Radiation Canary: Perfect Pitch

In honor of the hardcover release of The Rise and Fall of Radiation Canary (available now from Amazon, B&N, or wherever you buy books!), a brand-new “bonus track” story featuring Lana Kent. This takes place during their “off” year of 2010 before their live album, when the band was focusing less on recording and more on just enjoying their newfound celebrity. This doesn’t spoil any larger plot points of the book, it’s just a fun little side story about what the girls got up to one Saturday afternoon.

Perfect Pitch

by Geonn Cannon


Copyright © 2014 Geonn Cannon

A publicist from the team came and got her when it was time, and Lana nervously followed her up out of the bunker to the field. On either side of the ramp people were crowding and hanging down with pads, albums, and Sharpies, and she paused just long enough to promise she would come back and sign whatever they wanted her to sign once she was done. “If you still want me to, that is. I might embarrass myself thoroughly out there and you’ll want nothing to do with me.”

Lana had no idea what she was doing there. The team called Cartography Records and asked if one of the band members would be willing to throw out the first pitch, with Lana being their number one choice. Lana was honored, and terrified, and excited at the prospect, but now that the moment was upon her she was starting to question the wisdom of agreeing. The next few minutes could be horribly humiliating.

She followed the woman with the clipboard and the headset, the uniform of someone Who Knows What Was Going On and stood nervously beside her at the edge of the grass. Above the seating section directly ahead of them was a massive Jumbotron screen that was currently showing clips from Radiation Canary videos and Settle In, Seattle! appearances. There were so many people in the stands. Not as many as there could have been, but the empty seats did nothing to help her nerves. There was a peculiar stereophonic effect to their cheering: directly behind her she could hear people as if she was standing among them, while the crowd on the other side of the stadium sounded hollow as they echoed across the field.

Lana rocked from one foot to the other, bouncing on the heels of her feet and rubbing her hands together. She was wearing a white Mariners jersey with her last name emblazoned above the number 8. Her hair was pulled back in a ponytail. Someone handed her a mitt and she slid it on, pausing to be sure it was on the right hand. She was right handed, so the mitt would go on the left. Or… wait…

Her confusion was interrupted by the echoing, god-like voice of the stadium announcer. “…throwing out the ceremonial first pitch, please give a warm welcome the lead singer of Radiation Canary… Lana Kent!”

The publicist ushered her forward, and Lana ran out onto the grass. She had been practicing from the moment she got the call: oranges, apples, anything vaguely spherical that fit into her hand got thrown. She measured out ninety feet and threw until her entire arm was sore, until she consistently got it across the hypothetical plate. She was only going to get one chance at it. Every eye in the stadium was on her as she went to the pitcher’s mound and assumed the stance. She took the ball from the mitt, thumped it against her palm a few times, and then eyed the catcher.

“This can go one of two ways,” Karen postulated on the ride to the stadium. “You can throw an absolutely perfect pitch and no one cares, or you can throw one of the most humiliatingly bad pitches in the history of the sport and get tons of exposure from late-night comics.”

“I feel so much better. Thanks.”

Codie had said, “Just remember to throw at home plate. You throw at home plate, not second or third. If you turn around before you throw, you’ve done screwed up.”

Now she was on the mound, and the catcher was holding his glove out. It seemed like a thousand miles away, a lot more than the distance she’d marked out in her building’s parking lot. She exhaled slowly, well aware that she was surrounded by hundreds of people who didn’t give a crap if she pitched well or not. They just wanted to see the game, and she was currently holding them up.

Lana planted her feet shoulder-width apart. She shifted her weight slowly, brought her arm up and around, and she felt the ball slide off her fingers. Her momentum carried her forward but she stayed upright, years of dance teaching her to maintain her balance even as her back foot lifted off the ground. The catcher rose slightly out of his crouch and extended his arm, and by some minor miracle, the ball landed directly in the pocket.

Her relief was so great that she made a fist and pulled it back toward herself in victory as she jogged to meet the catcher halfway between the mound and home plate. He put his arm around her and they posed for a photographer from the newspaper.

“Not too bad, right?” she said.

“Actually pretty good,” he told her.

She grinned for the picture, and once it was snapped he signed the ball for her. She took it, thanked him, and jogged back off the field where she would sign autographs for everyone who wanted one. She was on the access ramp for most of the first inning, taking outstretched programs and baseballs, signing her name on popcorn bags and spare bits of paper. Some people took pictures of her with their phone and she tried to stretch so they could be in the picture together.

By the time the crowd of autograph seekers evaporated, Codie had appeared at the bottom of the ramp. She clapped as Lana walked up to her.

“Not too bad, Kent.”

Lana linked an arm around her friend’s waist. “I didn’t embarrass the band. Didn’t get us exposure all over late-night TV, either.”

“Well, you can’t win them all. How’s your arm?”

“Good. I’m glad I don’t have to keep practicing, though.” She rolled her shoulder. “Where are Karen and Nessa?”

“They’re holding our seats. I thought you might want an escort so you didn’t get snapped up by any recruiters after they saw you pitch.”

Lana laughed. “I wasn’t that good. Maybe the minor leagues.”

“We could start our own all-woman baseball team.”

“Or we could just watch A League of Their Own again.”

“Well, we’re definitely going to do that.” She held up her hand. “Well done, Kent. You did the band proud.”

Lana slapped Codie’s palm with her own. “Come on. Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jacks.”

Codie chuckled and led her toward the concession stand.