Chapter 9 Summary

When Alfred runs this morning, a policeman tells him he is “lookin’ good,” and Alfred runs just a little faster to show them just how good he looks. Alfred runs easily and feels good. He runs for more than an hour until the sun dries the dew and the traffic begins to scream around him. Other runners wave and smile at him, as if they are all somehow partners. When his side aches, he keeps running until he gets his second wind.

On the way home, he stops every twenty steps and does two deep knee bends. He tries to hop up the stairs to his house on alternating legs, and he almost makes it to the top. He touches his toes ten times before running into Aunt Pearl.

Alfred is so cheerful that she wonders if he is drunk, but he tells her he was only out running three miles. She does not believe him, but Alfred makes a grand announcement to his family that they are looking at the soon-to-be champion of the world. The girls are disinterested and Aunt Pearl is confused until he explains that he is going to be a boxer. This announcement gets everyone’s attention.

Alfred explains he will be working with Donatelli. He was at Madison Square Garden with Henry and Jelly Bean last night and rode home with a schoolteacher named Spoon who used to be a boxer.

He explains a little more, and Aunt Pearl wonders if he is going to quit his job. Alfred does not plan to quit until he becomes a professional, but Aunt Pearl is worried about the gangsters in boxing and the fact that boxers get hurt. Alfred tells her Donatelli is concerned about the well-being of his boxers, but she wants to talk to Reverend Price about this idea.

Alfred assures his aunt that boxers can make very good money; one day maybe she will not have to work anymore. He will buy her a little house in Jamaica, near her sister Dorothy, and a car so she can drive to church on Sundays.

Aunt Pearl stops him from making too many hasty and lofty promises, but Alfred is serious. She knows he is serious and is thankful to see him more excited about this than anything else in his life; despite that, she is concerned and wishes he were excited about something other than boxing.