Evil vs. the Angels of Stony Island
by Jim Heaney

“One more thing. If your parents don’t help you, it’s going to get dangerous. Evil will oppose you, so listen to your Guardian Angel.”
Just then, the clock struck the first note of twelve. The director smiled kindly.
“Sir, I didn’t let you win at poker,” Jimmy said.
“God will be with you always,” The Director said. Angel watched as Jimmy said good‑bye to the children and walked to the edge of the playcloud. Then, just before he dove into the clouds, he pointed at her.
Angel gazed out into the stars, feeling a bit envious. This was a big assignment Jimmy was taking on. Others had failed at less dangerous tasks. God should have sent her along to help, but it was too late. The decision had already been made. And besides, she was going shopping.
From behind, she heard a slight cough.
“Yes, sir?”
“Jimmy has requested you as his Guardian Angel, and God has agreed. Your job is to guide Jimmy through life. When he comes up against evil, whisper to him the wisdom of things seen and unseen.” Angel was stunned. Her desk was full of paperwork. The Heaven’s Way Social Function was coming up! She had plans! “I’ll have to tell Connie.”
“Connie already knows,” The Director said. “Better hurry. Fifteen seconds…twelve seconds…nine…”
Angel scrambled for her cigarettes.
“You won’t need those anymore,” The Director said.
She dove off the end of the play cloud as The Director continued counting.
She screamed “Good‑bye, Connie” as the clock struck the final note of twelve o’clock.

Jimmy—and his guardian Angel—were born together on May 21, 1954.

I WANTED TO TELL FATHER CZIEZ ADLO that this was one of the dumbest stories I’d ever heard, but— He knew my birthday! Was this story about me? Father Chez became very serious. “I believe you are going to do something great before you return to heaven. Don’t ever forget what I just told you.” I didn’t tell Miss Tormey about Father Chez’s story, but I thought about it as I walked home for lunch. The grown-ups at St. Ailbe’s sure were mysterious. It seemed as if they knew what happened with Larry, but how could they? Then I remembered that the neighbors had picked me out of the class pictures. The teachers would have been the ones to show the pictures to the cops, and if the teachers knew, Father Chez would know, too. But if everybody knew, why didn’t they talk to me about it?



I WALKED THE REST OF THE WAY down Harper and ran up the Ninety-first Street alley into the back yard, up the back steps and into the kitchen. Mom was making bologna sandwiches and hard-boiled eggs for lunch. Joe, Johnny, and Mary Kay waited quietly to eat. Steve was crying in his high chair. Five mouths to feed and my mother was pregnant again. The Heaney house sure was getting crowded.
I hurried through my sandwich because we were having a game of tag in the church parking lot before school started for the afternoon. I flew back out the door and back to school. I came up the side of the building, turned the corner and there it was—the wide open space and the freedom the run. I loved playing tag. Kids were running everywhere.
“Who’s it?” I screamed at Billy.
“David!” he yelled back.
But David wasn’t the only one who was “It.” This was an advanced game because once you were tagged, you were on the other team. There were three guys already tagged from what I could tell. I slowed down and surveyed the playground. Someone might be playing possum. I swung hard to the outside of the lot and almost slipped on new gravel.
I looked down Harper and saw Tommy coming. I ran to the end of the lot but stayed on the grounds; if you went into the street, you were automatically out of the game. I whistled to Tommy that Frank was lying in wait for him behind the steps. He got my signal, stopped short, and disappeared into one of the gangways on Harper. Frank waved me off angrily.
“Chicken!” I yelled. “Give him a chance to run!”
Tommy came back and ran up beside me.
“Thanks,” he said. “Who was waiting for me?”
“Frankie. He can’t catch anyone so he hides behind things.”
“Sissy chicken,” Tommy said. “Who’s been tagged?”
“Everyone on the inner circle.”
“What are you going to do?”
This was an important moment. Tommy was a year older than I was, and he had just asked my opinion!
“We’re going to make them come after us. Let’s move to the middle of the lot so that you can move one way and I can move the other way. It looks like everyone has been tagged except us.”
We jogged to the middle of the lot and took our places. The other guys started to descend on us.
“Make it a good run,” Tommy said. “I’ll go left. you go right.” “See you at the field after school,” I replied.
The other team had set up a dragnet and were trying to force me to the inside. It didn’t matter. I could zigzag with the best of them. I cut to the inside right and lost my footing on the loose gravel. This time I twisted my ankle and went down hard.
“Got ya!” Billy ran up and laid a tag on me, but I was rolled over, grabbing my ankle in pain. All the guys stood over me to see if I could get up.
I stood and with my weight mostly on my other foot, hobbled around for a few minutes.

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