SHORT STORY
The Astronaut Theory
Joseph Kasler

"Spaceship" © Flickr user Dennis Wong 

"Spaceship" © Flickr user Dennis Wong 

The name on the back of my softball jersey reads, “Razor.”  I gave this name to myself because I’m sharp and cut like a knife.  Lightning courses through my veins and fire burns in my soul.  Nothing stands in my way.  I blaze new trails and tackle the world’s problems before breakfast.  I eat gold and speak in tongues when I choose.  I am a warrior that will never forfeit his sword. I will have a smile on my face, ear to ear; the day a cannon ball rips my head from my body, knowing that I have lived a life of sheer, undoubted success.  I am the winner in this world of pathetic losers.  Nothing, I repeat, nothing can defeat me.  Now let’s blast this one out of the... 

“Strike three, you’re out!” yelled the ump.

“Shit! That rat just lobbed a ball in for a strike while I was getting my mental pump on,” Jeff thought to himself.

Shouts could be heard coming from Jeff’s teammates as he walked back towards the dugout.

“Jeff, you suck man!” yelled one.

“My gram could’ve hit that ball with her cane, bad back and all,” grumbled another.  “Maybe I’ll call her for next week’s game to see if she’s available, huh?  You’re the worst, man.  Eat some shit,” he finished.

It was Tommy.

“Shut up, Tommy.  That coward threw that ball knowing I wasn’t ready.  And that ump calls strikes like a dick…like a strike-calling dick, Tommy!  There was nothing I could have done,” Jeff shot back.

“He’s right, you suck,” yelled the ump.

“That’s your opinion ump, not a fact.” Jeff returned.

Jeff packed up his gear as the others continued to make comments under their breath about how awful he was.  In nine at bats this season, he had reached base only once- by getting hit in the testicles with a wild pitch while trying to bunt.  Once on base, they offered a pinch runner to allow his swollen balls a break, but he refused.  Determined to show them his dedication, he took a defiant lead from first, but the pain was too much, causing Jeff to lose consciousness.  He was quickly tagged out to lose the game.

No sweat off my back.  I am not the reason we lost this game.  I can only carry so much weight on these pillars I call legs before they crumble.  Tonight I sleep with a clear mind knowing that my efforts today shined like justice.  The rest have to live with their weak attempts at passing themselves off as true softball players.  This team is my life, my passion, and my outlet to showcase star worthy performances so the world over can look on in awe as my grace on the field and the power of my bat command nothing but standing ovations.  This team needs me.

As he walked back to the car, his phone vibrated.  It was a text from Mike, the team captain and his manager at the office.

He probably wants to apologize for the other guys.  He gets it.  He knows that I am a champion.  He knows talent when he sees it.  The others can’t help but feel intimidated by the Razor, and if they needed someone to blame, I’ll gladly be their fall guy.  But Mike, he is my man.  El Camino.  He knows how tough it is to be majestic.  He knows this team would fall apart without a guy of my caliber.

“Jeff, we took a vote. You’re off the team, man.  Sorry, but you suck really bad. You can keep the jersey but I will need the pants back- just bring them into the office tomorrow.  And wash ‘em too, don’t be a dick”

Thank God I am rid of that dead weight.  Softball is a dying pastime.  Everyone knows that.  I feel bad for those guys milling around in a game designed for girls and washed up has-beens.  Here I come, world, mind firing on all cylinders.  My body is in peak physical form and nothing, I repeat nothing, can stop me now.

Jeff reached his car to find that some one had popped two of his tires.  Knowing no one would offer a ride or help, he decided to call the one person that always made him feel better, Sarah. 

His girlfriend of two weeks, they’d met at a team barbecue hosted by Tommy, who also happened to be Sarah’s brother.  Jeff felt she could be the one.  She was smart and beautiful, and really seemed to understand him.  She was his muse.  Moreover, she wasn’t intimidated by his excellence, as were many others. 

He tried to call but her phone was busy.

So some one decided to incapacitate the King’s chariot, eh?  This is obviously the work of a dead-beat.  I hope they understand that if you taunt this bull, you will get the horns.  I can’t wait to find the person responsible for this and make them pay.  Oh yes, they will pay for two brand new tires and labor costs- most likely about two hundred bucks.  What an idiot.  You can’t bake a cake without crackin a few eggs is what I always say and someone’s eggs are about to get cracked.

Just then Jeff’s phone buzzed.  It was Sarah calling. 

“Sarah, my queen, can you come get me at the ballpark?  Someone popped two tires on my rocket… what?” Jeff asked incredulously.

It only deteriorated from there.

“Wait, what did Tommy say? ...  No, no, no, that game was lost before we even started, baby.  Your brother is a dick,” he told her.

She wasn’t buying it.

“Well I didn’t swing because it was clearly a ball.  No that ump was a piece of shit,” he continued.

And finally…

“Sooo, you wanna see other people because I struck out?  You’re dumping me because that umpire calls strikes like a dick?” he asked astonishingly.

 “Can I still get a ride? … Hello?”

