Read Skateboard Tough Online

Authors: Matt Christopher

Tags: #Ages 8 & Up

Skateboard Tough

Again to my wife, Cay

Copyright © 1991 by Catherine M. Christopher

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without permission in writing from the publisher, except by a reviewer who may quote brief passages in a review.

Second Paperback Edition

The characters and events portrayed in this book are fictitious. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author.

Matt Christopher
TM
is a trademark of Catherine M. Christopher.

Summary: When Brett’s skateboarding abilities dramatically and inexplicably improve after using The Lizard, a skateboard mysteriously unearthed in his front yard, his friends start to wonder if the skateboard is haunted.

First eBook Edition: November 2008

ISBN: 978-0-316-04580-3

Contents

Dedication

Acknowledgments

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Acknowledgments

I wish to heartily thank skateboard enthusiasts Chad West, of Lake Wylie, South Carolina, and Michael Dickson, of Hopkins, South Carolina, for reading and approving the skateboarding portions of this book.

1

H
old it! Hold it!”

Instantly, Brett wheelied to a stop, putting all his 121 pounds on his left foot, forcing the front end of “Cobra,” his skateboard, to rise and the rear to scrape against the sidewalk.

His mouth parted as he started to say something, then he realized that the man hadn’t yelled at him, but at the guy operating the digging machine. He was one of the workers constructing a foundation for the garage Brett’s mother and father were having built in the backyard just beyond the driveway. Brett and his family hadn’t lived in Springton long — only about six months — because of his father’s change of jobs. One of the things his parents had always wanted was a new garage, and now, finally, they were getting it.

“What did you find?” the operator asked. Both he and the worker on the ground wore yellow coveralls and helmets.

“Some kind of box!” the worker yelled back, jumping down into the narrow trench that had been dug.

Curious, Brett skated onto the driveway toward the digging machine, hopped off the skateboard, and walked gingerly alongside the huge yellow monster to get a look at the box the enormous-toothed shovel had dredged up. The worker was lifting the box — a wooden one about a foot square and a yard long — out of the hole as Brett approached.

The man’s broad, sweaty face broke into a smile as he looked up at Brett. “Know anything about this?” he asked, his voice a deep, throaty drawl.

“Not a thing,” Brett said. “Can I take it?” he asked, reaching for the box with his gloved hands.

“Sure. It was on your property,” the worker said, and handed it to him.

“Thanks,” Brett said. He carried the box to the back stoop. Then he whipped off his gloves, flew into the house, and flew back out with a bristle brush, a hammer, and a screwdriver.

What could be in it? he wondered as he hurriedly brushed off the dirt that had stuck to the box. And why had somebody buried it there in the yard?

He felt eyes watching him from behind the screened door, and knew his mother was there, as anxious as he was to see what was inside the box. After he’d removed most of the dirt, he drove the screwdriver into the crack separating the nailed-down lid and the box proper. Little by little he got it loose. Finally, after pulling out the nails, he lifted off the lid.

His eyes opened wide. A skateboard! A shiny blue-and-white-striped skateboard!

“I don’t believe it.” Mrs. Thyson’s muffled voice came from behind the screened door. “Who’d bury a skateboard?”

“I don’t know, Mom,” Brett said, surprised and thrilled by the find. “But it’s mine, now! And it’s a double kick tail! Mine’s just a kick tail.” A double kick tail meant that both ends of a skateboard curved up, making it more effective for performing tricks.

Gingerly, as if it were an egg, he lifted out the skateboard and hefted it for weight and quality. His heart thumped with excitement.

“Mom, it feels great!” he whispered with awe. “Really great!”

Tenderly, he turned it over. “The Lizard” was imprinted in script between the trucks that held the urethane plastic wheels. Brett tried to guess how old the skateboard was. The worn wheels and ends showed that it had had plenty of use, but the shiny colors looked brand new, as though the board had been painted just before it had been placed into the box and buried.

“You’re not going to keep it?” his mother said. “It doesn’t seem right, you know.”

Brett’s heart sank a notch. He looked up at her, his brown eyes sad, like those of a pup that had just been denied a bone.

“Why not?” he said. “It was buried in
our
yard. Whoever buried it didn’t want it anymore, right? What’s wrong with my wanting to keep it?”

“I don’t know. Maybe whoever buried it had a good reason. Maybe he — I assume it was a he — wouldn’t want his skateboard ever to be used again.”

Brett should have known his mother would put up a fuss. She wasn’t crazy about his skateboarding in the first place. But he wasn’t going to give up this beauty, no way.

“Maybe so, Mom,” he said. “But that’s his tough luck. It was in our yard and I’m going to keep it. That isn’t all,” he went on, jumping to his feet. “I’m going to ride it, too!”

Brett carried the skateboard to the driveway. After pulling on his gloves, he placed his left foot on the skateboard and pushed off with his right.

“What was in the box?” asked the worker who had found it.

“This board,” Brett replied, coming to a halt. “I’m just going to try it out.”

“Lucky for you that you like skateboarding,” said the worker.

“Yeah, it
is
lucky,” Brett said.

He shot a quick smile over his shoulder, then whisked down the driveway to the cement sidewalk, where he placed both feet on the board, came to an almost abrupt halt, spun the board in a complete 360-degree turn, then raced down the walk.

He did a wheelie — raising the nose wheels high off the sidewalk — then reversed the move, touching down the nose wheels and lifting the rear wheels. The board performed so noiselessly that Brett felt he was practically skating on a cushion of air. His own board, Cobra, never sounded as quiet nor skated as smoothly as The Lizard.
With a board like this,
Brett thought,
I could become really good. I might even have a chance at becoming as good as Kyle.

