Between Place

[excerpt from a transcription of a conversation with Sheldon Coronet, staff janitor of Choux Stadium]

Hell? No. I don't think we're in hell. Certainly isn't heaven either. If either of those are even things at all; you get to hear people talking about it, and limbo, and samsara, Valhalla, and the void, and, well. Maybe one of those does exist. Maybe all of 'em. Maybe none of 'em. I guess there's that ballteam from Hades, but I'm not sure it's the same place you read about. Anyway, folks like me can't square all those ideas at once, which I figure is why ballparks are diamonds instead. Are they still diamonds? Used to be. How many bases they got now?

What was I saying? Right, so, what's it all about is, and this is just me talking here so its worth about nothing, but, I think this -- all of this -- is a sort of...I'd call it a Between Place, I guess. Some kind of cosmic highway interchange where people coming from somewhere and headed somewhere else get caught up in each other's paths. It's the nowhere town you stop in for the night because the trip's too long to make straight through.

Except a night can be real long. Time's funny around here. It stretches, like beach taffy, goes all gooey on you if you try to hold on too tight to it. Weeks feel like years; half the people I knew a month ago are gone now. Reading the box scores is like...

Used to be when I was back home in...well, before I was here, I guess, I was getting to be an old man, and folks I knew were getting old too, and, well...

What it is is I used to get up every morning and I'd open the newspaper, and I'd glance at the headlines but what I was really headed for was the obituaries. That was the real news. Got to the point where every day maybe someone I knew passed on. Maybe someone I didn't know, but their family had something nice to say. That was good to see. Seeing how people you didn't know cared for other people you didn't know. A comfort, even as a stranger, knowing you'd be a stranger too some day soon and maybe folks'd be glad to see what those you left behind would say about you.

Reading the box scores is a little like that. This many runs, that many strike-outs, here's a man who died. So and so is out of the playoffs and here's a couple folks who passed away real sudden. The games are just games, the real headlines are who didn't make it out, and who did.

Time gets funny. I was an old man, back then, back there. I'm an old man now, too, though I don't seem to be getting older particularly, and I've been here for...

How did I get here? When did I get here? Was a time when those questions caught me up tight and wouldn't let me go. There's been some dark stretches, working these stadiums, cleaning the bathrooms and listening to the games and how sometimes all of a sudden the crowd gets real quiet, grief-quiet. And you know you'll find something in the box scores come morning.

I don't know what this place is, or how long I been here. I've seen so many people come, and go, and the only way they ever seem to go is in a flash of fire, burned to the ground. And that used to keep me up too. But what I think, and this is me just talking, is those folks aren't passing away the way I used to think of it, reading my obits each morning. I don't think they're dying. Or, at least, I don't think dying is what I used to think it was.

I think they're passing on, getting back on the road, is all.

This is a between place. It isn't good, it isn't bad. Feels bad sometimes, for sure, but it just is what it is. That's Blaseball for you. It's just another roadside attraction, just a two-bit town on the edge of the cosmos, and you get what you can from it and maybe you have a lousy time, but at some point, you've had your fill and you just...move on. This is just a place you stop a while, between where you were coming from and where you're going.

And when its hard, when people go, that grief is a real thing and you feel it in your gut, like a rope you can't unknot, no matter how you struggle with it, and, well. Maybe that's what this place is for. Maybe this is where you stop for a long night to learn to work through some grief you brought with you, or some grief you see coming up the road. Some kind of, of batting cage for sorrow. Get your practice with sadness in, take some big swings and see how it feels, so you're ready when you move on to the big show.

I read those box scores every day and I think about the folks that've passed on, and I miss the ones I got to know a bit. And I'm getting a little better at it. At feeling it and accepting it, I guess. But also, mostly I think, good for them. They're moving on. This isn't heaven, and this isn't hell. Heaven'd have cleaner toilets, for one. This is just a place to stop for a spell.

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