We’re back with some more of my Creative Writing. What you are about to read has been a bit of a passion project for me for years, something I have thought and thought about and written lots of notes and drafts for, but have only been able to complete this first chapter of. As with most writers, there’s a bit of me in this story but overall it’s just a character study on a young man in 1966, and his secret passions.
Enjoy! And please leave comments whether you like it or not, I live for feedback.
Through the 60’s, The Hidden Revolver by Hannibal Alexander
Fred and his best friend Malcolm were sitting on one of the busiest patches of Telegraph Ave with their backs to the wall and their rear ends on the pavement. For the past 15 or 20 minutes loads of people had walked past them, most of them UC Berkeley students with a bunch of random kids about the same age just hanging out. A very small percentage of which actually gave the change they were asking for, and a surprisingly large percentage of people actually asking them for change.
It was an interesting way to spend a sunny but chilly December afternoon, but not all that uncommon for Fred and Malcolm. They had actually become more comfortable with the idea of asking for change in the past few weeks, the more they felt they were forced to do it.
During a break of large groups walking by, Fred ended up counting his change and it was enough to get him what he needed with change to spare. He tapped Malcolm on the shoulder.
“So you ready to go?” Fred asked Malcolm who was reaching into his pockets to count his loot, which totaled $4, before he got up and they made their way out of their spot.
The two start headed up Telegraph to catch the bus back down to Allston from University. Malcolm was thinking food, but he noticed that Fred has an entirely different goal in mind. Malcolm had to grab his arm to get his attention.
“Where are we going for food Fred?”
“Oh… I don’t care really” Fred replied impatiently
“So, where we headed than?” Malcolm pretty much knew the answer already.
“Well I was headed to the record store…” Fred slowed up his pace to face Malcolm “…but maybe you can go get lunch and, I’ll just meet you in front and we can head back”
Fred turned right back around to get to his destination in a hurry, Malcolm laughed a little bit “Why am I not surprised? What you getting?”
Fred turned around to face Malcom, looking a little annoyed “… I… it doesn’t matter”
He reached in his pocket and gave Malcolm $2 in quarters. “Just get me a cheeseburger, no onions, and I’ll meet you there in 5 minutes okay?”
Malcolm took the cash “Alright I guess”
Fred started to race off again, but Malcolm grabbed his arm before he got anywhere
“How about you just meet me at the bus stop, ‘cause I know you’re gonna be in there longer than 5 minutes” Fred nodded anxiously and quickly walked towards the record store. Malcolm just shook his head and laughed a little before walking off to the burger joint.
Having dodged Malcolm, and being just a few shops away from the Record store, Fred started to smile uncontrollably. He entered the record store and his tunnel visions guides his steps, leading straight to the section he needs. He flipped through a bunch of albums before he found the white cover with the pencil drawn images on the cover, and he couldn’t believe how excited he had gotten over this piece of vinyl. He was finally going to buy The Beatles “Revolver” album, he picked it up and turned it around to look at the back, instantly wondering why. He had been saving to purchase this full LP for ever since he fell in love with it a few weeks prior.
His friend Oliver let him hear the entire thing at his house after school one day, and once they got to the end of the album the song “Tomorrow Never Knows” completely blew his mind. He was always a fan of the Beatles, if only a closet fan, but he never felt compelled to buy an entire album from them, like for many of his favorite artists. The 45 and the B-side singles were enough for him. After hearing that song from the album he was holding in his hands, he knew it was one of the best listening experiences of his life, and he knew he had to own it.
He tried to play it cool, trying to control his urge to smile from ear to ear as he headed to the cash register, inside he was still smiling like a 4 year old kid with a new toy for his birthday. He was also thinking about how he was going to be able to sneak the album in his house without having to explain where he got the money from, or why he bought the Beatles of all groups. He didn’t even want to have to explain his purchase to Malcolm, who completely wouldn’t understand why he bought that album over a new Marvin Gaye or Temptations album.
