Saturday, April 13, 2013

The boys at the dead tree

Writing exercise. You may not know how it works, but you'll figure it out. One take, no edits, just to make me do it.

Samuel L. Clemens, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, page 161. “On Saturday, shortly after noon, the boys were at the dead tree again.”

“No,” she said, “Not that boy. He’s the boy from high school, the one I told you about, the one you never remember.” I smirked, that wise-ass smirk of mine that I smirk when I think I’ve outsmarted her. “Well then, it stands to reason that if I can’t ever remember him, then I simply don’t remember him now or ever.” Truth be told, I knew who he was but I didn’t want to acknowledge that to her, especially when she told me she was marrying the boy next Saturday. It was going to be a quiet marriage ceremony in the Methodist Church on the island. “Oh, Lord have mercy, Shelley, did Mr. No-Name get you knocked up?” I said, without an ounce of compassion. She looked away and said, “No, that’s not it at all. We’re in love and we just don’t want to wait.” Oh, sure. I couldn’t accept the love thing but even less than the love thing, I couldn’t accept the sex thing. I knew where babies came from and the whole idea totally grossed me out. The fact that my cousin Shelley had done it—probably in the back seat of Raymond’s Chev-Ro-Lay—was repulsive. What was she thinking? I wouldn’t even kiss that pimply-faced geek on the lips, much less do it with him. Her standards were so low. I knew all about Raymond, even though I refused to acknowledge that I knew him. He was one of those boys with greasy hair who wore plaid shirts and pants pulled up too high, one of the group who would hang out by the dead tree behind the service station, smoking cigarettes and trading comic books. They were goofy little boys who didn’t even have enough guts to be real juvenile delinquents. And the thought that my beautiful, talented cousin Shelley did it with one of those losers and was actually going to marry one of those losers made me want to barf. Shelley could have been prom queen, she could have gone to beauty school or been a flight attendant, but instead she was going to marry that greaseball Raymond? She added, “I’m sorry to tell you that you can’t be my bridesmaid because there aren’t going to be any bridesmaids. And you can’t even come to the wedding because only our parents are coming.” “Okay, Shelley, that’s it!” I replied. “Ever since we looked at those bridesmaids dresses in the Sears catalog you’ve been promising me I could be your bridesmaid. Now you’re not only telling me you’re marrying that creep Raymond but you’re also dropping me as a bridesmaid. This is my only chance, Shelley. How can you do this to me? And how can you do it to Kookie? You swore you would marry him and I believed you.” Shelley was the president of the Edd (Kookie) Byrnes fan club. She even had a photo of him that he personally signed. And she was going to marry Raymond when she could have had Kookie? So on Saturday, just before noon, Shelley, wearing her baby blue dress with the white daisies and a blue bow in her hair, sat in the back seat of Uncle Frank’s car and rode to the church to marry Raymond. Raymond wasn’t behind the service station that day, smoking cigarettes and trading comic books. He was at the church marrying Shelley. But the boys carried on without him. On Saturday, shortly after noon, the boys were at the dead tree again.

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