St. Louis 1918 Rocky drags his feet against the sidewalk, scuffing the already worn leather of his shoes. He is tired, and he knows nothing good waits for him at home. His aunt will see the black eye and split lip, and promptly tell him to get out again. She wouldn't have someone looking like <i>that</i> in her house. It won't be the first time Rocky had spent the night on a park bench because of his aunts' sensibilities, and he strongly suspects it won't be the last. Freckle comes running down the steps as soon as he hears the screen door slam, stopping short when he sees the slumped shoulders and hat pulled too low. “Rocky?” he asks, voice small and innocent as nine year olds are wont to be. “Heya, Freckle.” He somehow manages…show more content… Rocky needs the bruises so he'll remember. Without them, he's too busy being three steps ahead of everyone else to do the little things. Freckle trails him to the closet he keeps his things in. The room is on again off again his, depending on whether auntie has a tenant or not. The younger boy sits on the bed, swinging his legs and scuffing his shoes together. <i>He shouldn't do that.</i> Rocky remembers, feeling the ghosts of a thin rod up and down the backs of his legs. <i>They're new.</i> He opens his mouth to say as much, before snapping it shut and throwing a change of clothes into his bag. Fre – Calvin isn't him. Calvin is allowed to scuff his new shoes and not say thank you before and after every meal and isn't expected to do the washing up or the lawn chores. Calvin is a McMurray. Calvin belongs here and has nice things because his mother works hard. Roark has third hand clothes and shoes that need to resoled again by the grace and goodness of his aunts' heart. “So long then, Freckle.” He's grinning again. “See you in a couple days.” He slings his bag over his shoulder, picks up his violin case, and is gone. He smiles at auntie again and slips away.
It's that awkward time between sunset and when the street lamps flicker into life, and Rocky is taking a break from playing. It's been a profitable night; he got a good corner, he looks mostly respectable, and people are in a giving spirit as they feel the cold