Jerry lies prone in the sweet, safe dark. He is afraid that if he moves, his body will come apart. He misses his mother intensely, and begins crying. After the beating was over, he managed to make it back to the locker room at school and clean himself up, feeling ashamed. Jerry reflects on how “funny” it is that when someone is violent to you, you’re the one who has to hide, “as if you’re the criminal.” After cleaning himself up, Jerry rode the bus home and took a warm bath, grateful that his father was working the late shift and would not have to see him in such a state.
Just as Jerry felt ashamed when his locker was vandalized, he feels deeply ashamed of having been subjected to such violence. He realizes he has no control over what is happening to him—he is entirely at the mercy of the Vigils, and it is all his fault.
Jerry begins falling asleep, but the telephone rings. Though he does not want to, he knows he must answer; to let it ring would be a sign of defeat. Jerry picks up the phone and says, “I’m still here,” then waits for the silence, the “lewd” chuckle on the other end, and the sound of the dial tone.
Jerry does not wallow in his pain or lean into his defeat—he wants the Vigils to know that he is still ready to fight and resist their power.
Later that night, as Jerry is eating soup at the kitchen table, voices float up to Jerry and his father’s third-floor apartment from the street, calling Jerry to “come out and play.” Jerry carefully looks out the window—the street is empty, but the voices are loud and clear. Jerry watches as a neighbor shines his flashlight into the street and threatens to call the police. The voices call out “Bye, bye, Jerry,” and dissipate.
The physical threats against Jerry continue, and he starts to wonder, perhaps, if he has in fact gotten in over his head in standing up against the Vigils’ might.
Later that night, at two-thirty in the morning, the telephone rings again. Jerry’s father answers it, echoing Jerry’s earlier thought that allowing the phone to ring just lets the callers “get their kicks.” Jerry urges his father to take the phone off the hook, but Jerry’s father knows this is just another way of letting them win. Jerry’s father asks if Jerry is okay; Jerry replies that he’s fine, and then goes back to bed, but the phone rings through his dreams all night long.
Jerry’s father is now being roped into the Vigils’ assault, but Jerry does not let his father know what is going on—perhaps he wants to protect him, or perhaps admitting the truth of what’s happening would be shameful or embarrassing, indicative of how deeply Jerry has lost control of his own life.