2 comments

Fiction Coming of Age

Through his shoes and into his knees, Jamie felt his skateboard vibrate as he slid across the top of a park bench in Greenhill Park. Upon landing, he turned against the grain of the asphalt, powersliding to a stop. 

“Yes!” he said. He removed his helmet, swooped his hair out of his face, and smiled. Jamie had been trying to land a railslide all summer without totally wrecking himself. 

Jamie looked ahead, just beyond the park, to Mr. Winwood’s house. In a neighborhood bridled by yellow and tan homes, Mr. Winwood’s dark mahogany haunt defied convention. Mr. Winwood probably got a nasty-gram or two from the Greenhill Homeowners Association for the occasional knee high grass during the summer. His shrubs were overgrown. His trees were unkempt. Somehow, the environs cast a permanent shadow on his abode. He only came out at night and lived alone. A few years ago, Todd Jergensen started a rumor that Mr. Winwood was a vampire. No one ever refuted the rumor, so it kinda stuck. 

“Well, well, well,” a voice said, “look who can’t read.”

Jamie turned and saw Todd and his toadies, Jay and Ray, standing with their arms crossed a few yards away.

“Hey, Todd. What’s up?” Jamie said. 

“Dude, can’t you read the sign?” Jay said.

“Yeah, read the sign!” Ray said.

Jamie turned and saw a fresh, green and white sign by the park bench. Jamie looked at it and saw

GN IDRAOBTAKSON

“C’mon, guys. You know I’m dyslexic,” Jamie said.

“Too bad. I’m gonna have to call my dad.” Todd said. “He’s already arrested your dad for a Dewie. Let’s throw you in jail, too.”

Jamie blushed. 

“Yeah,” Jay said.

Todd elbowed Ray in the ribs.

“Ow! It was Jay, not me,” Ray said.

“Look, I didn’t know,” Jamie said. 

“Too bad. Gotcha on video,” Todd said. 

Jamie looked down and paused. “What do you want, Todd?” Jamie asked. 

“I’ll delete the video if you sneak into Mr. Winwood’s house,” Todd said.

Jamie recoiled and paused again. “But that’s breaking and entering,” Jamie said.

“It’s only a crime if you get caught,” Ray said.

“And, if you don’t sneak into Mr. Winwood’s house, I’ll send it to my dad and I’ll post it to YouTube with the hashtag ‘dyslexicidiot,’” Todd said.

Ray and Jay laughed.

Jamie paused. Todd had been pulling this bully shit for years, probably since the fifth grade. Todd’s father was the Captain of the Bridgetown Police Department. Todd thought he had some kind of vicarious power over everyone because his dad was the law. Now that they were all going into the ninth grade, Todd was bringing his cruelty up a notch.

“Ok, I’ll do it,” Jamie said. 

“Well, look who grew a set,” Todd said.

Jamie kicked the tail of his skateboard and it flew into his hands from the ground. He walked towards Mr. Winwood’s house.

“Oh, and Jamie, you’re gonna have to bring me some proof that you actually went inside,” Todd said. “Grab a piece of junk mail or something with his address on it.”

“Like you can’t see me going into the house, numb nuts,” Jamie said under his breath.

“What did you say?” Jay said.

“Shouldn’t be a problem,” Jamie said more audibly.

Jamie wiped the sweat from his brow and picked up his pace to Mr. Winwood’s house. 

Jamie was almost certain Mr. Winwood wasn’t a vampire. When he would skate in the park in the evening, he’d sometimes see Mr. Winwood roll out of his garage in a black Mercedes S-Class and leave for God knows where. Jamie couldn’t think of a reason that a vampire would need to drive anywhere. And, Mr. Winwood always wore blue scrubs.

At 10 am that morning, the sun peered over the trees of the park. Jamie strode through the walkway hidden in the shaggy yard and to the front door. He stood in front of the large, dark brown door and swallowed. 

“Well, here goes,” he said. 

He turned the knob of Mr. Winwood’s front door and, to his surprise, it was open. The door creaked loudly as he opened it partially, just enough to slide in, and then he closed it quickly without slamming it. 

Mr. Winwood’s house smelled clean, like it had just been freshened up by a maid. Unlike Jamie’s house, dust bunnies did not line the junction of the hardwood floor and the wall trim. 

Jamie scanned the table next to the front door to see if he could find a letter or a piece of junk mail he could snag as evidence of his entry. He found nothing. Daylight creeped in beams through the curtained windows and into the foyer. While spotless, the entryway seemed unnaturally dark. 

Jamie’s heart raced so loud he could hear his blood swoosh in his ears. He had to get out of here. Todd saw him go in. What did he need mail for? Jamie turned toward the door and turned the handle. It was locked. 

“Shit,” Jamie said.

Foot steps pressed on the floor boards one room over. Jamie pressed his back to the foyer wall.

“I can’t sleep,” a voice said in the distance, talking on the phone. “No, you didn’t wake me. I was counting sheep when you called. How am I doing? OK, I guess. Coffee, no, that’ll make it worse . . .” The voice trailed off and entered the kitchen.

“Hurry up, butt nugget!” Todd yelled from outside. “Grab some mail already!”

Jamie didn’t move a muscle.

“Yeah, hold on a sec, there’s something going on outside,” the voice said. “What is it? Looks like three kids staring at the house.”

