Below is an excerpt from the first draft of the book I’m currently working on. Note that this is only a first draft, the names may be changed to protect the guilty, and it’s a kids book, nothing like “Murder in Wauwatosa.” That book was nonfiction; the new one is fiction all the way, albeit with many incidents based on real events of my childhood and the childhoods of others who may or may not have grown up in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin.
I’m bandying about titles and place names and people names and such. But the story will focus on a slightly awkward boy whose family moves to a new town. There, he encounters a bully, an unlikely friend, a first romance and a haunted house. I shall attempt to negotiate said boy through all his obstacles in one piece and perhaps allow him to mature just a teeny little bit along the way.
Standing a foot or so to my left was a roly, poly boy, a little shorter than I was, with glasses and a shirt with horizontal stripes that looked like they used to be fairly colorful and was about two sizes too small for him. He had a couple books clutched to his chest. And they weren’t school books either. They were books you read for fun.
“He’s actually Clark Ludington the third,” the boy deadpanned. “He’s named for his grandpa and his dad.”
“That make sense, since he’s ‘the third,’” I said, rolling my eyes in a slightly different way than when I rolled them a minute before. This was more like a rolling of the eyes that said “Well, duh! I know that.”
“Oh, yeah,” the boy said, forcing out a little “ha ha” afterward.
He took a step back from me and was about to move away, when I stopped him by introducing myself.
“I’m Donnie Hart. I just moved here.”
I figured if this kid knew who that jerk was, and was willing to tell me about him, he might come in handy. I could pump him for information.
The boy’s eyes opened wide. His slightly chubby cheeks all of a sudden were separated by a big smile, teeth full of braces.
“I’m Warren,” he said with more enthusiasm than I’d heard out of anyone in a long time. “People call me ‘Woody,’ because my last name is Underwood.
“We live on 81st Street. Where do you live? Cause if you live near 81st Street, maybe you can come over sometime.”
He kept talking really fast one sentence after another, like he didn’t want me to give him an answer he didn’t want to hear. I just kind of folded my arms and stared at this boy who others called “Woody” and let him ramble.
“My mom and dad are kind of weird and I have a younger brother. But he won’t bother us. I can make him stay in his room when you come over.”
It’s like this was the first time anybody had ever talked to him and he was going to say each and everything he’s had on his mind since he started bottling everything up in kindergarten. “Go for it, dude,” I thought to myself. “I want to see how long this can go on. Maybe you’ll set a world record.”
“Are you in Mr. Hopper’s class? I’m in Mr. Hopper’s class. He’s kind of weird, but OK for a teacher, I guess. He tells really bad jokes.”
I shook my head.
“Your name’s Donnie, huh? I have an uncle named Don. He’s OK. He makes really good steak on the grill. It’s really good. You should try some sometime.”
Woody paused for a second, only a second, as he went into thought. The silence lasted barely a second or two before he muttered, almost to himself, “Actually, Uncle Don lives kind of far away.”
He immediately launched his monologue in a completely different direction.
“I like bubble gum, but I’m not supposed to have any because I have braces. But sometimes I still chew a little bit. You can do it if you’re real careful to chew in little bites and not blow bubbles. Do you like bubble gum?”
So, there you go. Hopefully, that’s not horrible. And if it is, it can be fixed.