Fred just wanted to get this album up to his room without having to talk about it to anyone that doesn’t get it. He was excited to add this album to his collection of 45’s he keeps hidden away from his dad and his brother, simply because they would give him a hard time for it and he generally tried to avoid that. His hidden collection of music had gotten so large that it was spilling out of its hiding place of the right corner of Fred’s closet.
Fred finally approached the cash register as the older white hippie was leaving, a young white girl was ready to ring him up. She grabbed the record and smiled at Fred, and when she actually looked down at the album to get the price, she seemed a little surprised. Malcolm noticed it, and enjoyed it, he thought that somebody might have finally got him.
“Wow I don’t even have this one yet” She said flipping the album to the back to check it out
“Really?” Fred said surprised, and happy to be conversing with someone he thinks is a cool Mod chick. “I would think you guys get the first pick here”
“We do, and a small discount. What’s really cool is when it’s not as busy, we get to play whatever records we want.”
“Very Cool. You’ve heard this album right?” Fred said pointing to the album that she was putting in a big bag.
“Oh definitely, they always want us to play The Beatles first thing when their new records come out”
“Did you not like it?” She handed him the bag, and he pulled out his money already knowing the price to the cent, he handed the cash to her and waited for her response.
“Um… well, I wasn’t giving it my full attention I guess, but I liked it. And I’m normally not a Beatles girl” she smiled and yanked Fred’s receipt from the register and handed it to him.
Fred started to just say goodbye and leave, but out of nowhere he asked “Are… are you hiring? Do you know?”
“Well, you know what…” she leaned in towards him “…two people are about to quit today, you should come by tomorrow and ask to speak with Bernard the manager”
“Around this time?”
“Maybe after 2pm, he’s at lunch now”
“Okay that works, I will definitely come back tomorrow.”
“I guess I’ll see you than” The girl said with a smirk
Fred backed up, about to walk out of the store before he asked “What’s your name?”
“Oh I’m Sue, and your name?”
“Frederik, you should mention me if you see Bernard today. Tell him I love music and would almost kill to work here” he laughed, but was serious
“You say that now” she giggled a little back at him
“Okay Sue I have to go, but I’ll be back tomorrow”
She waved goodbye to him and he walked out the store and tried to rush over to the bus stop to reconnect with Malcolm.
Fred raced towards Bancroft to catch up with Malcolm hoping the bus hadn’t left already. As he got closer he saw Malcolm emerge from the Burger. Fred ran up to him and flicked the back of Malcolm’s head with his finger. Malcolm turned around looking mad
“Man!” Malcolm said rubbing the back of his head “That hurt!”
“It was supposed to” Fred laughed “We ready?”
“Yeah…” they headed towards the bus stop at the same pace, figuring they had only a little time left before the bus came.
Malcolm looked at Fred on his left and noticed the bag from the record store “So, what did you buy?”
Fred contemplated for a second whether he should lie, or if he should just ignore the question. He decided to just go with the truth this time and said “a Beatles record”
Malcolm made a puzzled face and said “The Beatles? But that’s a whole album ain’t it?” Malcolm grabbed for the bag and Fred yanked it out of his reach.
“Yeah! It’s the whole album…” Fred said in an annoyed tone, and almost ready to defend his purchase if Malcolm pressed it any longer. Malcolm is somewhat surprised at Fred’s tone and just smirks and shakes his head and said “Wow, okay… the Beatles huh? You know, I think that new James Brown album is out…”
“‘Mans Mans World’? Yeah, my dad bought that a couple weeks ago” Fred responded, happy that Malcolm caught the hint and changed the subject
“How is it?”
“It’s good… he got this song on there called ‘Ain’t that a Groove’…” Fred smiled in excitement “…it’s my favorite one on the whole album”
“See… your dad gets all the good stuff, my dad barely even knows what a record store is anymore. Oh hey, that’s our bus coming”
They both saw the bus approaching a block away and they shuffled in their jean pockets to get their bus fare.
