JASON BELL'S LESSON
Loorie was a geek! A jerk,
a creep! He couldn't run. He was so fat you could hardly tell if he
was standing up or lying on his side. If you hit a ball his way, it
was as likely to fracture his skull as he was to catch it!
What I always liked best was to slide
straight into him when he was playing second base. You should
have seen his face! Fear city! Man, I'd laugh for five minutes after
Especially when my friends Mike and
Bradley were around, I liked to think of endless new ways to make
Edward cry. I'd laugh at him when he struck out, or say "Hey,
Edward!" and when he'd turn around toward me, throw the ball
at him as hard as I could.
I should tell youunless you've
already figured it outthat I, Jason Bell, am probably the best
athlete in my third grade class at Forest
Day School. Jimmy Peters is up there
with me, or close, but there's nobody else.
It comes easy to me. I can run the
fastest, throw and hit and kick the farthest! I'm always chosen
first or second for gamesusually first. Edward
Loorie is always chosen last, and sometimes the game even starts late
because neither team wants to take him. Usually a teacher says one
team has to.
I've been making fun of Edward since
we were both in preschool. We've been in the same class all that time.
Nothing happened to change any of that all those yearsuntil
one day last week.
We were on the softball
field at lunch. Edward was the catcher this time. At bat, I hit a
long drive over the center fielder's head. I knew I'd probably make
a home run out of it.
I rounded third base just as the center
fielder let go of the ball, throwing it to Edward to try and get me
out. Anybody else but Edward might have had a chance. But with him,
I knew I was home safe, and that there was time for a little
Half way between third and home, I
shouted "Hey, Edward, here I come!" and started
screaming like a banshee. Edward looked up at me with that terror
in his eyesa sitting duck.
It was almost too easy. I threw
myself at Edward, screaming even louder. I crashed into his chest
as he totally forgot about the ball and it sailed past him.
But all of a sudden,
I wasn't on the playing field anymore! Or not our school blacktop
playing field, at least! I was on some beautiful, grassy field in
the center of a huge,empty stadium, and in front of me was someone
who may have been fifteen feet tall, dressed in a white flannel
baseball uniform and holding about a dozen bats against his rightshoulder.
"Know who I am, kid?" he
asked, looking at me in a nonchalant way. His cheek bulged with a
huge wad of gum as he talked.
"I'm the Spirit of Baseball,"
he said very impressively, his voice echoing off the stadium walls.
"I keep watch over all baseball playersyoung and old, big
leaguers and schoolboysall the time." He said
it like the voice of eternity was speaking.
“And you know what?" the
Spirit of Basebal went on. "There’s one thing I’ve noticed. Some
players are really good at sports. They can hit and run and throw
with the best. But when it comes to being good sports"he
looked straight at me when he said that, with a look on his face like
he’d eaten a whole lemon—"they have a few things to learn!"
"Some day,” he continued—and as
he said this last, the expression on his face softened to one of great
kindness—“every one of em thanks me."
And then he was
gone. Or I was gone! I was back on the school field. I'd hit
Edward pretty hard! We were both lying on the ground in a cloud of
dust. "Get up and play ball,
sissy!" I heard a voice say. "Ooooooooohhhhhhh,"
groaned another voice, close to tears. "Why do you keep picking
And then I realized it. The voice close
to tears was coming out of my mouth! The other, bullying
voice was the one from the other kid!
I'd had my eyes closed all this time,
but now I opened them. The first thing I saw, looking out from them,
was my own body stretched out there on the groundwith a gigantic
belly protruding from under my t-shirt!
I'd always been completely fit! How
was this possible? I looked up. Standing above me, taunting me, wasme!
I mean, someone who looked just like me, Jason Bell. Somehow,
during the time I had been standing in front of the Spirit of Baseball,
someone had switched me into Edward's body, and Edward into