[b]Alvin Ever After:
Alvin in the First
A mini-novel by Danny[/b]
NOW AWAY WE GO…
Just before the new school year was scheduled to begin my wonderfully delightful parents announced that they were going to ruin my life forever! Okay, so that isn’t exactly what they said, but that is sure how it seemed to me. They had said that we were going to pack up and move from the always warm, always exciting Chula Vista, a suburb of San Diego, California to the rarely warm, always humdrum Lewiston, Maine.
In Chula Vista I had a life, friends, a life, and oh did I say that I had A LIFE? Even my teachers liked me and not just because I was the Junior Surfing Champion for the last two years, but also because I did well in every subject except for English. However, I had a friend named Jenny Dueler who every morning before school would correct my English homework for me. Jenny wasn’t a very popular girl… ok except for me she didn’t have a single friend. She was overweight, always smelled of wet dog, had wild uncombed hair, one eyebrow that stretched across both eyes and a face that could crack mirrors. However, inside she was a really nice person. You might think that is cruel of me to say, especially about a friend, but if you were to ask her she would tell you the same thing. Jenny doesn’t believe in the so called modern woman’s image portrayed on TV and in movies and don’t even get her started on the modeling industry.
Aside from the fact that in Maine I will probably fail English seeing how I won’t have Jenny looking over my homework, I also can’t stand the idea that Jenny is losing her only friend. I mean I can’t stand the idea of her lonely!
I’m sure you are wondering, how someone like me ended up friends with someone like Jenny? Well actually there is a story behind our friendship. It all started the day I was out surfing alone because my father, who was normally out there with me back then, was home with the flu. I was about ready to head in so I could make it to school on time when I decided I had time for one more wave. I should have quit while I was ahead, because that wave had my number. I paddled out, turned and caught the wave just as it began to rise.
I only know what happened after that because Jenny told me. She had been sitting on the beach reading. It was so early that she was the only person on that particular stretch of the beach. She told me that she happen to look up right as I was flying up and my board came up and clocked me right under the chin. It knocked me out cold. She said that she knew I was in trouble and was in the water within seconds. Somehow she found me, pulled me in and gave me mouth-to-mouth. I remember coming to coughing hard, then rolling over and hurling up the ocean I’d swallowed.
When I was somewhat recovered and kneeling there on the sand with her on one knee and rubbing my back as I coughed more she said the funniest thing to me.
“This is probably a bad time to tell you this, but when my father finds out we were kissing, he’s going to make you marry me.”
From that day on, the two of us have been tight.
You know something, until right now I have never told or wrote about that. I guess because I knew my mother would over react and never let me go out alone again. Of course that doesn’t matter now as I’ll never get to surf again.
What made moving even worst was that next season I would have been old enough to compete for the teen surfing title. After I had won the Junior Surfing Championship for the second year in a row everyone in town was buzzing, saying that I was going to be the youngest person to ever capture the teen title. But then my parents dropped the moving bombshell and I knew those dreams were dead and everything would change.
John Rudder Holloway, my father, lost his job when the factory he worked at moved over the Mexican border last year. Since then he’s had a string of odd jobs, none lasting more than a week and most only one or two days. Well he did get a job as a door to door salesman that lasted for nearly two weeks before they fired him for not selling a single magazine subscription. After a while he just stopped trying to get another job and instead took up watching daytime talk shows and drinking—a lot!
Before John, Johnny to his friends, lost his job he used to do stuff with me all the time. He’s the one that taught me how to surf even before I was out of diapers. Nearly every morning of my life before work and school, he would wake me up early so that we could catch some waves together. We would hit the water just as the sun was coming over the horizon and by the time we had paddled out we would have just enough light to see as we surfed back in. That ended the day he hocked our boards and gear so that he could get drunk again.
That happened to also be the day that I stopped calling him Dad and started calling him John. Well that’s what I called him to his face; you don’t want to know what I called him when I was around my friends and such. Although John didn’t like it, I told him that as far as I was concerned, I didn’t have a dad anymore.
In time I, for the most part, got over being mad at him, but I never did go back to calling him dad; it just didn’t seem right anymore.
When John lost his job and hocked our surfing gear Mom started waiting tables at two different diners to pay the bills and to keep from getting kicked out of our home. With her working two jobs the only time I ever got to see her is when I wake up in the middle of the night and hear her fighting with John. Usually after their late night verbal war she would come into my room to tuck me back in. It’s kind of sad to say, but I got to the point that I would look forward to their fights just so I could see her for a few minutes before she went off to bed alone.
You’d like my mom, her name is Melody and she has silvery blonde shoulder length hair, pale blue-gray eyes and I know its cliché, but it’s true that her smile could brighten even the darkest day. No matter how bad things get, no matter how tired she is from working two full time jobs, she always manages to look her best.
I wish I could say that I am just like my mom, but to be honest, the only trait I got from her is her long thick eyelashes; aside from that I take after John 100%. I have his jet black hair, extra dark brown eyes (Jenny says my eyes look evil), olive colored skin that tans to a nice deep golden brown (Jenny hates my skin because I can spend all day in the sun and end up with a deeper tan where she would look more like over cooked bacon.) and enormous feet. I even have the same dimple in my chin like him; Mom says it was John’s dimple that made her fall in love with him.
One trait that I inherited from my father, who I have since learned inherited it from his father and I’ve learned that it goes all the way back to my great grandfather and probably farther, is a trait that I honestly wish I didn’t inherit; that is a problem with wetting the sheet at night. Aside from my mom, John, and my friend Jenny, no one knows I have that problem; not even my closest friends know about it.
Up until about a year ago I had nearly stopped wetting at night. I was only waking up with wet sheets maybe once a week and even a few times I went over two weeks without wetting. And then for some reason, right about the same time I turned eleven I started wetting several times a night, every night.
You’d be surprised at some of the harebrained methods I have read about on the Internet at the library for stopping night wetting. But there comes a time in every sheet-wetter’s life when they are so desperate to stop, that they will try anything—I’m no different. I’ve tried everything to stop, including setting an alarm clock to wake me up every hour to go pee, not drinking anything after eating supper, not drinking stuff with caffeine in it, putting a bunch of books under the bottom legs of my bed, and even wrapping a Band-Aid tightly around my penis. At first some of the techniques worked, but usually only for a day or two, but in the end nothing could help me to stop wetting my sheets.
