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|You Can't Be Careful On A Skateboard (standard:adventure, 2655 words)|
|Author: G.H. Hadden||Added: Nov 25 2007||Views/Reads: 2037/1191||Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)|
|A 13-year-old bright eyed and bushy haired marvel of energy named Burke has never felt so alive in his whole life until now that he realizes he’s in fact hurtling headlong down Oak Hill Street to his own death—-suicide by skateboard!|
YOU CAN'T BE CAREFUL ON A SKATEBOARD BY G.H. Hadden August 5th 1985, an unlucky day for thirteen-year-old Burke, is turning out to be a scorcher of a day in The Valley. “So hot, the Devil's jealous!” his dad always says, but the fun in the sun is over. The race is on, and he's running for his very life! Burke wish it were all somehow just a bad dream, that if he ran hard enough and the pounding in his chest grew fast enough—-to the point where his legs would simply lock up in cramps and his lungs would be paralyzed, miraculously unable to continue the automatic reflex of taking another breath, then he would simply wake up in a sweat, shaking, scared and wet...but safe and sound in his bed. But no such luck...and if his mind doubted the REALITY of it all, he had only to look back and see the ferocity and determination on the faces of those big kids chasing him. THEY'RE PISSED!!! They're legs are like pistons. They're like four tenacious greyhounds chasing the rabbit, and gaining too with each stride. And of course he knows why they're so pissed—-and it isn't fair...cause he knows better then to pick a fight with kids whose fathers work the hard long swing shifts in the mine just to get the chance at a couple extra bucks more an hour, whose fathers were tough and sometimes mean and their moods swung as wildly as their shifts did. Yesir, coal mining in West Virginia (or anywheres else for that matter) is a tough business these days—-and truth be told, Burke really had nothing to do with it at all. It was all about his father—-who HE was and WHAT he is. Cause that's how it goes in small Appalachian coal towns like Berkshire Lick; in a town where his dad is apt to tell you ”A little Reaganomics has a long way to go.” and ”Round here, the go-go ‘80s means pack your kit an' go.” Round here, everyone knows everyone else, and sometimes grudges borne deep below ground surface on the playground. That's where the chase started: on the playground of Berkshire Middle School at the basketball courts, and it's now making its way down Oak Hill Street fast. The mountain ahead, where his friends are sure to be, is Burke's only refuge. It's neutral ground, wild and free of prejudice. It's getting toward mid Saturday afternoon, when the sun casts long and cruel dog-days-of-summer shadows on everything. Anything not in shadow is golden and green, hence the name Green Valley given to the fertile holler. And if anyone atop the craggy sloping escarpment of tangle brush and broken rocks known as Bald Eagle Knob—-anyone perched about 600 feet above the old Company houses in the low end of town—-if ANYONE at all were watching this boys' footrace play itself out down Oak Hill Street (if maybe Shawn, Gray and Dale were already on the summit doing just that—-peeping down on them with the binocks and rooting for their buddy Burke all the way), then the yardstick by which they'd measure progress to the T intersection with Jezebel Mine Road would be marked off in houses. “Lil' Pink Houses”, was how the faint radio voice of John Cougar Mellencamp put it. Except of course, these houses weren't pink, they were all Company gray—-or maybe more precisely, coal dust off-white. The houses of Oak Hill Street were almost unchanged since Granddaddy's stories of the yellow-dog days of long hot summers past. They dated from the 1920s, when everything in Berkshire Lick was Company owned and operated—-from the General Store to the Savings and Loan. The Virginia & Allegheny built these houses to replace older boarding houses like the ones in The Bottoms. “A concession to the union for the hard-working families of the minors.” his Granddaddy once told him. “They come about after the marchin‘ and fightin' at Blair Mountain, an' all the bloody disturbance in Mingo Click here to read the rest of this story (224 more lines)
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