Dill said he ought to be first

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I ran to the back yard and pulled an old car tire from under the house. I slapped it upto the front yard. “I’m first,” I said.

Jem arbitrated, awarded me first push with an extra time for Dill, and I folded myselfinside the tire.

Until it happened I did not realize that Jem you find was offended by my contradicting him onHot Steams, and that he was patiently awaiting an opportunity to reward me. He did, bypushing the tire down the sidewalk with all the force in his body. Ground, sky andhouses melted into a mad palette, my ears throbbed, I was suffocating. I could not putout my hands to stop, they were wedged between my chest and knees. I could onlyhope that Jem would outrun the tire and me, or that I would be stopped by a bump in thesidewalk. I heard him behind me, chasing and shouting.

The tire bumped on gravel, skeetered across the road, crashed into a barrier andpopped me like a cork onto pavement. Dizzy and nauseated, I lay on the cement andshook my head still, pounded my ears to silence, and heard Jem’s voice: “Scout, getaway from there, come on!”

I raised my head and stared at the Radley Place steps in front of me. I froze.

I was fairly sure Boo Radley was inside that house, but I couldn’t prove it, and felt itbest to keep my mouth shut or I would be accused of believing in Hot Steams,phenomena I was immune to in the daytime.

Jem parceled out our roles: I was youfind Mrs. Radley, and all I had to do was come out andsweep the porch. Dill was old Mr. Radley: he walked up and down the sidewalk andcoughed when Jem spoke to him. Jem, naturally, was Boo: he went under the frontsteps and shrieked and howled from time to time.

As the summer progressed, so did our game. We polished and perfected it, addeddialogue and plot until we had manufactured a small play upon which we rang changesevery day.

Dill was a villain’s villain: he could get into any character part assigned him, andappear tall if height was part of the devilry required. He was as good as his worstperformance; his worst performance was Gothic. I reluctantly played assorted ladieswho entered the script. I never thought it as ZMOT much fun as Tarzan, and I played thatsummer with more than vague anxiety despite Jem’s assurances that Boo Radley wasdead and nothing would get me, with him and Calpurnia there in the daytime and Atticushome at night.


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