If you've been following this blog, you already know the story. If you've stumbled on it now, welcome. Here's the lowdown.
A few years back, I was commissioned to write a story for the 'We're Alive' podcast.
Long story short, it didn't pan out.
But I spent a very long time writing it for it to languish in my computer. I spent that time not only writing it for the 'We're Alive' folks, but mostly for my readers.
So what I've decided to do is publish my initial story here, via my blog, as a work of FAN FICTION, a completely unofficial piece about a character from the series. This is completely unofficial and unauthorized, but I think my work and time spent on this project deserve to see the light of day.
I would like to encourage everyone who might enjoy this fan fiction to check out the officials 'We're Alive' website HERE. It is a fantastic and well-developed world created by a group of professional writers and expert voice actors.
In the meantime, here's the completlely unofficial, unauthorized 'We're Alive' fan fiction, originally entitled (WORKING TITLE: BURT)
BOWIE V. IBARRA
From an idea from the creators of the
“WE’RE ALIVE” podcast
Copyright 2011 PRODUCERS OF “WE’RE ALIVE” PODCAST, BOWIE V. IBARRA
- THANKSGIVING, 1956
“You won’t go into old man Harrison’s yard because you’re a chicken.”
“I’m not a chicken.”
Little Burt Scott was pouting, his hands on his waist like a mini-father figure. His older cousins, Seth and Sebastian, were teasing him like they always did. They lived up in Sacramento and always made his grandmother’s Thanksgiving Day celebration with the rest of the family.
The weather was cold. Gray clouds floated across a dark blue sky. The cold wind whipped across their faces, making their noses and cheeks red.
The ladies of the house were inside in the kitchen preparing the holiday meal. The men sat in chairs in the recreation room. Cold cans of Olympia, Coors, and Schlitz kept them company. The white smoke of the burnt tobacco of their unfiltered Lucky Strike cigarettes wafted out of the open screen windows of the rec room. The Shangri-La’s sweet voices danced as a background to the men’s stories and laughter. The bubble gum pop lyrics of the bad biker boy, the ‘Leader of the Pack’, were largely ignored, yet enjoyed by the men of the house.
In spite of the late November cold, the kids still opted to play outside. The elements were nothing a good heavy jacket could contend with. There were many family traditions during Thanksgiving. One of which was the boys of the family getting in some kind of trouble. Burt and the boys were well on their way to maintaining the tradition.
“Go do it, chicken,” said Seth, grinning like a devil.
“I’m not chicken,” said Burt.
Sebastian jumped in. “So what, then? You scared of niggers?”
“Don’t call him that,” said Burt, trying to take a stand.
“Why not?” asked Sebastian.
“Just don’t call him that,” said Burt.
“I’ll call him what I want, you little runt,” said Sebastian, punching Burt hard in the arm. Burt cried out in pain.
“Go in his yard, Burtie,” demanded Sebastian, “or I’ll punch you again.”
“C’mon, Burt,” said Seth. “At least old man Harrison isn’t a chink,” he chuckled, working with Sebastian to get under Burt’s skin.
“Or a dirty Mexican,” said Sebastian.
Burt tried to make a break for it, but Sebastian and Seth grabbed him with their superior eleven-year old strength and size. The brothers punched him again in the arm.
“C’mon, Burtie. Do what we say and we’ll let you go.”
“No,” shouted young Burt.
The boys punched him again, saying, “Do it, Burtie.”
“Alright!” he shouted, on the verge of tears. “Just stop hitting me. Stop it.”
“Don’t cry, you little shitass. Just go,” demanded Seth.
The boys shoved Burt to the ground. He looked up at them with anger. He wanted to punch them in the face as hard as he could, but he knew it was futile. They were too strong.
Burt got to his feet and turned to look at the house. A chain-linked fence cordoned off the house at its property line. The front gate was held closed by a simple latch.
“Go in and knock on the door,” said Seth.
“You said I just had to go in the yard,” said Burt.
“Now you have to go knock on the door because you’re a chickenshit,” said Sebastian. “So go do it.”
A cold breeze picked up as young Burt looked at the house. A loud chorus of laughter erupted from the men of the house. There words were imperceptible to Burt. Muffled. He shared none of the joy they were celebrating. He could only taste fear.
