Bruce returns from Cambodia with “Umpire State”

Bruce returns from Cambodia with “Umpire State”

(l) Bruce Kay, writer, (r) David Kramer, producer. July 2019 [Photo: Carol Kramer]

In July, our foreign correspondent based in Cambodia, Dr. Bruce Howard Kay visited Rochester for some R & R. (See Talker‘s foreign correspondent in Cambodia and the plaques in the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Highland Park.)

“Made in Cambodia” sticker on my SPECIALIZED airless bicycle

Angor - 1931 [Gift from Bruce Kay to David Kramer]

Ankgor – 1931 Bruce also returned with an attractive photo reproduction of Ankgor Wat during the French colonial period. A Rochester connection, the photo is on Kodak Royal paper.

Bruce bore many gifts including inauthentic shot glasses, tacky tee-shirt, ugly scarf and worthless Cambodian riels. Or as Bruce would say, affordable Khmer commercial crafts. We posed next to my SPECIALIZED bicycle made in Phnom Phenh. In addition, Bruce brought home a rediscovered manuscript: Umpire State (2013), a screenplay treatment.

Umpire State emerged from conversations between Bruce and I in the early 2010’s.  At that time, I had envisioned — though not yet written — a Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan-esque romantic comedy.

Softball Sketch by David Kramer

As envisioned, Tom is a hard-driven, type A guy working in a high pressure financial firm, dating an equally ambitious Meg, also employed in the company.  After a corporate downsizing, Tom is laid off.

At first, Meg stands by Tom, but they drift apart as Tom seems to be having an identity crisis. Meg gravitates towards another type A guy in the firm. In the meantime, Tom contemplates his next move while collecting unemployment insurance. As it is summer, a friend suggests Tom become an umpire to kill time and maybe meet women. Tom decides to give umpiring a shot.

The comedy arises from the various leagues Tom umpires:  the LGBTQ league where each player is subject to different rules based on their orientations and pronoun use, the Spanish League where fans and players bet on everything and tempers flare, the nerd league where the players have few skills but track every play with a dizzying array of technology, the recovering addict league where everyone takes breathalyzer and pee tests, the pure beer league with absurdly fat players and a keg on the mound, etc.

Tom discovers his favorite league is the one for challenged kids. There he meets a single mom. Tom falls in love with her and her kids and a summer romance commences.  During that time, Meg’s relationship with the new guy frays and she misses Tom, sometimes watching his games from the stands.  Meg attempts a reconciliation but Tom says it’s all over between them.

As the summer winds down, Tom makes a bold decision.  Based on his new found love for children and helping others, Tom applies to grad schools to become a special education teacher.  When accepted, Tom rushes to the single mom, saying he will go local or he’ll bring the family to Washington State where he was also accepted.

But Tom’s heart is broken when SM says she was not planning to extend their romance past September, telling Tom she knows he really wants to have his own children and family. Tom protests but she is firm. SM says Tom should go to Washington.

After the last game of the season, Tom is alone on the diamond, picking up the bases and clearing the field. Out of the darkness appears Meg.

Meg says she heard Tom is moving to Washington and has come to say goodbye.  They have a long heartfelt conversation. Finally, Tom asks what are Meg’s plans. She says, coincidentally, the firm has an opening in Seattle, close to Tom’s school. Meg asks if she should go. Tom answers by kissing her as they stand on home plate.


Bruce liked elements of the plot, especially making the umpire a popular cultural hero. In Umpire State, Bruce discovers his own narrative. Bruce’s version does more to situate the story within discourses of corporate greed, dysfunctional relationships, various self help therapies and some of the challenges faced in western NY, hence Umpire State. Bruce wrote the treatment when stationed in the US Embassy in Baghdad.

Umpire State by Bruce Kay  Umpire State is a morality tale of sex, revenge, bankruptcy and softball in the Flower City based on a true story about a storied local company gone bust.

(Admittedly, the treatment needs work and Bruce welcomes ALL feedback.)

The setting is Rochester, NY.

