The smell of fresh popcorn and stale beer flooded the air as my son and I walked toward the stadium. The buzz of the crowd filled my ears as fans chanted the team’s name. A stranger high-fived me and commented on the team’s old-school jersey I’d worn for the game. I found a similar jersey online for Evan, but he refused to wear it. He was in a Star Wars phase and would only wear shirts with Luke Skywalker or Yoda emblazoned across the chest.
At the entrance, I guided Evan toward the ticket taker. The man’s salt-and-pepper hair and wide grin reminded me of my father who had passed a year ago. My heart tugged for a moment as he took the tickets and gave Evan a toothy smile.
“Is this your first game?” he asked. Evan nodded, his over-sized ball cap sliding down over his dark brows and hazel eyes.
Once inside, I guided him to far right field where the pitchers were in constant motion as they readied for the game. Evan’s small fingers curled along the railing as he watched, mesmerized by the movement of the ball. We stood in contented silence until the announcer’s voice pierced the air, alerting us to the start of the game.
“Dad, I’m hungry,” Evan said tugging on my sleeve.
“Let’s find our seats and watch the first pitch. We’ll grab a hot dog right after,” I replied.
He whined, shook his head and stomped his feet. I pulled him along and he continued to complain his voice rising in octaves. After a few moments I gave in. It was worth missing the first pitch if it would settle him down.
The crowds thinned as we moved toward an open concession stand. I took several steps and got in line behind an older gentleman. There was something familiar about the set of his shoulders and the dignified way he carried himself. We moved toward the window and I attempted to get a look at him, but his face was obscured by wide, dark sunglasses. Still, I was sure I knew him from somewhere. I tugged Evan along as I tried to solve the mystery. It wasn’t until I heard him speak that I realized the importance of the next few minutes.
After he grabbed his meal, the man moved from the line and I quickly ordered. My pulse accelerated as I pondered how to approach him. This was my son’s hero after all and this moment was infinitely better than any ballgame we would share.
I collected our food and Evan followed me to the condiment station, still mumbling about being hungry. I rounded the catsup dispensers and began to formulate my plan. As soon as he finished, I would approach him. I would be respectful and quiet as I knew he didn’t want to be disturbed by a mob of fans.
When he completed his mustard application, he started to walk away. I approached him and asked, “Sir, could my son get a picture?”
His brows furrowed and the tight set of his mouth told me he was not happy. He flicked his eyes at Evan and gave a stilted smile before he shook his head.
“If I stopped and took a photo with you, I’d have to do it for everyone. I’d never get to see the game.” He gave Evan a pointed look. “Sorry, buddy,” he said before disappearing into the crowd.
My stomach twisted in a tight knot. I was afraid to look at Evan sure I would see tears and disappointment shining from his eyes. I took a strangled breath and pulled him toward me. To my amazement, his cheeks were dry and an elated look danced across his face.
“Sorry, son. It would’ve been great to get a picture with your hero.”
Evan shook his head furiously at me. “He’s just an actor. You’re my hero, Dad.”
My breath caught in my chest and I gave him a tight embrace. He leaned closer to me and whispered, “It was kind of cool, though. Did you hear him use his Han Solo voice?”
BIO: Amy Trueblood is a freelance writer living in the Southwest. When not “chasing the crazy” dream of publication, she reads dozens of random books and slurps down way too much mango iced tea. She muses on writing and posts in-depth author and agent interviews at www.chasingthecrazies.wordpress. Follow her on Twitter @atrueblood5.