To the Playing Field

Cabbages and Kings

Even in the stacks one was unprotected from the brash intrusion of the band's noise as it paraded through the Square, and as Lucius repositioned himself familiarly in his alcove, irritation crept over him.

Fortunately, to protect his eyes from the outside glare, he had long ago secured a cubicle removed from the windows. As the librarian had cheered him, it was "one of our less gay places." But the disturbance in the Square had been enough to take the full sharpness off Lucius' concentration, and before he knew what had happened, his mind was on that business down at the stadium.

For relief, he turned to the small oilcloth parcel in front of him, and after wiping his hands on his fresh bookbag, he pushed back the clock and bookrack and set to. Inside was a finely cut piece of pumpkin pie, a Halloween surprise from the family. Only through precision and restraint had the slices been made to last so long.

Lucius always found it challenging to try to work after a meal, and again his thoughts went to the game. He had not been since that time his first year, and this would be his last chance. It still was not too late, for Lucius was never one to waste an opportunity, and he always applied for his free ticket and carried it with him on Saturday just as a precaution.

Once a decision was made, Lucius always carried it through ruthlessly, and rolling down his sleeves, he wrapped his fork and prepared to set off. Moments later he went right on out of the library, hardly recognizing the amazed bookchecker as he passed. After pausing briefly to get directions, Lucius made his way towards the bridge. As he made the crossing, he was startled, but not put off, by a great roar from the stadium.


Arriving at Section 34, Lucius was directed to go up five rows and find his seat. This was not easy to do, however, for as he edged modestly along the row, he soon appreciated that his place was in use.

"Hey buddy! Fall down!" called a sportsman from the row behind, as Lucius tried to determine exactly where it was he belonged. Understanding the situation at once, Lucius steadied himself and determined to stick it out. He turned to the drinker seated in front of him.

"You ... ah ... excuse me ... my ticket ... check seat ... oh," he observed without result. But soon a chink appeared in the armor, and several people crowded over to allow him a small seat. Looking about him as much as possible without turning his head and making it obvious, Lucius saw nothing but bottles and girls.

Realizing that he was in hostile country, he decided to use his adaptability and fit right in. As his neighbour swung uncertainly against him and dropped his bottle to the cement Lucius ignored the bourbon that covered his Indian Treads and smiled firmly.

"Glad to see you lads still fun it up around here," boomed a cheery grad from behind as he rocked Lucius and his neighbour with friendly slaps on the back.

Flattered by this attention, Lucius decided it was time to really do things properly. There was a little of the Dionysian in Lucius too, and as a vender went by hawking food, Lucius raised his voice, "Please, one frankfurter." He sacrificed the coin and in a moment the frankfurter was his. To his horror it arrived covered with relish. Relish did not agree with Lucius, and he determined to take it home and scrape it off.

Just as he was recoiling from this disappointment, a head turned in the crowd and he saw Miss Schroeder. It was certainly her. Even from where he sat he could see her hair net and notice her attentiveness to her neighbour. Miss Schroeder occupied the place next to Lucius in the stacks, and their relationship was unclear, for they had never spoken. But often when she was out he would slip into her alcove and admire her books. And today she was at the game with someone else.

As if this was not enough, suddenly something happened to the game, and without any warning the band came blaring onto the field. This was more than Lucius had bargained for, and shaking the bourbon and glass from his shoes he stood up and made for the exit, gripping his frankfurter damply.