1. Tom, a divorced, early forties executive at venerable old Company in a once-prosperous rust belt city is downsized in late May 2010 as the Company goes belly up. As a young engineer, years earlier, he developed imaging techniques that the Company patented but to its detriment never used.

2. Tom’s wife of 20 years, Jeanne, has flown the coop after their marriage fell apart. She is finding bliss at a Bikram yoga retreat with their definitely-not-impartial marriage therapist in Boulder, waiting for her lawyers to squeeze what remains of Tom’s assets and put the finishing touches on their divorce papers.

3. Tom’s 20-year old daughter Chloe just finished her junior year at Bingham, where she majors in fine arts, writes anonymously for a campus blog called Blowback, and occasionally bares her tits on a webcam site. She seduces a campus basketball player in order to cover a brewing college hoops scandal for Blowback. It seems a university administrator had been inflating star players’ grades in order for the red-hot Bingham Bloodhounds to compete in intercollegiate athletics and get the corporate mega-endorsements Bingham administrators and alumni have been
seeking for years. Chloe gets shunned by her friends and becomes a campus  pariah. As the semester ends, Chloe flees to her parent’s house for the summer with her new boyfriend, a heavily tattooed poser-musician named Elijah.

4. Now we meet Annabelle is a sexy, divorced mid-thirties lawyer whose corporate law firm, Halsted Boyle, has been hired by a “patent troll” firm to plunder the Company’s intellectual property as the Company struggles to drag itself out of the abyss of insolvency. The troll firm’s CEO tells Halsted Boyle he’s lined up a buyer for the patents and that they stand to make a mammoth profit if Halsted Boyle can close the deal. “Will the buyer use the patents?” she asks. “Hell no,” he laughs. “But they’ll sue any startup who tries to.” Get those patents, Richard Boyle, the senior partner tells her afterwards, and she’ll make partner. The words are music to Annabelle’s ears.

5. Annabelle is feared and respected for her hardball style. Her soft spot is her 16-year old son, Lucas, her opposite in every way; sweet, gentle, on the lookout for a dad figure to care for his Mom. Annabelle has signed Lucas up to play baseball. “Hardball is not my thing, Mom: it’s yours,” Lucas protests. He acquiesces to playing softball when, shopping with Annabelle, he finds out that Sophie, a girl with whom he is infatuated but has never met works at an organic market owned by her parents, which sponsors a softball team, the “Free Rangers.” He signs up in the hopes of impressing her. One problem: Sports is not his thing; he stinks at softball.

6. Channel surfing in his man cave, Tom learns that the Company’s CEO, Brent “Power Flush” McShane, the renowned corporate turnaround artiste and downsizer, loved by Wall Street, reviled on Main Street, plans to lay off most of the iconic Company’s workforce and auction its patents to raise cash. This deal is a swan song for McShane, who has accepted another job reorganizing another dying company. The patents were Tom’s inventions as a young engineer. [Flashback to a mid-1990s award ceremony in which a younger Tom is handed an innovation award for a 3D imaging patent that “will change the way the world sees itself and help the Company kick its competitors’ asses. “]

7. McShane is talking salary numbers at his office with his prospective employer when he meets with Tom to hand him his walking papers. With faux camaraderie, McShane pours them both a Scotch and offers insincere thanks to Tom (calling him“Tim”) for his many years of loyal service to the Company and offers three months of severance pay, saying that “90 days is more than enough for a man of your talents to find another high-paying job.” Tom replies that he is comforted that men of lesser talents (McShane) have already found other high-paying job. McShane reminds Tom the Company owns the rights to his inventions, and tells him that, if it is any consolation, his patents could rescue the Company from bankruptcy.

8. Chloe arrives at home for the summer with her new boyfriend, her Prius loaded with recording equipment. Elijah wears dreadlocks and speaks in stoner aphorisms as he thumbs a smart phone. Introductions out of the way, Elijah starts unloading the equipment, setting up a studio in Tom’s man cave as Tom regards him with astonishment, determined to keep his mouth shut and assuage his prickly daughter. Tom tells Chloe that the divorce is final and Mom has moved in with her new boyfriend. “Oh and I lost my job,” he adds.