The day that I was told we were moving to Maine I was sitting in my room at my desk trying to read a comic book. Mom and John walked in and sat on either side of my bed.
“Sweetheart,” Mom started and I knew I wasn’t going to like what came next.
She only ever calls me ‘Sweetheart’ when she wants to try to talk me into doing something we both know I won’t want to do.
They proceeded to tell me we were moving and no matter how much I screamed and complained, it did absolutely no good what-so-ever. Finally, in a fury I pounded my fist on my desk and screamed, “You know what? This both bites and wipes at the same time!”
I then ran out of my room, down the hallway and out the front door before either of them could stop me. I didn’t stop running until I reached the beach which by foot took about forty-five minutes, but I didn’t even notice or get tired because I was too mad. I probably would have continued running right into the Pacific Ocean and swum to Hawaii had I not literally run into Gary.
Gary owns ‘The Shack’, which is where you can rent or buy just about anything you would ever need for a fun filled day at the beach. Gary is like the oldest surfer I know; I think he is like 60 or 70 years old, maybe older. However, he is also the coolest guy I know and without a doubt he’s the bestest friend I have ever had. I know bestest isn’t a word, but it is for Gary and me; he’s the one that got me saying it because he always calls me his ‘littlest, bestest bud’. Mom thinks Gary is a bad influence and doesn’t like me hanging around him because he’s what others call a Stoner. I know Gary smokes pot, but he never does it around me or any other kids for that matter. He’s just cool like that.
“Whoa, whoa, whoa!” Gary said clothes-lining me around the chest as I was running.
My feet flew in the air as I cried out, “Let me go! Let me go!”
Gary dropped the boogie board he had tucked under his left arm as he struggled to keep hold of me. “Whoa, little bud calm down!”
“Please let me go Gary! Please!” I began to blubber while still struggling to slip loose from his grip.
He wrapped both arms around me and wrestled me to the sand.
I pleaded once more before giving up, “Let me go, please!”
“That’s better!” he said relaxing his grip a little. “What’s got my littlest, bestest bud so upset?”
At first I didn’t answer and he didn’t push me for an explanation. He let me cry for a long time; just the two of us sitting there on the warm sand; me balling like an overgrown baby and him holding me while strangers walked past trying to act like they weren’t looking. Some muscle bound guy I sort of remember seeing around the beach came up to rent a surf board. Without moving Gary told him to take what he needed and to be sure he brought it back when he was done.
When the guy left I finally spoke, but it came out soft, almost like I was scared to say the words, “We’re moving away.”
At first he didn’t respond.
“Did you hear me?” I asked.
“Yeah… was just a little shocked.” He answered.
I sniffled hard. “Tell me about it!” I shot back and started to cry again. “Gary I don’t want to move to Maine!”
“MAINE?” Gary blurted out.
After a moment or so Gary hopped to his feet, “MAINE? As in all the way on top of the East Coast? That Maine?”
With my face hidden behind my knees and my arms wrapped around to hide my tears I nodded.
“Why in the hell would your old man drag your sorry ass all the way up there?” Gary was fuming and spitting curse words as though he were spitting on the sand.
That was something else that Gary said a lot; he loved to refer to people that he didn’t like or was mad at as ‘sorry asses’. He often referred to me as a ‘sorry ass’, but it wasn’t ever meant as a bad thing. It’s kind of like friends calling each other stupid names like jerk, dork, whiner-baby or my all-time favorite, butt-face which I reserve for very special occasions. As a rule Gary doesn’t cuss, at least that’s what he says, but I’m here to tell you, he does. Of course I already told you his favorite reference for people is ‘sorry asses’ so what more proof do you need? However, he doesn’t let me cuss and even one time when I said the B-word he pulled down my swim trunks and swatted my bare backside right there in The Shack. It didn’t hurt, but it was sure embarrassing. I should tell you that he warned me like three times about not saying it before he finally yanked down my trunks, and gave me a swat.
When he asked me about Maine I didn’t know how to respond to him except to shrug my shoulders and tell him that it wasn’t John’s idea.
“It’s my mom’s idea. Well I mean sort of…” I trailed off before adding, “Actually it was grandpa and grandma Gains idea.”
“Them your mom’s folks?” he asked while fumbling with the gold chain around his neck.
I nodded again without looking up and added, “They own a big lobster, crab, and shrimp restaurant in…” I couldn’t bring myself to say the name of the city again.
“When?” he asked sounding choked up.
“Friday,” I said huffing and puffing.
Gary didn’t reply, he just went inside ‘The Shack’ and was banging around the equipment like I’d never known him to do. He came out with a surf board under each arm and something between his teeth. He dropped the yellow and green banana board next to me, took the sign from his teeth and hung it on the front of ‘The Shack’. The sign read, ‘Will Be Back When I Get Damn Good And Ready!’ I’d seen the sign before, but it was still funny.
“But I don’t have my trunks?” I said.
“And since when has that stopped you before?” He said in a ‘so what’ sort of way.
That was all the incentive I needed; I stood up and stripped bare right there on the spot; right in front of God and everyone on the beach. Leaving my clothes in a pile, I picked up the banana board and the two of us raced into the water.
The water was cold, but it felt so good and once we’d swam out a ways I couldn’t hear the people or the sounds of the city anymore. With Gary by my side we were able to swim out farther than the other surfers usually go. Mom and John don’t allow me to go out that far, but Gary and I always do. There are always some fantastic waves out that far plus the larger naval ships create some killer wakes that are fun to ride.
That day it was just him and me out there alone; not a ship, boat, or person was in site. Heck, we’d paddled so far out that we couldn’t see the land anymore. There weren’t many waves coming around the horn, but that didn’t matter. We stayed out there talking some of the time and just floating most of the time and allowed the currents to take us back in; as land came back into site a good size wave picked up and we road it all the way in.
We’d been out a good two hours, long enough for my mom to have called the cops because she thought I had run away. Now I’m rather well known by those that patrol the southern California beaches. They all know me by name and love to give me a hard time, but mostly it is just in fun. However, a few times I’ve had some negative run-ins with them because they say I was surfing in restricted areas. Of course I was and knew it too, but no matter how much I, or any true surfer gets harassed, we’re going to go wherever the waves are.
