The Howl

This isn’t the Howl, as I thought taking a picture or preparing a false idol would be blasphemous.

For those who don’t know, I’m working on a story that revolves around this town, not just with this blog, but something that I consider close to true. I say ‘close to true’, because that’s the nicest way to say I’m full of shit. It can’t be a story about my town, because it’s a boring place. Yet, it can’t not be about it. Does that make sense? Have I lost you already? If people understood the boredom that occurs on a daily basis in a small town, well, they would lose interest and then, they’d miss out on something truly amazing. I’m still working on exposing exactly what I’m talking about, while only being a little full of shit, not completely. It’s a treacherous line that you have to walk, but I’m trying… this is the story.

There’s this place in my town called the Howl. It’s only a few miles long and wide, really nothing to talk about. When we were children, we’d run around and act like there were monsters hunting us or that we could find buried treasure or just have an adventure. The rest of the town was quite boring. We had a few parks, but nothing much else. We basically got to play in a massive back yard full of trees and a few hills and a creek. It was a safer place than most of the streets in the town. Our parents allowed us to go down there, although there were a few things about it that made it less than desirable. Teenagers went down into the Howl to do drugs… or other things. You could find used condom wrappers. You could find closed thrown in the trees, like something out of ‘Lord of the Flies’, but none of that mattered. We used it as part of the adventure. It was our chance to learn something about what grown-ups (including teenagers) made of this place.

At the time, we were too young to understand why anyone would want to be naked in this place, but when you get older you understand. The time came for us to claim the Howl as our kingdom, which came to us in our teens. It made the most amazing paintball range you could ever see. We decorated the trees, not just in paint, but with lights and ply-board signs. We did anything to make it ours. Sure, we did drugs as well. We did reckless things, because that’s just what happened down there. It was our time to act like fools, so we took it. I’m glad we never missed that opportunity, truly glad.

I’m glad we took that chance, because looking down into the Howl right now, I couldn’t do any of that shit. I’m a grown ass man… thirty one, and going down into this place from my youth would shatter the narrative I’ve worked years to create. That’s my struggle. I’ve been wrestling with the narrative in my head, while the truth is fighting, pressing against the precipice, fighting its way inside. I can’t deny it. As an adult, you come to understand that there aren’t monsters in the Howl, but an even more earth-shattering revelation comes, as to why your parents told you those stories. It’s the Howl. The Howl is a controlled arena of deceit and trivial joy. Your parents told you to go down there, so you wouldn’t get locked into the rat-race that happened on the streets of our city. Kids discovered a lot worse in our town. Some of these things they’ll never recover from… Some of it should’ve been prevented.

Looking back, the Howl was our protector. We shielded ourselves from the truth. Our parents could watch us without really watching us. There was certainly some danger in the Howl, but it was far more controlled than what we would’ve seen walking… well, not everywhere, but down the wrong street. This is the Howl… and I hope I’ve given you the most truthful interpretation that I can…


17 thoughts on “The Howl

  1. “It can’t be a story about my town, because it’s a boring place. Yet, it can’t not be about it.” Yes, I’m like this to, and then search a reason to write a story surrounding it. Love the place called the Howl. Sounds fascinating, mysterious and grounding, a perfect place for growing up and grasping existing. Good luck and have fun. Cheers

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  2. Cool. We had the Woods, where similar things happened. The only advice I’d give you is this: if you’re writing a work of fiction don’t be bound by what really happened. The real Howl is simply your launch pad. As Mark Twain once said: Don’t let the truth stand in the way of a good story. Personally, I have great affection for the sort of story I think you’re about to tell. If you’ve ever read ‘It’ by Stephen King, the best bit is what the kids got up to in the summer, and it has no horror in there. All power to the story teller!

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  3. I really enjoyed reading this. You just reminded me of the two years I spent living in an old mansion house with my family and lots of other families. There was the attic and there was the cellar – the stuff of imagination and magic. I guess I forgot those places until I read this post. Thank you for evoking these memories x

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  4. Thanks for this one. Self-indulgent of me, I’d like to share my own howl story from a piece of “almost fiction” I’m working on. I think almost every male adult has a woods story:

    As a child, my suburban street dead-ended into a large wooded area. It was at least 200 yards wide and over a mile long. During my grade school years, my friends and I spent our afternoons searching for salamanders under rocks in the rainwater wash bisecting the woods. We roamed well-worn paths and gave uninspired names to each of the landmarks. The Abandoned Car, the Big Hill, the Old Tree.
    As we abutted our teens, those same paths offered racing courses for our stingray bicycles. We constructed banked turns and jumps out of wood scraps found in our basements. We emulated Evel Knievel’s latest dares. The older, cooler kids tried the most dangerous tricks. Not many years later, we snuck into those woods to smoke cigarettes and pot and drink mixed liquor concoctions out of pickle jars.

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  5. Hello

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