Wednesday January 12th, 2011

The exercise:

Tell us a story about: the newspaper boy.

Finally bought a towel rack for the bathroom this morning. Haven't actually installed it yet, but at least there's one in the house. Chopped some more wood this afternoon, otherwise took things pretty slow. It's that time of year.

I also got around to adding some pages to the blog. If you look over to the left, you'll see a new section for Writing Quotes and a Contact Me page. I'll probably add one or two more pages in the next few days. That's the plan, at any rate.

Mine:

The ink-stained cloth bags were full to bursting as he heaved them onto his shoulders, one after the other. He wore them like saddlebags, their straps criss-crossing across his chest and back. I wasn't sure if they weighed more than he did or not, but it must have been pretty close.

I watched him shuffle away, his shoes scraping across the pavement. I could see the straps biting into his shoulders but he didn't complain, didn't even wince in pain. He just wanted to get to the first house on his route so that he could start lightening his load, one paper at a time.

Mr. Allen would probably yell at him for being late. Mrs. Henderson would likely have her vicious dog loose in the yard. The Anderson's were guaranteed to have left their gate locked, forcing him to clamber over it in order to leave their paper in their mailbox. And not a one of them would appreciate the poor kid and what he went through to bring them their daily news.

Nope, the job really hadn't changed much in the years since I had done it.

7 comments:

Greg said...

Ooh, more pages to read! I like the quotes you've picked out, particularly the Stephen King one at the top.
I remember being a newspaper boy too, and though I never had the locked gate problem, much of the rest of your tale brings back memories!

The newspaper boy
"Vince?"
"Yes Dave?"
"What are you doing?"
"Tying this rope to that tree, Dave. Why are you whispering?"
"Because this end of that rope is tied to this tree and that means that the rope stretches across the path. It looks like you're setting a trap, Vince, so I'm trying not to scare the prey off."
"Nice one, Dave. It's victim though, not prey."
"What?"
The newspaper boy's bicycle whizzed round the corner, the wheels clacking as the spokes struck brightly coloured plastic attachments, hit the rope and threw the lad over the handlebars. Vince caught him.
"Victim, Dave. Not prey. I'm not going to eat him, he's just unlucky. Now, go and get the paper."
"What?"
"Get the paper, Dave. From the bag on the back of his bike. The Financial Times."
Vince waved a hand in front of the newspaper boy's face, and his eyes followed it. Vince sighed, and clipped the lad behind one ear, stunning him. He laid him down on the ground, and untied the rope.
"Here's your paper, Vince."
Vince grunted, and they left, the newspaper boy slowly recovering next to his bike and wondering what had happened.

Zhongming said...

Marc - Excellent additional pages and i love those quotes, it kind of motivates me :)

That was some fantastic descriptions, very befitting of the newspaper boy. That level of understanding is superb!

Greg - You totally pulled me in. that was quite breathtaking!

---

The newspaper boy

“Oh crap time to wake up again!” as Jerry reach for his alarm clock beside his bed and its 4am in the morning. That’s the life of the newspaper boy. He has to sleep early and wake up early.

At 4.30am after his breakfast, he’s gone with the wind. He puts on his sneakers, windbreaker and his helmet then hops onto his scramble bike, fire it up and boom!

Usually he’s the first to arrive at the newsletter followed by the Eric, the man who delivers all the juicy newspaper of “New City Times”. And did I say that he’s an owl? Eric is on night shift.

Once Jerry got hold of his 500 copies of newspaper, it’s time to deliver and distribute. The truth is that you’ve got to be fast, agile and accurate. These are the three fundamental requirements. In short, you’ve got to have excellent stamina, fitness and highly motivated every day. Jerry knew that the job was tougher than anything else that he’d tried before.

He used to be a lazy bugger that drink everyday and only sleep after he got drunk. Nothing can stop him from drinking at night. Addicted to alcohol, I would say. And he has been in that state for many years. He drinks to forget about the incident that happened years ago.

