Evil vs. the Angels of Stony Island
by Jim Heaney

RING! LUNCH RECESS WAS OVER . I limped across the play- ground and held on to the railings as I hopped up the steps and into Miss Tormey’s classroom. I fell into my seat. The afternoon dragged on with Geography, Religion and english, my least favorite subject. Directly in front of me, above the blackboard the hands of the clock moved ever so slowly. I kept looking down at my throbbing ankle, carefully moving it sideways, hoping it wasn’t broken.
When the dismissal bell finally sounded, I stood up cautiously and put pressure on my foot. I could walk a little, so I shuffled home, passing all the guys throwing a softball around in the street. No games for me for a while.
My mom was at the sink washing dishes when I came limping through the kitchen door.
“What happened to you?”
“Twisted my foot playing tag.”
She moved my foot back and forth.
“I don’t think it’s broken.”
“How long will it take to get better?”
“Probably just a day or so. Let’s go soak it in some warm water. you have to rest it. This will give you a good chance to study for your exams.”
My heart sank as I thought about how likely it was that I’d end up grounded for the whole summer. Would they really keep me inside one week for every D?
“you know, Mom, some of those classes are pretty hard.”
“Jimmy, we try to get you to study. We don’t let any of you kids watch television at night. every time we go to a PTA meeting, the nuns and that nice Miss Tormey tell us not to be so hard on you, that you’re going to grow up and do something really important. But you just don’t try in school.”
“But a week for every D! That’s a little bit much, don’t you think?” “It’s up to your father. Talk to him.” “He won’t talk to me. He doesn’t like me.”
“Jimmy, it’s four o’clock. Go in the living room and study.”
I put my sock back on and limped into the living room, english book in hand. Maybe, I thought, if I didn’t play outside and really tried to get good grades, they’d let me off the hook.Okay, it was worth try.
I opened my book to page one hundred and forty-seven.
The adverb is part of the verb family… Just like the pronoun is part of the noun family, I thought.
They’re all part of the same family but obviously separate families, these verbs and nouns. Probably like us and our cousins, the Walsh family. I wondered how my cousin Phil was.
I looked over at Steve in his crib and wondered if he was spying on me for Mom.
“Are you reporting to The Newspaper Inspector?” I asked.
His little fingers stretched out of his crib. He smiled at me and shook his head back and forth.
“That’s a good little brother. We have to stick together. If we don’t, The Newspaper Inspectors are going to get us all. Someday you might be here getting threatened with a week’s grounding for every D you get.”
“Jimmy, leave Steve alone so he can take a nap!” Mom yelled from the kitchen.“And keep studying.”
“How soon until we eat, Mom?”
She came to the kitchen doorway with a glass of whiskey in her hand.
“It’s only five o’clock. Not for a couple of hours. Now please study! exams are only a week away.”
I closed my book. Five o’clock. It was the same every day and I hated it. She would be drunk in twenty minutes. My father got home every day at 5:40 so he never saw her sober during the week. every day he missed it by twenty minutes. She was a great mom from three to five in the afternoon, but after five, she became trapped by the bottle. It was a vicious cycle. The fact that she couldn’t stop drinking disgusted her, but instead of motivating her to change, she let it drive her to drink more.
We all tried to please her, hoping we could pull her out of the deep end with love and good deeds. But nothing we did was good enough for her. In time I learned that when it came to my mother’s affections, I was no match for the alcohol in the cupboard.
In my mind it was simple.

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