9. After their tennis match the next day, Tom’s buddy, Owen, a plastic surgeon, advises him to take it easy before looking for new drone job. “You need to get your mojo back first, dude.” A patient told him today, he says, that umpiring ballgames is the single best way on the planet to bag hot single moms. “These games are cougar fests,” he says. “And the ump is the only piece of meat on the field without any team loyalties to get on the way.” Owen tosses Tom an Ump it Up agency business card one of his patients left him. “How’s the eyesight?” he asks. “I’m legally blind.” Tom answers. “Perfect. Take my advice. And never strike out with the ladies again.”

10. Idle and unemployed, Tom is going crazy playing Mr. Mom to his spoiled daughter and boyfriend, who forges his ‘new’ music late into the night and has managed to wreck Chloe’s Prius. When Chloe announces she’s dropping out of school to blog full time, Tom objects. Elijah looks up from his texting to deride him. “Dude, don’t you get it? Look at where your ‘wise’ decisions got you. The system has totally used you and you are, like, defending it? [laughs] What a fucking tool.” Tom says [defensively] “Well at least tools are useful for things — like fixing cars. Withdrawing to his man cave Tom spots the Ump it Up card on the coffee table and walks out.

11. Taking Owen’s advice, Tom walks over to Ump it Up and applies for an umpire job. When asked about his previous experience, he is forced to tell the receptionist – a voluptuous receptionist who cannot help but make suggestive remarks – that he played a little baseball in college, whereupon he is immediately enrolled in the umpire clinic – a newbie requirement. She forces him to audition his crouch while testing his gluteus, an obvious come-on. “Softball is hands down the best way to meet hot single guys. I ump every game I can” she confides. The following day, Tom and a motley group of trainees are drilled boot-camp style by a PSD-affected Gulf War vet in Ump stripes. Forcing them through calisthenics, he instructs them on how to gesture, stay stone-faced in verbal combat, take spittle without flinching, and make calls audible above the crowd noise. [Not “Strike” you pinhead: “STEE-RIKE”.] Trainees cycle through their hand gestures as the trainer shouts out calls: “Fair Ball,” “Foul Tip,” Strikeout” “Safe”; “Count” [trainees struggle with finger counting].

12. The trainer closes with a rousing speech. “Umpiring gets a bad rap. But it is a beautiful and a noble calling. Anybody can watch a ball game. Only a select few have the mental toughness and stamina to go nine innings making lightning-quick calls with accuracy and grace. Imagine a world of savages tearing each other limb from limb in contests of strength. That, my friends, is a world without umpires. Umpires make sure our brothers and sisters play by the rules and come home safe. Umpires keep the peace and Jesus said the peacemakers are blessed; for they shall be called the children of God. Now get out there and UMP IT UP!” [Wild cheering]

13. Annabelle, meanwhile, is finalizing the deal in a conference room. Her clients nod in approval and Richard gives her the thumbs up after she wins several points of argument and the Company lawyers abjectly cave to one after another of her demands. Expecting a massive payday when the deal is inked, whereupon he will accept a job offer with another firm, McShane hits on Annabelle and offers a ride in his Testarossa. She rebuffs him and races to take Lucas to his softball game.

14. Playing centerfield for the Free Rangers, Lucas scans the stands for Sophie. When he spots her, he drops an easy fly ball, attracting his teammates’ derision. The (Hedge-funded) Mid-Caps hand the Free-Rangers an ugly defeat and as Lucas looks on, mortified, Annabelle tears Lucas’ genial coach a new one, criticizing his laid-back style. “Our kids need to master the killer instinct if America wants to compete,” she says. “If you don’t think the Chinese are catching up, then think again Mister.” “Are we still talking about softball,” Coach asks, clueless. Annabelle drives Lucas home offering encouraging words but Lucas has more serious concerns: he’s in love.

