Redemption-Part 4 (Waldron Arena,Lexington, VA)

Anyway, so after practice one evening I’m goin home. It’s dark and everything’s real quiet and so cold the snow was like sparkling sugar and the stars shinin so bright it almost hurt to look at them. I’m comin down ”G” street cause I knew Cheech don’t go over there. I see Dirty Annie walkin a few houses in front of me then all of a sudden Cheech is there comin toward me. I try to real quick crawl under a door into a little alley between houses—but he’s on me, draggin me out from under the door. He turns my pockets inside out lookin for change—but I don’t have any money.

He probly thought I was goin to the store—I heard he did that—shook-down kids for money when their folks sent ‘em to the store. I figured he’d punch me or something but he must have been in a pretty good mood cause he just shoves me down and walks away.

I’m getting up and I see Dirty Annie watchin from across the street. Cheech seen her the same time I do—he’s walkin over to her. She doesn’t have a coat on even though it’s so cold—she just has on this old baggy sweater.

It’s weird—she doesn’t run away as he’s walkin toward her. Just stands there in that stupid old sweater lookin at him. He grabs her by the shoulder—or the sweater shoulder—and pulls like he’s gonna jerk her around but the sweater just stretches—like two feet—and she hardly moves. She doesn’t try to run—just looks at him—not a bit scared—I see she has that funny little expression in her eyes—like she knows something Cheech didn’t know. He looks at her lookin at him—shoves her down in a snow bank—calls her a smelly bitch and walks off.

I walk over to Annie—she’s gettin up out of the snow. She doesn’t say anything—just glances at me and walks away, brushing the snow off as she goes down the dark street.

A few weeks later I seen Cheech walkin fast down “F” street and a few minutes later I see an ambulance with the light flashin, in front of Alfred’s house and there’s people standin around out front. Orin Dominico’s there in the crowd and tells me Cheech picked a fight with Alfred and beat him up pretty bad. Alfred was taken to the emergency room and didn’t get out of the hospital for almost a week. Alfred’s dad was real mad—I heard he said some things that could get him in trouble.

The cops talked to Cheech and his old man but nothing happened—nothing hardly ever happens when the cops come to Wright Park. They tried to talk to Alfred’s dad—I heard he wouldn’t say anything—wouldn’t talk to them.

The church pageant was a few weeks later on Christmas Eve. My part where the kings bring baby Jesus the presents went OK—I only had a few words to remember—“Behold, they come.”

Then it was time for the part everyone was looking forward to—Dirty Annie’s song. It looked like everybody in Wright Park was there—word had got around Annie could sing real good and the pageant was moved from the basement to the main sanctuary—the place was packed—people were standin in the aisles.

Father Cararrie had brought in an old friend—a big-time concert organist from New York City, to play for Annie when she sang the Ave’ Maria. As I’m waiting for Annie to start her song I couldn’t believe what I saw. Annie’s mom in the front row all cleaned up—her hair was fixed nice, she had on new clothes—she’d lost some weight—she almost looked beautiful—no—I take that back—she was beautiful.

End Part four

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