Friday, March 9, 2018

Queer as a Five-Dollar Bill: Chapter 27

The kickstarter to empower LGBTQ Teens by funding both the professional publishing of "Queer as a Five-Dollar Bill" AND the donation of 400 paperback copies of the novel to LGBTQ and Allied Teens has passed it's goal! Now, we're seeing how many more LGBTQ and Allied Teens we can empower! Please join in (the campaign ends on March 12, 2018 at 11:30am Pacific), and visit my Kickstarter Project here:

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In Chapter Twenty-Six, Wyatt tries to see Mackenzie, but Mr. Miller won't let him. Drowning in guilt, Wyatt discovers the town's parade has been cancelled - which will mean his mom will be fired and they'll lose the B&B for sure. But then support comes from an unexpected source, as does inspiration. And suddenly, Wyatt sees a possible solution...

Want to start reading from the beginning? Click here for chapters One and Two.

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Okay community, here's Chapter Twenty-Seven!

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Chapter 27
Tuesday January 27

            Wyatt almost walked right by Mackenzie in the school hallway without realizing it was her. She was in all new clothes – a belted cardigan sweater over a funky dress, and bright pink shoes that weren’t his mom’s. And she’d cut her hair – it was now a short black bob. She looked like a completely different person. Because of him.
He was drowning in guilt – he had to tell her. But she was never alone. All week, he couldn’t find the right moment. He knew the instant he told her, Mackenzie would hate him. Again. Which made it… impossible. What made things even weirder was that Martin had made Wyatt promise to not tell Mackenzie about their new parade plan, so he felt like he was keeping three secrets from her.
Rhonda had agreed she and Martin would stay on until the parade. Wyatt didn’t want to think about Martin leaving, so he just tried to focus on making the parade a success. By Friday, he, Martin, and Wyatt’s dad and mom had made fifty-eight calls – his dad on the reconnected B&B line and everyone else on their cell phones – and they’d already gotten three yesses! It still wasn’t enough to be a parade, and nothing was for sure. But there was a chance. There was hope.
            Enough to keep going.

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Saturday January 31

                        Wyatt                          9:48 a.m.
                        I tried 2 talk 2 u all week. hate
                        2 do this as text, but got 2 tell
                        u. martin kind of helped move
                        the thingy in the seance. it
                        wasn’t spirits.
                        really sorry.