15. Suiting up for his first game, Tom encounters his ex, Jeanne, and her therapist/lover driving Chloe home from somewhere. Radiating wellness, Jeanne berates him for losing his temper with Chloe. “You need to deal with your anger issues,” she says, “because you’re passing them onto Chloe. The therapist nods. “Detox with a raw juice fast and to try a little yoga,” she says, helpfully. Stepping into the car, Jeanne reminds him that alimony is due; she also needs cash for her ‘Spiritual Recovery” in Palm Springs. In a clinical/friendly tone, the therapist reminds him that payment is due on the last six counseling sessions. Pride keeps him from disclosing that he’s lost his job. Squelching his cynicism, he wishes her spirit a speedy recovery.

16. His first game as plate umpire is in the LGBTQ league. Two teams of gay men face each other, Funky Monkey and Stella’s Café Bakery. [Yes, there are the mincing stereotypes, but these are mostly gay men of the muscle-bound variety.] One team includes a transsexual batter, who the opposing team’s catcher taunts: “You don’t have the balls” and “you’re not gay enough to play.” Trannie man homers, slamming into Tom at the plate, doubling him over. “Dude, there’s no crying in softball.”

17. Nursing his injuries over wings and beer, he tells Owen about being run over by a Trannie on his first outing. Owen is all manic energy. He’s just wrapped up his third penile prosthesis of the week. “This is the biggest growth area of my practice,” he says without irony and shows Tom his collection of before and after surgery pics on his iPad. As they amuse themselves, Owen gets paged and tells Tom that he needs to split: a sub-cutaneous silicone meltdown. Owen inadvertently leaves his iPad behind. Idly scrolling through patient pics, Tom notes that Owen’s patient 216 is McShane. “Post-op notes: Male 54 years old, pleased with results: 4 inch gain. Complaint: erectile dysfunction; prescription Cialis.

18. Tom glances up at the TV screen. McShane’s faux-earnest, silver haired mug is yammering away on CNBC about how the Company is closing “an historic deal that will allow us to emerge from bankruptcy in 3 years.” Loudmouth reporter asks whether solvency will come at a price: downsizing the workforce, selling innovations that could have led Company to profitability. “Toiling away in that Company is an engineer who hitched his wagon to the wrong star.” Then there is an interview with the patent troll CEO. A reporter asks if there is any truth to the rumor that his firm will use the patent rights to sue start-up companies for patent infringements, that they have no intention of developing any new products, only helping big companies squashing potential competitors. The CEO’s answer is full of equivocations.

19. As Tom, watching the spectacle, mutters about surgically-enhanced limp-dick executives and the death of American manufacturing. An attractive woman interrupts him and lays on the social Darwinism. Only the fittest companies survive in a capitalist system or the whole system fails. It is lovely Annabelle in the next booth with a stack of documents, a beer and a basket of wings. Spotting her “Free Rangers” ball cap, Tom discloses that he is a rookie umpire for the gay softball league, but is definitely not gay. Annabelle is charmed. While she is intrigued by his hobbies (points to the iPad) and would love to chitchat about the death of American capitalism, she says, she really needs to get to work closing a billion dollar transaction, and BTW shouldn’t Tom be getting home (pointing to wedding band)? “I’m divorced,” he says, smitten. Tom returns home to the sounds of electronic music and laughter (his daughter’s and friends). He passes by and greets them, but there is icy silence in return.

20. Cut to Tom umpiring a game between deaf teams, players cursing copiously in sign language. A close call at second sets off a signing war of words. Tom consults his sign dictionary and after a long pause, recognition sinks in. He kicks the coach from the game. The ejected coach flips him the bird in retreat. Cut to Annabelle, slogging through a dull financing negotiation. It develops that a $55 million dollar payout will go into McShane’s pocket regardless of the deal’s price tag. McShane is staring at Annabelle’s behind. Cut to Tom again on the diamond, umpiring teams of working stiffs: Master Batters and Hit Men. Lots of action shots, showing a feisty Tom owning the umpire role, Ump it Up girl flirting with players. After the game, Tom and his new buddies and Ump it Up girl repair to a bar to celebrate over chicken wings and beer. [Many of these guys have been laid off from the same company, but are taking it in stride. He comes home and receives a disapproving glare from Chloe, who asks him “oh my God, are you drunk? That is so uncool.”]

