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.
“Please, please, please tell me you have change?”
“You don’t really believe in that, do you?”
“What if I do, Mr. Too Cool?” Ant’s look is quixotic. Like a little kid. She loops her arm in mine. I missed her. “So, what’s it going to be, Andrew Brown?”
What’s it going to be? I repeat her words in my head, feeling like a beat speed bag, thinking about last night when she kissed me. We 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 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?
Now, she’s holding my hand that’s purple and kills and I’m throwing the contents of my pocket into the fountain. There’s glee in her eyes, probably in mine too, as we watch the shimmering coins of no real value to us twirl in the air.
“Sorry, Ms. Benevo,” I moan, really putting it on for Ant. She sniggers. We both do.
“So, what did you wish 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.” In her terrycloth dress custom-fit to her curves that are more prominent than ever before, she’s never looked better.
What a lady, what a night
“Mr. Brown! Miss Gallo! Quiet!”
“Sorry, Ms. Benevo.”
The teacher, obviously with Pete in tow, looks more like a student with each passing day in her loose-fitting, Balaam Saints track sweatshirt, navy Solow pants, and a pair of ratty Birkenstocks. She certainly runs around with the boys like one.
Water crashes against humming rocks; indifferent dead presidents stare back at us. 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 snickering, 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,” I say almost instantaneously.
He 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. She doesn’t see Lilly whispering something to Marie that Candace is trying to hear over her shoulder, but I do. The gossip is already raging about us.
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 v-cut sweatshirt and her tasteless 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, ready to start a conversation about her nocturnal activities if she wants to keep this going.
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. 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