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The Revenge of the Christ-Killer Jewel Beth Davis T he first time I heard I

The Revenge of the Christ-Killer

Jewel Beth Davis

T

he first time I heard I was a murderer was in Miss Johnson’s class in second grade. It

must have been nearing the holidays and Miss Johnson, a, silver-haired, reedy woman

who addressed us all as “gels and boys,” was talking about the fact that though

Christmas was approaching, not everyone celebrated that most wonderful of all holidays. “Some

children,” she informed us, “celebrate another holiday named Chanukah.” She pronounced it CHA-

NOO-kah, as in cha-cha.

“I believe we have someone in this class who is of the Jewish faith who celebrates Cha-nu-

kah. Jewel, please share with the class the history and observances of your holiday.” All eyes stared

at me. Shari Kiley and Benny Chung looked interested, Susie DiCapprio looked surprised, and Billy

Smith viewed me with scorn.

I didn’t like being singled out this way. I was the only Jewish kid in the school, if you didn’t

count Richie Sprechstein, a sweet developmentally disabled kid in the “special” classroom. You can

imagine what they called him on his way home. My brothers had already graduated to Atlantic Jr.

High. All the other Jewish kids in our neighborhood went to private schools.

Buzz and Mike actually had their share of religious bloody noses and black eyes, but they

were tough kids from Dorchester. My father, Bernie, had taught them how to defend themselves

down in the knotty pine “play” room of our home. He would bellow at the twins, “Keep your hands

up. Keep ’em up, for God’s sake. Protect your face.” He was a big man, and as I watched him

demonstrate on Buzz and Mike, I always feared that the lesson would be more dangerous for them

than any potential neighborhood tussle. “Never give ‘em an opening to your face. And keep

movin’!” my dad coached, a light sheen of sweat spread over his face from the efforts of his physical

illustration. “Move those feet. If you’re moving, you’re a harder target to hit.”

Good advice, I’m sure, for the males of our family, but what about me? I wasn’t supposed to

fight. Girls didn’t fight, and no one taught us to defend ourselves. At any rate, Buzzy and Mike easily

proved themselves in the neighborhood arena. The local toughs gave grudging respect to the Davis

twins. No one risked angering my brothers by referring to our religion pejoratively in their presence.

* * *

“Jewel, did you hear me?” Miss Johnson’s shrill voice cut through my reverie, “Are you daydreaming

again? Get up here, gel!” My classmates all laughed. A speck of saliva had pooled in the corner of

my mouth. I daydreamed often in this class. I sat by the window and Miss Johnson repeatedly

reprimanded me for gazng outside. I spent most of second grade staring out but not really seeing

anything.

I reluctantly started toward the front of the room, suddenly blanking on the whole subject of

Chanukah, which I knew very well. As I passed Billy Smith’s desk, he loudly whispered, “Dirty Jew!

You think you’re so special.”

When he hissed at me, I went into shock. I hadn’t heard that expression before.

Hanukah

.”

.I .

“Speak up, gel. Stop stuttering.” Miss Johnson was at least consistent.

I couldn’t think what to say about Chanukah, so I babbled something about the oil lasting

for eight days that was only supposed to last one night, which is why we get eight presents, one each

night. I only half noticed the looks of envy on my classmates’ faces at the mention of eight presents.

forgot everything in the desire to get back to my seat and become invisible. With a brief nod from

Miss Johnson, I started back for my desk, and this time as I passed, Billy Smith jeered at me, “Christ

killer.”

“What are you talking about? I never killed anyone!” I hissed back at him this time. Some

small, unacknowledged part of me knew what he was talking about, but it didn’t assert itself then.

“Yeah, well, that’s what my parents told me, that you killed Christ.”

“You’re a liar.”

Miss Johnson heard this interchange as random unnecessary chatter between students. “Miss

Davis, take a seat. Now, gel. Unless you prefer to stay after school to wash the board and clap the

erasers.”

“No, Miss Johnson.” I plopped down into my seat without another word, wounded to the

heart.

What does a seven-year-old Jewish girl know about the death of Christ? Not much, but

apparently that didn’t matter because, according to Billy Smith, I was a Christ-killer. From second

grade to sixth, he and his gang taunted and tormented me daily on my way to and from Montclair

Elementary. In my mind, he was never just Billy, a boy; he was Billy Smith, a

a

a nightmare. In my mind, his face was always four times the size of any normal face. His

was the face of ignorance and it followed me into my dreams, jeering at me, making me feel like

something that crawled out of the primordial ooze, not as good as everyone else, something tainted

by my religion. Too much power for one small boy.

