We were sitting on the parkway benches, not bothering anyone bigger than us. Just the guys who usually hung out together, a gang when there were a lot of us, a social club when we were outnumbered. Phip was leaning against the railing that separated the pedestrian walk from the bicycle path, talking to Patsy "Push" Scagliano. The rest of us were sprawled nearby, trying to hear them. It was a warm summer night in Brooklyn. An endless stream of cars rolled down Ocean Parkway, crammed full of wives and babies, heading for an evening's entertainment at Coney Island. A soft wind whispered through the Sycamore trees, rubbing the leaves together like old men's bones. It was a night to take a girl to the beach and lie close on the sand, watching the moon slowly swim across the sky as it bathed the lovers' embrace in soft white light, only interrupting them when another couple, looking for privacy, wandered near. Phip was almost sane tonight, as if the soothing fingers of summer reached deep inside him, stroking him to calmness. He talked to Patsy without raving wildly or spraying her with spittle. Pony, Tom-Tom, Billy and Tommy watched in amazement as Phip talked quietly with Patsy, almost as if he were normal. "Ya know guys," Tommy said quietly, "I bet Push lets Phip take her home tonight." "Yeah, Tommy," Billy agreed. "You'd never believe what a jerk he is, lookin' at him now." "You're not kiddin', Billy," Tommy explained. "Yesterday in school we was in the cafeteria an' we pushed ahead of everybody else on the lunch line. Phip turns to this girl behind us an’ says: 'Jeez. You gotta great pair a headlights. Your old man must work for General Motors.' The girl turned as red as her sweater an’ took off. She didn't know what to say to him." "Ya know, ya gotta watch that guy," Tom-Tom said. "He's gonna get inta real trouble someday, the way he fools around with girls. He's always talkin' about how he'd like ta grab a girl on a real dark night an' rape her. He's nuts enough to do it, too." "Awright, Tom-Tom, maybe you're right," Pony said. "Maybe he'll even get the hot seat someday for gettin' horny at the wrong time. But you sure don't help him any, the way you're always exciting him...Ah. It's too nice ta argue. Let's get some of the girls an' go ta Coney Island." "That's a good idea, Pony," Billy agreed enthusiastically. Pony took charge with his usual efficiency. "Billy. You an' Tommy give the girls a call an' tell them ta meet us at Short-arm Louie's in half an hour." Billy nodded. "Awright. We won't be long...." When the two boys walked away, Tom-Tom said: "Hey, Pony." "Yeah?" "After we meet the girls, let's walk by my house. If my brother's not usin it, I'll take his car." "It beats walkin', Tom-Tom. Hey Push, do ya wanna go ta Coney Island with us, and be with Phip?" "I can't, Pony. I gotta baby-sit. But if Phip's real nice, maybe I'll let him come over an' keep me company for a while." Phip was delighted. "Gee, can I Patsy? I'd like ta." "Awright, Phippy. But let's wait until Jeanie gets here with the girls, 'cause I wanna talk ta her about somethin'." "Sure, Patsy. I don't mind waitin', if I'm with you." Tom-Tom shook his head in disgust. "Just look at them, Pony," Tom-Tom muttered. "The pig of the Parkway an' crazy Phip, makin' like lovebirds." "Shut-up, Tom-Tom. Whadda you care what they do." "I don't care. But don'tcha think it's funny? She's been layin' on her back for the whole neighborhood, except Phip, an' he's the biggest nut there is." "I don't wanna hear ya say anything about them. Patsy knows what Phip's like, an' Phip sure as hell knows about Patsy. So as long as they ain't hurtin' anybody, leave'em alone. Besides, Billy an' Tommy may kid him as much as anybody else, but they've been friends for a long time, an' they'll stick up for him." "Billy better keep outta my way or he'll get smeared," Tom-Tom threatened. "I don't want any fightin' between the guys, so remember what I said. Knock it off now, cause Billy an' Tommy are comin'... What happened, you guys? Did ya speak ta Jeanie?" "Yeah," Billy responded. "She said she loves ya, an' she'll see ya at Short-arm Louie's... Oh, I almost forgot. She said that she'd bring Big Dora for Tom-Tom, cause she knows how much he likes her." "You're gettin' ta be a real wise guy, Billy," Tom-Tom growled. "An' one of these days you're gonna go too far, an' wake up in the hospital." "Whatsa matter with you, Tom-Tom?" Billy taunted. "We heard ya brought her to Bullethead's cellar last week, an’ ya seemed ta go for all that meat." "I'm tellin' ya, Billy, shut your mouth or I'll shut it for ya." "Oh yeah? Ya better get some help, 'cause you'll need it." "Both of you guys cut it out," Pony ordered. "I told ya no fightin' among ourselves." Tommy suddenly got up and started looking down the street. "Hey Pony, there's a bunch of guys comin' towards us, real quick. There must be twenty-five or thirty of them." They all turned and looked and Billy said: "Maybe they're the Goblins, Pony. They've been having it out with the Counts. The other night one of their guys got shot. Maybe they're looking to get even with someone. Ya think we should let the Counts know that they're comin?" "Sit tight, Billy," Pony ordered. "It's too late to outrun them. If they see you take off we'll all get our lumps. None of you guys say anything, an' maybe they'll keep going an' leave us alone."