Here's a sneak peek into the next story. There are just a few paragraphs here, but it's almost finished. I'm just working on the editing and the ending, but it's getting there. Edit: Apparently, I'm rewriting the entire story, but it's important to get this one right. Let me get started by painting you a little picture...
All names in this story have been changed. Where possible, I have avoided using them entirely.
That first sweet kiss and a first broken heart. The things that we choose to remember and the things that we choose to forget. We pick and we choose and we throw away the parts that we don't like, only keeping those that fit in with our preferred narrative. Memories are funny things; they have an ability to sneak up on you at the oddest of times, these dreams of the past that smolder and burst into flames, opening a rabbit hole that sometimes you tumble down, down into the vast kaleidoscope of days remembered and days that were best forgotten; days where you learn all that your heart is willing to reveal and the many dark secrets that it still keeps. Moments of mourning for all that once was, all that was lost, with all that remains now ashes and shadows. Ashes and shadows.
Atlantic City was the first city that I fell in love with, the first place that I ever truly called home, a home to summer loves and the world in which I came of age. Like scenes projected onto a celluloid screen, the past comes to life.
My family owned a summer home at the foot of the Boardwalk and California Avenue. It was a cramped little condo, so small that there was barely enough room in which to draw a breath, but it had a spectacular ocean view that never failed to steal my breath away.
The city was vibrant then, it lived and it breathed, undulating with the flow of people. The mind's eye takes in the vast panorama of the beach and the ocean beyond, partially obscured by the roofs of the shops and arcades that once lined the boardwalk. Laughing gulls drift lazily overhead like so many summer clouds, their cries a lonely chorus of ephemeral notes. Blink and it's gone forever.
Salt water taffy and fudge from the candy stores; ice cream on a warm Belgian waffle; Mack Fries with apple cider vinegar; pizza on almost every corner; and that warm sugar scent of cotton candy in the air.
Summer jobs; working at a real newspaper stand at night and hawking newspapers on the beach by day; casting custard across the counter at King Kone; hustling hoagie rolls for Amoroso out of the back of a bread truck; slinging slices and working the grill at Three Brothers from Italy; ruling the world from my lofty perch while making change at Fun Spot and Playcade arcades at the height of the pinball and video game era and a posh lifeguard gig at the California Villas, where the closest I came to saving lives was skimming bugs from the pool. Basically, I was a glorified pool boy, cleaning the pool, hauling lounge cushions and babysitting brats.
The Ice Capades, parades and arcades on the boardwalk, fireworks over the ocean on the fourth of July, sand castles, skateboards, and tourist traps. The amusement piers; Steel Pier, Steeplechase Pier, Central Pier and my favorite, Million Dollar Pier, with their carnival rides, games and sideshow like atmosphere. I can still see the crowds running from the "Wild Ape Woman."
People were everywhere, you couldn't escape them in Atlantic City. Gambling had been legalized not long before and people would throng to the shore, emigrating en masse and emptying entire cities, while filling the catacombs and coffers of the casinos. Dreamers dropping dollars on daydreams.
And that's the end of the sneak peek. If you like what you've read so far, give this story a shot: