82. The Proposal

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It was early the next morning that Henry found himself sitting in Frank Bell's office with Big Willy at his side. Then again, he supposed it really wasn't that early. It sure felt that way though. His head was pounding something fierce. It had taken quite a few more drinks, and talking long into the night, before Big Willy had agreed to come with him to speak to Mr. Bell. Willy had insisted he wouldn't be wanted on the Pioneers, and that the meeting would lead to nothing but rejection and embarrassment.

"I don't want to plead for a job, Henry," Willy had stressed. "Mr. Bell will turn me away, and I'll be humiliated."

But Henry had reminded Willy over and over of how much he loved playing baseball.

"Let's just try," Henry had said. "Do you really want to give up the chance to play baseball again? You could be walking straight past a good opportunity!"

Willy had eventually caved.

Now, here they were, sitting across from Mr. Bell, a perplexed expression on his face. Henry noticed how Mr. Bell kept looking Big Willy up and down. Willy's size surprised most folks. It usually took people a few meetings with Willy to get used to his imposing frame.

Frank Bell had already heard their case, but he had remained silent. Now, Henry found himself on edge, waiting to hear what Mr. Bell would say.

Finally, Mr. Bell cleared his throat, sat up a bit taller, and said, "I don't know, Henry. I'm not sure how I feel about this proposal. We've had enough trouble just having one black player on the team. It may be too much of a headache for everyone to add a second colored player to our roster."

Henry leaned forward. "Mr. Bell, Willy's a natural athlete. He could play catcher or first base, or even third. And he's tough too. He won't put up with any nonsense from the umpires. "

"I'm sure Willy is a fine player," Mr. Bell said. "But that doesn't change the color of his skin. I think it's going to make things too tense to add a second black player."

"Sir, can I say something?" Willy asked.

Frank looked over at Willy and nodded. "Sure."

"So, Henry's got this habit of coming up with some pretty crazy ideas. This idea of his right here, it's as crazy as any of them. But there's one thing about Henry's ideas: they usually work out."

Frank crossed his arms and leaned back in his chair. He looked back and forth between Henry and Willy as if evaluating his options.

If Henry didn't know any better, he'd say that Mr. Bell was considering it.


Author's Note

This chapter and the next are short transitional chapters. They will lead up to a critical test for Big Willy. Then the story will begin the next leg of the race with Success and Conflict hot on its trail. [pun intended]

Also, getting these short chapters out helps me in a big way. I'm going to work out the details of Chapters 84 and 85, which are two tougher ones to write. Then I'm going to go through the rest of chapters all the way to the end and just do some cleanup.

And if those future chapters are good enough, I might just release them without any further revisions.

If I can do this, I might just have a chance to complete "Color" by late December or early January. Hehe, dare to dream!

On that note, I'll see you again soon. Thanks so much for your continued support. ;-)

Take care!

Tom

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