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To Love Mercy

To Love Mercy was first published in 2006 by Mid Atlantic Highlands. It won eight awards including a prestigious Eric Hoffer Award. Now it will be republished in a new edition from TouchPoint Press. Watch this space for news of availability. Meantime, a limited number of copies of the original Mid Atlantic Highlands edition remain available and are available at one-third off the original cover price (plus shipping). Contact the author at frank@frankjoseph.com for review copies or ordering information.


Read the opening pages here ...





Chapter 1: Tuesday, June 15, 1948


  By the time I get back, Dad and Grandpa are standing in the gangway, smoking. They're talking about Earl Caldwell's single, the one that won it, but they look nervous. I know Dad is going to be mad because I took so long with the autograph. But something else is the matter too.


  Dad just says Let's get a move on. It's almost midnight.


  We'll be OK, Grandpa says.


  Yeah. When we're in the car with the doors locked. Come on Pop. Come on Steve.


  I'm ready to go anyway. I wanted Luke Appling's autograph or even Taffy Wright would've been OK, but when I get to the dugout, Appling and Wright are in the showers already and who the heck is left? Then just when I'm turning around I bump into Seerey. Really, he's standing there and I kind of walk right into him. He's fat for a ballplayer. I say Sorry and he says That's OK kiddo do you want me to sign your program and I'm sort of embarrassed because one, I don't have a program with me, and another, I actually didn't. I wanted Appling, not Seerey, who's this new guy from Cleveland that Frank Lane traded for Bob Kennedy and Al Gettel. He's supposed to be a power hitter but he hasn't done much yet and the White Sox are way last, sixteen games out, they're going to need a lot more than Seerey. Though he did get that single in the third. They beat the Yankees nine to eight tonight but it took eleven innings. Rickie says they're crummy and he's going to start rooting for the Cubs.


  But now I've been waiting half an hour so I say Sure. Because I think at least I should have someone's autograph for when I get back because it's so late and Dad's going to be mad, which he was.


  So give me your program kid.


  I pretend I don't hear him and reach into my pocket but all I've got on me is the new Appling card. I gave Rickie a Bill Wight for it and then he wanted my old torn Appling card too and I had to promise to buy him ten Mary Janes at the school store and they're a penny each so that's a dime.


  I hand the card to Seerey and he writes PAT SEEREY LEFT FIELD BATTING .253. All over Appling's face.


  Then I get back and there are Dad and Grandpa all alone. Everyone else is gone home. Well, a colored guy with a push broom. Dad says Did you fall in? I say Huh? and he says Skip it let's just get a move on by the time we drop your grandpa off it'll be one o'clock your mom'll kill us.


  I couldn't help it though.


  So we're walking along Thirty-Fifth Street and there's nobody out here either. All I can hear is our shoes. They've got their hands in their pockets and their heads down. Dad's saying Pick it up Pop. Dad calls Grandpa Pop, not Dad, but I call Dad Dad. I guess I could call him Pop. But I never have.


  Grandpa says We'll be all right there's attendants. But when we get to the parking lot there aren't any. Just one or two cars left. The Buick is all the way on the far side, over where it's the most dark.


  I run ahead and swing around a lamp pole but Dad says Cut it out. I say Why? He says You're making me nervous.

But there's no one else out here.


  He says That's why.


  I don't get it.


  Grandpa says You don't know. The shochers.


  I still don't get it.


  The shochers. The shvartzes.


  Now I get it maybe. Sometimes Grandpa talks those words, I don't know them, but they're bad words or maybe not bad, but you've got to say them in Yiddish not English. I don't know if that makes them bad. But it might.


  I heard Grandpa say one of them before. Not the other. I never heard the other. They probably both mean the same. I think I know what the one means.






  He says Yeah Negroes except he says it like knee-grows. What do they teach you in school anyway?


  I don't feel so good. My stomach hurts. Maybe it's just I've got to pee. I should of gone after Seerey ruined the Appling card but I didn't because of how late. I'm sleepy too, even though I stay up this late sometimes reading comics by the hall light and they don't know it unless they catch me, but I stuff the comics under the bed when I hear them coming so they don't catch me very often. I'm going to be real sleepy at school tomorrow. Mom almost didn't let me come to the game because of school and she wouldn't've except it's Tuesday and school's out Friday for summer. And I haven't seen a White Sox game yet this year. And maybe because it's my birthday Saturday. I'll be ten. Maybe that's why she let me.


  Then out come those kids. ...


Read more? Contact the author at frank@frankjoseph.com ...