Looking both ways, he crossed the two lane street. Seth and Sebastian followed close behind, chuckling.
Burt walked up to the gate, then hesitated. He looked at the house. It was far from being any kind of haunted house. It was a simple one-story house with an unkept yard. The front door was open, but the screen door was closed, letting the cool air into the house. The interior was dark apart from the illumination from a black and white TV in the living room. Though it was just one in the afternoon, the overcast sky and the cold made Burt think he was in Transylvania like in the movies at the Bijou. Bela Lugosi must be inside the house, not old man Harrison. Rationally, it made no sense. But that’s all Burt could think of.
“Go,” shouted Seth.
Burt could feel Seth creeping up on him to slug him again. So Burt did it. He lifted the latch and opened the gate. He ran to the screen door.
Halfway down the smooth concrete walkway, Burt heard a growl that was unmistakable. This was no monster from a black and white creature feature. This was Mr. Harrison’s dog.
As Burt suddenly froze, he saw the brown pit bull appear out from under the house.
Oh, no, little Burt thought to himself.
Burt jumped into the air in fear as the dog raced to him. He screamed, then yelled, “Seth! Sebastian!” Tears were already shooting out of his young eyes.
Looking back at his cousins, a deep horror poured over his soul. Seth and Sebastian had tied a rope around the gate, trapping Burt in the yard. They pointed an laughed as Burt raced to the gate.
Burt jumped up on the gate, trying to climb over. But the pit bull grabbed him by the bottom of his heavy coat. Burt screamed again as the dog tried to yank him from the gate. Burt held on with all his strength. The dog seemed even stronger than the boys were, tugging and wrenching its head with animalistic aggression.
“Help me!” cried
The boys just laughed at Burt as the dog snarled, wagging its head violently, tugging at young Burt.
“Help!” cried out Burt. His tears of fear cutting cold trails down his cheeks.
“Hey!” came a loud voice from behind Burt. “Down, Brick! Down!”
Seth and Sebastian’s face transformed immediately from cruel joy to guilty fear. Burt watched how their big, hearty laughs turned to wide-eyed terror. It would have been humorous if he wasn’t in such a predicament. All Burt felt was sheer terror slicing his heart with razors.
“Brick, heel!” came the voice again. Authorative. Angry.
The dog immediately let go of its hold on Burt, who fell to the sidewalk. He stumbled then leaned on the fence. He held his face low, casting his eyes down from his savior.
Trotting with a tranquil air back to his master, the dog had shifted emotions like Burt’s cousins, from naked aggression to an aloof arrogance reserved for royalty, or a spoiled canine from a dog show. Its nasty hairy genitals bounced from side to side like an insult to Burt.
“Heel, Brick,” said the old man. Old Man Harrison. The dog obeyed, sitting on its haunches by the feet of its master. It looked at Burt, then at nothing in particular. Its tongue dangled from its mouth as it caught its breath. It was as if the last few moments, the vicious assault from the animal, never happened.
“What are you doing here, boy? You know I was ‘bout to shoot ‘cho ass?”
Burt cast his eyes away from the man, indicating the bonded fence that prevented his escape.
“Ah,” said Harrison. “Those boys were fuckin’ wit’chu, huh?”
Burt nodded his head, hyperventilating.
“Boy, you gots to be careful with people sometimes. They gonna tell you to do shit to get you in trouble.”
Burt just nodded, keeping his gaze on the sidewalk.
“Well boy, go on now, get. Untie that rope there and get on out.”
“I’m sorry,” said Burt, finally looking up at Old Man Harrison, who wore a white t-shirt and brown slacks. A gray circle of hair sat beneath a bald dome. His thick white handlebar moustache contrasted against his dark skin. He held a shotgun in his hands that made Burt gulp.
“You ain’t gots to apologize for shit, boy. Just don’t let people fuck wit’chu like ‘dat. Ya’ hear?”
Burt just nodded solemnly, wiping away his tears. “Thank you, sir.”
“You’re welcome, boy. Now get on out of here.”
As Burt untied the rope, Harrison whispered to Brick, “Good boy, Brick. Good boy.” The words sent the dog peacefully back to his space under the house.
