Columbia Star

1963        Celebrating 60 Years      2023


Excerpt No. 51 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 12 Cont’d

“Oh, God!” Chris screamed. “He’s going for it!”

None of the boys noticed David and Mary Katherine running towards them. They did not notice Jerry and Jamie Hollins making their way down Sunnybrook Circle to the intersection with Sunnybrook Lane. They did not notice Mr. Ward coming into his yard to turn the sprinkler on. They did not notice Mr. Johnson opening his famous garage to pull a lawnmower out. They didn’t see Mr. and Mrs. Hollins enjoying a cup of tea in the backyard overlooking Sunnybrook Lane. All they saw was Joey slowly beginning his trip into the history books of their neighborhood as either a hero or yet another lawn ornament.


The shrill panic in Mary Katherine’s voice snapped the boys to attention and made them quickly realize Joey had the eyes of the entire neighborhood on him. While they snuck a quick glance at Joey’s mom, Mr. Ward looked up the street from his yard.

You have got to be kidding me, he thought as he took a slug of his Budweiser.

Mr. and Mrs. Hollins dropped their cups of tea and ran to the back of their yard.

Mr. Johnson quit pushing his lawnmower and looked up to see the little boy and his little yellow skateboard weaving at the top of Sunnybrook. He rushed to close his garage door.

Jerry and Jamie stopped at Sunnybrook just as Joey cut toward them and then cut away.

“Oh my,” Jamie said smiling to herself.

Mary Katherine and David ran past the boys and straight toward Joey. The boys snapped out of the shock of knowing their friend had an audience and that he was either going to be road kill on Sunnybrook or worse, road kill at home. They collectively ran behind Mary Katherine and David. Jerry and Jamie joined them.

Mary Katherine waved her arms and screamed as she ran, “Stacy! Stop him!”

Stacy Ward sprang to attention, dropped his Budweiser, and ran into the street. He had stopped plenty of linebackers in his day; surely it would not be hard to stop an 11-year-old boy on a tiny yellow skateboard. He planted himself firmly on the asphalt, spread his legs, squatted as much as his tired reconstructed knees would allow, and braced himself for the impact.

For the first time since Joey started down Sunnybrook, he noticed something other than his form, his speed, the vibration of his feet, and the deafening hum of hard plastic and ball bearings on asphalt.

What is Mr. Ward doing? This was not how Joey had visualized this trip, but things were going too well to let some old offensive lineman screw him up now. For the first time, Joey was approaching Mr. Ward’s mailbox, driveway, and yard at a manageable speed. He was still weaving and weaving well. He had complete control of the board. The vibrations were picking up along with his speed, but this time he was going to weave right past the house that had nearly singlehandedly ruined his summer even if Mr. Ward set himself perfectly in the way. Joey had weaved to the right and was leaning back left to cut towards the driveway that broke his arm a mere week ago. Mr. Ward would let him drift left then catch Joey just as he started to drift back right. There was nothing Joey could do, and this run was quickly looking like it was going to end in the oversized arms of one Stacey Ward.

Mr. Ward braced himself more for the inevitable collision. Joey drifted left towards the driveway. Mr. Ward stood as still as the Vulcan statue overlooking the Birmingham skyline, an immovable object in Joey’s path to greatness. Joey leaned backwards to straighten the board and then turned directly toward Mr. Ward, who braced even more— so much so he began to wonder if his muscles would unclench enough to absorb the blow. Panic began to course through the old offensive lineman’s veins, and he wondered if the impact would cause him to explode like a plate glass window hit by a missile. He could not help but close his eyes as Joey roared toward him.

Copyright © 2020 Mike Maddock

Next week: Stacy Ward pays a heavy price.

Click here or visit our office at 723 Queen Street to get your copy of Sunnybrook!

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