Sloan Fitzpatrick: Middle School Journalist
Sloan Fitzpatrick is nervous about his first day of seventh grade. His best friend moved to another state. The school bully grew taller over the summer, while Sloan remained short. Plus, he registered for a Newspaper class just because his crush was the Editor-In-Chief, even though he knew nothing about journalism. After interviewing a city politician for his first assignment, Sloan finds himself wrapped up in the school newspaper. But he also finds himself caught in a political corruption investigation and he’s in way over his head. Now, how’s he supposed to handle seventh grade?
Preview: Sloan Fitzpatrick - Middle School Journalist
A black car with tinted, bulletproof windows pulled slowly into the gravel parking lot. The car squeezed against the wall in the back alley between the old brick buildings.
The moon hung high overhead, but the height of the buildings blocked the light from reaching the meeting place. A single, orange streetlight flickered in the narrow alleyway.
A well-dressed driver exited the car. He stood and looked around the alleyway; his eyes darted back and forth looking for any potential danger. Safety and protection were his main objectives.
He walked briskly to the other side of the car and opened the door to the back seat. A single, shiny, black shoe appeared, followed by its mate.
The Politician exited his vehicle without acknowledging his driver, who shut the door and stood in a sentry position by the car.
Dressed in a dark blue suit, the Politician waited impatiently. He checked his gold watch every ten seconds.
“He’s late,” the Politician said to his driver.
“I’m sure he’ll be here any minute, sir,” the driver said.
Silence hung in the air. Voices could be heard faintly from casual nighttime city-goers that walked along the main avenues, but the Politician was completely hidden by the darkness that engulfed the alleyway.
Headlights appeared around the dark alley’s corner. The car pulled slowly through the gravel. Every stone crunched underneath the slow-moving tires. The vehicle stopped about 50 feet away from the Politician.
The car door opened. A round man dressed in an expensive suit strolled toward the Politician. They shook hands.
“Here to represent Denver Oil Company?” the Politician asked with a knowing expression.
“Of course I am,” the Oilman said.
The Oilman’s teeth spread across his face and curled into a greasy smile. His eyebrows narrowed.
“I’m glad to see you, cousin,” the Politician said.
“It’s good to keep this type of business in the family,” the Oilman said.
Both men laughed menacingly.
“Now, let’s make a deal.”
The First Day
Sloan saw the crosswalk sign as it neared the end of its countdown to zero, but he decided to sprint across the street anyway. He knew every downtown stoplight’s rhythm, so he jumped at the chance to use his street smarts today, of all days.
He reached the center of the crosswalk when a truck’s horn blared. Sloan did not look; he increased his speed. As he leapt onto the curb, he felt the wind from the truck rush by him, flooding him with a sense of adventure, and pride for his perfect timing.
The skyscrapers of downtown Denver, Colorado cast shadows along the city sidewalks. The early morning sun snuck through crevices between tall buildings and illuminated certain spots on the streets. Cars crept along the one-way avenues and boulevards. Sometimes, even when the stoplights turned green, cars had to stop because so many vehicles moved through the rush hour traffic.
Sloan crossed the street and looked west. He saw the Rocky Mountains through an opening between the skyscrapers. They looked powerful and awe-inspiring. The usually snow-capped peaks were bare because of the late summer heat. The mountains were far away, so they appeared to be smaller than the skyscrapers, but Sloan knew that the natural formations towered over the city landscape. In fact, many of the mountains peaked over 14,000 feet above sea level. Meanwhile, Denver was only 5,280 feet above sea level, hence its nickname: The Mile High City.
Even though it was the middle of August, Sloan wore a sweatshirt to block the morning chill. He knew that the temperature would rise later in the day, as it always did during Colorado summer afternoons. He felt chills in the shade provided by the building, but the sun warmed him when he reached open sections of the downtown blocks.
Sloan was ahead of schedule, so he decided to avoid his usual shortcut through the Molly Brown House and he took the long way instead. He reached the intersection of East 14th Avenue and Sherman Street, which provided him with his favorite view in the city: the Colorado State Capitol building.
The capitol’s dome glittered in the sunlight. The real gold on the dome seemed to catch all of the sun’s light and reflect it toward the city. Sloan strolled through the park toward Grant Street. When he turned around, he saw the golden capitol dome with the Rocky Mountains in the background. He paused for a moment and stored the view in his memory.
He checked his watch and realized that he had wasted more time than he thought, so he turned and walked quickly down 14th Street. He still had nine blocks to go and he dodged pedestrians as they moved through their daily routines.
Sloan observed the well-dressed business people walk with a purpose. He noticed casually dressed men with stubbly beards and he wished that he could grow one too. Maybe once he reached high school, he hoped.
Sloan checked his watch again. Sloan’s father gave the watch to him one week ago for his thirteenth birthday. It had a brown leather band and a big face surrounded by gold. The hour and minute hands matched the golden rim. Sloan felt mature when he wore his watch, so he decided that he would wear it every school day this year.
As he strolled, Sloan grew more excited to reach his destination. After all, it was the first day of seventh grade.
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