Nate struck Reason in the center of his chest. Reason doubled over,
gasping in pain, his dark hair falling down into his tear-filled eyes.
“And if you talk to anyone about this, I’ll come and put bullets in you!
It’ll be your funeral they’ll be holding down at Saint Pat’s! Understand?”
Reason held his arm and nodded sullenly. He stood there watching
helplessly as Nate kicked Vince in the legs, sweeping them out from
under him, sprawling him flat on the ground there on the playground
of Havelock Park. Nate said, “None of this would have happened if
you would have went and tagged the Emerald!”
Tall, blond-haired Randy Farnbrook, vice president of the HVK
gang, said, “My mom keeps talking about Crime Stoppers, saying a
person could remain anonymous—” Nate hauled off and smacked Randy
on the left cheek. “Quit talking about Crime Stoppers! Ain’t no one
gonna call in behind my back! If they do, I swear when I get out on bail,
I’ll come hunt them down!”
Nate gestured at the backpack on Dan Colvert’s broad back. He used
one meaty hand to reach deep into Dan’s pack and pulled out two cans
of blue spray paint. “Okay, Reason? Vince? Go down to the Emerald
and spray HVK in big, bold letters.”
“But,” Vince protested, “what if old man Connors finds out it was
us? That old Irishman is a mean SOB!”
Nate ripped the lid off of the second can of paint. He then grabbed
a handful of Vince’s black hooded sweatshirt and held the can up. “Do
as I say, Vincent, or I’ll spray-paint your face!”
Nate held the spray pain can within inches of Vince’s face. He grinned
wickedly at Randy and the Colvert twins. “Come on, guys, we’re gonna
climb up on the building across the street from the Emerald, where we’ll
have a good view of these two idiots tagging the old man’s place in
the name of HVK!”
Vince allowed Reason to spray a big capital H on the white bricks
of the Emerald. When he was finished, Vince sprayed the V, then waited
impatiently for Reason to finish with the K. When they were done, the
three letters were two feet tall and covered a four-foot wide area on
the front of the Havelock pub.
Reason said, “It is rumored that Billy Connors, a tough-as-nails Irishman
was a gunrunner for the IRA and that he had all sorts of underground
connections. I once tried to sneak into the pub to get a look at
the award hanging above the Emerald’s fireplace. Boone told me about
it, and swore it came straight from the Irish Republican Army given
to Billy Connors for him sending them guns to support their cause.”
Tonight, both boys knew they had crossed a line. If Billy Connors
ever learned that they had dared to tag his place, they were dead. Both
young boys cringed when they turned and found themselves facing four
of Havelock’s Misfits ambling down the sidewalk toward the Emerald.
Newt, with his flashy suits and his gaudy hats, had once been in a car
accident that had forever altered his life, and his brain. He made loud
train whistle sounds up and down Have-Ave, and oftentimes went to
the Ballard ball games and made loud farting noises with his mouth.
Of the Oddballs who wandered the suburb, Newt was king.
Behind him, shuffling along rather than walking, came Franco, an
Italian man who scrounged in garbage cans and snagged the stubs of
cigarettes left behind in sand traps of butt-cans lining the business district.
Franco had been exiled from Italy due to the fact that he came home
from the war to find his wife sleeping with another man. He stabbed
them both to death with a butcher knife, and ended up exiled to America,
where he ended up in the small suburb of Havelock.
Coming up behind Newt and Franco were two dwarfs known as
George and Louie, though the kids of Havelock commonly called them
Opey and Dopey. The two small men, one plump and hefty, the other
skinny as a rail, lived above the mortuary, and on most days they could
be seen standing on the corner across from the Joyo theater, watching
cars go by. All day long. It was obvious that the four odd men noticed
the boys’ handiwork, for they stopped and gawked at it, muttering to
themselves. Nate came running up. He snatched a paint can out of Reason’s
hand and began to spray the four men with wild raking motions.
George tried to hide behind Louie, and Newt backed up against the freshly
painted front of the Emerald and ended up with paint up and down his
backside. “Holy Mary, Mother of God!” gasped Franco. The two dwarfs
cringed in terror behind Newt. But little old Franco glared defiantly
at Nate. “What’s a wrong with you, boy?”
