Ron Schueler (2)January 16, 2008
(continued from Ron Schueler (1))
The back of this card, the same card I displayed a couple days ago, shows a handful of years and a handful of teams, a portrait in numbers and place names of a nonessential migratory clause, a body to throw at the useless innings, an adjunct. Add him, junk him. Add junk? Adjunct. I hadn’t planned to rely so heavily on Ron Schueler in this latest attempt of mine to defeat the defeat of the past. Who would? But the computer hooked to my scanner is wheezing, unusable, poisoned with viral malignancies. I have no other option, no one in the bullpen. For better or worse, it’s Ron Schueler’s game to win.
I spend much of my waking life wired to a computer, so when the thing went down with a virus a couple days ago it felt like more than just the malfunctioning of an inanimate tool. I felt damaged, invaded. As the popups kept mushrooming relentlessly across the screen I had the urge to bash the computer to shards with a baseball bat and head for the hills. Maybe in the hills I’d find peace or maybe instead I’d feel the need to hack at my skull with a screwdriver to dislodge what I believed to be a wireless transmitter embedded inside. I mean maybe it’s too late. Maybe I’m beyond repair.
This possibly fatal graft of my brain to the computer began about the time where we last left off. As an adjunct professor I was given space in an office shared by several other adjunct professors. I was also given the use of a computer. A friend from graduate school, Rick, had begun working as an adjunct professor at the school that year, and he helped me set up a Yahoo account. He had one, which he used to play fantasy football. “It’s fun,” Rick said. He seemed unconvinced. Still, I drafted a fantasy basketball team within minutes of creating my online proxy. I named them Desolation Angels, after Jack Kerouac’s saddest novel.
There were days, plenty of them, when the Desolation Angels provided the brightest moment of my day. I didn’t have much else going on. I had an apartment with two empty bedrooms, blindless windows that stared unblinkingly at Time, and terror that crested four times a week in the firing-squad minutes directly preceding each meeting of one of my two classes. Each flare-up of terror gave way to a kind of public seizure that gripped me for 90 minutes before casting me back to my solitude sweaty and stunned, my voice raw, as if I had spent the entire hazy interval sobbing.
The students gone, I sat at the head of the empty class until my legs stopped trembling. I usually felt ashamed about one or another of the things that had tumbled from my mouth during the ill-planned lesson.
“Stupid, stupid, stupid,” I said out loud.
But the Desolation Angels got off to a decent start and kept climbing. As the days got shorter and colder, I leaned on them more and more. I started coming into the office on weekends to study the numbers of guys on the free agent wire. I made shrewd pickups. I climbed into third place. I climbed into second.
“I can win this,” I said out loud.
(to be continued)