My brother Danny and I looked at each other in relief. We didn't see Chuck much during the week since he worked the midnight shift. It was during the weekends that we had the most contact with him, and that was worse than dealing with the bullies at P.S. 102.

I stopped eating my Wheaties because the smell of cooking sausage from the neighbors was making me feel sick.

My grandmother came out of the kitchen. "How are you, sweetheart?"

Gram was stocky with white hair and glasses. I don't even know if stocky was the word, maybe hulky even. Mom had called her a "tough old bird" in the past and I knew just what that meant. For instance, one time, she was cleaning under the refrigerator and the bottom grate sliced off the top of her knuckle. She just got up, bandaged her hand and kept on scrubbing the refrigerator.

Mom said, "I'm going to take the boys out. We'll see you in a little while."

"Ok, love you," Gram said.

"All right, you two, wait for me outside. Stay on the stoop," Mom said to us.

Danny and I reluctantly went outside. We stood on the stoop of our house on Dahlgren Place, still rubbing the sleep out of our eyes and the food from the corners of our mouths.

"I can't believe Mom is making us go," Danny said.