mikidemillion

Archive for April, 2010|Monthly archive page

The Taking of the Square – 4th Section

In fiction, Random Posts, The Taking of the Square, Uncategorized, Writing - Novel Chapter Posts, Writing - Short Story Posts, Writing - Understanding Style and Technique, Writing - Work in Progress on April 25, 2010 at 6:08 pm

The Taking of the Square by mikidemillion

Draft – 4th STORY SECTION

*

Link to 3rd story section

https://mikidemillion.wordpress.com/2010/04/11/the-taking-of-the-square-3rd-section/

*

Maddie knocks on the door.  In her mind she sees Adam’s smile, how it stretches across his face.  What is taking him so long?  Her stomach flutters when the door pushes open.  She steps back.  It takes a moment to adjust to the sight of a yellow and blue print dress.  Adam’s mother holds the door edge, her hands covered in bright yellow rubber gloves.

“Hi, Maddie.”  Mrs. Noble has a warm smile.  “My, you’re early today.  Adam’s not here.  He’s at the bicycle shop with his father.”

Maddie doesn’t know how to respond.  She’d been hoping to see Adam since the early hours of the morning.  With that in mind she remembers to ask, “And Ranger?”

“Why, yes.  You knew he found Ranger?”

“Not really, but I thought I saw Ranger last night,” she pauses, then adds, “from my window.”

“You saw him?  How funny.  He was on the porch this morning.  So, Ranger came home last night?”

“Yes,” Maddie doesn’t know what else to say.  She half-turns, then stops.  There is something she wants to know. “umm, did Ranger have anything on?” she says, turning to look at Mrs. Noble.

Adam’s mother raises her eyebrow, “Whatever do you mean?”

Maddie’s face flashes hot.  “Nothing,” she says,  lowering her head.  “I thought I saw something.”

She feels Mrs. Noble looking at her.  When Maddie peeks up, Adam’s mother has a confused look on her face.  “I was half asleep,” Maddie offers and Mrs. Noble smiles.  Then she claps her yellow hands together.

“Wait one minute.  I almost forgot.” She moves to the interior of the kitchen and returns to the doorway.

“Here,” she says, extending her gloved hand with opened palm.  Maddie’s heart skips.

“Adam said if I see you to give it back and say thank you.  That it worked.” She hesitates a minute.  “Not sure what that means, but here it is.”

Maddie grins.  “Thank you,” she folds her fingers around the rock and holds it tight.  “I know what he means.”

Maddie skips along the sidewalk with her lucky rock safe in the pocket of her jeans.  She stops two blocks away, when she reaches the sidewalk where she’d drawn her hop-scotch board the day before.  It looks different with clouds in the sky.  The pink outline not as bright.  She can’t sit and wait for Adam to return.  It could be hours.

At home her mother suggests ‘If you’re bored, why not go clean your room’?  Oh thanks mom.  After lunch Maddie walks to the schoolyard.  In the Spring, the school opens its playground early afternoons on weekends.  Although the school grounds are always open, the playground isn’t officially open until a green wooden box, big enough to fit five kids, has been pulled onto the school grass and unlocked.  Inside are badmitten sets, baseball bats, volleyball nets and all sorts of balls, including the gigantic red rubber ball they all use for Four Square, available to anyone who adds their name to the equipment sign-up sheet.

Only two kids are playing in the corner courtyard when she arrives, the area where four equal-sized squares have been painted, in perfect even-yellow-lines, on the cement.   The two eye her suspiciously when she steps to the first square on the game.

“Friend or foe?” one little boy asks.

“Friend,” she lies.

She hits the ball just hard enough to make it look like the kid fumbled it himself.  Maddie moves to square two but allows the little boy to stay in three.  It’s not like there are dozens in line waiting to get into the game.  They all stay in the game no matter who goes out.  Two more kids join them, one goes to square one and the other stands next in line.

The new kids are older and the game becomes brisk.  Maddie moves to the top square, the Server Square, or King Position as some call it, and stays there for much of the half-hour.  The line grows and the competition is fierce.  Maddie hits the oncoming ball off the side of her hand by accident and it lands outside the second square.  She drops to the end of the line and waits her turn, advancing closer to the first square every time someone is called out.

