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Day 12
A Year is Long Enough

It's a little more than a year since Cobb was hit by the car, and a year is long enough for Cobb's death to have a sense of permanence attached to it. Kelly still sees flashes of healthy red out of the corner of his eyes, but his head no longer whips around, propelled so fiercely by instinct. When he hears a dog barking – always distant in those days, mind you, no one in this god forsaken sterilized neighbourhood seems to own a dog – he immediately thinks of Cobb, but it is much easier now that every dog doesn't sound like him.

The night was well suited – the sky loosing bucket after bucket of rain, punctuated by a rumbling thunder and lightning that jumped from cloud to cloud in short bursts of electricity. Even a couple years earlier Cobb would have been cowering under the largest item of furniture available, terrified by the racket outside, but there are some small comforts to old age: being deaf and oblivious to thunder, for example. Kelly didn't let Cobb outdoors much, but it seemed wrong to deprive him a sodden roll in the grass, despite the wet dog odour which would linger for hours after Cobb was safely indoors and asleep in his oversized basket by the bottom of the spiral staircase.

Kelly was standing on the back deck, leaning out of the doorway, but still dry under the overhang, calling for Cobb – often a lengthy and trying process – when he heard the scramble of braking rubber on wet pavement and a girl screaming – short and piercing – over the nearly subsonic rumble of an overpowered car stereo. He was soaking wet two steps out of the door, rounding the corner of the deck faster than he had ever been able to hit first base. The switch from the tractionless grass to the merely slick flagstones threw him into the wooden gate and buckled his ankle.

He got to the street as the car was taking off – caught the licence plate number so he'd know who to punish.

There wasn't much blood: because the accident wasn't so bad, he'd hoped.

Because it was raining so hard.

The day after, Kelly showed up twenty minutes late to practice, his ankle swollen and purple, almost the same colour as the bags under his eyes.

“Jesus, Gruber,” the doctor greeted him, shaking his head as Kelly appeared slowly in the doorway.

“You got to take it easy Gruber. You're not a kid anymore. Slow down a bit, will ya?” He shook his head again, like Rogers had when he'd seen Kelly limping into the dressing room, except there'd been no smile on Rogers' face, only that same look of contempt that had been growing more pronounced with every passing day.

“You just don't give a fuck, do you?” The doctor asked, evidence of admiration in his voice.

“It's not so bad. One week before you can play again – at the longest. See Nora in physio, OK?”

It was two weeks before Kelly was playing again, and more than three before he spent more time on the field than he did on the bench.

Kelly buried Cobb in the backyard, beneath the giant oak, thoroughly disgusted with his neighbour's offer to secure a plot in some swank pet cemetery. His neighbour, a semi-famous defence lawyer who hated being called Dave, seemed more proud of the resting place of his own beloved and recently departed schnauzer than he'd even been about the actual animal when it had been alive.

A pet cemetery. They didn't put up with that kind of shit in Texas.

Kelly spent his first week on the injured list trying to find the kids that had run Cobb down. He couldn't remember the license plate though – not the whole thing – and he was angry. When he was in his teens, in his twenties, if somebody fucked with Kelly, Kelly got his number. It might take months - Kelly might be sliding in to second, he might see your car unattended in a parking lot - but everyone paid their debts to Kelly whether they knew it or not.

It's a year after the accident and Kelly is in Anaheim now. Fucking Anaheim, where everyone owns poodles or Chihuahuas, pitbulls or rottweilers. Fashion plates, oversized rats or half-retarded bags of teeth and muscle. Kelly's not sure he's even seen a real dog since he got to this city.

A year though – a year is long enough. A different breed this time, something brighter; maybe a golden retriever. Name this one after Ripken.


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Day 11 | Kelly Home | Day 13

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Matthew Dorrell

Kent Bruyneel

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