Local Vegan Writer: Billy Leonard

Billy Leonard, our Treasurer for Whangarei Vegans, is a 42-year vegan who was lucky to be around at the time of our group’s resurgence 51/2 years ago. He is the author of a novel Diamonds & Rats and a novella Streccano. Whilst D&R was produced initially as an e-book a few years ago, it was released in paperback only last October. Like Streccano, the novel deals with the subject of “extreme animal liberation”, as the author calls it, and is available from The Piggery in Walton Street and Book Inn in the Kamo shops.

Please note this excerpt contains sexual content.

Diamonds & Rats

SATURDAY 2 APRIL

Somewhere behind the caravan lagged the busload of Regals, following it not because they were angry over the losses but because their next 2 games were scheduled for Briney Stadium.

During the 3-hour ride Linda Leigh still had the previous day’s passion play on her mind. She was annoyed with Bert because he thought it was so damned funny and could not seem to grasp the gravity of the subject matter. He, of all people, a minority-grouper, should have some understanding of the struggles of women in a sexist society. Isn’t it, after all, like being Black in a racist society? So this was the chink in his armor. Oh, well, she thought, now I know he’s not perfect. Am I any less fascinated with him? Not really.

Paul, Dick and Ron took turns guessing how many people would come out to Briney to watch the Liberty’s 1st home game of 1988. The question was wide open, because the fact that it was merely an exhibition game was offset by the fact that the admission was free. The idea that it was only a practice game in a minor league was countered by the incredible interest the Libs had generated in local baseball through their winning ways during the previous summer. So miraculous was their drawing power when the fans realized they had a winner on their hands that tiny Lake Charles watched more AA baseball than any other AA city in the country over the last half of the 1987 season. There was just no telling who would come out to see them in an exhibition game today.

Upon their arrival at the familiar edifice, the crew tumbled out of their motor homes and were met by the Colonel, who had been waiting for them in the comfort of his stadium office. There were happy handshakes all around. Bob asked Everett what the painters were whitewashing off the walls at the stadium entrance. The old man explained that he had come in to work Wednesday morning and found that somebody had spray-painted “Go back to Miami, animal lovers” and “Where’s the beef?” on the walls and that it took the Parish 3 days to get somebody out there to cover it over.

“If I ever catch those punks, I’ll show ’em where the beef is,” growled Ron. “Now, Ron,” Jim chided in a schoolmarm’s whine, “we’ve already tawked to you about keeping dat t’ing in yaw pants.” That broke everybody up, but the sentiment that was gradually disappearing under another blanket of white paint nagged at some of the ballplayers’ minds.

As they filed into the home clubhouse, Jim thought of D.J. when he saw the shower stalls. He sidled up to her, wrinkled his brow and said, “No good son of a bitch?” She burst out laughing due to the lateness of the complaint.

It was good to be home. Those who had made the move to the Lake Charles area were anxious to check on their apartments, but game time was too close at hand to permit free time. The Regals’ bus pulled up and the players changed and hit the field, where the Liberty were already loosening up. Some of the Regal returnees chatted with Ron and Bobby G. and a few of the others.

One thousand eight hundred and forty-three fans showed up to watch the freebie, which was won by the home team, 6-1. Most minor-league teams don’t draw that many people for a regular season game on a Saturday afternoon. Frank hit the 1st Briney homer of 1988 and Barry took his turn against Baton Rouge and pitched well, his typical low-hit, low-strikeout control game.
For many of the Liberty, though, the highlight of the day was not having to sleep in the motor homes at night. A team meeting was held after the game, at which time the revised residential arrangements were nailed down. With 11 players moving into their apartments a great deal of elbow room was opened up in the fleet of RVs. Most of the vacancies worked out quite well. In the case where #3 had 3 occupants and #4 had been completely vacated, Bobby G osmosized into the latter and gave Willie and Mack more room in the former. Rick was left with #2 all to himself, Gil Majors was left alone in #5, Dick and Paul remained in #6 without Ron, Barry had #7 to himself, and Linda Leigh found herself all alone in #8. It was as good a time as any to learn how to drive it, she thought.

After a month on the road, 3 to a vehicle, the refreshing homestand set-up was a most welcome relief. The only ones unaffected were Sid and Roy in #1 and Wes in his camper. Wes, despite his wealth, was uninterested in taking an apartment in Lake Charles, preferring instead to tough it out on wheels. Apart from his island shack a third of a world away, the camper was his only home. He seemed to love the simplicity of the situation but it was something that few others could understand. Some doubted he had much money at all.

Jim set Frank up in his guestroom. They talked long into the night about everything, including Sid’s upcoming 50th birthday. It was a topic of thought shared by many that night, as a kind of self- imposed homework assignment. The milestone was only 3 days away and most of the players felt that whatever was decided for him had to be something big. Frank recommended getting Sid laid, but Jim reminded him that Mrs. Wallengren probably wouldn’t appreciate that.

Faye Wallengren was the other half of a remarkable marriage now in its 28th year. It seemed inconceivable to friends and family and some of the ballplayers that Sid could leave his wife for 6 months, seeing her only on 3 brief occasions when she flew out to share a hotel room with him for a few days at a time. She must be coming out for his 50th birthday. But what were her own plans for the 2 of them? Jim had to know because he wanted to help make it a conjugal visit they’d never forget. He resolved to find out the next day, either by getting Roy to phone her or by getting the number from Roy and calling her himself. Frank thought the idea was lame but, then, that was Frank.

Finally alone in the motor home, Linda Leigh stripped down to her underthings and took a tall glass of grape juice from the fridge. She allowed just a bit of moonlight through the curtains and a beam washed over her legs. It was a moment of great relaxation. The motor home was actually quite attractive, and suddenly so spacious without the 2 big men around that it seemed the lap of luxury. Her mind was active, as it generally was at night. She reflected on her conversation and laughter with Wes, who had left her and returned to his camper only minutes before. He had come to check on her, not as a favor to her parents but as a friendly and caring gesture of his own. Wes has always fascinated me, she thought, and I’m sure I’ll learn more about him this summer than I have in all of our previous visits combined. She had wanted to speak freely about her emotions and desires to him but thought the better of it and limited herself to more mundane topics of revelation. At one point she’d asked him to play a song for her – he had always entertained her when he had come out to the house – but he declined for the time being, apologizing for having left his piano in his other suit. She thought very hard about animals. There was so much suffering, so much work to be done. It made her cry, as it often did, and she sought escape. She began thinking about Norbert, and she shifted over to his bed and grasped his pillow. Fantasies about his physique gave way quickly to sexual yearnings. She undid her bra, pretending they were his large, strong hands at work. He was on top of her now, easing her panties down over her thighs. Imagining the weight of her catcher upon her, she clutched her breasts and masturbated. Then, as sweat dried from her body, she curled up and slept.