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            It was early afternoon when Mackenzie just showed up at the B&B, all flushed, still in her Karate gi. Wyatt stood awkwardly opposite her in the entry hall.
            “I’m really sorry!” They said it at the same time.
            That got them both to smile.
Wyatt was so glad she was there. He felt guilty, but still angry, too. He wanted her to go first, and tried to keep his voice neutral. “What are you sorry about?”
            “I haven’t been a very good friend.” Mackenzie stared at the Persian carpet’s pattern of reds and blues as she spoke. “I didn’t realize what you were going through, and it just sort of hit me… or, I hit it.”
            Wyatt scanned her for injuries. “What do you mean?” She didn’t look like she’d gotten hit.
“I was at Albany Junior High, for the tournament, and I got your text–”
“I feel terrible about–” Wyatt started.
“Please,” Mackenzie put up a hand. “Just let me finish. I needed to clear my head, so I went out to the hallway to get a drink, and these two high school guys were making fun of Becca. You know, the cheerleading thing, and how the only letter she could make was a ‘Y’, because she only has the one leg…”
“Cretins.” Wyatt said.
“Yeah.” Mackenzie agreed. “Anyway, I wanted to tell them off, but before I could they were calling me a lesbian, and I told them I wasn’t,” Mackenzie swallowed, “and then they said the only way I could prove it was if I kissed the bigger jerk.”
“Holy crap.” Wyatt breathed.
“So, then, the joker grabbed my arms from behind,” Mackenzie’s breaths came faster and faster as she re-lived it, “and I wasn’t even thinking. It was like all those years of karate just sort of took over, muscle memory or something, you know? And I shouted my Kiai and heel struck his foot, and he let go, howling, and then I elbow struck him in the gut. He fell back, and the big guy came at me. I front-kicked him as hard as I could and he went down, screaming and grabbing his ribs. But the first guy was back up, hopping on one leg, swinging his fists at me, and I blocked and back-kicked him in his good leg. Hard. Knocked him down. Then I had my hand on the fire alarm and told them if they even thought about touching me again, I would pull it.”
She breathed out a wry laugh that was almost a sob. “And then, my Dad came looking for me. I’ve never been so happy to see anyone. We filed a police report and everything.”
“Are you…” Wyatt hesitated. It was a stupid question, but he had to ask. “Okay?”
Mackenzie shook her head. “Not really.” She sniffed, and another laugh came out in a burst. “I did break the jerk’s foot, which was sort of justice, after he made fun of Becca.” She reached for a ponytail that wasn’t there, and instead twisted a lock of short black hair. “But what I wanted to tell you, was, on the ride back home, I realized how it wasn’t safe for Lincoln. And it hasn’t been for you, either. And I’m so sorry about that. And even more, I’m so sorry it took this for me to realize it.”
They looked at each other for a long moment. Eyes trying to express what words couldn’t.
Wyatt set his face in his fiercest expression. “I wish I could have been there.”
Mackenzie’s mouth twisted wryly. “Then I would have had to defend you, too.”
“I could have done something!” Wyatt protested.
She gave him a like what? Look.
“I could have pulled the fire alarm.”
That got them both smiling again.
            “Can I apologize now?” Wyatt asked.
Mackenzie nodded.
 “I’m sorry about the séance.” Wyatt made a guilty face. “And your hair. I feel terrible about it.”
            Mackenzie dropped her hand. “I like my hair. And, well, it was a lousy thing to do, but maybe… I still want her to come home, but, even if I don’t know for sure, I can’t stop my life and just wait. Not anymore.”
            “So, I guess,” Mackenzie shrugged, “like the song: it’s not right, but it’s okay?”
            But it couldn’t be. Not until she knew everything. Wyatt could feel his Adam’s Apple shoot up and then down again. He was so tense, and afraid of what she’d say, but he couldn’t wait even another second.
Like jumping into Jenson’s Stream, he had to tell her.
Right now.
Stop stalling and say it! “Mackenzie?” His voice shook. “I’m gay.”
            “I know.”
            He staggered back like she had hit him. “You know?”
            “I had a hunch, the way things went with us. And then, seeing you with Martin, it all started to make sense…”
            Wyatt headed over to the store area and started tweaking things that didn’t really need to be adjusted. “He’s just a friend.”
            She walked over to join him. “You don’t sound too happy about that.”
            He poured out the rifle pens from the Lincoln coffee mug, checking for Confederate Rifles that had ended up in the Union cup by mistake. Keeping his eyes down, he asked, “Is it okay to tell you I’m not?”
            The only sound for a bit were pens sliding across the top of the glass display case. She leaned over and moved a few Richmond carbines to the correct pile. “It’s okay. He is cute.”
            They were quiet, but Wyatt could tell that the space between them felt different now. Like it actually could be okay. And maybe soon.
            Mackenzie walked over and balanced the two bears that had fallen behind the reception computer screen back up on their small speakers. “There you go, little Blue, and Gray.”
            When Mackenzie turned back, Wyatt was staring at her. “I miss my best friend.” He said.
            “I miss you, too.”
            They hugged, and Wyatt felt the warmth of it. The relief of getting to this place – friends, again.
            He pulled back. “You know what the worst moment was?”
            “When you went out with Jonathon, just to get back at me. Man, I felt so stabbed in the back. I’m glad you told that homophobic loser off.”

            Mackenzie closed her eyes like it was painful for her too, and then said, “Me, too.”
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Want to know why I'm serializing my entire YA novel for free right here on this blog? Click here. Ready for Chapter Twenty-Eight? It will be posted on March 16, 2018. Thoughts? Reactions? #queerasafivedollarbill / #qaafdb fan art? Share them in comments here, or on facebook, twitter, or instagram. Don't miss a chapter - you can sign up to follow this blog and get emailed every post! Just enter your email at the top of the left column. Thanks for being part of my community, and for being one of my READERS!

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