Standing in the dark morning cool of the front hall. Summer. Everybody snoozing – Ma and my little bros still crashed. Garbage truck grinds down on the street five floors below.
I open the door. Ricky from 12G, a knapsack on his back, hands in his pockets.
“Yo,” Ricky says. He blows a purple bubble.
I ram a handful of Cheerios into my mouth. I put my Yankee cap on crooked. My old man’s army bag slung over one shoulder, stenciled with his name my name all my eleven years. Pat my back pocket make sure I got my camp papers.
I follow Ricky down the stairwell, outside onto 157th Street. We get an egg sandwich. Ricky rips it in half and we eat it on the A train down to the Port Authority.
“Gate C5,” says Ricky.
We take the escalators up, standing close, our shoulders touch. At the gate, a table with a sign for the camp, boxes of donuts. Lady with a clipboard. A couple kids in plastic chairs.
“You boys Fresh Air?” the lady says.
I take a chocolate glazed.
“Have a donut,” she says.
Me and Ricky with fifty boys on the bus. AC. Seats soft, clean. Tinted windows. The bus spirals down the concrete ramp, into the Lincoln Tunnel.
Tunnel’s tiled walls stained brown. Lights turn everybody green.
At the end of the tunnel, we whoop.
Ricky grabs my hand and squeezes it tight as we rumble into the sun.