Evil vs. the Angels of Stony Island
by Jim Heaney

I went down and down until my ears started to hurt. I finally felt sand and I knew and was at bottom. He had to be here. When I saw his arms rocking softly side to side, I grabbed him with one arm around his waist and pushed off the bottom, kicking my feet wildly for the surface. When we were halfway up, he started to kick frantically as well. Our heads popped up together, but now we had another problem. I was dead tired and could barely hold us both up, and he was trying to keep himself up by pushing on me, which had the effect of pushing me under. I pushed him away, and then moved closer to him. As I did, he reached out for my neck. I went under right in time and grabbed him at his waist to turn him around. My hand slipped under his arm and I maneuvered behind him. I held on tight and started to crawl slowly back to shore, gasping
“Calm down, Dave. Try to float with me. If we take our time, we’ll make it. If you keep fighting, we’ll both drown.” He relaxed and slowly but surely we made our way back together. The guys helped us out of the water and we sprawled exhausted on the rocks, coughing out water and taking in air. When I had recovered enough to stand up, Billy pointed to my stomach. The rocks had shredded both Joe’s shirt and my skin. I was bleeding pretty bad, but I decided against medical attention. I didn’t need for my parents to find out what happened and get grounded again. The scars would be a keepsake of a potentially deadly day. They would be just about the only keepsake, because even though I’d saved Dave, I hadn’t won any points with Bobbi because it’s also true that I was the one who almost got him killed. I was a hero in everyone’s eyes except hers. I realized at that moment there were two people inside me, two different sides to myself. One side could kill and one side could save. The cheers of my friends couldn’t eliminate that troubling realization. Knowing I caught a break, I reached down and grabbed another beer, opened it and took a big swig, feeling it burn down my throat. One more long drink, and the can was finished. My head was woozy and I noticed I was swaying from side to side.
“Hey, take it easy with that stuff,” Tommy laughed. “There’s plenty left. you’re drinking like there’s no tomorrow.” I went back to the bushes and grabbed one more, opened it and turned to the group. I raised the can and toasted to my lost childhood. A few minutes more and I couldn’t see, couldn’t hear, didn’t want to remember. At the age of going-on-twelve, I drank myself into blurriness and then, a blackout.



ON TUESDAY MORNING I AWOKE SORE, nauseated, and thirsty for more brew. I wished I could fake being sick for my date with Sister John, but knew I had to show. I had caught a break the night before because my father worked late and Mom didn’t notice my condition because she was high herself. I’d catch it from Joe over the destruction of his shirt, but I’d deal with that later. Clinging optimistically to the fact that my mind was capable of thinking at all, I dressed, brushed my teeth, and drank what seemed to be a gallon of water before heading over to Sister John’s. As I rang the convent doorbell, I read over the Mysteries Of The Soul list Sister John had written for me. The first direction was “Believe in God like a child.” Sister John opened the door and stood there, hands on hips.
“Saved a life, did we? Don’t look so surprised. It’s a small neighborhood. Care to tell me about it?”
“Well, there will be no parades here. We only have an hour and I’ve work to do.” We went downstairs and she pointed to a chair.
“Sit!” She disappeared into a storage room. I heard rustling behind the wall, then she returned with a pile of books.
“What are those?” I asked.
“Pictures, and thoughts about God,” she said as she spread the books across the table.

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