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Chris Lynch (b. 1962), a Boston native, is an award-winning author of several acclaimed young adult novels, including Freewill (2001), which won the Michael L. Printz Honor, and National Book Award finalist Inexcusable (2005). Lynch holds an MA from the writing program at Emerson College, and teaches in the creative writing MFA program at Lesley University. He mentors aspiring writers and continues to work on new literary projects while splitting time between Boston and Scotland.
In 1975, twelve-year-old Richard befriends Napoleon, a Caribbean newcomer to his Catholic school, hoping that Napoleon will learn to love baseball and the Red Sox, and will win acceptance in the racially polarized Boston school.
SOURCE: VOYA, December 2000 (Vol. 23, No. 5)
Napoleon Charlie Ellis showed up just after Christmas. When he landed here there was almost a foot of snow on the ground. When he took off from Dominica, there probably was not.
That was the first shortchanging he got. The second was that they shoved him back down into seventh grade when he was supposed to be in the eighth. Language problem was what they were talking about. What language did you speak back home in Dominica, I asked him. English, he told me, and told me in some pretty fine English, I must say. So I didn't quite get why they did that. Anyway.
“They announced my name when I came in,” he said to me. “So you have the advantage of me.”
“What is your name?”
“It ain't half what your name is.”
“Ain't?” Napoleon Charlie Ellis asked me, sounding very surprised. My ain't never surprised anybody in the past. Mr. Ellis apparently expected Boston, Massachusetts, USA, Hub of the Solar System, Athens of America, to be an Ain't-Free-Zone. It would be my job to enlighten him.
Richard Riley Moncreif, I told him. Ain't it purdy? I added. I was loaded with confidence that day, and lots of days before then too. Meeting people, talking to people, mixing . . . I never had any problem with that the way a lot of people do.
Napoleon Charlie Ellis stuck out his hand, right there in the boys' bathroom, and after a small pause I stuck out mine. My hand.
It was an excellent shake, kind of formal, kind of hard, little bit of challenge, little bit squeezy. I had very little experience with the hand-shaking bit since it was never really much of a thing in my circle, and I neverfigured it to be all that crammed with meaning, the way grown men take it so seriously. But if I wanted to try thinking that there was more to it than a couple of guys trying to show each other how firm their grip was, I might have thought, this feels like the hand of somebody I could like.
But I didn't want to try thinking that. Don't make things more complicated than they should be would be my philosophy if I had one. So.
It was a fairly tough grip to match squeeze for squeeze if it came down to it. That was what I thought mattered about the handshake of Napoleon Charlie Ellis.He was well known before he knew it, his story circulating through our little population before he did.
He was not a full year older than me, despite the being kept back thing, which they could call lots of other things but we recognized as being kept back. I was on the old side of seventh and Napoleon was on the young side of eighth, so we were pretty close anyhow. I'm sure he recognized that and that was one reason we became friends so quickly. And I was a little bit taller too, so he could respect me, even if this was only my first run-through of the seventh grade.
“I do wish you wouldn't do that,” he said to me.
“Making the jokes. About my getting reversed. I don't care for it. I can forget about it when you don't mention it, since there is nobody here who knew me when I was in eighth grade, but when you bring it up, I am reminded. I don't care to be reminded.”
Which was, I guess, the third part of the shortchanging of Napoleon Charlie Ellis. All his people were somewhere else.
“I'll stop,” I said. Napoleon had a very smart face. Could make me appreciate things I couldn't manage on my own. This could be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on what you wanted out of a guy. Mostly, I was happy enough knowing what I knew, and doing what I did. So this was a thing that we'd have to keep an eye on.
But as long as he had me looking, what did I know about being removed from my everything? That was for sure something Napoleon had that I didn't. All my people were right here around me, always were and always would be. I had what and who I needed right here. Mine was that kind of neighborhood, that kind of life. “I'm sorry,” I said, mostly just to make the thing go away. “I'll stop.”
“Yes, you said that,” he said.
See there, he could have said, okay, cool, Richard. Great. He could, and obviously did, notice that I felt bad enough to repeat myself. Could have let me off easier then. So what did he do instead? Pointed it out to me, that I had repeated. Threw a spotlight on it. Cold spot. And that was the way he did things. Letting a guy off was not his way. Like if I made a mistake with him I had to feel it twice, as if I couldn't really get it the first time. Frankly, I didn't understand why a guy should be that tense.
“Oh right, well I just repeated myself because I know you have that problem with the English and all.”
Times like this, a joke at just the right moment can really smooth things . . . “Where are you going, Napoleon? Come back, wouldja please just . . .”
Did I ask for this? Was I looking for this? Did I go following anybody into the bathroom to spark up a friendship? No, I did not. I was minding my own business, doing just fine, marking off days on the calendar untilbaseball season started. Next thing I know I'm chasing a guy out of the bathroom to patch things up. Makes no sense. If I ran things, nobody would have names. We would just have batting averages. Then there would be no misunderstandings...Gold Dust. Copyright © by Chris Lynch. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
Posted October 25, 2004
Gold Dust was a good book. I recommend it to grades 6-9. It was entertaining and enjoyable. Chris Lynch did an exceptional job.
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Posted April 26, 2003
Posted November 16, 2013
((I want her family to be in it too and can she own the wwe too?)) Name:Anabel Maria Enderson call me that and die age:20 persona:She is love with Jeff when she entered the wwe she won the '06 divas search contest with her sister Katy she is brothers with Kane and Undertaker looks:6'0 tan skined woman who can run at the speed of light she has a tatoo on her neck that says I am A beliver in god has black hair but always dyes a differnt color like Jeff other:has magic healing powers and is a vampire/werewolf hybrid they are in a prophecy i anit telling you till part 4 ring name:Dragon tag team:Ice((Katy)) sig:Dragon&psi ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Name:Kathleen Darcy Enderson I like Katy better age:same as Ebony persona:She is the exact oppiste of Ebony and she is the famous singer known as Katy Perry and is the dicetor of operationsshe lives a quiet life at home and she wants to be with her sister all the time looks:Ebony's twin sister! Sig:Ice&hearts Ring name:Ice family:Ebony Daniel Joesph other:ask me+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Name:Daniel Quincy Enderson age:35 persona:like Kane but when he is not in the buliding he is always at home as the new co-dierector of operations Ebony is looking into firing him or have demoted to wrestler ring name:Kane(duh!) Other:ask me sig:Kane&Psi ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Name:Joesph Mark Endrson age:37 persona:like undertaker but not in the ring he rasies 3 kids along with his wife their names are:Faith Marucs and Gina ring name:Undertaker(obvious!) Other:ask me sig:Undertaker&Psi((thanks for reading!!!!!))
Posted November 15, 2013
Posted March 4, 2001
Posted February 6, 2009
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Posted March 24, 2009
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