Anyway, we came back into shore about a mile north of where we’d entered. Normally we would just paddle our way back down the coastline, but that day, the last day we’d get to surf together, we decided to walk along ‘Silver Stand Blvd’ part of the way. It isn’t an uncommon thing to see a couple surfers hoofing it down the beach, but seeing how I was, butt naked we were getting all kinds of rubberneckers. I even got a few whistles, all from guys thinking they were funny; at least I hope they were trying to be funny.
We were maybe five minutes from ‘The Shack’ when Naval Patrol Officer Alex Ricer peddled his bike up behind us. Out of all those that patrol this stretch of beach, Ricer is the least liked. Ricer is about the goofiest blowhard you’d ever have the displeasure to run across. Probably the one thing that stands out about Ricer, out of all of his oddities is the fact that he wears bright white ankle socks with brown leather, buckle on sandals. I once heard Gary ask how Ricer got away with that being in the Navy and all. Maybe he’s so weird that no one in the Navy wants to be bothered with him.
To make a long story short, Ricer called in a patrol buggy, which is really just a jeep with big gnarly tires; and I was hauled back home without being able to retrieve my clothes. I got a postcard from Gary about a week after being in Lewiston. He said Ricer tried to give him some trouble over the whole thing, but Gary, who’s retired Navy, has friends all over Southern California so he took great pleasure in telling Ricer…
“Pucker up your sorry ass lips, and kiss my entire hairy ass.”
I had been dropped on my doorstep wearing a big blue towel and smelling like sea water. John had answered the door because Mom was out driving around looking for me. I didn’t bother to stick around; I took off the towel, handed it to the cop and walked past John without saying a single word. Of course John was drunk … again, or maybe I should say still. Anyway, before disappearing down the hallway I turned to the officer that brought me in and said, “Thanks for the ride!” I’m guessing that she was new to the force because I had never seen her before. I then locked myself in the bathroom so that I could wash the salt water off. I knew when Mom came home because, even with my head under the bath water, I could hear her angrily pounding on the bathroom door.
Despite my rock solid, etched in stone, buried under ten-thousand tons of concrete, unmovable, unyielding resolution that I wasn’t going to Maine; moving day finally came. It was heralded by the sound of a moving van backing up to the house. During the previous few days I’d run off two more times so on the morning of moving day Mom threatened to ground me for a whole year if I so much as thought about sneaking away again.
I’d had time that week to say goodbye to all of my friends and even got a chance to get back at Ricer by letting the air out of his patrol bikes tires not once, but twice in the same afternoon. I figured that even if he found out it was me; he wouldn’t be able to do anything before we left.
I also made it a point to stop by Jenny’s house, something she had always forbid me from doing; I still don’t know why that is. I expected her to knock my head off the second she saw me, but she surprised me and threw herself at me in a back breaking hug. When I told her we were moving she started to cry, but not for very long. We then spent that entire day together and as I was saying my final goodbye to her she leaned down and kissed me on the cheek.
The only one that I didn’t get to say an official goodbye to was Gary. Every time I tried to get to the beach to see him, either there were too many customers at ‘The Shack’ for him to get away for a few minutes, or he wasn’t there at all. However, Gary made sure I didn’t get away without getting to see him one last time.
Gary showed up at our house as John was shoving the last box into the trunk of our car. I was already in the car, but when I saw Gary’s jeep pull up; I jumped out and ran to him.
Jokingly he said, “You trying to run off without saying so-long to your bestest bud?”
“Gary!” I cheered when I saw him.
He climbed down from his jeep and took a surf board down off the top. It was one of the nicest long boards I’d ever seen and when he said he was giving it to me to remember him by, I nearly started to cry. He said that it was my early twelfth birthday and Christmas present combined.
On the top of it were the words, Have Waves Will Surf in sparkling blue and white letters outlined in red pinstripe. On the back of the board, right across the edge it said, Eat My Wake! He then showed me the bottom of the board and it had my name in huge fancy blue and white letters that covered the entire bottom, ALVIN HOLLOWAY and running through the middle of my name in gold was, 2X Jr Surfing Champion.
When I saw my name on the bottom Gary said, “I figure that will help the sharks know who they’re about to eat.”
And as he handed it to me he looked John right in the eye and threatened him by saying, “If I hear that you’ve sold this one I swear it won’t matter what state or continent you’re on… I’ll find you and kick your sorry ass so hard you’ll be shitting out your ears and pissing out your nose!”
John didn’t say anything back; he simply turned and walked into the house. Mom came out then and surprised me when she gave Gary a big hug and a kiss. She thanked him for being such a wonderful friend to me and I was surprised again when she invited him to come up to Maine to visit us someday.
“You better watch out, I might just take you up on that!” Gary laughed.
After tying my new board onto the top of our car Gary lifted me off my feet to give me a huge hug and told me, “You know the number to ‘The Shack’, anytime you need to, just call collect alright?”
My eyes were filled with tears as I said goodbye to him and a handful of my other friends that had come to see us off. I was half hoping that Jenny would have come, but I wasn’t surprised that she didn’t. Jenny doesn’t usually do what people expect her to do.
As we drove away my friends stood in the middle of the street waving until we were out of sight. When I couldn’t see them anymore I turned around in the backseat, buckled myself in, and began to cry silently.
DAY ONE ON THE ROAD
About thirty minutes on the road and I started to feel the need to go number two, but I didn’t say anything. After another fifteen minutes had passed, the need had amplified and ten minutes after that I blurted out, “I got to go!”
“Alvin you were supposed to go before we left.” Mom griped back at me.
“I went pee, but I didn’t know I needed to go number two.” I said grumpily back to her.
“You’re going to have to hold it. We’ve got about twenty minutes or so before we reach a rest stop.” she said.
I sat quietly in the back seat trying not to think about needing to go, but as each minute ticked by the feeling increased exponentially. Not thinking about needing to poop wasn’t working for me so then I tried concentrating on holding it in. I began muttering to myself as I clenched my butt cheeks tightly together, “Hold it! Hold it! Hold it in.”
When I felt that I couldn’t wait another second I cried out, “I can’t hold it any longer! Please pull over!”
The car was no sooner on the shoulder of the road then I threw open the door opposite traffic and started to get out fast, but carefully so as not to have an accident in my pants.
