Danny M. Howell


1964. Paul Lackey, 15, lives with his parents and his brother Brian, 11, in a dirt-poor Indiana town where Main Street is one way and dogs sleep in the left lane.

Paul has what would appear to be a small problem Ė a paper route, and a customer who wonít pay his bill. But Paulís problem isnít so simple. His unemployed father makes his children pay rent when they reach 15. If they can't, he kicks them out.

Paulís paper route is his only means to pay his father, and Paul is behind in his rent. His father has given him Paul has four days -- until his sixteenth birthday -- to raise the money or be forced into the army using a birth certificate his father is only too pleased to forge.

Paulís delinquent customer is Lester. Everyone in town knows Lester is a menace Ė he fires his rifle at neighbors for fun, keeps a drunken monkey chained to a tree, and plants home-made nitro bombs in the yard. It would be easier to collect from the Wicked Witch of the West.

Paul tries anyway, and his efforts lead to a series of conflicts with Lester. With help from Brian, his girlfriend, Barb, and an odd collection of locals, Paul stands up to his nemesis -- and in the process, wins from Lester a valuable old coin, easily worth enough to pay Paul's rent, but which also could be Paul's ticket out of town.

Paul finds a way to sell the coin, but now has to make a decision: if he leaves on his own terms, heíll not only have to stand up to his father, heíll have to make the even harder choice of whether to leave Brian in the clutches of their abusive father.

Copyright 2005 Danny M. Howell
All Rights Reserved