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April 17 , 2009

Soul Takers


Fielding Schmelling is a rookie soul taker for the Houston Astros. That is, he recruits the dearly departed for the Astros’ after-life fan base. The regular season is purgatory … while a World Series win means entrance to heaven for the team’s faithful. God needed a more stream-lined, purification plan for the souls in heaven.

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Aboard the #1 Evans/Murgatroid Bus of post-life transit, Fielding explains the Baseball Bible to Ashley, the first soul in his charge … and how Jesus Salvador, the incredible infielder from San Pedro de Macoris – the cradle of shortstops – began the religion. God chose Jesus as commissioner of the game.

There are trips to Chief Forkball for his sacred spin-the-bat ceremony … New Orleans’ Mambo Mami and her spice rack mumbo jumbo … and a dunking in Coward’s Creek … all preparation for Ashley selecting her RBI (Registered Baseball Institution).

Fielding falls hard for Ashley, but his bumbling and stumbling ways cause her to opt for the Chicago Cubs instead. Heaven’s not big enough for the two of them and the Cubs 106 straight years without a World Series is fine by her.

Or is it? Tagging along with Fielding and Ashley is the devil disguised as Billy Z ... and Gladys, a sweet geriatric from the hospital. Billy Z used her to gain entrance on the Evans/Murgatroid bus.

When Ashley gives poor Fielding the final kiss-off, he discovers she's the great-great granddaughter of the infamous Fred Merkle. His 1908 brain cramp on the base paths – Merkle’s Boner – allowed the Cubs to win a late-season game, eventual pennant and World Series unfairly … thus cursing them ever since.

When Fred and Gladys go missing, Fielding and Ashley suspect Billy Z … who by now is the Cubs director of player personnel and making one sensational move after another … sending Chicago to first place.

Ashley attempts to gain info from Billy Z in Merkle’s Bar … when Gladys turns up disguised as a hooker, trying to relay a message to Fielding. In the confusion, Ashley and Gladys go missing. All appears lost. Fielding looks inward … and decides to go to Iowa and the minor leagues. He hopes to return to the grass roots – the fundamentals – of his faith.

The baseball season’s in the stretch drive. Time is running out … as Fielding tries desperately to find his religion so he can find his friends … and stop the Chicago Cubs from winning the World Series and keep Satan from stealing heaven!

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