21. A hung-over Tom is awakened by a call from Ump It Up girl asking him if he’ll work a kids’ game (hinting she is free that night for dinner). Tom agrees. Lucas’ Free Rangers are playing the league’s first-place team, Hammering Holt’s (hardware). Annabelle is trying to spur on Lucas’ team. Annabelle and Tom make eye contact as Lucas steps up to the plate with one out, the winning run on third base. Lucas whiffs twice and hits into a double play, to his teammates’ dismay. Tom feels sorry for the humiliated kid and gives Lucas a pep talk, as Annabelle approaches. Tom walks them both to the car, where Tom works up the courage to ask her to dinner. She demurs and shepherds Lucas into her car.

22. While doing wind sprints on an empty ball field before his next game, Tom is approached by Lucas, toting his gear and glove. “Teach me how to hit and field,” he says, “and I’ll make it worth your while.” “What do you have in mind?” Tom asks. You like my Mom, don’t you?” [Nod]. “And I can tell she likes you. She just doesn’t know it yet. That’s where I come in.” “What makes you think I need your help” Tom asks. “Dude, you’re an ump. A good day for you is nobody yelling in your face.” Lucas offers his hand: “Deal?” Tom shakes. “Meet me here tomorrow.”

23. Rapid fire scenes with Tom coaching Lucas; umpiring games; Lucas improving his hitting and chalking up wins for the Free Rangers. We see Ump it Up girl hitting on guys in comical ways. There are a few scenes in which Tom “accidentally” bumps into Annabelle and Lucas – encounters that are obviously orchestrated by Lucas — and the two guys share a wink/thumbs up. Finally, we see Tom umpiring a game in which Lucas does all sorts of great stuff, winning the game for the Free Rangers. Sophie walks up to Lucas and compliments him. Annabelle talks to Tom after the game. The little guy is making progress, he says.

24. When they go to his place she sees framed photos and other signs that he is one of the execs being laid off at the Company she is plundering for trade secrets. They talk about Lucas. Her son has been vetting would-be dads since her husband died, she says. He has even resorted to pimping for her with guys he considers good prospects, she laughs. “What kind of guys?” he asks. Guys like his Dad; innocent bystanders in the game of life.” She wakes the next morning next to Tom, who is out cold and goes downstairs.

25. In the kitchen having breakfast is Chloe, who spies Annabelle on her way out. The young woman is initially suspicious of her father’s girlfriend, but is gradually won over by the older woman’s cool confidence. They talk. Surprising herself, Chloe calls her Dad a genius. Follow me, she says, and takes her into a room teeming with stuff. Seating Annabelle on a stool, Chloe fires up a camera which does a 360-degree scan of Annabelle’s head, creating a three dimensional image on the laptop. There is a whirring noise as a 3D printer makes a plastic figurine bust of Annabelle, who laughs delightedly. “This is cool,” she says. “And valuable,” Chloe says. “The dumbass company that just fired my Dad owns the rights to it but never used it.” Elijah enters in rumpled clothes, asking Chloe if she can spot him a couple of bucks.” Chloe asks where he has been. “Out” he says, and withdraws. Annabelle and she have a ‘girlfriend’ moment of recognition. “Look, can I offer you a friendly word of advice?” Annabelle asks. “Your boyfriend is a douche. Drop him like a bag of dirt.”

26. Studying documents the next day (the figurine staring at her on her desk), Annabelle realizes that Tom invented the patents the Company is cashing in. Probing, she also finds the Company claims to own the patents are on shaky grounds. Tom never signed a pre-employment contract assigning invention rights to the Company. Legally the patents belong to Tom. She tells Richard of her doubts. “Not your affair,” he replies glibly. “Close that deal and become a partner.” At the negotiations, she looks shell-shocked. Her initial delight at the Company’s eagerness to sell its distressed assets has turned to disgust. “Get your head in the game,” Richard urges her.

