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Months after that, when the boys of the neighborhood would gather, we sometimes would discuss the mechanics and philosophy of the chase. We spoke of the chase in general rather than specific terms. We said "the" chase, not "this" or "that" chase. Such overview was rare for a group like ours—an uncommon venture in abstraction for a gang comprised of nothing more than free-spirited, prepubescent kids or, more simply, punks.
"You know," said Jaimie, "the chase is about the funnest thing there is." We lay in a haphazard circle under a huge weeping willow, perhaps six of us, and we gazed absently at the leafy sky. A normal summer day.
"It's like being on TV," he continued, "and the cops are after you and you're making a run for it. You dodge, and zing! bullets whistle over your head. It's so exciting you can hardly stand it. You just run like crazy, crashing over trees and fences and things, and you don't stop and shoot back because that would be stupid. You just run and run and run...."
Fat Pat broke in, "Yeah, it's O.K. to be chased as long as you don't get caught. But how about if one of those bullets hits you, and you're bleeding all over and staggering and still trying to run and...."
"If you weren't such a tub of lard, you wouldn't be worrying all the time about getting caught," said Louie. "Just because you got the tar whaled out of you last Halloween don't mean nothing. You got to think." And with that Louie pointed emphatically at his head. Louie himself was slow as a turtle but crafty as a fox, and he never seemed to get caught.
"Sure," added Greggie, "half the fun is knowing that you can't get caught." The chase, as we all knew, grew more authentic and exciting as the danger of being captured increased. You couldn't be hounded by your little sister, but you could flee like the devil from high school bullies.
Irving, who stuttered frequently, brought the conversation down to specifics. "Do you remember that garbage man who drove that little b-bitty truck around?" Yes, an ugly red-faced man with black fingernails.
"Well...." Here Irving stopped, bogged down. To free his muddled tongue he would always shake his head and make a roaring noise like a dragster tuning up.
"Varoom!" he went, loosening the sticky gears. "Well, we always used to call him Rosemary when he went by and throw mud balls at him. One d-d-d...varoom!...day I hit him in the head with an apple, and he came flying out after me, swearing like crazy. He had something in his hand too, a monkey wrench or an ax or something. He scared me to death, and I took off running like I'd never done before. I ran for a mile through the woods, never once looking back. I don't guess he chased me too far, but just thinking about what he'd do if he caught me made me w-w-w...varoom!...want to run forever." Irving's point was explicitly understood.
"Yeah, when you're sure someone's after you, you get that funny feeling inside," said Jaimie.