Wednesday, July 16, 2008

"Peter And The Dead Men" - Page 1


Five days after leaving California, Peter Normal was about to see his new home for the first time.

He hated it already.

Peter sat in the front seat of his mom’s beat-up Honda, his forehead pressed to the window, and watched the small town of Duskerville go by. It was so different from what he was used to. A two-lane road that stretched through miles and miles of forest, broken occasionally by a farm or clump of houses. The actual town itself had seven blocks of shops, five stoplights, two grocery stores, and one movie theater. Peter knew because he had counted them all.

Most of the storefronts looked old, like something out of black and white television shows. Leave It To Beaver or Andy Griffith. Not many people were out. A few men in short-sleeve shirts, a woman in a flowered dress. And a tall, strange man in a black suit and hat, with an ancient face and grizzled beard. Who was also carrying a pitchfork.

Curiously, nobody on the street seemed freaked out by that.

This was nothing like California. There, it was buildings and condos and malls stacked up against each other as far as the eye could see. Lots of people, lots of traffic, lots of excitement.

No guys with pitchforks.

“But what about my friends?” Peter had complained when his mother first told him they were moving.

“You’ll make new friends, honey,” Mom said.

“What is there to do there?”

“Well, it’s really close to the ocean.”

So far, the only water Peter had seen was the thunderstorm they’d driven through two days ago.

As upset as he was to leave his friends behind, Peter never griped again about moving. He didn’t want to make this any harder for Mom than it already was. She tried to hide it from him and his little sister Beth, but she was having a really tough time.

But Peter knew; he’d known for awhile. She had lost her job as a legal assistant when her boss retired five months ago, and she hadn’t had any luck getting a new one that paid enough. They lived in a two-room apartment in not-that-great a neighborhood. Beth slept in the bedroom with his mom, and Peter slept on a fold-out couch in the den. Daycare for his sister was expensive during the school year. During the summer, Peter had to watch his two-and-a-half year-old sister (which was a lot like fighting World War III over and over again every day) while Mom went out on interviews. But school was starting soon, and she still didn’t have a job. Sometimes, late at night, he could hear his mother crying softly in the bathroom where she didn’t think anybody could hear her.

Before he could get too sad, Mom’s voice yanked him out of daydream world and back to the here and now. “Beth, you have to take off your bathing suit now, we’re going to meet your grandfather.”

“No!” his sister yelled from her toddler seat in the back of the car. All around her was piled the junk they’d brought from California – suitcases, Mom’s computer, boxes of toys.

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Copyright © 2008 Darren Pillsbury. All rights reserved.

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