At dinner K told me that Andy, his childhood friend, had e-mailed him a photo today.
In the photo, K had an enormous black eye.
Andy's e-mail had said,
"How'd you get that black eye?" To which K wrote back,
"I can't believe YOU are asking me that, Andy!"
"Why?" I asked, "What happened?"
"I've told you this story," K said.
"What story?" The Mayor and The Rooster chimed in.
"When I was in fourth grade, I was on a baseball team," K started.
"When you were MY age?" The Mayor clarified.
"No, not when I was FOUR, when I was in fourth GRADE."
"How old were you in fourth grade, Dad."
"Um... I was nine... like Theo. So I was on a baseball team..."
"Theo is ten, Dad."
"Do you want me to tell the story?"The Mayor nodded.
"Okay then... When I was in fourth grade, I was on a baseball team."
"You were NINE."
"That's right. I was playing second base and my friend Andy was playing third base."
"Theo is ten."
"I know that, Mayor."
"Tell the story, Dad!" The Rooster shouted.
"The coach was hitting balls and we were practicing in the field. The coach hit one that went past the outfielder, who had to go get it. In the meantime, the coach started a second ball, so I was watching the coach at home plate. Suddenly I heard Andy scream my name from third. I turned and the ball hit me right in the eye."
"Did he throw it at you?"
"No, the outfielder was throwing the ball home. Andy was trying to warn me because it was coming straight for me. I guess if I hadn't turned towards him the ball would have hit me in the back of the head and given me a concussion."
"A concussion?"[K skipped right over that one.]
"My eye swelled shut and stayed that way for seven days," K told them.
"When I went to mass on Sunday, Monsignor Skelly looked out over the congregation and said, 'There's a little Irish boy here named K andK stopped going to church when he was sixteen, after his father died.
he's got the best shiner I've ever seen'."
Years later, when K heard Monsignor Skelly's health was failing, he went to hear him say mass once more.
The Monsignor looked out over the congregation and said,
"There's a young man with us tonight that I haven't seen in a long time. I remember a day when he was just a boy when he came to mass with the best shiner I've ever seen. I want to welcome him home."