Evil vs. the Angels of Stony Island
by Jim Heaney



MAYBE IT WAS BECAUSE it was my last day in captivity, but Sun- day’s church service seemed especially long. Joe agreed with me as we changed out of our good clothes.
“Boy, that went on forever,” I said.
“Yeah, you’d think they shorten it a bit, as hot as it is.” “In order to be institutionalized, one needs to spend time inside the institution,” I cracked. “What does that mean?”
“I’ve been thinking. What if the church has brainwashed us into thinking we need them, when a person can go right to God and cut out the go-between?” I’d been brooding about that for some time, but this was the first time I’d said it out loud.
“What if it’s all a scam to pay their bills? I mean, once upon a time there wasn’t any church. Someone must have put this deal together. On the other hand, somebody must have made a real connection with God, too, so that means it’s real and possible, only…”
“Whoaaa, Jimmy! Slow down,” Joe said.
“You sound like a preacher yourself.”
“Let me finish. It must be possible to communicate directly with God, to find your own answers. I mean, look at divorced people. Does God quit loving them like the church does just because they married the wrong person? I think God still loves people whether they’re in a church or not. That’s all I’m saying. I bet there are other paths to God if church doesn’t work out for you.”
“Okay, okay,” he said impatiently. “So what are you doing on your first day of freedom tomorrow?” “Rainbow Beach.” “Uh-oh,” Joe said.
“From what I hear, it’s getting pretty rough—lots of fighting and drinking. you better watch yourself.”
“Yeah, sure,” I said as I flipped through the clothes in the bedroom closet. I had my eyes on a couple of the shirts Joe got as presents for his good report card.
“You leave my shirts alone, too,” he said.
“Sure,” I said, as I continued my hunt. I found his favorite, beige and yellow pinstripes on white, and figured it would look as good on me as it did on him. It would be mine anyway, as soon as he outgrew it. I pulled my white shorts out of the drawers, smelled them— clean! I had been saving them for my first day out. The zipper was even harder to pull up than the last time. I looked down and saw my stomach sticking out over the top of my shorts. Tommy was probably right, I would be on the line this year in football. My catcher and running-back days were over. I heard a knock at the front door. Joe yelled, “Billy’s here.” I ran out of the bedroom and through the house to the front porch. I opened the door and stepped out.
“Ready?” he asked. “Ready for what?”
“Isn’t today the big day?”
“It’s tomorrow,” I said.
“Oh brother. Everybody’s down at the field waiting for you. We thought today was the day.”
“No, it officially started on a Monday, so I get to go out on a Monday,” I said.
“I don’t know how you did it, staying in this long.” I remembered what vince had said in the movie.
“Life on the inside is terrible. The guards never stop mess- ing with you and all you can do is sit around and watch the time pass,” I recited.
“That’s good,” Billy said.
“Tell everybody I’ll be out tomorrow and tell them I want to go swimming off the rocks. And one more thing—tell Bobbi and David no hard feelings. I’d like them to come and join in the fun.” “That’s nice, Jimmy. David’s not such a bad kid. He’s just a Goody-Two-Shoes.” “That’s the first thing that’s gonna change,” I muttered. After Billy ran down the steps and headed for the field, I went back into the house. Had Vince really become a model citizen? My mom called from the kitchen.
“Sister John just telephoned. She needs you to dig out some bushes. She said someone gave her a lot of flowers and she needs help planting them.” I froze.
“Um, I don’t think so. Not today. Besides, it’s Sunday. Aren’t we supposed to be resting today?”
My mother came out of the kitchen, wiping her hands on a dish towel. “I told her you would help. A little exercise would be good for you, so get going, mister. She’s waiting.” I shook my head slightly.
“Mom, about last night…I didn’t want to…” “It’s our secret. Now go over and help the Sisters.”

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