Jhasi Tantharis waited a little anxiously for her date to show up. She was early, hanging around the box office. “Meet you there, nineteen hundred hours, sharp, on December twenty-first, 3088,” had been the message. It was still eighteen hundred fifty-three hours, still early.
But she was a bit anxious. A first date! It was all so very exciting. Plus, she had never been to a baseball game before. Even though it was December, it was still baseball season. The season now went on all year long. No matter where you were in the galaxy, or when in any given year it was, you could always see or attend a baseball game.
They had met at a holiday party, a few nights previously. He was an engineer, dragged there by a coworker, a fellow named Archie Leach who had been looking to make time with a Trill named Parul Odan. Leach had needed a wingman, so Kevin O’Connor had been, at the last minute, pressed into service.
They’d talked, they’d laughed, and they’d made the date. Leach had struck out, but O’Connor had connected. And now Jhasi was getting a little anxious as the minutes ticked by.
Suddenly, there was a parting of the crowd. “’Scuse me! ‘Scuse me! Comin’ through!” bellowed a newly-familiar voice. He came up to her. “Been waitin’ long?”
“No, it’s all right. Shall we go in?”
He eyed her. Her little pink dress was hardly suited for a baseball game, and it looked like mustard stains or other possible ephemera might not come out in the first washing. But she looked good, no doubt about that. “Sure, but you need a cap first. You gotta have a cap.”
“Why? I have never been to one of these games before.”
“Never? Huh, well, what if we do rally caps? You won’t be able to do that. Here,” he steered her over to a stall where there were caps on display. “Pick whichever one you like.”
“Uh, that one.”
“That’s the other team, Dar –” he stopped himself. “Can I tell ya somethin’?”
“Sure,” she said, feeling along and selecting a cap from the correct team’s display. She was blind, like all pure Aenar, but she had a separate sense about her that allowed her to understand where she was in any given situation, and what was around her. She needed no guide.
“I call most women Darlin’. Wanna know why I do that?” She nodded affirmatively. He continued, “It’s a bad habit I got. It’s ‘cause I don’t know their names or I don’t remember or I don’t care, most o’ the time. Not very nice, I know, Josie.”
She put on a cap that had holes cut out to accommodate Aenar or Andorian antennae. Her white hair was in two pigtails. The whole thing made it appear as if she had four antennae, instead of two. The cap was too big, and it covered her face. She laughed. “You got my name wrong!”
“Aw, Christ! I did?”
“Yes. It’s Jhasi, not Josie.”
“Huh. I was wonderin’ why a nice Aenar girl like you was named like you was a honky tonk angel.”
A better-fitting cap was selected. “I like it.”
“We’ll take it,” Kevin said to the Romulan manning the stall.
“I don’t just mean the cap. I mean the name, too.”
“Oh, well you’re a generous woman, Jhasi.”
“I’m just a honky tonk angel.”
They walked into the stadium.
The baseball game was slow, as games sometimes can be. It was a human team, the Ganymede Hunters, versus an Imvari team with an unpronounceable name that translated to the Brawlers. The Imvari were tall – most of them were over two meters – with bluish skin and orangey horns around their faces. They appeared to be formidable opponents, but their pitcher did not have terribly good control.
“I don’t understand much of this,” Jhasi said, “the pitcher turns and most of the time it is all right, but this time, it was what you called a balk?”
“Yeah,” Kevin said, “they’re not allowed t’just go walkin’ ‘round the field. If it doesn’t look too purposeful, they can get dinged for that.”
“This is very complex. Thank you for explaining it.” She pulled the cap down a little.
“Well, I know you’re tryin’ hard to understand it.” He looked at her, white antennae moving, contrasting with the cap, tiny hands clutching her PADD on which he’d had a program downloaded as he futilely tried to teach her how to score the game. “I, um, it’s not all that great with me. I got plenty things wrong, y’see.”
“I eat too much – that should be obvious.” They were sitting in a section with variable seats that could be made as narrow or wide as needed, and he needed for them to be very wide indeed, seeing as he weighed close to a quarter of a metric ton. “I’m lazy when I can get away with it. I’m impatient a lotta the time. I don’t suffer fools gladly.”
“But I don’t chase ever’thing in a skirt like Archie does. I keep my nose clean. I called my mother regularly when she was still alive, God rest her scaly soul. I don’t help little old ladies across the street, but I do try not to be a total ass most of the time.”
She smiled a little from under her cap. “Well, I am messy. And I know almost nothing about baseball.” Her antennae shifted to the left in tandem for a second. “And I do not contact my family as often as I should. And I give up too easily on some things.”
He took her hand, the tiny pale thing in his huge one, with the shiny green scales on the wrist. “Don’t give up too easily on this.”