Redemption-Part 3

It wasn’t long after Cheech pushed me down the bus steps the Spinellis moved from way over on M street to E street—my street. It was fall and the leaves were startin to turn & get pretty that day the truck pulled up in front of the E street house and started unloading.

His folks ain’t even got their stuff outta the truck & in the house and Cheeech is walkin around E street lookin for a fight. He goes up to Alfred Defazio—Alfred’s our paper boy and he’s pretty good sized—and he’s just just standin there watchin Cheech’s folks unload their stuff and Cheech says like,

“The fuck you lookin at asshole?”

Alfred doesn’t say nothing—just starts walkin away. I never seen Alfred do that—take lip like that and not do anything—but Cheech is a lot bigger than Alfred.

Cheech goes after him, runs up behind him and pushes him hard in the back—almost knocks him down—Alfred tries to take off runnin.

Cheech starts to run as soon as Alfred starts to run—throws a leg in front of Alfred and Alfred goes down hard—cuts his hand he puts out to stop himself and hits his face on the curb and man, blood comes pourin outta Alfred’s nose. Cheech starts kickin him before he can get up. Alfred jumps up again and runs off—climbs over old lady Dimiglio‘s coal bin and jumps the fence. Cheech doesn’t go after him—just stands there pointing and laughin like before—that goofy, put-on, “look-what-a-big-tough-crazy-asshole-I-am” laugh.

A few weeks or so after school starts I’m on the bus—I’m sittin in the back seat—Dirty Annie is in the seat in front of me. She doesn’t smell too bad today—probly got a bath at Mrs. Depysters—and Cheech gets on with a couple of his assistant ass-holes from over on “M” street. I can see right away he’s comin to the back and is gonna sit there so I get up to move. He sees me and pushes me backwards—I fall on the seat Annie’s sittin in and bang into her.

Cheech grabs my shirt, pulls my face up to his and says, “Fuck you four-eyes.” Lotta guys call me that sometimes cause I wear glasses.

He jerks me around and pulls down my pants, I’m wearin shorts with elastic in the waist. A few guys laugh—scared like if they didn‘t Cheech might do something to them. Cheech shoves me on top of Annie and says, “Take care of ‘em stinky,” Annie turns her head and looks out the window like nothing happened. She don’t say nothin the rest of the way to school. Nobody says anything the rest of the way to school.

After that I didn’t ride the bus anymore. I just walked every day.

I was usually able to stay away from Cheech and his asshole friends—even though he lived just down the other end of “E” Street. Whenever he was hangin on his stoop I’d go outta the Park by “F” or “G” street. I stopped goin over to the Floyd Avenue Market cause he & his friends hung out there all the time. Whenever mom sent me to the store to get something I’d walk way over to Bill’s store in Riverdale—I never told her about Cheech.

So one night I’m comin home late. I’d been practicin singin Christmas carols at the church for the Christmas pageant—I got picked to be a shepherd. Dirty Annie was there too. That was the first time I heard somebody say she could sing good—I mean real good!

I never thought Annie could do anything except sit and watch the street. I guess everybody thought that. I wasn‘t there when she sang the first time but people were talkin about it when I came down to the basement to practice my lines. I heard Father Cararri sayin stuff like, “angelic,” and “astonishing.” At first I thought he was talking about the beautiful new mural the church had painted at the back of the sanctuary above the choir loft—of Mary lookin up at Jesus on the cross. But he was talkin about Annie’s singin.

As the rehearsals went on week after week it was weird seein Annie there in the church basement. I never seen her anywhere except at school eating lunch by herself and hangin on the street by herself. And yeah—once I heard her sing I couldn’t believe it either.

End Part three

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