Here’s a bit from SIDESHOW IN THE CENTER RING, my science fiction comedy of bad manners. This is from the first chapter, in which the main character, Connie Phelan, tells about growing up poor on Helena Street (known to its denizens as Hell Alley). Don’t try to Google the hymn; I made it up.
A Charming Game
excerpt from SIDESHOW IN THE CENTER RING
by Marian Allen
We shared the Alley with rats and other assorted vermin. We dodged pimps, pushers, and gangs. When we got old enough, some of us entered one or more of these bands. I never did. Just wasn’t a joiner, I guess.
Hell Alley consumed most of the kids I grew up with, but it was the making of me. Insult humor– Slapping, in our lingo – was very big in Hell Alley. I was good at Slapping.
A guy would say, “Hey, Girl! Good Girl! Come here and let me tell you something!”
And I would say something like, “If I was as good as you are ugly, I could work a miracle. What I’d do is turn your face inside out so nobody but you would have to look at it.”
And so on.
Slapping was only one of our favorite sports. Another was going to church. Mom and Daddy didn’t go to church; up too late Saturday to see much of Sunday. That’s how it was with a lot of the kids. My Aunt Bootsie – a sister of my Mom’s – used to drive down to the Alley in her purple electric mini-van and cram it full of us half-washed sinners. She’d take us to St. Philemon’s Cathedral uptown, near her two-story shotgun house, and line us up in the front pew where she could keep an eye on us from the choir. Afterward, she took us to Joe and Sinkers for doughnuts and then back to Helena Street. I’d go in and see if Mom and Daddy were up yet. If they were, she’d come in and visit. They usually weren’t, and she’d go home.
We’d go through St. Philemon’s hymnals looking for material to use in another of our games. We’d get a packing crate or an appliance box out of the big dumpster behind 63 Andriot, do one-potato to choose a kid to be “it,” put the kid in the box, and sing one of those hymns. Then we’d cheer and dance around for a while and sit down and eat whatever cookies or chips we’d scrounged for the game.
Our favorite hymn was “Flesh is My Portion.” You know:
Flesh is my portion, blood is my cup,
Through these, Life is mine .
At this, Your feast, I eat and I sup
Flesh and blood Divine.
The grown-ups would all beam and say, “Ain’t it cute, the kids playing church like that? Baptism and communion and everything?”
They never caught on. We were playing Cannibal.
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A WRITING PROMPT BASED ON MY POST: What was your main character’s favorite childhood game?