“My dad doesn’t get everything though, I wanted him to buy the new Marvin Gaye album and he bought a Sinatra album instead”
“Well why didn’t you buy Marvin today?” Malcolm asked, more so focusing on the bus than the conversation at that point.
“I don’t know… I can wait on that one”
“But couldn’t wait for the Beatles?” Malcolm laughed playfully and shook his head, Fred just smirked as the bus finally approached.
“I have like…” the bus approached and they stood in the line behind four people “… three 45’s from that same album, only one from this Beatles album. So yeah”
Malcolm just shrugged and he took one step on the bus “Okay man, I guess?”
They both boarded the bus, paid the driver and walked to some seats near the front of the bus. Malcolm sat in one row and Fred sat in the row behind Malcolm. Malcolm settled in and looked out the window as the bus rolled on.
“You wanna go to the movies?” Malcolm asked
Fred thought about it for a second “When?”
“Why not right now?”
Malcolm starts laughing, “I mean, that’s a good movie… you said so yourself man, don’t try to knock it now. But no, I was thinking about that ‘Our Man Flint’ movie, it looks funny”
“Oh yeah, that does look kinda funny…”
“Okay let’s go watch it” Malcolm said with a devilish and excited grin
“Let me find a paper”
Malcolm looked around the fairly empty bus for a newspaper. He got up when he saw sections of a left-ever newspaper sprawled in a seat at the front of the bus. He shuffled through the different parts of the paper and finally found the Entertainment section with the movie show times. He nodded at Fred on his way back to his seat.
“It’s playing at…”
“O no…” Fred blurted out “…I can’t go now, I have a test in Math I can’t miss”
“Ahhh, and see we would have just made this 1:30pm show. Oh well, I guess we can catch the one at 4:30pm”
“Yeah, that’s fine”
“I might as well go back to school too than…” Malcolm said with irritation in his voice. He looked out the bus window again and quickly turned back around to Fred to ask “Well… are you gonna go to your 6th period class?”
“I mean, yeah… the class is right next door to my 5th period, she’ll see me cut…”
“So what…” Malcolm laughed “…I forget how much of a square you are sometimes”
Fred looks annoyed but tries to not get too bothered by it and smirked “Okay… Fine… you can go watch “Under the Sea” for the 40th time and I’ll meet you there”
They both laughed as the bus stops, Fred got up “So you’re coming back to school right?”
“No I think I’m gonna do what you said”
Fred laughed “alright than, I’ll catch up with you for that 4:30 show”
From there, Fred got back to Berkeley High School just a few minutes before 5th period Math started. He didn’t realize he hadn’t eaten his burger yet and probably wouldn’t be able to until after class. He also realized he came into class with The Beatles album, so to avoid any questions about it he decided to run to his locker and put the album in there, while eating some of the burger.
Fred felt he did pretty good on the test, but generally when he felt that way it meant he’d made some terrible mistakes. At that point it was done, he was hungry and was ready to walk across the hall to his 6th period History class, sit and eat the rest of his burger. Instead, he was surprised and saw Malcolm walking towards him.
“Alright so you decided to be a square and come back to school huh?” Fred joked
“Nah, I just came back to tell you… I saw that new girl Sylvia, and we were talking about the movie, and she wants to come with us”
Fred raised an eyebrow before Malcolm continued “but, I’m thinking, you know maybe she doesn’t have to come with us and she could just go with me”
“So you’re ditching me is what you’re saying” Fred was relieved about it, this would give him more time to try and enjoy his new purchase, but tried to play as if he was upset for a second
“Come on man, she’s a babe, she’s worth just one movie. You didn’t even wanna go that bad anyway”
“I’m just joshing with you Mal, that’s fine”
Malcolm reached to grab Fred’s shoulder “Thanks man”
“Yeah no problem”
Once Malcolm left Fred was able to eat the rest of his burger and sit through the entire History class. Because it was a Friday, the classroom was restless and very antsy to start their weekend while Fred was eager to get his new album. At the end of class he assigned a two page paper due by next Friday which didn’t go over well with most of the students, but Fred loved any type of writing assignment, especially when it was on a topic that interested him like this that days lecture about the Gilded Age.