“Wait!” Mom called after me.
“Mom I can’t…” I started to complain, but stopped when I saw she was handing me a fist full of napkins. I felt a bit stupid for not thinking that far ahead.
I ran about fifteen feet so that I could squat in a ravine for a little privacy.
“Come on, come on!” I groaned while fumbling to get my belt undone and my pants pulled down.
Since this was my first time ever pooping in the great outdoors, (not counting the ocean), I wasn’t exactly sure how to go about not pooping on myself. It seemed to make sense that I should only pull my pants down to my hips and squatted with my feet as far apart as I could without falling over. When it came out it felt like it might be a record breaking poop for me because it felt like a big one. In the bathroom a poop always falls into the water with a plop, but this time there was no plop. In fact there was no satisfactory sound at all because the dang turd hadn’t hit the ground and in my mind I could envision what it might have looked like. A big brown snake hanging out of my butt; just dangling there and not knowing what to do, I clamped my cheeks together. Big mistake! I felt the poop break away, but before it did I felt it smear inside my crack.
“Thank goodness Mom gave me plenty of napkins.” I said aloud.
“Alvin, are you ok?” I heard Mom ask and she sounded close… too close!
“Mom, don’t come down here!” I shouted out of the ravine when I realized that she must have followed me.
“Are you almost done?” she asked.
“Almost!” I shouted back.
“Do you need any help?” she asked.
“Moooooom!” I whimpered, “Can a guy have a little privacy please?”
I waited a moment to be sure she had gone back to the car before I reached back with one of the napkins and wiped myself.
“Aw man!” I groaned when I felt how messy I was back there. I dropped the first napkin and when I was bringing my hand back around for another I saw that I had poop on my hand. “Aw man!” I groaned again and tried to wipe it off with one of the napkins.
Mom had given me seven napkins, but when I had used the fifth one I knew that seven wasn’t going to be enough. I tried to make the last two napkins count before resigning to the idea that I was going to have to put up with a slightly soiled, butt crack until we could get to the rest stop.
I carefully pulled up my underwear and then my pants. As I was zipping up my fly I looked down at the lump I’d just deposited and was surprised to see that it wasn’t brown at all, but a kind of bright green. I’d never had green poop before; I’d seen just about every shade of brown come out of me including light tan, and a brown so dark it looked black, but never did I drop a green dookie. In a warped and disgusting sort of way it was kind of pretty.
Once I had my belt refastened I climbed out of the ravine and made my way back to the car. With each step I could feel my, butt cheeks sliding around and knew that I’d not even come close to getting myself cleaned up.
I was careful to sit down when getting back into the car. It didn’t feel all squishy so I guess maybe it wasn’t that bad.
As I was closing the door I sniffed the hand I’d wiped with and nearly retched.
“Can we still stop at the rest area ahead?” I asked while fastening my seatbelt and trying to touch it as little as possible.
I was so glad when Mom didn’t ask any questions.
At the rest stop I first washed my hands then found an empty stall. I pulled my pants back down and…
“Aw man!” I groaned when I saw the heavy brown racing strip I’d left in my underwear.
It took six more wipes before my crack was clean, but it wouldn’t stay that way once I pulled my underwear back up. Not knowing what else to do I decided that I’d just take off my underwear and leave them there in the stall for some poor unfortunate soul to find once I had gone.
Feelings of relief and mild pride filled me for how I’d handled that whole situation. I went back to the car and with that emergency behind me I returned to sulking as we headed back to the road again. Though it was such a horrible feeling to be leaving behind everything and everyone I ever knew, Mom and John still managed to make the long drive … dare I say it … enjoyable.
Grandpa Gains had wired Mom the money needed to get us moved and a bit extra so that we could stay the night at a couple motels along the way. Over the past year Mom had become very creative when it came to stretching a dollar so why should this trip be any different. The first night we slept in the car at a highway rest stop. For supper we cooked hotdogs on a tiny round grill.
There was this little Mexican woman traveling with her short round Mexican husband and he had a mustache nearly as big as he was. They were driving a pickup truck with plywood sides around the bed and filled with more watermelons then I had ever seen in one place before. They pulled into the rest stop while we were eating our hotdogs. The man didn’t speak English at all, but the woman did, kind of. They asked if they could use our tiny grill and to say thank you, they gave us two of their watermelons. I don’t know what it was they cooked on our grill, however I can tell you that whatever it was, it smelled terrible, but boy that watermelon was soooo juicy and yummy! Those watermelons were so big that we had watermelon almost every night of our trip.
When it was time to sleep John spread a blue plastic tarp over the back seat and then covered it with a sheet for me to sleep on while he and Mom cuddled together in the front seat.
DAY TWO ON THE ROAD
The following morning I washed up using one of the sinks in the rest stop bathroom while John cooked us some sausages and toast on the tiny charcoal grill. I never really thought about it before, but cooking toast on the tiny grill was actually kind of cool.
I didn’t know at the time, but the reason we slept at the highway rest stop was so that we’d have enough money to visit the Grand Canyon. I could hardly believe it when we got to take a donkey ride down into the canyon. The only part I didn’t like was when the guide said that since I was so young I would have to use a kiddy saddle. The saddle turned out to be a lot like an infant’s car seat only bigger and I didn’t get to steer my donkey either. The guide tied my donkey to my mom’s. I felt kind of stupid, but still it was really cool. But the next day I was the only one out of the three of us that wasn’t complaining about how sore they were. Mom and John both said that their, butts and legs were killing them after sitting on those hard saddles for so long. The kiddy saddle I had to use had been padded on the bottom, back and sides so I was feeling just fine.
If I had to choose between the first night and the second night as to which was better I’d have to say that the second night was better hands down! John had found a place for us to camp a little ways off the highway where there was no traffic or people around for miles. There was even a small pond that the three of us got to swim in together. Afterward for the first time in longer than I can remember, John got out his guitar. It had been so long that I had forgotten that he even had a guitar. I had a short moment of bitterness well up inside of me when I thought about the fact that he’d been willing to sell our surfing gear, but not his guitar. However that feeling didn’t stick around too long.
