As a way of saying thank you for the release of the anthology Grand Adventures, I wanted to give you the first look at BOATK3, The Art Of Breathing. This excerpt is not spoilery (and damn if it didn't take me a while to find one that wasn't spoilery), so don't worry about the story being ruined for you.
Here, the Kid has come back to the Green Monstrosity for the first time in four years. Why he's stayed away from Seafare that long and what happened to him while he was away is something you'll have to wait to find out. But you will soon, I promise. I think we have the release date nailed down in June. Can't say what date just yet, but it's soon.
In this excerpt, you'll also be introduced to a new character, Corey. Corey is...well. Corey is one of my favorite parts of this new book because of what he represents to Tyson. Yes, that is frustratingly vague I know, but trust me when I say he's going to rock all kinds of hardcore.
You also may notice this scene harkens back to a similar one from Who We Are that was directly before a certain awkward dinner scene. This is intentional as I've written a pseudo-sequel to the Most Awkward Dinner Ever. At first, Ty's story parallels his brother's before it branches off into something else entirely. This book will be funny, but it's also going to be heartbreaking. Let me put it this way: my editor is one tough nut to crack, but she told me she cried more in this book than she did in BOATK and Who We Are combined. So...you know. Heh. Heh. Heh.
Anyway. Enough chitchat. To all of you that have helped Eric and I on our Grand Adventure, I say thank you. This little look into the future of Bear, Otter and the Kid is for you.
“My God,” Corey breathes as we pull up to the Green Monstrosity. “Photos do not do this house justice. This… this is beyond epic.”
It is. It always has been. The Green Monstrosity is way past epic. A two-story piece of offensive architecture that rises out of the suburbs like a big fuck you to the rest of the neighborhood. It’s weird, really, the feeling that hits me when I see it again for the first time in close to four years It is epic yes, the green so grotesque it should be illegal, but it’s still just a house like any other. It has walls and a roof and a yard.
So why then, when we pull up next to it, the driveway already packed full of cars I don’t recognize, does a lump form in my throat? Why is it that I can feel heat prick my eyes? It’s just a house. That’s all it is.
But that’s a lie. It’s more than that. The Green Monstrosity was the first time since I could remember that I knew that maybe, just maybe, things would be okay for Bear and me. We said good-bye to the hole-in-wall apartments with the gross carpet and the peeling walls. We said good-bye to a life where we existed merely by floating along. We said good-bye to the life where I wasn’t sure we’d make it, though I tried to put on a brave face, at least as much as an nine-year-old ecoterrorist in training could do. I was just a little guy, but I would have torn the world apart with my bare hands for my brother if called upon to do it.
It’s just a house, yes, but it’s also more than that. It’s a sign that things could get better.
“Please tell me you’re never going to paint over that,” Corey says. “Seriously. It’s like the Jolly Green Giant masturbated all over your house.”
“And there’s an image that will never leave my head,” Bear says.
“Would his semen be green?” Otter wonders out loud. “That seems like it could be true. And very gross.”
“It’d probably taste like peas and carrots too,” Corey says.
“At least it’d be good for you,” I say. “Maybe that’s what the mashed peas baby food is.”
“That is foul and offensive,” Corey says. “Most likely correct as well.”
“Thank God this is already starting,” Bear says. “We’ve been home for a minute and we’re already discussing the Jolly Green Giant jacking off for baby food. For once in our lives, could we please have a normal conversation before we enter a social gathering?”
“Bear’s just upset because now that’s all he’s going to think about,” Otter explains to Corey. “It’ll probably make him feel a little hot under the collar.”
“Gross!” I groan. “I do not want to think about Bear getting turned on because of the Jolly Green Giant. Or for anything. You guys keep your weird role playing to yourselves.”
“We don’t role-play Jolly Green Giant!” Bear says, sounding insulted. “Canned-food mascot sex is not one of my kinks.”
“You have kinks?” Corey asked, ears perking up. “Dish. Now.”
“Never in your dreams,” Bear assures him.
