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The Natural

Bernard Malamud

Batter Up! Part VI

Batter Up! Part VI

Batter Up! Part VI, page 2

page 1 of 2

Roy, elated after his tryst with Iris, enjoys a rowdy trip on a train with his teammates. He sleeps restlessly, however, blaming it on all the food he has eaten. While Roy has been hitting fantastically, he has also started eating—a lot. He eats gigantic amounts of food, only to want more.

Roy carries a letter from Iris, but he has not yet read it. He now finds the idea that Iris is a grandmother "terrifying" because he feels "as young and frisky as a colt." Soon Roy is back to dreaming about Memo. Soon, Memo comes to visit him in Boston; though Roy is initially wary, remembering how she gave him no support during his slump, he feels sure that "once he got an armlock on her things would go better." Memo reads his mind and tells him not to be angry with her; she just cannot bear to be around people "who are blue." Roy makes a move on Memo, but she resists, implying that she is in her period—an implication that Roy completely misses, and has to be spelled out for him.

The Knights continue to climb in the rankings and soon are vying for a first- place spot. The fans love Roy but he does not appreciate them in return: "He hadn't forgotten the dirty treatment that had dished out during the time of his trouble…the more they cheered, the colder he got to them." But the fans continue to cheer Roy, as do most of the sportswriters, who see him as a "throwback to a time of true heroes."

Max Mercy, however, continues to dig for dirt, and the journalist is frustrated by the distinct lack of dirt on Roy. One day, Max discovers a picture of Roy as a clown—one of Roy's many odd jobs—and prints it, much to Roy's annoyance. Later, Roy gets back at Max by pretending to be a German waiter in a restaurant and spilling many different food items all over him.

Roy goes to Memo's apartment one night and discovers her in the company of Gus Sands. The two are playing cards, and soon Gus and Roy begin shooting craps. At first, Gus does very well, but by the end of the game he owes Roy $2,100. Gus writes Roy a check and then implies that he could get Roy a lot more money by sabotaging games. Roy angrily refuses the idea. In the kitchen, Roy makes a pass at Memo, to which she responds indifferently. This indifference leaves Roy unsatisfied and Gus suspicious.

The next day, to everyone's surprise, the Reds succeed in breaking the Knights' winning streak. Soon, several teams successfully beat the Knights, and they begin to fall in the rankings. The fans turn on the team, and Pops becomes ill again. Even Roy's hitting declines, though not yet into a severe slump. However, when the first-place Pirates come into town, the Knights manage to beat them all three games. From then on, the Knights play in a very touch-and-go manner, winning some, losing some. When it all dies down, the Knights have a three-game lead on the Pirates, so it would take a combination of three Knight losses and three Pirate wins in order for a tie to occur.

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