While John was strumming out the notes to Stairway to Heaven we began to hear something. I had never actually heard the sound of horses galloping so at first I was feeling maybe a little concerned, but then from out of the bushes emerged two horses with riders. Actually one of the horses wasn’t really a horse, it was a pony. I’m not sure what the difference is other than size. The horse was tan with a black mane and tail; and I know that saying tan is a fairly broad statement; well, it was darker then sand and lighter than dirt? Does that help? The pony was all black, but its main and tail seemed blacker then its body and shinier too.
There was an older teenaged girl riding the horse. She looked like she might be Mexican with bushy dark hair and I know it isn’t a nice thing to say, but the one thing I noticed about her above all, was her enormous nose. I had never seen a nose that big except in cartoons. She smiled and steered her horse wide to keep from trotting right through our campsite.
“Oh sorry, we didn’t know anyone would be back here.” She said and then called back to the other rider, “Carlos, go left.”
Following several paces behind the horse was the pony and her rider, a boy maybe six years old, but I’m not really sure because of what he was wearing or perhaps I should say because of what he wasn’t wearing. He didn’t have on a shirt or pants, but he wasn’t nude either. He was wearing a disposable diaper, lime green socks and light brown ankle high lace up boots.
When the girl had called back for him to steer clear of us he said back to her in a whiney voice, “I see 'em! I’m not blind!” He sounded older then he looked.
They both stopped between the pond and us to talk for a few minutes. The girl told us that if we walked back the way they had just come, about ten minute or so there were wild berries.
The boy added, “Make your tongue turn purple too.” And then proved it by sticking out his tongue for us all to see.
I got the feeling that the boy wasn’t exactly normal; like maybe he had some sort of slight mental handicap. However I could be wrong about that.
After the boy and girl left, Mom and John decided they wanted to go look for those wild berries. They asked me if I wanted to come along too, but I decided that I wasn’t up for a nature hike. My idea of being one with nature has to do more with water and less with trees and bushes.
“I’ll stay here and keep the bears away.” I joked.
I think maybe them wandering off alone turned out to be a good thing because when they came back they were holding hands and laughing. I’d not seen them do that in … well longer then I can remember.
In the later hours of the evening, when the sun was getting low in the sky, Mom showed me how to make a three pronged spear and then taught me how to go frog spearing. That night I got to see what frog legs taste like when cooked over an open fire. Mom said I had them before when I was real little, but I don’t remember that. You know, they are kind of like chicken wings only without all the spices and barbeque sauce.
You know something else; in all my life I never knew that my mom used to be a tomboy when she was a little girl. It’s kind of funny the stuff you can learn about the people that you thought you knew everything about.
It was such a good clear night that the three of us slept under the stars in our sleeping bags. At first I wasn’t too happy with that idea because I didn’t want any snakes or scorpion climbing into my sleeping bag while I slept, but John said to make sure I zipped up my bag all the way and I wouldn’t have that problem.
DAY THREE ON THE ROAD
The following morning I had a hard time figuring out if I had wet in my sleeping bag during the night because everything was wet from the dew that had accumulated over night. Even Mom and John woke up to find that their sleeping bag was wet.
We got a late start that morning because Mom wanted to hang our bedding up to dry so that we wouldn’t have to sleep on wet things the following night. It wouldn’t have mattered to me because I am use to having to sleep with wet sheets.
While John made breakfast I was sent to go swimming in the pond again because Mom said I smelled like a barn. I think I said something smart back, but I can’t remember now what it was. Boy that water was the perfect temperature too.
Once we started out again we only went about a half hour before we stopped for two reasons, the first was because the car was acting up and also because we’d reached our next planned destination. We were going to see the Aztec Ruins in New Mexico. That was actually really cool because they let you climb all over the Ruins.
It was, while climbing to the top of a rather tall structure, that I met Matt, Willey, and Luke who were also making the climb. They were my age and strangely, they were triplet brothers. The strange part was that they didn’t look anything alike. They didn’t even look related. Matt was a bit chubby with dark brown hair that was longer in the back than the front or sides. He must be either adventuresome or accident prone because his darker toned skin was covered in scrapes, booboos, and Band-Aids. He also had the largest eyes I have ever seen on another human. Willey was the tallest of all three, and had hair which was cut so short that it was impossible to tell its color. He also had an almost orange color to his skin, sort of like the tourists who would use those sunless tanning creams in hopes of looking like they had been living in California all their lives. And lastly there was Luke, the shortest and skinniest of the three who had similarly colored hair to Matt, but had a cowlick so pronounced that it was almost like looking at the, butt of a chicken the way his bangs sort of radiated out from a single spot on the front of his head. He was also nearly colorless, like he never went outside.
Come to find out they were from California too; however they live in the northern part of the state and were on their way back home. They also weren’t on vacation with their parents; they were with their Scout Troop and were returning from a Scouts Jamboree in Georgia.
After climbing around a while I met some of the others in their troop, but I don’t remember any of their names. It was kind of cool that they were there when we were because I got to hang out with them most of the time. They even invited me to have lunch with them and after begging Mom and John to let me the four of us ran to where their Scout Troop was getting a fire ready.
That is when I met their Scout Master; now his name I can remember for some strange reason! It was Jerry Walker. Jerry was a really cool guy and let me use his Scout knife to make myself a stick to roast a hotdog on. I felt a little sorry for the three scouts that were trying to get the fire going because the other scouts were really giving them a hard time about how long it was taking them. They had been using a piece of flint and the back of a knife. I’d seen Gary do it like that and had tried once, but couldn’t do it.
Now, Gary had showed me this cool way to start a fire with a couple sticks, a shoe lace and a flat rock. After watching those three guys struggling and being razed I asked if they minded if I helped with the fire.
“Ever try using a fire drill?” I asked.
“You know how to use one?” Jerry, their scout master asked with surprise
“Sure, a buddy of mine back home taught me.” I said.
Matt loaned me one of his laces and after about five minutes of both building the bow and working it I had a hot ember. Once I had the ember the other boys who had been trying to start the fire took over. They transferred the ember to the tender bundle and took turns blowing it until it flamed up.
Soon we had a big fire cracking and popping.
“You’d make a good scout!” Luke said.
During lunch I told them how we were headed for Maine and where we had come from. That is when this one kid with really thick glasses and light brown hair, and who’d been one of the fire boys, let out a holler like he’d just sat on the sharp end of his roasting stick or something.
