Scott Holister woke up with a headache. He used to be what people called a “morning person.” That was probably because his schedule since he was ten years old was to wake up in the morning and stretch, then a nice long run and one hundred pitches. That was before he threw his arm out pitching against the Dodgers. Before the surgery. Before his comeback with the Astros. Before he needed pain medication just to make it through the day. Before the voice in his head kept him up all night. Now it was hard to wake up in the morning. It was hard to get to training without taking a jolt of something to wake him up even though a driver picked him up and all he had to do was get himself from his townhouse to the front porch.
“You’re an idiot,” the voice in his head said. He’d given the voice a name and a face long ago. It was Stan Musial, the practical, down to earth picther for the St. Louis Cardinals in the 60’s. It was funny, because Stan was still alive when Scott first started hearing the voice. Stan had passed away recently and the voice seemed a lot more powerful now, but it only iritated Scott and made him want to take a pain killer to get rid of the headache, the voice, and the ache in his arm.
The phone rang. He knew it was his wake up call, and that it would keep ringing and calling him back until he answered so he picked it up, pressed the green phone button and held the phone up to his face.
“You ready for today?” his agent Patrick Patterson asked.
Scott looked at the clock to check the time and see how long he had been sitting in bed feeling horrible. Only ten minutes. “Felt like an hour,” he mumbled.
“Scottie,” Patrick continued as if he knew that he would get some mumbling incoherent reply, “remember you have that Little League fundraiser today that you promised that, and I quote, “Hot sports reporter,” from the Chron that you’d go to if she dated you.”
Scott smiled as a picture of Danni in a red dress came into his mind. Strangely, in his mind, all he could see was her red dress and her long, beautiful legs. But that was enough. “I took her to Treebeards and made her eat catfish, beans and rice to prove she was born in Texas.” He smiled a little more, almost forgetting his headache.
“Yeah, well your name is on the flyer for the fundraiser and if you don’t show up, she IS a writer for the Chronicle, Scottie. She’ll tear you up one side and down the other.”
“I’m not going to miss it, Patrick,” Scott said slowly, and moved himself out of bed. “I promised to take her to this Steakhouse in Memorial.” Her face finally came into his mind. She had periwinkle blue eyes, a long, perfect nose and a mouth that was so lushious he couldn’t believe he hadn’t kissed her yet. “She doesn’t kiss on the first date.”
“How quaint,” Patrick replied deadpan. “Listen. Don’t get involved with a reporter, Scott. It never turns out well. I tell all my clients to go out and find yourself a nice, brainless model that won’t crucify you in public when you dump her– someone who has already been dumped once is preferable.”
Scott took a breath and closed his mouth.
“He doesn’t want you happy,” Stan said. “He just wants you to keep making money for him.”
“I know. I know,” Scott replied to both of them at once.
He couldn’t stop smiling when he saw her, even though he still had a headache. Her dishwater blonde hair was up in a ponytail and sticking out the opening of a pink Astros hat. She smiled back at him when she saw him and Scott thought she was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen in his entire life–which he knew was trouble, because he knew, in his head when Stan the Man wasn’t telling him she was the best thing he was ever going to get, that she wasn’t the most beautiful thing he had ever seen, not even the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. She was even standing next to a product spokesmodel, who towered above her, and looked much better in the Astros uniform than Danni did, but still… Scott couldn’t stop looking at Danni.
She introduced him to the model, but Scott had already met her. She did a lot of stuff for the team, and was probably already sleeping with the first basemen. Then Danni introduced him to her team.
“You coach Little League?” he asked.
She hadn’t answered, so when he had a chance, after all the balls, hats and gloves had been signed–Astros, of course, and all young, bright and eager boys, as he had been at their age–he pulled her aside to ask her again, behind the snack bar, his heart pounding to be so close to her. His stomach was doing backflips and Stan the Man told him: “Kiss her dammit! Or you really are an idiot.”
He thought about it for just a moment and then she blushed and his heart did all those funny things that hearts do when they’re trying to tell you that for once your libido and your heart agree. If you can’t get to first base when that happens, there is something seriously wrong with you.
So he kissed her.
She kissed him back.
And he felt good. Really good. The way he had felt when he hit his first home run when he was eleven against the Red Sox in the Majors in Little League.
“I told you,” Stan said, and inside his head, Scott was nodding enthusiastically.
The headache came back with a vengance right in the middle of their eighth date. He stopped talking and she stopped talking. She asked him what was wrong, and he said he felt ill. She drove him home in his truck, laid him down in his bed, and massaged his temples and the back of his neck. She was in his bedroom and he wasn’t about to send her home, headache or no, but he fell asleep before he could get past the pain. But it was okay because she was there when he woke up, sleeping next to him, fully clothed.
“Marry her quick, you idiot. You’re going to wait too long and she’ll find out what a mess you really are,” Stan told him.
Scott nodded, put an arm around her and went back to sleep.
Scott was tearing through the cupboards, but he could see Dani at his left, her hands over her nose and mouth. “I just need to take one more!” he said.. “I can’t take it!” But the cupboard only had the typical medications you’d find in a ‘normal’ house where the man was not addicted to anything.
“I bet she hid them,” Stan said.
Scott spun on Danni, grabbing up one of her arms, pulling her hand away from her face. “Where did you put them?”
Danni was calm at that moment, she looked sad, maybe even disappointed, but in control, which didn’t make Scott feel any better. “Scott,” she said, her voice even and boring into his pounding head, “I love you, but you need to let go.”
He did. He didn’t know why he did, but his hand opened up as if she were saying magic words. “I’m sorry,” he said, almost as automatically.
“You need help. This is going to kill you.”
“I can’t play baseball without it!”
“You don’t actually know that.”
“Give it to me, Danni, please,” he said, knowing he sounded pathetic.
“I don’t have it, Scott. You threw them out last time you had a fit like this. You promised it wouldn’t happen again and you threw them out.”
“You’re an idiot,” Stan said.
Scott collapsed on the floor.
Danni was holding his hand when he woke up in the hospital. Her eyes were red rimmed.
“Look what you did,” Stan said. “You’re such an idiot.”
“What are you doing, hun?” Danni asked groggily from the bed. She tried to sit up, but the bulge of her pregnant belly made her effort look comical, even if she did ‘glow.’
“I’m looking up baby names.”
Danni laughed. “I thought we already decided on a name and no, we can’t reconsider Stanley as both a girls and a boys name, no matter what the presidents mother was named.”
Scott sat back in his chair at his desk. “I kinda miss him sometimes,” he said. “The voice in my head.”
“Yeah? Well… you’re an idiot,” Danni replied. “Feel better now?”
Scott laughed and closed his laptop. “Kinda, yeah.”
“I don’t know how I let you talk me into naming our son after a voice in your head.”
“Not a voice in my head.” He went to the bed and crawled under the covers, next to Danni and her enormous body pillow. He put his hand on her belly and leaned in close. “The greatest pitcher that baseball will ever know.”
“I thought that was Scott Holister?” Danni said good naturedly.
“No. He’s in here,” Scott said, smiling softly and kissing her satin nightgown covered belly. “Good night Stan the Man.”