short stories ~ literary fiction ~ social commentary
copyright © 1999 - 2013
When I was eleven years old, back in the day when newspapers came out in the afternoon, I had a newspaper route. I heard a route adjacent my street came open. “But you gotta be twelve years old,” a boy from school told me.
I asked whether they’d make an exception. They did.
The boy’s father hosted the area drop. My mother signed the form, thinking the responsibility would do me good. The job wasn’t difficult. I’d ride my bicycle to the drop, get my papers, fold and band each, placing them in the large canvas bag, loop the bag strap on my bicycle handlebars and ride my route.
On the first day at the first house, I balanced my bicycle between my legs, double-checking my list. A woman stood from her weeding and eyed me carefully.
“Yes, ma’am. You’re on my list.”
“You a sub?”
“I’m not sure what you mean.”
“This your route now or just filling in?”
“Oh.” I beamed maybe a bit too proudly. “This is my route.”
She nodded approval. “I want to tell you the difference between good paperboys and bad paperboys. Good paperboys always have the paper on the porch, in front of my door.”
“And, bad paperboys?”
I wanted to be a good paperboy.