Evil vs. the Angels of Stony Island
by Jim Heaney

When he finally opened his eyes, he saw my big face staring at him and reached out, laughing, to grab my nose. ever since then I had been very protective of Tommy.
“Be careful out there. Stay close to Dad,” I said to him as they left. He hugged my legs and then went off holding my father’s hand.
I headed down the basement stairs, opened the icebox and filled my pockets with cans of Schlitz. As I drove away with my friends, we chugged beers and sang the Mount Carmel fight song. After the official game, my friends and I had our own football game on the school grounds that afternoon. “Come on, Jimmy, just one more short game,” someone called as it was getting dark. I shook my head.
“I’m still a little high from the beer we drank, and all this running is making me sick. Besides, I’m surprised the priests haven’t chased us off their grass yet.” Just then the rectory door opened behind me.
“Is Jimmy Heaney here?” Father Meyer yelled from his sidewalk. I froze. “Jimmy, you have to go home,” he said, coming over.
“There’s been an accident.” “Accident?” “It’s Tommy. He was hit by a car. He was killed about 1:30.” He was killed about 1:30. “Nooooo!” I screamed. I started to walk and fell to the ground. Father Meyer was at my side to pick me up. “It’s going to be all right, it’s going to be okay. Come with me. I’ll take you home.” But I was up and running. Run, Jimmy, run. I was four blocks from the house. Run, Jimmy, run. He can’t be dead.
Run, Jimmy, run. you can save him. Run, Jimmy, run. One half block away from the house. Run, Jimmy, run. The street in front of our house was parked solid. I slowed to a trot. My side hurt. I tried not to cry. The morning’s words echoed in my soul. Run, Tommy, run. Run Tommy run. You’re fast. Watch where you’re going. If you’re not careful, you’re going to fall. Run, Tommy, run. Are you coming with us today? Please, please, please! No, but you be careful and stay close to Dad. I’ll see you later. The house was full of people. On the kitchen counter was a collection of half-empty bottles of booze. everyone was drunk and crying over pictures of Tommy. My dad sat at the kitchen table with a whiskey, making a snorting sound; he was trying to cry but didn’t know how. I overheard one of my aunts in the living room talking. She said Tommy was hit at the park. In the hoopla of the game, he’d lost my father and wandered into the street. Tommy lost my father? Tommy was only three! He didn’t lose anybody—my father lost him! How could they blame Tommy? I grabbed a bottle of gin and headed to the park where he was killed. Run, Jimmy, run. I was fast. Can you come with us to the game today, Jimmy? Please, please, please! Please, Please, Please! Can ya, Jimmy? Can ya? I had seen my father’s hung-over face. I knew he was in no shape to take care of Tommy. I should have gone with him. At the park I saw two people pointing at a spot on the street. I ran over to them and looked down. Tommy’s blood was splattered across the pavement. I’m his brother. I could have stopped this. I knew and I could have stopped this.
I walked deep into the park and slumped by a tree. I raised the bottle, toasted Tommy, and accepted the blame for his death. I sat there, bottle in hand, drinking to forget. In the winter of 1970, Father Francis Cziezadlo called our house. He told me that Miss Tormey had died of old age, and that her dying request had been for me to serve at her funeral Mass. Father Chez’s funeral homily was about Miss Tormey’s love for children and especially for me. Besides the priest and me, the organist, the funeral director and the pallbearers, only four people showed. There’s no shrine to Miss Tormey at St. Ailbe’s, or a statue of her, but she was one of my personal saints and I felt a great sorrow as Father Chez talked about her. A large piece of my heart was buried with her that day.

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