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when a commercial for the new hit reality show called “Surprise Party.” The show took celebrities and would throw them a surprise party at their very own mansions. They had famous actors, singers, comics and even a football star like Andre Risen. This was perfect since Shannon’s husband was a second baseman for the Boston Red Sox. Shannon called the show and they cherished the thought of having a birthday party for the all-star and two-time World Series winner. This was just the type of thing Eric would appreciate. He loved surprises. He was addicted to the show “This is Your Life” and the new Yankee reality show “Yesterdays” despite his natural inclination to automatically hate anything with the team. He was born and raised in Boston after all. Shannon never could find a way to surprise him. She tried constantly. She was always showing up at the field or trying tom scare him or throw him a party but he knew when something was up. He was very perceptive about people, but this time she planned to find a way. Johnny Messier was supposed to help Shannon sketch out the perfect birthday party and the show would pay for all of the expenses. They drove up to the Boston Beer Works and discussed the celebration in detail over Fenway Pizza. During the course of the conversation, they had planned out the most essential things first, starting with the drinks—champagne, Jack Daniels, Samuel Adams and Guinness. After all Boston is a drinking town. She knew she wanted florescent lights over the dance floor since most of the Red Sox were going to be there and they always had a dance competition. The Dropkick Murphy’s agreed to provide the entertainment and music for the festivity – under the condition the Red Sox closer, Jonathan Papelbon, does his famous Irish jig he was known for doing after winning games. She even discussed the gift she was getting for Eric, a ball dated for the World Series the year baseball went on strike. Over the next few weeks, Shannon spent a lot of time with Messier going over the details. So much in fact that Eric was noticing, even while he was at away games. Eric
would call and she wasn’t around to answer and for the first time in their relationship, Shannon neglected to return his phone calls. Eric hated how disengaged they were and came home from an away game at Fort Lauderdale to surprise his wife with a dozen red roses, only she wasn’t home. He knew something was wrong then, Shannon hardly ever went out and never before without mentioning it to him beforehand. He grabbed a Millers Light and sat down on the brand new cream-colored couch in his fancy living room. It was past midnight when he heard a car pull up and saw Shannon was with another man and one he didn’t recognize. His thoughts were confirmed and he was already infuriated. “Where the hell were you?” he snapped. “I was out with a friend. What is with you? I thought you were at an away game?” she saw the beers and thought better than to let me answer the question, “I thought you stopped drinking?” “Answer my question, where the hell were you?” he threw his Millers Light bottle against the wall behind Shannon, “With a friend is not an adequate response, especially when you are dressed like that!” “Dressed like what Eric? It’s a skirt and a Red Sox shirt. Honey, chill out. What’s wrong?” she spoke quietly. “What’s wrong? You always answer when I call your cell phone. You always tell me before you go out or when you make plans. Since when the hell do you have a life of your own? You are my life and therefore, you consult with me before making the decision to go out with strange men,” he didn’t even realize what he was saying. He wasn’t a type of man who thought of his wife as his, was he? “Eric, you’re drunk. Why don’t you go to bed?” She fixed her caramel-colored hair and tried to look busy and as if she wasn’t shaking. She didn’t know what to do. She had never seen Eric so upset. Not even when he accused his own teammate of trying to impress and seduce her. She started to walk up the stairs. “No! You are not walking away from this. Don’t even attempt to walk away from me” he said so impassioned and with such conviction that anyone could tell how serious he was. Shannon had become his best friend and she had stuck by him
throughout his shoulder injury when he thought he would never be able to play baseball again. And now after years of marriage, she was having an affair. “Okay,” she spoke as she sat down on the steps. She knew better than to tempt him, “What is it you want from me? What do you want me to do, Eric?” “I want you to stop acting all sanctimonious and innocent. After everything I’ve done for you, you have the audacity to go out dressed in tight outfits with strange men and you don’t have a damn thing to say for yourself,” he spoke before opening up another beer. Shannon convinced herself that he just had too much to drink. Shannon used to drink and they both decided to lay off the bottle. “Eric, please don’t do this. I love you. You know that. Just put the bottle down,” she started as she carefully approached him. She put her hand on his cheek. She couldn’t tell him about the party so close to his birthday so she decided to take another route and play the part of the victim, “Eric, please stop acting like this. I should have told you and I won’t wear these outfits anymore if it upsets you so.” “Oh?” he asked before carrying his wife upstairs and making love to her. “So your birthday is in two days. Do you want to go out to lunch? We could go up to Fins in Salem and walk along the Warf like we used too” asked Shannon as she laid in Eric’s arms. “Sure. I have a night game tomorrow so I’ll get home that morning and we can live,” he said after thinking about it. “Happy Birthday,” spoke Shannon when Eric came home a week later. They didn’t talk much since the fight but Shannon knew after tonight he would understand. The plan was to go to Salem while Messier had the party set up and the cameras on. “Come on, let’s go.” “We’ll take my car” spoke Eric with a smile. Shannon didn’t ask why, although she would find out the moment they arrived at Winter Island. She turned on the radio and played the Glengarry Bhoys CD. Shannon couldn’t wait to get there, but they would never make it. Eric decided to take a detour to the scenic route, where they could be alone. * * *
Eric pulled into his driveway and immediately turned off the headlights. He looked in the side and rearview mirrors and was relieved to see that there was no one there. Cautiously, he made his way up the stairs and quickly but silently took his keys from his jacket pocket and opened the front door. “Surprise!” everyone yelled as they jumped out from behind the living room furniture. Eric, panic stricken, looked around and starting laughing maniacally. Surprise was a perfect word for the moment. The TV cameras had captured Eric’s reaction as he entered the house and had broadcast it live to millions of households worldwide. A gasp went up through the assembled friends, family and teammates when they saw Eric’s white baseball jersey covered in his wife’s blood. Pandemonium reigned. There were screams of horror, and somewhere in the room Mike Lowell’s wife fainted, but none of the commotion registered on Eric’s tormented mind. Oblivious to all around him, he continued to laugh. No one in the room seemed to get the joke. He had beaten his wife to death with a baseball bat over a simple misunderstanding, and the evidence was caught on camera. The cameras kept rolling as the police arrived and took the Red Sox second basemen away. The footage would prove as damning as the Rodney King videotape. The tabloid press would eat it up: a former all-star baseball player goes mad and murders his wife. The trial would no doubt get as much coverage as that of O.J. Simpson. Meanwhile, Eric Kelly sat in his prison cell with the smile of a mad man on his face, forever lost in a room full of balloons, birthday presents and blood. He always did love surprises.
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