An Eccentric Dignity, And Some of My Own
By Alan Mittag
(Added in sharp purple ink) And Eccentric
I woke up with a start. Dignity’s Star Catcher was perched on the back of my sitting chair like an eagle, flipping through my notebook.
“You’re finally awake!” He said, jumping off and landing at the foot of my bed. “Get up. Get up. Get up. Today is the day you interview Dignity’s only catcher. GET UP!” He pulled the blankets off me.
I tried to cover myself and the elf sighed. “You don’t have anything to be embarrassed about. I’m sure most humans are that tiny.”
I muttered, “Tiny?”
He jumped up and ran to my closet, pulling out some clothes and throwing them at me. “Get dressed, Dummy. Today’s a big day.”
“It is?” I threw on a shirt and pants.
“Yes!” he said, exasperated. “Today you interview THE ONLY CATCHER WITH DIGNITY!”
“Oh yes yes, of course.” I said. I finished the ensemble with a necktie and my nice shoes. Then I took my notebook from where he had left it and flipped to the next page. Where I found a drawing of myself, a portrait of myself, sleeping. With what could only be male genitalia added to my forehead. I turned the book around to show him. “Why did you draw me like this?”
“Because you were asleep and I was bored,” Eccentric said.
I threw my arms up in the air. I was starting to see why Tenacity and Royalty suggested I spend as little time around him as possible. He wasn’t dangerous, not like Physique. He was just… off.
(Added in sharp purple ink) I prefer to think I am “On”.
I flipped to a new page, found my pen and said. “So, Eccentric, Last night….”
“I had my first interception in the MML Pros!”
“Yes, you did. It may even be responsible….”
He snatched the notebook from me with one hand, and the pen with the other. “My turn to interview you.”
“Wha?” Was all I could manage.
“Last night, the only catcher with Dignity, the pillar of the team, no, the heart of the team, yea that’s better, had his first interception in the MML Pros. I thought it was awesome. The team thought it was awesome. The fans thought it was awesome. What about you Alan? Why do you think you suck?”
“I thought it… Wait, what?”
“Do you think its because everyone expects you to suck? Do you have a responsibility to live up to that expectation?” He reached an empty hand out to me as if were holding a microphone.
He pulled the pretend microphone away from me. “Or maybe its because you just can’t help it?”
(Added in sharp purple ink). It’s so fun to mess with him.
Before I could form a reply, he grabbed my hand and started for the door. “This is fun. Let’s go interview some of the guys.”
“Wait,” I said. But he didn’t listen and I was dragged out into the hall.
He pushed me ahead of him and slapped me hard on the back. It stung. Then he shoved me forward into three of Dignity’s Linemen: Stalwart, Fortress, and Dauntless. Fortress caught me as I stumbled forward.
“And here we have three of Dignity’s linemen, all who reached a new level of skill in last night’s game against SupeR StreetfighteR ElveS.” Eccentric stuck the ‘microphone’ in Dauntless’s face. “Dauntless. Last night you learned to stand up against enemies that are even stronger than you are and go toe to toe with them. How did you manage to do that when the opposing team didn’t actually have anyone stronger than you?”
Dauntless had a look of confusion. He cast a sideways glance to Stalwart.
Eccentric moved the ‘microphone’ over to Stalwart. “And Stalwart, last night you learned to sidestep. We expect that to come in very handy. What do you think is the reason that Alan sucks?”
“I expect it will, when paired with my guard ability, I should be able to lend some extra hands to the line.” Stalwart said.
Eccentric scrunched up his face, then moved on to Fortress, Dignity’s new blocker. “And you Fortress, why do you think Alan waited so long to interview the Only Catcher with Dignity?”
“I think we all know why,” Fortress said while folding his arms.
Eccentric took back the ‘mic’. “Right, because he sucks.”
(Added in sharp purple ink) I think they got the point I was making.
He grabbed my hand again and led me down the hall. Behind us, the three linemen burst into laughter. “Did you see that?” Fortress said? I couldn’t hear the answer, but they kept laughing.
Eccentric led me through the halls until he came to the recreation room, where Royalty was resting in the corner with an open book. He dragged me to Dignity’s thrower and then shoved the ‘microphone’ in Royalty’s face. The thrower slapped his hand aside without looking up from his book. He was reading, How to Educate the Lesser Races.
Eccentric said, “Alan wants to know how you can train the fans to throw rocks and still think you are better than everyone else?”