27. Over the phone during a coffee break, Annabelle breaks it off with Tom, who is crestfallen after trying all morning to reach her. Unwilling to let her feelings jeopardize the deal, she tells Tom that she doesn’t want to be his rebound relationship, etc. We see Tom in uniform on a ball field holding his cell phone in stunned silence. Then we see Annabelle allowing herself a silent cry as she hangs up. Emerging from the bathroom as Annabelle drops the phone in her purse is McShane. “You seem off your game today, counselor,” he tells her and volunteers to take her for a ride in his Testarossa and out to dinner. Thanks but no thanks, she says, and goes on to seal the deal. She and her clients walk outside where the local paparazzi are waiting to grill them.

28. Tom is already well on his way to tomorrow’s hangover at the bar with his boisterous softball buddies. Owen is trying to cheer him with stories about recent augmentation procedures. Someone turns up the TV. CNBC is announcing that the Company has agreed to hock its patents. At the press conference, McShane is grinning amid loud booing and hissing from his comrades at the bar. Annabelle is behind McShane. Someone mentions Halsted Boyle and Anabelle’s lovely face is front and center. “This deal may not be what everybody wants,” she is saying, “but it is the Company’s best hope to long-term solvency.” For the second time today, Tom sits in silence. Someone says “Dude, if that’s the devil’s advocate then let me play ball for the Forces of Darkness.” Tom bolts.

29. Watching the news, Chloe reaches the same realization: Annabelle is lawyering for bad guys. Elijah, who comes back to the house with another girl covered in body art and piercings. When Chloe asks, he tells her that that XX is his collaborator on a new composition. “Not in my neighborhood,” she retorts, and sends Elijah packing, warning them they’d “better be gone before I get back” and that he can “make noise somewhere else” with his new bimbo. She jumps into the Prius and drives.

30. At home at night, Lucas asks questions about Annabelle’s date, suggesting, hopefully, all sorts of things the three could do together after the next ballgame. Angrily, she tells Lucas to stop it. “Lucas, I’m sorry your Dad’s dead. I’ve moved on. Now it’s your turn. Stop fixing me up. I’m not interested right now.” Lucas jumps on his skateboard, in tears and rolls away, Annabelle calling after him. Gazing at photos of her husband and Lucas, Annabelle hears the doorbell. Sighing with relief, she launches into an apology as the door swings open, revealing an irate Chloe on the porch. “You opportunistic slut bag,” she says. “You seduced my Dad so you could screw him over?” A potent drink later, a calmer Chloe tells Annabelle that she dumped Elijah and confesses that “it felt good.” After sharing a few laughs and bonding some more, Annabelle asks Chloe to “tell me about this blog of yours…”

31. At the night-lit diamond, Tom is batting balls when Lucas reaches him. Empty beer bottles litter home plate. “Our deal is off” he tells Tom. “I know Lucas,” Tom says. They sit on the bleachers together chatting like father and son. Lucas laughs that his strategy to win over a girl with his softball prowess hasn’t worked out. Being a softball player isn’t much of a babe magnet.” “You’ve got to keep trying, Lucas. First love is worth it. Even after my divorce, I think that.”

32. The next day is Saturday. Brushing off home plate as Annabelle and Lucas approach, Tom nods curtly at Annabelle and is surprised to see Chloe in the bleachers. The Mid Caps-Free Rangers contest is a nail-biter, tied in the bottom of the ninth, when Lucas belts a double. He stands on second base, scanning the bleachers for Sophie, who is now staring directly at him, grinning. Suddenly, a pitch, the aluminum “ping” of contact. Lucas sprints towards third. The Free Ranger’s coach is waving Lucas home as he rounds the base. In slow-motion, Annabelle and Chloe are on their feet shouting encouragement. Coach is making windmill motions. Ump it Up girl is palming another coach’s buttocks. With gymnastic grace, Lucas launches into a long slide into home kicking up a cloud of dust as the throw reaches the plate. Silence for a beat. Tom’s thumb jerks. [Wild cheering] Lucas is out. Game over.

33. Sophie sidles up to Lucas, standing dejectedly with Annabelle after the game. She’s going with her parents to an organic farm tomorrow. “We can ride horses and stuff; do you want to come along? It’ll be cool.” Lucas says “sure” grinning widely as she walks away. Annabelle spots Tom and Chloe walking towards the Prius. She approaches them and says, “Look, Tom, if you hate me, I deserve it. But even I know that the tie goes to the runner. Why punish a kid who adores you for something I’ve done?” Tom walks off in silence. “Mom,” Lucas confides inside Annabelle’s car “I missed the plate. I was out.”

