March 29, 1997 Saturday
Today we had a home double-header with Dunlap. We won the first game, but the second didn’t go as well. The inning before the ten-run rule was going to be enforced I was told, “Carlson! Right field.” As I grabbed my glove, trotted out to the grass between innings, and stood in the cold, playing some catch with the center fielder, I knew I was in because we were so far behind. Yet it didn’t matter to me at all. I was were I wanted to be, and where I have worked to get to. I played an inning of baseball, and I’m happy with that. The ball never left the infield. Moonlight Graham would understand this story, as I was still D.H.-ed for at the bottom of the inning.
Tonight was the alumni banquet in the grade school multi-purpose room. Elmwood classes, of five-year increments, filled the room. Being the most current senior class we sat at a long row of grade school lunch tables against one wall. As I looked out over the crowd the classes got progressively older and grayer, the final table reserved for the sparsely represented Class of 1927. Out of our class, twenty-two–or half–showed up. Each of us rose as Mr. Marks, the dean, read where we would be going in the fall, and what we hoped our careers would be. I had had a feeling that we could not get through a night without acting like ourselves, and I was right (also, a mental note to get Sidney back for the salt in my water).
I knew life was fleeting, but as all the classes from pre-World War II were introduced, I perhaps had never considered how fleeting was fleeting…
Sidney asked several times what my tux for prom looks like, but I wouldn’t say anything (well, actually she had her hands clasped around my throat as she asked it, but I knew she was just curious). Colin came to my rescue and told her she would really like it. I plan to not tell her anything. It will be a surprise (last week I was mentioning ideas about a light-blue suit with ruffles, so she’ll just have to be happy with that image).
After the dinner Colin, myself, Hoke, Aimee Leinart, and Sidney were standing outside the gym deciding what to do. Sidney didn’t care where we went as long as it had a bathroom. Colin suggested the alumni after-party that was being held at the Maple Lane Country Club to the north of town. So we went there. When we arrived we again all stood in the parking lot, deciding if we should really go in. We still couldn’t come up with a plan of what to do, and Sidney was going crazy. Hoke and I got in his grey Thunderbird, Colin got in his famiy’s dark Dodge Intrepid, and the girls rode in Sidney’s forest-green Audi. We drove around in this order like a procession through the streets of Elmwood until we passed the cemetery. For some reason Hoke said to me, “How about we drive through the cemetery, Carlson?” Sure, why not (I don’t really know why). Anyway, we’re still going single-file through the Elmwood Cemetery until out my window and see an open grave. I told Hoke, and he saw it too. We got out of there fast. Then we all drove the short distance to Will Davies’s house. The former member of our class was not at home, it seemed. As we were turning around, as a mass at the end of the street, the three drivers asked the other cars where we should still go. Hoke said at first my house, and then on second thought suggested his own. So we went to Hoke’s house, finally, and Colin pulled up a minutes later. Sidney didn’t show. Thinking maybe she went to my place instead, we went there. No Sidney. We went back to Hoke’s house two blocks away. No Sidney. We went all over Elmwood looking for her, but we never found her.
I am just getting this all down now, so when she asks we’ll have the proof of the time and effort we took looking for her.
Tomorrow is Easter, and we will be going to Grandma Connor’s farm that is a few miles east of Knoxville.
Your representative of the Class of ’97,