The novel tells the quixotic story of a young boy and his many friends growing up on a dead end street in the early 1960s.
The trouble with rewriting your memoirs as novel is that the more you write, the more there is to write. On the other hand, it's either the most enlightening, heart-warming story anyone will EVER read or it's not. Only time will tell. But we're several years away from completion and all that.
Here's how it starts:
Chapter One - CATS
Everywhere you looked in Grandma’s yard you saw cats creeping around. They slithered through the grapevines, the large hand-like leaves petting them as they arched their fur and swiped with their tails as they drew away.
The cats lived in Uncle Joe’s dilapidated jalopy abandoned next to the two-car garage nobody ever parked a car inside. They found their way inside the dirty sealed old Pontiac coupe, nesting in the trunk, creeping through a hole in the upholstery to snuggle to each other or scream their cat screams we could hear through the open windows at night on hot summer nights.
They were all outside cats and showed no interest in coming inside no matter how much we coaxed them. And they were smart enough not to bother Grandma’s chickens that pecked at the gravel and dirt and otherwise ignored the cats.
The cats were easier for us to catch than those chickens. You could slide your fingers together and make a sound so the cats would think you had food and when they got close enough you could grab them. That’s how Robie and I got the cats we needed for our experiment.
Cousin Robie was a year older than me, seven to my six. Well, thirteen months, actually, but I was the one who caught the cats and we share the idea of doing an experiment like we’d seen on a cartoon show.
Grandma had so many she wouldn’t even miss one if something went wrong in our experiment. But we were sure nothing would go wrong. It would be just like on TV only we were doing it live and in person, not in black and white while one of us held the rabbit ears so we could see the picture.
So now one of us had to decide who would go up to the second floor porch and who would stay below at the small patio and see how the cat landed. Then we could do it again until we ran out of cats or until my grandma came out on her first floor porch and saw a cat flying to the ground so we could see if they really landed on all four legs or if that was something pretend you’d only see in a cartoon on television.
I patted the skinny gray cat that came to me when I made a pss-pss sound and rubbed my fingers together. None of Grandma’s cats had names. If she called them anything, it was in a tongue none of us kids understood.
The cat was heavier than I expected when I picked it up. It wasn’t too sure about being held and even more unsure about being carried at all. But I held it as tight as I had to and carried it quietly past Grandma’s door, up the wooden back stairs past our garbage can and the two wooden cases of Brookdale soda to my back porch.
Ma was busy inside, well, too busy to mind me. “Go outside and play!” She’d said that morning, “And don’t come back until lunch.”
So I tiptoed around the back porch and then peeked over the wooden banister to check for Robie down below. “Ready?” I half-yelled and half-whispered, getting his attention. He put his thumb to his index finger and gave me the okay sign. I pulled back from the banister, getting a better grip on the gray cat. It wasn’t sure it wanted to be held anymore and tried to claw me, but I grabbed it by its back fur and neck and tossed it over the railing, then leaned over to watch it fly.
Its front paws exploded, growing twice their size as its claws emerged. We could see them swiping at the thin air that couldn’t keep that skinny gray cat aloft. It let out a scream that sounded like a police car siren and landed before it could make that noise again. Robie watched the cat falling, at first standing as tall as he could, so he could be as close to the action when it started and as the cat dropped Robie followed the descent with his own body nearly bending in half as he watched the cat drop on its paws on the pavement. We both saw the cat swagger, its humped back ready to spring, claws and paws bouncing away the landing sting as it spit out its disgust with our scientific experiment. ...
Copyright © 2011 by Anthony Buccino, all rights reserved. Photos and content may not be used for commercial purposes without written permission.
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