Cemetery Street (Chapter 4, page 1 of 7)


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Chapter 4

It was the first day of school and the gray sky watched Count and I trudge the three blocks to Beyford Junior High. "Do you always have this much bounce in the morning?" Count bemoaned.

"Excited," I answered.

"Good for you," he mumbled.

"Count?"

"That's the name."

"Can I ask you a question?"

"No, you won't get your ass kicked. I got you covered. Yes, the chicks will love you. You're from California, they're dumb enough to think you're from Hollywood. Play it up, tell them you're related to Tom Cruise."

"That's not it." I said stepping onto Bainbridge Street.

He grabbed me and yanked me back onto the curb. The world was filled with the squeal of breaks and the smell of burnt rubber. Over the blare of a car horn Count barked, "Dumb ass, trying to get yourself killed?"

"Asshole," I roared. The driver flipped me off and yelled something about watching were I was going.

"You're the asshole," Count barked.

"F you, we've got the right away."

"How do you figure?"

"Pedestrians always have the right away."

"Maybe in Hollywood Golden Boy, do that here, you'll end up six feet under."

'That's screwed up." I bitched.

"Welcome to the real world," Count said. It wouldn't be the last time Count saved my bacon.

***

That night while my mother and I ate and Father's food cooled - he was working late again - she asked. "What do you know about that blind black man?"

"Who?" I pretended not to know Russell.

"You know the black man that sweeps the sidewalks. He smells like rotten eggs and cigars. I walked past him when he was sitting on the bench across from town hall. He was drinking out of paper bag. Like he was fooling anyone, the drunk. Anyway, today when Shannie was…" She pronounced Shannie's name Shan-knee.

"Shay-knee." I corrected.

"Yeah, her… she was dropped off by a van this afternoon and not five minutes later the black man let himself in their house. I can imagine what happens behind their walls."

That's where Russell was going, I thought. During sixth period - Social Studies - I looked out the window and saw him walking up Cemetery Street, his white cane swinging back in forth in front of him.

"You know whom I talking about?" she asked.

"Russell. Shannie introduced us. He's kind of a fixture in town."

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