Skip to main content

A Dream, a Cat, a Baseball Bat

Dean Traylor is a freelance writer and teacher who writes about various subjects, including education and creative writing.

Originally posted on

Originally posted on

Part One

“You’re dreams and goals are never out of reach," Mr. Hardy bellowed to his impressionable, wide-eyed fourth-graders. “You can do anything and become whoever you want.”

It was near the end of the school year and Mr. Hardy, the most professional and longest tenured teacher at Wayne Elementary School, had reached his favorite time of the year when he could distill his final educational philosophy on his out-going group of 10-year-olds. He hoped that someone, anyone, he had for nearly 10 months would walk away from his classroom dreaming big and striving to reach the stars after his inspirational speech.

He craned his head to and fro, scanning the faces of his students, and sensing he had another class ready to catch the inspiration bursting from his lips. “When you go out there, you’ll be told your dream is impossible. They’ll say it can’t be, or shouldn’t be, done. But, you know what?”

“What?” one small, excited voice squeaked. There was a moment of light snickers and chuckles before the class fell silent and waited for Mr. Hardy to reveal the answer to his own question.

“They can’t tear you away from your dreams if you truly want it and are willing to pursue it. And you know what else?”

Again, the students held on to hear more revelations from Mr. Hardy.

“It doesn’t matter what it is,” he said. “It shouldn’t matter what your dream is just as long as you set out and fulfill your destiny to obtain it.”

The speech was over as the chorus of whoops, gleeful hollers, and the beat of clapping hands brought a cheerful song to the room. Many of the students were in awe. Many were lost in thought. And some knew what they wanted to do immediately after that speech.

Billy was deeply affected by that speech in more ways than one. An epiphany was swimming in his psyche. He sat there, at his table staring at it as if that glare was going to bore a hole through it.

Just then, the bell rang; recess time was now at hand. The students filed out, grabbing their rubber balls, jump-rope and other necessities for recess as they headed for the door.

One student, Billy Revel, the pint-sized phenomenon of the local little league, remained seated, ruminating on the words he had just heard.

Billy was built for success; the type of kid who would fulfill Mr. Hardy’s hope. However, Billy was deeply affected by that speech in more ways than one. An epiphany was swimming in his psyche. He sat there, at his table staring at it as if that glare was going to bore a hole through it.

“Billy?”Mr. Hardy said when he saw his favorite student still at his desk.

As if a switch was turned on, Billy broke his stare at the table and shot it up at his teacher.

“I’m alright,” Billy blurted.

“So how is it going for the future short-stop for the Dodgers?”

Billy didn’t really know how to answer that. Although he loved baseball, something didn’t feel right about making it a career.

“Oh,” he said shrugging off the moments of doubts, “I’ll be there before you know it.”


“Just remember what I’ve said, “Mr. Hardy added, “It shouldn’t matter what your dream is. Just as long as you set out and fulfill your destiny to obtain it.”

Another thought passed through Billy’s head. Something about a cat he saw earlier in the day.

He shook his head in agreement: “Yeah,” he said. “You’re right.”

Recess had started and Billy really wanted to get going. He got up, and hurried for the door.

“Oh, one last thing,” Mr. Hardy called.

Billy stopped and turned, almost ready to say: “now what?”

“Your bat?”Mr. Hardy said pointing at the bat in his hand.

“Oh yeah,” Billy said, heading back to place it next to his backpack. Kids were not allowed to carry bats onto the field during recess unless supervised by a teacher or as part of a school function -- such as the annual Student verses Teachers softball game. That was scheduled for the following week. After school, he was going to practice for that game.

“Thanks Mr. Hardy. I guess I can’t really depart with it.”

He exited the classroom, avoiding Mr. Hardy’s glance.

Mr. Hardy watched him leave, thinking that there goes a boy with a big dream to fulfill.


