Chapter 8 Summary
Sonny, Major, and Hollis drag Alfred down to the clubroom. Alfred is frightened but asks where James is and what they want with him. The bullies plan to rob the Epsteins’ store again on Friday night, and they insist Alfred is going to help them.
Of course Alfred refuses, which surprises the others. Major tells him all he has to do is disconnect the wires on the security system and they’ll split the profits with him. Although he is frightened and despite repeated threats and questions, Alfred is adamant that there is “no chance at all” that he will do that, and he gets up to leave.
Major’s knife clicks, and Major tells Alfred he is going to give him a “squealer’s scar,” one cut from mouth to ear, marking him for the rest of his life. Hollis is frozen; he cannot believe what is happening; Sonny just stares dully at the scene.
Alfred tries to keep his knees from knocking. Major continues to threaten Alfred, but Alfred continues to say no to the scheme. Hollis claims Alfred is crazy and Major gives him until Wednesday to decide. Alfred already has decided, and the answer is still no.
Major, Hollis, and Sonny do not understand Alfred’s loyalty to the Epsteins, claiming his employers do not care about him; to the Epsteins, Alfred is only a “slave.” He does all their dirty work and they are just using him.
Alfred calmly says it does not matter what the Epsteins think about him; he is not going to help them rob the grocery store. The bullies are beginning to get even angrier as they are faced with such decisiveness, and they hope Alfred is just showing bravado.
Major straightens up from his “knife-fighter’s crouch” and tells Alfred he now has until Thursday to decide whether or not he will help them with the burglary, but once again Alfred tells them he needs no extra time to decide. He will not help them. They can think he is scared if they choose, but Alfred says he has things to do; he unlocks the door to the clubroom and leaves.
Alfred shuts the door behind him as Major continues to scream, and his knees sag and shake. Then he straightens himself and walks home. As he walks home past the building stoops, he wants to raise his right arm to the crowd, as if he were in the ring.