The Last Word: The Crewcut

One day in elementary school a boy on the playground punched a nun in the belly. His name was Billy and her name was Marie. It was an accident. She had come running to break up a fight and Billy had swung at his opponent with his eyes closed because the other boy was bigger and older and Billy was scared, and Sister had tossed the other boy out of the way like a leaf just as Billy’s fist arrived where her womb was. She gasped and doubled over and Billy opened his eyes and burst into tears. This was shocking because Billy was burly and we had never seen him cry, even when the bigger older boy had punched him so savagely in the shoulder that Billy had a bruise for a month, which I can attest to because he and I played shirts-and-skins basketball and I saw it snarl under his skin and change colors and slowly die like a painful memory.

Sister was only bent double for a few seconds, but in those few seconds her veil slipped forward so that when she stood up again it fell off. A boy named Kevin picked it up and handed it to her...

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About the Author

Brian Doyle is the editor of Portland magazine at the University of Portland.