This is a story in three parts about my revenge on Billy Smith.

The Billy Smith I knew then was a muscular, athletic kid with lank blonde hair tamed by

Brylcreem. He was an Irish Catholic in a predominantly Irish Catholic neighborhood. His face was

thick skinned, with a low forehead, wide cheeks, small blue eyes, a snub nose that looked faintly

piggish, and a permanent sneer. When I think about Billy Smith now, I realize he must have had a

terrible upbringing by uneducated, narrow-minded parents, full of hate for anyone different. I

imagine that he may have been bullied himself by his father or a much older brother and that no one

stepped in to protect him. At that time, I even went so far as to imagine him at his dinner table,

eating macaroni and cheese while his parents discussed “the Jews” disparagingly. The macaroni and

cheese image came directly from my own narrow-minded mother, who thought that macaroni and

cheese, along with potato chips, was what all non-Jewish mothers fed their kids daily. I imagined

Billy’s dad roaring, “God damn Christ-killers,” while swigging on his can of Schlitz (according to my

mother, all non-Jewish fathers drank). In my mind I tried to fight my mother’s stereotypes, but with

Billy Smith, they won out.

“Now, William,” I imagined Billy’s mother admonishing her husband, “not at the dinner

table in front of the children.” But you could tell she agreed with him by the smug look on her face.

Okay, I admit being carried away with this imaginary scene, but where else would Billy have

learned that epithet? He must have heard some version of this scene every day of his life or he

wouldn’t have carried on his reign of torment with such commitment. He would have picked on

some other kid who was weaker than he. But no, I was his victim. I was always afraid that one day,

on my way home, I’d find myself alone with him and he’d hurt me.

Sure enough, later that same day as the Hanukah report, Billy Smith followed me home,

calling me names again. “Dirty Jew! Dirty Jew! You don’t belong here. You killed God. You better

watch your back.”

I tried standing up for myself, using logic. “Whoever I’m supposed to have killed, I didn’t

do it. Because if I did, I’d be in jail now, wouldn’t I?”

Logic was not Billy Smith’s stock in trade. “You killed Jesus. You killed our Lord!” he

replied.

“Jesus,” I was aghast. “He lived around 2000 years ago. I’m not that old. I’m only seven. I

wasn’t even around then. Besides,” I added, “Jesus was Jewish. Why would I want to kill him?”

As I said, logic was not working for me. Billy Smith ran up and pushed me, screaming,

“You’re a dirty Jew and a dirty liar! Jesus was never Jewish. He was a Catholic and you killed him!” I

could feel the imprint of his big hands on my scrawny chest all day.

I ran into the kitchen at home, crying in a garbled voice about Billy Smith saying I was a

murderer. “But Ma, I didn’t kill anyone. Why would he say I did? Why would he say that?” I sobbed.

My mother was visibly upset. We sat down at the Formica table with gray and white swirls

and she handed me a tissue and said, “Blow.” I blew.

“Julie, I know you haven’t killed anyone. No one killed anyone.”

“Then, why did he say I did, Ma? How could I kill Jesus? He died before I was even born.”

“Because he’s an ignoramus. It’s not you, Julie. It’s the Jews, in general. Uneducated,

ignorant goyim believe that the Jews of that time were responsible for the death of Jesus Christ.” I

knew that word goyim; that’s the word my mother used for non-Jews when she was upset about anti-

Semitism or, at least, a perceived prejudice against herself or the Jews. Her tone when she said it

always made me uncomfortable.

“Is it true?” I asked.

“Of course, it’s not true. The Romans were in charge and Jesus was Jewish. I told you that.”

“I told Billy Smith that, but he called me a liar.”

“Because he doesn’t know the truth. Jesus was Jewish and he was a Rabbi. People like that

Smith boy just look for a scapegoat to blame things on. I had plenty of that tsuris from the Irish in

the Army. Whether it’s true or not, it happened thousands of years ago. We had nothing to do with

that. People like to blame anyone who is different for their misfortune.”

“Does Billy Smith have misfortune?”

“Oy, who knows? He’s meshugenah (crazy). A trombenick (troublemaker).”

“But I don’t like it when he calls me names and says things about me that aren’t true.”

