Confessions Nears Completion

Published on:

I’m happy to announce that I finished the second draft of Confessions of a Hallway Hustler. I’ve started in on the third draft. My goal is to publish the ebook on Amazon by the end of December. I’m on pace to accomplish this.

There are 41 chapters and almost 30,000 words.

Here’s a rough version of a later chapter:

The bell rang, marking the end of another day of brisk sales at Jerburbia Middle School. It was too soon to tell, though, if the dips and climbs of our sales figures was something more than normal day-to-day volatility. It was going to be another long night back at the clubhouse crunching the numbers. Was the shark moving forward? Hard to tell.
And I had other matters on my mind.
“You ready?” Toadstool whispered in my ear, his eyes dark with purpose. He had bad breath — like rotten fish.
As I strolled down the hall with my “guest,” kids were in a mad dash around us, their backpacks bouncing as they raced to their buses.
We spotted Niven walking while a cluster of kids crowded around him, jamming smartphones in his face. It didn’t seem to faze him at all. He talked as they walked together.
We followed a few paces behind. The group wound its way down the front steps of the school building and onto the sidewalk.
He stopped. We stopped. The kids from the school paper stashed their phones and circled back inside. He was alone.
We followed Niven blocks after blocks, careful to stay a few bus-lengths behind. I was expecting him to be worried. To shoot glances behind. But he never looked back. I strolled like a kid without a worry in the world.
He rounded a bend. We had to jog to catch up. When came round the corner, he was nowhere in sight. Did he give us the slip?
Nope. There he was, tipping his baseball cap to a lady in a blue windbreaker. She was loitering at the entrance of what looked like a fancy apartment building. A sign over the entrance read, “Lobby To Beyond Retirement Home.”
The lady seemed to recognize him. She waved him past.
We walked toward her like we owned the place. I ducked behind some shrubbery and ripped some flowers from a flowerbed. We continued. As we got close, I froze.“We need a name,” I whispered.
“An old white lady name.”
Toadstool caught my drift. He scratched his chin for a bit, then ventured, “Courtney?”
“Definitely white. But bounds middle-aged. Not old.”
“How about Doris?”
“Now you’re cooking.”
The lady in the windbreaker was watching our exchange. We straightened up and approached her.
“Can I help you, young men?”
“We’re here to see…” I shot a glance to Toadstool. “um… Doris.”
“Which Doris? We have seven of them.”
“No Doris with that last name.”
“Oh, sorry. That’s my Nana’s maiden name. That’s what I call her, Nana.”
The lady crossed her arms. “I see.” She looked us over.
We grinned.
At last, she pointed to a desk in the entryway. “Sign in there.”
The place smelled…interesting. Imagine if sweaty socks had a wrestling match with cough syrup.
We spotted Niven. He was at the other end of a long hall, laden with old folks plodding along with walkers. You know, the kinds with tennis-balls stuck to the front feet.
We walked briskly, dodging this way and that, smiling and greeting everyone we passed.
“A good day to you,” I said. I tipped an imaginary top hat. “And a good day to you.”
“What are you doing?” Toadstool growled.
“The elderly, they love that stuff.”
“Just hurry up. We have to get to him before he goes in her room. It’s probably too late already.”
We doubled our pace. I almost knocked this one chap in a paisley sport coat over. “The powder room’s that way.”
“I get it. Nature calls.”
“You gotta pee.”
“I know how that is,” another resident added. “I have to pee all the time.” He held up a plastic bag. It was half full of a golden liquid. A tube ran down from the bag into his shorts. “Did you know the medical term for peeing isn’t urination?”
“I didn’t know that,” Toadstool said.
“Wanna know what the docs call it?”
“I guess,” he said.
“Interesting,” I said.
“Never stop learning. That’s my motto.”
“A good one,” I said.
“A good what?”
“You’re a smart kid,” he said. “I can tell. You have a bright future ahead of you.”
“Aw, thanks,” I said.
Just then, Toadstool clamped down on my elbow.
“Oww,” I said.
“There he is,” he hissed.
Niven had just come out of the bathroom and was making a beeline for a door at the end of the hall. Surely, it had to be his grandma’s room. We had to hustle. We juked and shimmied around the creeping bodies to catch up to him.
But just when it looked like we were going to miss him, Niven stopped dead in his tracks. A water fountain. He bent over to take a long draught.
This was our big chance. We ducked behind an orderly that was heading toward the exit at the end of the hall. When we reached Niven we peeled off of the orderly’s wake.
Toadstool gave me some elaborate hand signal like he was with the Special Forces or something. I shrugged.
He pointed at me and feigned ramming his elbow into Niven.