“OH MY GOD! I KNOW WHO YOU ARE!” he shouted, “YOU ARE ALVIN HOLLOWAY!”
Luke piped up, “Uh yeah, I think he said that like twenty minutes ago.”
In California I was use to other kids and even some adults recognizing me when I walked down the street or when we went shopping. Even one time I had this guy who must have been in his twenties corner me in the changing room at the boardwalk while I was trying on pants. He wouldn’t leave until I signed an autograph for him and his girlfriend. However, in New Mexico I wasn’t really expecting anyone to notice who I was, let alone freak out the way that kid was.
“NO GUYS YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND!” The kid squealed again, “HE’S A SURFING LEGEND!”
“Well I wouldn’t go so far as to say legend.” I thought to myself.
“Wait a second!” Willey said yanking on my arm. “You are him, aren’t you?”
Jerry their Scout Master jumped in with, “Well looks like we have a celebrity!”
I was smiling just a little because, to be honest, it felt good and made me not so homesick.
Matt grabbed my other arm and pulled me toward him, “You are THE Alvin Holloway and you didn’t tell us?”
“Come on guys you’re going to pull my arms off!” I said to Luke and Matt who were using me to play tug-o-war. “I am just a regular guy like you guys.”
The kid with the glasses protested, “OH NO YOU’RE NOT!”
Thankfully Jerry came to my rescue. “Alright everyone let’s bring it down a notch or two.”
All through lunch the guys asked me about the competitions and even asked me about some of the other well-known names I’d surfed against.
I finally had an idea and asked them, “Hey would you like to see my new board?”
The kid with the glasses got all excited again. Apparently he was a big fan and probably would have cut off his left ear if I had asked him too.
“YOU HAVE YOUR SURF BOARD WITH YOU RIGHT NOW?” he was screaming like a love struck teenage girl meeting some Hollywood big shot for the first time.
Jerry threw a hotdog bun at the boy and nailed him right in the forehead with deadly accuracy; everyone laughed.
“Well I don’t have it in my pocket if that’s what you mean.” I joked, “But it’s strapped to the roof of our car.”
I think that if I had hesitated standing up they probably would have hog tied me to a long wooden pole and carried me to the car. As though they were beholding the Virgin Mother herself they all stood in awe as John took it down and handed it to me.
“That is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen!” Luke said.
That kid with the glasses was shaking like a leaf and he was so wound up that if he had ripped a fart he probably would have launched himself like an intercontinental ballistic missile.
“Man no one is going to believe we met Alvin Holloway in New Mexico!” one of the other guys said.
“Anyone have a camera?” Mom asked.
What is the motto for the Boy Scouts? Always be prepared? Well they were, because every last one of them had a camera and they all wanted their picture taken with me. So to satisfy everyone I knelt in the middle of the group behind my new board with everyone standing around me while Mom took a picture using each of their cameras.
Afterward we all took off for the ruins again while Jerry and some other guy who I didn’t know where trying to help John figure out what was wrong with our car.
I guess whatever was wrong with the car took a while to fix because as the day drew long and the sun started to drop; Mom, John and I were invited back to the scout’s area where tents had been pitched. We had been invited to join them for a big scout meal of Rock Soup.
Now if you don’t know what Rock Soup is, there is actually a funny story to it.
The war had been long and hard, scarring the countryside, the villages, and the people – both soldiers and citizens. Finally, it was over… though some claimed victory; no one really won except the winter which now held them all prisoner. A lone soldier, trying to return to his far-away home, had wandered through the cold and snow for days. He was tired, but more than that, he was literally starving. At last he came upon a village. He picked a house and knocked on the door. When someone came to answer, the soldier explained his plight and asked for a little something to eat. The little man behind the door shook his head saying that he had a family to feed and they were hungry themselves and they could give him nothing. The soldier pleaded that he would eat any scraps, but the villager again said he had nothing to spare – there were no scraps. This scene was repeated house to house but always the answer was the same. It had been a hard winter and the soldier found that the villagers were all hungry too. The soldier had a thought, and then it somehow formed a plan. He looked about, and spotting something nearby, his eyes brightened. He quickly went off to the nearby woods. Soon, he returned with all the sticks and pieces of wood he could find and built a campfire in the village square. Then he went over to the large, black iron pot resting against the wall of the empty blacksmith shop. Dragging the pot over the fire, he filled it with snow. At this point he had drawn a large crowd of onlookers who stared at him with curiosity. They talked among themselves and wondered what he was going to do with the pot of now-boiling water. Then the soldier ferreted about the ground below the eaves of the villagers’ cottages until he had gathered a dozen or more, smooth, dark stones. He inspected each closely, smelled them individually, sometimes comparing one stone’s fragrance to that of another. When all was done, he had kept only a few. He polished them with snow, wiped them clean, and then placed them gingerly, one by one, into the pot. Now the onlookers were really getting curious --more than that, they were sure the soldier was mad with hunger. The soldier then took a big wooden spoon from his knapsack and began stirring the water in the pot and occasionally taking a taste. “Mmmmmm,” he finally said, “this is the best Rock Soup I have tasted in a long time.” The villagers couldn’t believe their ears. Rock Soup? Surely he was mad! The soldier took one more taste and then said, “This is good soup but it needs something, perhaps a carrot… Yes, that’s it, a little bit of carrot would make it perfect!” An elderly villager stepped forward, looked into the pot, leaned over and inhaled deeply. When he stood up, he closed his eyes and remembered the aromas of soups and stews long gone. The villager paused a moment, then said, “I think I might have a couple of carrots in my cellar, I will bring them.” On his return the carrots were added to the Rock Soup. Again the soldier continued to stir and taste and stir and taste. Finally the soldier said, “This is pretty good Rock Soup, the carrots made it better, but it is still missing something. Perhaps a few onions would make it even better.” No sooner had he said it, than a few villagers scurried off. Upon their return, the soldier was given more than a few onions --but it was a big pot, so in they all went. Again the soldier continued to stir and taste and stir and taste. The soldier said, “This is very good Rock Soup, the carrots and onions made it better, but it is still missing something. Perhaps a few potatoes would make it even better.” He let two or three of those that had drawn near sample the ever-steaming brew, which by now was starting to smell delicious. A good number of villagers bustled off. Upon their return, the soldier was presented with a potato here and a potato there until he had enough to fill the pot. As he let it simmer, others brought bits of this and that to add to the flavor. Tasting it one more time, he exclaimed it was “Perfect!” Starting with the children, everyone had a bowl of this wonderful soup. Everyone in the village exclaimed that it was the best Rock Soup that they had ever eaten and they all ate their fill. “What about neighboring villages?” someone asked. “They are hungry, too.” Saving a rock for themselves, the others were cleaned, placed in baskets, and sent out by messenger.
