Author Topic: First Paragraph  (Read 20347 times)

Tempered

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Re: First Paragraph
« Reply #60 on: November 25, 2010, 02:51:25 PM »
I am often guilty of that same deed, herron.

Offline herron

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Re: First Paragraph
« Reply #61 on: November 25, 2010, 10:09:17 PM »
I am often guilty of that same deed, herron.
:-\
Alas, it's easy enough to do.

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Offline 510bhan

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Re: First Paragraph
« Reply #62 on: November 26, 2010, 08:38:39 AM »
I think that's just secret man talk between you two now...hmm?
:-\
Alas, it's easy enough to do.



Tempered

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Re: First Paragraph
« Reply #63 on: November 26, 2010, 08:40:27 AM »
Ha!

Offline herron

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Re: First Paragraph
« Reply #64 on: November 26, 2010, 09:11:41 AM »
I think that's just secret man talk between you two now...hmm?

LOL!  More of the story to come when I get back home later today.  ;)
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Offline herron

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Re: First Paragraph
« Reply #65 on: November 26, 2010, 07:17:12 PM »
I think I'll get out of word games for a while.  :P


More of "Albert."


     I suppose we all saw it coming.  Albert fought with Puz before the week was out, blacking his eye and loosening a tooth. I never thought to see the day Pozanski would go down so fast.  Albert established himself quickly after that.  Frequently a bully to the younger kids, he was pushy and obscene with the rest of us; mouthy and obnoxious to all the adults. I once overheard one of our neighbors, Mr. Dixon, tell my father, “Albert’s the kind of kid who likes to keep everyone about an axe-handle away.”  All things considered, I guess that summed him up rather well. 

     I’m not sure why, but I got along with him.  Maybe it was because I was as big as he was and didn’t take any shit from him, but I didn’t push him about things either. It went on this way, one day blending pretty much the same into the next.  Kids are remarkably resilient beings.

     We would soon learn one other thing was a constant. Albert fought with his stepfather, Carl, the Toothpick Man, loudly and often. It was no secret theirs was an ongoing battle that escalated at the slightest provocation. Carl usually started it by picking up a fifth of bourbon from Food Town after work.  Every day he was either very mellow or awfully pissed by dinnertime. It seemed, however, mellow seldom won.

     The neighborhood quickly learned to stay away from their house when Carl drank, at least until the shouting was completely over.  It became a regular occurance.  About three years after they moved in and their neighborhood circus began, there was once more a tremendous slamming of doors and screaming coming from their house. It was louder than usual but by now everyone just rolled their eyes, shrugged and thought, “Here we go again!” That day, however, amid a great deal more shouting and banging than usual, there was also a woman’s scream. 

     When most of the neighborhood gave in to curiosity and looked outside, there was Albert, standing at the side of his house, shouting obscenities and angrily swinging a shovel in the direction of his drunken stepfather. His disheveled mother, her face bruised and lip bleeding, stood weeping in the front yard, wringing her hands around a bloody dishtowel, pleading with Albert to stop.

     “He’s never gonna touch you again!” Albert screamed.  “Never!  I’ll kill the son-of-a-bitch first!  I’ll kill him!”

     “Please, Albert . . . .” his mother pleaded, in a shaky voice.

     “Bas-sard …” a drunken Carl mumbled, slurring the words.

     “You’re a dead man, Carl!  A dead man!" Albert screamed. "I swear I’ll kill you!” 

     Albert was crying profusely, and his tears that night were different from any I had ever seen. He was as unlike the puffy little braggart I thought I knew as it was possible to be. There was absolute rage in Albert’s face.  I honestly believed he was going to kill Carl with that shovel.

     Someone else must have thought so, too. Within moments the sheriff and several deputies came. They all seemed to have met Albert before. They broke up the argument, handcuffed him and none-too-gently put him in the back of their patrol car, ignoring Carl.  “My baby!” his mother wailed, putting her hand on the car’s windows and running alongside as it slowly pulled away. “My baby!” 

     And just like that it was over.



(more to come)

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Offline 510bhan

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Re: First Paragraph
« Reply #66 on: November 26, 2010, 07:22:50 PM »
I'm too much if a fan to be able to find anything niggly - which I guess is meant to be a compliment to your writing..and it is.

I like your style and can't find anything that needs an obvious fix to my eye. :D

Offline herron

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Re: First Paragraph
« Reply #67 on: November 26, 2010, 07:28:10 PM »
I'm too much if a fan to be able to find anything niggly - which I guess is meant to be a compliment to your writing..and it is.

