Columbia Star


Excerpt No. 31 from Mike Maddock’s novel available now on Amazon


Editor’s Note: We are pleased to publish Mike Maddock’s novel, Sunnybrook, in its entirety as a “50 Something” weekly series for 2021. All published excerpts will also be available on our website,

Chapter 7 (Cont’d)

“Blam! Blam! Blam! Blam!” Joey screamed aiming his M60 at his hapless victims one by one. “I got you! I got all of you!”

“No, you didn’t!” Ryan screamed. “I got you while you were still in the bushes.

“Shut up!” Eric said. “I got all of you when you were looking at Joey!”

“You’re all wrong!” Chris said throwing his arms in the air. “I shot you all first!”

“ You didn’t even know where I was!”

“Yuh-huh! Why else would my gun be pointed at you?”

“I win!”

“No, I win!”

“You’re crazy! Y’all think y’all got me with those sticks!” Ryan screamed. “Oh! Bang! Bang! I’ve been shot by a twig! I think I’ve got a mortal splinter wound!”

“It’s an M60, you moron!” Joey shouted back. “You people talk too much for a bunch of dead guys!”

The argument lasted longer than the actual game of War, which was always the case. No one ever won and no game ever ended happy. It was a wonder they ever played War in the first place, but no one ever seemed to remember how the games ended. Joey and his friends just remembered the thrill of the hunt and the perfect stick guns.

In time, the argument always ended with some sort of distraction. A squirrel would run by. A horn would beep. JJ would get too friendly with another dog in the street. It didn’t take much. This time the brown Pinto came flying by, but with no dogs around, it came and went without much fanfare. So the gang forgot the quest for victory this time and headed to the Dirt Hills for some trail riding. After that, the boys played a little roller hockey in the Hollins’s basement. That was followed by a game of Maul-the-Ball, but of course, Jerry got hurt and took his football home.

The rest of the day was filled with various games and “deep” discussions, like who would win in a fight: the Six Million Dollar Man or The Incredible Hulk. It had been a good day, and this time—at least for Joey—it was ending at the top of Sunnybrook Hill once again.

The rest of the boys had gone home and left him to contemplate this latest attempt all by himself. He wondered if Sunnybrook was worth doing if no one was there to witness it, but just before he talked himself out of it, Chris walked up.

“ Whatcha doin’?” Chris asked.

“Kind of late, isn’t it?” Joey said.

“Late for what? I ate dinner and my mom kicked me out of the house. Edward the Boyfriend came over. I guess there’s only room for one man in the house,” Chris said looking back toward his home.

“Well, then…you can be my witness.”

“ Witness to what? Another crash?”

“Maybe, but I’ve only got a week left. I’m running out of time.”

“OK, go for it,” Chris said stepping out of the way. He welcomed Joey to the hill like a magician welcoming a volunteer he’s about to saw in half.

Joey did not move. “Do you think it’s too dark?”

“Nah,” Chris said. “It won’t get real dark for an hour or so.”

Something didn’t feel right. It wasn’t pitch black outside, but it wasn’t exactly sunny either. The bats were swooping low overhead trying to catch mosquitoes off guard. Chris tossed a pebble in the air and watched two bats chase it until it descended about five feet from the pavement.

“Cool!” Chris said. “Did you see that? I got two at once.”

“OK,” Joey said. “Here I go.”

He did not push off but put both feet on the board. Chris thought he looked solid as he rolled away, but this run was starting worse than the hundreds of attempts that came before. Joey’s feet were uncomfortable on the board making it very hard to turn. The slow easy zigzags he’d trademarked in his previous efforts were giving way to straight lines.

“Turn, man!” Chris yelled suddenly so far away Joey could barely hear him over the roar of plastic wheels and ball bearings.

Joey leaned backward. The board slowly edged left, then slipped a bit under Joey’s feet causing a sudden hard left turn. Joey couldn’t see anything but knew the roll curb had to be approaching fast. He lurched forward but did not change course enough. Joey was in no position to absorb the blow or prepare for the crash-landing that followed. The board shot in the air. He found himself soaring parallel to the ground looking down at Mr. Ward’s concrete driveway, not the soft overgrown grass like before. He twisted slightly in the air. His left hand slammed onto the driveway first. He could feel the concrete ripping the flesh off his palm. Gravity yanked his body to the ground, and Joey’s forearm absorbed the brunt of the crash. He heard something snap, then he rolled to a violent stop on the unforgiving concrete driveway.

Copyright © 2020 Mike Maddock

Next week: Chris sprints to get Joey help.

Can’t wait to find out what happens next? Get your copy of Sunnybrook here!

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