"Mayki! Let me pass through!"
The guard turned to Sammy, waiting for his verdict. Sammy's eyes met Héctor's. "Let him," Sammy told the guard. Héctor opened his arms. Sammy opened his. In the melee they embraced. "Tell me, my brother!" Héctor croaked. But already Sammy, about to be crushed by the mob, had let go, and the guards swept him away.
Late that night, after the long parade through San Pedro de Macorís, the teary speech, the ovations and toasts, Sammy told a friend that of everything that happened on that Day of Joy, seeing Héctor free had been the best. Just a few days later Sammy confirmed that he was going to buy Héctor a house, a nice one in a middle-class neighborhood. It would soothe the wound Sammy carried through his historic quest and overwhelm Elsa, who believed her husband had nothing but grief to show for his years of teaching boys a crazy game, and give Héctor something solid to prove who he is and was.
But it's not the house that Héctor will talk about 30 years from now, when people are sitting around reminiscing about all the embraces and high fives and finger kisses back in 1998. No, he will tell the story—the one he is already perfecting—of the day Sammy came home with 66.
"I did it!" he kept saying. "I hugged him! He hugged me! It was a very big hug! His body is so hard, so strong!" In the shadows of the prison wall, in the autumn after the Summer of Long Balls and Love, Héctor insisted on demonstrating this hug, in case anyone had the slightest doubt. But there was only air in front of him, and so he closed his eyes, grinned from ear to ear and squeezed himself.