I have finally, FINALLY finished editing ‘Knowing When You’re Too Young to Grow Up’. Now, I have to find the time to send it out. And not screw up anything as I have in the past.
As I mentioned in “A Reintroduction: The Prologue,” I intend to post edited chapters every few weeks. Here’s a sample from Chapter 7. As always, feedback is STRONGLY encouraged via the contact tab or comments section.
Wishing wells bring me back to a time when I was young and actually believed they were real. Sure, I never got that pony I wanted, but, if last night’s anything, sometimes wishes do come true. But not because you threw a penny in a fountain, I remind myself.
There’s clearly a difference of opinion between me and Ant on the matter at hand. It was if we hadn’t broken up, just hit pause and then picked up right where we left off.
“Please, please, please tell me you have change?”
“Ha! You don’t really believe in that, do you?”
“What if I do, Mr. Too Cool?”
She has this quixotic look on her face. Like I just threw down the most elaborate prom proposal in the ultimate, cheesy expression of teenage love. Or like last night was our first kiss.
We had sat with our backs against the wall – our fingers weaved between each other’s as nimbly as spiders – and talked about our summer plans. She was going to her house on the North Fork. I remember it, I said, and she was amazed. How could I forget? That was some Labor Day Weekend we had, I said raising my eyebrows suggestively. She blushed. We used to be wild then, she said, moving herself closer to me. Still are sometimes, I smiled and tilted my head that was humming with pain. We were the only two people left in the world – at least that’s what it seemed like until we heard my friends in the stairwell, their howls hurtling towards us, and she pursed her lips and pulled herself away.
“To be continued,” she had said. And then she gave me a peck on the cheek and left me there looking as destitute as a bum on the street. But I was the richest I’d felt in a long time, singing:
Oh, what a night!
Why’d it take so long to see the light?
She turns to face me now. The way the sun catches her brown bear eyes makes them look more like Bambi.
“So, what’s it going to be, Andrew Brown?”
Water crashes against humming rocks, and indifferent dead presidents stare back at us.
I shrug. “Even though it goes against my constitution and it might irreparably damage my reputation as ‘Mr. Too Cool’, I guess I can spare some –” I don’t get to finish, for she almost tackles me, which kills because every part of my body kills but whatever; she’s THAT happy. And so am I. “But only because it’s you.”
Her hand crawls down to mine that’s purple, and I let fly the contents of my pocket into the fountain. And we just stand there like we’re the only one’s there, watching the shimmering coins of no real value to us twirl in the air. I can see the wonder in her eyes. It’s probably in mine too.
“Sorrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrry, Ms. Benevo,” I moan, which makes Ant snigger, but I’m genuinely annoyed that she reminded me who we’re here with. Ant and I could’ve been back in the hallway, that’s how secluded we felt.
And that’s when I notice Lilly whispering something to Marie that Candace is trying to hear over her shoulder. Ant doesn’t, but I do. The gossip is already raging about us.
Mrs. Weary’s looking at us.
Mo’s looking at us.
Those shitty juniors are looking at us.
Even fucking Dilbert’s looking at us!
And I just smile because if any one of them wants to tell Jess, they’d be saving me a whole lot of trouble.
“It must’ve been a good one,” Ant says.
“Your wish, obviously. You’ve got the biggest smile on your face.”
“Oh, uh, yeah. I wished for happiness, endless happiness,” I say aloud – with you, I say in my head. “And what about you, princess?”
She flits her eyelashes seductively. “You’ll just have to wait and see if it comes true.” I hope it’s what I think it is. She’s in a terrycloth dress custom-fit to her curves that are more prominent than ever before. I REALLY hope it’s what I think it is.
What a lady, what a night
“Mr. Brown! Miss Gallo! Quiet!”
“Yeah, yeah, sorry, Ms. Benevo.”
The teacher looks more like a student with each passing day in her Balaam Saints T-shirt, navy Solow pants, and a pair of ratty Birkenstocks. She certainly runs around with the boys like one.