Once class was done, and school was over for the week, he happily made his way towards his locker. He was so excited to open his locker and find the bag from the record store sitting on the left side of his locker, he grabbed it and put his Math textbook inside before he shut it and made a quick walk out of school and straight home.
Once he got home, he noticed that it was quiet. No radio in the back room, nothing going on in the kitchen, he got excited about having the place to himself. He thought for a second that maybe he could sneak and listen to the album without his headphones, but as soon as he thought it, he also thought the quiet would only be momentarily. He went straight upstairs to his room, threw his book bag onto his bed and headed to his closet.
Fred wasn’t instantly bowled over by the Beatles like the rest of America. He liked “I Want to Hold Your Hand”, and he definitely stayed up late those two nights they dominated “The Ed Sullivan Show”, but he wasn’t an instant fan. It wasn’t until he saw the film “Hard Day’s Night” and got a better glimpse at their personalities that he became a closet-fanatic.
For a few seconds before he filed “Revolver” with the rest of his Rock and Roll albums that he kept hidden away from his family, Fred contemplated listening to the album one more time. He usually waits until about 10:30pm, when his folks are asleep and his big brother is off to some bar with his friends, before he listens and fully enjoys his secret stash of music, but with this album he was really antsy. His hand was just about to make a shift movement from tucking the album away to opening it and putting it on his record player, and that’s when he heard the front door being opened. He quickly put the album on top of the others, which he then covered up with some folded sheets.
He closed the closet door and hopped on his bed, pulled his Math book out of his book bag and attempted to open it up to appear to be studying if his parents come in the room.
“Freddy!?” he heard his Dad yell from downstairs. He yelled it in a happy tone meaning there was good news, or possibly some money coming his way, so Fred dropped his book back down on the bed and moved quickly down the stairs past the living room into the kitchen where his mother and father were unloading groceries.
“What’s going on Daddy-O?” Fred asked, moving towards one of the four grocery bags to help his parents unload them. He kissed his mom on the cheek as they passed each other towards the fridge.
“Just got a letter from your Uncle. Looks like he’s coming out to visit soon, take a look”
Fred’s dad grabbed an opened envelope from a table near the kitchen door and handed it to Fred. He was excited to read it, but pretty much knew what it was going to say. He read the letter which confirmed his prediction that his Uncle Albert would be making his routine visit to the Bay Area a few weeks before Christmas. Fred started to smile and got so excited he forgot about the new album waiting for him upstairs. He looked at the letter, front and back, and then at the envelope looking for a return address.
“Dad where is Unk Al, it doesn’t say on here”
“He’s still on tour in Germany I think, yeah, I think that’s what he said in his last letter”
“And he said…” Fred’s mom cut in, while putting a grape in her mouth before shutting the refrigerator door “… that they really love his music out there. Isn’t that funny”
Fred laughed a bit “he’s not playing any shows out here still I guess”
“No… I don’t think he ever will, he probably should though… I think he could make a killing out here now, I’ll have to talk to him about that”
Fred paused for a second and started to think about his Uncle coming to visit in less than a month and started to smile again. It was good news on a good day, the kind of day he wished he had more often.
“So is he gonna sleep in Harold’s room this time?” Fred joked with a chuckle
“BOY!” his dad laughed
“What!?” Fred smiled back “I wouldn’t care, but Harold ain’t been back home in like three days already. He probably won’t even notice”
“We can talk about that later” Mom said “right now, you two need to get out my kitchen”
Fred and his dad looked at each other and started to laugh, they both started moving towards the living room. They started to chat about Uncle Albert, going down memory lane about his sporadic visits to the U.S. before they separated and Fred finally headed back to his room.
© 2014 Hannibal Alexander
Stay tuned, I plan on posting one more piece of writing after work. And next week, the big goal is to celebrate three weeks of #FictionFriday with three posts. Ambitious, but I will make it work. Enjoy!