Sammy’s eyes rolled to the back of his head as Jimmy Babcock dropped him to the snowy ground in the parking lot just behind the community center. It had been almost a week since Sammy had escaped the gang, leaving Charlie Grossman without some teeth and Brad Zazchec lying on the ground. Now he was the one out cold. The boys had caught him after a hockey game at the community center and taken him behind the building. Jimmy and Charlie pinned his arms back, letting Brad throw big, wild, right hand punches to his face. Brad was putting all of his weight and might into the beating. Sammy begged for mercy. The first punch made his nose bleed…the second opened a big cut above his left eye…and the third hit him in the temple, dropping him like a wet blanket. His body lay half lifeless in the snow. He was comatose. “That’s the last time you mess with us Nichols! Thought you were the big man in the hood didn’t you? Now look who is out cold!” Jimmy cried mercilessly as he went through Sammy’s clothes looking for money and anything else of value. He reached into the left hand pocket of his pants and found something shiny and big. It was Mr. Nichols’ wristwatch; the one Sammy cherished and carried with him everywhere he went. “Ha ha! Look what we have here boys! This ought to get us a pretty penny somewhere!” The other boys laughed and spit at Sammy’s limp body before fleeing the scene. It was dark and windy outside and the snow began falling all around. Before long he would be buried in the white powder. The winds carried the cold mood of the evening. If he didn’t wake up soon, there was a good chance he would die back there.
“Nichoooooools…. Nichoooooools…. Heeeeeyyy….. waaaaaake uuuuup buddy….,” the voices came in slow whispers. “Get up man… come on, we don’t have time…. You have to come with me now.” Sammy opened his eyes slowly and tried to adjust them to the warm light that was all around him. “Dude. We really have to go or you are going to be in trouble fast.” Sammy blinked and picked himself up easily from the ground. He had the same feeling that he had the night of the dream, warm, tranquil and no feeling in his limbs. “Sammy! Lets go!” It was Eddie. “Take a look man! Look at you! Look on the ground!” He looked down and saw his body lying in the snow. It was mounting around him. He looked at Eddie. “What happened?”, he asked. “You got the beating of your lifetime from Brad Zazchec. Sam, we have to get somebody to your body quickly before you are gone for good! Come on I have an idea.” “Wait” Sammy replied, “Am I dead Eddie?” “Doesn’t look that way Sammy, but you are in deep trouble, and we need to get somebody to your body quickly. You have a lot more to do in life my friend! Come lets go!” With that, they moved quickly to the door of the community center and let themselves in. It was dark all around and it seemed that everyone was gone for the night. Eddie led the way through the hallways and finally into the gymnasium where a light was shining from the men’s locker room. There in the corner of the room was Mr. Anderson, the night watchman and janitor. He was sleeping in a chair leaning back against one of the lockers and he was snoring loudly.
“Alright Sammy, I’m going to go out into the gymnasium and turn on the lights. When they go on, just slam the locker door closed that is next to him and follow my lead…. Oh and Sammy, don’t worry, he can’t see you! Lets go.” Eddie moved out to the gymnasium and found the light switches for illuminating the big basketball court. Click, click, click, click and all the lights zapped on and started humming, warming up the fluorescent bulbs. Sammy looked nervously at the sleeping watchmen. He was afraid to act. “Now Sammy! Do it!” Eddie yelled from inside the gym. Sammy collected his courage and slammed the locker next to Mr. Anderson and watched him jump nearly two feet out of his chair with excitement. “What the heck is going on in here!” yelled Mr. Anderson as he looked around the locker room. Eddie was right; he couldn’t see Sammy even though he was standing right in front of him. Sammy leaned back against the wall as Mr. Anderson ran past him and grabbed a flashlight from the back of the locker room. He passed him again as he ran out of the room and into the gymnasium. Sam followed. He was trying to make sense of what was going on and he was grumbling to himself. When he got to the middle of the basketball court, Eddie pushed over a rack of basketballs that was near the door leading outside. They poured all over the gym floor and Mr. Anderson was racing around trying to collect them. Sammy and Eddie laughed at the scene. “Watch this!” Eddie said picking up one of the last stray balls. He started bouncing it towards the back door of the gymnasium. Mr. Anderson cried out, “What in damnation is going on! Get back here crazy ball!” He moved in pursuit of the bouncing basketball as Eddie kept it just a few feet from his reach. When Eddie got close to the back door, he bounced the ball perfectly into the door handle and it swung open letting all the blowing snow and cold air rush into the building. Mr. Anderson followed the bouncing ball down the stairs and into the night. Eddie gave the ball a good kick towards the parking lot where Sammy’s body was nearly completely covered in snow. As Mr. Anderson stooped down to pick up the ball, he saw Sammy’s cold body and yelled out, “Lord almighty!” He grabbed Sammy’s neck to feel for a pulse and slapped his face a bit. “Can you hear me boy? Can you hear me? Oh Lord, this isn’t good!” He picked up the body and brought it inside the gymnasium and ran quickly to phone for an ambulance.
Within a few minutes the ambulance came and Mrs. Nichols was phoned. He was alive and they were taking him to Mercy Hospital in South Buffalo.
“What do we do now Eddie?” Sammy asked his friend as he watched the ambulance take his body away. “Well, it looks like you are going to make it. I think we should go on an adventure!” Sammy looked at him and smiled, “Lets do it!”