So, I wrote the first 31K words of That’s Me in the Corner during the 72-hour 2011 Muskoka Novel Marathon (It took the Best Young Adult Novel Award for the marathon). Since then, I have not done anything to it. I’m not even sure that I read it through??? I am about to embark on reading it and deciding if I should write the rest of the novel. Thought I would share some of it here. Here’s chapters 4, 5 & 6.
AN EXCERPT – THAT’S ME IN THE CORNER
“If it isn’t Christian Wilkes. Where’s your little boyfriend tonight?”
Billy friggin’ Bostitch. All I needed. I agreed to come to Moira’s party. All I wanted was my own little corner in the basement where I could disappear and mope over my shitty luck. Billy was one of the last people I wanted to see.
“Shut up, Billy.”
“Or what? You’ll slap me with your boyfriend?”
“Nice comeback. Did you go to summer school to become that clever?”
“Watch it, Wilkes. Don’t let your mouth take you to places your fists can’t get you out of.”
I wasn’t in the mood to deal with him. Otherwise, I would have gotten up and thrown a punch or two. Total rich bigot asshole.
“Yeah. That’s what I thought.”
I gave him the finger and prayed for him to move on and out of my life. The glass of beer he was spilling all over himself told me he would do one of two things. Beat the shit out of me or keep on walking.
He kept on walking.
So I allowed Adam and Sadie to talk me into going to Moira’s stupid party and then they leave me to stew in my own anger while they take in the party without me.
I sat there rubbing my needle-jabbed arm, waiting for it all to be over.
“Christian!” Sadie yelled as she sailed through the air and landed in my lap, spilling whatever it was she was drinking all over my shirt.
“Sadie. Jesus. Get a grip.”
“Hush,” she said, moving in to give me a sloppy kiss in the near vicinity of my lips. “Why can’t you just enjoy a party like other people?”
“You know I don’t like parties, babe. I—”
“—never have.” Adam finished my sentence for me, patting the top of my head the way I absolutely hated.
“Have you guys had enough yet?” I said.
“Why can’t you let your hair down? Just once?”
“I’m not like you, Adam. I don’t like this shit. I don’t like crowds and I don’t like phonies. Do you ever hang around with even half of these people at school? Even two of them?”
He did one of his stupid stereotypical pouty dances, the kind that makes loudmouthed asses out of people like Billy Bostitch, if he happens to be in the vicinity. If anybody knows how to make you angry, it’s your best friend.
“Why do you have to do that?” I said. “It’s hard enough being around these people. Why do you have to draw attention to yourself like that?”
“Don’t tell me how to act. I am who I want to be!”
“Yeah…you seem to be more you when you have a few drinks and an audience. Just sayin’.”
“You hurt me with your words, prick.”
“Sit down, Adam,” Sadie said, not hiding her amusement. Giving him fuel for his fire. She jumped up, grabbed onto him, and they soon disappeared again into the shifting crowd of delinquents.
I can’t get enough of just sitting and watching. Even when I’m pissed I get into it, watching people getting drunk and making fools of themselves. Watching who pairs up, and knowing they’ll regret it in the morning. And there’s always kids pairing up. Being sober, I can always tell when the pair up is a really bad idea too.
Is that superior of me? Maybe. But I really hate the taste of alcohol, so I have to find something to amuse myself with when everybody else around me is acting like a bunch of idiots.
Moira Dare herself. Great. I was pretty sure she knew I despised her. But at parties there’s always the pretend factor to think about. The Smile–and-Wave, Adam calls it. Except, I’m not one of those people who can turn my feelings on and off. If I don’t like someone at school, chances are fair to excellent I’m not gonna like them at a party.
“Hey,” I said. I’m a stimulating conversationalist. Clearly.
Oh, you know. Just sitting here looking at your wealth and wondering why someone like you deserves to live in a house like this. “Not much.”
“I think Adam and Sadie are upstairs in the library making out on the dance floor.”
Ten to one on a weekday the library is called the family room and the dance floor is the tiled eat-in kitchen floor beside it, but I liked the way she was able to use both words in one sentence. That’s real talent. Professor Plum in the library, on the dance floor with boredom.
“Yeah. That’s kind of their thing. Are they necking yet? When they start necking, I know it’s time to drag them out and take them home. They’re funny that way.”
“Not quite. But I think the dancing might be x-rated, if, you know, we were rating it.”
“Good to know, Moira.” I dragged her name out the way I have done since third grade when I first started hating her. I saw her flinch, too, so I knew it still bothered her. Score.
She played with her curls, twisting hair around her finger, absently. I could tell she was searching for something to say. I was only saying one thing, over and over again. Only, I wasn’t saying it out loud. ‘Please leave. Please leave. Please leave.’
Only she didn’t. She probably knew her presence was irritating me. And, to be fair, it was her house.
“Doesn’t it make you jealous when they act like that?” She sat down on the couch beside me.
“Adam’s gay, Moira.” Another chance to elongate her name. Score again.
“So. They’re still almost doing it on the dance floor.”
“You don’t have a dance floor. And Adam’s gay.”