I like your style and can't find anything that needs an obvious fix to my eye. :D
Thank you, love.    :-*
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Offline herron

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Re: First Paragraph
« Reply #68 on: November 26, 2010, 07:47:09 PM »
more --->

     Albert was gone for a long time.  Kids at school whispered “joovie” whenever his name was mentioned. When he returned he seemed more subdued, but there was a new, angry look in his eyes. The neighborhood kids avoided him.  He still always seemed to be in trouble. That part of him hadn’t changed, it just got worse.  

     He seemed determined to develop his poor attitude and gutter vocabulary as if they were the high points of a career, to be proudly displayed on his resume. His grades plummeted even more and that didn’t seem to surprise anyone. It wasn’t because he was stupid. He wasn’t. He just didn’t care what people really thought of him. He had a knack for being just what people expected and not much more.  

     For example, Albert was the only kid in the state to make a perfect score on the Air Force Aptitude Test they administered in our junior year.  Actually, the first time he took it, he only finished in the ninety-eighth percentile – which was still better than anyone else in the county, let alone the school.  Principal Booker took that high percentile as a reason to accuse him of cheating. He was going to throw out the score and expunge it entirely from his academic record, until Albert’s mother walked the two miles to the high school and pleaded with him to reconsider.

     “Personally, I’m surprised he’s lasted long enough to even take the test,” Booker said to her.  He relented on the condition Albert retake it, alone and closely monitored.

     There were four counselors in the room with him during the second test, Booker being one of them, with Albert the only student. None of them ever took their eyes off him.  He got no bathroom breaks. He couldn’t even take out a tissue to wipe his nose. The whole school knew about it.  I could only imagine how humiliated he was. It was then Albert scored his ace.

     His mother came to school again on the day Booker announced his score. I was sitting outside the principal’s office waiting to get a Letter of Recommendation to send with my application to State University.  I heard every word.  Mrs. P was sitting in the office with Albert, a sad little smile tugging at the worry lines on her face, when Booker said simply, “He passed.”  Mrs. P took a deep breath and asked him the score.

     “He got every question right – 100%.”  Principal Booker looked disappointed as he handed the results to Albert. “I guess he wasn’t cheating after all.”  You didn’t have to see his face to hear the sneer. Mrs. P looked relieved. “Albert, I’m so proud…” she started to say, but Booker shushed her loudly.  “Given the … um, circumstances,” he sniffed, “his less than stellar academic record and his … um, reputation …”  Booker paused and gave a disdainful glance at Albert’s mother, “…we had to be sure the first results for Mister Parker were … credible.”

     He turned his back on Albert and looked directly at Mrs. P with a little smirk.  “I’m sure when you’ve had time to think about it,” he continued, “you’ll both understand.”  Booker was always a prick.

     Albert looked from Booker to the test result paperwork for a long time without saying anything. Then, he slowly hawked-up a nasty, green lump from his throat and, as if savoring the effect, spit it into the results tally. He crumpled the sheet into a small wad, threw it on the floor and ground it first under one heel and then the other. His mother simply sat there, too stunned to speak.

     “Oh, I’m sorry,” Albert said as he picked up the test score and threw on Booker’s desk, “Did you need that?”  He walked casually out of the office, and just beyond the door he looked back. “You fucking moron,” he added.  Principal Booker promptly suspended him for a month. Albert shrugged and kept walking until he had left the building. His mother, head bowed, silently shuffled after him. He was a school hero by three o’clock, but it didn’t last long.

     He began to spend even more time with a crowd very much like him, frustrated and angry. Certain the world was rigged in favor of everyone else. In his case, I’m not so sure it wasn’t. But his piss-in-your-eye attitude turned everyone off.  Eventually, most of the school shunned him, just as the neighborhood kids had done long ago. His circle of what could only loosely be called “friends” was a mere handful of the worst losers in town.

     I guess I was one of the last of the so-called “regular” kids to have anything to do with him, and that was only because I lived across the street and saw him nearly every day. I never hung around with him or anything. I was just decent to him and he sometimes used me as a sounding board.


more to come

edit was to fix paragraph breaks and add a couple of missing commas ... also to slightly change the last paragraph on this page  :D
« Last Edit: November 26, 2010, 08:25:30 PM by herron »
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Offline 510bhan

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Re: First Paragraph
« Reply #69 on: November 26, 2010, 08:39:09 PM »
Certain the world was rigged in favor of everyone else.       This isn't a complete sentence - needs to tag on to the one before or the one after.