It all started with his in-law. They tried every ways and means to gain access to their family wealth. It was only a matter of time before they found out about his dark secret, intimate photos of him and his lovers. That left his wife with little choice but to divorce him and she left together with his two adorable twins baby boy.

That’s how Jerry started to drink and eventually addicted to alcoholic drinks. I was pretty surprised when he approaches me for a job and didn’t mind working as the newspaper boy.

dumbricht said...

Just found your blog - thanks for the exercise.

The Newspaper Boy

The entrance to the secret passage was usually overgrown by mid-Summer. No one maintained it. I would have missed it many times if not for the red X spray painted by Brian Malloy three years earlier. The X was extremely faded and would most likely be invisible in another year. I should probably freshen up the paint, but I would pass the paper route onto an unsuspecting fifth grader before it was gone.

I squeezed through the two trees that acted like gates and stepped up the small worn dirt hill. It was more cliff than hill, and was nearly impossible to climb when weighed down by a bag full of Sunday papers. Grass as high as my waist filled the yard. Pieces of metal, machine parts of some kind, were strewn about. My friends and I discussed rummaging through the discarded bits, in search of treasure. I believed then and I believe now, that the only treasure I would have found was tetanus.

I feared everything about this place. I feared the copperheads that must surely be lurking in the grass. I feared the kidnappers who must be camped somewhere in the back. But, most of all, I feared “The Man” “The Man” is the only name I had for the inhabitant of 2015 Whitney Avenue. Oh sure, he gave a name to the newspaper company, but there is no way it was his real name. I never believed he actually lived there. How could he.

Paint peeled from the house, garbage was everywhere. I would only see the man when I knocked to collect money. Every two weeks was the due date. Sometimes I would wait eight, telling my mother that no one was home when I tried to collect. Nonetheless, I made the trek every day. Although I will admit, there were three times I failed to deliver this man’s paper. Each time I had let my fear spin even wilder stories. “He would kidnap me, torture me, kill me.” But, he never did. The most he ever did was mildly berate me, or at least grumble, when I asked him for the fees for eight weeks of newspapers.

This day was a little different. The sun shone, but it was brutally cold. One of those horrible early March days much closer to Winter than Spring. I approached his door and saw yesterday’s newspaper still where I had placed it. The previous day’s was there as well. The man must be on vacation and neglected to tell the newspaper company. I looked at the cracked window on the second floor and the broken screen door that I normally stuffed the paper through. I suddenly remembered that the man had asked me to knock on his door every day just to make sure he was alive. Some days he would answer with a yell of “Ok”, some days nothing. I placed the paper on top of the one from the day before. I knocked. No answer. I knew there wouldn’t be.

morganna said...

Alex stumbled through the dark, tossing newspapers onto porches. He had forgotten his flashlight again, and none of his customers had remembered to leave the porch lights on. Again. Not that he really blamed them. Who would want to get up a couple hours early just to turn on the porch light, or have a higher bill from leaving it on all night? As he tripped over yet another mound of new-fallen snow, Alex found himself wishing it wasn't quite so dark in Idaho in the winter.

Helle Kristine Tumbridge said...

@Marc: Liking the new quotes. Good old Mark Twain. And I do hope your poor paperboy finished as quickly as possible.

@Greg: You have a dark vein running through you that makes a girl like me smile.


On Monday, the paperboy pressed on down the street where the big dog lived. Last house on the left side, it would be waiting in the front garden as always, coat black as the early morning sky. Today, the moon shone brightly through the cold air, and he knew the silver light would dance on those big, sharp, white teeth. The dog would be easier to see, but no less terrifying.

The paperboy was small for his age, making the Great Dane seem all the larger. As he neared the house, he began to tremble and was sure the dog could smell his fear. He inched his way towards the gate. It wasn’t so much a bark that caused him to fall backwards onto the pavement, more a rumbling explosion that seemed to make the entire terrace shudder. The boy scrambled up in a panic, hurled a newspaper in the vague direction of the front door, did the same for the next two houses, and then paused to take a breath.

