Evil vs. the Angels of Stony Island
by Jim Heaney

The cars flew by; when the light turned red, Billy would walk out in the middle of the street, right in between the cars, and ask for a ride. A couple of cars stopped and honked and waved him over but he turned them down. I nudged Tommy and asked,
“Why isn’t he taking the ride?”
“Those cars are too small. We need one that will hold seven.” One old man yelled,
“Take a bus!” as he drove by. Billy birded him and we all laughed. The grouch must have seen him in his rear view mirror, because he put his brakes on and yelled some- thing back at Billy. We couldn’t hear what he was saying because the cars behind him started honking. Billy yelled back,
“yeah, yeah,” and shot him the finger again. It was hilarious; we all stood up and slapped each other on the backs and laughed. I yelled, “you’re my hero, Billy!” In that moment we were as close as a gang. David turned to me and said, “I didn’t even know that you liked Bobbi. If I would have known, I wouldn’t have…”
“yeah, Jimmy,” Tommy broke in, ”Nobody really knew. you never said anything.” I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t have to think of anything, because Tommy called,
“He’s got one.” Billy was crouched beside a big blue station wagon, his head in the front passenger’s win- dow, talking with the driver. He pulled his head out of the car, pretended that he was coughing, and waved us over. We poured out from behind the fence. Billy turned back to the car and in one smooth motion, reached around to unlock the rear door, opened the front door, and slid in next to the driver. By this time Tommy had reached the car and jumped in the front next to him as the rest of us slid into the back seat. The driver didn’t know what hit him, but the cars behind him started honking so he drove on.
“All you had to do was ask,” he said mildly once we had rejoined the traffic.
“Where you guys headed?” “To the beach, James,” Billy said airily. “you’re a real smarty, aren’t you?” the man said.
“Don’t mind him, sir. He probably heard that in some movie,” Tommy said. “We really appreciate the ride.” “I can take you to Seventy-fifth and Coles.”
“Perfect,” Tommy replied. I looked out the window and tried to take it all in as we headed up Stony Island past St. Felicitas Church, the parish next to St. Ailbe’s. We turned right on 75th and headed toward the lake. It was the first time I had been out of the neighborhood without my parents, and I knew I was not supposed to be doing this, at least not without telling them. It felt both scary and fun at the same time. We pulled over at a stoplight and the man said,
“This is it.” We all scrambled out. Tommy said, “you guys head on over to the beach. Billy and I will meet you there with the beer.”
“Beer?” I asked. “yeah,” Tommy replied.
“Seeing it’s your first day out, we thought we’d celebrate.”
“I don’t know about getting drunk.”
“you won’t get drunk, just a little high,” Billy said. “you’ll be fine by the time you get home. Stay with us and we’ll show you how it’s done.”
“How what’s done?” “How we get the beer. Now you guys take off.” I watched as they walked toward the beach, then turned back to Billy and Tommy.
“So what do we do?” “We wait until someone who might buy for us goes into the liquor store.” I scanned the block. I didn’t see any liquor stores.
“What liquor store?” I asked. They both laughed and motioned upward with their heads. I looked up and saw a big sign overhead: LIQUOR.
“That big guy behind the counter? He knows we’re buying beer from him, but as long as someone old enough carries it out the door, he doesn’t care.” Just then a man about the same age as my father came around the corner. Billy and Tommy looked at each other. When he got real close to us, Tommy stopped him.
“Would you buy for us?” He looked at us and shook his head. “I have sons your age. you’re not old enough to drink.” He proceeded to walk down the street. “Sometimes it takes a while to get the right guy,” Tommy said. “Here comes someone else.” This guy didn’t even respond; he just kept on walking. “That’s the rudest thing I’ve ever seen,” Billy said.
“Ask someone a question and they don’t even answer you. Remem- ber, Jimmy, when someone asks you a question, at least have the decency to answer.” Right on the heels of Billy’s sarcasm, Tommy called to another man.
“Hey, mister! Would you buy for us?” “Beat it,” the man replied. All three of us broke out in uncontrollable laughter. “I should answer like that, right, Billy?” Tears rolling down his cheeks, Billy gasped, “Just like that!” We stood there laughing for another minute, until Tommy yelled,
“There he is.” I followed Tommy’s eyes across the street and saw a very old man in a long dirty brown overcoat with a fake fur collar that used to be white but now was blotched with black spots. even I could tell he was living on the street. He shuffled along at a slow pace, his pants tucked into a pair of shoes that matched but were wrapped around the sides with yellow painter’s tape. He was walk- ing with his head down, as if he was looking for something he’d lost. Tommy and Billy dashed across the street, dodging traffic. I followed more cautiously.
“Lucas, how are you?” Tommy said. Lucas looked up briefly.
“I’m okay.” Then he went back to scanning the ground. I wondered what he was looking for.
“Lucas, will you buy for us like you did before?” Tommy asked. Lucas looked up and his eyes locked with mine.

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