Chapter 3in our mystery for young readers. A new friendship grows on a hot summer night.
Putting ointment on his scratches, Sebastian noticed they were beginning to scab over. He thought about his punishment. Not riding his bike wouldn't be a problem. He had to get a new wheel and a new helmet. He had to wait until his father was paid next week before that could be done. Not watching any television for a week was going to be a lot harder. He had planned out all the baseball games that were going to be on TV. Well, he wasn't going to be enjoying the Phillies this week.
Actually, his parents had not been too angry with him. They were mostly frightened by what could have happened. Sebastian felt guilty when he looked in his mother's eyes. He saw her imagining all sorts of terrible things happening to him. I didn't matter that they didn't occur. He didn't argue with his restrictions. He knew when he decided to do the stunt that they wouldn't approve. Oh, well, he thought, his father was always saying, "It's okay to make mistakes, we just need to learn from them." He had learned that stunt riding was not for him.
Sebastian heard the doorbell ring. "I'll get it Mom," he called running for the door. He slid to a stop right in front of the door. Sliding in socks on wooden floors was the only stunt work he planned to do from now on.
Sebastian could see Andy through the door's glass. "Yo, what's up?" he asked as he opened the door.
Andy came in saying, "I came over to see if you wanted to go to a ball game with us. Dad has tickets to the Huntsville Stars game. We're going to drive over, go to the mall, and then go to the game. Want to come?"
"Sure! Let me just ask my Mom. Come on in the kitchen, she's making bread."
"Bread! I don't think my mom's ever made bread."
"Well, she loves to cook. Mom says the best thing about not teaching is trying all the recipes she's collected," Sebastian replied, as they walked into the kitchen. "Besides, my dad think supermarket bread is too squishy." He stopped and imitated his father's deep, booming voice, "There's no crust and it tastes like paper!"
"Hi Andy," said Bridget Bellopiedi. She and Cassie looked as if they were preparing for a clown act, their faces were white from flour. Mrs. Bellopiedi was intensely turning and pushing the bread dough.
"Hello ma'am. Hi Cassie," Andy said.
Cassie had her own piece of dough that she was pounding. She held it up to show the boys. "See Bats. I make bread."
"Bats?" Andy asked.
"Cassie can't say Sebastian, so she calls me Bats. That's great Cassie," Sebastian said walking over to her. "You make the best bread. Yummmmm," he said pretending to eat Cassie's dough. "Mom, Andy's invited me go to a baseball game with him. Can I go?"
"May I go?" she said correcting him.
Sebastian rolled his eyes. He knew she did it without thinking, but he really wished his mother wouldn't correct him in front of other people.
"It should be okay. What time are you leaving, and what time will you return?"
"Well, we'll go about two, but the game starts at seven. We usually leave by ten o'clock even if the game isn't finished. That way we're home by eleven-thirty. Sebastian just needs to be at my house by two," Andy explained.
"That shouldn't be a problem," Mrs. Bellopiedi said. "Sebastian, you can go to karate tomorrow night instead of tonight. Now Andy, would your parents like a loaf of whole wheat or olive bread?"
The boys and the Reverend Miller settled into their seats between third base and home plate. Sebastian turned to Andy, "This is great! I've never been this close to professional baseball before. Whenever we went to see the Phillies play we say so high the players looked like ants on the field."
Andy's father laughed, "Didn't you ever go see any minor league teams in Pennsylvania?"
"No, we talked about it, but we ever went," Sebastian answered. He looked at the field watching the players warm up. It was wonderful being able to see all the action close up. He could even see the sunflower seeds the players spit on the ground.
"These are my favorite seats. We sat here a few years ago and watched Fred Munson play," Andy said, naming the new power hitter of the White Sox.
"Munson? Why was he playing baseball here?"
"He played for the Birmingham Barons baseball team. When the Barons played the Stars we sat right here, first row! It was awesome!" Andy's eyes shone as he remembered the game.
"Yes. It was a good time," the Rev. Miller said. "I admire what Munson did. He was offered a chance to go up to the major leagues in the middle of last season, but he asked to stay with the Barons. They had a chance to win the southern league championship and he didn't want to let his team down. It's not easy to take that kind of risk. It might have been his only chance." He turned to Sebastian, "I admire your father and mother for doing the same thing. They could have stayed in Philadelphia where your dad was offered a promotion at his old job. Instead they, and you, decided to work together to build something."
Sebastian thought about it, "Yeah, and sometimes it seems as if everyone back home tells us we're crazy." After a pause he continued, "It also seems like everyone in Green Market is watching us."
The Rev. Miller was silent a moment and then said, "That's true. Just remember that most people in town want you to succeed. Okay, I'm going to popcorn and drinks before the game. Special orders will be taken now."
After Andy's father walked up the steps the boys were quiet. Sebastian enjoyed watching the players warming up, the other people, and feeling the sunshine. He noticed Andy squirming in his seat. Andy would take his hat off, then put it back on, take it off, and put it back on. Suddenly Andy turned to Sebastian and blurted out, "Listen, I'm sorry if I put you on the spot the other day."
Surprised, Sebastian asked, "What do you mean? When did you put me on the spot?"
"The other day at the park. When I had you tell everyone about St. Sebastian. I just thought it was a neat story. My mom and dad said I shouldn't be asking you questions all the time about Catholic stuff," Andy finished in one long breath.
Sebastian took is time answering. "Well, I didn't mind telling the story of St. Sebastian." He thought about it some more. "I guess I don't mind answering your questions. When you ask them it's not like you're trying to make me look stupid."
"What do you mean?"
"It's hard sometimes trying to explain things to people. Like, when people ask if my dad's a priest. I try and tell them that he's a deacon in the Catholic Church. That means he's a minister, like a priest, but he's not a priest. It's not easy to explain it so they understand."
Andy nodded, "I can see that. How does that make you feel stupid?"
"It's not so much that question." Sebastian squeezed his eye closed trying to find an example. "Oh!" he said as his eyes popped open. "The other day I met this kid at the park. Of course he knew I wasn't from Alabama."
"Of course," Andy agreed.
"We went through the usual questions. Where you from? Where do you live? Why did you move here? When I explained about starting the church he looked at me real weird. He asked if it was true that we drink beer at our services!"
"Yeah, beer. I said, 'no.' I told him that when we have Mass we use wine. He said, 'Wine - beer, it's the same thing.'"
Andy's mouth dropped open. "I don't think so," he said sarcastically. "That is plain ignorant."
"I know," Sebastian agreed. "That's why I don't like it when people ask a lot of questions about my church. They don't always want to listen to the answers."
"Okay, how about this? I won't ask you questions in front of other people. Can I ask you questions when were alone? You can ask me questions too," Andy added hastily.
"That sounds okay. I don't know that much about being a Methodist. We can teach each other," Sebastian decided. He suddenly felt a lot lighter. It was as if he had been wading through mud, but now he was walking on dry land. He turned as Andy's dad returned with the drinks and popcorn. "Here, let me help you," and he reached out to assist the father of his new best friend.