Tuckahoe Elementary School
Richmond Virginia

    The dull copper penny strikes the tiled hallway floor with a chinking sound followed by a soft scrape as it slides along in front of Danny's sneakers. He does not look down, as a normal person might, at the sound.

    "Hey jewboy, go get it! go get it!" echos from the hard sides of Tuckahoe Elementary School's corridor, followed by high-pitched screams of laughter. Another penny skips past him, a neolithic weapon, brandished by Richmond's Neanderthals.

    "Hey Billy!," one of them calls, "what happened when Eddie Fisher sang 'There's a Gold Mine in the Sky'?"

    Immediately comes Billy's well-known refrain "50,000 Jews joined the air force!" Peals of laughter.

    Henry looks straight ahead. He is deaf. He pretends deafness. Deaf to pennys, and to this banter. "They can't be talking to me," he tells himself. "Not me. I'll just keep walking. Not me. They can't be talking to me. He knows they are calling exactly to him. But he contines. "They'll see. This doesn't apply to me."

    He walks. Another penny ricocchets off of his heel. Catcalls. Hoots. He touches his huge, jewboy nose, this billboard of shame, and feels the tenderness, and remembers Johnny Rasmussen's fist, and the gross crunching sound of yesterday afternoon as his nose and Rasmussen's fist completed a similar conversation.

    "Infantry." he considers, white hot rage hidden below an eleven-year old's quiet, freckled, cheeks. "Infantry. I'm gonna join the goddam Infantry."

    He turns into Mrs. Revere's classroom and joins the other few who are already in their seats before the bell.

    Daniel Friedman's Poetry & Short Stories
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