Evil vs. the Angels of Stony Island
by Jim Heaney



“HOW’D YOU DO?” Tommy asked after our exams were over.
“Hard to tell. you know how it is with multiple choice questions. Some you know; others are multiple guess. But I have a system. On the questions I didn’t know, I closed my eyes and came down with the pencil between A and C. Wherever it landed, that was the answer.”
“What did you do when it landed on D, or None of the above, or in between the letters?” he asked.
“Well, the way I figure it, a D is just there to trick you, so it’s really just A through C. If it’s in between, I do it over.”
“Trick you, that’s interesting,” he said.
“The way I figure, it’s kind of like, if a rooster lays an egg on top of a roof, which way will it fall?”
“Roosters don’t lay eggs!” we both shrieked.
“Ms. Tormey saw me pointing my pencil and asked what I was doing. I told her I was using my pencil like a water finder—you know, the way they used to use a forked stick to find water when there was a drought. They would just point the long end at the ground and when it started wiggling, they’d start digging. Well, I’m not going to worry about it now. It’s only Tuesday; we don’t get our report cards until Friday. That gives me three days to have fun.”
“It sounds like you don’t think you did that well.”
“Tommy, do we have to talk about that now? What are you doing today?”
“Play ball over at the field. How about you?”
“Joe and I have to cut the grass. I’ll meet you about one o’clock. I don’t think I can play, though; my ankle’s still sore.”
I worried about my report card the rest of the way home. I didn’t want to be stuck in the house all summer. I came through the back yard, where Joe was starting the lawn mower.
“Hurry up so that we can get this over with,” he said.
“I have to do some studying, Joe, I won’t be able to help you with the grass.”
Joe glared at me.
“Jimmy, why is it that the only time you do any studying is when there is work to do?”
I laughed. “I’ll be right out.”
I went through the kitchen where my mother was positioned at the sink doing her dishes. She always seemed to be doing dishes, which was odd because we didn’t seem to eat much. I changed into my play clothes, remembering that it was Wednesday, which meant last night we had meatloaf, which meant there might be leftovers.
Sure enough, when I peeked into the refrigerator, I found a hunk of meatloaf wrapped in foil. I peeled the foil back and tore off a piece of meat. Just as I did, my mother turned from the sink. “Hey! Stop that. The meatloaf is for later.”
I crammed it into my mouth anyway and disappeared out the screen door.
My job was sweeping the grass clippings from the sidewalk. When Joe was on the last lap around the yard, I went down to the basement to get the broom, thinking all the while about the meat- loaf, which hadn’t tasted bad eaten cold. I could hear my mother heading for the bathroom, so I climbed back upstairs and quietly opened the refrigerator door. I peeled back the foil and tore off another piece of meatloaf. I was looking for the salt when I heard the water being turned off in the bathroom. I quickly rewrapped the remainder of the meatloaf, stuffed my hunk into my mouth and disappeared through the back door to sweep up.

“CAN YOU PLAY?” Billy asked when I arrived at the diamond.
“yeah. My ankle is fine.”
“I’m going to pick you, then.
You’ll play second; that way you’ll only have to cover a small amount of ground.”
I stretched my ankle in all four directions trying to loosen it up. There was no way I was not going to play. “Jimmy, you’re up first.
You’d better get a hit,” Billy warned.
“you know I will, captain and coach, sir.” That’s because we were playing softball now. We were all bigger and stronger and as a result, hitting regulation baseballs harder and farther. More often than not, a baseball game would be cut short by the sound of breaking glass, and the teams would spontaneously disassemble. Everybody would grab his bat and mitt and scram through the alleys, jumping fences and cutting through back yards to safety. Later, we’d reassemble at Diamond’s Five and Ten for a pop or ice cream cone.
This strategy lasted until a window in Bobby Hifco’s house caught a long league hit. The next day, Bobby showed up at the playing field with a new sixteen-inch softball, courtesy of his father, who advised us to switch—or else.
Nobody wanted to find out what “or else” meant, so we suddenly became a softball team.
“That was a strike, Jimmy!” yelled Paul, the pitcher.
“Give him something he can hit!” yelled back Chris, the short- stop.
I watched another pitch go by.
“C’mon, Jimmy, wait for a good one.”
I choked up on the bat.
CRACK! I lined one down third just out of reach of the third baseman’s outstretched arms. As I ran down to first, I watched the ball disappear into the weeds and decided I would go for second. It would take the fielder a few seconds to find the ball and throw it into second. I picked up speed and started a wide loop around first when my ankle gave way.

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