There's Mrs. Paquinn, the elderly next door neighbor who doesn't have a filter and pretty much says whatever she wants; Anna, Bear's on-and-off again girlfriend; and finally, Creed, Bear's best friend since they were in the second grade. He also happens to be Otter's younger brother. These three round out this different kind of family and I had a blast writing them D.W. Marchwell says about my debut, "It will disarm you, infuriate you, beguile you and leave you utterly speechless." What more could I ask for? (Oh, btw, Mr. Marchwell's full review was posted on my bog yesterday, if you'd like to check it out!)
This scene picks up after Bear (acting like Bear) stayed the night on the beach and returns home to face his family. Let me know what you think!
I move carefully, calculating the number of steps it takes me to reach Otter. Seven. It takes me three seconds to turn and sit down. I pop my knuckles four times. I count to ten in my head. It takes me twelve seconds to think about what to say, five more to realize again I won’t have any control over it, seventeen seconds to argue with myself, ten to shut off the voices in my head, and by then a full minute has gone by in utter silence. If someone was watching this without knowing what was going on, they would probably think we were mimes that didn’t do mime stuff. Just sad, sad mimes—
Mrs. Paquinn finally acts like Mrs. Paquinn and interrupts my intelligent internal monologue by saying, “Bear, I think having sand in your butt crack must be really uncomfortable. Maybe you should go change your clothes. You don’t want to catch sand crabs. What’s the point of getting crabs when you weren’t having any fun doing it?”
“Sand crabs?” I spit out.
“Sand crabs,” she repeats. “I can just imagine that the rest of the day won’t go well for you when you have to go to the doctor and explain how you got a sexually transmitted disease without actually being sexually active.”
“Is it considered an STD if they’re sand crabs?” Creed muses out loud.
“Oh yes,” Mrs. Paquinn replies. “I should think that’s a real thing, but I can’t say for sure because I would be lying. But it seems to me that it certainly sounds like a real thing, doesn’t it?”
“You can get crabs from a toilet seat,” the Kid adds. “MSNBC did this black-light thing in hotel rooms, and it showed crabs in the bathroom and ejaculate on the ceiling.”
Is this really happening?
“My goodness,” Mrs. Paquinn breathes. “How did it get all the way up there?”
“The crabs?” Anna jumps in. “Well, I’m pretty sure they can jump off of you—”
“No, dear,” Mrs. Paquinn interrupts. “The ejaculate on the ceiling. That just doesn’t seem humanly possible. I’ve never known a man to be able to do that. Not that I’ve had too much experience in the matter. My Joseph, God love him, wasn’t capable of quite the superhuman feat himself.”
“I don’t know,” the Kid says with a shrug, his forehead scrunched in deep concentration. “They never said how it got there. What’s ejaculate, anyways? They didn’t explain, but I want to know why it glowed in the black light.”
Mrs. Paquinn shifts her weight to turn toward the Kid. “Well, Tyson, when a man and a woman—or a man and a man, or a woman and a woman, but I don’t think that works quite the same way—love each other very much and decide to have relations, ejaculate is what comes out and makes babies. Well, it makes babies if you are a man and a woman. If it’s just two men, I would assume all it makes is a mess.” She peers at Otter and me for clarification. We give none.
“Oh,” the Kid says. “So does spanking and fisting make babies too? I mean, if it’s a man and a woman?”
I choke on my tongue.
Mrs. Paquinn looks stern. “I wouldn’t know anything about that. My Joseph, God love him, was never into that kind of thing. He was very vanilla, as I believe they say these days.”
“Vanilla?” the Kid asks. “I tried vanilla soy ice cream once, and it was gross. Even for soy ice cream.”
Creed laughs. “I think it’s not the vanilla part of it, Kid. All soy ice cream is gross.”
The Kid shoots him an evil look. “You say that, but I bet it’s just your veal-induced guilt talking.”
“Veal is cow, Kid,” Creed argues. “What good are cows if we can’t eat them?”
“Veal is baby cows! Why would you eat baby anything?”
“Veal is baby cow?” Creed asks, looking slightly green and horrified. “How in God’s name did I not know that?”
Anna pats his arm. I watch them closely as she says, “I think there’s a lot about a lot of things you don’t know.”
“It’s okay, Anna,” the Kid says, letting out a long-suffering sigh. “I have some literature that Creed can take with him and read. It’s life-changing.”
Mrs. Paquinn sniffs. “I don’t eat veal either because I just feel so guilty picturing their little faces every time. But I’ll have a steak every now and then. No one thinks grown-up cows are cute.”
“Is veal really baby cows?” Creed whispers.
“Are you all fucking insane!” I scream.
Mrs. Paquinn claps her hands. “Oh good, Bear has finally decided to speak.”
“About goddamn time,” the Kid mumbles.
“Watch your mouth,” Anna admonishes him, lightly tapping him on the back of his hand. Then she smacks Creed on the back of his head. “And he gets those words from you, so you watch your language too.”
“Bear just said fucking!” Creed whines, rubbing what I’m sure is a gaping wound on his head.
“Well, Bear just felt left out of the conversation, and he’s had a rough night,” Mrs. Paquinn explains. “I think ‘fucking’ was the straightest way to the point he was trying to make.” She suddenly raises her hand to her mouth and giggles as she blushes. “Fucking was the straightest? Oh, listen to me, making funny sentences.” Creed and the Kid laugh. Anna smacks them both again. Then they all stop and look at me. I open my mouth to speak.