Friday, November 3, 2017

Queer as a Five-Dollar Bill: Chapter Nine

In Chapter Eight, Wyatt's grilled by his parents - why would he try to sabotage their livelihood, endanger his future, flunk his class... to say Lincoln was gay - which can't possibly be true? Is there something he needs to tell them about himself? Wyatt lies his way out of it, focused on proving Lincoln's love for Joshua Fry Speed is true.

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Okay community, here's Chapter Nine!

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Chapter Nine

Tuesday January 13

            Before he even got to the History classroom door, Mackenzie pulled Wyatt aside. She sounded angry. “Did you see this?”
She handed him her phone. Wyatt took it, and read.

Jonathon Rails’ Book Report Blog for Mr. Guzman’s 9th Grade History Class.Lincolnville High School.Book: The Lincoln-Douglas Debates by Abraham Lincoln and Stephen A. Douglas. 
 Blog Post: Monday, January 13, 4:42 p.m.

Wyatt is a big queer. That’s why he’s saying one of the greatest presidents in our Nation’s history was gay.
By choosing a hero from our history to make pretend gay, Wyatt is trying to make himself feel better about his own sick lifestyle choice.
It’s like Lincoln said in his first public debate with Douglas (page 32):
                        “With public sentiment, nothing can fail.
Without it, nothing can succeed.” 
So Wyatt can try to re-write history by inventing all this stuff about Lincoln being gay, but as long as no one believes him, he won’t succeed.
 Keep reading this blog, because I’m here to save history. And all Wyatt’s doing is letting everyone know that he’s a big homo.

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Wyatt looked up at Mackenzie, feeling shell-shocked.
“You’ve got to stop saying this stuff about Lincoln.” Mackenzie told him. “It’s becoming a problem for us.”
“Us?” Wyatt said. “He’s trash-talking me, thank you very much.”
“I’m your girlfriend.” Mackenzie pulled her black skirt straighter. “This affects me, too! It’s like you’re on some vendetta to ruin Lincoln’s reputation.”
Wyatt could feel the anger building inside him. “Why does it diminish who he was or what he did if he loved another guy?”
“You can’t seriously be asking me that. That’s like the gayest question I’ve ever heard. Lincoln was married!”
“That’s what gay people did back then. They hid how they really felt–”
Mackenzie cut him off. “They had four children – two of whom died – Eddie at four, Willie when he was twelve. Lincoln suffered huge depressions about it, and Mary? She was a wreck, even with the séances. How can you have so little respect for her legacy? For their whole family?”
Strolling to their classroom, Jonathon lobbed, “Hey, homo!” at Wyatt, then paused to check Mackenzie out. “Heyyy, Mackenzie.”
Homo? He’d show Jonathon. Fighting past the awkwardness, Wyatt leaned forward and pursed his lips to kiss his girlfriend. Mackenzie stepped back, away from him. He knew she was feeling used. And he was using her – or he’d just tried to.  He could feel the shame rising up his neck to his ears. The start-of-class bell rang.
Mackenzie sounded bitter as she eyed Wyatt coldly. “You have a decision to make. Lincoln and Mary had this beautiful traditional family – and there’s power in that. Maybe because you have it, you don’t appreciate just how precious it is. But if we’re going to stay together, you need to stop saying that Lincoln was gay. You need to start believing in the beauty of family. Otherwise, I can’t keep doing this.” She stomped into the classroom.
Jonathon hung back, smirking. “It must be hard for a queer to keep a girl happy. Especially one as hot as Mackenzie.”
Wyatt’s hands balled into fists, but he didn’t dare say any of the million come-backs swirling in his mind, all of which started with Shut up!
Instead, Wyatt stared at the linoleum and started planning the stuff he could say about Jonathon online – how’d he get to be so muscle-bound at sixteen, anyway? If they drug-test for the Olympics, why not for high school athletes? Under his breath, Wyatt said, “Just wait till you read my blog…”
There was a tongue-click and then Mr. Guzman said, “There’s a saying about how getting something off the internet is like getting pee out of a swimming pool.” When he spoke, both Wyatt and Jonathon realized their teacher was standing in the doorway, listening. “You can try to cover it up, but it’s always going to be there. Why don’t you gentlemen join us? We need to have a class discussion about flame wars, and how yours stops now.”

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Chapter Nine Endnotes

Jonathon quotes Lincoln again for his blog, “With public sentiment, nothing can fail. Without it, nothing can succeed.” This is from the Lincoln-Douglas debates, and was said by Lincoln at his first debate with Judge Douglas in Ottawa, Illinois on August 21, 1858. A transcript of that debate is online at the national park service’s website here and the quote is also found on page 32 of The Lincoln-Douglas Debates.

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1 comment:

Ishta Mercurio said...

My only complaint about this chapter is that it ended so quickly! Thanks for sharing your novel, Lee. I can't wait for next week's installment!