Genre: MG, coming-of-age
Word Count: 40,000
In 1952 Texas, ten-year-old Allan spends his days looking for the next big adventure.
Capture a blood-spitting horny toad. Check.
Come up with a story good enough to win a contest. Check.
Ride a bucking bronco. Check.
Ride down a 128 foot dam on Raymond’s handlebars. No check…yet.
All Allan can think about is riding down the long slope of the town’s newly constructed dam. He just has to convince his best friend to take the ride with him.
Allan reminds Raymond that his Comanche heritage will protect them both. And usually, that’s all the encouragement Raymond needs to participate in some crazy adventure—but this time it isn’t enough.
When Raymond finally agrees to take the ride of their lives, Allan’s not so sure. For the first time in his life he’s afraid. His mother’s illness—knots in her lady parts is how the doctor puts it—causes him to question if he’s brave enough.
With Raymond’s help, Allan discovers it’s not excitement he longs for, but the gift of friendship and the comfort of family and one special little town.
I have been an elementary school counselor for nine years and a university school counselor educator for thirteen years. Currently, I am a school counselor in a 6th-12th grade school in the largest school system in the Southeast.
San Angelo, Texas, 1952
Today, me and Raymond were going to ride the dam. I’d been waiting for this day for three solid years. This wasn’t just any dam, but the biggest dam in the world. If it was in Texas, it had to be the biggest.
We both owned bicycles, but I decided early on that it was a lot of work to pedal around looking for adventure, so I convinced Raymond to let me ride on his handlebars while he did the pedaling. I told him riding this way allowed for easier conversation. This arrangement came with some risks. Kids were known to get their toes cut off in the spokes of a bike riding like this, so I learned to wrap my toes around the front axle like an eagle wrapped his talons around a branch during a windstorm and hold on for dear life.
It took us thirty minutes to get to the far end of the dam and there, we began our slow ride to the highest point. It was straight uphill and Raymond was pedaling, almost standing straight up. This was going to be harder than we thought.
Raymond was trying to catch his breath and in rhythm with each down pedal, asked, “Why. Am I. The one. Always. Doing. The pedaling?”
I said, “You know good and well, this way I can watch for rattlesnakes. Just because we ain’t never seen any doesn’t mean we won’t!”
Raymond was deathly afraid of rattlesnakes.