Thursday 28 March 2024

To Every Thing There Is a Season by Eric Green, cola

Things lately had been going all wrong for Steven Seaman of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He felt frustrated and perplexed that no matter what he tried to do about it he couldn’t right the ship.

   The chain reaction of his sinking ship had started when he was laid off from his job as a manager of a sports store specializing in selling baseball bats, gloves, and uniforms of the Pittsburgh Pirates.

   Then, being cooped up at home with his girlfriend Pat during the country’s coronavirus pandemic had resulted in giving him too much time to obsess about his distressing state of affairs. Only recently had he snapped out of his depression.

   Pat, who at 44 was four years older than Steven, had dumped him during the worst of the Covid-19 epidemic. What made it rough for Steven was that her two teenage children had ridiculed him as a loser and joined their mother who had run off to live with her own mother in Ohio. Pat was actually a good person. Sometimes, however, bad things happen to good people and because they feel overwhelmed or upset, they react negatively to the situation.  

   The situation for Pat was that she too had been laid off from her job as a bartender (and advice giver to the lovelorn) at a sports pub near the Pittsburgh airport and being stuck at home together with Steven every day during the Covid-19 outbreak was too much togetherness. Her parting shot that hurt Steven’s feelings the most was that she deserved somebody better than him. She immediately apologized for saying such a cruel thing. She didn’t really mean it. Maybe not.    

   Now closing in on 40, and already twice divorced, Steven had thought Pat was finally ‘the one,’ a real keeper. She used to say in the 18 months they had been together that he was so intelligent and a joy to be with while he was impressed by her smarts and knowledge about things far and wide, what they called a ‘polymath,’ a person with an extensive range of interests beyond her own little world. Now in her despair about their doomed relationship, she couldn’t help but call him funny as in sick and twisted.

   He resisted the impulse to think he had won retribution when Pat ended up testing positive for Covid-19 and she and her kids all had to be quarantined for fourteen days. Bitter though he thought about her, he was sorry she had gotten sick. He was a guy with a good heart, even in a sometimes-heartless world.     

   One thing he knew that was bad for his health and psyche as he passed into middle age was to keep taking his blood pressure three times in a row, at three different times during the day. On the second and third tries, the reading shot higher probably because he felt pressure to make it go lower.

   The elevated readings were certainly a sign of tension. But they weren’t high enough to necessitate heading to the ER, a dangerous proposition where he figured he’d catch Covid-19 or some other horrible illness from all the other sickly patients waiting for hours on end to be treated in the hospital.

   Steven was a decent 8-handicap golfer. However, he had only been out on the links once during the summer and that was on a 95-degree day when he almost fainted on the 7th hole from heatstroke. It didn’t help that in trying to do the right thing by wearing a mask over his face to ward off Covid made him feel sick, like he was catching a fever.

   His playing partner, Mo Martinez, wasn’t so lucky. On the ninth and final hole, he fell over on his back and cried out for Steven to call an ambulance. As it turned out, Mo had suffered what the doctors called a mild heart attack. To Steven, there was no such thing as a heart attack being mild.

   When after several days Mo was discharged from the hospital, Mo’s wife derided both Steven and him saying they were foolish for playing golf in such hot and humid weather. Especially when Mo was 50 pounds overweight and almost never exercised like the doctor warned he better. What hurt Mo the most, probably resulting from his hospital stay, was ending up testing positive for Covid-19 and both he and his wife had to be quarantined for fourteen days.

   Steven opened his mail and saw a notice from Pittsburgh's Department of Traffic Adjudication that revealed a $100 fine for speeding on the day when he went golfing. Radar had captured him going 36 miles an hour in a 25-mile-an-hour zone. He remembered several drivers tailgating and honking their horns at him for going too slow before whizzing by him on that street probably going over 70 mph. That was one very expensive round of golf Steven played that day.

   Among the items he bought at the supermarket on the same day he got his speeding ticket were two heads of lettuce. When the cashier rang the lettuce up it came to $17.50, Steven said ‘come on, that has to be a mistake.’ The cashier behind his mask said no. That was what the computer registered as the price and the computer couldn’t be wrong.

   Obviously, something was amiss. The store manager, protected from germs and angry customers by wearing what looked to be a spacesuit, was summoned to hear Steven plead that no way two heads of lettuce could cost so much. The manager said he’d ‘look into it.’

   Rather than prolong the argument, Steven said to forget it. He’d survive without lettuce, even if it was supposed to be good for his health. Returning to his car in the grocery parking lot, he noticed its rear bumper was dented. Another driver in the lot had smashed into it. Steven estimated it would take at least $500 to get it repaired.

   When he got home, he felt a pang in his upper left chest, above the heart’s location, but close enough. Was this from too much stress? Or a heart attack? The pain didn’t subside. His doctor advised him to come in for a battery of tests.

   Steven could see that even behind her mask, Kathy, the 30-something nurse in the doctor’s office, was vivacious and beautiful. They got to talking for a spell and Steven asked if perhaps they could have coffee sometime. Maybe even go for throwing a baseball around, as Kathy turned out to be a devoted Pittsburgh Pirates fan who held a season-ticket to their games.

   Divorced herself a few years before and going through some hard times getting over it, she said YES to the date right before the results of Steven’s cardiology tests all came back NEGATIVE. The doctor said his chest pains were probably muscle strain from playing golf that other day. Hopefully the pains wouldn’t last, the doctor said, telling Steven to go enjoy life.

   That weekend Steven and Kathy met for coffee and later played catch outside a local Pittsburgh Starbucks. They truly hit it off. Maybe fate, destiny, karma, or luck, had turned things around for him. And for Kathy. Or as the biblical passage goes, to every thing there is a season.


About the author 

 Eric Green’s free-lance articles have appeared in the Washington Post, Baltimore Sun, and elsewhere. His short story, 'A Disturbing Matter Over Mind', was chosen as the 2023 winner of the Illumination Prize by the Spire Light Journal in Georgia 

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1 comment:

  1. Saira Rashid Parvez29 March 2024 at 00:10

    This was a beautiful short read 🌺