“Oh,” escaped my mouth. I bit my lip. “Sorry,” I whispered.
Luckily, he must have been extremely thirsty. He was gulping down the water like he’d just stubbled out of the desert.
I wandered up to Niven, whistling. I was enjoying a casual afternoon stroll. No particular destination.
When I reached, I pretended to trip and threw my back into his protruding butt. He lurched forward. The stream of water splashed across his face.
I stood up, expecting him to chew me out.
“I’m sorry,” he said, squeegeeing the droplets from his cheeks with his hand. “Was I in your way?”
“Sorry,” I said. “I didn’t see you there.”
“No worries.” He looked at me intently. I almost felt like blushing. Like he was peering into my soul or something. “Don’t I know you?”
“I don’t think so.”
“You look so familiar.”
“I get that a lot. Must be my generic good looks.”
He laughed. It was a genuine laugh, as if he actually liked my cheesy joke.
“Nice to meet you,” he said and offered his hand.
We shook. His grip was warm and firm, not clammy or a vice grip. It was pretty much the perfect handshake.
“Good to meet you too,” I said and turned to go. Toadstool gave me a big thumbs up.
There it was, jutting from Niven’s jacket pocket. An entire carton of cigarettes. We had him now.
Niven knocked on the door.
A frail voice behind the thick door said, “Come in.”
Niven opened the door. I couldn’t help myself. I had to peek inside. The shades were down, so it was hard to see. In a hospital bed, covered in a white sheet, lay his grandma. Machines on stands beeped and hummed around her. Tubes ran from the machines across her lap and up her nose. Some were stuck into the crooks in her elbows. She looked so delicate, like an orange leaf about to tumble from an ancient oak tree.
Niven stepped in, and smiling warmly, said, “Hello, Gram.”
“Come close,” she wheezed. “So I can have a good look at you.”
He came up to the side of the bed and gave her kiss on the cheek. “How are you feeling?” He cupped her hand in both of his.
“Delighted. Now that you’re here.”
Toadstool tugged at my shoulder. “Let’s go.”
I brushed him off. “Wait.”
“You’ve grown so tall.”
“Gram, I saw you yesterday.”
“One day? Growing like a weed.” She chuckled. The chuckle quickly morphed into wheezing, then into a fit of coughing.
“Now, Gram, no more jokes,” Dos Matos said.
“Laughter is the best medicine,” she managed to get out between coughs. “And I need a lot of it.”
I couldn’t take it anymore. How could we do this to him? To her? She was really sick. Some kind of lung problem. Maybe pneumonia. Or who knows, even emphysema. Any shock would send her over the edge.
What kind of monster had I become?
Looking at the two of them, huddled close to together. Seeing each other. Caring for each other.
That’s when it hit me. What I wanted. What I missed. From my mom. From everyone. To see and be seen. To listen and be heard. To be fully present with each other.
I made for the door. Toadstool tried to grab me. “What are you doing?” he growled. I pulled myself out of his grip and went stumbling into the room. I finally got my feet under me and stood straight. I was at the foot of Gram’s bed.
“Hello,” she said, half a question.
For a second, Niven looked confused. Then he said, “This is my grandma. Um, I’m sorry, but I didn’t get your name.”
“Anton. Nice to meet you, Gram.”
“How did you know—”
“I’m sorry to interrupt. It’s just that I forget something.”
“You forgot something?”
There was no way around. I had to act now, before his grandma noticed what was in his pocket.
“Sorry,” I said. I darted around the corner and lunged at Niven. He turned to face me, the look of utter confusion returning to his face. I snatched the carton from his pocket, wheeled around, and sprinted out of the room.
Neither of them had any idea what just happened.
Toadstool was waiting for me outside. “What the?”
I marched right past him, chucking the carton into a garbage bin. “Get lost.”
“Get out of here. Go home. If you have one.”
“You’re gonna pay for this, Anton.”
“Do your worst,” I said and never looked back.

Confessions of a Hallway Hustler cover

Confessions of a Hallway Hustler

Another Shameless Wimpy Kid Parody
By Jest Ninney

Confessions of a Hallway Hustler is the rollicking tale of Anton Altanero, a foreign transplant with delusions of grandeur, navigating the wilds of a typical American middle school. It's Diary of a Wimpy Kid meets Scarface, without the guns but with all the greed and ambition.

Grab Your Copy

Leave a Comment

On this website we use first or third-party tools that store small files (cookies) on your device. Cookies allow the site to: run (technical cookies), generate navigation usage reports (statistical cookies), and provide a personalized experience (profiling cookies). Technical cookies are standard, but you have the right to choose whether to enable statistical and profiling cookies. By enabling these cookies, you help me offer you a better user experience.