The story will consist of two different intertwined tales, the adults and the children. Today I would like to talk a bit about one of the children. The year is 199X, because what story is worth reading if the year has no X. The internet has not yet taken the world by storm, magazines are still a thing, phones are more commonly found in your home than in your pocket.
This past that is not so long ago and yet so alien. Standing bright eyed and bushy haired in this alien land is Manny Violet. To call him bright eyed might be a bit misleading, his dark brown eyes vanish beneath the chemical burn of instant film and they do not glow in moonlight. He’s a loud and boisterous young teen. The most recent critical development with his life is that hair has just begun sprouting on his chin. He couldn’t be prouder.
“It’ll really accent my top hat!” He thinks happily on that momentous Wednesday morning. Manny is the unofficial spokesperson for his little group of friends. They haven’t come up with a name yet but he’s been thinking “Pokébros”. It is unlikely to pass since they are not all boys, but these are little problems that can be fixed in post.
They’ve been thinking for years about exploring the woods, a hilly valley canopied by massive trees. Stories of homeless cannibals and haunted auto graveyards entrance them.
Could it be real?
Manny wonders. He doesn’t even know what they’d do if they found a cannibal. Do you run? Maybe they’d just trip James and run for the hills. Sacrifice him for the greater good. It’s thoughts like this that have lead most people to call Manny a strange kid. He doesn’t agree. He likes to think of himself as a thinker or a debutant [he saw the word on the cover of a magazine (he doesn’t know what it means)].
Eclectic thoughts spew out relentlessly from this young man dressed like an extra for a steam punk film. He is never seen without his top hat and his oversized goodwill trench coat requires more than a few pins to keep it from dragging under his feet and tripping him.
That coat has six pockets though, six. Imagine that. Do you know how many handhelds you can carry in a coat with six pockets? The answer is one, who owns more than one handheld? Seriously, think before you answer next time. The other pockets are great for holding snacks and games. Sometimes he carries a deck of Islean’s Odyssey trading cards, unsleeved, because we all make mistakes.
The news of what else happened today will go unknown to Manny for a short while. News travels fast but bad news travels slower to children. Once the pieces start coming together he’ll wonder if it was a coincidence that today he got his first chin hairs.
It probably is. But that story won’t help him pick up ladies in college.