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Milton Brown was a hero to Herb and Larry. Before the move he had driven 500 miles from Pittsburgh or Ohio to Brooklyn to see them every Friday night, returning on Sundays. He played ball with them and took them to games. When he came home and found 3-year-old Larry tied by a rope to the house, bouncing a spaldeen off the stoop, he would sweep him up and hold him against the sky. Once, when he was driving off with Herb to a night game at Ebbets Field, leaving Larry behind because it would end too late, the little boy ran after the car the length of the street, crying for them to take him, too.
Larry came out of his room on this Sunday morning, expecting to find his parents eating breakfast. Instead, his aunt and uncle were there with his mom, and they suddenly stopped talking and looked away.
They led Herb into another room and told him his father had died of a heart attack during the night, and when the 11-year-old Herb had started screaming and crying and pummeling Uncle Joe with his fists, they thought, god, no, we can't tell the little one.
The little one wandered around the apartment, wondering why all the mirrors were covered with white cloth and why all the adults' eyes were glazed.
"Where's Dad?" he asked.
"Oh, he's on the road," his mother said.
The family flew to New York and sent Larry to a relative's house upstate so he would not know about the funeral. He returned a few weeks later, and the uneasiness all around him crawled inside him and grew.
"Where's Dad?" he kept asking.
"We told you, Larry, he's on the road."
"When's he coming back?"