DIVINE CHILD
Evil vs. the Angels of Stony Island
by Jim Heaney

I tumbled head first into the dirt and rocks along the railroad track and rolled over on my back, holding my twisted ankle and moaning in agony.
Dick, the second baseman for the other team, ran up and tagged me. “He’s out.”
“No way!” I screamed.
“Help him up,” Billy told a few of the guys.
I stood, but the slightest pressure caused severe pain.
“Can you walk home?” Billy asked.
“I’ll make it.” Once again I hobbled home, Friday’s report card on my mind. I thought for sure the ankle was broken this time but when I checked with my mom, she said it was just badly sprained and the only thing that would help it heal was rest. I spent the rest of the week back in the house. Some summer this was turning out to be.

FRIDAY MORNING I SWUNG MY LEGS over the edge of my bed and reached for the head post to support my weight. I put my foot down slowly to see how my ankle would hold under the pressure of walking. It started throbbing and I noticed a new development—the ball of my heel couldn’t take the strain. So I began the long painful limp to school, full of dread about the return trip when I’d be carrying my report card.
While passing the church on the way to school, I saw a hearse parked in front of the church. I limped through a crowd of men in black suits. When I saw them putting on gray gloves, I realized they were the pallbearers. One of them noticed my limp.
“Having a hard time today, young man?”
I nodded toward the hearse.
“Save some room for me. It’s report card day.”
He smiled sympathetically.
By the time I took my seat in the third row, Miss Tormey was already passing out the report cards. She handed me mine. On the front of the yellow envelope was the word PASSED.
At least I’d be going on to sixth grade. However, I was still too afraid of what might be inside to pull out the report card and read it. I just sat there as Miss Tormey dismissed us with “Have a good summer.”
Behind me the other students were chattering away. I glanced over my shoulder and looked at Billy, who gave me a thumbs-up and a look that meant “How about you?”
I looked down at my report card again and decided I had to look sometime. I started to pull it out of the envelope but shoved it back in, wondering if there was some way out of this.
I could hear the church organ echoing through the school. I pictured Fr. Chez incensing the casket. I stared at my report card and it stared right back at me. “Here goes,” I thought. I slipped it out of the yellow envelope, opened it and peeked at it very quickly.
It did not surprise me at all when, right then, the organist hit the wrong key and a flat ugly chord howled through the school, because my puke-yellow report card was completely dominated by the letter D.
“This is bad,” I mumbled out loud.
The organ started up again, and I pictured the dead person leaving the church for the last time.
Five D grades, including the worst of all: a D in conduct. That would send the message home that when I was supposed to be paying attention, I was throwing paper wads and shooting rubber bands at poor Miss Tormey.
I slipped the report card back into its envelope and flipped it like a Frisbee into the room. The organ wailed its final irritating chords. And then there was silence. everyone else was gone. I was the only one left in the classroom. I got up and limped to the window and looked out. The pallbearers were sliding the casket into the hearse.
I thought about having to stay in the house for five weeks. I couldn’t stand being around my family. I felt so much better about everything when I was safely outside of the house. The dead person was lucky. I wanted a change in scenery myself.
Change?
I looked at all the D grades.
Change! All I had to do was draw a line through the middle of each D and change it into a B. I looked down at the report card, then back to the hearse. I could probably survive a two-week sentence, but not five. I would only change three of the five D’s into B’s.
I stood up slowly and tucked the report card inside my shirt. I opened the door and looked down the deserted hallway. Across from me was the restroom. Should I change the D’s in there?
No, someone might walk in and I would get caught. Better do it away from school property. As I made my way home, sweating heavily, I looked for a place to hide and change my grades. The alley seemed like my best shot. I scanned my surroundings for a garbage can with a lid on it. I saw one on the ground next to a white garage. I tossed it onto a can but it missed the center of the can and flies flew out at me. I turned my face and slid the lid square onto the can. I could hear the flies buzzing and hitting the inside of the lid.
I unbuttoned my shirt and pulled out the report card. I laid it open on top of the garbage can and once again read all the D’s. I did get a couple of C’s; it could be worse. I reached into my pocket and pulled out my pen. I had to do it. I drew the line to transform the first D into a B and—
Oh my God! Miss Tormey had used a black pen and I just used a blue pen to make the change.
I heard the hollow echo of the after-lunch buzzer in the empty school. It was all over. I would pay dearly for this one.
I wanted to run away but my ankle throbbed so badly I could hardly walk. Still sweating heavily, I limped toward our house. At the corner, I could see the guys gathering at the field for the first official baseball game of the summer.

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