had come to earth to welcome the newly enlightened human race into the confederation of the galaxy.
they proposed that a worldwide celebration be held to mark the planet’s entrance into the galactic confederation. representatives from all the planets in the confederation would attend, and get to meet their new comrades in universal peace.
they further proposed that the central event in the celebration, in my honor, would be a baseball game - not a series, just one game in which a human all-star team, starring myself of course, would play a team drawn from the various planets of the confederation.
it would not be a contest to decide anything, just a friendly game.
ali - i forgot to mention that i was now engaged to marry the beautiful renaissance woman ali - quickly agreed.
there was one thing that neither ali nor the aliens thought to take into consideration.
a great deal of money came to be bet all over the world on the human-alien baseball game.
at first it was taken for granted that the humans would win. how could they not, with me pitching and hitting? and who knew if the aliens even played baseball. how likely was it that they did?
on the other hand… who knew anything at all about the physical characteristics or capacities of the aliens - including races of aliens no one on earth had ever seen?
so a lot of “sports talk” was expended on the game, and a lot of money wagered.
still, according to the media, most of the money was on the home town boy - me.
there was one week left in the baseball regular season, and six weeks until the election.
the ravens were in st louis for a three game series with the salamanders.
we had played a game in the afternoon, and it was a nice night and i decided to get out of the hotel and go for a walk.
i was walking along, away from the center of town, looking up at the sky and thinking about how strange life was and how you just never knew what was coming next.
a car pulled up beside me.
a long white cadillac from the 80’s or earlier. a car that most people today would consider “tasteless” but i was never inclined to be judgmental on such matters.
i figured it was someone wanting my autograph or just telling me i had changed their life.
the rear door opened and a guy got out.
it took me a second but i recognized him.
maxie had been a loan shark back in my home town, and a regular customer at willie’s tacos. and he had a regular poker game than i sat in on sometimes, so we knew each other pretty well.
“you’re doing all right for yourself. you come a long way.”
“i guess. it’s a funny old world. what can i do for you, maxie ? you want my autograph? buy you a drink?”
“no thank you.” maxie looked around. there were no other cars or pedestrians in sight. “i’ll come right to the point.”
“whatever,” i told him. i wondered what place maxie, and guys like him, were going to have in the new world order, but i did not say so out loud.
“the game - the game against the space men - is 25 to 1. against the space men. you seen that?”
i shrugged. “i knew it was something like that.”
“and yet people are betting on you.”
“people have faith in me, i guess.”
“can you believe that shit? people putting down a dollar of their hard earned money to win four fucking cents? people are fucking morons.”
“i hope i can reward their faith in me.”
maxie laughed. “but you are not going to reward them. you are going to lose the game.”
“really?’ it was my turn to laugh. “why should i do that? i know we are old pals, but not as much as all that.”
“you don’t think so? i got someone here i’d like you to meet.” maxie had been standing beside the half open rear door of the cadillac but now he opened it all the way and pointed inside.
i bent down and looked inside.
and there she was.
“hello, georgie,” i managed to say.
“hello, johnny. you better do what maxie says.”
i opened my mouth but nothing came out.
“you better do what maxie says or i’ll tell the world what you did.”
“it was - a long time ago,” i managed to say.
“so fucking what? and not so long as all that. everybody thinks you are so wonderful now, johnny, like you’re john and yoko, helen keller, and the trapp family singers all rolled into one. but i know what you are really like. so do what maxie says. or i’ll tell. i’ll tell the world.”
“you hear that?” maxie started to get back into the cadillac. “i don’t suppose you want a cut of the proceeds, kid?”
“no, that won’t - be necessary.”
“i didn’t think so. in that case, we need not meet again. au revoir, cowboy.” he got in and closed the door and the car rolled away.
i went back to the hotel and up to my room without seeing anybody.
i got myself a glass of ice water and sat down on the bed.
i don’t know what to do.
if i cross maxie, i don’t doubt for a minute that he and georgie will go through with their threat. in fact, how do i know what they will do even if i don’t cross them?
maybe the aliens will be so good i can’t beat them fair and square anyway. but i don’t think so. from what ali told me it is more likely they would lose on purpose even if they could win, so as not to embarrass their hosts.
and if i throw the game it will be so obvious that something is up that the billions of people who believe in me and tony trigg and his prophecies will lose all faith and think it is all a fraud.
and the new age of peace and understanding and reconciliation - down the toilet.
no matter what i do.
and i don’t know what to do.