All the neighborhood gang stood around on the field choosing sides, while the summer sun eased our pores open and sweat rivered down mixing with the dirt on our necks.
Passing clouds were lazy as the wind was slow, and the insects were so present and loud.
A few ball bats lay on the ground, while the one baseball was in hand by Mike. Mike usually had the ball.
Ball gloves were warmed both by the sun and the owner that held it so preciously. Some well-oiled, others well-worn. Most, hand-me-downs gloves came from an older brother, father, or uncle.
Me, I always had to borrow one when they let me, or bare hand catches were my best future. There was no money for baseball gloves in my family, hand-me-down or otherwise.
The thermals of the day caused a dirt devil to race across the field, like a small tornado, lifting that cooked dry dust into a funnel, racing third to second base, becoming invisible by center field.
No one noticed but me, cause I was afraid I would not get chosen again.
So I was staring across the field, where grass fought the heat, and had turned brown in disgust.
I turned my eyes away from the others, feeling my blood in my face, feeling the rejection, once again.
Not my first or last time.
Too tall some said. Too big one said.
I just wanted to play, not to win nor to lose, just to be one of the gang.
While I felt like an outcast, I waited for Larry to stand up for me. He usually did. He was good to the weird looking kid from the wrong side of the tracks.
He was good to all, I remember, but more than kind to me. Strong for his age. Wise for his age. A good boy that would become a good man.
Why do we protect the weaker ones?
Nature dictates the survival of the fittest.
In time, I learned to deal with rejection, with not being chosen, by taking the lesser portion, the heel of the loaf, the leftovers, the lesser job.
In my humiliation, I was thankful for any morsel thrown my way.
I have become a stronger one now, and try to protect the weak ones, when I can, like I learned so long ago, in a dirt field, with neighborhood rabble, wanting only to play.