Hercules the Greater was even more surprised to find out he didn’t care about those Eagles anymore. He didn’t even care about baseball anymore. His father assumed it was either drugs or something worse. He couldn’t imagine his son just woke up one day and decided to live his own life.
Hercules the Greater asked his mother to look into guitar lessons. She was more than happy to set that plan in motion. When Mr. Kennedy learned of this major mutiny he flipped his lid. When Mrs. Kennedy defended her son’s choice – Mr. Kennedy went down to the Stardust seeking a drink or two and maybe a sympathetic ear.
Hercules the Greater was more attentive to spring this year than usual. He felt like he was in tune with the little green buds sprouting from the ends of the branches. Everything smelled more intense this spring. He found a spring in his step.
The first time he missed spring baseball practice no one said a word. He was – after all – Hercules the Greater. They figured he’d come around and be back on the mound in time for the first big game of the season against the Washington Irving Elementary School Eagles.
Hercules the Lesser wasn’t even thinking about the eggs. It wasn’t that he was apathetic – he was just so distracted by Janice Coraopolis and the tugs his heart – the poor sap had no room in this head for a painted egg.
Easter for the friends and neighbors of Hercules the Greater meant fancy clothes and fancier food and the epic Easter Egg Hunt.
In the early days of the town’s existence, the fancy people held their Easter Egg Hunt in the city park. The less than fancy people held theirs down by the river.
Every kid in town – regardless of the family finances – got at least one hardboiled egg and one chocolate egg.
These days the fancy people celebrate Easter at the river – often in the canoes or on little rafts. The less than fancy celebrate in the park where they can move the long wooden tables into the shade of the tall oak trees.
Janice Coraopolis was one of the first people in modern times to cross the line when she left her family out at the river to hunt eggs with Hercules and his family.
He was surprised that she called him just Hercules. He knew what the other kids called him. What he didn’t know was why she didn’t. This tugged at his heart just a bit.
He thought he felt her heart tug when she intertwined her fingers with his.
“Hercules,” he whispered to himself.
One morning – despite himself – Hercules the Lesser turned to Janice Coraopolis and asked her if she had any family pets.
“We have a chocolate lab named Rambo,” she said
“No, I mean a real pet,” he said. “Not a candy one.”
“You’re so funny, Hercules,” she said.
She took his hand in hers and they walked to General John G. Pershing Elementary School just like that.
Hercules the Lesser wasn’t sure when or how Janice Coraopolis started walking him to school. He was walking along one day and there she was. She fell into step with him and they walked side-by-side for a few paces.
He slowed down to let her get ahead of him – she slowed down. He sped so he could put space between them so she sped up. He stopped. She stopped. They walked to school – side-by-side – in silence.
The next day she was waiting for him on the corner and she fell right into line. He didn’t speed up or slow down. He just kept walking.
Before long Hercules the Lesser memorized every crack in the sidewalk all the way to the front door of General John G. Pershing Elementary School.