Chapter 1

They’reoutthere.

BlackboysinwhitesuitsupbeforemetocommitsexactsinthehallandgetitmoppedupbeforeIcancatchthem.

They’remoppingwhenIcomeoutthedorm,allthreeofthemsulkyandhatingeverything,thetimeofday,theplacethey’reathere,thepeopletheygottoworkaround.Whentheyhatelikethis,betteriftheydon’tseeme.Icreepalongthewallquietasdustinmycanvasshoes,buttheygotspecialsensitiveequipmentdetectsmyfearandtheyalllookup,allthreeatonce,eyesglitteringoutoftheblackfaceslikethehardglitterofradiotubesoutofthebackofanoldradio.

“Here’stheChief.Thesoo-pahChief,fellas.Ol’ChiefBroom.Hereyougo,ChiefBroom....”

Stickamopinmyhandandmotiontothespottheyaimformetocleantoday,andIgo.Oneswatsthebacksofmylegswithabroomhandletohurrymepast.

“Haw,youlookat‘imshagit?Bigenoughtoeatapplesoffmyheadan’heminemelikeababy.”

TheylaughandthenIhearthemmumblingbehindme,headsclosetogether.Humofblackmachinery,humminghateanddeathandotherhospitalsecrets.Theydon’tbothernottalkingoutloudabouttheirhatesecretswhenI’mnearbybecausetheythinkI’mdeafanddumb.Everybodythinksso.I’mcageyenoughtofoolthemthatmuch.IfmybeinghalfIndianeverhelpedmeinanywayinthisdirtylife,ithelpedmebeingcagey,helpedmealltheseyears.

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