Thursday, August 9, 2018

Holly and the Gang blog post #296
Courtesy of Public Domain Pictures
I received a lot of page views on last week’s post about rain in New Mexico. Most of the hits were from outside the US. For the week, the most viewers came from Ukraine, followed by Russia, China, and Canada. Domestic viewers came in fifth. I thought that was interesting enough to share.

This week, let’s go for a short, short story called “Holly and the Gang.” Hope you like it.


          I don’t know why I think of it as Holly and the gang. By rights, it should be Holly’s gang. Gang’s not quite right, either. Can four kids—including Holly—make up a gang? According to some of the neighbors, the answer is yes.
          It started off with me’n Joey Staller some six years back. We were next door neighbors; me eight and him just barely nine. Carlos Hills started hanging around, so we included him even though he lived two streets over from us. Then Holly and her family moved into a house down at the end of the block. At first, we didn’t know what to make of her, but she was such a tomboy it wasn’t long before she fit right in. That’s probably when we earned the reputation as a gang.
          Holly was lots bolder than the rest of us. Except maybe for Joey. He was all for making mischief, but I’d been able to put a halter on him most of the time. But when Holly came along, it was two against one. Carlos always went with the flow.
          First, it was mailboxes. Not stealing, mind you. Just knocking them over and running like hell before someone came out and dusted our britches. Then it was letting air out of tires. Not puncturing them, just deflating them. No harm done, right? Not till old Mr. Harcourt two doors down didn’t know the difference between deflating and a flat and tried to change his tire on a sloping driveway, ending up on his butt when the jack collapsed. Pretty soon, it was like every day was Halloween. Trick or treat time, except we didn’t give our victims any option.
          Of course, we got caught a time or two and earned grounding for a week or a switching… or both. But led by Holly, we didn’t let such temporary setbacks bother us.
          Holly was a buddy, a pal, just like the other guys… until the day I noticed bumps beneath her grass-stained sweatshirt. Joey saw them, too, and spent a lot of time staring at them. Holly wouldn’t go skinny dipping anymore after that. Other things changed, too. Joey, my lifelong pal, started going squirrelly on me. If Holly whispered something in my ear, he’d puff up and demand to know what secret she’d shared, sometimes threatening to flatten my nose for me.
          “Pauly, you tell me what she said, or I’ll bust your chops.”
          “Go ask Holly. If she wants you to know, she’ll tell you.”
          “I’m asking you.”
          Somehow something always seemed to come up to prevent bloodshed. Most of the time what she whispered was something as innocuous as “Someday I’d like to live in California,” or “I saw Harry Knox kiss Eloise Randall.” Nothings. But if she whispered them in my ear, they were just for me, right?
           It got so that I started finding other things to do besides hang out with my buds, but inevitably, Holly would show up at my door with the other two behind her and call me out to go to a show or on a hike or something. I’d usually give in, but something was changing, and I didn’t know why. Heck, if Joey would just go away, everything would be fine again.
          The day that thought hit me between the eyes, I wandered off from the others and sat down with my back against an oak at the edge of the park. What was going on? Joey was my best… my oldest friend. How could I think about him that way?
          For the life of me, I couldn’t say why, but that was the first time I really tried to figure things out. Joey had been at my side forever. He’d saved me from bullies a bunch of times. Now he was one. Why?
          Another bolt from the blue. Holly. It was because of Holly. Those bumps I’d noticed a year ago were grapefruits now… little ones, anyway. But not hard like the fruit. Whenever she leaned in to whisper one of her “secrets” they pressed softly against my arm. OMG! For a guy who was school smart, I must be the dumbest ass in town. Joey was sweet on her. Not like a buddy… like a boyfriend. Geez, I didn’t even think of Holly that way. I sort of liked Margaret Hillcrest. She was a blonde and a girl, not a pal from the neighborhood.
          With my new understanding, I managed to cool things off and go along more or less the way we always had. Until my fourteenth birthday, that is. That evening, when we gathered as usual for some hijinks we hadn’t yet decided, Holly promptly christened my birthday with a kiss.
          That was the day Joey delivered on his long-threatened promise to punch me out.
          That was also the day the gang broke up.

When things are perfect, why do they always have to change? Carefree childhood days morph into adolescent uncertainties and conflict. One of the hardest lessons to learn is that “life goes on.” And the older you get the harder that reality is to accept. I hope this little story reminded you of something in your youth.

Now my mantra: Keep on reading. Keep on writing. You have something to say… so say it.

If you would like to drop me a line, my personal links follow:

Facebook: Don Travis
Twitter: @dontravis3

Here are some buy links to the Lovely Pines, which is programmed for release on August 28:

Abaddon’s Locusts is scheduled for release on January 22, 2019. I’m working hard on The Voxlightner Scandal.

See you next week.


New Posts are published at 6:00 a.m. each Thursday.

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