His walk back took him past the Panama Hotel again. The massive marble159
entrance that he was never allowed to enter was now boarded up. Henry looked atthe shopping list his mother had given him. He probably had another thirty minutesbefore his parents would worry about him being late.Thinking there must be a back way in, Henry slipped down the alley, behind thevacant and boarded-up Togo Employment Agency. The alley itself was piled withboxes and heaps of garbage, stacks of clothing and old shoes. Belongings that noone wanted, thrown out, but still here since the garbage service to this area hadevidently been suspended. Behind the hotel, Henry looked for a freight entrance ora fire escape he could shimmy up to one of the many broken windows on thesecond floor.Instead he found Chaz, Will Whitworth, and a small gathering of other boystrying to gain entrance too. They were looking and pointing at the second-storywindows. Some threw rocks, while others pawed through the boxes left behind. Oneboy Henry didn’t recognize had found a box of dishes and began throwing themagainst a brick wall, shattering them, pieces of fine porcelain china raining down.Before Henry could yell, or run, or hide, they saw him. One, then all of them.“It’s a Jap!” one of the boys yelled. “Get him!”“No, it’s a Chink,” Will said, stopping the boy for a moment as they all stalked inHenry’s direction.Chaz took control of the situation. “Henry!” Smiling, he seemed more happythan surprised. “Where’s your girlfriend, Henry? She’s not home if you’re lookingfor her—and your nigger friend ain’t around today, is he?” he taunted. “Better getused to me. My dad’s going to buy all these buildings, so we might end upneighbors.”Henry’s knees felt wobbly, but his jaw was clenched tighter than his fists. On apile of garbage lay an old broom handle, almost as tall as Henry. He picked it upwith both hands and gripped it like a baseball bat. He swung it once, then twice forgood measure. It felt light and sturdy. Sturdy enough to hit a curveball the size ofChaz’s head.All of the boys stopped, except for Chaz, who inched closer to Henry, stayingjust out of range of his makeshift club.“Go home, Chaz.” The anger in his voice surprised Henry. He felt the blooddrain away from his fists where they clenched the broom handle until his knucklesturned pale.Chaz spoke softly, a mock gentleness to his voice. “This ismy home, this is theUnited States of America—not the United States of Tokyo. And my dad is probably160
going to end up owning this whole neighborhood anyway. What are you going todo, take us all on? You think you can beat us all up?”Henry knew he didn’t stand a chance against all seven of them. “You might getto me eventually, but I know one of you’ll be going home with a limp.” Henryswung the club, smacking it on the dirty, gritty pavement between him and thelarger boy. He vividly remembered the bruised cheek and black eye he’d receivedoutside the train station, courtesy of Chaz.
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