The soldier’s recipe was attached …
Gather a few local stones …
Clean them well …
Add this stone to them …
I want you to know that I didn’t actually remember that story word for word. For the sake of this, I looked it up at the library on the internet and pasted it in. I mean I got a fairly good memory, but there is no way I could remember it that good.
We ended up having to spend the night at the Aztec Ruins because the car needed some part that wouldn’t be available until the next morning. I found out that while I had been running around all afternoon, the other guy who I never even met had taken John to find the part for our car.
Although the scouts asked me to stay with them, there was zero chance I would accept that invite. They were bummed, but that didn’t stop us from having fun well into the dark.
While sitting around the fire there were songs, stories and lots of laughter.
Saying goodbye that night wasn’t all that hard because I figured I’d see them again in the morning. Only that wasn’t the case.
DAY FOUR ON THE ROAD
The following morning I was surprised to find that the scouts were gone. I had got up early and gone to the public bathroom to wash myself as best I could in a sink. I made a bit of a mess on the floor of the bathroom because I was basically taking a bath. I wanted to be sure all traces of pee was washed off so as not to have my new scout friends get a whiff of me and learn my secret. However, after getting cleaned up and having breakfast with Mom and John, I headed off to the scout camp area. I was so disappointed to find that they had broken camp and hit the road at first light. I didn’t even get to say goodbye to them.
I drug myself back to our car and told Mom that they were gone.
“I’m sorry Alvin.” She said and hugged me.
As it turned out, the part for our car wasn’t going to be available until the next morning. The guy who had helped John work on the car yesterday had moved on too, but John had got a ride into town again with some truck driver. The guy who was supposed to be getting the car part for us felt so bad that the part was taking longer to get then what he said yesterday. Knowing we were basically stuck without that part, he went out of his way to help us. He drove John back out to the Ruins in a tow truck and then towed our car into town.
The town was an okay town; I mean there wasn’t really anything unusual about it. There were restaurants, stores, gas stations, and the like. There wasn’t really anything to do in the town, but walk up and down the streets. Mom wouldn’t let me out of her sight the whole time we were there, which wasn’t such a big deal until she drug me into a ladies clothing store. I had to suffer for nearly an hour of mind numbing boredom as Mom looked at clothes and tried on outfits. She ended up not buying anything which seemed to upset the sales lady, though nothing was actually said about that to us.
Before Lunch Mom left me sitting on a metal folding chair inside the service station with orders to not move or go anywhere while she went outside to talk with John. I didn’t think anything of this at the time, but when we three sat down to have lunch I figured out that they must have had an argument because they didn’t say a single word to each other while we ate.
However, thankfully, after lunch we walked across town to a park called Library Park. There was a big fountain in the middle of the park with sidewalks radiating out like the spokes of a wagon wheel. There were kids about half my age playing in and around the fountain while parents sat on benches watching. It was at the park that I was finally allowed to run around and enjoy myself.
OK, I need to rewind just a bit because something was happening on the way to Library Park that has impact on what happened when we were actually at the park.
We had stopped in front of this store front window looking at the display inside. I’m not sure if it was just something to celebrate or as a memorial for past police officers of the town. There was one of those old-time looking wooden desks, but it was only half of the desk that was sort of coming out of the wall with half a chair too. There was an old style phone with one of those dial kind of things on the front of it. All together it looked like someone had taken an old police desk and belongings and displayed them there in the window as though it was an actually police station. It was sort of like looking through a window into the past.
It was while looking at the window display that I first noticed this kid. I saw his reflection in the glass. He was across the street, sitting atop an overturned metal trash can and smoking a cigarette. I turned and looked over to him. From his reflection I had noticed he had been looking right at us, but when I turned he was now looking down at the curb. He was about my size, but seemed kind of older; maybe it was because of the cigarette. I didn’t think a whole lot about him at the time, but when I saw him again a couple blocks away from that spot I paid him more attention.
The second time I noticed him he was now leaning against a parked, powder blue, pickup truck’s tailgate and was lighting another cigarette using the previous one.
He wore a wide, horizontal striped green and white shirt that was so long that it almost covered his cutoff blue-jean shorts. The short sleeves of his shirt were rolled up and the right sleeve appeared to have a pack of cigarettes rolled up in it. His hair was dark, shiny and parted to one side like the guys in that old television show, Happy Days.
Mom and John were talking about this store called The Lemon-Drop Cupboard. It wasn’t open, but the inside looked like an old country kitchen that was decorated over the top with Lemon themed items. I’m not sure what the purpose of that store was, but it seemed kind of ‘little-town’ cute, but I wasn’t paying it near as much attention as my parents.
I had noticed the boy leaning on the truck, but he didn’t seem to be paying a bit of attention to us. Then again, why had he moved two blocks up the road with us? I watched him intently and not once did he look our way.
When Mom distracted me by taking my hand as they started moving again I lost interest in the boy for the time being.
“Alvin, look at that?” John said while pointing to a big red motorcycle mounted to the side of a building. The building had been painted in such a way to make it look like the road we were walking on turned and went straight up into the air. It was like the earth had been folded right in half.
“Whoa! That’s gnarly!” I said.
“Oh there is even a real looking fire hydrant.” Mom noticed.
We continued on to Library Park and were within sight of it when I again saw that same kid. He was half a block behind us and now on our side of the street. He was sort of hanging from a street lamp post; one foot was on the concrete base that the metal lamp post was mounted too and one hand clung to the pole while the rest of him just hung out in the air. He had a lit cigarette hanging out of his mouth and another tucked behind his ear.
When he saw that I had spotted him again he quickly dismounted and turned away from us. To say my curiosity was peaked would be an understatement.
“John,” I said while pointing to the back of the kid as he strolled slowly away from us, “You see that kid?”
“What about him?” John asked.
