Free Ironman by Chris Crutcher

Book: Ironman by Chris Crutcher Read Free Book Online
Authors: Chris Crutcher
absent. I guess I’m saying that, even at eleven, when I hadn’t seen fifty dollars in one place outside my dad’s cash register, that sound was easily worth a hundred.
    So, Lar, guess who didn’t have a lot of time for my explanation of why my crisp new Ben Franklin hadn’t found its way into my bank account at First Interstate. Tough guess, huh? Ol Lucas Brewster was one pissed sporting-goods salesman.
    â€œYou did what? ”
    â€œI gave it to a guy, Dad.”
    â€œWell what did you get from this guy?”
    I wanted to tell him, but I thought better. The cold and hungry man’s cry rang clearly in my ears. “Nothing.” I told him who I gave it to.
    â€œYou gave it to a tramp?”
    â€œHe was cold, Dad. All his stuff had holes in it. Cooper scared him real bad, and I couldn’t see if he had any food or anything.”
    My dad palmed the back of his neck—his trademark gesture for times when his bonehead firstborn son tops himself in the startingly stupid move department—and walked to the other side of the living room. I thought about making a break for my room, but when L. Brewster palms the back of his neck and walks away, the only thing you know for sure is, he’s coming back.
    â€œBeauregard,” he said in that low, even tone that means you have offended his sensibilities in a criminal way, “do you know how many tramps there are in the world?”
    The smartass part of me wanted to give him a number, but the survivor part of me pushed the smartass part of me on its smart ass. I said, “Probably a lot.”
    â€œWhat kind of job do you think you’ll have to get if youwant to give them each a hundred dollars?”
    â€œProbably a pretty good one,” I said. The hungry man’s cry faded a bit, and I began to feel ashamed for being so stupid. Dad was right—a lot of people out there needed things. Still, if he had seen this guy…
    He was quiet a minute more, then he said, “I guess you know you’re going to have to repay that money.”
    He might have won me over if he hadn’t said that. “What? To who?”
    â€œTo me. I didn’t give you a hundred dollars to hand over to the first hobo that came down the pike.”
    â€œIt was mine,” I said. “I worked for it.”
    â€œI’m sorry, you’re right,” he said. “It was yours. So you’ll repay yourself. That money was to go into your savings. You will repay yourself by earning a hundred dollars and putting it into your savings account.”
    Even at eleven, Larry, I had learned out of necessity how my dad argued—or at least thought I had—so I tried to help him make sense of it in that no-bullshit Lucas Brewster kind of way. I said, “Wait a minute. I lost the time and I lost the sleep and I lost the money. Even the way you think, that ought to be enough of a punishment.”
    He stood staring at me, slowly shaking his head. “Beauregard, that was a hundred dollars. If I thought youwere capable of learning your lesson from what you lost, I’d let it go, but you have to learn the value of a dollar. What kind of father would I be if I turned you out into the world with your screwed-up sense of money?”
    I retreated to the original passion of my argument. “But this guy didn’t have—”
    â€œThis conversation is over, Bo. You show up at the store Monday after school, and I’ll start you working to repay your debt.”
    â€œI have a flag football game Monday.”
    â€œNot anymore you don’t. This is too important. You’re going to learn to be responsible if it kills me.”
    â€œIt’s not fair! That man was—”
    â€œThis conversation is about the value of a dollar, son, and it’s over.”
    I turned for the stairs leading to my room, knowing full well I was frustrated and angry enough to end up spending another seven months there if I

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