the long walk home

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
a short story about a 12 year old boy on a saturday night at the movies in 1960.

Submitted: April 10, 2017

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Submitted: April 10, 2017

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When I was 12 years old a friend of mine named Johnny Hardin and I decided to hitch-hike from our little town of Emerson to Cartersville to go to the Grand Theater to see a triple feature horror show. I still remember the titles of the three movies. There was Dracula, Fiend Without a Face, and The Collosus of New York. You may not believe those last two but I invite you to look them up. Really cheap stuff that would be called schlock today. But I was 12 years old and this was a fairly exciting day for me. Hitch-hiking was pretty common back then and I had done it a couple of times already. Johnny was a year older and a grade ahead of me in school so I was following his lead. I was in the seventh grade and Johnny was in the eighth. He was sort of a prototype for the Fonz 15 or so years before his appearance on television. Looking back I now see we were all pretty much living in the "Happy Days". I myself was a lot more Richie than I was Fonz or maybe I was closer to Ralph. But anyway Johnny had already drank beer and made out with girls and he was our idol. So here we are thumbing a ride to Cartersville with no thought at all about any danger because really back then there was none except for maybe not getting a ride and having to walk. We got to the Grand about 3 o'clock ready to start this horror fest. The movies were pretty much run of the mill but to a 12 year old boy there were plenty of hair raising scenes. Not so bad as long as Johnny was sitting next to me but he was spending a lot of time visiting the bathroom/smoking area with some guys he knew from Atco where he had lived before moving to Emerson with his parents. But I managed to stay cool about the whole thing. That was until Johnny came back from a smoke break with one of his old buddies and informed me he was going to go home with him to spend the night. He had already called his mom from the pay phone in the lobby to ask permission. I never thought until I was writing this about whether his mother knew I was with him and that he would be leaving poor little me on my own to get home. I knew her almost as well as my own mother and I suspect she just hadn't even thought about it. She was a very good mother and woman and I don't think there is any way she meant for that to happen. But happen it did. Johnny's friend's name was Sammy Latimer and except for just seeing him that day I don't think we ever met again in all these many years though I know he's still around just by hearing him mentioned. But I feel as though I know him well from all the cursing of his name I did on that long lonely four and a half mile walk down an abandoned highway without a single car to throw my little thumb at. I was a miserably scared twelve year old whose knees were knocking so hard and loud I'm surprised I didn't wake the dead as I passed the little overgrown cemetery halfway between Cartersville and Emerson. If one of them raised up and spoke I don't think I could have gotten any more terrified than I already was. But I made it home about midnight and that night became a treasured memory especially after Johnny passed away around 2003 or so. He was always a good friend but don't ask me about Sammy Latimer.


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