The title tale is a relatively short story, a sports story with a horrible, dark secret. Joe and I found this book as a present for my dad, a longtime King fan and fellow baseball enthusiast. He read it quickly and tossed it to me, commanding me to read the second short story in the brief book, “Morality.” It really stuck with him, that second story.
“Blockade Billy” is good; a quick story that builds and builds, but it does not really feel like a “King” story. This was my dad’s take on it, being much better read in his works than me, and after thinking on it a bit and comparing it to “Morality” I would have to agree. A strange small-time Iowa catcher fills in for an injured Major League player, Faraday of the long-forgotten New Jersey Titans…forgotten because of the catcher, and what happens during his brief time in the pros. It has an old-timey sports radio feel to it: “Top of the ninth and The Doo’s looking at the top of the lineup. Strikes out Malzone…strikes out Klaus…Then comes Williams, old Teddy Ballgame. The Doo gets him on the hip, oh and two, then weakens and walks him” (21). It’s heavy on baseball and low on suspense, but the ending does pack something of a wallop.
“Morality” feels like a micro-study in bad impulses. The premise is much more King’s signature: a down-on-their-luck couple is offered $200,000 to commit a sin by proxy for an elderly minister’s amusement. The story draws the offer out, then escalates quickly, ending with little fanfare, making it all the more appropriate and unsettling.
Overall, a good little summer read. I read most of this at work the other day while running the community softball league concession stand. Somehow the legend of Blockade Billy rings a little truer listening to bats crack as you shell sunflower seeds with your teeth.