Copyright© 2016 by Jay Cantrell
Romantic Sex Story: Chapter 135 - Travis Blakely had a comfortable existence. He had a decent job and good friends. He was comfortable with what the future held for him. Then he ran into a girl he remembered from high school. His life got a lot more interesting - and infinitely more complicated
Liz and I decided a “fancy dress” dinner held little interest for us.
After tossing out a few suggestions – from the Internet and from her memory – Liz decided that she wanted to go to “El Rincon,” an authentic Mexican restaurant located, appropriately enough, in the corner of a downtown building.
Even though the restaurant didn’t require a jacket and tie, any venture into public with Liz meant certain style standards had to be met.
The temperature was pushing 90 degrees but there had been intermittent thunderstorms throughout the day. It was humid and muggy at her estate. I didn’t even want to think about how it would feel on the streets of a major metropolitan city on a Saturday night with thousands – if not tens of thousands – of people milling about.
Nashville was a major tourist destination. It was not only the capital of the country music industry but it also housed much of the genre’s history. There were museums and displays by the hundreds where people could see a famous musician’s first automobile or where he lived while playing in the honkytonks before hitting the big time in the 1950s.
It was a city that prided itself on cleanliness and friendliness – much as I’d found San Diego to be.
Aside from the music business, Nashville had all the same things that brought people to my former Southern California residence (minus the Pacific Ocean). It was only an hour from a large military base (Fort Campbell) and housed a major university (Vanderbilt) as well as several smaller colleges (such as Belmont, and David Lipscomb, where Brian had gone to school).
Nashville had industry and commerce that was completely unrelated to country music. It held the state capitol, the county courthouse and the city government building. It had a federal courthouse and a host of offices from federal agencies.
It was one of the largest players in the health care industry in the United States and had some of the last booming auto manufacturing plants in the country.
The city had been the site of several skirmishes and battles during the Civil War and had monuments marking significant sites.
The church of country music wasn’t the only religious organization that had its headquarters in the city. We drove past four or five major denominations that had their base of operations in Nashville. We even passed through some sections that I’m certain the Tourism Bureau wished to keep hidden.
It was a city – with all the good and the bad that urban living brought.
Liz had decided on a light sundress and a straw hat. I had elected to wear dark-green cotton slacks, a tan shirt and a baseball cap from the Lynchburg Hillcats minor league baseball team (a Class-A affiliate of the Cleveland Indians). I had never played in Lynchburg but Liz’s adoring legion of fans had sent me hundreds of baseball caps from their favorite teams.
At the most recent count, I was lacking only a hat from the West Virginia Black Bears (although I did have an older one from the team they replaced, the Jamestown Jammers, that I thought was pretty cool) and the Missoula Osprey, from the Pioneer League.
I didn’t know if Liz had no fans in Morgantown, W.Va., and Missoula, Mont., or if the people that lived in those places were too smart to spend their money on an idiot they’d never met.
Either way, I had my caps neatly arranged alphabetically by league (courtesy of Skye) in Liz’s closet. I can’t even say it was our closet because the only things of mine that fit in there were the hats (and they only fit because Liz didn’t use the shelves above the hangers for anything important).
It was actually sort of fun to go out into public unannounced. Dayton and Bobbi were dressed in clothing that let them hide their firearms in holsters at their back so we didn’t draw attention by having two obvious bodyguards with us.
If it hadn’t been for my arm, we might have been able to see most of what Liz wanted to show me without anybody noticing.
But the sling brought eyes in our direction – and once those eyes found us, it was pretty hard not to recognize Liz Larimer.
It usually took a second for anybody to make the connection. Their eyes would travel up her figure and then get to her face; they’d stop, get a look of confusion – and then turn and point before fishing out their phone and taking pictures.
Liz would sign autographs and take pictures with the fans. Unlike our first trip out in public, I was always asked to join (even by the guys).
Liz finally spoke up when a line formed for autographs.
“We just came out so I could show Travis the first place I performed in Nashville,” she said. “I wish I could stay and visit but we only have a few minutes. We’ve ... we haven’t been able to get out much. I’m really sorry.”
Personally, I doubted that she was sorry. But her voice held conviction and sincerity so almost everybody else took her at her word. They still took pictures but nobody threw tomatoes when we made our way back to the SUV for our getaway.
“So much for a quiet evening,” Liz said as we pulled away.
“It’s fine,” I said, patting her arm. “It’s nice to see you in your natural habitat. I’m good if you just want to ... hang out with the fans before dinner.”
“Is that my PR guy talking?” Liz wondered.
“No,” I said. “I mean, it won’t hurt unless you punch somebody in the mouth but I know that these are the types of people you really enjoy being around. Some of the people have driven a thousand miles just to ... visit where you live or play or ... whatever. They’ve brought their children or their grandchildren with them so they can have a look at something that genuinely brings happiness to them.”
Liz looked thoughtfully out the window as we passed a few more landmarks to her profession.
“You saw how everybody was,” I told her. “They were totally cool with giving you space. Nobody tried to press in on you ... like they did in other places. Part of it is because they know what’s happened to you recently. But part of it is because this is ... Mecca ... to the fans. They’re respectful to the people that put out the music they enjoy. So, if you want to just ... spend time ... talking or visiting with them, I’m going to be fine.”
“Did you see the ‘Free Liz’ T-shirts?” Bobbi asked from the passenger side of the vehicle.
“I can’t believe I let them talk me into those,” Liz said.
“It was a good plan,” I said, sticking up for Rick and Sarah. They had spearheaded the effort to get the shirts printed and out to the retailers without leaving a trail – and were coordinating the efforts to pass the profits off to numerous charitable organizations.