“I don’t like it either. Nobody does, but what can we do? This is where we live. We can’t

fight the whole neighborhood.”

“I can’t fight anyone. You won’t let me.”

Ignoring my comment, my mother wiped her hands on her apron and pushed her hair back

into place. “I told your brothers a boy in Montclair Field called me the ‘Queen of Sheba’ the other

day. Maybe it’s the same boy. They said they’d try to find out who said it and get him to stop.” I

could tell this really bothered her. I felt sick that I couldn’t protect her from being hurt. It never

occurred to me it wasn’t my job.

“The Queen of Sheba?” I said, sniffling, “Isn’t that someone in the King David story?” My

mother nodded, her face tight with anxiety.

“But she’s not even Jewish. She’s from some other country. Why would someone call you

that?”

“These kind of goyim are ignorant, Julie. They have no idea what they’re talking about. Now,

go wash up for dinner. And do your homework.”

“I always do my homework, Ma. You must be thinking of Michael.”

My mother, Ma-Fran cracked a smile and pushed me toward my bedroom. “You’re terrible,

Julie,” she laughed. “Now, gai a veck. Give me some peace.”

* * *

Four years later, in the autumn of my 6 th grade year, I stood outside a hospital in Waltham waiting

for Ma-Fran to finish her visit. Her close friend, Dotty Abrams, was in a sanatorium for people with

contagious lung disease.

“The hospital won’t allow you in to see Dotty because you’re not thirteen,” my mother told

me. So I was ”stuck” outside by myself in the most glorious weather, as the leaves followed, each

one after the other, to fall at my feet. It’s difficult to believe that colors so intense and dramatic that

day were made by nature. I took a deep breath, filling my lungs, and as I exhaled, I smiled. I could

tell someone was burning leaves in his backyard. It was a smell that left me both tingling with

excitement and feeling relaxed and safe. Some caretaker had been raking in certain areas and the

green hospital grounds were dotted with Halloween-colored piles. I kicked the leaves from raked

piles until they and I were dancing with abandon. I whooped and laughed, raising the leaves off the

ground with my hands, my feet, and my thighs. Then, I fell backwards onto the piles and made leaf

angels with my arms and legs, lost in the revelry of my senses.

As I lay on the soft cushion of leaves, my eyes shut, I heard a teasing male voice from

somewhere above me. “Do you always dance around hospital lawns when you’re visiting someone

who’s sick?” My eyes snapped open to see a tall, lanky, good-looking blonde boy with a freckled face

standing over me, smiling. He had an air about him of relaxed confidence. He couldn’t have been

more than a year older than I, but he somehow seemed different from the boys I knew. Even

stranger, from the moment I saw him, I knew he really liked me. I didn’t know how I knew, but I

was absolutely certain of it. Was it in the way he looked at me or in his tone of voice when he

spoke? He didn’t even know my name, since we hadn’t exchanged a word, and still I could tell he

liked me. No one at my school would be caught dead liking me, except for maybe Shari Kiley.

“No!” I responded angrily. “Only when I think there isn’t anyone around spying on me.”

The blonde boy laughed. “Okay. I snuck up on you,” he said. “I’m sorry I scared you.”

“You didn’t scare me,” I responded. “I just didn’t think anyone was watching.”

“You’re right again,” he replied. “I’m sorry. My name’s Thomas. What’s yours?”

“Well, if you must know, it’s Jewel.” I tried to sound exasperated. Inside, I cringed and

waited for the reaction most people had to my name, but Thomas said nothing. He just smiled and

nodded.

We were silent. “My mother’s in here,” he admitted after a while, running his fingers through

his spun-gold hair. “She has tuberculosis.”

“My mother’s friend, Dotty, she has it, too. That’s who we’re visiting. Except they wouldn’t

let me in. I’m underage.” I was silent for a moment. Then I added, “I’m sorry about your mother.”

“Thanks,” said Thomas. Any other kid I knew would have replied, “What for? It’s not your

fault.”

We stood looking at each other in silence. Then he said, “You want to go for a walk? There’s

a really nice walking path over there by that gate near the elms.”

He gestured behind me with a long arm and I turned to look. I wanted to go, but I wondered if I

should. I worried that my mother would come out looking for me and wouldn’t know where I’d

gone. She tended to think the worst had happened at times like that. How long would her visit last?

Still, when was the next time I would have an opportunity like this, to walk in the woods with a

blonde boy who liked me?

