In the afternoon he rode his bike around town and stopped by the Jack and Jill Park. He got a soda at the concession stand and watched a Little League ballgame for a while. Then he walked over to where he saw a few of his friends in the playground area.
Matt and Felix were at the crafts table making pencil holders out of Popsicle sticks. He saw Greg and Wiley nearby at a picnic table.
Wiley cocked his head to Joey. “Hey, city boy. Matt and Mutt are doing girly stuff.” He tossed a few rocks at the back of them and snickered. “Bull’s eye.”
Matt spun around. “I said cut it out!”
“Hi, Joey.” Greg had his bike upside down and was attaching playing cards to the spokes using wooden clothes pins.
Joey watched Greg choose several new cards from his pocket. “I used to do that to my bike. In Chicago.”
“Ooooh,” said Wiley. “In the big city? We’re so impressed.”
Greg spun the front wheel and smiled at the sharp fluttering sound of the cards.
Wiley threw a rock at the sliding board where it made a loud ping.
Greg looked up from his bike. “Watch what you’re doing! There are kids playing there.” He flipped his bike over and rode off, shaking his head. “See ya, Joey.”
Wiley spotted Rufus Sharp walking along the street, took aim, and raised his arm.
Joey grabbed Wiley’s hand and twisted it until he dropped the rock. “You’re nothing but a bully, Wiley, a stinking coward! Good thing you’re not in Chicago. You’d be beaten to a pulp.” Joey got on his bike and began to ride off.
“Loser!” Wiley called after him. “You’re just here because nobody else wants you! Your parents don’t even want you! You’re just like Rufus—a loser!”
Joey ignored the taunt, but a tiny place inside of him wondered if it was true.
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