Recap: Sender is back at Huffman Prairie with the Wright brothers, and he is helping out in the bike shop. An unsavory man comes into the bike shop when Sender is alone in the shop, and Sender suspects its Oliver Crook Haigh.

“Ezra!” Ima was calling me. I closed the journal.

Ima appeared in the doorway. “I was calling you. Mickey has to go to bed now.”

“Oh, sorry. I’ll bring him down.”

“The story is scary,” Mickey said clutching his blanky.

“We don’t have to read more if you’re scared.”

“I want more,” he said.

“Okay, good night.” I left him in the basement with his mother.

“Ezra, is that the right thing to read to such a little boy?”

“I didn’t think he would understand it. But he says he likes the story.”

Ima shrugged. “Well, it’s what happened to my great-grandfather.”

The next morning, I headed to school with butterflies fluttering in my stomach. What if that Kalman kid was back? What would I tell Mr. Rabinowitz about my writing topic? My non-existent writing topic!

Baruch Hashem, Kalman wasn’t in school. Danny told me he thought he was still suspended. I wanted to go to Rabbi Kleiner and tell him about the park incident, as my aunt said I should, but we had a Chumash test and then there was a big kickball game at recess that I didn’t want to miss. Mr. Rabinowitz gave me another night to think of a topic since I had been sick, but one more night only, he said. I went to the principal’s office at the end of the day to tell him about what Kalman had done to me in the park, but Rabbi Kleiner was in a meeting, so I decided I’d try to talk with him tomorrow.

Danny had already left, so I headed home alone. That was my first mistake: Never walk home alone when bullies could be lurking.

As I headed across the abandoned field towards home, Kalman jumped out at me. This time he was wielding some stones. “Hey, tattler. Big guy.” He threw a stone. I ducked.

“Scaredddy ccccat!” He mimicked my stammer and threw another stone.

It grazed my shoulder.

I wanted to run away, but I remembered Aba had said you have to show you’re not scared and stand up to a bully. If only Danny were here.

He pelted me with stones. I felt blood trickling down the side of my face.

I bent down. There was a big rock. Should I throw it?

A rock hit me in the head. For a minute I felt the world spin. Then I was on the ground.

Kalman strode over and stepped on my chest. This is it, I thought. I said Sh’ma.

Just then, a man rushed over and pulled him off. Kalman squirmed out of his grip and ran.

The man helped me up. “You okay? Should I call an ambulance?”

I tried sitting up but I was dizzy.

The man pulled out his phone and called an ambulance. “What’s your mother or father’s number?” he asked.

They’d be so upset. I didn’t want to have to call them.

“I need their number,” the man said.

I told him. This was all so awful.

Aba arrived at the park the same time as the ambulance. The drivers helped me sit up. They checked me over and felt around my bruised cheek. They asked me to wiggle my arms and legs and they decided I didn’t need to go to the hospital.

On the way home, I told Aba what happened. He called Rabbi Kleiner. “This boy will have to be sent away from the yeshivah, and at this point the police will have to be notified. This is a criminal act.”

I was relieved I wouldn’t have to deal with him anymore, but part of me wondered what would happen to him. He obviously needed help.

When we walked in the door, Mickey ran over to me. “You got a big boo-boo!” he said. He looked worried.

“It’s okay, Mickey. I’m okay. Come upstairs; we’ll read a little.” I really needed to distract myself.

To be continued…

 By Susie Garber