Kyle Robinson was unquestionably the best skateboarder in Springton, and Kyle made sure everyone knew it. Brett would love to see someone challenge him someday, and who knew? Maybe with The Lizard, it would be him.

Brett’s mind raced with thoughts of some of the tricks he could do, and several that he
wished
he could do. He also wished that there was somewhere he could go to practice in peace. Back in Ridgeville, his old town, there was a skateboarding arena, and twice a year the town sponsored a skateboard contest. But here in Springton, kids only had the sidewalks — it was illegal to skate on the street — and skating on sidewalks was no thrill, with pedestrians coming and going. They’d bore a hole through you with their mean glares.

Brett’s thoughts were interrupted by the squeak of Mrs. Weatherspoon’s high-backed chair as she rocked back and forth on her front stoop. Brett would swear that she spent ninety-eight percent of her life on that rickety old rocking chair. He knew from his mother that Mrs. Weatherspoon had no family nearby — her husband was dead, and her only daughter lived out of state — and he figured she was lonely. On an impulse, Brett waved to her, but she just continued to stare straight ahead. He guessed she didn’t see him through the tinted lenses of her thick-framed glasses. Or maybe she was just unfriendly. Well, maybe if she were nicer, she’d make some friends … then she wouldn’t have to spend all of her time by herself, sitting on the porch.

Putting Mrs. Weatherspoon out of his mind, Brett cut to the right, onto the curb, and headed back toward his home. He did an Ollie — positioning his front foot behind the front trucks of the skateboard, he pushed his back foot against its rear, then jumped up, the board hanging onto his feet as if it were glued to them, and landed with the tail of the board slamming against the walk.

He did it again, then whisked onto the curb and glided across it. Back on the sidewalk, a feeling of absolute confidence swept through him as he thought of a maneuver he had always wished he could do but had never tried — the Ho-ho, or handstand, standing with his hands on the board and his feet in the air. Just thinking about it used to scare him out of his wits.

Now, taking a deep breath,
he did it,
then flipped back onto the board with both feet.
All right!
he almost shouted. He had done it! He had finally done the Ho-ho!

His heart was filled with exultation now, an exultation he had never felt while riding his own skateboard.
This is heaven,
he thought, as he did the Ho-ho once again.

“Careful, wimp, or you’ll break your back!” a voice yelled from the direction of the sidewalk.

At the sound of the familiar voice, Brett steered the board onto the street and flipped over onto his feet. But his aim was off and his left foot missed the deck, causing him to lose his balance and fall.

It was a good thing he knew how to fall, rolling over onto his back and then onto his feet with hardly a feeling of pain.

A laugh broke from the kid who had yelled at him, but by the time Brett had regained his feet, the kid, Kyle Robinson, was speeding down the sidewalk, his laughter trailing in his wake.

2

O
h wow! Hey, I never saw you skate like that before! Is that you, Brett Thyson, or somebody else?”

Brett gathered his wits together and saw a familiar face staring at him from almost the same spot where Kyle Robinson had first cried out to him. It was W.E. Winsor, all four feet two inches of him. Brett didn’t know what W.E.’s real first name was, but W.E. stood for Walking Encyclopedia. He was only eleven but he had a memory that everybody who knew him envied.

“W.E.!” Brett exclaimed, surprised. “Where’d you come from?”

“I was behind Kyle,” W.E. said, standing straddle-legged on the sidewalk.

“Oh. I wish that guy would mind his own business,” Brett mumbled, looking in the direction Kyle had gone.

“You don’t like him very much, do you?”

Brett shrugged. “I don’t know him that well. What bugs me is the way he’s always showing off.”

“He
is
a darn good skateboarder. I think you’re just jealous,” W.E. added, grinning.

“Maybe,” Brett admitted, “but one of these days, I’d like to show
him
a thing or two.”

“I don’t know, Brett. Kyle’s pretty good.”

“Yeah. But I’ll be better.” Brett patted the board in his hand. “Now that I’ve got The Lizard, anything’s possible.”

W.E.’s eyes landed on the skateboard and stayed there. “When did you get
that?”
he asked.

“Maybe forty, forty-five minutes ago,” Brett answered. “Why?”

“It looks used.”

“It is,” Brett said. “But it works great. Watch.”

He rode the curb again for a few seconds, then burst into an 180-degree turn that he finished skating backwards. Seconds later he was dancing back and forth on the curb, and — as W.E.’s mouth fell open — Brett leaped across the short span of grass to the sidewalk, did a 360, and finished with a perfect two-point landing.

“Geez!” W.E. exclaimed, incredulous. “A Gator Slide, and an Ollie One-foot with a perfect three-hundred-and-sixty-degree pivot! Man, I didn’t know you even
knew
those moves!”

“I didn’t,” Brett said, smiling.

W.E. stared at him. “Huh? You mean you just
did
them?”

Brett shrugged. “Well, I tried, and I did. And you saw me, right?”

“You bet your incredible moves I did!” W.E. said. “And when did you learn those grinds?”

“Grinds?” Brett echoed. “I did grinds?”

“Look, don’t tell me you did grinds — on that curb there — and didn’t even know it?”

W.E. knelt before the board and studied it. “Something about this board looks awful familiar, Brett,” he said, his voice more subdued now. “Where did you get it?”

Brett hesitated. For some reason, he was reluctant to say anything about where it had come from. But he should have guessed that someone — especially W.E. — would be curious about it.

Well, he could see nothing wrong in telling W.E. After all, he hadn’t
stolen
the skateboard. It was rightfully his.

“It was in a box, buried in our yard,” Brett explained. “I don’t know who put it there, but it’s mine now.”

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