Evil vs. the Angels of Stony Island
by Jim Heaney

“Boy, did you get fat!” Billy said. Everyone laughed, including Dave and Bobbi. All I wanted in that moment was to cover up my fat. I was so ashamed that I picked up my shirt and put it back on. Dave moved in for the kill.
“Are you going to try to hide behind that shirt? Let it all hang out,” he said. everybody laughed again. That was all I needed. My anger at Dave came roaring back and I decided to remove him from the picture—permanently.
“Hey Dave! you going to show Bobbi how well you swim?” We were all self-taught swimmers, but some of us had learned more than others at the Palmer pool. Dave could keep afloat, but that’s about all. I mimicked him with my arms, flopping and swinging them as if they were broken. This time Bobbi’s laugh trailed on after everyone else had stopped. Dave was looking scared. I had him now. “you chicken sissy. you’re afraid to dive. you’re afraid to dive! Maybe we should just call you Dead Dave,” I laughed. On the verge of tears, he mumbled,
“If you go first, I’ll follow.”
“Sure you will, Dead Dave, because if you don’t, I’m going to give you a beating you’re always going to remember.”
“Jimmy, it’s crazy to dive here—you’ll hit your head on the rocks!” Billy said. I looked at them, snarled, and positioned myself exactly in front of the black small rock and dove. It was only five feet down to the water, but if you didn’t know where you were, it would be the end. I didn’t have a shred of doubt that I knew where I was. I went in head first, with braced arms. Hitting the water, I instantly pulled up. As I did, I felt the deadly rocks graze my stom- ach and tear Joe’s shirt, but it was worth it. When my head poked out of the water, everyone let out a cheer—everyone but Dead Dave. I could see him looking pale and scared in the back of the crowd. After the cheers died down, I turned and swam out about forty yards before turning to swim back toward the shore. I climbed out and told Dave as I walked past him,
“And you have to swim out as far as me.”
“Please, Jimmy, don’t do this to me,” he pleaded.
“Dave, I’m going over to the bushes to get another beer, and if you’re not in the water by the time I’m back, I’m going to beat you silly. Make sure he dives, Billy. No climbing in.”
“Jimmy, if you want—” I stopped Dave short, grabbed him by the shirt, and yelled,
“DIVE.” I walked over to get a beer, listening for the sound of water breaking behind me. As I bent over, I looked back and saw his face and his eyes. They were pleading. It made me feel bad. I heard Angel say, “This is a bad thing that’s about to happen. you’d bet- ter stop this. Dave could get killed.” That had been the idea, but suddenly I whirled and yelled, “Dave!” It was too late. He was already in the water. There was another cheer, and I let out a sigh of relief. I walked back to the shore and saw that he was swimming out farther and farther, way past where I had turned around. He turned and waved triumphantly, fist in the air at us. But the lake was choppy so far out, and his face strained and his arms flopped and his neck stretched high as he fought to keep his head above water.
“He’s kidding,” Billy said confidently, but a sick feeling came over me. I was scared, but I had to do something. I pushed Billy out of the way, stepped in front of the black rock and dove in. This time I didn’t pull up fast enough and my stomach scraped the sharp edges of the rocks. This time something that was not cloth ripped on my stomach but I kept on swimming. My strokes were strong, hard, and fast; often I didn’t even pick my head up out of the water. I cautioned myself to save something for the way back—he was out so far. Finally I pulled up to where Dave should be, but I didn’t see him. Spinning around, I looked back at the guys on shore. Billy was pointing thumbs down. Tommy running along the beach for help. I took a deep breath, flipped over, and went down head first. The water was very dark and I could hardly see.

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