“We saw them all over the place on our drive back,” Dayton remarked. “Hell, we even saw them in Baltimore. Once we got into Virginia, they were all over the place.”
“Rick told me they’re on the fourth printing now,” I noted. “He says they’re going to be donating about $1 million off this alone.”
Liz was shaking her head but I knew she was inwardly pleased that at least 75,000 fans had dropped $15 each to show their support. Rick said the only way we would have sold more was if the shirt had said “Free Lez” and offered directions to the nearest girl-girl sex show.
I might have ponied up for that (depending, of course, on the physical characteristics of the participants).
Liz continued to point out landmarks but fell silent as we neared the baseball field. Nashville had a Class-AAA team that, during my days in the game, had been affiliated with Milwaukee. I knew that wasn’t the case now but I didn’t know which Major League team had taken over the franchise.
“Have you thought any more about the offer the Sounds made you?” Dayton asked as we rode past the exit.
“No,” I said.
Liz shifted in her seat.
“What offer?” she wondered.
I shook my head but Dayton either missed it or ignored it.
“They got in contact with Liam about having Travis come in to talk to the team sometime,” he informed her.
Liz tilted her head at me. I knew the gesture was meant to ask a question – without coming right out and asking it (lest I be offended or hurt by the query).
“They wanted me to ... let the guys know that there is life after baseball,” I said.
“You should do that!” Bobbi interjected.
“I’m not interested,” I replied.
“Why not?” Liz asked. “It sounds like you could ... help some of the guys.”
I shook my head again and Liz frowned. I knew I wasn’t going to get away without an explanation.
“It’s a lie, Liz,” I told her.
“It is not,” she said with certainty.
“It is,” I countered in my most mature fashion.
I got the crossed arms and a stern gaze for my trouble.
“Look, by the time you hit Triple-A, you’re making decent coin,” I said. “The lowest-paid guy is bringing down fifty grand – after per diems and travels expenses and things like that. Some of them are on split contracts – half Major League, half Minor League. They’re pulling in close to a hundred. They’re not going to make that sort of money anywhere else.”
“You did,” Liz pointed out.
I shook my head again.
“I’m different,” I said.
“In so many ways,” Dayton said with a chuckle.
“True,” I agreed. I didn’t want the conversation to evolve into a confrontation. “I was done a couple of years after I left college. The guys that make Triple-A, they’ve been out of school, some of them, for 15 years. A lot of these guys ... they signed out of high school. They’ve played professional baseball since. It’s been a decade or more since they’ve seen a classroom. They’re not going back to get a degree. They’re going to go back to their hometown, try to find a job without having any noticeable skill and coach the local American Legion team. For them, this really is all there is. They need to hold onto the dream for as long as they can because there is nothing else out there for them.”
Liz looked confused by my statement. She didn’t understand baseball and its pyramid.
“Triple-A is ... it’s one step from the big leagues,” I explained.
“I know that,” Liz said sharply.
“I meant that it isn’t like the lower minors,” I said. “That’s for evaluation and for training. It’s for letting you hone the skills that you have and develop the skills you’ll need in the future. Triple-A is ... it’s different. They stash guys there that probably could succeed at the next level to slow their service time or just because they have options left and somebody else doesn’t.”
Liz’s confusion appeared to be growing but I didn’t want to get into arbitration and option years. I didn’t understand a lot of it myself, particularly since I’d been away from the game for so long.
“You can only send a guy down to the minors so many times,” Dayton explained. “After that, you have to keep him in the majors or release him outright. So a team will keep a guy up that they don’t want to lose and send somebody better down because they won’t lose him if they ship him to the minors.”
It was overly simplistic but I thought it worked well enough for my purposes.
“So the guys in Triple-A have a legitimate chance to play in the big leagues,” I said. “It’s not a Low-A Short Season guy. It’s a guy that could still make it. But a lot of them are ... older. I was a little old for Double-A when I was there. I’d have been really young for Triple-A. Some of the guys playing for the Sounds are in their middle 30s. The rest are in their mid-to-late 20s. You rarely see a kid who’s 21 or 22 in Triple-A. If you do, it’s because he is the real deal. He’s going to make it to The Show. OK?”
“OK,” Liz said. “So you’re saying that they shouldn’t give up until they know for sure they can’t make it.”
“I’m saying that they shouldn’t give up until nobody will pay them to play baseball ever again,” I stated. “The guys without much to look forward to ... they’re the lucky ones. The guys from Latin America ... they have nothing to look forward to at home. They’re here on work visas so they’ll need to go back to whatever hovel they came from. If they’re really lucky, they might hook on with a training academy there. But most of those jobs are taken up by former Major Leaguers that didn’t last long enough to really make bank.
“A guy that leaves from Triple-A is ... he’s going back to the life he thought he’d escaped. Domingo, if he hadn’t made it to the big leagues, he and Rosalita would have been working the fields growing sugarcane. That’s what their families did. He’d be making a few hundred bucks a year for a couple of thousand hours of backbreaking labor. That’s no life – and I’m not going to tell them it is.”
“There has to be something for them,” Liz said. “I mean, they can’t play forever!”
“No,” I agreed. “They can’t play forever. But every year they hang on is a lot more money in their pockets for when it’s over. That’s for the Americans and the Hispanics. It’s one more year in the sun before they have to start selling cars or working at the uncle’s hardware store. So, I’m not the least little bit interested in lying to them. If I had gotten hurt a year or two later, I’d be working for my dad. It’s no different than you.