Part Two

The cat was on Billy’s mind. So much so that he skipped practice after school. He was far from the field, seated alone on a lunch bench. He had the bat in front of him, occasionally letting it fall and bounce off the concrete. The aluminum bat made a clean, metallic ping every time it hit and bounced.

He loved the feel of the bat in his hand; he loved the weight of it, and the way it bounced off the surface of anything he hit with that bat. The vibration created when using it to hit a ball - or in this case, the concrete - sent a sensation through his hands, up his arms, and to his head.

He loved to use that bat. And he knew he’d always love to use it for as long as he could lift it up and swing it with all his might. But, when he thought of baseball as a dream, something didn’t feel right. It felt like that wasn’t the path he wanted to go. It didn’t feel like the dream and goal he wanted.

He started thinking, wondering what that dream was. Then, a strange queasy feeling came over him. His palm oozed droplets of perspiration while his heart pounded against his rib-cage. He had this feeling earlier in the day when he cut through an alley between a residential area and a strip-mall.

That morning, he raced out the door of his house. He was going to be late, thus ruining his perfect record of showing up at school on time. He had only a few minutes to spare, and he had to make up the time he wasted eating sugar-laced cereal that was far from being part of anyone’s nutritious breakfast. Billy rushed down the street until he came across the alley; a short-cut that cut a path almost directly to Wayne Elementary.

Billy ventured between the high, fortified walls of the residential area and the cold, white slab walls of the strip mall’s back side. Half way through it he passed by a dumpster where he heard a pitiful cry. He stopped and swung around to see a mangy cat stumble through the trash overflow at the foot of the bin.

He locked sight with the cat’s yellow eyes. He could tell the feline was on his last leg of scouring the bins, trashcans and merciful handouts. It trotted a few feet towards him, and then sat on its haunches, letting out strained pleas for food.

He didn’t know what to do. Billy’s lunch was tucked away in his backpack. Then again, that didn’t matter; he wasn’t going to feed this cat. Revulsion raced through his veins as a searing feeling raged in his head.

The tip of the bat hit the concrete, again. This time, the sound it made was right. The jolt it sent through his hand was right.

“No,” he thought. “I can’t do that. That’s not right.”

He shook the thought out of his head (or so he thought) and fled as fast as he could out of that alley.

The mental image of that cat was running loose inside Billy; so was that dark, confusing thought that first made itself known in the alley. All those images and notion chased one another until it came to a crash before turning into an epiphany.

The tip of the bat hit the concrete, again. This time, the sound it made was right. The jolt it sent through his hand was right.

He slipped his bat into his backpack and placed it on his back. The handle jutted out of its big pocket. It made him look like he carried an unsheathed samurai sword,


Part Three

Practice, Billy surmised, was over. Whether anyone missed him, he didn’t care. His teammates didn’t matter; neither did Mr. Hardy and the other teachers.

He sneaked off campus and avoided the baseball field. Soon, he found the alley, stood at its entrance for a moment, and then sighed nervously before entering it. Halfway through, he came across the mangy cat.

It emerged from the trash and filth under the garbage bin. And, when it saw Billy, it pleated a pitiful meow.

Billy stood there, letting the cat plead. All the while, Mr. Hardy’s stirring speech kept playing in his head like a broken record.

“You can be anything you want to be.”Billy whispered. “You can be anything you want to be.”

Suddenly, the clouds in his head cleared and clarity came to fruition.

It was time to help the cat.It was time to fulfill his dream. He reached behind and pulled out the bat.

The sensation of that bat hitting its mark sent a sensation through his hand and body. The thrill was remarkable.

To dream, he thought. To be anything you wanted to be.

Part Four

Now it all felt right for him. He saw his goal in the crimson bat, and knew that he'd go beyond the alley cat to bigger things.That day, Billy grabbed hold of his destiny and decided what he wanted to be; his darkest thoughts became his destiny.


© 2016 Dean Traylor

Related Articles