“Maybe we should just call it a day,” Mike says.
“No,” Miranda says flatly. “We need more material.”
“It’s too dark to shoot now,” Mike says, raising a hand to the sky. “The sun’s been setting for the past hour.”
“It isn’t setting,” Miranda says as if she can reverse time through sheer tyranny of will. “It’s rising. We’ll run these shots at the beginning of the video and say it’s early in the morning.”
Mike has papers to grade. Amanda wants to be an artist again. Natalie and Drago are still up for anything despite the cold and the setting sun. They all look to me, and I point to a worn-out baseball I’ve been eyeing since we reached the bottom of the hill.
“What if we play some baseball?” I say, flipping my guitar over and swinging it like a bat. “Natalie throws the ball. I knock it into the outfield. It lands at Mike’s feet. Mike picks it up, and we all become friends.”
“Perfect!” Miranda says in shades of Ed Wood. “Marc, you stand in the batting place. Drago, you get behind him, and Natalie, you take the ball to the pitching thing and get ready to throw it.”
“Mound,” I say.
I’m not really trying to hit the ball with my guitar. Miranda will just try to perpetrate the illusion that I’ve hit the ball when she edits the video together. At least, that’s the plan as Drago and I take our places in a muddy batter’s box.
“There’s a big puddle here,” Drago says. “So don’t throw the ball directly at us. Try to throw it over that way.”
“Got it,” Natalie says, winding up for the pitch.
Then she throws it directly at us, hitting the center of the puddle with astounding accuracy.
“Can we do that again?” Miranda asks as Drago and I wipe the mud from our faces. “I wasn’t shooting.”
The second, Natalie doesn’t splash us with mud. I swing the guitar, and Drago tosses the ball into the outfield as if I’ve just hit it. When Mike picks up the ball, we all gather around him and start slapping him on the back.
With that, I imagine we’re done – and not a second too soon. It’s starting to get dark, and though it’s only in my imagination, the people who live across the street from the park are peering at us through half-parted curtains as they reach for their phones to call the police.
“Great work, guys,” I say. “I think we can call it a day!”
Curiously, it isn’t Miranda who wants to keep shooting this time around. It’s Mike. And though my instinct is remind him of the papers he has to grade, I keep my mouth shut and hear him out.
“See that tree over there?” Mike points in the direction of a fallen tree on the edge of the outfield. “It’s the perfect backdrop.”
He’s right. The branches arc up and over to form a small cave or a primitive shelter from the elements. It’s easy to imagine prehistoric hunter-gatherers finding it and setting up camp for the night – or breaking camp at dawn, however you want to look at it. In any case, if Mike’s on board, then so am I.
“Okay, team,” I say. “Let’s do it!”
But they’re already ahead of me, trudging through snow, slush, and mud to take their places in beneath the skeletal remains of the fallen tree. When I take place next to them, Miranda tells us all to start dancing. We’re having a great time, she says by way of direction before commanding each of us to strut toward the camera and look into it with our very best diva pouts.
“Keep dancing,” Miranda shouts when we’ve all finished with our close-ups. “And don’t forget—you’re all rock stars.”
In that moment, with the cars whizzing by in the distance and the good people of Henry Avenue watching us from the comfort of their homes beneath the blinking red lights of the radio towers above, I believe her. This is my band, and as the sun sets pink and orange over Roxborough, Miranda’s camera turns us all into rock stars.