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I remember how it all started. It was the night of the big football game. That’s when Teddy got dragged into all of this. It was the night when Dos Pintos High School won the championship. Only problem was, Teddy and Kelly and I didn’t get to see it. We all went to the game, but we had to leave before it even started. And all because of that punk, Leo.
Actually, I guess it really all started when Teddy and I were little. Teddy had an accident. He was two and I was five. We were taking a bath before we went to bed. Mom had left us to go get Teddy’s pajamas. He forgot them as usual. I got out of the tub to dry off. That’s when Teddy started getting cute. He splashed water on me.
“Teddy, cut that out,” I yelled. “I’m gonna tell Mom.”
Teddy made a face at me, and then reached down to pick up the floating wash cloth. I took my towel and flipped him with it. Somehow he lost his balance. He fell face down in the water.
“Come on, Teddy. Don’t kid around. Get out of the tub.” I waited. Teddy didn’t move. I panicked. I grabbed his arm and pulled. “MOM! HELP Teddy’s in trouble.”
Mom raced into the bathroom. She pulled Teddy out of the water. “Go call 911 like I’ve shown you before,” she said to me as she began breathing into Teddy’s mouth. Then she started pumping his chest. I ran to the phone and called 911. When I got back, Teddy was awake. But he was acting funny. Mom looked really upset about something. I thought she was mad at me for letting Teddy get hurt.
The paramedics got there really fast and they checked Teddy over. They said he should go to the hospital to spend the night and be sure he was going to be all right. At the hospital, they checked Teddy some more. They finally came and told Mom that he must have hit his head when he fell because he had a concussion. I knew I must have caused it when I flipped him with my towel. Mom tried to tell me it was her fault for leaving us alone, but I knew better; she wasn’t gone that long. Anyway, I’ve been looking out for Teddy ever since. I try to make up for what happened to him. I found out later that he had been under water long enough and had not breathed long enough to cause some brain damage.
When we got to the game, the bleachers were almost full. Everyone wanted to see the Mustangs win their first ever championship. Kelly, my girlfriend, got there late.
Teddy loves football. He’s built for football. He’s chunky and strong and when he gets to high school next year, he wants to play on the team. I just hope he can make it.
“I want to see the team come on the field,” Teddy said when we got there. He always wanted to do that.
“Sure, Teddy. We’ll just wait right here and watch for them.”
I watched as Teddy looked for the team. He was so excited. He loved the legend of Dos Pintos a lot. He used to have Mom or me tell him the Indian legend over and over again. It told of a family in early times. Two children in the family got sick and died. There was a herd of wild mustangs that lived nearby. No one had ever tamed or gotten near them. After the children died, two young colts separated from the herd and stayed near the family’s farm. The Mescalero Apache Indians said that the spirits of the children had gone to rest in the two paint colts, and that was why the colts stayed to be clear to the family. Spanish soldiers eventually dubbed the farm “Dos Pintos”, which means “two ponies”. Later, when a town got started, settlers began to call it Dos Pintos. Teddy always loved that story.
“Hey, Michael. There’s Kelly over there.” He had taken his eyes off the field long enough to see Kelly near the refreshment stand. He waved to her and yelled for her to come on over.
And then a muffled neighing sound floated on the breeze. I thought it was my imagination at first, but I saw that funny look come onto Teddy’s face, so I knew he had heard it, too. Sounded like it came from the mountains. I knew something off the wall was probably coming from Teddy.
“Michael, did Dad like football?”
Kelly looked at me. I just rolled my eyes. But Teddy really expected an answer.
“Yeah, he probably did. But that wasn’t . . .”
“I’m just asking.”
I don’t even know if Teddy really remembers Dad. But I guess if it makes life a little easier for Teddy to imagine his dad watching over him through the eyes of a horse, what’s the harm? That’s the way things are with Teddy. And I still feel the blame.
“Anyone hungry?” I asked, glad to change the subject. “Let’s go get a hot dog and drink.” Kelly and I started toward the snack stand. I noticed Teddy wasn’t following. “You, too, Bud. Come on.”
“I wanna see the team come out.”
“Hey, Teddy.” Raymond Garcia, probably the only real friend Teddy had, ran up to Teddy. Teddy broke into a grin and gave Raymond a light jab.
“Hiya, Raymond,” I said. I decided Teddy could stay and watch for the team as long as Raymond was with him. “Okay, Teddy, we’ll be right back. You stay right here, okay? Wait right here for us.
Teddy nodded and turned his attention back to the football field. Kelly and I hurried over to the snack stand. I kept looking back to check on Teddy. He and Raymond were talking and laughing together. We got some hot dogs and drinks. When I turned back to look for Teddy. he wasn't there. I looked all around, began running and finally saw him being led away from the crowd by the assistant principal, Mr. Martinez. "Oh, God, what's Teddy done now?" I mumbled. I ran in their direction as fast as I could. Kelly followed me, carrying the food and drinks.I heard Teddy yelling for me. Out of breath, I finally caaught up with them.
"What are you doing to my brother?" I almost shouted. I grabbed Teddy and tried to calm him.
"This is your brother?" Mr Martinez asked me.
"Yes, he's my brother. Why are you dragging him off like this?"
"I'm sorry, Michael, but I saw him handing off a plastic bag to another boy. You know I have to ask him some questions in a case like this." He reached out to Teddy but Teddy backed away. "I'm sorry I scared you, son."
"Okay, wait a minute," I said. "Let's start this over. Teddy, did you give something to another boy?"
"No, Miichael," he said. Somehow I didn't think he sounded too convincing.
"Teddy, think. Tell me everything exactly as it happened."
"I was watching the team come out. A guy said he had something for me. He put a plastic bag in my hand." Her stopped and kind of hung his head. He looked at me for help and I nodded my head for him to go on. "He asked me if I wanted to buy it. I didn't have any money. I gave it back.to him."
"Who is this other kid?" I demanded. "Why isn't he here, too?"
"He told me his name was Leo," Teddy jumped in. "He said he knew you, Michael."
I'd heard about a Leo selling drugs to kids. My friend, Carlos, said Leo had sold something to his little brother. Carlos beat Leo up pretty good for that. "Teddy, if you ever see him again, you run away from him, okay?"
"I mean it, Teddy. You stay clear away from hm."
"I will, Michael. Don't be mad at me."
I hugged Teddy, knowing my voice would crack if I said anythig. But I still wanted to know why Leo wasn't being questioned like Teddy was. Befiore I could say anything, Mr. Martinez told Teddy to turn his pockets inside out. Of course there wasn't anything in them so I figured the matter was done wiith. But Mr. Martinez put Teddy on two weeks On Campus Suspension
"You gotta be kidding," I yelled. I was so mad. People all around turned and stared at me.
"I'm sorry, Michael. But Teddy was seen handing the bag to Leo sonwe4 have to treat it as a possible drug transaction.
That night the Dos Pintos Mustangs became the Class AAA footbball champions. But among the three of us, Teddy was the only one who really cared.
We walked around town for awhile. We didn't talk much Except for Teddy.He was pretty hyped up about the game and having to leave before the game even started. I tried to explain that he hadn't done anything wrong, but I don't think he really understood. He couldn't understand why Leo didn't get into trouble, too. Neither could I. But I'm going to make sure that Leo gets his some day.