Beginings of A Storm Hoof Prints the Making of Ace
Stephen King was going through a series of shocks. The five hour drive from New Braunfels to Denton would be the first of many in his life. There were few things as unpleasant as five hours on the road after 28 hours of air travel. Living in hotel for three days added more frazzle to Stephen King’s attitude.
Dr King may not have been the most astute parent but she did know education or particularly good and bad teachers. She found the fireball older Latin Teacher who was radically unconventional but packing pure teaching talent in her 100 lb frame. The Spanish teacher who Stephen was supposed to have was not the kind of teacher for a learning disabled kid. Also the camera was a tool of the yearbook staffer. Stephen would be on the cross country team.
Coach Noel Scott was introduced to Dr. King she was keenly intelligent and detail oriented. She was a powerful figure from a purely management style she was organized and powerful. In many ways she was the butt kicker Denton needed. She could also be trouble. The good news was the runner had trained during the summer. What Noel Scott had also heard was that the kid had a learning disability and was main streamed this was interesting. Practices were to begin in 2 weeks it was imperative a house be found between now and then.
The house that was selected was near the Golden Triangle Mall hidden in a small residential section. Stephens Older Dog had to be left with an aunt in New Braunfels….along with the cat. The solid picket fence and the lack of natural beauty assaulted Stephen King. The yard had reddish sand and Bermuda grass along with a smattering of skinny oaks. Stephens house in New Braunfels had far more natural beauty far more beautiful. Now the house Stephen King was forced to call home looked like another house built within the last year in a tract neighborhood near an interstate near a mall within eyesight of bank high rise a mall and bowling alley. There was the obligatory strip centers near the mall. Beyond the busy roadway was a power plant. What Stephen did not notice was the trio of tiny springs he house was near in the easements. There were some pools deep enough and actually held some schools of bluegill. The move and unpacking was next on the list. At least he would get to run he continued his training runs.
The scene was set. Leisha’s older brother was not officially on cross-country team but he opted to do some conditioning runs with Coach Noel Scott. Stephen King was already appalled at Denton he felt for lack of a better word kidnapped. Naturally his mother was busy and his older sister had to drive him to the first morning practice at North lakes Park.
Shawn the senior smelt it…..a blend of cockiness and anger. Stephen walked from the blueish Gray BMW wearing a Unicorn cross-country T-shirt and royal blue shorts. The look was trouble. The cross-country team in Denton was quiet calm smooth running operation. What Shawn saw appeared to be an Ernest Worrell with an arrogant attitude. Shawn’s assessment of the new guy was pretty accurate. Stephen walked with a visible condescension to the park. Wearing the colors of another team was not good. His next line “Are there any hills in Denton” was hardly impressive.
Stephen was not impressed at all with Northlakes park. For someone who grew up on the very fringe of Balcones escarpment and the park at its base Northlakes was hardly impressive. Denton like New Braunfels did have springs but its springs were far smaller and more diffuse. Northlakes park boasted two large dams earthen each held a small lake of somewhat clear water. Northlakes Park had more topography than Landa Park if you exclude Panther Canyon but the area was twice the size with half the water. While Landa Park was abutted on the bottom of a near limestone rock wall Northlakes was vast area of very subtly sloping plains.
Noel Scott introduced Stephen and announced the first run of the season. The team had gathered underneath a metal shelter just north of the dam of the northern lake. Annie New was red head of moderate height well formed. Shawn and Ned were the lording seniors. Allan Boyd was another sophomore who played soccer and was facing his debut season. Noel Scott was the soccer coach moonlighting as a cross-country coach. The workout was a simple one to begin with a lap around both lakes which put it a little more than three miles at a moderate pace.
That evening a group of 9th graders from Strickland Jr high would undergo their own workout that Noel Scott was aware of and coordinating. In them Tara West was taking her second sport in addition to being a cheerleader and studying Karate with her father. Strickland had four runners two boys and two girls. Sadly Calhoun Jr high had not the runners interested in Cross-country.
Shawn and Ned took off fast with Buga behind. Buga came from near Tampico. Guirrlmo and Buga soon passed Shawn and Ned. Stephen King in his blue and white was on the backside of the lead pack. Allan Boyd and even Annie New made the passes. This was even before they crossed Windsor drive to the south.
Stephen King was assaulted by the ugliness of the YMCA building and the tackiness of the track housing on the left visible as they got on the dam of the southern lake. Behind Stephen King was Nina Garza and Antonio and Matt. Stephen was hardly the fastest guy on the team but he was not the slowest.
Coach Noel Scott watched as the team circled around on Windsor and aimed themselves at the parking lot. Yeah Stephen King was a blow hard but he did have good form and was obviously trying. He was a bit terrier nipping at the heels of the other teammates. That was a good sign.