Some players group together, forming alliances, to hold onto the power position by working as a team.  The person in the fourth square position starts the game and calls the plays.  If the ball is to go to counter clockwise, or can only be passed by using one hand, the Server is the one who calls it.  The speed of the game is controlled by the fourth square position, who can announce from the start to keep the ball moving at a slow pace.  The person can also change the pace once the ball enters their square again, and call out ‘fast game’ at any moment.  It’s a standard trick to slam the ball unexpectedly at someone they want out of the game.

To hope to dominate as King, one has to follow the dictates of the person in power and wait for the opposition to fumble.  To get to be the King requires concentration on the ball and readiness to react quickly to changes.

Maddie follows the ball around the playing area with her eyes.  She bends her knees, the ball travels the square low and fast.  Two older guys from the Junior High School are in the third and fourth square positions.  That’s fine.  She’s content to stay in the second square and stay in the game.  They seem to like her game play and the three of them play off each other to get rid of whoever steps up to the first square.

A new kid gets lucky and bumps off the King.  Maddie moves to third.  The new King makes eye contact with her to work together and get rid of the second square.  He bounces the ball a few times and Maddie crouches to prepare for anything.

“Friend or foe?” the new King asks square one.

“Foe,” a girl says.  Maddie looks up in surprise.  The girl glances at her then in a show of excessive haughtiness turns her attention to the King.  Maddie looks behind her at the next person in line and sees Sharon.  Her two classmates ignore her.  The girl in square one, Kim, spreads out her arms in a show of readiness to deflect the ball.

Maddie hasn’t seen them since that day at the Johnson garage.  It seems so much time has passed but was it only yesterday?  The King bounces a slow ball into Maddie’s square.  She gently taps it back to him.  They share it, back and forth, for a few minutes.  Maddie waits for a signal to a showdown.  They speed up the passing of the ball, enough to ensure they won’t miss it but it’s a set-up for the big play.  The King motions with his eyes to the second square.  Maddie acknowledges with a look and slaps the ball to bounce sideways, so close inside the corner of the second square the kid doesn’t even reach for it.

Sharon smiles at Kim when she steps into square one.  Neither look at Maddie.  The King plays the ball again to Maddie.  They bounce it to each other for awhile.

Sharon folds her arms.

“I saw Adam about ten minutes ago,” she tells her friend.

Maddie’s eyes lose their focus on the ball for a second.  She taps it back to the King.

Sharon dips and positions her arms to receive the ball.  She looks directly at Maddie.  “He was with that Johnson girl.”

Maddie’s vision goes inside, she hears the ball bouncing but sees nothing.  Her eyes feel wide.  She tries to hide it by blinking.  The ball bumps off the toe of her sneaker and flies high and out of bounds.  Maddie doesn’t care, her mind processes what Sharon has said.  Forgetting to go to the end of the line, she sits instead on the low cement wall that borders the sidelines of the playing area.

She hears giggles from the Four Square area but it sounds far away.

*

NEXT TIME: Why is Adam with Julie?  Will Maddie find out what really happened to Ranger?  Find out next time!

Advertisements

The Taking of the Square – 3rd Section

In fiction, Random Posts, The Taking of the Square, Uncategorized, Writing - Novel Chapter Posts, Writing - Short Story Posts, Writing - Understanding Style and Technique, Writing - Work in Progress on April 11, 2010 at 7:22 am

The Taking of the Square by mikidemillion

Draft – 3rd STORY SECTION

*

Link to 1st Story Section:

https://mikidemillion.wordpress.com/2010/03/13/the-taking-of-the-square/

Link to 2nd Story Section:

https://mikidemillion.wordpress.com/2010/03/27/the-taking-of-the-square-2nd-section/

Maddie steps back and peeks around Adam’s shoulder.  The small door of the garage flings wide and the Johnson girl is pushed from behind through it.  Black gloves disappear off her back.  She blinks at the sunlight.

“The dog’s not in there,” she says.  The door pulls shut and she glances back as it latches.

Adam moves closer, he twists to bounce a look off Maddie, his eyes dark and mouth forming, “Wh-“.   The girl motions him to go back.  He stops without retreating.

