Evil vs. the Angels of Stony Island
by Jim Heaney

“Now, please!” I pleaded. “Okay,” Tommy said.
“Go deep for a pass.” I ran out straight, looped to the right, turned and saw Tommy cock his arm and throw. The ball sailed high and a little too far to the right. I picked up speed, stretched and caught the ball on my fingertips, pulling it close to my stomach. yes! I whispered to myself. A cheer went up from the girls as I continued to run around the corner of the building that sepa- rated me from them. I ran up the street, breaking imaginary tackles and eventually scoring an imaginary touchdown. I saw Tommy running behind me. I slowed up to wait for him. As he approached, I heard him singsong,
“Jimmy, Jimmy, he’s our man. If he can’t do it, no one can.” I cringed.
“That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard.”
“Aw, c’mon Jimmy, you’ve got to admit it’s fun.” I denied it, but I couldn’t help remembering over and over how Bobbi Sawicki looked at me as she stood giggling with her friends.

NOW THAT THE BOYS AND GIRLS had discovered one another, there was a special feeling in the neighborhood. even I got caught up in it. All the guys I ran with had a girl who “liked” him. We “liked” them back. The girls managed the whole thing, what there was of it, which pretty much started, and ended, with personalized cheers. Some girls were prettier than others but it didn’t really matter because the girls and boys barely got close enough to each other to hold hands. After every football game there would be a party at someone’s house. Typically the boys would hang out on one side of the basement rec area and the girls would giggle among themselves on the other side. When enough time went by, and after plenty of prodding, one of the eighth-grade boys would ask “his” girl to dance. The first one to take the plunge would be Tommy, because he was our quarterback, and therefore, our leader.
After he broke the ice, we would all ask girls to dance, but by then, it would be time to go home. For the week following the party, our heads would swirl with talk of the girls in our lives. This was all new to me, and as a result, I started to want to look better, and dress more neatly. St. Ailbe students wore uniforms, which for the boys meant navy blue pants, light blue shirts, and navy ties. Wearing non-uniform pants was not allowed. each year my mother would let out the waists in Joe’s old pants and take up the hems so I could wear them. She tried, but they never fit me right.
One day when I was walking home from school, one of the neighborhood guys teased me about my uniform pants not fitting, something I already felt self-conscious about. Hand-me-downs from Joe, the pants were too loose at the waist and dragged on the ground in back. Worse, they had no crease down the leg; they just hung loose, rolling in and out, all the way down to my shoes. But I was stuck with them; all the Heaney kids were growing so fast that it was hard for my parents to buy us new clothes when we needed them.
One day, my grandfather stopped by the house and announced he was taking Joe, Johnny, and me shopping for pants. At first my father protested, saying it wasn’t necessary, but then he looked at what we were wearing and reluctantly agreed. Unfortunately, our first stop was at a store that carried navy pants that matched our uniforms.
“Not more blue!” I cried. “your father said that they have to go with your school shirts,” my grandfather said.
“But look at this pair of green pants! Can I at least try them on?” “Your father said blue.” He selected a pair of blue pants from the rack and I went to try them on. While I was in the dressing room, I decided I hated the color blue. I came out and showed my grandfather and the sales clerk how they looked on me.

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