“Yeah. Sure.” I wanted Thomas to think that I went on walks in the woods with boys all the

time. I wanted to seem sophisticated, but my voice was shaky, and I was certain he could hear my

heart pounding. I don’t think he was fooled. He spoke to me gently as though I was a deer he was

afraid of scaring off.

I had dreamt of a situation like this happening with a boy; but now that it was finally here, I

didn’t know how to handle myself. So as we walked and chatted about our various schools, friends,

and activities, I tried to imagine what I could do to appear romantic and beautiful like the women in

the movies I watched. I remembered seeing beautiful actresses like Audrey Hepburn and Leslie

Caron in the movies, running through the leaves in slow motion, their cheeks glowing pink and hair

giving off gold sparks as the sun kissed it, with the riotous color of leaves swirling around them. I

couldn’t reproduce the slow motion, but I could run ahead through the leaves and hope that my

auburn hair would give off the sparks of gold. I had to do something spectacular because just being

me didn’t seem to be enough. So out of the blue, in the midst of our words, I took off running,

running, far ahead of Thomas. He had long legs, and without running he easily caught up to me.

“Why’d you do that?” he asked, grinning. “You just wanted me to see how pretty you looked

from behind, huh?”

I was mortified. He knew exactly what I’d been doing. “No,” I protested feebly. “I just felt

like running is all.”

Thomas laughed. “You sure are different. But,” he added, “that’s cool.”

We walked back to the hospital, saying little. I was afraid after my silly “slow motion”

escapade, I’d say something really stupid and he wouldn’t like me anymore if, in fact, he still did. My

attempt at impressing him had failed horribly. “You’re quiet,” he said finally.

“Yeah, well, sometimes I’m very quiet, and sometimes I talk a lot.”

The quiet part, of course, wasn’t true. “Mostly, I talk. My brothers are always telling me to shut up.”

Thomas laughed. “I like talkers,” he said. The blood flooded my face and I turned away.

As we returned to the hospital grounds with the shooshing, crackling sounds of the leaves

under our feet all around us, I spotted my mother near the building with her hand shading her eyes

as she tried to locate me. I wondered if Thomas would ask to see me again or take my phone

number. Part of me prayed fervently that he would and part of me was nauseated that he might. I

sensed that he wanted to do the former and was working up to it. Now there was no time for that.

“That’s my mom,” I told him regretfully, “I have to go right now.”

“Don’t worry,” he said. “I’ll see you again.”

What a strange thing to say, I thought. We both lived in Massachusetts, but very far apart

with Thomas in Scituate and me in Quincy. I gave him what I hoped was a ravishing smile and ran

to meet Ma-Fran.

“Who was that?” my mother asked as soon as I reached her. She squinted at me suspiciously,

and suddenly I felt inexplicably ashamed.

“Oh, just some kid whose mother is in the hospital,” I responded airily.

“How’s Dotty? Is she getting better?” And with somewhere between relief and regret I thought, that

is the end of that.

* * *

In June, before graduating to junior high, all the sixth grades in Massachusetts took a field trip to the

Boston Museum of Science. I’d just turned twelve in May.

Going to the science museum was a rite of passage for sixth graders and only death or the

measles would have kept any of us from attending. Mrs. McIntyre’s sixth grade class was in a flurry

of permission slips and anticipation all the way from the classroom to the bus to the lineup outside

the museum where we waited our turn to enter.

Mrs. McIntyre was a tall, thin lady with lovely soft white hair I dreamed of touching. Before

she led us in to see the fantastic exhibits, in my mind, only rivaled by those at the World’s Fair, she

said, “Class, follow me in, stay in your lines until you are told otherwise, and do not wander away

by yourself. It’s a very large building and children can easily get lost.”

I heard Billy Smith snicker derisively in a group of boys behind me. “That’s just what I plan

to do, get lost and smoke a butt. This museum trip stuff is for babies. It’s a bunch of crap. What

good’s it gonna’ do me?”

All his thug companions chimed, “Yeah!” I could already tell what Billy Smith’s future

looked like. As far as I was concerned, he’d spend most of it in a prison for trombenicks. Shari Kiley

and I exchanged knowing glances that dismissed the group of thugs from our consciousness. Shari’s

thin film of straight light blonde hair and pretty round face was coupled with a formidable brain. We

could hardly wait to view and discuss the exhibits, especially in the animals and nature section.