“He’s been following us.” I said.
Mom then said, “This is a small town and I am sure they don’t get a lot of strangers here all that often. He’s probably just curious about us.”
We entered the park and went right to the fountain where several kids were playing in the water and splashing a lot. Mom went over, stuck her hand in the water and then flicked the water into her own face to refresh herself.
When I wasn’t looking John grabbed me from behind and pretended that he was going to push me into the water.
“HEY!” I shouted and resisted.
He simply laughed and let me go.
I spun on him and shot my meanest face at him which seemed to only feed his laughter as he quickly pulled Mom between us.
“Save me honey!” he laughed.
Mom squealed, laughed, and swatted him away as if trying to shoo away a gnat.
The two of them went over and sat down on a park bench while I stepped up to the fountain. In one quick move I dunked my head all the way in. I stayed under the cool, refreshing water for as long as I could before pulling my head out and shaking off the excess water.
I could hear Mom applauding behind me and John shouted over, “That-a-boy!”
As I was running my hands through my hair, feeling the water drip down and soak my shirt I saw that same kid all the way across the park. He was near the entrance of the library, partially concealed behind the bike rack which was full of bicycles.
I turned and walked over to my parents where I shook my head like a dog, splashing them both.
“OH ALVIN!” Mom cried out.
John tried to reach out and grab me, but I jumped away too fast. Laughing, I ran off to explore the park.
“Yeah, I know where you’re sleeping tonight boy!” John shouted after me.
You might be asking yourself, after being so over protective earlier, why would my mother now allow me to wander so far from her side? I suppose that was because we were at a big, open park where mom could still see me while I ran wild for a while. I image, that the next events would not have transpired had the two of them not got so involved in themselves for a time. But then I would have missed out on a, albeit weird but still cool, mini-adventure.
I was purposefully trying not to let the kid know I was watching him as I moved around the park looking at the statues and sculptures. I’d made my way to the other side of the fountain and with a quick glance toward my parents I saw that they were now deep into conversation and not paying attention to me. I then looked toward the boy who wasn’t looking my way either. Without really thinking what I was doing I took off running as fast and I could around the Library.
I wasn’t sure if I could get around the library to the front entrance where the boy was standing, but I wanted to at least try. The back side of the library, butted up to an alley and parking lot, but there was a sidewalk all the way around. I slowed and turned the last corner and found myself fifteen feet from the back of the kid.
Two girls came out of the library laughing and both looked my way. One of the girls said something that sounded like, “Hi cutie”, but I am not real sure if that is what she said as she was giggling when she said it. The other girl blushed and bumped the other girl as they ran off.
I stepped up behind the boy who was looking back and forth frantically across the park. I could only assume he was trying to figure out where I had gone.
When I reached out and tapped him on the shoulder I think I scared the ever-loving-life out of him.
He spun, spotted me and his eyes went as big as truck tires as he jumped about four feet up and then landed in the bush beside the bike rack.
As it turned out, it was one of those angry bushes with small, hard, pointy leaves sort of like a million serrated knives. I forget what you call that kind of bush, but I see them a lot around Christmas time. Anyway, he fell right into it and though he didn’t make a sound, one look and I knew he was in a heck of a lot of pain.
“Oh boy I am sorry!” I said and I extended a hand to help him out of the bush.
Once on his feet again I could see he wasn’t quite as old looking in person. Maybe that was because his eyes were filled with tears and his once nicely combed hair was now messy and hanging in heavily gelled clumps.
“You alright?” I asked.
He finally spoke, “Gosh dang it! That is the second gosh dang time that gosh dang bush got me!”
He then looked right at me and apologized, “Sorry about that. I ought not to cuss.”
I guess I was giving him a questioning look because when we made eye contact again he blurted out loudly, “What?”
“You smoke, and sneak around spying on strangers, and you won’t even cuss right?” I asked.
He suddenly became red as a snapper fish. I mean it! He was so embarrassed by what I had said to him.
His eyes drop to the ground and he mumbled out, “Sorry 'bout watching you. That were wrong and I shouldn’t a done it.”
“Heck fire! I ain’t even told you who I am.” He said.
He stuck out his shaking hand and said, “Name’s Kyle-Lee Doctavio, but everyone calls me Kyle 'round these parts.”
I took his hand and couldn’t help but notice how soft and weak his grip felt. It was like trying to shake hands with a rubber-man.
“You don’t sound like you are from here.” I observed.
He shook his head, “Oh no! From out east Ohio way. Stay’n with my Uncle 'n Aunt here. Been for pert-near a year.”
He then said, “The whole time I been here, y’all are the first people I seen that weren’t from 'round here.”
“Really?” I exclaimed while realizing that we were still shaking hands.
“My names Alvin, Alvin Holloway.” I said.
“Pleasure t’meet ya Alvin, Alvin Holloway.” He said with a crooked smile.
I broke the hand shake and he again blushed real red.
He reached up and pulled the cigarette from behind his ear and started to put it in his mouth when he changed his mind and held it out to me.
“Ya smoke?” he asked.
I shook my head. “Can’t stand the smell of them.”
“Oh?! Yeah, I-I should probably stop anyhow!” He said as he gave the unlit cigarette a flick into the street; which was a good twenty feet from where we were standing.
“So you here for a visit?” I asked.
He again blushed and I knew I had asked something that touched on a tender nerve.
He started to act uncomfortable as he said, “Not really. Folks sent me out here 'cause I got in a bit a trouble back home.”
“A L V I N?!”
I heard John calling my name and quickly moved around the overloaded bike rack to have a straight shot back into the park. Oddly, when I moved, Kyle stayed right with me. It was almost like he was scared I was going to get away from him.
I threw my hand in the air and waved it about, “OVER HERE!”
“ALRIGHT! JUST CHECKING FOR YOU!” he said as he sat himself back down beside Mom.
“That your pa and ma o’er there?” Kyle asked.
I didn’t mean to chuckle as I said, “Yeah.”
“I say somethin’ funny?” He asked.
“Oh sorry, no. I have just never heard anyone call them pa and ma before.”
He looked a bit offended.
“I didn’t mean that to sound like a bad thing. I actually like the way you talk.” I said.
“I like the way you talk too. You sound like you’re from a movie I once saw about a bunch of surf’n guys.”<br