I swallowed my soul. “What!?!”
His eyes eased up from the page to settle on my face, and then the anger in them just melted away in a quick instant. He even opened a little smile. “You do?”
“Well, I never said….”
“He sure does,” Eccentric said for me.
“It’s simple,” Royalty said. “It would be wrong for me, as a player, to throw a rock at an opponent. That’s a foul. But the fans are’t held to such rules are they? The MML is responsible for security, and they do a pretty good job. How many rocks do you see get thrown in a match? Less than one, on average.”
“But Alan….” Eccentric said.
Royalty broke in as if he had never stopped speaking. “The fans are going to do what they are going to do. We can’t stop them. The League can make it hard for them, but that’s all. Sometimes a rock is going to be thrown.”
“All I was doing was making sure that if a rock was thrown, it was going to be done right. That’s Dignity. And Dignity’s fans need to show their own Dignity in their own way. By making sure they are the best at what they do. That way they get to feel like part of the team, if only for an instant.”
Eccentric pulled me away. As we ran down the hall, Royalty was still talking. I think the conversation was turning into why wood Elves don’t train their fans, but we escaped before I could catch enough to make sense of it.
“He sure does like the sound of his own voice,” Eccentric said.
(Added in sharp purple ink) He throws me the ball, so I guess he can stay.
We dashed down this hall and that, avoiding the day-to-day maintenance crews. Then he stopped, turned around to look me right in the eye, and said. “Let’s go interview Physique!”
He grabbed me by the wrist and started running to the Grandiose Majesty Medical Wing, where Physique is usually responsible for sending patients, not going himself. In the first turn of last night’s match he picked a fight with Guile that he was completely unprepared for, even with Stalwart’s assistance.
We turned the corner and found Tenacity standing at attention, guarding the door to the room where Physique was resting. Or maybe not resting. I could hear the chaos inside. Furniture being thrown and smashed, broken only by quick spurts of painful yelling. Physique had three broken ribs from where Guile hit him. He had not been ready for the Streetfighter.
“Ooh, Tenacity,” Eccentric said. “We need to interview Physique. Let us in.”
There was no way I was going to go in there while Physique was on a rampage.
Tenacity said, “No.” His eyes went from Eccentric to me, and then rolled up into his head.
“But we need to know how he feels about this,” Eccentric said. He stomped his foot to accent the point.
“You don’t want to do that right now,” Tenacity said.
He wasn’t going to budge. I let out a sigh of relief.
Eccentric shrugged his shoulders, then shoved the ‘microphone’ in Tenacity’s face. “Then we will interview you!”
“What are you doing?” Tenacity said.
“Interviewing you, duh.” Eccentric said.
“Fine,” Tenacity said. “One question.”
With the ‘mic’ still in Tenacity’s face, Eccentric said. “Do you know that Alan waited this long to interview the only catcher with Dignity?”
I pushed Eccentric aside. “How are you feeling? Are your injuries better?”
Tenacity looked at me and actually smiled. “That’s two questions.” Then he grabbed me by the collar with a single hand, and lifted me a foot off the ground. “But I feel good. Strong.” He lowered me back down and clapped me on the shoulder. “Thanks for asking.”
Eccentric grabbed my hand and dragged me off.
(Added in sharp purple ink) I hate that guy! Always so serious. He never gets any of my jokes. There he was just standing outside the apothecary’s office. Gah! He should be inside. Having the stick removed from his butt!
We ran down the hall, turned the corner, and found most of the team gathered in the locker room.
“What’s going on,” I asked Eccentric.
“How would I know? I’ve been interviewing people with you.”
Tactician was holding a new uniform and handing it to an elf that I didn’t recognize. I heard that Dignity was going to hire a new player after their game with the Streetfighters. Coach Sestonn wanted a new lineman to replace Magic, but Tactician had been ready to suggest a new catcher instead.
“No.” Eccentric said. He dropped my hand. His shoulders slumped. “That’s not fair. No. No no no no no.”
The new elf hoisted his uniform up to the cheers of the team, and the White Lion’s catching mitt dangled from it.
The team was back to eleven. Tactician rose his other hand and the cheering settled. “Everyone welcome Funny!”
It took a few minutes for everything to settle down. Eccentric was gone. I don’t know where. So I introduced myself to Funny. “Hi, I’m Alan. Team Archivist.”
We shook hands. He looked me up and down. Giggling, he said, “Someone drew a penis on your face.”