“I checked,” she tells him and holds her hand out as if to keep him away from the garage.

“Come on, Teagee, it’s my dog,” Adam’s words plead.  The girl’s face reacts first to what he calls her, looking surprised and she looks beyond, like she’s trying to figure out what he’s said.  Then she meets his gaze and her eyes soften.  She appears unprepared for what she sees.

After a moment, eyes still on him, she says, “Julie.”

“Julie?” Adam hesitates, “but Madd-,” he glances back at Maddie, looking confused.

“My name is Julie.”

Maddie, inserting herself near Adam’s shoulder, thinks she’s protecting him but realizes the moment she does it that she’s interrupting something.  Something she can’t explain.  She looks at Adam but he doesn’t notice and Maddie feels a warp in time and space.  Like she’s tumbling through it and it’s a rough ride.

It feels like everything has changed.

“She said your dog’s not here,” Mrs. Johnson says from behind the screen door.  Adam turns his head.

“Yes.  Thank you, Mrs. Johnson.”  His voice sounds formal and shaky.  Adam turns again to Julie.  “If you see Ranger will you let me know? ”

“His name’s Ranger?” Julie is soft spoken.

“Yes,” Adam puts his hand on Maddie’s shoulder and guides her toward the street.  “His name’s Ranger,” he tells Julie, looking back at her.  “I’m down five blocks, the third house from the corner.  White.”

“I know,” Julie waves, her hand barely moving, and smiles at him as he goes.  A weak smile, but it bothers Maddie when she glances back to see it.  Adam’s spirit seems to lift.

“Thanks,” he says at yard’s edge and jumps across the ditch to the street.

The screen door to the house closes behind them and Adam tugs his battered bike upright.  He tries rolling it but the front fender clanks and the back tire slides on the ground with no rotation.  He struggles to get it on the street.

“Looks like you’re not going to the playground,” the girl says, still leaning on the handlebars of her bike, watching from the middle of the road.  Her friend, Sharon, has joined her.  They ignore Maddie.  Sharon pulls the handlebars of her bike to jerk the front tire to the right.  The other girl does the same.  Sharon pushes off on her foot and pedals in the direction of the school.

“We’ll be there if you want to come by later.”

Adam puts his hand up to acknowledge their leaving but acts distracted.  Like he’s thinking about something.  “I don’t know how I’m going to get this bike home,” he says, “I might need help with it.”  He looks back at the Johnson house.

Maddie swallows a strange feeling, caught off-guard by it.  Like she’s threatened somehow.  Like she has to act quickly.  She grips the right handlebar of Adam’s bike and pushes forward.  Adam helps her, pushing from his side.  The bike’s back tire squeaks and skids along the road but the bike moves between the two, easier than expected.

“We can push it up one block then I’ll go back and ride my bike to catch up, and do it again for the next block.  It won’t take too long.”

“Sure.” Adam looks again at the Johnson house.  Maddie glances over, wondering if he’s searching for a sign of Ranger, but sees Julie standing in the window, watching them.  Adam takes a long look back at the house.  Maddie has to think fast.

“Maybe Ranger’s at your house already.  We can check when we get there.”

It works.  Adam’s eyes turn again to her and he looks hopeful.  “You’re right!  Let’s go.”

They reach Adam’s yard close to dinnertime.  “Ranger!”  Both yell it several times.  Adam leaves his bike tipped sideways on the lawn and races to the back of the house.  Maddie listens for barking sounds but hears nothing.  Her bike has been left on the previous block and on her way to retrieve it her feet move as slow on the pavement as the back tire of Adam’s broken bike.

Adam is standing by his bike when she returns riding hers.  “Not here,” he says without looking up.

“He’s probably somewhere around the neighborhood.  He’ll show up soon.”

“Yeah.” Adam pulls his bike closer to the house.  He, too, moves slow.  Maddie’s heart dips, she can only imagine how it must feel for a boy to be missing his dog.

“I’ll watch for him,” Maddie says.  She tries to sound upbeat.

“Okay.”

“I have to go eat dinner now but I’ll look first thing in the morning.”

