Columbia Star

1963        Celebrating 60 Years      2023


Excerpt No. 45 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 10 (Cont’d)

The hill on Stonebridge Road at the intersection with Sunnybrook Lane was iced over and it was the only way out of the neighborhood. David drove up and slid down that hill at least three times before he finally built up enough speed to get over it. Joey was a little late but made it to the game by the start of the second period and even scored the winning basket. How could such a perfect dad be such an awful husband? It was a question that shut down Joey’s brain and paralyzed his body. He forgot about Scott and his front teeth. He even forgot about Jamie. He forgot about JJ and Ol’ Lady Callahan. He forgot about jumping the ditch and punching Eric. He forgot about the Playboys and Sunnybrook Hill. He almost forgot about the move to South Carolina, but the sound of David’s keys and the muffled voices of his parents shot Joey back to consciousness. He did not want to look at his parents much less talk to them. David opened the door and dropped his keys on the dining room table. Joey sprinted by running as fast as he could. JJ followed dutifully.

“Joey, where are you going?” David yelled, but he got no answer. “Oh well, he must be in a hurry to do something.”

Mary Katherine watched her son. Something’s not right, she thought to herself, but she wasn’t prepared to give into her maternal instinct and chase him down. She watched JJ catch up to Joey. He reached down to pet his head acknowledging his best friend’s presence. The sight was enough to comfort Mary Katherine momentarily.

“I’m going for a run.” Running was a way for her to escape her problems and scrape away any remnants of the Waffle house, even if she barely touched her toast.

David plopped on the couch to watch football. Mary Katherine went upstairs to change, then quickly returned from the bedroom to the loft overlooking David. She could not speak and gave a helpless stare to David below.

“What?” David asked.

Mary Katherine held up the ultimatum and said, “I found this on the bed.”

Chapter 11
David’s Confession

“Do you think we should go get him?” Mary Katherine asked crumbling up the letter wishing she had thrown it away months ago.

“And do what?” David asked.

“ Tell him like we should have done when we told him about the move to Columbia.”

“What? And ruin his summer…even more?”

“He’s got to know some time,” Mary Katherine said as she slowly made her way back downstairs. “We’re moving in a couple of days. I’ve let you put this off, because you’re too damn scared to tell him. This is your mess, and you get to clean it up.”

“I know. I’ll go find him.”

“JJ was with him. He shouldn’t be hard to find.”

David left the house. As soon as the door closed behind him, Mary Katherine collapsed at the bottom of the stairs. She sat in a ball pulling her knees to her chest. Her eyes opened up a waterfall of suppression, and the pain of the last two years erupted to the surface once more. She cried hard and freely. She cried for David. She cried for herself, but mostly she cried for Joey. Yes, she was a victim in David’s infidelity, but she was going home to South Carolina. She was going home to her parents, to her family, and to her old friends. Joey was being forced to leave the only real home he’d ever known. And this neighborhood was his heaven. He would remember Chris, Ryan, Jerry, Timmy, Jamie, and Eric for the rest of his life. There would never be another neighborhood like this.

She knew the answers to these questions because she had already signed the lease on their new apartment in Columbia. No more Dirt Hills, no more romps in the woods, and no more Sunnybrook Lane…just a parking lot and a worn-out swing set. Mary Katherine knew that wasn’t the worst part though. David was on his way to share that news.

David walked toward the Dirt Hills. He was in no real hurry to find his son. He’d put this off all summer and the terror of breaking his son’s heart grew every day he put it off and with every step he now took toward the Dirt Hills. To his relief, Joey was not there. David knew this talk was a long time coming, but he still wasn’t quite ready.

Copyright © 2020 Mike Maddock

Next week: David continues to search for Joey.

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