“friends” “regular”  [think it's just single quotation marks ]

Given his rudeness would Albert really have bothered with the I'm sorry part?
“Oh, I’m sorry,” Albert said ....
Probably just as effective, maybe more so, without it.

under one heel and then the other.

walked casually [exactly???? strolled/dandered/dawdled/sauntered/strutted???? show the reader]

See - I do read them! :-*

Maybe there are some things there that might be of use.  JMO

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Re: First Paragraph
« Reply #70 on: November 26, 2010, 09:27:54 PM »
Certain the world was rigged in favor of everyone else.       This isn't a complete sentence - needs to tag on to the one before or the one after.
I'll revisit.  :-\

“friends” “regular”  [think it's just single quotation marks ]
Probably.    ::)

Given his rudeness would Albert really have bothered with the I'm sorry part?
“Oh, I’m sorry,” Albert said ....
Yes.  It was meant to be out of character to accent the rest of his response.  :)
Probably just as effective, maybe more so, without it. Don't think so.

under one heel and then the other.

walked casually [exactly???? strolled/dandered/dawdled/sauntered/strutted???? show the reader]
Good point!  Thanks!    ;)

See - I do read them! :-*

Maybe there are some things there that might be of use.  JMO
 :-*
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Offline 510bhan

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Re: First Paragraph
« Reply #71 on: November 26, 2010, 11:31:48 PM »
Good man - yer Da.

Offline herron

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Re: First Paragraph
« Reply #72 on: November 26, 2010, 11:51:30 PM »
I've reprised a bit of the previous post (with some changes) and added a bit: 


     Albert looked from Booker to the test result paperwork for a long time without saying anything. Then he slowly hawked-up a nasty, green lump from his throat and, as if savoring the effect, spit it into the results tally. He crumpled the sheet into a small wad, threw it on the floor and ground it first under one heel, then the other. His mother simply sat there, too stunned to speak.

     “Oh, I’m sorry,” Albert mocked as he picked up the test score and threw it on Booker’s desk, “Did you need that?”  He sauntered out of the office and just beyond the door he looked back. “You fucking moron,” he added.

     Principal Booker promptly suspended him for a month. Albert shrugged and kept walking until he had left the building. His mother, head bowed, silently shuffled after him. He was a school hero by three o’clock, but it didn’t last long.

     Even after scoring in the 99th percentile on the SAT’s, putting him in the top one percent in the country, he still began to spend even more time with a crowd very much like him, frustrated and angry. He seemed certain no matter how well he did the world was rigged in favor of everyone else. In his case, I’m not so sure it wasn’t. But his piss-in-your-eye attitude turned everyone off. 

     Eventually, most of the school shunned him, just as the neighborhood kids had done long ago. His circle of what could only loosely be called ‘friends’ was a mere handful of the worst losers in town.  I guess I was one of the last of the so-called ‘regular’ kids to have anything to do with him, and that was only because I lived across the street and saw him nearly every day. I never hung around with him or anything. I was just decent to him and he sometimes used me as a sounding board.

     Just before the summer break a story started making the rounds saying Albert had decked Terry Meister, the most feared ‘greaser’ in the school. The rumor said he hit him so hard Albert broke his hand. It also said T-Meister’s infamous solitary upper tooth cut Albert enough to require stitches.

     Terry had been taken to the hospital having suffered a severe beating and Albert’s hand was in a cast, a ragged wound across his knuckles.  It was probably Meister’s old man using Terry for a punching bag again, but where Albert’s part in the rumor actually came from didn’t matter. T-Meister never returned to school and everyone believed the story. Albert did nothing to stop the rumors. Some say he even started them.

     “The king is dead, long live the king!” he smirked.

     I knew better because I had been there. Albert had been reaching for little Samantha Riddle’s kitten, which was stuck in a tree. I was spotting for him.  He was stretched out about as far as he could reach when the thin branch he was standing on snapped. Albert fell and his hand had a rather abrupt meeting with the top rail of the cyclone fence.

     “Oh, shit, Paulie!” he yelled, “It’s broke!”

     “Are ya sure?” I yelled back, scrambling to get him up. One look at the second bend between his knuckles and wrist confirmed it. We rushed into his house, looking for help. Carl was already passed out on the sofa and his mother, frantic, couldn’t find the car keys. She finally took Albert to the hospital emergency room in a taxi.  The next day, when the rumors started, Albert came looking for me.

more to come
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Offline herron

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Re: First Paragraph
« Reply #73 on: November 26, 2010, 11:56:18 PM »
and more


     “On your mother’s grave,” he spat at me through clenched teeth, as he grabbed my shoulders and spun me around.

