Long Story: The Climax
The first time my tenth grade English teacher Mr. Faggins (pronounced Fay-guns) talked about the climax of a narrative, I laughed out loud. It was a short laugh because I noticed Denise (the cheerleader with the really nice legs) glaring at me. I stopped and looked at my desk.
Mr. Fay-guns sometimes referred to the climax as the “uh oh” moment, meaning that this was the time when the protagonist would resolve the problem or something very bad would happen (sometimes both).
Once when Mr. Fay-guns used “climax” and “uh oh moment” in the same sentence, a kid named Tony put his head down on his desk, and his shoulders started shaking. I could feel Denise spying on me sideways, so I somehow kept my face stone serious and pretended to take notes. Plus, I saw how stupid Tony looked laughing at stuff like that, and that inspired me to appear more mature than I really was.
The “uh oh” moment actually made sense to me because my story about Danny Dornan needed a climax. The climax was probably the easiest moment of the story to write, especially in a straight-forward high school story written by a high school student. Some high school students have lots of “uh oh” moments.
Revenge of the Curse Brothers
I should have known it was going to be a bad day when I saw the dark and stormy sky from my bedroom window. Rain hadn’t begun to fall yet, but it was going to, and I wanted to run to school before it poured. I could hear thunder rumbling and knew this was going to be a bad one.
I thought about taking the umbrella, but it would slow me down and it wouldn’t fit in my locker. Plus, it might attract lightning. With my backpack stuffed with books and my all-important homework, I wanted to travel as light as possible. The walk to school wasn’t long when I ran.
Since it was just drizzling, I decided not to run. I’d look uncool panting hard running through the school’s entrance. I’d save the running for the real rain if it happened. If I could get to school early enough without running, I’d stop by the front office and deliver my make-up homework to the 10th grade counselor. Then I’d watch out for the Curse brothers in the hallway. I’d take a different long way home, even it was raining after school. I didn’t care if I got drenched in the afternoon because I could change my clothes once I got home. I cared if I got beat up after school.
Instead, I got beat up before school.
I had walked just a little over one block when the Curse brothers surrounded me. I didn’t even see them coming. They usually announced themselves with something like, “What are you looking at?” before they clobbered somebody. With me, they popped out of nowhere. Maybe it was my fault. My mind had been on other things like homework and rain when I should have been looking out for the Curse brothers.
The three older Curse brothers, thick with dark hair, black t-shirts, torn jeans, and lots of pimples, spread out to surround me, and I looked around for the best opening to run through before they got too close. Johnny, the 10-year-old runt of the family, stood back in his sleeveless white t-shirt and smirked at me.
“Is that him?” Tommy, the oldest of the clan, asked Johnny. Timmy barreled toward me saying, “What are you looking at?” Timmy didn’t care if I was “him” or not, and I was “him,” and I wasn’t going to stand still and get punched out like my friend Rodney had a few months ago. I dropped my backpack and ran.
I hated doing that. My backpack had three weeks’ worth of homework that I had to turn in to the counselor. If I didn’t, then I would fail math and English and science for the grading period. I thought about returning for the backpack and got mad at myself. What was I thinking? I wasn’t going to outrun the Curse brothers lugging 20 lbs. of books. I abandoned the backback and fled.
Four Curse brothers yelled profanity behind me, but they were running too, so I kept moving. I sprinted, but without direction. I realized that I didn’t know where to go. I could run down the street, but then what? I couldn’t go home because they were between me and my house. I couldn’t go to school because they’d beat me up there too. I decided to get away from them first and then try to think things through.
And to get away, I ran between two houses, jumped a fence and took my chances in an unfamiliar backyard.
I wish I could say that I led the Curse brothers on a long chase through the backyards and side streets of my home town, but I didn’t. As soon as I jumped the fence, I slipped and landed on my shoulder. Timmy was on me before I could even crawl back up to my feet. I tried to shake him off, but he was a heavy guy and I was skinny with almost no muscle.
“Is this him?” Timmy said, not that it mattered.
“Yeah, that’s the loser,” the runt Curse brother said in a squeaky voice.
Joey had my backpack and dumped the contents into the mud. All my homework, my textbooks, hours and hours of work, my one chance for passing grades on my report card, were getting dumped. Mud seeped through papers and pages. I couldn’t believe it. I was going to get beat up and fail the grading period too. It was unfair. More determined than ever, I struggled to break free from Timmy’s hold, but it was no use. I strained every muscle I had and pulled and pushed and gritted my teeth.
Then I got punched in the gut.
I crumpled to the soggy ground, the air knocked out of me. I hate getting the wind knocked out of me. I always know that I’ll be able to breathe again in a few seconds, but it always takes longer than I think it will. Especially with the Curse brothers standing over me. I struggled on the ground, mouth open, wheezing until I could regain my breath. I waited for my head to get kicked. I couldn’t even get the strength to put my arms over my head for protection. I kind of rolled into a ball and gasped when I could. Luckily, they didn’t beat on me while I was down.
As soon as I could suck in air again , Joey lifted me up by my armpits from behind. Timmy and Tommy stood in front of me. Johnny was a few feet behind them, cackling and jumping. I gasped and tried to brace myself for what was about to happen. This was going to be bad. My feet kicked, but I couldn’t do anything with them; I couldn’t keep them firm on the ground, and I couldn’t defend myself by kicking up.
Johnny waved his skinny arms wildly, screaming, “Hit him! Hit him!” Tommy stepped on my books, drowning them in the mud. Timmy got up really close like he was going to punch my gut again, but he looked me in the eyes and grinned.
“Now it’s time for your face,” he said.
Uh oh, I thought.
To be continued in Long Story: The Controversial Ending.