As we approached the park I noticed it was unnaturally quiet.
Almost too quiet. That was odd.
But, as we stepped to the gate leading onto the field, I picked up the faint cry of someone in trouble.
“Look!” cried Spags.
Following his outstretched arm, I saw the source of the anguished noises at the far end of the park.
The Zowine brothers were dunking some poor soul by his ankles like a human tea bag into a Department of Parks trash can. The hapless victim’s cries for release echoed pitifully from within the metal container.
“I wonder who that is?”
I looked for some clue who it might be, but all I could see were sneakers. And I didn’t recognize them.
The older Zowine abruptly released his victim’s ankles. Then, giving a roar of triumph, he kicked the barrel over. It rolled a few feet away before coming to a rest against one of the park’s backstops. The brothers pounced on it like those chimps from 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Emerging from the pizza boxes and soda bottles spilling onto the grass was a sobbing-and filthy-Ronny Koripsky. He sat miserably amidst the junk and looked fearfully at his tormentors.
Ronny was a fourth-grader. Easy pickings, he was probably ambushed as he played innocently on the swings.
I shook my head in dismay that a little kid would be so abused. But, at the same time, I was glad it wasn’t me.
Donny, on the other hand, had no such qualms. “Hey, you gorillas!” he shouted, “Why don’t you try and shove me in a garbage can?”
Like wolves suddenly distracted from wounded prey, the Zowines’ heads snapped upright. Their beady eyes focused across the field and I swear I saw their ears cocked in our direction. With horror, I realized they sensed fresh meat.
Ronny, seeing his chance to escape, quickly scrambled from underneath the garbage and bolted to the outfield. I don’t think he stopped until he got home.
The bigger Zowine took a step towards us, his brother a few feet behind.
I grabbed Donny’s sleeve and yanked-hard. “What the hell is wrong with you?”
“They can’t do that to little kids and get away with it!”
“Would you prefer they do it to bigger kids? Let’s get outta here!”
Over his protests, I grabbed Donny’s basketball and chucked it at the Zowines, hoping to distract them. You know, kinda like tossing a pork chop to junkyard dogs.
No such luck.
“Hey! What do you think you’re doing?” Donny cried.
I turned on my heels and bolted for the entrance. “A peace offering,” I said. “One which apparently didn’t work.”
Chased by howls of frustrated fury, we escaped up the hill away from the park. Spags, having already fled the scene, waited for us at the top.
From behind us came an enraged, “Hey, Penwasser! You and the other dorks stay right there!”
I turned to see The Incredible Bulks lumbering to the foot of the hill. Jeez, how’d they move so fast?
Donny insanely taunted, “Hey! I didn’t think apes could run so quick! Don’t your knuckles get in the way?”
Ignoring Spags’ pleas to leave him as a sacrifice, I grabbed Donny and dragged him with us. Ducking through a set of hedges, we disappeared through a series of backyards until we could no longer hear our pursuers.
Emerging a couple blocks later, we glanced both ways before stepping onto the sidewalk. Firmly believing that discretion was the better part of valor-and bloody noses-we headed even farther away from the park.
“Well, now what?” I asked.
Donny started to speak but thought better of it. I’ll bet the lunatic wanted to go back.
Then, he thought for a second. “Hey, how about the tracks? Maybe we can zing a couple of freight cars.”
Well, as cheap entertainment went, you could do a lot worse than flinging rocks at trains. Plus, since the tracks stretched along the busy Boston-New York corridor, there was sure to be an abundance of easy targets.
At any rate, it sure beat being a Zowine crash test dummy.
To be concluded.....
To be concluded.....