“Alley Ways”

by David R Moenich

 

    Copyright 1988/2017 David R Moenich

 All Rights Reserved

 

Period Piece. Novelette. Drama, Character Study, Romance, Humor.

Setting: 1965; Wilkinsburg, Pennsylvania, USA

  

Chapter 1

Jeremy stepped onto the uneven, grey, slate sidewalk of Biddle Avenue. Parked by the curb a 1965 Pontiac Tempest idled roughly, catching its breath in the damp, morning air. A cloud of steam and smoke pored from the candy-apple-red sedan’s exhaust pipe, as the 4-barrel Holly carburetor cleared its throats.

Alvin...a tall, beanpole of a boy, was Jeremy's next door neighbor. Lanky and clumsy was Alvin...enjoying being the brightest of the bright had escaped him somehow. Lighting a cigarette, Alvin solemnly and within a degrading tone of voice shouted to Jeremy, "Mornin', Germ, Babe!". With that, Alvin opened the door to his car, spitting a hocker in the air with seeming defiance to the very self-imposed existence in which he had forced himself to live. He popped the clutch in every gear of his 4-speed, Hurst stick-shift  as he sped off laying rubber as he went....leaving Jeremy in a balm of stench and despair.

The rising vapors slowly diffused into the overcast skies, as Jeremy glanced back at his old, 3-story farmhouse he called home and refuge. That house was indeed a farmhouse, yet it had now been surrounded by many newer homes completing a borough adjacent to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Wilkinsburg was its name. "The City of Churches" it was nicknamed, although you wouldn't be convinced of such due to the actions of the members of that community.  It was a "dry" town, prohibiting the sale of alcohol within its borders. Yet, that meant little; taverns and pubs were within walking distance just across the borders of the borough.

The gloomy ambiance of provided current weather conditions was only dented and slightly brightened by the clutter of fallen yellow and amber maple leaves adorning the yards, streets, walkways, and alleys. The familiar decaying odor of the foliage was enhanced by the fallen buckeyes, tobies, and monkey balls which had dropped from the trees. Adding to the aroma were the rotting pears in Jeremy's backyard...the house once harbored a pear orchard. Once alive and thriving; only three pear trees remained, producing inedible fruit, however, such were useful for throwing at friends.

That particular Monday, Jeremy bypassed the alleys. He walked the upstreet route to his Junior High School…a two-mile burden, mostly uphill, to Wallace Avenue. The wet, red brick streets glistened earnestly within a seeming attempt to brighten the impossible.

 

Draining the last few drops of Dr. Enough...a soda confection of lemon-lime flavor, laced with Benzedrine, Jeremy pitched the empty bottle into a sewer grate near the curb. That particular amphetamine was legal within his era for bottling within soft drinks.

 As previously referred to, alcohol consumption lacked governmental permission. Marijuana spoken of caused “upright” citizens to consider a user of such the devil’s own. The practice and condemnation of fools might be considered a folly of ignorance. And so such remained, lying as a stillborn, repugnance of reality…let that be, should it must, for the uninformed of truth and wisdom only.

These thoughts, and more, drifted through Jeremy’s young mind as he walked and walked. A man at twelve years of age due to his environment…thirteen, at present…what was he to do with his life? How will a future light a candle for such an oppressive situation? So far behind him was a life of delight…at least within his mind it seemed so.

The rain provided numerous puddles, challenging the most nimble pedestrians. The cobblestone streets were narrow and damp. From one block to the next, alleys intersected each street both in latitude and longitude, creating a labyrinth of possible routes of destination.

 Jeremy retrieved the transistor radio from his back pocket, tuning it to KQV. Jim Quinn was the disc jockey…his favorite disc jockey, always playing the latest and best pop music. Jeremy smiled crookedly as he sang along with the tunes when he remembered the lyrics. Sometimes, when he couldn’t understand the words to a certain song, Jeremy made up his own lyrics, often of better quality than such being broadcast. Jeremy was nearing the Wood Street Trestle.

Chapter 2

 

         

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