The boy stood just inside the door and appeared very shy.
“Can I help you?” said Alfred in a friendly tone.
“I’m looking for Mr. Donatelli’s gym,” said the boy in a timid voice.
Alfred was a regular at Donatelli’s gym. It was where the local boxers went to train and work out. Alfred figured the boy must have been meeting his older brother at the gym. Then, as he looked at the boy more closely, he noticed the cuts and bruises on the boy’s face. Could this young, frail child be a boxer, he wondered.
“Donatelli’s? I go there,” said Alfred. Alfred had a hard time trying to picture this young boy in the ring. “Are you a boxer,” the boy asked Alfred. “Yes I am,” replied Alfred. “Me too, I’ve never been to Donatelli’s though,” said the boy. Alfred was not sure if the boy was joking or not.
“I will tell you what, if you can wait 5 minutes until I finish closing up here, I will show you where Donatelli’s is,” said Alfred. “That would be great,” said the boy with a slight smile. Alfred looked at the boy, smiled and extended his hand. “My name is Alfred, what’s yours?” I’m David, said the boy shaking Alfred’s strong hand.
Alfred and Dave walked together to Donatelli’s gym.
“Hello kids!” Donatelli said.
“Hey can we train for now? Are you open,” asked Alfred.
“Sure. But I have to go to a fight later tonight at the Madison Square Garden with one of my boxers.”
After an hour or so Alfred and Dave had to leave.
“Do you want to come back to my house?” asked Alfred.
“I’m not sure, my mother might be expecting me.”
“But it’s only 7 o’ clock!”
“My mother’s a little strict. But I guess I could go over for a while” said Dave.
Alfred entered the house with Dave following behind. Once Aunt Pearl was introduced to Dave, she mentioned that supper was almost ready and that Dave was welcome to sit down and join them. As soon as they were seated, Aunt Pearl served them spaghetti and meatballs. Dave could not believe his eyes. He had never seen such a feast! Dave ate ravenously and he had many servings. As Alfred’s eyes began to wander about the dinner table, he looked down. He noticed that Dave’s legs were also badly bruised. There was something suspicious about this boy, but Alfred hadn’t been friendly with him long enough to ask him too much about his personal life. After dinner, they sat down on his couch and ate dessert. Dave was in awe. He never wanted to leave this place, but he knew in the back of his mind that he would have to come home to face his mother once again.
At the same time, Dave did not want to overstay his welcome. He thanked Alfred and Aunt Pearl repeatedly and then headed home dreading another encounter with his mother. At least this time, he had a full stomach and the memory of a good day to help him deal with what was yet to come.