“Okay.  Thanks.”  Adam drops his bike at the side of the house and for the first time looks up at Maddie.  She’s not sure, but their interaction feels different.  Almost like she’s lost importance.  Like he doesn’t care if she does or doesn’t look for Ranger.  Like she’s just another kid in the neighborhood.

It’s a strange feeling.  So different than earlier that afternoon when he’d asked her, as he usually did, to go with him to try to get a look at the rocketship.  It was as if they’d somehow gone up into space and on re-entry landed slightly off the mark, not quite where they’d lifted off.

In the evening Maddie closes her eyes but late into the night still stares at the ceiling.  So many thoughts, so much has happened, but the one thing keeping her awake is an uncertainty over the changed friendship with Adam.  What’s wrong?  Why does it keep her awake?

Maybe if she looked out the window in the direction of his house.  Maybe it would settle her mind.  The room is dark.  She stumbles on a shoe, stops and listens, making sure her parents haven’t woken, then stands in front of the window and lifts a curtain edge.  The night feels cool outside the pane of glass.  Her breath leaves a cloud when her face presses against it.  She drops to her knees to lean her elbows on the window sill.  The tree in the yard sways in the wind.  An aluminum can rolls on the street.  It takes a minute to adjust her eyes to the darkness outside.

She watches for a long time, staring at nothing, at times looking up at the stars.  Lids heavy, she jerks her head up when it nods forward.  The moon has moved higher in the sky and further west, now barely visible from her window.  She rubs her eyes and pulls the sleeves of her pajamas to cover her arms.  She hugs her arms close, feeling their warmth.  She could be much warmer buried in her blanket with head cradled on a cushy pillow.  sounds heavenly.

With palms flat on the window sill, she pushes up, preparing to stand.  Her eyes close and she waits for a moment before opening them.  Like leisurely long blinks.  Too tired to stay open for long.  She pushes to stand and blinks again, a long moment with lids closed, then open.  They stay open.  Something is moving on the street.  Something shiny and low, moving at a medium pace.  It passes under a street light and flashes silver.

Maddie’s eyes widen.  That’s him.  “Ranger,” she says aloud.  He trots underneath the next street light.  The silver glints again.  He’s going in the direction of Adam’s house.  Maddie cups her mouth to stifle a shout of excitement.  Her eyebrows pull together then lift high.  On Ranger’s head is a small triangular hat made out of silver material.  Like aluminum.  Like he’s on his way home after a trip into space.

NEXT TIME: Why is Ranger wearing that hat? What’s Adam going to say about it?  Will Maddie be able to sleep again?  Find out, next time!

Ride the Storyline Express – What a Catch!

In Don't Read This - It's Personal, Random Posts, Ride the Storyline Express, Uncategorized, Writing - Novel Chapter Posts, Writing - Short Story Posts, Writing - Understanding Style and Technique, Writing - Work in Progress on April 3, 2010 at 4:51 am

For those new to the concept, when I tag-surf WordPress I notice posts about Writer’s Block.  I suggested a way to get around the block – ride public transportation.  The stories, people, the stories!

If we share what we see out there and post it, then other writers might read it and get ideas from it.  SHARE THE RIDE.  If you want to join, either comment here, leave a link to your own story, or post your story and tag it with Ride the Storyline Express.  We’ll find you.

Here a link to the other stories I’ve posted to date:

https://mikidemillion.wordpress.com/2010/03/28/ride-the-storyline-express-with-booger-boy/

and

https://mikidemillion.wordpress.com/2010/03/21/writers-block-ride-the-storyline-express/

With that said, let’s get to the next story on the mikidemillion route:

For months I’d noticed the man with the fishing pole.  He’s hard to miss,  a big man who takes up a full seat and then some of the next.  He sits in the front of the bus on the sideways seats.  Two halves of a fishing pole stick out of a big white bucket held steady on the floor between ankles of yellow rubber boots.  He’s an older man but even with hair whitened by gray he doesn’t look retirement age.  Bib overalls latch across his chest, an unusual sight on a bus packed with students and 9-to-5ers.