     “What the hell you talking about?”

     “I got it decking T-Meister,” Albert hissed. He held his cast up in front of my nose and shook it. “Swear it, Paulie!” 

     “Oh, that,” I said. “Sure.”

     He grabbed the front of my shirt. “Say it.”

     “C’mon, Albert ….”

     “Say it, dammit!”  He had me pinned against my locker.

     “All right, all right. I say it.” I was pissed, but knew better than to start anything.

     “Say what, Paulie?  I don’t hear nuthin’.”

     “You got it decking T-Meister,” I said, flashing him a look, “and I won’t tell anyone how you really broke it.”  I pushed him away with a soft shove. “I swear it on my Mama’s grave. You happy now?”

     “You tell anyone, Paulie,” Albert whispered, “anyone.” He made a cutting motion across his throat with his good hand. “You’ll wish your Mama never bothered to have you.”

     “I’m shakin’.”

     “You think I’m kiddin’?” There were sparks in Albert’s eyes.

     “I swore, didn’t I?” Like I said, I didn’t push him much.

     “Just makin’ sure…” Albert said quietly. “…got a rep to consider.” He walked away whistling, with a smile on his face. He held his cast out in front of him like a beacon.

     I made much more effort to avoid him after that, but we lived so close together it was hard to keep from seeing him occasionally no matter how hard I tried.

     One Sunday afternoon, about mid-July, I saw him kneeling on the side drive of the house next door to him, Mrs. Anchor’s house. He was near the rear gate. Never married, Mrs. Anchor had been retired for years. She spent most of her summer days tending her flowers. Every summer her yard had the most beautiful flowers in Brickdale. They were something even the kids looked forward to each season, even if we never said so.

     Every other Sunday, Mrs. Anchor dutifully caught the morning bus to visit her brother’s family across town, helping her sister-in-law with her garden. This happened to be one of those Sundays. I knew she was gone, but I saw Albert digging with his bare hands, making a hole in her best flower bed. 

     I liked Mrs. Anchor, so I walked back to find out what he was doing. As I drew near, I could see the clean white tracks of tears parting the dirt on his face. Startled, he jumped when he heard me approach and tried wiping away his tears. The muddy streaks he created made him look so funny I almost laughed out loud.

     Until I saw the bird.

     For years, Albert had a small, blue parrot. He called it Captain. His real father had given it to him. He took meticulous care of it. Whatever he was like with people, Albert had loved that little bird.

     Captain now lay in the earthen cradle Albert dug, neatly wrapped in a sheet of leftover Christmas paper. The paper’s wrinkles had been carefully smoothed and a loosely-tied red ribbon held it all together. Although most of the package was hidden by the flowers, I could still see blue tail feathers coming out one end of the wrapping.

     Albert looked at me, unblinking, and I saw pain clearly reflected in his eyes.  “Carl…” he whispered. He never finished the sentence, but the implication was clear.

     Carl had killed the bird.

     “I’m sorry, Albert,” was all I could think of to say. “I really am.”  Years after ignoring me when we first met, Albert extended his hand. “Thanks, Paulie,” he said.  We touched fingers for a few seconds. Then he knelt to finish burying his little friend. Sensing the audience was already over, I quietly walked away.



more to come  

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Offline herron

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Re: First Paragraph
« Reply #74 on: November 27, 2010, 12:04:28 AM »
and the last bit for tonight ....


     Albert grew increasingly difficult to be around. His outbursts and run-ins were becoming notorious, and our circle of friends had become quite different.  Like everyone else, I eventually found coping with Albert too much to do. I avoided him the rest of that summer and we hardly saw each other.

     The last time I spoke to him was early in the fall of our senior year, when he surprised me by knocking at my front door just after dark.

     “Can you come out, Paulie?” He shuffled nervously on the doorstep.

     “Guess so,” I said, trying to ignore my father, who sat on the sofa, scowling over his newspaper. “What’s up?”

     “Nuthin,” he shrugged, not bothered by my father’s glare. “I just, ya know, wanted to talk for a minute.”

     “That I can do.” 

     “Don’t be late, Paul,” my father said curtly as I went out the door. He was not happy to see Albert there. None of the adults ever were.

     “He won’t be,” Albert said quietly before I could respond. We both heard my father’s snort and the crisp snapping of his paper as the door closed.

