BLOODBROTHERS, by Michael Vines
Growing up in a 1950's Southern California post-war housing neighborhood
It seemed there was never a shortage of metal roller skates laying around when you needed them. Or discarded wooden orange crates for that matter. The thick, hard-sided ones. Not those flimsy, lightweight crates you find today. And a good piece of one by six lumber appropriated for the day's skateboard project. It wasn't going to be a run-of-the-mill skateboard, but a super-deluxe bugger with a kid-riding crate on the front end. And if it works out, a rope-activated steering pivot for added maneuverability.
Santos Jr. and I had known each other since we were three when our parents moved to Fullerton, California in the early1950's. Our endeavors spanned the gambit of fort and skateboard manufacturing, to building exploration and hiking to the beach by ourselves on a hot summer day, which was a considerable task from the suburbs to the Pacific Coast Highway. It was like that back then. No fear. And our parents lived with complete confidence knowing we'd be back before suppertime. And we always were. It was a time of moral responsibility that was equally practiced by society as a whole. And we all depended on it. But we also had great role models such as John Wayne, Charlton Heston and Roy Rodgers. I loved Santos Sr. as much as my own father, and other nationalities eventually moved into the neighborhood who exemplified a solid patriotism, moral responsibility, dignity and love for America. The war had brought a fine gathering of the middle-class together in Southern California who happily lived, coexisted and treasured their moments by the celebration of God, family and country.
It wasn't until much later when we graduated to the solid, hard rubber roller-rink quality wheels for our creations, but that didn't stop our progress. First came the modification of Santos' sister's skates which required the easy removal of the shoe mounts, then the mounting to the board, which took several bent-over nail heads to affix them. With that accomplished we were ready for the final assembly of our prototype vehicle. After carefully eye-balling the center of the crate over the top of the skateboard, a couple ten-penny nails (nuts and bolts came a couple years later) were driven into the crate and through the skateboard. We knew better to hammer over the protruding nails underneath for safety purposes. With that accomplished, Santos eagerly crawled inside the orange crate while I took the helm. I awkwardly gripped the top of the orange crate with both hands and gleefully shoved off on our maiden voyage.
The only problem with growing up in Southern California is that everything is flat. Unless you wanted to traverse the roller-coaster roads of Hillcrest Park in downtown Fullerton, which was well within our radius of exploration, you'd have to make due with the neighborhood streets to road test your creations. Which was just as well since it wasn't long before one of those evil little stones, which have been tripping up kid's skateboards for generations, slipped under a metal skate wheel and caused us to tumble head over heels! Santos landed on top of his father's lush ivy bed from the weight of me crashing into, and bursting, the orange crate. We both shook our heads a couple of times, then took assessment of our wounds. I got stabbed in the side by a piece of the shattered orange crate and Santos ended up with a golf ball sized knot on his forehead. We had both sustained some pretty good scrapes and lacerations; a surprising amount of damage from such a minor fall. But it was kinda neat.
I looked at our sorrowful state and it dawned on me that now would be a good time to reenact that old Indian custom (we believed) of a blood oath. We were the best of friends, and what the heck, we were already bleeding, so now was as good a time as any. We pressed our punctured forearms together, then we both swore, “With this flow of blood we are now brothers!” A great deal of laughter followed.
We took a dip in his family's Doughboy pool to wash and sterilize our wounds, then we laid out, heads down, on a hot summer sidewalk to dry off. A therapeutic childhood ritual.
Dad put a stack of his Billy Vaughn records on the HiFi in the living room while BBQueing steaks outside on the patio to entertain family and friends. He slid open the glass double doors so the two alto saxophones singing, “Sail Along Silv'ry Moon” could be heard throughout the neighborhood!
Life was pretty good.
Michael Vines is a freelance writer who lives in South-Central Kentucky. His "Slice of Life" essays have been published in statewide newspapers and Amazon Kindle ("Ain't Life Peachy")
Leave a Reply.
HalfHourToKill.Com is a literary website publishing authors of Flash Fiction and Short Stories in the genres of Fantasy, Horror and Noir. Feel free to submit your Fiction, Poetry and Non-Fiction work to us year round.
Site powered by Weebly. Managed by SiteGround