No Runs, No Hits, No Errors

By Jane Greensmith
www.janegs.com

Copyright © 2004.
 All rights reserved.

Chapter 1

 

Kathleen was repacking her trunk for the second time when Harry called.  She should have known something was up when he spent more time than usual on pleasantries.  Yes, she told him, she was actually graduating summa cum laude…in art history.  Yes, she was still coming home for the summer before heading down to the University of New Mexico where she was going to pursue a master’s…in art history.  No, she didn’t have a job lined up for the summer…yet.   

Kathleen Kavenaugh was not about to admit to Harry Kinsley that she wasn’t actually planning on working that summer.  A nice relaxing ten weeks by the pool at the Juniper Hills Country Club, soaking up Colorado sunshine under several layers of sunscreen was to be her reward for sticking to her guns and getting her bachelor’s degree in just four years.  

And then, wham, he snookered her without warning.  She should have been on her guard, she scolded herself later, but she had been distracted when she realized that Harry’s phone call meant that she would probably have to repack her trunk yet again.  Kathleen never could think straight when Harry Kinsley was giving her the third degree.  

“So, you can fill in for Lindy as office manager at K-B-K this summer while she’s off on maternity leave?”

“Lindy’s pregnant?”

“Lindy’s seven months pregnant, Kath.  I thought by now you might have picked up on the symptoms.”

“I’m a hundred miles away from Juniper Hills, Harry, in case you haven’t noticed.”

“You’re home every two weeks to get your hair cut.”

“What can I say? Dirk’s the best.”

“You notice when your hair is a millimeter too long, but you haven’t noticed that Lindy, who is practically part of the family, is about to have her first child?”

Kathleen sighed and gazed at the ceiling of her dorm room, bracing herself for the lecture she knew would follow, the one Harry was so adept at giving, the one that involved her thinking more about others than herself.

“So, it’s a deal, then.  You’ll fill in for Lindy at K-B-K instead of lolling about all summer.  Thanks, Kath.  You’re a peach.”

While Kathleen was still sputtering, trying to decide how to correct Harry’s manifest misunderstanding of how her summer was going to unfold, he closed with a cheery, “We’ll all be over for your graduation.  Your dad’s asked me to rent a Suburban so that the whole family can drive together and still fit your gear in the back.”

Kathleen feebly said goodbye, hung up the phone, and sadly started taking her carefully folded sweaters back out of the steamer trunk that her mother had given her when she was in high school.  Repacking was inevitable.  As inevitable as Harry Kinsley once more managing to ruin her life.  

#

Kathleen Kavenaugh, prettier than should be allowed and clever to boot, discovered early in life that a smile is a girl's best friend.  Although an indulgent father, a comfortable home, and a nearby mall with no less than ten shoe stores couldn’t make up for the loss of her mother to breast cancer when Kathleen was sixteen, Kathleen was the first to admit that the only thing in her life that really vexed or distressed her was Harry Kinsley. And, true to form, the odious man was at the root of the distressing situation in which she now found herself.  Not less than an hour after Harry had hung up, her father, Byron, had phoned to congratulate her on being such a trooper and helping out at K-B-K for summer.   Loath to appear small or selfish in her father’s eyes, Kathleen didn’t even try to find a way to get out of the jam into which Harry had tricked her. She bit her tongue and didn't suggest that K-B-K might be better off with someone who actually wanted to learn office management.  No, it would be better to just put up with Harry and K‑B‑K for the summer and then escape them all in the pursuit of a master's degree. But, she admitted to herself, she was going to miss mornings at the pool followed by nice relaxing lunches on the veranda. Being scrupulously honest, she acknowledged that she had been looking forward to long afternoons spent reading and chatting with friends, followed by dinner with boyfriends, some new and some old, but all of them smart, good looking, and completely in love with her. But no, Harry Kinsley could never let well enough alone.  

Kathleen shuddered when she let herself think about all that a summer at K‑B‑K would involve. The work didn't scare her--a bit of typing, a bit of filing, payroll, Internet searches, library runs--she could do it blindfolded. No, it wasn't the work...it was everything else.

