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The Reckless Abandon of Youth

We had climbed up the thick, craggy bricks on the west side of the old church building so we could sit on its roof, dangling our feet over the edge, over the rain gutters. It was probably dangerous but that was immaterial to a pair of poorly behaved thirteen year olds. The chestnut-colored roof shingles were deteriorating, we spent our time picking off bits of the crumbling tiles and tossing them into the void of shrubs and grass below. Neither of us attended church any longer, it had been forsaken in the name of rebellion right around the same time we realized we were officially teenagers. On every day except Sunday the church grounds and fa├žade of the building served as one of our favorite playgrounds.

Reverence for things others found holy was not something either of us would learn and appreciate for a good many years.

Adam and I spoke of many things from our perch, lobbing the bits of tarred shingle every so often between breathes.

“We need girls,” Adam said.

“Mm-hmm,” I agreed.

The thought of it was preposterous. Both Adam and I were still unknown to the touch of pubescence. Our motivation for wanting girls was because it seemed to us something every teenage boy should want. Societal cues informed us much more than primal ones.

“Why don’t we have bikes?” Adam wondered.

I shrugged my shoulders and made an accompanying wordless reply. Thinking back on it, I might have had a bike, but it was dangling in the rafters of the garage in a state beyond repair. It was the bike I got for my eighth birthday. The rims were bent, it’s frame was twisted and that was in addition to the fact that I’d simply outgrown it. I never understood why my father was reluctant to replace it. Maybe he wasn’t, maybe it had just slipped his mind.

He was always busy with something.

For a boy my age then, a bicycle was much more than a mode of transportation; it was some type divine right. With enough kids with bikes, we could form a gang and our range for causing trouble tripled.

To continue reading, please purchase this short story for the Kindle. It appears as part of the collection of short stories "A Simpler Time: Six Mostly True Stories"

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