The Book of the Three


We all thought it was as good as gold Junie was headed to the Capstone for his matriculation. Their baseball coach had been doing back flips for Junie since sophomore year. But then came the men with stopwatches and clipboards. Who’s the ugly little man over there with the cigar and the stun gun? That aint no stun gun. It’s for him knowing how fast the ball goes. What you need to know that for—they hit it or they don’t. Well. Yes. But they got to write something on them clipboards. And they wrote on them clipboards all right. What they must have wrote the most was you have got to come see this. Come they did. Our games were a hot ticket. People came just as much to watch the baseball men watch him. Sad to say, impossible dreams cropped up in the dugout. We all had our moments of thinking it. Just one diving catch. Gun down a lead-off man from deep in the hole. Stay back and drive a mean two-strikes pitch the other way. Just anything to show you too are a player. Just anything to show you are worth a chance. We won just the same as we always did. But the dugout got quieter in between innings. Like we were just waiting. Then comes the thing that makes all things come to a head. Senior Promenade. Was Junie going to ask her or was he not? What perfect girl does not want to take her rightful spotlight at the prom? It is once or maybe just twice in a lifetime. The three of us got bold and we asked him about it out at Brother Paul’s. Junie kept mum. We pressed on. We heard she’s waiting on you and if you don’t ask her she says she just won’t go. Am I her keeper then? he asked us. Kind of, we said, yeah. Go on and tell them, then, said Brother Paul. He was at the tiny stove cooking up his plain white beans. Tell us what, we said. Oh, shoot, said Junie. Just shut up about that, Paul. I’m tired of it. Why can’t everybody just do whatever they got to do and leave me the hell out of it for once? This was the most our friend Junie had ever said at one time in his whole life, as far as we knew. Plus he had cursed. He bolted out of the hut when he was through. He was gone. There we were with Brother Paul and his bowl of beans. He took a spoonful and blew on it. He waited for it to cool. Boys, he said, our man Junie’s got a lot to think about these days. We nodded like we knew what he was talking about. We did not. You know he’s not like the rest of us. Yes. Yes we knew. The day’s coming when he’s got to decide what he’s going to make of himself. See, boys, Junie can change the whole world if he wants to. The whole cotton-pickin’ world. But that’s a big thing to try to do. Awful lot of responsibilities go with it. And an awful lot you got to give up. You talk like he is some caped crusader, we said. Yes, well, said Brother Paul, that is one way to think about it.