She stood up and gave me her whiny little rich girl look. “You don’t have to be so pissy, you know. You are a guest in my house.”
“Your parents’ house.”
“Still the same Christian, I see.”
“Why should I change? You haven’t.”
“Hmmph.” Thank you. She left. Moira only talks to people she can impress. I think that’s what drives her crazy about me. She’s never been able to impress me. At least I know it’s my father’s money that makes us rich. She tries to take all the credit for her wealth.
I sunk down into the chair and closed my eyes, willing now to wait until Adam and Sadie had had their fill.
“Hey dip. Wakey wakey,” Adam said, shaking me awake.
“What?” I sat up and wiped my eyes, trying to adjust to the light and remember where I was.
“It’s time to go, man. We’re practically the last ones here. You know I don’t like being the last one out the door. It’s so gauche.”
I closed my eyes again, rubbed them and hoped that opening them anew would bring me a new reality—a reality lacking in smartasses and debutants.
“Okay. I’m up. Where’s Sade?”
“She’s upstairs waiting for us. I hate to tell you this, Chris, but she’s plastered. Don’t know what we’re gonna do with her tonight?”
I let him help me up out of the chair, even though he was a little wobbly himself. “You know exactly what you’re going to do with her, my friend. You’re going to take her to Casa De Rover and let her crash at your place tonight.”
“Yeah, I know. We already decided that. I’m just messing with ya.”
He stumbled as he made his way to the stairs, so I put an arm around him to help steer.
“Thanks, bud,” he said. “I can always count on you to keep me straight.”
I almost let go and let him fall down the few stairs we had managed to climb. Instead, I just pretended to laugh. Why crush his buzz.
“You know…walk a straight line, like,” he corrected, in case I didn’t get the clean side of his double entendre.
“So are you gonna tell her about Kenya?”
“Fuck. I don’t know. Can I crash at your place too? Maybe we can talk after she sobers up a bit.”
We stumbled near the top of the stairs and I almost took a backwards dump. And I wasn’t even the drunk one. Nice.
“You know I never say no to cuties.”
“Shut up. Why do you always have to use that card? Do you really think it’s funny? Are you that slow?”
“Calm down, bud. I was only joking.”
“Thanks for coming, Christian,” Moira said as we came into the kitchen. She was standing at the counter with her head in the sink. Puking. Nice. “It’s been a pleasure.”
“Looks like the pleasure is all yours, Moira. Having fun?” I laughed.
“Looks like it’s my turn, now,” I said, patting her on the back as I walked on past.
“Asshole,” she managed between gagging spells.
“That’s me. Christian Wilkes, Registered Asshole.”
“As long as you recognize it.”
“With extreme pleasure. Enjoy your pukefest, Moira. Ciao, baby.”
I led Adam through the main floor of the house. We were on the lookout for Sadie, who of course was not where Adam said she would be. The wandering drunk, that’s my girlfriend. I knew I wouldn’t be getting any. She’d probably be hanging her head into Adam’s toilet in a few minutes, if we were lucky enough to get her home before she tossed her cookies into her mother’s Hummer.
I finally found her sitting on the floor in the dining room, leaning against the wall for support. I sat Adam down on one of the ridiculously expensive chairs and told him not to move.
Before I bent over to pick her up, I pulled out my phone to look at the time. Just after midnight. We were only there for three hours. How did people manage to get so wrecked in such a short amount of time? I was never an expert on drinking, but you would think it takes longer than a few hours to tie one on.
I grabbed her by the arms and pulled. It was like raising the dead.
“Baby. Come on. Help me. We’re going to Adam’s. Okay?”
“Chrish. Chrish. No. I don’t wanna move. You go.”
“Come on, baby. Adam’s waiting. Let’s go. Help me out. You’ll feel better if you go to bed.”
“No, Chrish. I don’t wanna.” She wasn’t exactly an angry drunk, but she was a slurring non-helpful one. It took me a few minutes to get her to her feet.
“Adam,” I stage-whispered. “Adam. Come on. Snap out of it. You have to help me get her to the car. Do you know where her purse is? Or at least her keys?”
Adam stood up, reached into his front pocket and pulled out her keychain. Thank God for small miracles.
“She didn’t have a purse. Or it’s in the car somewhere. She didn’t bring one in.”
Man. If only he could see what he looked like. His vamp look was melting all over the place. He looked more like an aging vaudevillian drag queen now. I hoped he had managed to leave a wild trail of glitter all over the ice princess’s house. It’d be the least he could do after dragging me to her castle.
“Baby? Come on. We’re going to Adam’s. You have to help me.”
“Mmmm,” she moaned. I prayed to the party gods that we would make it to Adam’s place before she tossed them. Nothing I hate more than cleaning up puke. Even Sadie’s puke. And usually nothing about her annoys me.
“Where are we?”
“We’re at my place, sweetie,” Adam told her. We were dragging her up the front walk. “Casa De Rover. And you know what they say, mi casa es su casa, baby.”
“I love you, Adamface,” Sadie said out of the corner of her mouth, leaning away from me and giving Adam a kiss on the cheek. We had made it without a puke sighting. I was both relieved and expectant.
“Are your parents home, bud.”
