Several times a week, I see a man walking on a road that I drive by often. He walks with a bat in his right hand. I always wonder about this. He’s clearly not carrying it for balance: It’s not a cane. It’s a bat.
I said hi to him once a few months ago. He passed by me when I was walking from my car to a convenience store. He stared me straight in the eye, so I felt like I should. He did say hi back, but I’m still not comfortable with the bat. There’s no baseball game going on here.
Up close, I notice that his bat is made of wood. I think it’s old, but I don’t stare at it for too long. There’s something that tells me not to.
He walks with that bat rain or shine. He even carries it when he walks, as he sometimes does, with a man much shorter than him, a man I assume is his friend. Who else but a friend would walk with a person with a bat?
Does the bat make his friend feel protected? Granted, we all know that people are walking around with guns in their pockets, but I can’t see the guns and I like that better. Seeing this bat makes me worry. Did something bad happen to this man? Is he crazy? Or is he just an ordinary person whose anxiety has spilled over, erupted, boiled to the point that he is unable to take a simple walk without his bat?
Does he take the bat with him when he grabs a burger, buys a stamp at the post office, rides an elevator to a doctor’s appointmen? Can you take a bat to those places? Is there someone standing at the ready at the entrance to his grocery store with a “Sorry, sir, no bats allowed”? And then what does this man do? Lean his bat against an outdoor wall while he scurries for his beer and milk? I can’t him imagine him letting his bat out of his sight.
I can’t keep from wondering, for one crazy second, should we all be carrying bats? Is there something lurking around the next corner? Does he know something I don’t know?
I don’t want to carry a bat. When I take a walk, I want to enjoy it. I walk to see the seasons change. I walk to hear the sound of the leaves scuttling on the ground as the wind blows them down the street. In those moment, there is peace. I don’t want to think that, yes, maybe I should be carrying a bat.
I’d love to see him bat free swinging his arms on a sunshine filled afternoon. I don’t want to picture him asleep in his bed with a bat across his chest.