Nate took offence. “What do you mean, what’s wrong with me? You
saying, I’m disturbed? You think I’m psycho! I’m nuts!”
The next day at Havelock elementary school, Reason blew up. He
tossed over his desk, threw a chair across the room, and proceeded
to pummel a girl classmate senseless for making fun of his drawing.
By the time he’d landed his third punch, Miss Taylor, his fourth grade
teacher led him away to the Quiet Room.
Reason resisted, going completely ape. “Damn you!” he yelled. “You
hag! You’re a real stinky hag, Miss Taylor!”
He lashed out with tiny, tightly-balled fists, trying to land a punch
on Miss Taylor. “Reason?” came a voice from down the hall behind
them. Miss Taylor looked back at Boone striding down the hall. Boone
had grown up on the mean streets of Havelock, and while most of his
friends were getting high, he volunteered his time at juvenile court.
He not only dealt with his little brother’s problem behaviors, he had
been assigned five other adolescents who were struggling with their
own behavioral issues, including drug addictions. Boone served as a
truancy tracker to these five problem teens. He also spent time working
at Outreach down at the local detention center.
He was a controversial figure, with his long, dark shoulder-length
hair and his uncanny ways of dealing with some of the more troubled
kids. Rose, the mother of both boys, who ran her own drug and alcohol
group at Saint Pat’s church, once told Reason, “Boone is like that horse whisperer, who knows how to tame even the wildest horses. Only Boone is the kid-whisperer, because he knows how to get through to some
of the most hard-core kids.”
Lately, due to Reason’s increased aggression at school, Boone had
been doing his volunteer work for the court at Reason’s school. Teacher
welcomed his intervention when the Typhoon Kid went out of control.
And Boone, a three-year student in the Sho Rei Khan dojo, was able
to apply all the martial arts restraint moves he could muster to keep
Reason from hurting himself.
“Go to hell, Boone!” ranted Reason, breaking free of Miss Taylor’
grasp. Boone knew better than to leave himself open to a free shot by
the cussing, spitting, raging kid. When Reason swung at him with his
right fist, Boone latched onto his wrist, waiting for the left to come flying
at him. When it did, he moved with the grace of a martial artist, and
latched onto this wrist, as well. “Got him now,” Boone said. “You can
return to class.” Miss Taylor smiled gratefully and moved toward her
classroom. By the time they reached the door to the Quiet Room, Boone
had Reason in a basket hold, his arms drawn tight against his chest.
The only thing Reason could do is head-butt him. But Boone leaned
into him, keeping his arms pulled tightly against his sides, using the
side of his body to absorb the impact of his striking head. Boone then
used his left leg to sweep Reason’s legs out from under him, taking
him down to the floor on his rump. He came crashing down too stunned
to realize Boone had swiftly removed his tennis shoes.
Tossing the shoes outside the Quiet Room, Boone shoved Reason
forward, exited the room, pulling the door closed behind him. Ka-wham!
Ka-thud! Bang! Thud! Thud! Reason was on the closed door within
seconds, venting his rage on the solid wood with his fists and knees.
He had already broken one toe earlier that year when he’d kicked it
sock-footed. So he knew better than to rail at the barrier with his feet.
After a fair amount of pounding with his fists, he then planted his butt
against the door and reared back into it. Until he smacked his head so
hard he saw double for several long seconds.
All the while, Boone stood just outside the door, silently listening.
It took another thirty minutes for Reason to wind down. By then, he
was exhausted from keeping up a constant barrage on the door. Boone
opened the Quiet Room door to find Reason sprawled on the floor. “This
ain’t right,” he muttered.
Boone held out his hand. Swatting his hand aside, Reason skulked
down the hall in front of his brother. Before entering the classroom,
he sullenly took back his shoes from him and slipped them on. Reason
joined the circle of kids seated on the reading area rug. He acted as if
nothing had even happened earlier, while his classmates risked quick,
nervous glances at him. It never occurred to Reason that they feared
him, or that they sat around the dinner table in their homes, relating
the violent episodes of the whacked-out kid in their classroom. It never
dawned on him that his behavior was anything out of the ordinary.
Nate struck Reason in the center of his chest. Reason doubled over,