Changeup, Chapter 21

Joe knew he was breaking the rules, but he didn't even hesitate for a moment as he turned on his old transistor radio.

He turned the volume all the way down, and then back up just a hair. He didn't have to waste any time finding the right AM station; his dial never moved from the broadcast of the Dukes, his hometown minor league team.

He couldn't cheer since it would alert his parents, but he could silently pump his fists in the air toward the invisible ceiling in his blackened room. Every hit, every stolen base, and especially every run was celebrated with the fervor of Christmas. Every strikeout, every double play and every long fly ball that didn't quite make the fence filled Joe with dismay.

Joe's folks sat in the living room. Joe's dad read the paper while Joe's mom worked a jigsaw puzzle.

"Ed? Did you hear that?"

"I know."

"Are you going to go talk to him?"

"No. Let him be, at least for tonight."

"You say that most nights."

When they finally headed off to bed, his dad stopped and opened Joe's door. He smiled as the light from the hall showed little Joe, in his footed pajamas, hugging the transistor radio as nothing but static eminated from the speakers.

He kissed Joe on the forehead and gently placed the radio on the dresser.

As he tucked him in once again, he whispered, "Good night, Buddy. Love you."