There is a reality show on television about the life of crab fishermen.  I’m mesmerized by it.  Rough and tumble men, king crab fishermen, ride the icy Bering Sea in search of a big catch for an even bigger payoff.  It’s not the kind of job a soft office-worker-bee would consider.  These are stubbled men with scars.  A Saturday night drunken trip to the tattoo parlor would be laughable to them.  Think you’re tough?   The scratch of a tattoo piercing is nothing compared to the real pain of a shoulder wrenched out of a socket or a chunk of flesh gouged out of the arm.  All while chilled to the bone.  Tattoo?  hah!  For the weak ones.

So I looked at this fish-out-of-water bus rider with a preconceived notion he was someone with strength to tough it out, a natural provider.  Romanticizing the rugged life.  Was he a loner?  Did he give his heart to the sea?  Maybe a deep thinker, spending hours on a sun-filled dock, listening to water lapping onto shore, and analyzing why we are here on this earth.

I sat near him one morning.  After a few blocks he pushed his disassembled pole aside to reach into the pocket of his overalls.  A cell phone appeared in his hand.  What a disappointment.  Captain Ahab would never pull out a cell phone, no matter what century he was in.  Was my legendary seaman just a guy who fished?

“What are you doing?” he said to the phone.  His voice loud and graveled, at least that was as it should be.  He listened for a second, leaned forward, then exploded.

“I told you I want the clothes washed this morning.  Did you do the dishes?  I don’t want to see dishes in the sink when I get home.  And make lunch early.  What?  Do what I tell you, you hear me?  No, I want you to do it now.  Shut up and do what I say, you hear me?”

He was loud, loud enough to bring everyone on the bus to a stunned silence.  He clipped his phone closed, dropped it in his pocket and settled back in his seat.

There was a confused moment when my mind re-categorized the guy in my brain.  From fisherman to jerk.

“Oh, aren’t you a big man?” a woman sitting across from him said.

“What’s your problem?” the man stared at her.

“My problem is how you talk to women.”

“It’s not your problem so stay out of it.”

“Maybe you can talk to your woman like that, but not to me.”

“Yeah?  What are you going to do about it?”  He actually sneered at her.

“I’m not afraid of you.  Jerk.  I’m telling you, you can’t speak to women like that.  And some of us will stand up to you and let you know it.”

“You want to take this out to the sidewalk?  Come on, get off the bus and meet me outside.”

“You think I can’t beat you up?  Oh, what a small man you are, picking on women.  Jerk.”

“Want to get off the bus right now?”

“You are not worth my time.  And you’d better not put a hand on that poor woman you were talking to.  Bullies like you belong in jail.”

“Oh yeah,” the guy stands and speaks louder, “let’s go lady.”

The woman sits up higher in her seat.

The driver stops the bus at the corner and stands between them in the middle of the aisle.  They glare around the driver at one another, in lunging positions.  The driver puts out her hands to motion both back in their seats.  “Enough is enough,” the driver says.  “or one of you will have to get off here.”

They continue to stare at each other but neither says a word.

“Good,” the bus driver says and returns to her seat.

“Jerk,” the woman says again, not really under her breath.  Loud enough for those of us sitting nearby to hear.

Jerk, I think, not  aloud.  I’m all for protecting women and everything but my commitment isn’t strong enough to risk showing up at work with a bloody nose and black eye.  Especially when the woman to be protected is an unheard voice on the other end of a dead cell phone line.

And I think of  the guy I once romanticized.  What a catch.  That poor woman should have tossed him back into the water the moment he climbed into her boat.  There is no payoff for that cargo.

What’s interesting is the guy got off the bus after two more blocks.  Not his usual stop.  I’m usually off the bus before him and I had a long way to go.  And I haven’t seen him since.

It makes me wonder, when is the best time to defend an injustice?  Am I part of the problem?  Sitting and watching as the drama unfolds.  Or, is it better to pick battles that ensure results with minimal danger.  I’d like to think that woman on the bus made Mr. Yellow Boots think twice before barking at his wife.  I doubt it.  Probably made him angrier.  But it did make him change his route so that’s something.

And I’ll never assume a man with a pole is anything more than a man with a pole.

So, what about you?  Have a story to share?  Take us for a Ride on the Storyline Express!