A swoosh and a grunt. The sudden thwack of metal on leather. Another grunt, then the sound of running and a yell of pain.
"Are you OK?" I yell out the window to the Lizard of Fun, whos in the yard with a catchers mask over its face. "Whats all that noise?"
"Im practicing my pop flies," shouts the Lizard, tossing a baseball into the air. "Either that, or practicing for my next trip to that S&M club. I havent decided yet."
The Lizard isnt exactly the physical fitness hardbody type, so I decide to investigate before it gets into further trouble. I hurry to the yard, where the fall air tastes crisp as a fresh apple.
"I was thinking of trying some of that powdered protein stuff you can buy at those health food stores," says the Lizard, pumping its biceps. "I hear that if I drink enough protein shakes, Ill look as buff as Mark Wahlberg. Preferably in Boogie Nights."
I shudder. "Whats with the sudden jockstrap kick?"
The Lizard takes off its catchers mask and looks at me like Ive just come out into the daylight after a summers worth of "Jerry Springer" and "Oprah" reruns.
"Hello, freak girl, havent you heard? Theres a whole big stadium over there thats very soon going to be sitting empty. And you know Im not one to let an opportunity like that slip by ungrabbed. Thatd be like seeing Winona Ryder in Victorias Secret, and not even checking out what shes buying."
"What were you doing in Victorias Secret?"
"Never mind. Tiger Stadium is about to be vacated. Emptied. Cleared of all Tigers and the people who watch them lose. Dont you see the potential here?"
I nod, then shake my head. "Yes. No. What are you talking about? I thought someone was going to do something with it. Turn it into a shopping mall or loft or some such trendy urban thing."
The Lizard nods sagely, doing its best Yoda impression. "Clever is she. But slow on the swing. Ball right past her goes."
"Okay, what do you know that nobody else does?"
"Promise you wont tell? Not anyone? Not even those people who read your newspaper?"
"Yeah, sure. Get on with it."
The Lizard hitches up its striped baseball pants and looks pleased with itself. "Ive got a plan for the reuse of Tiger Stadium. Never mind what you hear. This is the real deal."
"Oh yeah?" I say doubtfully as the Lizard drags me down Michigan Avenue to Trumbull.
"See that?" it says, pointing to the Tiger Stadium marquee. "Imagine it, this time next year. Itll say, Lizard of Funs Pleasure Palace. Or Loungin Lizards Bar and Grille. I havent decided yet."
I fend off a roving ticket scalper ("No, thanks. I dont want to see the final game. I can already guess who wins.") and listen as the Lizard details the pleasures it plans: The infield will be a dance floor. The radio box will become a DJs booth. The dugouts will be a chill-out room (home) and a cigar bar (visitors). Left field will be fitted with a giant waterbed, where revelers can romp or snooze. Right field will feature a swimming pool; center field, a Jacuzzi big enough for 300.
The ramps to the upper deck will become a giant water slide, while the seating areas themselves will be transformed into affordable housing for the people who dont want to have to travel too far to party (or to sleep after partying).
Tiger Plaza, where the fast-food restaurants are currently located, will stay much the same, but the kiosks will sell different items: Shots of single-malt scotch, veggie burgers and Hello Kitty boxer shorts are just a few of the possibilities.
And of course, thered be a big roof over the whole thing, so that even in the middle of January, therell still be a warm place to play.
The Lizard gets an ecstatic look on its face. "Wont it be great? Its my very own field of dreams."
"Um, the city put out a huge call for big-time investors to pay for their idea of a Tiger Stadium redevelopment," I say. "How do you suppose youre going to fund your alleged pleasure dome?"
"That, freak girl, is why I was practicing my pop flies. Well get every celeb who ever played in a baseball movie Madonna, Geena Davis, Kevin Costner, all of them. We could even get Ronald Well dress them in kicky little outfits like the one Im wearing and sell tickets so people can watch them play a few innings against me. Either that or get the celebrities to pay me not do that, which might be more profitable."
"One question. Does your uniform really need the stiletto heels?"
The Lizard looks down at its feet. "You mean these arent what they mean by spiked cleats?"