Skip to main content

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"

For those without a Kindle, it's available via .pdf by clicking the link below.



2 comments

Popular posts from this blog

Anatomy of an Opening: The End of the Affair

Instead of breaking down a scene from a movie, this time we'll break down the opening of a book. (Previously, I've done scenes from City Lights, Citizen Kane, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.  I've also broken down the opening to Starship Troopers.

Graham Greene's The End of the Affair is absolutely one of my favorite books. The writing is lyrical and story heart-wrenching and beautiful. Greene's style of writing is such that he always has me gripped, whether it's the beginning of the book or the end. And he shows you so much about the character in his opening lines.

So, here are the first two paragraphs from the book:
A story has no beginning or end: arbitrarily one chooses that moment of experience from which to look back or from which, to look ahead. I say 'one chooses' with the inaccurate pride of a professional writer who - when he has been seriously noted at all - has been praised for his technical ability, but d…

50+ Rules and Tips About Writing I've Collected Over the Years

I have twenty or thirty notebooks and journals filled up with snippets about writing, my plans for stories, bits of dialogue, interesting ideas, plotlines, scraps of short stories, and a dozen other things. I carry one with me at all times and it takes me a couple of months to fill one up.

One of the things I've kept in one of my notebooks was a collection of writing tips and rules that I've collected over the years in my travels. From teachers, from books, from wherever. Most of my career has been spent screenwriting, so a lot of these are most applicable to that, but I wanted to present them so they might be of use to you as well.

I've never stopped collecting these over the years and I never will.

To start the list are Kurt Vonnegut's eight rules of writing. They are the first in my notebook and, I think, the most useful. I'll add a star to those I think are applicable most to screenwriting. Some of these aren't applicable to everyone in every situation, but…

Anatomy of a Scene - City Lights

We're going to break down another scene this week, and it's one of my favorites in cinema history. It comes from the ending of City Lights by Charlie Chaplin, which I think is the greatest romantic comedy ever made. 
It's a touching film from 1931 and I would make it mandatory viewing for anyone who wants to learn to tell a story.
The scene we're going to be breaking down comes from the very end of the film, so if you haven't seen it, I don't want to spoil it for you. Go watch the film. You can rent it for $3.99 in HD on Amazon or for free on Hulu with a free trial or plus subscription. You should just buy the Blu-ray, though. You're going to want to revisit it.
For those of you familiar with the movie, or for those of you who are going to ignore my pleas to watch it and go ahead with this post anyway, I'm going to set this clip up a bit before you watch it.
City Lights tells the story of Chaplin's Tramp and how he falls in love with a blind flower …