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, www.TheColumbiaStar.com.
Chapter 11 (Cont’d)
“Are you okay?” David asked.
Joey nodded his head confidently to reassure his dad.
“Are you coming home?”
“In a little while,” Joey said. “Just go take care of Mama.”
Joey climbed to the top of the rock with his dad, and then watched him disappear back to the Dirt Hills. With his dad out of range, Joey turned to his friends and asked, “Chris, do you still have my board?”
“It’s in my garage.”
“Go get it and meet me at the top of Sunnybrook.”
A Legend is Born
“Joey,” Eric pleaded, “I know you just got some really bad news, but you don’t have to kill yourself.”
Joey stared down Sunnybrook. His friends were gathered behind him at the top of the road, but his only acknowledgement of their presence was an abrupt break in his concentration when he replied, “Eric, I didn’t know you cared.”
“I do…I mean I don’t,” Eric flinched. “Go ahead and kill yourself. See if I care,” he said with so little conviction in his voice that it forced a small grin across Joey’s face.
Chris stepped in. “Really, Joey, Eric’s right. You don’t have to do this. You’ve made it to the Ward’s twice, and the last time you almost did kill yourself. That cast on your arm should remind you of that.”
Joey ignored them and continued to stare down Sunnybrook.
“Dude, he’s in some kind of trance,” Ryan said waving his hand in front of Joey’s face.
“It’s not a trance,” Eric interjected. “He’s concentrating.”
“ Whatever, man,” Ryan said. “He’s starting to freak me out.”
Joey rolled the little, yellow plastic skateboard under his foot back and forth. He visualized the path he would take down Sunnybrook. He prepared his feet for the vibrations. He ignored everyone and everything else around him.
A slightly round and very pale stranger appeared that brought Joey out of his trance momentarily.
“Hey, if it ain’t Mr. Atari,” Eric said. “Did you decide to come outside with the three dimensional people?”
“Good Lord, man,” Chris said, “You’re white as a sheet, and you look like you ate your parents.”
“Yeah, I may have put on a few,” Timmy said wiggling his belly with his hands. “Mom made me come outside. She said I was gonna go blind and get fat and stupid.”
“Too late,” Ryan said.
“Yeah, I tried to tell her that, but she made me come outside anyway,” Timmy said. “What’s going on? Is he trying this again?”
The boys nodded to Timmy. “Dude, I’ve got plenty of cool games at home. You don’t even have to break a sweat much less break an arm. Why don’t you try them?”
Joey ignored him.
“He’s in some kind of zebra state of mind,” Ryan said.
“Do you mean Zen state of mind, moron?” Eric said.
“ Yeah, whatever,” Ryan said. “He’s been staring for 20 minutes. Can you go ahead and crash into Mr. Ward’s yard so we can all go home?”
Joey stayed silent breathing in and out slowly and methodically. He rocked the skateboard back and forth. He stared down Sunnybrook. Nothing else mattered. The divorce, the move to Columbia, Jamie’s infatuation with Scott, or Scott’s teeth. He did not see Jimmy Chandler’s outline on the Johnsons’s roof. Allen Knox’s bushes were just bushes, and Stevey’s mailbox was just a mailbox. All evidence of Joey’s first crash of the summer in the Wards’s yard was gone, and the driveway was white and clean. Joey’s arm didn’t hurt, and the cast felt like a t-shirt or another piece of clothing. Joey’s mind was filled with nothing but a successful trip down Sunnybrook. He could not hear his friends, the birds chirping in the trees, or Ryan’s attempt to fart the alphabet.
“Hey, that sounded like an A…didn’t it?”
“Sounded like an A-hole,” Eric snapped.
“Guys, be quiet!” Chris said pointing at Joey’s feet.
All Joey could see was Sunnybrook, and all he could feel was the board underneath his left foot. He took one final breath then stepped on.
Copyright © 2020 Mike Maddock
Next week: Mr. Ward stands in the way of Joey’s legacy.
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