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Chapter 13 January 2, 1995

The moment Philly’s head went down, Mark knew he lost him. He was afraid that this would happen which was why he asked about the stocking drawing first instead of the swastika. He didn’t want him to think he was in trouble. But since at least for now he thought it was no good to press him, Mark told him, “It’s OK, Philly. If you like you can go back to your seat now and play Heads-Up Seven-Up with the others.

Any trouble Philly deserved to get in for writing Hitler or drawing the swastika was a secondary concern at present, and frankly not a concern at all to Mark. Mark’s primary concern was: Where the Hell is Ms. Green? The thing was Philly had been acting weird and Ms. Green wasn’t at school. Those two things can occur independent of each other quite easily. But Mark couldn’t help but think Philly’s weirdness was somehow connected with Julie’s absence.

Shortly before lunch a red eyed Alan Sampson stuck his head into Mr. Nelson’s door. It was clear any news that he had wasn’t going to be good. Mark walked up to Alan. Before he was even able to reach him Alan broke down in tears. The two stepped outside of the classroom together.

“I haven’t told Helen yet. They were really good friends ya know?”

“What is it, Alan?”

Through tears, Alan told Mark, “Cops called me back said they wasn’t allowed to say much more than she’s gone.”

“You mean dead?” asked Mark.

“Yes. Cops said from the looks of it about two weeks. But couldn’t tell me much more. I told them you might know something, Mark.”

“What did you say?”

“All the stuff you told Helen and me about Philly Suchie,” Alan said crying. “That you was worried he had made a joke about getting Julie a weapon for Christmas, and that he been constantly making a busy tone with his mouth. I could tell that this made their ears perk up. I bet dollars to donuts their next step is heading over to Philly’s house to ask his parents’ permission to speak with him,” Alan said. “Now from what I understand, if they get the OK from the parents then they can talk to the kid without him having an attorney present. I tell you, I don’t like that one bit.”

“Yea, me either,” agreed Mark.

“I already called Bernard and told him to head this way. If the police get here before he does, I need you to stall them the best you can. If you can’t stall you need to make sure you are right next to Philly should they ask him anything.”

“What about my students?” asked Mark.

Don’t worry. Helen and I will take care of that.”

It had all been worth it, Philly thought to himself while sitting back at his desk. He had taken the piece of paper back with him, and started shading the bike seat with his pencil. He wished again he had a blue Crayola crayon.

Toys R Us was everything he’d dreamed it would be. Big Ern got him the exact bike he wanted. This was the super-sized big thing Big Ern had promised him. Plus they were able to find two of the three medium sized things there too. All but the board game, he couldn’t remember the name of.

For his one big sized thing they had to go to another store, but Big Ern said he didn’t mind. A promise was a promise Big Ern taught him that.

But the best moment of all was when they got home with the stuff. Philly’s mom started crying. Philly asked her why she was acting sad, and she said it was tears of joy. She was crying because it was the best Christmas the family ever had. Sharing that moment with his mom was the best memory he ever had with her. But then it all changed when he asked her about the board game.

The thing was, Philly didn’t know his mom had whored up with a nigger, like Big Ern started yelling at her she did. If he knew that just maybe he could forgive her for it since she was his mom and all. But soon as Big Ern realized she did it, he made it where Philly couldn’t forgive her no more.

Sharing that moment of joy with his mom, Philly said, “This ain’t even it. I still get to have one more medium sized thing, huh Big Ern?”

“A promise is a promise, and I promised you three medium sized things,” Big Ern said smiling at Kat.

“We would have gotten it tonight,” Philly said, “but I couldn’t think of the name. I knew you’d remember. It’s that board game we all used together.”

“Oh you mean, Pente?” she said. Not a moment later Kat’s tears of joy would turn into tears of fright mixed with tears of pain.

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