“You can tell me,” Corey says. “I’d listen.”
“That’s my brother,” I say as I smack him. “And my Otter, who is my sort of dad-brother. That is not okay.”
“We could get, like, a green body suit,” Otter tells Bear. “And tape green leaves and asparagus to you or something. That’d be kinda hot.”
“This is why I have to go to therapy,” I say to Corey. “Because of stuff like this. It happens all the time.”
“You want to tape asparagus to me?” Bear asks. “I could probably get into that.”
“It’s good to know that even old people can get funky,” Corey tells me. “Gives me hope when I’m their age in like forty years.”
“That was probably not the best thing you could have said,” I say as Bear starts to sputter indignantly.
“Old? I will punch your kidney right out of your body, you little—”
“He won’t really,” I say. “He just likes to sound tough. He couldn’t hurt a fly.”
“Isn’t it normally wouldn’t hurt a fly?”
“Normally. But this is Bear. He couldn’t even do that.”
“Once again,” Otter says, “I don’t quite know how we got to this point.”
“That seems to be a common occurrence with you guys,” Corey says. “I can’t wait until we go to dinner. I’ve heard Bear gets loaded on wine and cries, and then the whole thing dissolves into a big case of what-the-fuckery where everyone talks at once, and it usually ends in overshared feelings and hugging.”
“That was one time!”
“What about the Kid’s high school graduation dinner?” Otter asks.
“And when you got that teaching contract?” I ask.
“And when the New Yorker bought that photo of that homeless encampment I took?” Otter says.
“And when I made the dean’s list my first year?” I say. My first and only time.
“I might have a drinking problem,” Bear mutters.
“And an emotional-style vomiting problem,” Otter says.
“And a verbal diarrhea problem,” I say.
“It was the Green Monstrosity,” Corey says, trying to reign us all in. “That’s how we got here.”
Bear shrugs. “We talked about repainting it, especially when the paint started to peel on the siding. Couldn’t bring myself to do it. Didn’t feel right.”
“It took the Home Depot paint guy at least three weeks to match it,” Otter says. “I’m pretty sure he had to go through the Russian black market to find the components to get the color right.”
Bear rolls his eyes. “It wasn’t that hard. He just wanted you to keep coming in so he could flirt with you.”
“You were just projecting your insecurities on him, dear. He wasn’t flirting with me.”
“Oh really? Was I? So I suppose it totally matters to paint color when he asked you how much you worked out and that he thought you were just so vascular. He laughed like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman at every single thing you said!”
“I’m funny,” Otter says. “And vascular.”
“You’re not that funny. And when your veins stick out, it’s gross.”
“That’s not what you said last night.”
Bear grins and rolls his eyes.
“Last night?” I say in horror. “In the hotel? We were sharing the same room!”
Bear shrugs. “That’s why the bathrooms have locks.”
“Home Depot guy definitely wanted your penis,” Corey says.
“Here we are,” I mutter. “Back to the penises. I’m never going to get out of therapy. I’ll be in my nineties and still haunted by the memories of Bear and Otter as sexual beings.”
“Way sexual,” Bear says.
“Super sexual,” Otter agrees. “Asparagus and all.”
“I hate you all.”
“Teenage angst is hysterical,” Bear says.
“Such a little drama queen,” Otter says.
“They’re funny,” Corey tells me. “You’re very lucky.”
“Go fuck yourself, sunshine,” I reply.
“Hey!” a voice shouts from outside the car.
We all look.
Creed Thompson stands at the door. What can only be described as a miniature version of him stands next to him, imitating the crossed-arm pose of his father. One looks intimidating as all hell. The other is Creed.
“You guys just going to sit there all day?” he yells at us.
“Yeah, all day, you guys?” JJ shouts in echo.
Others begin to pile up behind them: Anna. Stephanie and Ian Grant, her mom and dad. Alice and Jerry Thompson, Otter and Creed’s parents.
I begin to wonder why it took me so long to come back.
The rain stops as I open the car door.