Before The Boom

from As It Were

These were the days, before the boom, before it was all more connected, as they say. Hard to believe we knew the world before. The boys were in the pocket and found each other, or else they didn’t, and this happened every so often, too. There was an April evening…

Jesy and Maggie were out by the water, stargazing from the truckbed and listening to her father’s jazz CDs, squinting at liner notes and quizzing each other on the personnel. Oscar had driven across the bay to visit Cora at her mother’s commune in Berkeley. Tony was shooting a film with Rex in the condemned and abandoned high school building. Shane had ballet class, and then would likely meet up with Ace to canoe the canals with a stockpile of water balloons.

At the witching hour they reconvened, slipping from the street lights into a caliginous state beneath the oaks, and silently the game began. Throughout the park — from the old wooden play structure to the dark of the padlocked Japanese Tea Garden — they engaged in great contests of their collaborative creation. To restless passersby, it was a vision of specters and shadow dancers, phantoms dropping from trees and emerging from the dark of the koi pond. Indeed, this was how it appeared to Abby Shaw. Jesy had invited her if she could manage to duck curfew, intending to sneak into a downtown rooftop pool after the game, but when the rains came they devised Plan B.

The Flamingo was an historic moviehouse that showed adult features down by the railroad yard in Manzana. At any given hour, you might spy a model citizen duck in after a quick glance over his shoulder. My grandmother and the older ladies from the church took regular bus trips to gamble in Reno — but when it came to The Flamingo, it was their common bête noire, and they were zealous in their support of measures to demolish it and make way for condominiums, condominiums to deliver their men from evil and steady their marriages, to cleanse their good town of this pestilential ungodliness. It was rumored that the features were exceedingly twisted, but since none of the boys had ever managed to get inside, the degree of depravity remained unknown.

Bob Reeves sat behind the counter with a Miller High Life and mixed nuts. He sighed. Welp, better get the next one goin’. He did nearly everything there was to do at The Flamingo on his own. He had an assiduous Salvadoran around to clean the bathrooms and sweep the floors and wipe down the vinyl seats at closing, but he did everything else there was to do on his own. Business just ain’t what it used to be. He sighed again, and had just gotten to his feet when a young man breezed into the lobby, tousled and sopping wet. Jesy stood tall and steadied himself before stepping to the counter, in the formidable shadows cast by the vintage beauties prodding him from the walls.

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Wordslinger, song-and-dance man, flâneur, world citizen, and general ne’er do well, starting anew on Medium. For more info: https://medium.com/@justmckee/about

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Justin McKee

Justin McKee

Wordslinger, song-and-dance man, flâneur, world citizen, and general ne’er do well, starting anew on Medium. For more info: https://medium.com/@justmckee/about