Evil vs. the Angels of Stony Island
by Jim Heaney

“Okay but…”
“Jimmy, children aren’t supposed to beat people up, even bad guys.” “But…” I “you’re proud of yourself, but we have to talk seriously now.
Do you remember in school when you learned about the five senses?”
“Can you tell me what they are?” “See with your eyes, hear with your ears, smell with your nose, taste with your mouth, and touch.” “very good! Now let me try to explain what happened to you with Larry.”
“Larry the Monster,” I piped in. “That’s the name I gave him.” “Okay. When he did what he did, you became very afraid, right?” “Oh Sister, you can’t even imagine. I couldn’t move, I was so afraid, yet inside my body everything was intense.” “So you were aware of what was happening,” she said.
“Yes, Sister.”
“Jimmy, doctors call that being traumatized with fear. What happens is that fear speeds up the five senses to a rapid rate. Like right now, you’re hungry all the time, right?”
“All I do is think of food.”
“It’s because you’re afraid and angry, and you’re using food as a comforter because it calms you down. It distracts you from your fear and anger. Do you understand?” “While I eat I’m not thinking about being afraid or mad,” I said. Sister John nodded.
“Using food this way is becoming a bad habit,” she said.
“It’s as if you’re cold, and food warms you up. your eating is out of sync with your body’s needs, and soon some of your other senses will fall out of sync as well.”
I nodded. I wasn’t quite sure how my eyes or my ears would get out of sync. “That doesn’t sound good,” I told Sister John.
“It’s not. But there’s balance in the universe. For every negative there is a positive, and for every positive, a negative. For every right, there’s a wrong, and for every wrong, a right.”
“And what is the ‘right’ about what happened to me?” I asked.
“Let’s go outside and see.” We went out and stood in the middle of the yard. She knelt down so her face was level with mine.
“Jimmy, close your eyes.” I closed my eyes and she asked, “What just happened?”
“I can’t see!” “Right! But you can hear me. Tell me what you hear, Jimmy. Listen carefully.” “I hear the freight train running on the track over on Dante.”
“What sound is it making, Jimmy?” “va Dump va Dump va Dump va Dump va Dump.”
“What does the ‘va Dump’ mean to you?”
“The train is rolling over the tracks.” She squeezed my shoulder.
“Jimmy, now I want you to breathe in and breathe out in time with the ‘va Dump’ sounds. Breathe in va Dump, breath out va Dump, breathe in va Dump, breathe out va Dump. Relax your body. Breathe in and out to match the train sounds.” “Wow! It’s wonderful!”
“You see, your hearing is better.”
“Sister, I know the va Dump has always been there—I just never listened to it like this before.”
“You can open your eyes now. Do you like listening to music?” I nodded.
“Have you heard of The Beatles?” She reached out, took my fingers and sang, “I want to hold your haa-aaa-a-and. I want to hold your hand.” “I never knew you were a Beatles fan,” I laughed.
“Jimmy, the next time you hear that song—or any song—close your eyes and listen to the instruments. They all blend together to make that sound. Listen to all the instruments working as one and then try to listen to each individual instrument. Do you understand?”
“I think so,” I said.
“Good, let’s try another exercise. Close your eyes again and listen, but first look around the yard, taking pictures with your eyes, then hold them in your mind. See the trees, our lovely new flowers, the squirrels, blue sky and the white clouds. See them, and listen as well to all that’s going on around you. At the same time, concentrate on the va Dump of the train.
“Now let’s turn you around three times as if we’re playing Pin the Tail on the Donkey, only you aren’t blindfolded. While you turn, see the trees, the flowers, the squirrels, the blue sky, the white clouds and take snapshots with your newfound ability to see!” I did exactly as she said, taking pictures and remembering them. I stood in front of her giggling.
“This is fun!” “Now meditate on what you see and listen for the train roll- ing down the track. Breathe in va Dump, breathe out va Dump. Do you see?”
“yes,” I whispered.
“Tell me what you see.” “I see the train with the verson Steel mill behind it, the field where we play ball, the houses on Dante and the street where…” “I think you understand,” she said, steering my mind away from Larry’s house.
“Focus on this yard and tell me what’s in the garden.” I took a deep breath and said, “I see your trees and you and me, and the squirrel watching us plant.” “va Dump, va Dump, va Dump, va Dump,” she said softly. “Breathe in, breathe out. you can leave what happened anytime you want. It’s over. you don’t have to let it beat you!

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