The sun had just risen in the east, and the clouds hung low. It was barely light enough to see but the group would need to leave soon to be on time. The young men gathered round the large flat bed horse and carriage. The commune was happy to assist them in getting to the train station. All their necessary belongings, never much to begin with, were stowed away in small trunks, and in some cases, cloth sacks. They have already said good bye to members of the dissolving community.
This was not a time for not sadness as the young men had already accepted their new life weeks, ago. Joy, mixed with some trepidation, abounded through each of them. It is chilly out and all the young men are donning their heaviest coats. Their heads are kept warm with caps pulled down tightly over their ears revealing only a partial view of their faces.
Jason, not wearing any gloves, blows air into his hands to warm them. His breath leaves a vapor that quickly dissipates into the chilly morning air. As they climb aboard the horse drawn carriage Jason does a head count. Upon finishing he repeats the count making sure the count of 16 is correct.
“Hey guys, I’m counting sixteen. What gives? Did somebody new decide to join us?
A small voice from the back says, “I did.”
“I didn’t get that”, calls out Jason, “who is talking?”
A short person gets up off the bed of the wagon and standing up, replies, “It’s me, Jason. Here in the back.”
“Who….what the….is that you, Jessica?”
“It is I.”
“But, what did you do to your hair. It’s..well, it’s practically gone. And, those clothes? Whose clothes are you wearing? I’ve never seen you in pants like that. Those are men’s trousers.”
“How do I look, then?”
“Well, um, you. I hope you don’t mind me speaking frankly Jessica but you look just like one of us.”
“Then you think I can pass?”
“Pass as what?……oh, no, Jessica, this here excursion is for baseball players, not women.”
“You forgetting I struck you out the last….let me count….six times you faced me on the field? Do I need to refresh your memory Jason? Because I can tell you what pitch I threw each time. I can do that, y’know. Let’s see first time it was a curve, next time”…
“No, we don’t need to relive those brief moments of batter ….batter fatigue that I was struggling with at the time.” Are you saying you want to go with us to St. Louis? Work in the mill and play ball, too. Is that what this is all about?”
“Pretty much sums it up, Jason. Do you have any questions? If not, I suggest you get this wagon rolling so we don’t miss the 10:15 to St. Louis.”
Jason, for maybe the first time in his life, was unable to formulate a response. He blinked a few times, cleared his throat. Started to speak but not much was coming out.
It was then he noticed that the other 14 boys were all smiling and looking down. Trying to hide their amusement. A few elbowed each other which elicited some muffled giggles.
“Well, I….um”. He broke into his own smile. Shaking his head he called out, “You heard Jessica, Adam, lets get this cart a rolling.”
“Uh, Jason, you can call me Jess.”