I was in Playa del Carmen for the past couple of weeks, and I just recently arrived back in Toronto. My girlfriend and I were staying in the Hotel Riu Palace Mexico. It was a bit of a hoity-toity place that exceeded our budget, but life is too short for budgets anyway. Most of the guests at the hotel were British and German and drank their weight in tequila, Caribbean orange cocktails, and cerveza. I drank mojitos. Lots of them. I was rum punched all vacation. It’s the one punch that I’m cool with knocking me out.
We did what any vacationer does when they stay at an all-inclusive hotel: eat, drink, read, relax, and swim. I don’t suntan. I’m pale. When the sun kisses me, I turn red. I hid under umbrellas and showered in sunscreen every single blazing day. The shade saved my skin. The umbrella was my best friend. I sipped mojitos, swam in the perfect ocean, and lived my best damn life: palm trees, the Gulf of Mexico, alcohol, and hot, lazy tropical weather. Paradise.
One night my girlfriend was tired from sipping too many blue and orange coloured cocktails, so she went to bed early. I was feeling pretty damn rum good, and I didn’t want the evening to end, so I decided that I would go into the city.
The moon was full and tropical storms filled the air with thick, heavy moisture. The high winds would come with thunder and torrential rain and then the sky would open up again. There was an uncanny David Lynch sort of feel in the air that evening.
I walked through the piano bar and into the lobby and left the hotel. There were cabs waiting to bring tourists into the city, so I got into one and asked the good man to take me to 5th avenue.
Playa del Carmen is a tourist city about an hour drive to Cancun. 5th avenue is where all the action is. I got out of the cab and started walking along the old cobblestone road. Locals were harassing me as they do to try and take whatever American dollars I have in my pocket. They’re hungry. I’m money. I get it.
Every thirty seconds someone would ask me if I wanted to buy some Cuban cigars, which is really the icebreaker to their next question: “you want any weed, gringo?”
I decided to get off the tourist beaten track. I turned down a side street. I was feeling pretty hungry and thirsty, so I wanted to find the perfect hole in the wall for some good food and cheap beer.
I was walking for close to a half hour when I realized I was lost and didn’t know where the hell I was. I liked that. I passed a couple places along the way, but none of them had the atmosphere I was looking for. Things started to feel a bit dangerous, as Policía would walk by me with their faces covered, which is normal practice to hide their identity from the cartel.
At this point in time, I was starting to get really hungry and even thirstier. I was walking down some dimly lit side street when suddenly the torrential rain started to fall after a loud rumble shook through the tropical skies. I ran down the street as fast as my rum-filled legs could carry me and took cover under an old awning.
I stared out at the street as the rain came down and I noticed the reflection from a neon lit sign in a puddle on the cobblestone road. The sign read: Adivino, which means fortuneteller in English.
I decided since I was stuck in the rain, it would be cooler to talk to a fortuneteller than to stand under some awning. I hurried across the street to the building with the neon sign and went in. The room was dimly lit by candles and creepy organ music played the same three weird notes over and over again. I thought about leaving, but didn’t.
An ominous voice said something in Spanish from another room that was down the hall from where I was standing. The sound from the unsettling voice made me miss the comfort of the resort and all of its mojitos. I knew that I should leave, but I found myself being pulled in the direction of the voice, as I slowly walked down the dark hall and entered the room. The room was black. I couldn’t see my hands in front of my face. I couldn’t see anything. All colour removed, nothing…but darkness.
“Flores para los muertos, Blue Jay…Golden flags you seek.”
Scared, I turned to leave, but the door slammed shut. I knew I was completely fucked now. I tried to think of happy things like mojitos, Bautista’s bat-flip, Joe Carter touching ‘em all, Tony Fernandez’ smile, but nothing eased the fear that ran through me.
The voice whispered again, “Golden flags, you seek.”
“Golden flags?” I asked.
“The prize the Tigers are going to win when they beat the Dodgers.”
