The boy was small, his knees sharply cornered by the hinges of the braces he wore under his jeans, as if he had pulled his pants on over the legs of a robot. He walked with aluminum crutches that had a pistol grip and holes lining each side so that one could adjust their length. If you took off the rubber tips they doubled as army rifles. He had only two of these weapons and needed them to walk, so we, his new brothers, did not expect to get in a lot of firing practice, but they would afford him a martial aura among the boys of Bishop Lane in Walnut Creek, California. Also, he had broad shoulders and a powerful right arm, although he could not step into a throw. He could launch a dirt grenade farther than any of us, and scare a crow, cawing and shedding feathers, from a branch. It was 1965. He was five years old. So was I.

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