The Fire Escape Belongs In Brooklyn

The Fire Escape Belongs In Brooklyn

by Chuck Cascio


Publisher CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform

Published in Literature & Fiction/Coming of Age, Literature & Fiction/United States, Literature & Fiction/Historical, Literature & Fiction

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Book Description

It's 1968. The world is crumbling around Mike Burns, a Brooklyn youth in his second year of college. His cousin and constant companion, Sally-Boy, disappeared two years ago, but Mike still secretly talks to him. Adding to Mike’s problems, his father nags him to cut his hair; a professor promotes radical political ideals; a friend’s draft dodge pulls him into a crime; and Mike’s young love interest is haunted by her own secret. How will Mike deal with the turmoil of young adulthood when his life seems to be falling apart? Above all, where is Sally-Boy?

Sample Chapter

You knew it, Sally-Boy, you knew it all those years ago, and you said it into the hot, black Brooklyn night on the fire escape we loved, the fire escape that reeked of rust and iron and our own sweat from wrestling on it, drinking on it, pumping iron on it. You knew it then, before everything changed, before the last boosted beer was drunk that night, before I left you and you left us all. You always seemed to know so much and you knew it then, and you said it, Sally, as we swigged the last can of Schaefer we shared:

“Remember this night, Mikey,” you said, mysterious Brooklyn noises swelling around us like a concert of benevolent memories, “remember it because it won’t ever be like this again, never—too much going on, too much is, like, confused and gettin worse. So, my cousin, my brother, take it from me, take it for what it’s worth and sip that beer real real slow…’cause, Mikey, it ain’t never gonna be like this again…never, not ever ’cause everythin changes…it just does.”

In my head, I see him sip, burp, smile. I know what is coming next, and I hear myself saying, "Don’t say it, Sally. You scream it out, it means ‘fire,’ and the lights go on all over the neighborhood."

I hear his laugh, his voice rising:

"What the hell, do I know, Mikey? I am just Salvatore Fuoco!!! Fuck-a-you! Salvatore fuck-a-you!!! Salvatore Fuocooooo!!!"

Lights flick on. People shout, “Is there a fire? What’s goin on, for crissake? Shut the hell up!”

Then I laugh and say, “You always do it…” but when I turn to see him, Sally-Boy is gone.

The neighborhood slowly turns dark again.

Still, every dawn, the thought of Sally-Boy leads me to my Fire Escape Confession:

I committed a crime, but I know it was right.

I went too far, and then I stopped short.

I failed to speak, when words were needed.

I spoke, when words meant nothing.

I let people disappear, because confusion overwhelmed me.

And now all these years later, I still talk to you, Sally-Boy. You, who gave me fear and courage; you, who somehow knew when everything had changed for you, when nothing would ever be the same; you, who disappeared. And now I know when everything changed for me…and nothing has ever been the same…

For me, the changes began in January of 1968, the second semester of my sophomore year at Sinclair College.

I can now see how the new me emerged as I left the old me behind, a time and a change that I could not have predicted…but that’s how it happens, right, Sally-Boy?


Excerpted from "The Fire Escape Belongs In Brooklyn" by Chuck Cascio. Copyright © 2017 by Chuck Cascio. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
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Author Profile

Chuck Cascio

Chuck Cascio

Chuck Cascio is an award-winning journalist, educator, short-story writer, and business leader. The author of six books—three fiction and three nonfiction—Chuck has had hundreds of news stories, feature articles, opinion pieces, and short stories published in a wide-range newspapers, magazines, and journals. Among Chuck’s awards are a National Endowment for the Humanities grant, a Suburban Newspapers of America Award for Column Writing, a Distinguished Teacher Award in the Presidential Scholars Program, a Rothman Institute Award for Entrepreneurial Leadership, and other honors and citations for journalism, creative writing, teaching, and business. A native of Brooklyn, NY, Chuck moved to the Washington, DC, area at an early age, but he remains a New Yorker at heart. He earned a BS degree in Economics and Business from Wagner College on Staten Island, NY, and an MA in Communications from the American University in Washington, DC, where he later became an adjunct faculty member. Chuck also taught high school and was faculty advisor to student newspaper publications, receiving extensive recognition for his innovative approaches to teaching. After leaving the classroom, Chuck served as Vice President for the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards and then as Vice President for Educational Testing Service. Chuck and his wife, Faye (an award-winning science educator), are dedicated gym rats, who live in Reston, VA, near Washington, DC. Chuck now focuses on writing fiction, and he also post blogs on various topics. Chuck can be reached at

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