Mrs. McIntyre continued, “Halfway through, we’ll go to the Museum cafeteria on the first

floor to eat our lunch. And at the very end of our visit, we’ll stop into the Gift Shop so you can buy

souvenirs for yourselves and your families.” My classmates cheered that announcement. The Gift

Shop was the most highly awaited part of our field trips.

Benny Chung, who reeked of Fritos corn chips every day from second grade to sixth, said,

“My Dad gave me $10 to spend at the gift shop.” He was so excited he looked like he was about to

have an epileptic fit, complete with drool and eyeballs rolling back in his head. “Ten dollars!” he

repeated.

“Calm down, Benny,” I told him. “It’s a museum gift shop, not a private meeting with Roy

Orbison.”

“Who?” Benny asked.

“No one,” said a grinning Shari. “Don’t worry about it, Benny.”

A group of girls from our class giggled as they mounted the sound stairs, a favorite exhibit of

mine that produced different tones as we stepped on each stair. Shari and I jumped from one step

to another, making an off-key cacophony similar to an orchestra tuning up. In front of us, several of

the girls were still giggling and whispering. Apparently, there was a class up ahead comprised

completely of boys from another school.

“They’re making complete fools of themselves,” Shari observed with a sneer as we rounded

a corner at the top of the steps. “You’d think they’d never seen a boy before. The only thing that’s

different is that these boys come from a another town.”

But I had stopped, frozen several feet behind Shari. I couldn’t move.

“Jewel? Jewel, you okay? What’s wrong?”

“It’s him, Shari. It’s him. He’s here. The one I told you about, the one who I met at the

hospital.”

“No, it’s probably someone who looks like him. It can’t be him. What was his name? What

would he be doing here?”

“Thomas. His name was Thomas and that’s him.” My voice sounded desperate to me, high

and thin, like a wire. “I’m not imagining it. I know what he looks like.”

“Yes, but you can’t be sure. You’re only seeing him from the rear. When he turns around,

you can…” But Shari stopped speaking in mid-sentence because the boy who was Thomas had

spotted me, turned pale, and was walking directly back to me, his eyes unwaveringly on mine. By the

time he reached the spot to which I was glued, his normal rosy color had returned to his face and

he’d regained his composure. I, however, had not. My face drained of color, and I felt a little woozy

and unbalanced on my legs. I was happy and sick all at once.

Thomas smiled warmly. “I told you we’d see each other again.”

I opened my mouth to speak and my voice sounded like a rusty car door.

“Hi,” I creaked. “How are you?”

“I’m just fine,” he said, and he took my hand in his, walking with me down the wide corridor

towards the electricity exhibit. “It’s great to see you again.”

Shari, who came from a devout Catholic family, followed behind us about two feet as

though she were walking on hallowed ground or witnessing a sighting of the Virgin Mary. I couldn’t

think about anything else but the feeling of Thomas next to me, my hand in his. I didn’t think about

how my teacher would react or what the other students would say when they saw me with this tall

blond boy. I just existed in that moment, trying to relish something I might want to remember for a

long time. We talked about everyday things as we walked through the exhibit of electricity featuring

telephone poles carrying messages across long distances. He didn’t let go of my hand, even when

other classmates shyly approached us and I introduced Thomas. Shari became more like her usual

self under Thomas’s warmth and easy conversation. It seemed that I was experiencing a sudden

swell of popularity that was all but unrecognizable to me. I sensed a new respect from my classmates

and the only thing that had changed since this morning was the presence of a good-looking blonde

boy from another school, another town, who clearly liked me.

“ALL SCHOOL GROUPS,” the loudspeaker trumpeted,

cafeteria on the first floor for lunch.”

please proceed to the

I could hear the excited voices of my classmates reacting to the prospect of food, but I

floated along, not really taking in much of the exhibits or what others were saying. We moved en

masse down the stairs and into lines at the bottom.

Then I heard a derisive familiar voice. “Well-well, Jew girl has got herself a Jew- lover

boyfriend. How sweet!” Billy Smith stood with his leering buddies about three feet from us. I could

feel the red burning my cheeks with humiliation. Now Thomas won’t want to be my friend, I thought. Now

he’ll think about me the way most kids at my school do. And I felt the happiness I’d felt this afternoon sift

out of me like sand, the beauty of our feelings all contaminated. As if to verify my thoughts, Thomas

dropped my hand quickly.

He moved closer to Billy Smith and spoke to him softly, almost friendly. “What’d you say?”