* * * 

Two hours later, WDFR’s evening newscast was interrupted with urgent, breaking news … 

“Tracy Sornsen, reporting live from Sam’s Old Corner Market where local resident Jeff Davis foiled a masked gunmen’s plan to commit armed robbery. Both the assailant and clerk were wounded in the attempted heist, but thankfully, no one was severely injured.  Jeff, could you please tell us what happened here today?”

The microphone beneath his nose, Jeff looked into the camera, took a deep breath, and launched into his version of what had taken place.

“Sure can, Tracy.  Something drew me to this place.  I could sense that I was supposed to be here; it was almost like a voice was telling me that I was sent to clean this place up.  Immediately, I sensed danger, but could tell the clerk felt safer just having me in there.  I then headed to the back of the store and bathroom to clear the area and secure the perimeter.  Security first.  That’s when I heard someone demanding money from the clerk.  I quickly grabbed the first thing I could find to use as a weapon, which happened to be a mop, and charged to the front of the store.   Once I saw the clerk lying on the floor, I knew I was dealing with a bloodthirsty animal, and immediately sprung into action. The gunman turned at me to fire but I was already in full motion.  I quickly zig – zagged up the aisle so he couldn’t get a fix on me, slid behind the Little Debbie’s rack next to him, used the mop to knock his feet out from under him, and jumped to my feet so as to be standing over top of him.  It was a very calculated maneuver, but for me, merely an instinctual reaction.  Before he knew what hit him, I landed an ancient Chinese doorbell on him, followed by a swift karate chop to the upper most part of his cranium that caused him to lose consciousness.  Next I disarmed him, grabbed my cell, and quickly called the local authorities for backup.  Once the cops arrived, I let the boys in blue do their thing and I disappeared into the night like Batman,” Jeff proudly stated.

The longwinded explanation left Ms. Sornsen bewildered.

“Oh … um … you’re still here, Mr. Davis,” Tracy commented.

“Yeah, well, I came back to make sure they didn’t miss anything, you know?” he responded.

Tracy, looking very confused, wrapped up the interview. 

“And there you have it. Clearly Sam’s Old Corner Market was lucky to have Jeff Davis strolling around the old corner,” she said, ending the live remote. 

What Really Happened 

Jeff had gotten about eight blocks from the field, on foot, when a truckload of people slowly pulled up behind him and proceeded to pelt him with food.  First, a half-eaten burger bounced off his neck.  Then, he felt chicken nuggets hit him in the back like buckshot.  As he ran for cover, he turned to see that it was the umpire and a couple guys from both his and the other team.  Sam’s Old Corner Market offered an escape.   As he ducked in the door, a milkshake crashed into the doorframe and spilled all over the floor.   The clerk, shocked and appalled with what had just happened, shouted, “Hey…You’re gonna clean that up pal!  The mop is in the back in the bathroom.  Go get it before someone slips on this mess … kapeesh!”

Jeff nodded and headed back to the bathroom.  He wanted to wipe off the various condiments running down the back of his neck anyways.  He looked for the back door so that he could slip out after he cleaned up the mess out front.  Just then, Jeff heard someone yell something like “GIMME ALL THE MONEY IN THE … WHOOOOOOOA,” but he couldn’t clearly make it out.  Mop in hand, he made his way to clean up the milkshake on the floor.  When he got to the front of the store, he saw the clerk lying on the floor behind the counter, and a ski-masked man carrying a gun lying on the floor in the puddle of milkshake.  The masked gunman had run into the store, began to demand the money from the clerk, but slipped on the milkshake and hit his head off the floor, knocking himself out.  The clerk, so frightened by the attempted robbery, passed out and hit his head off the counter, leaving him limp on the floor as well.  Jeff called the police, proceeded to clean up the milkshake like the clerk had asked, and waited until the police arrived.  He stayed as long as possible, getting in the way of the crime scene until one of the cops made him leave.  Jeff waited for the local media to show up so he could tell his tale of heroism.

The Astronaut Theory

Astronauts are selected from the elite of the elite.  They are not only tested with rigorous physical and mental challenges, but are also ranked on a scale of how well they could represent human kind in the event that an unearthly encounter were to occur.  Those that ace the physical and mental testing and rank the highest on the human kind representation scale go on to become our beloved astronauts.  These astronauts must then undergo an advanced transformation resulting in above normal self-appreciation.  The transformation is a rare form of irreversible hypnosis.  Upon completion of the transformation, the astronaut can only view events with a positive, self-rewarding outcome.  They are unable to entertain the idea that they could ever be wrong and they truly believe that everything they do is done the best way that it could ever be done.  The idea behind this transformation is simple, if one believes that they are the best, then, they are the best.  This mentality was believed to be the most favorable representation of human kind in the event that an unearthly encounter was to occur.  (It should be noted that this hypnosis is no longer a practice in current astronaut training as NASA and the government quickly realized it simply made the astronauts come off as complete dicks.)


Joseph Kasler is a writer/musician who lives in Pittsburgh, PA. He has been working in the Residential Appraisal industry for the last 10 years. He currently plays bass for Pittsburgh band “Triggers” and also plays numerous instruments in a project called “They were Aliens.” He just recently completed his first manuscript of 26 short stories that offer a comedic view on the personal interactions that occur within our interconnected world. He is married and has a three year old daughter. 

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