Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The Destructors, by Graham Greene

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The other day, I posted another story by Graham Greene that dealt with "sacrilege." In reading it, I realized how inadequate a writer I am. There is a website by Lycos that has a tremendous list of public domain short stories that hosted that other Greene story. I'm going to occasionally post other stories during "slow news days" for you to read, and perhaps better your own writing style.


The Destructors

by Graham Greene









1

It was on the eve of August Bank Holiday that the latest recruit became the leader of the Wormsley Common gang. No one was surprised except Mike, but Mike at the age of nine was surprised by everything. “If you don’t shut your mouth,” somebody once said to him, “you’ll get a frog down it.” After that Mike had kept his teeth tightly clamped except when the surprise was too great.

The new recruit had been with the gang since the beginning of the summer holidays, and there were possibilities about his brooding silence that all recognized. He never wasted a word even to tell his name until that was required of him by the rules. When he said “Trevor” it was a statement of fact, not as it would have been with the others a statement of shame or defiance. Nor did anyone laugh except Mike, who finding himself without support and meeting the dark gaze of the newcomer opened his mouth and was quiet again. There was every reason why T., as he was afterward referred to, should have been an object of mockery—there was his name (and they substituted the initial because otherwise they had no excuse not to laugh at it), the fact that his father, a former architect and present clerk, had “come down in the world” and that his mother considered herself better than the neighbors. What but an odd quality of danger, of the unpredictable, established him in the gang without any ignoble ceremony of initiation?

The gang met every morning in an impromptu car-park, the site of the last bomb of the first blitz. The leader, who was known as Blackie, claimed to have heard it fall, and no one was precise enough in his dates to point out that he would have been one year old and fast asleep on the down platform of Wormsley Common Underground Station. On one side of the car-park leaned the first occupied house, number 3, of the shattered Northwood Terrace—literally leaned, for it had suffered from the blast of the bomb and the side walls were supported on wooden struts. A smaller bomb and some incendiaries had fallen beyond, so that the house stuck up like a jagged tooth and carried on the further wall relics of its neighbor, a dado, the remains of a fireplace. T., whose words were almost confined to voting “Yes” or “No” to the plan of operations proposed each day by Blackie, once startled the whole gang by saying broodingly, “Wren built that house, father says. . . .Lycos Short Stories

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