A Lithe Dignity
by Alan Mittag
The team was whole again. In the farm, Dignity ran two catchers. Eccentric was the constant threat to the opponent’s passing game. Lithe was the threat to the opponent’s caging game. In an attempt to keep both catchers during the move to pro, Dignity had to fire its original thrower. The new thrower, Royalty, overfilled the previous thrower’s shoes, and Dignity had to make a choice in order to fit under the farm-to-pro cap. Sadly, that was the last time Dignity thought they would see Lithe. But now he’s back!
I expected the team to be excited, but the only ones to have truly welcomed Lithe back were the coaching staff, Eccentric, and Tenacity.
After the reintroductions were made, I followed Tactician, Dignity’s Tactical Adviser, back to his office. “Tactician,” I said. “Dignity’s fans are excited to hear that Lithe is back. Finally, Dignity has another way to crack their opponent’s cage. Is there anything you can say about this new reaquisition?”
“I didn’t play many games with Lithe, myself.” Tactician said. “Dignity hired me on just before the move to the pros. But I have heard the stories, and I am looking forward to working with him. This is going to be a great year.” Tactician settled into his seat, and then started patting at his shirt and pant pockets. “I guess I left my pen somewhere.”
I handed him my extra pen. “Thank you for the quote,” I said. “I’m going to see if I can find him and get in a quick interview. The fans want to know about their new hero.”
I thought I would check the kitchens first. Lithe just arrived, he was sure to be starving.
I stopped midstep when I saw Physique throwing things from the pantry. The kitchen was already lined with broken jars, smashed jams and jellies. Every cabinet was laid bare. Physique sensed my presence and turned to me. Fire burned his eyes. “You!,” Physique said, pointing a finger at my soul. “Did you take it?”
I put a little more space between us, retreating into the hall. “N…N…No,” I said. I didn’t know what he was missing, but I certainly didn’t take anything of his. “What’s missing?” My words came out as a stutter.
“My juice!” Physique said. The way he spun the word juice confused me. He followed me into the hall, cracking his knuckles. I took a step back, he took two steps forward. “If you didn’t take it, who did?” He suddenly stopped. Realization dawned across his face. With a single breath, half sigh half speach, Physique said. “F’orc’n Lithe.”
“I didn’t know you were a Grunts fan.”
He looked up at me. The fire in his eyes evolved into something beyond, something that carved a shiver down my spine. I ran away.
I didn’t look back until I had turned down three halls. I breathed in relief. He wasn’t following.
Suddenly, something spun me around.
“It’s gone!” Funny was in a panic, in tears. “It’s gone. It’s gone. IT’S GONE!”
“What’s gone?” I said as the elf embraced me, burying his face in my shoulder. Reluctantly, I patted him on the back.
“My Diary!” He sobbed like a teenage girl. “Someone took my diary, Alan.” He stood back to his full height and stared through a teary glare right into my soul. “Someone stole it!”
“Are you sure?” I said. “Make sure you retrace your steps before you accuse anyone.”
“But it’s gone!” He went back to sobbing in my shoulder. I went back to patting his back and eventually his head. Minutes went by. Like, a lot of minutes. I think we were standing in that hall for half an hour before Tenacity showed up.
Funny broke away from me and started sobbing on Tenacity. “Big Brother! My Diary is missing.”
Tenacity patted his back exactly three times, then pushed Funny away from him. “Go retrace your steps.”
Funny stamped his foot. “I already did that! Somebody stole it.”
Tenacity said, “No one would stee….” He stopped midsentence rose his right hand to his forehead. With a disappointed sigh he Tenacity said, “Lithe.”
“It couldn’t have been,” Funny said. “He’s only been here for an hour.”
Tenacity said it with complete matter-of-factness. “He could have been here for days and no one would know.”
Funny started sobbing again, I backed off. I did my part. I consoled him for half an hour. Now it was Tenacity’s responsibility. I continued my hunt for Lithe.
I knocked on the door to his room. No answer. Then I thought I would try the training rooms, but I heard laughter as I passed Eccentric’s room.
I knocked. “No one’s here,” Eccentric called from the other side. More laughing. Two voices this time.
“Are you sure?” I said.
“If I was in here, I would know about it.” Eccentric said. Both voices laughed again.
“Is Lithe in there? I want to get an interview with him for the fans?”
Silence for a second. Then Eccentric said in a hushed voice, “Are you in here?”
“No,” Lithe said, also a hushed voice.
“He’s not in here either,” Eccentric called out. More laughing.
“Oh, will you let him know I was looking for him?”
“Of course!” Eccentric said. Then in a quieter voice, “Hey, Alan is looking for you.”
I settled myself down on the floor, back against the wall. I was right next to the door. They had to come out sometime, and when they did I would be ready.
From inside I could here Eccentric, half giggling as he spoke. “Dear Diary, last night was the best night ever….”