For the next two days, Nick left school and made his way to the alley. Each day, Johnny Balboni waited for him, sitting on cardboard, eating an apple, and offering one to Nick. Johnny worked with Nick on his calculus. Nick left Johnny feeling more and more confident about how he might score on the SATs. Nick took the SATs on Thursday.
On the night before Nick took the SATs, Nick’s dad told the family he got a call from the Recreation Department and he didn’t get the job. They told him, he was their second choice, but they chose someone who had more experience in that kind of work.
Nick’s spirits dropped. He hoped with his dad getting the job, he could quit working at Martini’s Deli and concentrate on school and running track in the spring. Both seemed nearly impossible to him. He was quiet during the meal. After dinner, he helped clear the table and returned to his bedroom to study for the SATs. After an hour, his dad knocked on his door. When his dad came into the room, he told Nick not to let his bad news bother him. His dad said he was sure something good would turn up. Nick smiled and half heartedly told his dad he believed him. Between his dad’s bad news and his anxiety about the test, Nick didn’t fall to sleep until nearly 3 in morning. His mom woke him up at six. By seven-thirty he had his backpack and was off to school. The SATs were at nine.
Nick felt pretty good after taking the SATs, but he knew it would take time to receive his scores, between two and three weeks. He worked on the weekends at Martini’s. He was now putting in more hours. He worked from four in the afternoon until ten at night on Friday, Saturday, and Sundays. Nick spent the rest of his free time studying.
It was Monday, Christmas was a week away. Nick walked down the alley as he did every day after school. He hoped to see Johnny. Nick hadn’t seen Johnny Balboni in two weeks. He missed him. But it was Johnny’s way to drift to different parts of the town. Nick wanted to thank him for helping him. Nick walked into his house. His mom was baking Christmas cookies, there were two plates filled with cookies, cooling on the table.
Nick said, “Hi mom.” Then he grabbed a cookie.
His mom, whose back was turned toward Nick, was peeking in the oven, said, “Hi Nick, only one cookie, don’t spoil your appetite.”
“Maybe I took two,” said Nick.
“No, it was only one. How was school?” His mom asked.
“It was okay.”
“Any news on the SATs?” Asked his mom.
“Not yet. They’ll send me an email when I can go online and look at my scores. Where’s dad, said Nick.
“He’s out. He’ll be back for dinner,” said his mom said.
Nick went into his room, he put his backpack on his bed, pulled out his laptop and took it to his desk. He opened his laptop, typed in his password that was the name of his favorite music group plus his birth year. He saw the number 4 on his email icon. He opened his email app and scanned through the unopened emails. There was the email from the College Board informing him his SAT scores were available online. There was a link to take Nick to the SAT site where he could find his scores.
Nick’s heart raced. He knew the lowest score was 400 and a perfect score on the combined exams was 1600. He also knew if he scored 1500 or higher, he was home free. He’d get a scholarship to any university in the country. He clicked on the link, filled in the identification information on the website, and saw his scores. His score for evidenced based reading and writing was 590. His math score was 701. He had a combined total of 1291. He knew this was well above the average scores of around a 1000, he wasn’t sure it was good enough to get him a full scholarship to college. His parents were adamant, he was not to take any loans to go to college and have a big bill when he finished.
Nick closed the computer and stared at the ceiling. He fell asleep. He only woke when his dad shook him, “Nick? Nick? Wake up.”
Nick opened his eyes, “I must have been exhausted. Thanks, dad.” Nick rubbed his eyes and sat up,
“Dinners ready. Freshen up. I’ll see you at the table,” said his dad giving Nick’s hair a tussle.
Laura said grace. Nick’s mom made a large lasagna. A picture of her lasagna covered with her homemade sauce and mozzarella cheese was worth a thousand words. She served Nick’s dad first with a generous piece. Then she went by age, Nick, followed by Laura, and then Stella. Nicks mom served herself last. No one ate until everyone was served.
Nick took a bite and said, “I got my SAT scores. They were terrible.”
“Terrible? What’s terrible? What’d you get?” Asked his dad.
“On the evidenced based reading and writing I got a 590 and on math I got a 701,” said Nick dejectedly.
“You’re kidding me, right? Eight hundred is perfect and you got a 701 in math? That’s awesome. Your total score was right near 1300, right?” Said his dad.
“I guess it’s good, but not good enough to be sure I’d get a free ride to any college,” said Nick.
“Don’t quit. Isn’t that what Johnny Balboni told you?” Said his dad.
“Yah. I guess. If I run track in the spring, maybe I’ll run good enough in the 800 meters to earn a track scholarship,” said Nick taking another bit of his lasagna.
Nick’s dad ignored Nick’s little pity party and said, “I have some news. I got the job at the Recreation Department. The person they wanted, turned it down. I’m okay with being their second choice. I’ll prove to them, I should have been their first choice. I start right after Christmas.”
Nick and his sister shouted and got up and went to their dad and hugged him. Nick’s mom, made the sign of the cross, thanked God, and cried.
When they sat back down, Nick’s dad said, “You don’t mind working for a few more weeks until I start getting paid, do you Nick?”
Nick said, “We’re family dad. Of course not.”
Will Nick get a scholarship to college? Will he have a chance to thank Johnny Balboni for helping him with his math?