Billy laughed and stood there arrogantly.” I said you’re a Jew-lover. She’s a dirty Jew and that

makes you a dirty Jew lover.”

Thomas’s face remained calm. “I don’t think you should talk that way about my girlfriend.”

The air filled with tension. My eyes grew wide and my heart beat so fast it hurt in my chest. Did you

hear that? He called me his girlfriend.

I guess Billy hadn’t expected this. He snorted, “Well, that’s tough, isn’t it? Because that’s

what I said.”

“Well, I don’t want you to treat Jewel this way. She’s a neat girl and I like her.”

Billy and his buddies guffawed loudly as my classmates stood around us with their mouths

slack and their eyes big. Where were our teachers?

“A neat girl. Jew girl’s really ‘neat,’” mocked Billy.

“Yeah, she’s just great!” Bobby Tompkins and Chuck O’Reilly chimed in. Bobby stuck his

finger down his throat and made gagging noises.

Billy strode away from Thomas to the boys’ room as if he had no more time to waste on

some stupid kid who liked me. His buddies followed him. I glanced at Thomas to see what he’d do.

Without a moment’s thought, Thomas followed them into the boy’s room. Now I knew we were in

for trouble. I moved with Shari to just outside the boy’s bathroom. I heard muffled yelling and

crash-bang noises. It sounded like someone’s head was being cracked against a wall. I was petrified

for Thomas. He’d no idea what a bully Billy Smith was. And it was three against one. My throat was

dry thinking of the damage they’d inflict on poor Thomas, who had so bravely stood up for me.

Just then, Mr. Kelly, my former fifth grade teacher who’d come along as a chaperone, flew

past us into the boys’ bathroom, banging the door open loudly. He must have gotten word of the

fight from one of the kids. Now, maybe he could stop those bullies from hurting Thomas so badly.

We waited. And waited some more. It had gotten very quiet. Was that a bad sign or a good

one?

Then Benny Chung sprinted out of the boys’ room and straight to Shari and me. “He put

him up against the wall and pummeled him. He got him good,” Benny was practically

hyperventilating.

“Who?” Shari and I screamed. “Who put who against the wall? Who got who good?”

“Jeez, Benny,” Shari was frantic. “Name names.”

“Thomas,” Benny said as if we should have known. “Thomas pushed Billy up against the

wall. Bobby and Chuck just stood there, frozen.”

Shari and I were momentarily dumbstruck. “Then what?” Shari demanded.

Still out of breath, Benny exploded, ”Thomas said if Billy ever talked to you that way again,

Thomas would hunt him down, find him, and kill him.”

“Kill him?” I gasped, “Thomas said that?”

“Well,” Benny thought back, “maybe not kill him, but beat the crap out of him.”

“Wow,” Shari said.

“Yeah, ‘wow,’” I repeated.

“Wow,” agreed all the girls in my class. “He’s like your knight in shining armor.”

Somehow, because two boys were fighting over me, I’d suddenly turned into the heroine of

Montclair Elementary’s sixth grade girls. “That’s stupid. I don’t need a knight in shining armor,” I

replied in an annoyed tone. But I was impressed all the same.

We looked up. His shirt rumpled, Billy sullenly emerged from the boys’ room guided sternly

by Mr. Kelly. Billy’s big face looked a bit swollen and even bigger than usual. His Brylcreemed hair

was sticking out in greasy tufts all over his head. As he passed by on his way to “teacher custody,”

he shot me a look of such deep hatred I felt cold in my bones. That was the last time he ever

bothered me.

Thomas came out of the boys’ room looking a little ruffled, but smiling. His hair was rather

mussed and he was tucking in his yellow button-down, but other than that, there wasn’t a bruise on

him. “Come on,” he said. “Let’s go to lunch.” We walked toward the cafeteria, his hand warm in

mine again. We spent the rest of the afternoon, peaceful and happy, visiting the exhibits and being

scared silly by the sharks on the 3-D movie screen. It was pure joy.

Thomas wasn’t ashamed of me. And he had called me his “girlfriend.” God, I loved the

sound of that. I felt as if I belonged to someone. I knew I couldn’t always rely on someone else to

take care of me; still, for once it was nice to relax and let someone else deal with Billy Smith. It

seemed to me that if the world had a bunch of Billy Smiths to make our lives miserable, at least

there were also some Thomases in the world to balance them out and bring us hope. At last, the

“Christ-killer” had her revenge.