“You mean the Red Sox?”
“No.” The voice laughed and then continued, “Dombrowski, Kinsler, Porcello, Martinez, and Price.”
This voice knew baseball, but I still wanted to get the hell out of there. I turned around, stretching my arms out in front of me, and I started to step slowly in the direction I came in from.
“Where do you think you’re going, Blue Jay?”
An unexplainable force stopped me from being able to move.
“You’re going nowhere if you want to find out how to get the golden flags.”
I was sober now. All I wanted was a damn good taco and beer.
“Well,” the voice said slowly.
“Do you want to unleash the beast to good fortune?”
“I really just want a taco and a beer.”
The voice laughed, “Then go and carry your golden flag desire until you join the dirt…but if you want your golden flag dreams to rise from the ashes, you must turn around and trust the crystal.”
“The crystal that will lead you to the creature.”
I stood there for a moment trying to make sense of all of this when suddenly an apparition of Tony Fernandez appeared and looked at me and said trust the crystal. Tony smiled and disappeared. I knew that Tony would not lead me down a dark path, so I turned around and took a step forward. I was trapped in a crystal baseball.
The voice continued to speak to me, “There is a new beast about to be born in Toronto. A beast that brings hope. But the hope it brings has no power against the Ghosts of the Bleacher Creatures.”
“The Ghosts of the Bleacher Creatures?” I asked.
“Yes, young Blue Jay. The Ghosts of the Bleacher Creatures have haunted your franchise since the team was sold to Rogers.”
“And what the hell am I supposed to do?”
“If you want the beast to beat the Pin Stripes, Red Sox, and Rays, you need to deliver a gift to the leader of the creatures and then and only then will the creatures remove the curse.”
“Take this,” the voice said.
A bottle of Labatt Blue appeared in my hand.
“And do what with it?”
“Find the hoser in a green toque with a maple leaf on it, who is wearing a red plaid shirt, and give it to him.”
Before I had the chance to ask another question, the crystal baseball I was standing in fell through the floor and into some weird time warp. I dropped the bottle of Blue and it started to rattle around. Clinking and clanking. It hit me hard in the nose. I was bleeding, but I knew I had to get hold of that Blue before it broke. I quickly snagged it and held onto it as I was hurled through time like a Randy Johnson fastball. After a few minutes of being whipped around, I found myself standing in old Exhibition Stadium. The bottle of Blue…safe.
George Bell was down on his knees in left field with his hands raised to the sky. Tony Fernandez was running over to him to high five him. And there I was in center field, a part of that moment. The crystal baseball, gone.
Fans were running onto the field passing me like I wasn’t even there. I stood still cradling the bottle of Blue that the voice gave me. I started looking for the hoser in a green hat and a red plaid shirt. I kind of wanted to join the celebration, but I knew that the future of the Jays organization was this bottle of Blue.
I looked around everywhere in search of the leader of the Ghosts of the Bleacher creatures. I couldn’t find him anywhere. I ran over to the bleachers and looked into the stands. I noticed a guy in the crowd not celebrating. He was wearing a green toque and a red plaid shirt. I hopped the fence and ran up the bleachers to him. He watched me as I ran toward him. I got to him and handed him the bottle of Blue.
“Thanks, eh.” He said.
I looked at him and nodded. The leader of the Ghosts of the Bleacher Creatures reached out and grabbed my arm, “The beast shall reign.” The creature cracked open the Blue, jumped the fence, and celebrated with the rest of the creatures.
I stood there in awe watching this piece of history and all of the great Jays from yesterday celebrate when I noticed Tony Fernandez staring up at me from the field. He looked at me and gave me a thumbs up and then his eyes turned to blue and he started laughing hysterically. Everyone on the field stopped celebrating and turned around and looked at me. They started to slowly walk towards me. The opening bass chords to Michael Jackson’s Thriller filled the air.
…Happy Halloween, hosers!