For the second part of the run the assault on Stephen King’s mind continued. It was not that Denton was ugly it was that Denton was not pretty. Furthermore Denton lacked visible personality it seemed as if store bought and deposited on the vast plains of Texas. On the top of the northern dam which really was not that high Stephen could see a stunning amount of the town. The thought made Stephen recoil in horror and the hatred toward the town grew.
The ride to the new house with his older sister was irritating. She resented the early phone call from Dr King reminding her to take her little brother to the practice. He was visibly irritated as he walked. The two had been talking less since her year in Denmark. She liked Denton and Stephen her brother was quite obviously hating. In 3 days Stephen actually would get to look at the school where he would attend.
Stephens first encounter with Ryan campus sent two strongly contradictory messages in Stephen Kings mind. For any Unicorn a simple feature was a novelty…..a window! The building had windows the vast majority of classrooms had windows….sunlight. The building was two story the stairwells were business like. The windows were definitely positive. There were visible negative things. The Renaissance banner boasting a national commitment to excellence. The red and gray tile not school colors. The Campus had been built on one set of premises that had not gone through. Stephen King could sense an intellectualism that long passed the border to folly. The lunch room looked too modern too much like a mall food court once again mechanical soullessness. The library with its large arch and its space looked more junior campus too gaudy. All in all the campus sent a strongly negative message to Stephen King. He could see the troubles that loomed ahead. The dyspraxic mind sensed things others did not.
Stephen vocalized his concerns to his mother Dr King. She shoved them away. The Renaissance program was a good nation wide program. The reality was school spirit should have been the tool. He looked over the packet and realized how cheesy it was. His concerns were ignored as his mother turned onto Loop 288.
Stephen King finally got a hold of the local paper the Record Chronicle. He read the whole paper to the classified adds. Stephen realized that he was not in New Braunfels anymore. He was bewildered by the overtly cynical tone of the paper instead the Herald Zeitung in New Braunfels which was only one step above a school newspaper in tones. The ACLU had filed a lawsuit against the high school for the bands half time show and the form of a cross. Stephen as he read processed the fact that the workouts for the team were not at the campus and they were not hearing the school fight song or Alma Matre. This along with the paper were highly odd to Stephen. The heavy feeling was that Denton lacked a soul.
The team had its dynamics. Stephen King was shocked at later workouts. It was brief moment but Coach Noel Scott had heard profanity. Where Coach Bob Scott had made a superficial attempt to deal with profanity. Coach Noel Scott had heard profanity and Shawn and Nate soon found themselves doing an additional 20 pushups. The thing that shocked Stephen King was the complete lack of powerful personalities on the team.
A couple days later his cousin and aunt came by from New Braunfels. Rodd had been on the phone with the son of a history teacher. There was the sound of a gunshot and Rodd collapsed. He was pronounced dead two days later at BAMC. Stephen King instantly felt the guilt for the way he had treated him at Taft high school. Stephen realized that his freshman year he had become what he had hated. What was worse was Stephen was now powerless to do anything about it.
The other highlight for Stephen King was learning how to black and white photo process on the campus at UNT. It was a yearbook seminar. Stephen was invited by Mary Olsen to a cup of cappuccino at the Kharma café as they shot the campus happy snaps. She offered to buy. Stephen King gratefully accepted.
Kharma Kafe assaulted Stephen’s senses yet in his legalistic Catholic purity the place struck him oddly. For one piece of Denton their was the appearance of something real instead of synthetic. Stephen King tried cappucino for the first time and made a horrific mistake. Kharma had a strong coffee flavor and was notoriously rich on the cream. In short a Kharma cappuccino was the best. Everything else was….Stephen enjoyed the coffee. The Barrista encouraged the two to take some pictures inside which they did. Stephen took a couple. He also laughed that Kathy Ireland had stomped out of the place when she was a part of the filming of Necessary roughness which had occurred on the campus of UNT. The roof of the building dated back to the 20s in style the couches were comfortable and the purple wall on the south side of the room was neat. The sound a local band covering “Walking After Midnight” instantly endeared the place to the otherwise culturally conservative Stephen King.
What followed was the learning the motor challenge of processing film. The metal reels were a great start for Stephen. They offered more tactile cues that held up in the distortion of the dyspraxic mind which twisted the feel into a distorted 3d reality in the mind. Stephen lost 4 exposures out of 26 in the 24 exposure role of TMAX.
By the Saturday before school things had evened out. Stephen King was going to run JV on the cross-country team. He was an unknown quantity in the yearbook staff. Aside from the fact Stephen knew nothing of his teachers he knew very few people in the class and it was a brand new school for everybody in a brand knew building and Stephen was facing his defacto second year as a freshman.
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