For NaNoWriMo I decided not to start on the second book in my YA sci-fi series. Instead I am working on Can’t Fix Crazy, which is probably womens’ fiction.
My goal is for it to be seriously funny. Here’s Chapter 1:
CAN’T FIX CRAZY
Let me explain….No, there is too much. Let me sum up. The shrill ring of the telephone interrupted the rest of Inigo Montoya’s dialogue. I knew without looking that the caller wasn’t anybody I wanted to talk to. Only my mother and telemarketers called the landline.
“Mom! Grandmother’s on the phone for you,” my teenage son’s deepening voice sounded strange to me after his summerlong absence. Not as strange as looking up at him or as totally freaking weird as the dark shadow on his upper lip. Just medium strange. The kind of strange you should expect from growing kids if your friends’ Facebook posts were any indication of the strangeness yet to come.
“I’m up here,” I yelled back after finally finding the right clicker to pause the movie and a quick glance at the empty telephone charger. Our house gremlins have a particular fondness for stealing nail clippers, tweezers, and the occasional sock. I’m sure they’re to blame for the all the misplaced and dead portable phones as well. The kids and Matt certainly didn’t do it.
My sweet baby boy’s size fourteen shoes sounded like Sherman’s troops pounding up the steps and across the wooden floors. Boom, boom, boom. Stomp. Something crashed. Probably a chair that had been commissioned to construct an ill-conceived fortress near the top of the stairs before Thing 2 got bored with setting traps and absconded with the iPad.
“Thanks,” I tell him and motion for him to hang around. He hands me the phone and immediately flops on the couch beside my recliner. It’s as if gravity just overwhelmed him all of a sudden and he couldn’t muster the strength to stand, or even sit. He falls over and by some miracle lands with his butt dead center and his head perfectly positioned on the pillows facing the television. If couch flopping was an Olympic sport, he’d represent for the U-S of A. No doubt. None.
“Are y’all coming out for lunch tomorrow?” my mother phrases her command in the form of a question.
Since dentists don’t do root canals on Sunday, I have but one response, “Sure. Are the I-talians coming?”
“I think so. Dad’s cooking some meat on the grill and I’m making peas and cornbread. Is Lyle back?” It’s implicit from her tone that it’s my fault that he was gone. My mother keeps the file of my failures active no matter how long ago they occurred. No matter that she berates my foolishness every time I go to court to try to fix it.
“Yes. I went to get him yesterday.”
“Good. I’ll make him some brownies with fudge on top. They’re his favorite.”
I stifle my groan. Those brownies are everybody’s favorite and only approximately a bazillion calories per square centimeter. She insists on sending them home with us and then nags me about my weight. It’s just a little passive-aggressive. Nothing too out of the ordinary.
“He’ll like that,” I do my best to keep the tone of my voice even and slightly cheerful, because my son loves those brownies. And reinforcing that food is love, well, what kind of mother would I be if I didn’t at least pass that tradition down?
“What about Matt’s birthday?” mom asks.
Holy crap. How did I forget AGAIN? Everybody says the middle child gets no attention, but I bet they’ve never been the third husband. I really, really need to set an alert on my phone.
“We’re both on low-carb diets. I don’t think he wants a cake.” Especially not if you’re making brownies, too.
“Well, he has to have a cake. What kind does he like?”
“Pound cake?” How would I know what my husband of ten years likes? He’s never said. Since plain vanilla isn’t my favorite, there’s less chance I’ll eat it. Certainly, I won’t mind if he takes it to work.
“I have a good pound cake recipe. See you tomorrow,” she says.
“Bye,” she responds and then hangs up.
The creaking of the leather disguises the crackling of my joints as I move to replace the phone in its charger. I know that old age is tough; I just keep forgetting that I’m not still twenty-two. Senility is apparently the first sign of aging.
“What did Grandmother want?” Fred asks me as I pass by him.