It was bad enough that her only sister Colleen was married to Jack Kinsley--the second K in K‑B‑K as he often pointed out. Colleen insisted on treating the firm as if it was part of the Kavenaugh extended family, arranging barbecues, birthday parties, and company celebrations with alarming frequency. It was bad enough that her father routinely visited the office to talk shop with the offspring of his late partners and solicit their input on all things Kathleen. It was bad enough that Harry Kinsley had long ago decided to be the older brother Kathleen had never wanted and harangued her endlessly about her choice of study ("Summa cum laude in art history doesn't count"), her choice of clothes ("Didn't Capri slacks go out with Laura Petry?"), and her choice of friends ("Two blondes don't make a right").

But the worst of it was that they were all sports freaks. Every last one of them in that blasted office was nuts about all things sporting--whether on television or in the flesh, whether on the playing field or in the board room, sports was the unifying theme. Even Lettie Bridges, the firm's senior partner, played second base for the K-B-K Trojans and lustily cheered on her teammates as they battled the other teams in the Juniper Hills Park-n-Rec slow pitch league. K-B-K 's trophies graced their lobby, eclipsing the framed degrees and engineering credentials that, in Kathleen's opinion, should have been the hallmark of the firm. Kathleen sighed as she finished unpacking yet another box and tidied her meticulous room. It was going to be a long summer.

Now Kathleen was good at many things. She could pick a fine wine with ease and assurance. She could sweet-talk her way into getting the last room in a sold-out hotel or the last seat on an overbooked flight. She could cook a gourmet meal, sing a solo, recite a soliloquy, plan a trip, and throw a dinner party for twelve. But she could not play sports. She ran like a girl, according to Harry. She couldn't kick a soccer ball, shoot a basket, hit a pitched ball, or catch anything tossed in her general direction. She was pretty good at skating, swimming, ballet, and dance aerobics, but that didn't count, according to Harry. It wasn't that she disliked athletics or was particularly awkward. On the contrary, she moved with grace and agility. But she just didn't get the whole team thing, the whole competitive thing, the whole 'I win, you lose' thing. Friends were for chatting with. Why have friends if your goal was to humiliate them in the name of sports? It was going to be a long summer.

#  

On her first day of work, Kathleen arrived at the Victorian mansion that housed K-B-K Engineering casually beautiful in a peach shorts set, blond ponytail demurely tied back with a matching scarf. She was particularly pleased with her nails--it hadn't been easy finding a polish exactly three shades lighter than her outfit. The office was absolutely dead quiet. Eight-thirty Monday morning, and no one in sight. Computers on, lights on, coffee on. No one in sight.  

She sat down in the foyer outside of Harry's office. She flipped through a magazine. She fixed herself a cup of coffee. Eight forty-five--still no one. She called Colleen. Got the answering machine. Colleen was probably already on her way to the pool with the kids.  Kathleen groaned again--it was going to be a long summer.

Nine o'clock. The back door burst open and the office filled with grimy, sweaty bodies, laughing and thumping each other on the back, teasing and jostling. Kathleen closed her eyes in agony. Harry halloed at her over the hubbub. "Hey look everybody. Colleen's kid sister starts today. Say 'hi' to our newest rookie while you queue up for the shower."

Harry shook Kathleen's hand and grinned as she wrinkled her nose at the touch of his sweaty palm. He explained that they had softball practice Monday mornings.  Had he forgot to mention that?  Anyway, Mondays were always crazy around there. He showed her to her desk and told her to stay put while he got cleaned up. Then he remembered that he'd forgotten to call Lindy to ask her to come in to show Kathleen the ropes. Would she mind making the call herself? Kathleen minded a great deal but held her tongue and glared at Harry as she flipped through the Rolodex on Lindy's desk and picked up the phone. Maybe Lindy would have some advice for her on how to survive a summer with a bunch of sports lunatics, but then she remembered that Lindy always won at horseshoes during company picnics and was forever organizing bowling outings. Surely, Harry wouldn't expect her to pick up such tasks.  He couldn't! The mere thought of bowling shoes made her queasy.

As it turned out, Lindy was willing to come in and help Kathleen get organized, though she didn't really feel it was necessary. She had left a game plan on her desk.  Wasn't it there?  Kathleen replied that she didn't know what a game plan was but would appreciate some detailed instructions.

