Friday September 1
The soccer tryouts begin. Joey says that since Paul likes to play as a goalie, he will try for fullback. They meet the head coach, Mr. Walski, who tells them that everyone is on the team and gets to practice, but not everyone will go to away games. Joey says to Paul that means there are fifteen kids who play on the real team and fifteen others who are “dog meat.” They begin to practice. Paul saves a penalty kick from the captain, Gino, and he knows he has just earned a place on the team.
The contrast here is between Erik’s spectacular success on the football field, which has already been described, and the struggle Paul has to play his preferred sport, soccer. Success will not come easily to him, and he has to work hard in order to win the respect of the other boys on the team, but he makes a good start here.
Tuesday, September 5
Erik comes home and reports that Mike Costello was killed by lightning at soccer practice that day. Mom is shocked. Dad calls from the hospital confirming the news. Everyone is in a state of shock. Erik and Arthur seem happy about it, though, and Paul realizes this is because they will benefit from it as far as football is concerned. Paul is upset by this realization, which is another example of his brother’s ruthlessness.
Erik and Arthur reveal their true colors here, at least to the observant Paul. Everyone else behaves as one would expect following a sudden tragic death, but Erik and Arthur seem incapable of any empathy. If they see gain for themselves in something, they are happy.
Wednesday, September 6
In spite of the tragedy, football practice is not canceled. Paul’s mom thinks there should be no practice in the afternoons, because of the risk of thunderstorms. Her husband does not agree, however. He does not want to upset his relationship with Coach Warner. Paul is bored at soccer practice, and thinks there are only a few good players on the team. The midfield is weak.
Thursday, September 7
Mom calls a meeting at their house with the parents and the coach as well as the high school principal, Mr. Bridges. She wants to persuade everyone not to send their sons to afternoon practice. Coach Warner and Mr. Bridges both pay tribute to the memory of Mike Costello. But the coach says there is no other time than the afternoon to practice. He adds that no player at the school has ever been killed or injured by lightning during practice. Mom cites statistics saying that there are more lightning strikes in Tangerine County than anywhere in the United States. She points out that young athletes have indeed been killed by lightning in the county. She suggests that football practice be held in the mornings. Coach Warner is not keen on this, but Bill Donnelly, whose house has been struck several times by lightning in the afternoon, speaks up in support of Mom. Mr. Bridges says he will consult the parents, and Warner says that if a majority would sooner hold practice in the morning, then that is what they will do. However, he adds that his preferred solution is to continue afternoon practice and just take the players off when there is lightning in the area.
Paul’s mom shows herself to be someone who likes to get things done. She is an organizer and is passionate in advocating her views about what should be done. Her relationship with her husband is put under some strain because Dad declines to speak up in favor of her proposal for holding football practice in the mornings. Dad does not want to offend the coach and is too invested in Erik’s football dream to take an independent stance or even support his wife’s sensible position.