The Linnet's Wings Summer 2014 - Page 129

children. A gusty wind swirled dust into the faces of all the participants. In a far corner of the large packedearth field ten boys formed a small circle. Black-haired, brown-skinned Joe Diaz grinned showing his fluoride-stained teeth. I'll take Nigel.'' Eight voices shouted together. "No fair! No fair! You're the two best players! You can't be on the same team!'' Joe laughed. "OK. I'll take Curly, Mike, Tom, and Spence. The rest of you can have Nigel.'' Wally Marks frowned as he hefted the football. "You gotta kick off.'' Joe kicked the ball high and wide to Wally who muffed the catch but fell on the pigskin in the melee that followed. Back on his feet Wally huddled with his team. He pointed to Nigel and said, "You go out for a pass and the rest of you block.'' Bobby Patterson leaped for the scrimmage line then hesitated and spun around. "Who's gonna hike the ball?'' Laughter greeted his confusion. Joe Diaz shouted, "They don't know what they're doing.'' Nigel lined up on the end of the line, and watched his team squabble over who was going to be the center. Nigel's mind kept traveling; he was thinking that Nigel is a good name but it isn't his. Whitey and Hazel are nice but he already has a Mom and Dad. He wanted to go back to Modesto and be Archie again. He wanted to see Grandma. He wanted to find out if the police were still looking for him. But he didn't want to hurt Whitey and Hazel's feelings. It was a problem that nagged at him constantly. He didn't want to keep living a lie but he couldn't figure a way out that won't hurt everybody. "Hey! Wake up!'' Nigel was stunned as the football whizzed by him and bounced on the ground. Wally raced over to him. "What's a matter?'' Nigel, speechless, shook his head. Joe guffawed and shouted from his position in the defensive backfield. "He's dreaming again.'' Wally pulled Nigel into the huddle. "Nigel, you take the hike and throw a pass to whoever's open.'' He turned to the rest of the team. "Nobody needs to block for Nigel so everybody goes out.'' Nigel smiled to himself, that's why he's so good at football: nobody could catch him. He glanced to the sideline and saw a lone spectator. She was a forlorn-looking little girl wearing a long dress that reached the ground and an old-fashioned sun bonnet that hid her hair. Her name was Breana Worley; she followed him everywhere and stared at him with her sad eyes. The constant surveillance made Nigel uncomfortable but he felt sorry for her. The kids shunned her and talked about her. They said her family practiced a strict religion that made her wear clothes from the olden days. Nigel shook his head to forget Breana and shouted, "Hike!'' The ball flew over his head and he spun, ran it down, and fielded it on the bounce. He sensed his pursuers and he ran to the sideline to escape. On the full run he turned his head and spotted Donald DeCosta running toward the goal. He leaped in the air and hurled the football with all his power. Too late he saw Joe Diaz streaking across the field. He shoved an opponent aside as he charged forward to cut off the victorious Mexican. Mighty Joe had a full grin on his face as he fielded the ball and sprinted toward Nigel. Joe always won these confrontations; running at half speed straight at his would-be tackler, he would thrust the ball out. The tackler would grab for the ball and fall off balance when it was jerked back. Joe would easily dodge around the hapless player and run for a touchdown. Nigel had other ideas: he remembered from his boxing days--go where they're gonna be not where they are. He slowed down as he neared the ball carrier and when the ball came at him he grabbed for the space