"Excuse me, BA. I wonder if you could do me a big favor."
BA straightened up from the tricycle he was assembling. "Sure, Paula. Whaddya need?"
"We have a new boy, just started last week. He's having some trouble adjusting and I wondered if you could spend a little time with him. I think he could use some confidence building."
BA grimaced. 'Confidence building'. He knew what that meant. Kid's folks probably dropped him off here while they was out getting drunk or high. Shaking his head, he followed the teacher across the grounds of the day care center. He wondered sometimes if Face had been one of the lucky ones...
Paula stopped at the corner, BA nearly stumbling over her.
"He's in the classroom, back in the corner. That's where he spends most of his time, drawing. We've tried to bring him into activities with the other kids but he just shuts down. He's very shy."
BA nodded and walked around the corner and across the classroom, studying the boy in the corner. He was surprised, frankly. The boy's clothes, though obviously not new, were clean. The boy himself looked healthy, well cared for.
Not the kid of a drunk or a junkie, then. And in this neighborhood, not some my-career-is-more-important-than-my-kid parents either.
He pulled a chair up and sat down next to the boy, who, other than shifting slightly to the side, ignored BA. Not too many kids did that.
"Hi." He favored the boy with a smile. "My name's BA. What's yours?"
The boy tilted his head and looked up, bright green eyes taking BA in calmly.
"Roy." He turned back to his drawing.
BA frowned. Confidence didn't seem to be this kid's problem. He looked at the figure on the paper, and again felt surprised. Not the usual stick figures and off-kilter house. This was some kind of dinosaur.
"That's a good drawing. Dinosaur?"
The boy sat still for a moment, as if deciding whether to answer. "It looks like it now, but I have to add wings. Then it'll be a dragon."
BA sat back, impressed. "You like dragons?"
"I like knights, but I can't draw them right yet. So I draw dragons instead." Roy looked up, again tilting his head. "You draw?"
"No, wish I could. Ain't no good at that stuff."
Roy smiled shyly. "I'm not any good."
" 'I'm not any good at that stuff.' That's what you're supposed to say. Ain't isn't a word."
BA scowled, but said nothing. Maybe that's why the kid didn't have any friends here.
"So you know a lot about knights and dragons?"
"Yeah. My dad gets me books and reads them to me. I like King Arthur, but Sir Galahad is my favorite."
"Knights are pretty brave guys."
"Yeah. And noble. My dad says that means honorable."
"Yep, that's knights alright." BA watched as Roy went back to drawing. The wings were added and Roy carefully wrote his name on the bottom of the paper. He looked at the dragon for a minute before looking up at BA and smiling.
"You like it?"
"I do. A lot." BA thought another moment before standing up. "I'll be right back, Roy."
Roy nodded absently, reaching for a clean sheet of paper.
BA stepped outside, looking around the playground, then nodded, satisfied.
Roy looked up as BA returned, frowning slightly when he saw BA had two other boys with him. BA pretended not to notice as he took his seat again.
"Roy, this is Pete and Jaime. And they like dragons, too... "