Chapter 2 Summary

Eddie thinks about God and wonders why sometimes God hears prayers but other times seems so far away. He remembers his friend Juan, who had been doing “exactly what he was told and what the Bible and his family asked of him.” But he was killed in a freak accident at his job. Eddie thinks about Angel and “how bad ass” he is; the incorrigible gangster even stole the crucifix he wears around his neck. The telephone rings and Eddie knows it is his aunt, calling to urge him to avenge her son’s death, so he does not pick it up.

Mr. Stiles, a man for whom he had painted a curb the day before, has promised work, so Eddie sets out for his house on his bicycle. Mr. Stiles has plans to relandscape his yard, and Eddie’s first task is to dig a hole so a birch tree can be planted near the driveway. As Eddie works, a blue-eyed boy on a tricycle pedals over and asks what he is doing. When Eddie explains about the birch, the boy mishears him and observes indignantly, “It ain’t nice for you to say bitch."

The job otherwise goes well, and at the end of each day, Mr. Stiles pays Eddie thirty dollars. When Eddie arrives on the third day, however, he finds his employer uncharacteristically subdued. The mother of the little neighbor boy has complained about his hired help’s bad language. When Eddie explains what had happened, Mr. Stiles believes him and takes him over to the woman to explain the miscommunication. Mr. Stiles keeps him on. Eddie basks in the unaccustomed confidence the man shows him, and he begins to believe that someday his life might actually get better. After five days, Mr. Stiles asks Eddie to take a load of refuse to the dump, entrusting him with his Toyota pickup truck and twenty dollars to pay the fees.

Eddie is ecstatic to be given the opportunity to prove his integrity, and he sets out for the dump in high spirits. On the way, however, he exercises questionable judgment when he drives slowly by...

(The entire section is 705 words.)