“Nope. They’re in Honolulu. Two weeks. I told you, Christian. You should try listening sometime. It’s how we humans communi—”
“Okay,” I interrupted. “It was a simple question. I was looking for a simple answer. Not a lecture from the Fairy Queen of Scots.”
“Every time I get a little drunk the ugly Christian comes out. Why is that, Chris? Maybe you should get drunk sometime. Let your tightass hair down.”
“I just wanted to know if they were home so I would know how loud we could be getting into the house.”
“Ha. Like that would matter.” He let go of Sadie so he could elaborate with hand gestures and the two of us fell to the ground with the lack of our balancing third.
“Thanks, man. Appreciate it.”
“No problem. I’ll be here throughout the weekend for your entertaining pleasure!” And with a sweep of his arm, he threw himself off balance and joined us.
I laughed a bit, but not too much. That would only spur him on. I was on the dew-wet ground with a couple of drunks. The last thing I needed was for him to start off on a stand-up routine.
“Let’s just get her in the house. I’m tired.”
“Yeah. Maybe one too many jabs this afternoon, eh bud.”
“Shut up, Adam. Not now. Let’s wait until she’s at least sober before we get into that.”
“Get into what?” Sadie asked.
Uh oh. One thing I did not want was a lucid Sadie. “Nothing. Just go to sleep.”
“But I’m not tired.”
“No, but you are drunk.” I turned back to Adam. “Help me get her in the house.”
“Whatever you say, master.”
We managed to drag ourselves up off the wet ground and get her in the front door. Adam flicked a switch and the whole house seemed to explode in bright light.
“Holy shit,” I stage whispered. “Don’t you have a dimmer switch on that thing?” It felt like Chevy Chase had just figured out how to turn on the Christmas lights.
“I do, but I kinda want her to wake up. I’d like to see this match.” It was like he knew what I was going to say next. “And don’t you dare call me catty. I just want someone on my side for a change. If she starts, I can argue with you from her corner.”
“It doesn’t matter. What. Either. Of. You. Say! You can’t change things. My dad has spoken. The puppet master has pulled his strings. I’m going. Live with it.”
“Live with what?”
“Nothing, Sade. Go back to sleep.”
“Where’s the puppet?”
“In his pants!” Adam screeched. “That’s what she said!”
“Funny,” I growled. “Be helpful and help me get her upstairs to your room.”
“Why don’t you guys take my parents’ bed?”
“I don’t know if I’m ready to return to the seventies just yet?” I said as we started taking the stairs, slowly hauling Sadie up between us. There are so many things wrong with Adam’s parents, I don’t know where to begin. The obviously easy things to point out would be the waterbed and the mirror-tiled ceiling above it. I didn’t want to sleep in the creeped out den of inequity. I’d rather sleep three deep with Adam in his Queen sized bed. At least his wouldn’t slosh around every time somebody moved. And with a drunk girlfriend sharing the bed, I didn’t want my moving to cause a vomit spew!
“Yeah. You’re right.” At the top of the stairs, he aimed us toward his wing of the house. Might as well call it a wing. His bedroom is a ridiculously sized room big enough to be a small two-bedroom apartment. He even has a small bar fridge beside his bed.
We picked up momentum as we made our way to his bed. Once there, we kind of just let her fall forward and land facedown across the bottom.
“I’m hungry,” I said as we sat down on the floor to catch our breath. “Wanna go downstairs and make a midnight snack?”
“You mean, do I wanna slave in the kitchen and make you something to eat while I sit there and watch you devour it? Sounds like old times.”
I smiled. It’s true. He’s good at what he does. And one of the things he does is prepare food. Why shouldn’t I take advantage of that? I have to put up with his bullshit twenty-four seven.
“Just one of those sandwich thingies,” I said, pleadingly.
“Dag. Wood. It’s called a Dagwood. It’s for pigs like you. We probably don’t have the ingredients, though, so don’t get your hopes up.”
“Shut up. You’re like the MacGyver of the kitchen. All you need is a dried lime and an olive and the sandwich will appear before my eyes in no time.”
“I’ll be right back, loser.”
“You might want to look at yourself in the mirror before you go calling me names. You look like a circus clown on crack.”
“Nice. You say this to the mother of your children.” He stalked away, slapping his feet down like the circus clown was wearing his bright coloured clown shoes too.
“The mother of my children is lying on your bed, drooling onto your clean sheets,” I called out as he headed downstairs.
“Hey, baby. I’m right here.” I went and lay down beside her. No puke yet, but the night was relatively young. “You okay.” I brushed my fingers through her hair. She really was drooling. I wiped a bit of spittle away from the side of her mouth and kissed her on the lips. “I’ll be right back, okay. We’re at Adam’s. I’m just going downstairs to get something to eat. We’ll be right back up, okay. Just stay here and wait for me. Promise.”
“I’m just stayin’,” she mumbled and rolled over. Her breath smelled like a vodka bottle.
I kissed her once more and got up to head downstairs. I had no idea how I was going to break my summer plans to her now that they were fully confirmed. It was hard enough arguing with her when they were just speculation. Now that it was set in stone, she was going to blow when she finally found out.