Today the science group, Henry D., Theresa, Tino and Paul, get a ride from the school to Paul’s house in Henry D’s brother, Wayne’s truck, which has his mosquito spraying trailer attached. It doesn’t take the group as long to make decisions about how the final report should look as it takes Wayne to complete the spraying. The group goes into the back yard with a soccer ball.
While they are in the back yard, Erik and Arthur arrive. Erik and Arthur insult the visitors. Paul wants Tino to overlook their comments. But, Tino is not about to do that. As Tino confronts the two, Arthur pulls something that looks like a blackjack out of his gym bag. Erik tells Arthur that they won’t need it. Tino mentions the time that Erik went flying through the air, the time that he was on television. Erik hits him hard in the face with the back of his hand. After that, with Tino laying in the grass, Erik and Arthur head for the gate. Before he leaves, Erik gives Paul a look that surprises him, a look of something like sorrow or fear.
As Paul turns his attention to Tino he sees that Erik’s varsity ring has struck Tino below the ear. Paul also sees some movement at the patio door. Paul knows that Dad is home early today and he wonders if Dad saw what transpired.
Tino wants nothing but to leave. He and Theresa exit through the gate and Henry D. follows them after exchanging a pained look with Paul. Before long, Wayne picks them up.
Paul replays the scene that just took place in his mind, feeling sick.
Arthur shows how he quickly jumps to violence in a confrontation. This foreshadows what happens the next day. The look that passes between Erik and Paul gives Paul and the reader a glimpse into Erik’s mind.
Paul wants to find out if Dad saw what happened yesterday, but he cannot bring himself to mention it. He doesn’t talk about it with Mom either. At school he doesn’t see the other science group members.
In the afternoon Paul and Mom drive out Route 22 and go to the family’s climate-controlled storage bin. After they pick up a box that Mom wants, they notice an insecticide smell, then they accidentally lock the door with the key inside. Mom says that she will have Erik come to the storage bin and use his key to get the one locked inside. Paul is surprised that Erik has one. Mom explains simply that he asked for one.
Next stop will be Erik’s high school. Mom is to have a meeting with Erik’s guidance counselor. Paul sees that Mom is still blind to Erik’s true character. Mom cannot understand why Paul suspects that the meeting might be about a problem. She explains that it is not unusual for an athlete’s grades to slip during their sport’s season. Paul’s comment that his didn’t is ignored until some time later after Mom parks at the school. Her response is more about how much she herself has helped Paul, than about Paul.
Some time after Mom leaves the car, Paul gets out also. He moves toward the few players who are still there. He notices Luis Cruz getting out of his truck and speaking to one of the players who points Luis toward Erik. Luis stops near Paul without noticing him.
When Erik and the group around him approach, Luis asks if he is Erik Fisher. Erik makes a remark to Arthur whose hand reaches into his gym bag searching for something.
Showing no fear, Luis suggests that Erik hit him. It is Arthur who hits Luis, using a blackjack. Luis covers his head and goes down on one knee. Erik’s group makes light of the situation, but Antoine and a muscular friend who has been working out with him walk over to Luis. After some minutes, they walk to Luis’ truck with him. Luis drives away.
When Mom comes out of the building, Paul is still under the bleachers, in the same spot where he was during the altercation between Luis, Erik and Arthur. Mom tells him that the counselor told her that the problems with Erik will subside once football season is over. Paul knows, however, that in their family football season does not end.
The scene where Paul and Mom notice an insecticide smell foreshadows the discovery that Mom will soon make.
Johnson, Jane. "TheBestNotes on Tangerine".
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