Opening Day

Sophia is dressed in her best black sheath. Her hair, fastened by a tortoise shell clip, falls like Niagara over her shoulders. “You are not dressed to go yet,” she says.

Petrus turns the radio off. “I cannot go,” he says.

He is behind his desk. A scattering of papers, his mobile, and a sharpened pencil in front of him. He does not get up. A thin breeze blows in through the open windows. She looks at him, picks up his pencil, fingers it and puts it down again. She sees him watching her.

Office work for Petrus, as does most work in the country, ceases for one week twice a year. The week of Opening Day celebrations in the winter and then one in the summer for the World Series.

Each hiatus comes, for Petrus, as a welcome respite. The work is not hard but there is a lot of it and there are days, like this one, that the trickle of resentment he has for being seen as the boss’s lackey, the number two, becomes a rushing stream. He likes the work fine. La Paz too. The air, the people, and baseball.

There is more, though, that he wants.

By the time he arrived in Bolivia, North American and Japanese baseball leagues had run their course. They’d become lackluster. Money and corruption ran the game. Fans stopped coming. Live-streaming continued remotely for a few years. Interest waned and then died.

South America had become the Mecca for baseball. Sophia says South American players have exuberancia, habilidad y pasión. Her Spanish is licked by the melody of her Quechua Incan tongue.

As the wife of Morris Dumbrowski, Dromedary Partners’ CEO, she gets to go to all the games. Front row seats. The first base side. The players touch their cap brims, averting their eyes from her, as they pass her going into the dugout. She sees the lust in their respectful demeanor. She is a beautiful Bolivian woman. Petrus would give anything to spend one full night with her, even knowing his life would be worth nothing if her husband discovered the extent of her infidelity.

El Alto stadium was built before the turn of the century. From it you can see Lake Titicaca to the east and Mount Huayna Potosi due north, at over 19,000 feet.

Dromedary Partners designed and built it. Their funds, in Dromedary dollars, according to Petrus, were stable, unlimited, and unbound by any governmental agency or currency regulations. They’re welcomed the world over. You could buy anything with them.

By 2070, the West was collapsing from within under the weight of unabated debt, rampant disease, repression, and militarism. Rebellions, like Whack-a-Moles, were rife and sparked by poverty, drought, and famine. Borders were besieged by rising seas and populations destabilized by climate change. Coastal ports were inundated and the once-crowded low-lying financial centers were decimated. Gone was the West’s hegemony.

The richest of the rich, the one hundredth of one percent saw the Dromedary plan as the only viable path of survival for them.

The final phase of the Dromedary Andean Initiative was the acquisition of enormous tracts of land in each of the highest cities in the Andes: from Bogota to Cuzco, to La Paz, and Arequipa.

Dromedary money paid the local authorities to do their bidding. Residents were relocated to affordable homes in lower elevations. Farming practices were green and productive. Municipalities upgraded infrastructure. Roads and water supply were secured. Irrigation, sanitation, hospitals, exclusive high-rise residences, and baseball stadiums were erected in the very heart of each city.

No stadium was under 7,661 feet in elevation. By agreement, every resident of each city would be given free life-time season tickets to every home game. Only indigenous players from the surrounding areas were permitted to try out for the teams. Competition for a spot on the team was intense and competition among the teams in the All-Andean Baseball League was fierce.

“Why do you treat me this way?” she asks him. “If you will not go with me, I will stay here with you. I will tell him to go alone. I will say I am having my time. He will not want me with him.”

“You can’t do that. His spies will find us.”

“Then I will give you my ticket and tell him I have lost mine. He will get me in and I will meet you in the utility tunnel under the field. They’ll never look there. Right under their narrow noses.”

The Dromedary Partners message to potential buyers was clear. Why put up any longer with the stagnating ignorance of governments, the pretense of democracy, and the exorbitant extortion of lobbyists whose allegiances shifted like changes in a batting lineup? The G20, the G7, and OPEC powers were all, or would be, underwater, both figuratively and literally. And, what was needed that you could not buy in Quito or Cuzco? Advertising and broadband transmission of the games brought in blockchain profits that made wealthy investors more wealthy and more secure in their unassailable mountain retreats than they could ever hope to be anywhere else.

Dombrowski and Dromedary understood Maslow’s hierarchy. What mattered to people no matter their wealth was that they had food on the table, a safe and secure roof over their head, and the hope of a better life for their children.

In the community, Dromedary employed every person who could work. And Dromedary baseball paid for all of that. The world watched every game. Followed every player. The league was the kindling for the fire in their hearts. And Dromedary was the purveyor of that fire.

Petrus had a fire of his own.

“I will not meet you. Not today,” he tells her. “I will not be with you until I have you, openly, and mine alone.”

“Petrus, please.”

“No,” he tells her.

He watches her leave. The sway of her hips.

He turns the radio back on and waits to hear the crack of the bat and the thunderous cheers, and for his mobile phone to ring.

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