I guess Glenn’s been talking this whole time about the Trevi Fountain although I haven’t heard a word of it. And I still haven’t seen her in a bra, those spirited baby fingers pointing back at me.
“Gosh, the name tre vie, or three roads, originates from this area where we’re standing right now.” She’s next to a small shack pointing in every direction across a mass of people. “And, let me tell you, this used to be one of the original aqueducts of Rome.”
“That’s wonderful, Glenn!”
“A.I.D.S., that’s wonderful, truly wonderful!” I mock Mrs. Weary in Ant’s ear. She brushes her cheek against my shoulder affectionately.
“Now, this central figure right here, does anyone know who he is?”
Hands go up, but Glenn’s been with us long enough to know that no one who raises a hand truly has something worthwhile to say. Before her query even registers with most of us, she’s moved on.
“Oftentimes, people confuse him with Poseidon, but, gee-whiz, this is his Roman equivalent Neptune. Interestingly enough, if you throw one coin over your right shoulder, you’ll come back to Rome,” she says. “Two coins mean you’ll be–”
“What about three coins, Glenn? What about three coins!”
Glenn smirks ruefully at the village idiot Melissa. “Well, three means you’ll eventually divorce, hun.” Her tone is apathetically unwavering. I’m convinced she’d be unmoved if Alfredo ran Melissa over. Multiple times.
“Jenny, like can you believe it? I’m, um, going to get divorced!” And she couldn’t be happier about it.
Her last remaining friend rolls her eyes. “That’s great, Mel, just…great.” A redhead, Jenny has all the Italians giving her the look; it’s the same look she gets at the parties. I can still see her doing lines off one of the Dunlap kids’ dicks, and all those snobs yucking it up, waiting for their turn. Everyone really does have a secret at Balaam, I think.
“I hate to be rude,” Lilly whispers, “but who would ever marry her?”
“Tommy,” Becky says almost instantaneously. I howl I laugh so hard Ant jumps.
Tommy gives my aching shoulder a teasing shot. “Funny, man, real funny.”
“Like, that’s not funny,” Candace croaks, unable to comprehend the joke.
“Mr. Brown. Over here. You too, Mr. Callahan.”
“Man, is she serious, man?”
Ant squeezes my elbow.
Ms. Benevo’s shadow towers over me and Tommy; her perfume is almost as suffocating as she is. I remember seeing her last night. I wonder how long she stayed in our room.
She takes off her sunglasses and crouches, bringing herself down to our level. “Did you boys have fun last night?”
Tommy’s eyes dart to her T-shirt and her cleavage, then to me.
I pull my hat down low. “Excuse me, Ms. Benevo?”
“At the club, Mr. Brown. That’s where you were, wasn’t it?” Her tone is very matter-of-fact. “That’s why you and Mr. Callahan look the way you do, isn’t it? You got into a fight. At the club.”
“Like we told Mrs. Weary, we fell down the stairs.”
“Is that right?” she sneers.
“It is,” I sneer back, not quite ready to start a conversation about her nocturnal activities if she keeps going, but I’m getting there.
Ms. Benevo glances at us reproachfully. Tommy smiles at her, still missing that tooth in the front.
“Let’s just see what Fr. Bagnani thinks about all of this,” she says, grabbing my hand that’s as raw as red cabbage, but I jerk back instinctively, pulling away with such force I almost hit Tommy who’s caught in the middle not sure what to do.
“Touch me again and I’ll bite your goddamn nose off!” I swear to her, disregarding the consequences. She’s not going to make an example out of me; I won’t give her that satisfaction.
Now Glenn’s stopped talking and Becky’s stopped drawing and Mrs. Weary’s stopped twirling her finger around her hair and everyone is watching us – some in revelry, others in remonstrance depending on whose side they’re on – waiting to see what’s going to happen next.
Copyright (C) 2017 Andrew Chapin