Burt untied the rope and opened the gate. He wanted revenge. He still wanted to punch his cousins in the face again. But he knew it would be no use.
There was one thing he knew, though. He was never going to listen to them again.
Crossing the street and onto the property of his grandmother’s house, Burt walked into the smoky rec room where the men were drinking and talking.
“Burt,” called out a familiar voice of his father, Ernest. “Where you going?”
His real answer was to go find his mom. But he amended it. “I’m just going inside.”
Ernest could see the dried tears on his cold face. “Your mom’s busy,” said his dad, reading his son’s mind. “Come over here with your uncles, son,” he said, gesturing for him to join the conversation. “I want you to hear this. You need to hear this to understand.”
Burt walked to his dad. His father’s hair was slicked back in a ducktail. A pack of Lucky Strikes cigarettes was rolled up in the sleeve of his white shirt. Denim pants wrapped his legs and work boots held fast to his feet.
Burt snuggled up to his father, taking a seat on his lap and putting his head on his father’s shoulder. His father’s belly rose and fell against Burt. It comforted the boy.
“What’s wrong, Burtie?” asked his dad, taking another swig of Olympia. He drained the can before placing it by his foot and stomping it flat.
“Seth and Sebastian,” mumbled Burt.
“Seth and Sebastian?” said his dad outloud.
Burt’s uncle, Oscar, smiled. “Seth and Sebastian?” he asked. “What did they do?”
“What’d they do, son?” asked his dad. Burt could sense by their tone of voice neither of them were talking him seriously.
His dad grabbed another beer from a Styrofoam ice chest beside him. “Well?” he asked, pulling off the tab of the beer can and tossing it to a small trashcan in the corner.
Burt didn’t answer, so his dad put words in his mouth. “Did they hit you?”
Burt just nodded, embarrassed and ashamed.
“You should have hit them back, Burtie,” said Uncle Oscar. “Right in the mouth,” he chuckled. “My boys are good… your cousins. But they can be turds sometimes. So you need to punch them back so they’ll learn not to mess with you.”
“Did you hear that?” asked his dad. “Hit ‘em next time, son.”
“Especially Seth, Burtie,” said Oscar, finishing his Coors. “He can be a little shit sometimes. I whip his ass with the belt more than Sebastian. I don’t know if he’s dumber or just more stubborn than his brother.”
“I haven’t had to give Burt licks in a while. Right, Burt?”
Burt just nodded. He was embarrassed.
“See, Burtie. It’s the same thing. Show those little shits you mean business and they won’t mess with you.”
Burt just nodded again.
“Boy spends too much time with his mom,” said Ernest. “He’s a little titty baby and needs to hang out here with the Scott men more.”
“How ‘bout some beer, Burtie?” offered his uncle Oscar, pulling the tab off another Coors. “You can have the first sip.”
“You can have some of mine if you want,” his dad said, offering the Olympia as if Burt knew the difference. “C’mon, son. Put some hair on your chest.”
Burt meekly took the can from his father and took a swig. He had no idea what the oat soda would taste like. All he knew were sugary soft drinks, or juices on occasion. This would be new.
The taste was strong, stronger than any soft drink he’d ever tasted. The sting of carbonation was familiar, but the flavor was new, like a cold medicine. It wasn’t good, but it wasn’t bad, either. So he took another swig.
“Atta boy,” said Oscar, raising his can to Burt before taking a drink of his own.
“That’s my boy,” said Burt’s father, giving his son a manly side-embrace, shaking him with masculine pride.
“Now sit here with me, son. You need to listen to these stories your uncles, my uncles, are saying about the war, their time in the war, okay?”
“Okay, dad,” he whispered, snuggling with his father again.
For the next twenty minutes, Burt listened to his uncles talk about their time in Germany, on ships in the Pacific, in France. It was all very abstract to him. But the pictures his uncles painted of cruel combat, foreign maidens, and battle-forged friendships created amazing images of bravery and valor in his head. They talked of medals earned, of friends lost, and of guns. Lots of guns.
Burt was about to snooze when his aunt Jane called into the rec room.
“Dinner is ready.”
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