CAR THIEVES & CREEK BEDS
by Randall Philip Booker
It was 1986, and in the small town of Fair Creeks, all Jeffrey Reynolds could see in his bathroom mirror was plain brown hair, boring brown eyes, and a round face riddled with brown freckles that didn’t do a good enough job of hiding the occasional zit. He often wondered if he had invisibility as a superpower since he could walk around high school for days on end without a single girl making eye contact.
Then, everything changed when he discovered a rash of car thefts plaguing his neighborhood. His friends wrangle him into a weeklong caper of trying to discover the car thieves while keeping up with school, hiding out from bullies, finishing his paper route, and maybe, just maybe getting noticed by Jasmine Torrence.
What ends up being much more than he bargained for, Jeffrey is soon caught up in a game of organized crime where the stakes are literally life and death.
CAR THIEVES & CREEK BEDS
I first want to thank and acknowledge my son Aidan (he’s awesome!). I honestly started this book as a way to inspire him to be a writer. During the early summer days of 2016, we sat at the kitchen table talking about what we both wanted to do that summer. I asked about his prospects for finally getting a job, but he wanted to spend the summer writing his book. I was inspired by his ideas, and I looked to encourage him any way I could.
As the weeks passed, he became discouraged about his writing and felt like he’d never finish. I tried giving him the dad “pep talk,” but to no avail. So instead of more talk, I got out a notebook and told him that I’d write a book alongside as a way to prod him. “What are you going to write about?” he quipped with a not-so-masked hint of sarcasm.
I paused and thought about it for a moment—inevitably coming up blank. My entire writing career started and ended all within thirty seconds at my kitchen table.
It was Aidan who came up with, “why don’t you write about growing up in the ‘80s? Those stories are crazy.”
My entire family had sat through endless stories about how I grew up and navigated my teenage years, traipsing through the creeks and corner stores of my hometown with a tight group of friends and getting into all kinds of trouble. Most of the time, these stories ended with them saying, “I can’t believe Nana let you do that!” I’ve tried to tell them that Nana and Papa didn’t know about 99% of what we got into—thank God!
So with a little coffee and a lot of walking down memory lane, Aidan and I set off on a writer’s journey. And yes, as most teenage boys do, he got bored a few days in and resumed his endless conquest of one video game or another.
And there starts my next round of acknowledgments. It was my wife Amy who sat at the kitchen table and in coffee shops, taking my son’s place, listening, encouraging, proofreading, acting out dialogue, and supporting me every step of the way. Each time I wanted to give up on Jeffrey and his friends, she pushed me to finish and believed that what I was writing was funny, heartfelt, and worth so much more than just a summer activity. Three years later, she hasn’t given up, and continues to believe that what I have to say matters. She’s the best, and I love her dearly.
My youngest son, Christian, is truly an inspiration. Themes of loyalty, friendship, kindness, compassion, and courage found throughout these pages all come from who he is—through and through.
This book doesn’t exist without my Village Park friends. I hold those memories of creeks, sports, dances, train tracks, Wiffle ball, skateboarding, first kisses, arcades, bus rides, newspaper routes, sleepovers, and sneaking out close to my heart. Today as a dad and educator, I wish my kids and students could experience half of what we did—but only half, as the other half would probably get you arrested today.
I also want to thank and acknowledge my mom Maria, stepdad Rich, older brother Courtney, younger sister Natalie, mother-in-law Jan and father-in-law Gino. They’ve been faithfully reading rewrites for years without a single grumble! While I’ll occasionally get the, “you know what should happen …”, they’ve all been incredibly supportive and encouraging.
I’m indebted to my mentors and dear friends Constance Hubbard and Michael Brady. They were there when I was growing up professionally and stuck around to support me when I shoved drafts at them to comment and critique.
Vesta Clare is an incredible editor and I’m grateful for her attention to detail. You’re right, I need to “give other words a chance!”
And lastly, I want to thank the Walnut Creek Writers Guild. This group of insanely talented writers provided me with endless edits and insights—all honing my limited skills as a writer. They were the first to understand and acknowledge the wholesomeness I was trying to convey in my characters and storytelling and the importance it holds in who I am.
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ILLUSTRATIONS BY ELENA TETOLDINI COSTA
ABOUT THE AUTHOR ...
Randall Philip Booker
Randall Booker has been married for over 20 years to his beautiful wife. They have two incredible teenage boys, two dogs (Otis & Tina Fey), and a desert tortoise named Yoshi … who will outlive everyone!
Randall’s a school superintendent and an avid musician who grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area during the 1980’s. Needless to say, his teenage years of skateboarding, first kisses, arcades, prog rock, bus rides, D&D, newspaper routes, sleepovers, and sneaking out have all shaped his storytelling.
CAR THIEVES & CREEK BEDS
Copyright @ 2020 by Randall Philip Booker
Illustrated by Elena Tetoldini Costa
Book Design by Alex Johnson
ISBN # 978-1-63132-091-0
Published in the United States of America by ALIVE Book Publishing and ALIVE Publishing Group, imprints of ALIVE Publishing LLC
3200 A Danville Blvd., Suite 204, Alamo, California 94507