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Hattie peered closely as the trio approached the entrance to the building. She studied Scooter's willowy walk and the way his lean body seemed to move naturally against the soft summer wind.

"Ain't sweet", she determined. "He small for his age is all. Look a bit like Diana Ross to me. With all that pretty peanut-brittle skin and them big ol eyes, I thank he kinda cute. Plus, Nita got her somebody to play with now. Be good for her to be around another chile." Herbie coughed again, this time hacking up a thick wad of phlegm. Leaning out the open window he pressed his index finger to the opening in his throat and hock-spit down into the littered grass below. He rasped, "Dont know bout that. "They say the boy mute, too. Jeo say the po-lice found him sucking his fanger and settin in four days wurf of his own mess. I bet that's why he caint talk. Stuff like that gotta do somethin to a boy. Make him turn round inside hisself and ball up in his own shit."