Troy took a deep breath and headed down into the subway.He approached the ticket booth and gave the window a hard,loud knock with the end of his bat.

The ticket man was startled out of his daydream, and nearlyemptied the contents of his coffee across the dimly lit

counter. "Whoa, there - just a minute!”He groped the

countertop frantically for his glasses. Finding them to the leftof his elbow, he snatched them up and settled them onto hisnose.

His face relaxed and he smiled when he recognized Troy, thekid who often greeted him on his way to school.

"Hi, Mr. Rames,"Troy called. His voice was somewhatmuffled by the window.

Mr. Rames smiled as he pushed his coffee cup away from thenewspaper on the counter.

"Hello to you, Troy Knightly," he replied.

“Mr.Rames, just so you know, you won't be seeing mearound after this week."

"Oh?”replied the ticket man.

Troy shrugged his shoulders."I'm moving to Florida - takingthe bus to this small town called Camberland. Mygrandfather lives there.”

"Well that'll be a big change for you,”Mr. Rames said.

He took a swig from his coffee cup.The liquid was colderthan he'd hoped.He put the cup down with a sigh.Hearingthat the boy was leaving made him sort of sad.He liked thiskid. Which was odd since he didn't like most kids at all - theywere too noisy,too messy, and too rambunctious for him.

“You better be taking that nice mom of yours with you,"theticket man said.

Troy laughed."Don't worry, Mr. Rames.It was her idea.Infact, she's in Florida right now, getting me registered at mynew school.”

A tin soda can clattered noisily down the steps from thestreet above.The wind had apparently picked up.

“You got yourself a good mom, Troy,”Mr. Rames said as heleaned back on his stool.

"Yeah, I know,"Troy said."My mom won't officially move toFlorida until she finishes out the lease on our apartment, so Iwon't see her for a couple months.She'll be back up herenext week, though, right when I head down to Florida.

Troy shifted from one foot to the other."But guess what, Mr.Rames?”

The ticket man shrugged his shoulders.

Troy grinned."Today's my birthday!”

Mr. Rames adjusted his glasses and scratched at his thin

beard."Well Ill be darn.Happy birthday, kid! How young areyou?”

Troy gave him another wide grin."I'm fifteen."Troy shovedthe bat under his arm and held up his hands to display theindex finger of his right hand, and all five fingers on his left.

Mr. Rames laughed."A one and a five does make fifteen,"hechuckled.

Troy smiled as he tucked a lock of short brown hair behindhis ear.