Johnny Folkes

An excerpt from a memoir, “Notes of a British Boyhood,” in progress.

Johnny Folkes had the muscles of a man. We were on the same teams at Humphrey Perkins: soccer and rugby in winter, cricket and athletics in summer, basketball all year round. I was a slender fifteen-year-old. He was beautiful, with a fringe of blond curls. All the girls wanted him.

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The Red Impala

Nunez, Calderon, and Luis (that’s me), we found an old Chevy Impala, a real big one from the Fifties.  It was in the sandbox in front of the kids’ playground next to the project in which we lived.  Calderon is very smart.  He got a job selling bets at OTB, and we really trusted his judgment.  “Nunez, Luis,” he said, “the car has no plates on it.  The radio and battery are gone.  It is safe to assume that it is abandoned.”

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Las Vegas/Sutherland Springs: Heightened Contradicktions

In our numbed reactions to constant mass shootings we’re pulled into tracking which ideological side has produced more homicidal maniacs. Our wish to absolve ourselves of responsibility hints that we’re feeling it in some way. The inkling of collective guilt we get when confronted by news of horrific violence isn’t right on exactly, but it shouldn’t be dismissed. It’s a complement to empathy. We wish we could do something. At the same time we unconsciously wonder at what we did. Unexamined and then repressed this anxiety may, in turn, devolve to a less than humane rush to determine a shooter’s race or politics—a habit of mind we’d all be better off ditching.

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Fox and Foes

Imagine that you are writing a book which opens with your central character, “a powerful, 6’2″, finely dressed man of proud stature and handsome face,” leaping “like a lion” from a bus to save a woman from two knife-wielding thugs. Imagine that, within the next page, you have further described your protagonist as “a musician, and artist… quick in mind and step… (with) an unusual grace of movement…  magnetic charm,” and a “creamy” skinned Afro-American, bearing a “noteworthy resemblance” to Clark Gable.

Imagine that your book is a first-person narrative, whose central character is describing himself.

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