Lindy laughed good-naturedly and welcomed her to the team and thanked her for pinch-hitting for her while she was benched. Then she walked her through life at K-B-K.  Her last piece of advice was to not mind Harry too much--"he gets a charge out of throwing a curve ball once in awhile. Just show him that you can hit a standup double, and he'll let you swing for the fences." Kathleen's head was starting to hurt.

Kathleen's head was still hurting at the end of the week. She had been told not to "drop the ball" on the Fordyce contract. She was encouraged to "play hardball" with the computer vendor when the new PCs Lindy had ordered were found to be still on backorder. She was high-fived and congratulated on her awesome "slam dunk" when she finally figured out the payroll software and was able to communicate effectively with the bank and ensure that everyone got paid. By Friday, Kathleen was so thoroughly disgusted with sports talk that she felt that she had been drop kicked, punted, and hit out of the park. She didn't even feel like a victory lap when she was able to get the copier working again, and merely scowled when told to "go deep for a long pass" on a project that simply required her to type up a report and do a couple of Powerpoint slides.

Brother-in-law Jack didn't help her mood when Colleen dropped by to chat with the gang. Of course, she had to let it slip that Kathleen had three dates lined up for the weekend. Jack Kinsley quipped "Hat-trick!" and at that moment Kathleen truly did wish that Harry would choke on his Power Bar as he guffawed.

And then the worst happened. She was minutes away from the five o'clock dash to her car. She had her purse slung over her shoulders, and was being slapped on the back by the K-B-K engineers and thanked for her hard work when Harry leaned back in his chair, propped his feet up on a desk, flipped the cap from a Dos Equis into the trashcan and said, "See you at the backlot seven-thirty sharp, Monday morning."

Kathleen's jaw dropped as she gaped at him, speechless, his audacity almost incomprehensible.

He took advantage of her silence to continue. "And make sure you bring your glove. You do have a glove, don't you?"

At this Colleen chirped that Kathleen could use hers. Kathleen replied that she would do no such thing as she had no intention of playing softball, baseball, foosball or any kind of ball. The rank and file loudly informed her that she had to because she was filling in for Lindy and Lindy was their catcher and their first game was in two weeks and they had a scrimmage with the Legal Eagles next week. Rob Haskins, one of the junior engineers, told her that he was picking up Lindy's catcher's equipment over the weekend and would have it and a jersey for her Monday morning. Kathleen told him that he would need to recruit another catcher.

"Joanna can play," Lettie Bridges volunteered. "She's back this weekend and is staying all summer, you know. The poor girl is simply exhausted from her shooting schedule. Carnival on St. Thomas just sapped her energy something awful. She needs a rest and so I told Mother that Joanna just had to come home for the summer. 'Mother,' I said, 'no one in this world can take care of our Joanna like you can.' I promised Joanna that we would do nothing but let her play all summer long. And she just loves to play ball with the boys. Always has, you know."

That's not all she likes to play with the boys!  Kathleen thought maliciously. But before she could relinquish the catcher's position to Lettie's swimsuit-model niece, Joanna Bridges, Harry Kinsley went and ruined everything once again. He just couldn't let it pass. No, he had to go and say "There now, Kathleen, Joanna will play with us and you can be the number one cheerleader instead."

Without thinking, Kathleen's reflexes got the better of her and she was appalled to find herself agreeing to play on the team. "Oh, all right, I won't let the side down if you really want me. But I warn you, I can't hit, throw, run, or catch."

"You’re right," he admitted with a grin. "But Lindy couldn't either. All we need is a warm body. We never have a play at home plate anyway." And with a wink he tossed Kathleen one of the dozen or so nerf footballs that littered the office. Kathleen, of course, fumbled the ball and finally escaped to her car and her weekend, leaving the echoes of loud applause and cheering in her wake.

Jack Kinsley picked up the ball that Kathleen had fumbled and slowly walked over to his brother. "I hope you know what you're doing," he said quietly, handing the ball to Harry. "The last time Kathleen Kavenaugh and Joanna Bridges were in the same room together, you ended up in the hospital."

"The emergency room," Harry corrected him. Then he added, a small smile tugging at the corners of his mouth, "It's going to be an interesting summer, Jack."

"I repeat--I hope you know what you're doing."

 

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