“C’mon, loser! Hurry up!” Ray and Jay said. 

“Loser?” the voice said. “Can I call you back, hon? OK.” Mr. Winwood walked fast to the door. Jamie froze as Mr. Winwood stood over him, not noticing Jamie at first and then seeing Jamie. Winwood stood in disbelief. Then, he turned red with anger.

“What the hell are you doing in here, kid!” Mr. Winwood said.

“I, I, I . . . " Jamie said. His eyes began to well with tears.

Mr. Winwood paused, looked at Jamie, and thought to himself for a moment.

“Wait. Did those three douchebags put you up to this?” Mr. Winwood said, pointing to the street. 

“Yes, yes sir.”

“Are y’all casing my house?”

“No.”

“What do you want, then?”

“I, I . . . Please Mr. Winwood.”

“Hurry up, douchebag!” Todd said from outside.

“Are . . . Are those kids bullying you?”

“Yes, Mr. Winwood. They dared me to sneak in to your house and steal your mail.”

“They did what?”

“And, if I didn’t, they were going to turn me in for skateboarding in the park.” Jamie’s skateboard slipped from his hands and fell to the floor with a thwack. 

“What’s your name, kid?”

“Jamie. Jamie Edgerton, sir.” 

Mr. Winwood knelt down beside Jamie. “Jamie, my name is Elias, Elias Winwood. Why don’t you stand up to them?”

“Because Todd’s dad is head of the police department and—”

“That doesn’t mean he can fuck with you like that, Jamie.”

“And, I’m dyslexic. I’m an easy target, Mr. Winwood.” 

Elias Winwood stood agape, staring back and forth between at the the pudgy tyrants out in front of his house and Jamie.

Meanwhile, outside, Todd retrieved his cell phone from his pants pocket and dialed. “Operator, yes, I would like to report a break in,” he said with a grin.

Moments later, Jamie walked out of Mr. Winwood’s house with an envelope in one hand and his skateboard in the other. Jamie paused and stood upright on Mr. Winwood’s front porch. He walked towards Todd, Ray, and Jay.

In the distance, a police car siren drove closer to the park. 

“Gotcha now, douche,” Todd said. 

A police car rolled up to the front of Mr. Winwood’s house. Officer Carruthers stepped out and walked over to Todd. 

“Todd, did you call in a B&E?” Carruthers said.

“Yep, and there he is, right there Officer Carruthers.”

Carruthers turned to Jamie. “Son, did you break into this house?”

“No, sir,” Jamie said. 

“Liar!” Todd said. 

“Hold on, now, Todd, just a minute,” Carruthers said. 

“Look at what’s in his hand. He stole some mail from Mr. Winwood!”

“Thief!” Ray said. 

“Tampering with mail is a federal crime!” Todd said.

“Son, what’s that in your hand?” Carruthers said.

“Here,” Jamie said, handing the envelope over to Carruthers. Carruthers opened the envelope and saw two twenty dollar bills.

“Jamie! Thanks again for agreeing to mow my lawn this coming Saturday!” Elias said from his porch, his overgrown lawn tempering his shouting. “I hope $40 covers it! If it takes longer than two hours, I’ll throw in a little more!”

“Todd, what the hell is the matter with you?” Carruthers said. Carruthers handed the envelope of cash back to Jamie.

“Officer Carruthers, I swear, he broke into the house. I saw him!”

“Todd,” Carruthers said with a snort. He shook his head, got back into the car, and rolled away.

“Fuck you, Jamie! You fucking loser!” Todd said 

“What now, Todd? You gonna to post that video of me in the park? Do you think you might have a credibility issue?”

“Credibility! I got credibility coming out of my ass! My dad is the Captain! Your dad is a drunk, two-nighter alkie. Everyone believes me. No one will EVER believe you.”

Jamie stood tall. His knees shook and his fists trembled.

“Do you believe me?” Jamie said.

“What the hell does that mean?” Jay said.

“You said no one will believe me. Don’t you believe me?”

“What? What are you talking about?” Todd said. 

“That I beat you.”

“You didn’t beat me! I beat you! I had you by the balls all morning, dumbass! You’re nothing but a—

Then, Jamie rammed the front of his skateboard square into Todd’s nose. Blood sprayed everywhere. Jamie broke Todd’s nose in three places. Up until that moment, Todd had a fairly normal face. But from now up until the day he died 52 years later, he saw a scar on the bridge of his disfigured nose. Everyday he looked in the mirror, he thought of this moment, planning an unformed revenge, denying the outcome. 

“No, Todd. I beat you.”

Todd screamed once he felt his disfigured face. He kept screaming and screaming as he blood dripped from his nose. He staggered across the street and fell to the ground just in front of the NO SKATEBOARDING sign. 

“Freak!” Ray said.

“Geek!” Jay said. 

Jay and Ray ran away in opposite directions. 

“Yes, operator, I would like to report an accident,” Elias said, talking on his cell phone as he walked to Jamie’s side. “I don’t know. Some kid was skateboarding in the park and fell on his face. No, I don’t think he saw the NO SKATEBOARDING sign.”

July 16, 2021 22:23

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.

2 comments

Mustang Patty
15:40 Jul 20, 2021

Great story. Well thought out and three-dimensional characters.

Reply

Mike Garrigan
16:42 Jul 20, 2021

Thanks!

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply