I just finished making the changes to my sister’s final edit and a last reading of my latest thirty-five page short story, Going Down. No, the story isn’t literotica. This is set in Western Pennsylvania where I grew up. It’s about drinking in a bar from age fourteen with a bunch of my friends. If you didn’t grow up in a small town, I think you’d be surprised how much illegal activity goes on without people batting an eye. In small towns, small groups of people have the power, the audacity, to flaunt it and break laws of all sorts. In this case a bar owner, the police, and damn near everyone in town was complicit in facilitating the underaged drinking antics of sports players at the local high school. Much of this story is true. Names and exact places have been changed so nobody goes to jail (me).
There is something about writing shorts that is great fun. I had a blast writing this story and I’m looking forward to more in 2014. I just started this foray into short story writing, and I’m digging it quite a bit. I’ve written three stories now ranging from ten to thirty-five pages. I think I prefer a length of thirty or so pages to really flesh out the story, giving it depth and impact.
This short story will be released on Amazon, Smashwords, Apple, and other distributors. It won’t be a free short in the short story section of this site.
I wish I had some amazing short stories to read. What I really wish is that my sister started cranking them out by the hundreds so I could have an endless stream of them. Her shorts are exactly the style I love to read. Dark and hard hitting. Eventually she’ll get them up on Amazon to share with the world.
Going Down will be up there as soon as I figure out the cover art. I have an idea, but not sure it’s going to make a great cover. Covers are very important on Amazon, often it makes the difference between a click or not. A sale or not. That’s an important piece of the puzzle, right?
Here are the first couple pages of Going Down… Read it here at Amazon.
Growing up a teen in a defunct coal town named Springfield with population 3,010 in Southwestern Pennsylvania was every bit as boring as you’re already thinking it was. To snap myself out of it, I sought out excitement in every form, at every opportunity. I refused to succumb to the lifeless existence that surrounded me. Even as a kid, I made the most of what I had.
My father left my mother when I was six. I still have memories of Budweiser cans and ashtrays on the kitchen table, and Dylan records playing endless mind-numbing loops. I’d love to meet the person that decided turntables needed a feature where they played the same record over and over until minds turned to slush.
Despite having little to no relationship with the man at six years old, their split affected me anyway. I withdrew at school and at home. My mother sensed that I needed something. My ex-father loved baseball, so she took me to join the local soccer team in 1971. I didn’t have the slightest idea what it was all about when I arrived at the indoor gym, except I was told I could have fun “kicking balls.” I did just that over the next eight years, having a great time playing for two different teams in a Spring and Fall league until I was accepted as a junior varsity player on our high school team at fourteen years old.
At fourteen I’d already been introduced to alcohol use as a way of life. Most adults in our town drank at least a few times per week. Many drank nightly. I’d been blitzed at a wedding at twelve, having consumed everyone’s abandoned cups in the dark reception hall. I’d been to a party at a friend’s house at thirteen at which his father bought our soccer team our first keg of beer.
I slept on the second floor of our home. After seeing a neighbor’s house go up in flames, my mother bought a chain and aluminum-rung ladder we could hang out the window to climb down in case there was no way out using the steps. It became the easiest way out of the house at all hours, and I abused it a couple times a week to go out with friends.
Alcohol was a way of life for people growing up in our area. We had more bars per capita than was allowed by the constitution. Hell, alcohol consumption in quantity was a way of life for everyone in our area, from teens on up. I don’t think I knew any adult besides my mother that didn’t drink regularly. Even our Irish priest at the Catholic church we had to attend weekly would sometimes have the unmistakable smell of whiskey on his breath as he handed out the Eucharist.
Without a dad, I felt the need to do more than the average kid to “fit in” with a group. I decided early on that my soccer buddies were the coolest group because we won nearly all of our games. Everyone loved a winner.
I was in eighth grade when a junior on the team, Greg, told a small group of us soccer players about being able to drink in a bar in town called “Coop’s.” Greg called it ‘going down.’ It sounded like BS, but he insisted it was true. He and another junior, Dean, were going to take a select group of us younger guys to the bar to introduce us to the owner that Friday to see if we could be part of the group and go down. I couldn’t believe my good fortune, and yet I half-expected Greg to be pulling a gag like he was so good at. I figured they’d take us and lock us in a room at the bar and laugh at us for half-an-hour making us look stupid and getting their laughs. I was about eighty percent sure it would happen like that.
Was I going to pass up the opportunity to drink in a bar if it turned out to really be true? Hell no. I was going regardless.
Coop’s was known by everyone in town, whether or not they drank there. The owner, Don Cooper, was like the mafia don of our city. People joked all the time that the mayor didn’t run Springfield, Don Cooper did. Our entire police force, judges, and lawyers ate and drank at Coop’s regularly. Damn near daily.
All week I was looking forward to seeing if what Greg was talking about was true. We were really going to be able to drink in a bar at fourteen years old?
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Read the entire story at Amazon for less than $1. Going Down (click)
That’s enough to give you an idea of what the story is about. This is really what happened to me at fourteen years old. It’s outrageous that such a thing could exist, but as I alluded to, small town folk have their own rules. They can do as they wish as long as nobody brings it to the attention of outside authorities. As far as I know, nobody ever squealed on the bar owner, the police, and everyone else in on it. The bar owner has since passed away. Hundreds of adult men remember their first time going down. I certainly do.