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Austin’s Largest Selection of International Folk Art, Silver Jewelry and Textiles IIE S C, S FOLK ART & OTHER TREASURES FROM AROUND THE WORLD 209 CONGRESS AVEAUSTIN 512/479-8377, \\sOPEN DAILY 10-6 www.tesoros.comzr4 too-big body just lay there in bed. But at nightah!at night his enemies were in peril of their lives. For example: There were people in El Pasosixth graders!who always lounged around on the porch and steps of the house two doors down from his house, talking and laughing. They used to call out Baby Baby Baby when they saw Riley and laugh at him when he fell off his bike and cried and they used to make fun when he and Greghis very best friend in all the worldskipped down the street holding hands. But, at night, those same horrible boys came crawling up to Riley to bawl out their shame. Forgive us, they cried, putting their heads down on Riley’s tennies, grabbing his ankles, black tears of sorrow and remorse spilling down their faces, snot pouring out of their noses and running into their mouths, slobbering. Riley Riley Riley please forgive us, they begged, we didn’t know you and Greg were such wonderful boys. Such big boys yourselvesnot babies at all. Won’t you play with us? Call me Riley Martin, he told those horrible sixth-grade boys in the midnight hours and he didn’t give them an inch of compassion. Of course, he wouldn’t play with them! And then he and Gregbut not Greg’s cousin Jasonheaven forbid!would singlehandedly force those boys to sit down on the steps of their house and they would make them promise that they would never laugh at them ever again. Ever! And then they would make those horrible, lazy boyssweep the sidewalk!so that Greg and Riley could skip down it without ever falling on a rock and ride their bikes and it would all be smooth sailing. At night Greg was there with Riley in his dreams, his loyal henchmanthe Tonto to his Lone Ranger, the Robin to his Batmanand together they took over the universe. One glorious night, in fact, Riley ripped off his clothesjust like Supermanto save everyone in the clinic and the hospital from a hurricane. The storm was coming in from the ocean, tearing off the tops of the palm trees, slamming against the plate-glass windows, howling and crying down through every room. It had been on the news all day. Greg held Riley’s ace bandages and rubber face mask and elastic hood while he, golden horns spouting from the top of his head, cape aflutter, shattered the eye of the storm with one blow of his blazing ax. The little kids on the Acute Ward and the older boys and girls in Reconstruction, sometimes haughty toward Riley in the daynot even paying attention to him when he asked to play poolespecially when he was with Melvinthey seemed to have something against himand he knew they didn’t like Melvinspoke of his deeds all up and down the nighttime halls. Avast ye hearties, they whispered through their bandages, have you heard about our matey, Riley? And Parker MacGwyn ordered the doctors to have an ice-cream party in the playroom so everyone could clap and sing to Riley. They lined up to shake his hand AND they cheered like crazy when he walked in the room AND they laid down their pool sticks at his feet. Another night, Riley banished Melvin Pitts to the outer limits beyond the world of Room 312. His very best friend Greg, who had never met Melvin Pitts in real life, held the door open so he, Riley, could boot Melvin out of the hospital forever. Parker MacGwyn called in the tub men and the nursessweeping his hand around the room to show them how Riley had cleaned out all its disturbing elementsand handed over control of the remote to Riley. Lee Merrill Byrd lives in El Paso, where she and her husband run Cinco Puntos Press. Her most recent book is Riley’s Fire signing books at BookPeople in Austin on June 7 at 7 p.m. MAY 19, 2006 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 29