Evil vs. the Angels of Stony Island
by Jim Heaney

AND SO ONE WEEK SLOWLY TURNED into another, the sun setting over the steel mill and lightning bugs dotting the warm night air. One evening as I sat in the dark waiting for Billy, I looked down the street at the five-year-old chasing the fireflies and put- ting them in glass jars, wishing I was that young again. I saw Mrs. Rusher coming down the street, arms swinging, asking people if anyone had seen Jimmy Joe. I looked farther down the street and saw Billy. “What’s up, Willy? How you doing?”
“Good. What kind of birds don’t fly?”
“I don’t know.”
“Jail birds,” Billy said. “Get it?” “you should have your own comedy show.” “Four weeks down, two to go. you’re a tough hombre, Jimmy. you can do this time standing on your head.” He looked up suddenly.
“Hi, Mr. Heaney.”
“Hello, Billy. How are you?”
“Fine, sir.” My father disappeared back into our living room. “He always seems so mad at you.”
“He wishes I were more like Joe. What’s going on in the neighborhood?” “Frankie’s birthday party is next week. Will your folks let you come?” “I’ve been thinking about that. Tell Frank he needs to come over on his way to Flowers Grocery and drop the invitation off. It has to be this Saturday morning at ten sharp. No excuses; it has to be Saturday morning.”
“Okay, but what are you up to?” “Just make sure it’s ten o’clock, and don’t say a word about this to the other guys. I don’t want a big crowd here. Now what else is going on in the outside world?”
“You’re not going to like this one. David moved in on Bobbi while you’ve been grounded.”
I felt my heart twist and I started to feel sick to my stomach. Realizing from the look on my face that he had said the wrong thing, Billy added quickly, “you’ll get her back once you get out again. you know how she is.”
I pulled myself together and growled something about girls being a dime a dozen. But after Billy left, I walked back into the house and went into the bathroom. As I looked at myself in the mirror, I thought about Bobbi being David’s girlfriend and I started to cry.



SATURDAY MORNING I WOKE UP ready to execute my Go to Frankie’s Party plan. It was bright and sunny but extremely humid, probably over ninety degrees already and it was only nine o’clock. even the birds on the back fence looked thirsty. I watched as they hopped down to the dry brown grass, then flew from tree to tree and back to the fence, as if they were searching for water. My mother and father were sitting at the kitchen table drinking coffee as I went back inside to fill a bowl with water. “Where are you taking that water?” my father asked.
“The birds need a drink,” I said.
“That’s nice, Jimmy,” my mother said, “but use the hose, not our bowls.”
“I thought of that,” I said, “but I’m going to cut the grass and I don’t want it wet.” My father looked up, startled.
“I’m trying, Dad. I know I need to do things without being told. What if I use a coffee can for the birds? There’s one in the basement.”
As the birds drank from the old coffee can, I cleared the twigs from the grass. Next I went back in the house, sneaking a look at the kitchen clock on my way to the basement for the lawn mower. I squeezed the throttle about twenty times to flood the engine, then hauled it upstairs. I pulled the starter rope repeatedly for about five minutes, making a big show about trying, and on the last pull let go of the cord and fell backwards on the grass, screaming at the top of my lungs. My mother came running out and saw I was holding my ankle while moaning.
“I think it’s broken. Go get Dad.” She ran back in the house and returned with him as I lay writhing in pain. He inspected my ankle and asked what happened.
“The mower wouldn’t start and wouldn’t start, and when I pulled real hard, I slipped, and bent my ankle again.” “you’re sweating so much, Jimmy. you should have asked for help,” my mother said. “I didn’t want to bother you. Maybe I can walk on it.” I limped across the yard and put pressure on it.
“It’s okay. I just need to walk it off. Dad, can you see what’s wrong with the lawn mower? It acts like it’s flooded.” He leaned over to look at it, and just then, from the front gate, came
“Hello? Is anyone home?” Little Frankie and his mother came through the gangway to the back yard. “We were on our way to Flowers Grocery and thought we’d drop off Jimmy’s invitation to Little Frankie’s birthday party,” Little Frankie’s mom said. “When is the party?” my dad asked. “Two weeks from today.” “Jimmy’s grounded for two more weeks and two days. He won’t be able to make it.” “I know he’s grounded,” she said.
“But they’re such good friends, and the party is for only three hours…” My mother broke in.
“We’ll talk about it and let you know.”
After they left my father made it clear I couldn’t go, then he went back in the house. My mother stayed outside; she knew I was upset.
“You should have studied harder, and that was a big mistake trying to change your grades.” I took a deep breath.

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