On Tuesday, the sky was cloudy and devoid of any lunar light. The paperboy pressed on down the street where the big dog lived. This time, when he neared the last house on the left, he realised the street-lamp which loomed overhead was not working. As he shuffled forward, he peered into the darkness. Nothing seemed to stir beyond the garden wall. Lulled into a false sense of security, the boy paused to slide his hand into his bag and take out a newspaper. As his hand closed around the folded print, a giant mass jumped up from the other side of the wall, and caused him to fall backwards onto the pavement. Resting its front paws on the top of the wall, the big dog barked, and the houses juddered. The paperboy hastily gathered up his spilt newspapers, and threw one in the vague direction of the front door, and ran.

On Wednesday, the weekend still seemed far away, and with a heavy heart, the paperboy pressed on down the street where the big dog lived. But this time, before reaching the gate, he took his mobile phone out of his pocket. Perhaps a friend’s familiar voice would subdue his nerves. As he closed in on the last house, he punched a number into the phone, not noticing the footsteps behind him. A much larger body slammed into him from behind, and he fell forwards onto the pavement with a thud. The body on top of him barely had time to say, “Give me your phone!” before a black shadow of monstrous proportions launched itself over the garden wall, baying like a hound from hell. The body screamed in terror, leapt to its feet and ran. The big black dog gave chase as far as the corner, before returning to the paperboy who was quivering on the ground. He sniffed the boy’s head, and licked the boy’s face with one large, wet sweep of his pink tongue. The lights were now on in the last house on the left. A man came down the path and out of the gate,

“Are you alright, son?” he extended his hand and pulled the boy to his feet. Dazed, the paperboy brushed the grit off of his coat,

“Someone tried to take my phone,” he glanced nervously to the Great Dane sitting beside him, “But your dog scared him away.” The man smiled and patted the dog’s head,

“Well, Ben can be very protective over people he likes. Come on, son, let’s get you inside for a cup of tea, and we can call the police. Come on Ben!”

The big black dog wagged his tail, and padded his big black paws into the house.

summerfield said...

wow, lots of good writing tonight. mine, however, is sort of a true story; heard it on the train not too long ago.

-o0o-

the newspaper boy

"I don't want to do this anymore, Dad," Billy says as he pushes his mom's shopping cart down the pavement.

"But I thought you said you wanted to do what I do for a living," his dad says back to him.

"Yeah, but you're making me do all the work! And I don't get paid."

"I'm teaching you," his dad fishes out a paper from the cart, rolls it up and throws it at the porch of the house, "how money is earned, so you'd learn to spend wisely."

Billy continues to push the shopping cart, its little wheels wobbly from the weight of the thick dailies. Two boys, in hockey uniforms, walk past them, lugging their large hockey bags and hockey sticks that make them almost trip. The end of one hockey stick hits Billy's cart and then his leg.

"Look at those bastards," his dad says. "All they know is play hockey, they wouldn't know how hard life is because their parents protect them by sending them to hockey camps." He throws another paper at another house's balcony. He misses and the paper scatters about on the steps. He continues to walk while Billy pauses, torn between going back and put the paper properly or just continue on.

Then his dad walks back and puts his arm around Billy's neck and musses his hair with his other hand. "But us, we're going camping in three days time, how's that, huh?"

Billy looks back at the two boys with their hockey gears as they blended in the darkness behind them.

"I'd rather go play hockey," he mutters under his breath.

Marc said...

Greg - yeah, I'm currently reading On Writing and that line struck home for me.

Delivering newspapers was my first job. I'm glad I didn't run into Dave and Vince during the course of my duties :)

Zhongming - interesting take on the prompt. I liked how he was willing to start back at the bottom on his road to recovery.

Dumbricht - and thank you for sharing your take on it :)

Wonderful descriptions throughout, it really brought me into the story. A grim but very nicely handled ending.

Morganna - ah, the poor neglected newspaper boy. It's good honest work though!

Helle - yeah, that Twain fellow was quite quotable.

Loved the progression of your story. Was not expecting it to end the way it did :)

Summerfield - haha, I can relate to that kid. Work is work, play is play, and at that age... play is always better :)