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

SUMMER 1965 | CHAPTER 11

 

SIX WEEKS IN THE HOUSE! There should be a law against that. Wasn’t there someone to report this to some agency that protected kids from being grounded so long?
“All I did was get a few D’s,” I told my father. “It wasn’t just the grades,” he said.
“It was because you tried to change them. Try to be a little smarter next time.” I walked outside and sat on the top step of the porch.
“It’s another beautiful day in paradise. One day down, five weeks and six days to go.”
The sun was shining and a few white clouds formed a figure eight in the sky. They reminded me of a doughnut. I walked back into the house and headed for the kitchen. As I opened the refrigerator door, my mother screamed from the bedroom, “Jimmy, if you think you’re going to sit around the house and eat for the next six weeks, you’re nuts. Now close that refrigerator.”
“Okay Mom,” I said, but I saw an open pack of hot dogs on the lower shelf next to the catsup. I reached in very quietly, pulled one out of the package, and walked out onto the back porch.
“Jimmy, Sister John called,” my mother said when she came into the kitchen a while later. “She wants you to help carry her groceries inside.
“Aw, Mom do I have to?”
“yes. She’s waiting. And when you get home, I want you to pull weeds along our back fence.”
I walked out to the rear gate and looked down at all the weeds. “I’m just a member of a chain gang,” I sang. “you’re not going to catch me, copper.”

HALFWAY TO THE CONVENT I ran into Little Frankie.
“Hey, Jimmy, you coming to my birthday party?”
“When is it? you know I’m grounded for the next five weeks and then some.”
“end of June.”
“Who else you inviting?”
“All the guys, my cousins, and my uncle Big Frank,” he said.
“Why do they call him Big Frank?”
He paused and wondered a moment.
“Because he’s a boss?” “A boss of what?”
“I don’t know for sure. I heard my uncles say Big Frank is the boss of everybody, if he wants to be.”
“I’d sure like to meet him.”
“you can! He’ll be at my party. Hey, if you’re grounded, why are you outside?”
“I have to help Sister John with the groceries. you want to help?”
“Why not?” Frankie said. “Do you think Sister John will give us a treat for helping like my mom does?”

THE TRUNK OF THE SISTERS’ CAR was loaded with grocery bags. Sister John met us on the porch. She was wearing an apron over her white habit.
“Jimmy, you and Frankie bring the food in the front door, then carry the meat and bread down the back way to the basement and put it in the freezer. Be sure to put the bread on top so it doesn’t get squashed.”
I was happy to have Frankie help, and Sister John promised us a treat. While we waited for her to fix it, we walked to the back fence to see the new shrubs growing where the flowers used to be. Suddenly, a door flew open at the Castaways Motel across the parking lot and someone tossed a young woman out onto the parking lot.
“You’re not working hard enough!” A man’s voice yelled from inside the room.
“You better go get my money!”
Out walked a slim man in a red suit and a white hat.
“Let’s get out of here,” Frankie whispered. Instead, I laughed very loudly. The man looked up and glared at me. I smiled.
“Hey, Slim! Where’d you buy your clothes? The Santa Claus Discount Store For Skinny Pimps?” He looked at me in disbelief. “Boy, you better run before I give you a whipping.” “Come and get some, Buckwheat,” I yelled back. Frankie tugged frantically at my arm. “Jimmy, let’s go!”
“Frankie, we can take this guy,” I whispered. “I’ll bring him down and hold him; you hit him with that garbage can lid. And keep hitting him until he stops moving.” Just then, Sister John called from behind us.
“Why don’t you leave that poor girl alone?”
“Whatever, Sister,” he shot back. “We’ve been through this before. you live there and I live here. So just go back inside and say some prayers.”
I thought back to that stinking Detective Spears and the fact that he’d done nothing to help her. I lost my temper and started yelling at the guy again. Sister John clamped a hand on my shoulder.
“Jimmy, calm down.” She had pretty strong fingers and I knew better than to try to wriggle free.
“Let’s go inside and have those popsicle’s I promised you. Jimmy, calm down.” “But Sisters he’s—” “Jimmy,” she said sternly, “I’ll have none of this fighting. Understand?” I nodded.

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