Serialization Sunday – Hoodoo: Chapter 14
Every Sunday, Fiction365 presents a new chapter in a previously unpublished novel. Our first serialized novel, the taut thriller City of Human Remains, can be found in full here.
Our current novel, Hoodoo, tells a story of visionaries, heretics and lunatics in Utah, centered on the life of Alice Lott, a twelve-year-old girl who believes that God wants her to have an affair with her junior high school counselor.
Find earlier chapters in Hoodoo here.
New Year’s Eve wasn’t such a big deal in our house since we all quit drinking, and Mom went to bed early that year with a headache, which she had a lot of those days, meaning that Dad or one of us kids would have to look after Utahna. But I stayed up anyway, with Dad and MaryEllen and Mike, who was grounded ‘cause he got a lousy grade on his history test. At midnight we all went outside with pots and pans and banged them really loud on the front porch, yelling “Happy New Year,” listening to people all around the neighborhood doing the same thing.
School was back in session almost before I could think about it. Mrs. Johnson’s English class, everything normal, same-old same-old, except in the middle of her rattling on about thesis statements a piece of paper sailed onto my desk. I looked around, and a new kid with straight black hair and a hundred thousand freckles jimmied up her eyebrows and nodded me to open it. I unfolded the paper under my desk, and spread it out on my lap. It was a cartoon of Mrs. Johnson, only her glasses were fifty times bigger than in real life, and her tongue was hanging out. My laugh came out as a snort, and I slapped a hand over my mouth, looking up quick to see if Mrs. Johnson had noticed. When I looked back at the new kid, she waggled her eyebrows and grinned. A mouthful of metal.
Jane Watson was brand-new from Detroit, Michigan. She wore a black T-shirt that said “London Calling” on it, with a picture of a guy all bent over, his guitar up over his head in both hands, ready to be smashed to pieces. Jane said she was relieved to meet someone who looked normal, like me, and I just stared at her like she was nuts, or maybe the punch line was coming, but it never did.
“Everyone here is all clean and smiley with this big, fluffy hair,” she said. “It’s kind of creepy, like The Stepford Wives, did you see that movie?”
We were at lunch, and I was pointing out to her what was okay to eat, and what was poisonous, and how there was pizza on Wednesdays, and taco salads on Fridays, which was the best. The lunchroom had high ceilings, so the sound bounced all over the place, kids talking, and laughing, punching each other, forks and knives clattering, the big doors opening and closing as kids finished lunch and tore outside, and the sunshine reflecting hard off the snow would light up the room like a flash whenever the doors swung open.
We picked through the crowd with our green speckled trays, and found seats at the edge of one of the tables. Jane leaned over and nodded toward a girl wearing a prairie skirt and ruffled blouse.
“That’s Misty Brimhall.” Fire and Brimstone Brimhall’s precious only daughter.
“She must go through a whole can of hair spray every morning.”
I snorted. “Her mom has a little white dog whose fur looks just like Misty’s hair. Misty takes it out for its walks, and they wear matching bows.”
“Want to come over after school?” asked Jane.
“Can’t. I have dance class.”
She squinted at me. “Heey. I’ve seen you before. You’re the Arabian Dance girl! Cool.”
She showed off her braces again. I watched her herding all the peas into one corner of her tray, the tune to the Arabian Dance winding its way through my brain.
Founder of the Portuguese Artists Colony in San Francisco, Caitlin Myer regularly reads her work at Why There Are Words, Quiet Lightning, and other established reading salons in California. Her one woman show on Simone de Beauvoir was produced in Seattle.
To comment on this story, visit Fiction365’s Facebook page