     “He always such a tight ass?” Albert’s mouth curled upward slightly, almost a smile.

     “He’s OK,” I said, “you just bring out the best in him.”

     “Yeah, I got a way about me.”  We went all the way to the corner in silence.

     “You see the game?” he finally asked, his shoulders shrugging as if he was searching for something to say.

     “Baseball?  Did they play?”

     “Guess ya didn’t,” he said and dropped the subject. Albert remained silent and we kept walking. Each time I thought he was about to say something else, he hesitated.

     I finally stopped walking for a moment.  “You really bring me out here to talk about a baseball game?”  He stood with his hands in his pockets and didn’t answer. “Look,” I told him, “it’s your nickel.  But I … well, I just gotta get back soon or my old man is gonna expect long explanations.”

     “Yeah, I know,” Albert said.  Still, we went completely around the block without him saying another word.

     Finally, as we passed near Albert’s house again I could hear Carl inside, shouting and cursing. His hoarse croaks were immediately followed by the crash of something hitting the wall.

     “Oh, no, Albert!”  I moaned, “Your Ma!”

     “It’s OK,” he said, wincing. “He’s by himself.”

     “Drunk?”

     “Paulie, we been in the neighborhood a long time. Whaddya think?”

     “Sounds drunk to me.”

     “Give the man a gold cigar,” Albert grimaced, “’cause he done say the magic word.”  He hunched his shoulders and continued to walk.  “Sorry to put you through this,” he finally said. I could tell the apology was real. “I just don’t want to be alone in there with him.”

     “Don’t blame you,” I said, and we were silent again.

     “Paulie, you ever hate anybody?” he finally asked.

     “Truly hate?”

     “Yeah. Spill their guts, truly.”

     “No, I guess not. Not really”

     “I do,” he said, looking at the house. “Every damn day of my life.”

     “That’s rough.”

     “You don’t know the half of it.”  Something else hit the wall inside and shattered.

     “Guess I don’t,” I said.

     The sounds finally subsided and then quit. We found ourselves leaning on the fence in the open alley at the back of Albert’s yard, tossing pebbles at the garage.  “I thought he’d never pass out,” Albert said. He stopped tossing pebbles and just stared at me for a long time. He didn’t even seem to blink.

     “What?” I shrugged. His gaze made me uncomfortable.

     “Just wonderin’,” he said. “Why does everyone in the neighborhood think I’m always the cause of any trouble that happens?”  I thought he was joking, and said so.  “No jive, man,” Albert said. “Just yesterday the Gilsson’s gave Ma all sorts of crap ‘bout something I wasn’t even around to do!  Can ya believe it?”

     Albert tossed the remaining pebbles onto the garage roof. They made a loud racket as they fell into the rain gutter. He looked at me as if expecting a response, but I said nothing.

     “I mean it, Paulie. Why is it everyone starts pointing at me when shit happens? Why do all those dried-up pukes think I’m the cause of every bit of trouble around here?”

     Without thinking, I suggested, “Maybe because you are?”

     Albert stopped talking. His glare was ferocious. I’d been kidding, even though I knew there was a lot of truth in what I’d said. Too late, I realized Albert had been very serious. A large cinder suddenly flew in my direction. It smashed against a metal trash can and exploded into a huge shower of grit and dust. The top of the can went flying and Mrs. Angelini’s little dog started barking furiously.

     I looked at the mark the cinder made on the can. To this day, I don’t think Albert meant to hit me, but you never knew with him. He was so close it would have been hard to miss me. Yet it would have been easy to miss on purpose, too.

     With the metal still ringing, Albert stomped toward his house, paused, and looked back at me. “I bring a lotta shit down on myself,” he said angrily, “but I don’t deserve all I get.”  He took another step and looked back once more.  “And I certainly didn’t deserve that,” he said. “Not from you, Paulie.” I remember his eyes looking almost haunted. “Not from you, too.”

     “Albert …” I started. I wanted desperately to apologize.

     “Go straight to hell with the rest of ‘em!”  The door slammed as he went inside.

     “Albert,” I pleaded. “Wait … I’m sorry!” 

     I’ll never know if he heard me. I never spoke to him again. My father was transferred that fall and our family moved out of the neighborhood. The day we moved, I went to say goodbye. I knew Albert was home, but he wouldn’t come to the door.

     “Just tell him I’m leaving,” I told a bleary-eyed Carl, “and I’ll try to come back to see him.”  Only I never did.


more tomorrow ...  :)
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