I admired Danny Rambler. Of all
the boys in our school (grades
one through eight -- I was in second)
he was the toughest.
Not the biggest or the strongest,
but rough-edged, solid, the first
to take a dare. You could imagine
him jumping off a roof and bouncing
right up. He had an easy laugh,
the kind that made the teacher
smile even when he spelled
"friend" wrong for the third time.
Not even Henry Cassel picked
on him. I never saw him in a fight;
nobody would have been that stupid.
That's why that afternoon at recess
when the older boys were throwing
rocks into a big puddle on the playground
and one of them by accident hit Danny
on the head and he came in the door
holding his hands over the blood
that dripped to the floor and he was
crying just a little bit, I saw
that there are limits to how
far toughness will take you.