“To see if we wanted to come out for lunch tomorrow.” Tada! Phone miraculously replaced in charger. And, I think I saw the image of the Virgin Mary in the brown spots on the bananas. Two-for-one headline.
“Are we going?”
“Don’t we always?”
“Yeah,” he nods his agreement and then asks, “Can you start the movie over?”
“As you wish.” He groans at my obvious punnery. “What? I crack myself up. Go see if your sister wants to join us.”
He yells at her from his spot on the couch. Like I couldn’t have done that myself? I wait until he’s finished. “Don’t yell at your sister. Go upstairs and ask her.”
Fred gathers his limbs and rolls off the couch onto the floor. “Do I have to?”
His exhaustion is fueled by sixteen hours of sleep. I only got eight. “Yes, you have to. Bring me back some of those chocolate kisses, please.” I make smoochie-kissy noises at him, which serves to motivate his exit.
It seems like forever and a half later that the three of us are snuggled together under a soft blanket, sharing a bowl of popcorn and watching one of the greatest movies ever. The Princess Bride is a love story fraught with pirates, duels, an evil prince and his henchman, a giant, and an albino, yet still manages to have a happily ever after ending. That’s because they didn’t follow the book exactly.
But, why should I tell the kids this? They already know that fairy tales don’t come true. Sometimes the good guys don’t win. Quite often, actually.
The clanking of the garage door chain beneath us announces Matt’s arrival. He’s been down at the Bingo Hall and sent me a text earlier that it was running late again. He said it was due to an extra game, but I think it’s because he’s the caller. I’m not sure how he finagled a promotion from running the popcorn machine to caller, because you can barely understand what he’s saying half the time. I swear English is not the man’s first language; his genetic programming is for some obscure Swedish dialect.
But, he knows I worry about him when he’s late coming home from bingo. I worry that some crunked-up hoodlum with a gun is going to shoot up everybody in the hall for the five-hundred dollars cash prize money on-site, and the night will end with a policeman knocking on my door telling me I’m a widow again.
So, I’ve asked him to let me know if he’s running late, and he does. Pretty incredible, I know. Whoever heard of a man letting his wife know where he is and if he’s on time or not? It’s not normal behavior, so I figure he must be an alien. I’ve got lots of circumstantial evidence that he’s one of those “Nordic” type aliens, but no hard proof…yet.
The problem with researching aliens is that there are so many crazy, outlandish websites that you get sucked in. I wind up spending half the day watching videos of people in foil hats that are convinced that Queen Elizabeth is a baby-eating vampire or that inner earth is full of lizard people dicing up the cows, so I’ve not learned anything productive—like how to tell if my husband is really an alien.
Maybe the Earth is the Alcatraz of the universe, where alien races send their criminally insane? Now that I think about it, it would explain a lot, actually.
The movie is almost over, so nobody moves to greet our great provider as he enters through the back door.
“Honey, I’m home,” says Matt, his singsong voice mocking a commercial of years ago.
“Did you bring home the bacon?” I ask him, continuing the commercial rip off.
“You wanted me to get bacon?” Swear to God, the man is serious. The aliens forgot to include a sense of humor in his programming.
“No, I didn’t want you to get any bacon,” exasperation fills my voice. Ten years of living with an alien wears on you.
“Y’all be quiet. I can’t hear,” Fred interrupts our friendly banter.
“Why do you need to hear? You already know all the words, we’ve seen this movie a thousand times,” his little sister’s gotta be starting something.
“Hush, Leah,” Fred’s voice is louder, meaner.
“You’re not the boss of me,” she says and burrows catlike into my side.
“Guys, stop it. This is the best part,” I say and then kiss both of their knuckleheads.
They quit bickering and we watch as a wounded Inigo exacts his revenge on the six-fingered man. He spent his entire life in search of the man who destroyed his family and he finally gets his chance. Vengeance, how sweet it is.
Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord. I repeat this verse at least ten times daily, even as I rue the fact that dueling was outlawed. Some people just need killing.