Inspired by Stephen King's Christine, Faith and Fear reader Joe Lauzardo offers us an alternate take on what everybody assumes will be the last days of Shea Stadium. He sends it, he says, out of “a spirit of loyalty” to our lame duck of a ballpark — and maybe a little for “revenge” toward those who would destroy it.
It is night. Shea Stadium is watching its apparent replacement in the close distance and its own subsequent demise in the very near future. The empty ballpark resonates with the faintest sound of cheering, perhaps screaming. Are they cheering for the Mets? The Jets? The Beatles? Clearly it is the sound of a day that has passed.
Shea on this night, however, doesn't merely sit and watch for long. A howling wind is the next sound to be heard. It blows in from left field, off Flushing Bay, and it thrusts corrugated steel plates — one blue, one orange — into the middle of the diamond.
A blue plate? An orange plate? Of all the materiel gathered at the construction site on the other side of the blue outfield fence, there is nothing matching that description. From where did these pieces appear?
This is no chance wind, no accidental accumulation of steel. No, it is as if the park is trying to rejuvenate itself supernaturally.
The ground begins to rumble uncontrollably. The stadium lifts itself from its foundation, then crawls from side to side knocking down fixtures and lights.
Approaching the structure planned as its replacement, Shea's open end surrounds the new ballpark and, with a quick shudder and the sound of crashing metal and rumbling concrete, Shea Stadium devours Citi Field like a late-night snack.
As daylight breaks, the sun sheds light on an apparent reversal of time.
There is only one stadium!
It is adorned with hundreds of those blue and orange steel plates, looking as it did in April of '64. Off its shoulder, the departed subway extension, gone to make way for Citi Field, is somehow back up. It, too, emits its pristine 1964 vibe.
Everybody gasps at what the sun has revealed: an apocalyptic confrontation that has rocked the Flushing night. Two ballparks, one winner. They see it from the 7. They see it from the Grand Central. They see it from LaGuardia.
It is November. Demolition of Shea is to begin this morning. But there is Shea, standing as if new. And there is Citi, nowhere to be seen. Otherwise all is 2008 — nothing else is disturbed.
Everybody starts thinking the same thought: those idiots tore down the wrong stadium — typical Mets!
Into the confusion rushes a man we shall call Mr. Citi. Mr. Citi has overseen construction of the new temple, the temple that has now vanished from the face of the earth, let alone Flushing. He wasn't going to take this lying down.
His eyes set red with anger, Mr. Citi grabs a wrecking bar from a nearby chop shop and marches across 126th Street. If Shea is going to wreak havoc on his masterpiece, Mr. Citi is going to wreak havoc on Shea.
Or so he thinks.
As it is November, Shea is gated shut. So Mr. Citi goes after the gates. He bangs his way inside Gate C to the maze of escalators and ramps. The scent overwhelms him. It is paint. Fresh paint. Fresh paint from, yup, 1964.
Everything inside is new, too. New as it was, that is. Shea Stadium has returned to its youth. His fuming gives way to stunned silence. Everywhere he looks, Shea classic has replaced new Shea. It's got its whole future ahead of it.
Mr. Citi sprints up the first ramp he finds and tears out onto the field itself. It is indeed Shea Stadium from its World's Fair heyday. It is the most modern ballpark in America. The scoreboard is enormous. The public address system broadcasts a jazzy “Mexican Hat Dance”. The seats are a veritable kaleidoscope of color, starting with the yellow wooden chairs that are closest to the grass. The outfield walls are a calming sea green. And beyond those walls? Parking Lot B, of course. Nothing else. Citi Field isn't there. Who would build a new stadium in a parking lot of what is, as far as the eye can tell, a new stadium? A beautiful new 1964 stadium, at that?
Nobody, that's who.
Mr. Citi is left alone to contemplate the irony. But he doesn't have long to think, because he hears a crashing sound emanating from the home team bullpen.
It's a golf cart.
It wears a Mets cap.
It is driverless.
Yet it is speeding his way.
No ushers, no security, no union carpenters or contractors can save him now. It is Mr. Citi versus Shea's bullpen buggy.
The buggy is about to have its way with him.
He is cornered by the first base dugout.
He falls into the cart.
The cap snaps down on him.
The buggy takes a U-turn…
…across the infield…
…and then the outfield…
…and through the centerfield fence and out the parking lot.
The bullpen buggy is headed for the docks of the World's Fair Marina.
The faintest of splashing sounds can be heard over the happy organ.
Next April, the buggy is back in the bullpen, the fans are back in the seats and beautiful Shea Stadium, the Big Shea of memory, is open for business.
With plenty of parking.
Next Monday, we shift from the supernatural to something marginally more reality-based and dissect the official Greatest Moments at Shea ballot.