My local newspaper, the Centre Daily Times has a collaborative short story writing contest. The newspaper started the story and the readers were tasked with the next 500 to 650 words. I was select twice in last year’s contest, but my story was not chosen this time. Below I have posted the beginnin of the story as well as my submission, which I think was my strongest effort thus far.
Here is the beginning written by the Centre Daily Times:
Standing near the corner of Allegheny and Bishop streets, Scott surveyed the classic cars on display for the Bellefonte Cruise: a 1967 Chevrolet Corvette, a 1988 GT Mustang convertible, a 1955 Ford Fairlane Crown Victoria.
Although he’d never really been much of a car buff — still driving the same 1992 Honda Civic he bought used nearly a decade ago — he could still appreciate the care these auto enthusiasts put into their vehicles.
A familiar tune caught his attention above the din of the engines, and he turned toward the Diamond, where a band was playing.
“But he could play the guitar just like ringing a bell,” the singer crooned. “Go, go, go Johnny go, go, go Johnny, go go.”
“Boy,” Scott said, tears welling up. “Does that bring back memories.”
Scott could almost picture his father’s ’57 Chevy, water dripping off of it in the July sun. Every Sunday, before the leaves started to fall and frost replaced morning dew, Scott and his father would wash the family car after church. Many songs, including “Johnny B. Good” would play on the old AM radio as they meticulously cleaned his father’s pride and joy. The memories he had of his time with his father were so vivid he could almost smell his father’s aftershave. Scott wished his father were still here, to offer advice on how to get through to his son, Joey. “That boy needs to get his head out of the clouds,” thought Scott.
Scott’s wife would often say, “He’s probably just going through a phase, honey. He really is a good kid. He has never once been in trouble at school. Maybe he just doesn’t enjoy washing the car?” Scott would usually mumble, “I never went through a phase” in reply.
Joey heard the band wail the lyrics to Johnny B. Good and thought to himself, “Man, that’s lame. That song has to be a hundred years old.” It was probably some song his dad used to listen to. When Joey was ten, he thought it was cool to look at the cars with his dad and listen to his dad explain how much better cars were when he was young. At 13, however, Joey would rather walk around with his friends.
Skuzzy walked over to Joey, who was standing on the steps of the courthouse. Skuzzy, of course, was not really his name. Skuzzy gave himself his nickname because of his love of computers and would probably spell it SCSI. Due to his aversion to soap, water, or any combination of the two, Skuzzy more than earned his nickname. “Hey Joey, how’s it going?” said Skuzzy.
“I’m OK I guess.” said Joey. “My dad’s been hounding me to wash the car with him, but I don’t see the point. It’s a ’92 Civic! It must be a “Field of Dreams thing, except with cars instead of baseballs.”
The truth of the matter was that Joey had lost his grandfather’s watch, which his father gave him on his tenth birthday. Washing the car with his dad reminded him of the watch. Joey had not yet summoned the courage to tell his father that the old watch, which Joey’s grandfather had earned from working all those years in the coalmines, was gone. “If only I had some money.” Joey thought to himself. “Then I could get another watch that looked just like my grandfather’s watch and my dad would never know.”
Skuzzy shrugged his shoulders and said, “Well, I’m kinda bored here. Do you wanna come over to my house?”
“Cool, maybe we can go up to the attic,” said Joey. Joey knew his dad would be eyeing the classic cars for a while and surely wouldn’t miss him. Skuzzy lived on Linn Street in an old Victorian house with a walk-up attic, whose mysteries always excited the boys.
Skuzzy opened the large wooden front door to his house and the two friends raced up the stairs to the attic. Being 13 year-old boys, they rarely did anything slow, save for cleaning their room and finishing their homework.
Skuzzy was the first into the attic, throwing open the door and sprinting for the far side wall. Unfortunately, he never made it there. Skuzzy’s shoelace caught on a raised floorboard, sending him sprawling to the floor and ripping a two-inch hole in his shorts. As Skuzzy lay on the floor, still dazed from the fall, Joey entered the attic. If he hadn’t arrived at that exact moment, he might have missed seeing the glint of light underneath the floorboard. What Joey discovered in this forgotten space was a small wooden box.