34. Weeks later. We learn, via CNBC, that the patent deal has fallen through. An inside source leaked documents to an upstart blog called BlowBack proving that the inventors and not the Company owned the patent rights. McShane is fired by the Company Board and is “radioactive” on Wall Street after a sexting scandal in which he sent pictures of his surgically enhanced member to female subordinates.

35. For its part, the Company has hired a young CEO who made his reputation with several tech start-up companies to rebuild the Company with funds from the government bailout. He announces that they will develop new product lines using the neglected patents in 3D imaging technology, and that they are offering large cash settlements to developers and inventors to obtain the rights.

36. Chloe is packing boxes at Tom’s house, which has a “sold” sign, when Annabelle arrives with Lucas. Tom walks outside. Lucas and Chloe depart, leaving Tom and Annabelle alone. “Congrats on your payday,” she says. Tom replies that it might cover alimony and tuition and leave some change for a large pizza. “Lucas told me you quit,” he says. Chloe told me that you’re off to Atlanta” she says. “I got a job coaching baseball at a high school down there.” One of the Hedge Fund kids’ dad’s was impressed enough with my umpiring skills to put in a good word.”

37a. Atlanta, Georgia.  Tom’s baseball team has completed a Fall night practice. Tom is alone on the diamond, picking up the bases and clearing the field. Out of the darkness appears Annabelle.  Tom is, of course, surprised, asking why she is in Atlanta. Annabelle reveals she is interviewing for a job. After she quit, she reflected on her career. Annabelle decided to be a corporate whore no more. She recalled her senior thesis at the University of Rochester on adolescent trauma and how she never pursued the field. She’s wondering if some of Lucas’ issues stem from her bad parenting. Annabelle is now offering her financial wizardry to non-profits that help troubled youth. One such non-profit is in Atlanta.

37b. Without saying a word, Annabelle stands on first base. Tom approaches the base, embraces Annabelle and the two kiss long.  Grasping Annabelle tightly, Tom says, will you let me get to second base? Annabelle nods yes. Tom: how about third base? Annabelle: only if you are a good boy. Tom: (looking back at home plate) how about home base?  Annabelle: only if you are a bad boy.  They smile and laugh and walk off the field hand in hand.



About The Author

Welcome to Talker of the Town! My name is David Kramer. I have a Ph.D in English and teach at Keuka College. I am a former and still active Fellow at the Nazareth College Center for Public History and a Storyteller in Residence at the SmallMatters Institute. Over the years, I have taught at Monroe Community College, the Rochester Institute of Technology and St. John Fisher College. I have published numerous Guest Essays, Letters, Book Reviews and Opinion pieces in The New York Times, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, the Buffalo News, the Rochester Patriot, the Providence Journal, the Providence Business News, the Brown Alumni Magazine, the New London Day, the Boston Herald, the Messenger Post Newspapers, the Wedge, the Empty Closet, the CITY, Lake Affect Magazine and Brighton Connections. My poetry appears in The Criterion: An International Journal in English and Rundenalia and my academic writing in War, Literature and the Arts and Twentieth Century Literary Criticism. Starting in February 2013, I wrote for three Democratic and Chronicle  blogs, "Make City Schools Better," "Unite Rochester," and the "Editorial Board." When my tenure at the D & C  ended, I wanted to continue conversations first begun there. And start new ones.  So we created this new space, Talker of the Town, where all are invited to join. I don’t like to say these posts are “mine.” Very few of them are the sole product of my sometimes overheated imagination. Instead, I call them partnerships and collaborations. Or as they say in education, “peer group work.” Talker of the Town might better be Talkers of the Town. The blog won’t thrive without your leads, text, pictures, ideas, facebook shares, tweets, comments and criticisms.


Like what you see on our site? We’d appreciate your support. Please donate today.

Featured Posts