Friday, January 26, 2018

Queer as a Five-Doillar Bill: Chapter 21

In Chapter Twenty, the blows come fast and furious - lost business for Wyatt's family's B&B, and their town, a radio program mocking Lincolnville, Mackenize bragging about her date with Jonathon in front of Wyatt, Wyatt shouting that he's not gay, and then Sandee's unexpected kindness... only then to discover their whole town covered with John Wilkes Booth Appreciation Society flyers. But then Wyatt gives a private tour of their B&B exhibits to Martin, including a moment where they lie down on Lincoln's old bed to see how close Lincoln and Speed would have been... VERY close. So close that Wyatt bolts from the bed.

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

To read about why I'm serializing my entire YA novel for free on this blog, click here.

Thoughts? Reactions? #queerasafivedollarbill / #qaafdb fan art? Share them as comments here or on social media (facebook, twitter, or instagram.)

Okay community, here's Chapter Twenty-One!

* *

* *

Chapter 21
Saturday January 24

                        Mackenzie                  8:14 p.m.
Jonathon’s on the Von Lawson
Report. You might want to watch.

            Wyatt was so furious with her and Jonathon, he didn’t want to see it. But Martin said they had to, and yelled for his mom. Wyatt’s parents came, too. Moments later they were all crowded into Rhonda’s room, watching the live broadcast on one of the three computer screens on the antique roll-top desk.
Jonathon was there on T.V., wearing his yellow John Wilkes Booth Appreciation Society T-shirt, sitting across from Von Lawson. They were laughing about something. Words under them read:
                        Lincoln. Under. Attack!
            “It’s hard to shove that gay genie back in the bottle!” Von Lawson said, then faced the camera. “It’s been just about a week since our last national survey, so we did another, asking, Do you think Abraham Lincoln and Joshua Speed might have been more than just ‘friends?’ This time, eight percent of people believed it. What scares me here – and there’s not much that scares me, Real America – is the growth. Last week, two percent. This week, eight. Following that same line, next week we’ll be at thirty-two percent of people believing it... And the week after that? Everybody! Except you…” He pointed at Jonathon, and then at himself. “And me. In a bunker. Hiding from this radiation poisoning of history. That’s what they want, drive us underground, into their old closets – where they should be! And it’s starting now, right this minute, with this poor, stupid eight percent.”
            Jonathon and the audience booed the eight percent.
“It’s their First Amendment right to be asses!” Rhonda commented from the edge of the bed, her left hand working a silver ring with a jade stone around in circles.
“We’re very glad you’re here.” Wyatt’s mom said to Rhonda. She and Wyatt’s dad were watching from the room’s Victorian couch. Tensed up in a ball in the armchair, Wyatt caught eyes with Martin, who was sitting on the wood desk chair next to his mom. Count me glad, too.
Martin winked at him.
Wyatt felt the flush rising in his face and tried to focus on the T.V. show. He wasn’t sure how he felt about Mackenzie tipping him off that her boyfriend was on The Von Lawson Report again. Was that her being kind, or just rubbing his face in it?
            Von Lawson continued, “Now, I’ve been getting some flak, people saying that I shouldn’t even be talking about this on my show, that we’re giving them a platform for these obscene lies, but I ask you, Real America – if someone’s burning down your house, should you just walk away and not say anything?”
            The studio audience yelled, “No!”
            “That’s right. If someone’s trying to burn down my house, I’m going stop them, with a fire hose on full blast!”
            Jonathon chimed in, “An air tanker, dropping a BEEP-load of water to put it out!”
            Von Lawson drummed the air at Jonathon, building on what Jonathon was saying, “Not water – fire retardant!”
            Jonathon laughed. “Retard! They’re retards!”
            “I know! I’m with you.” Von Lawson leaned back and put his cowboy boots up on his desk. “I want to get us back to a simpler America. Where we don’t have all these minorities shouting about wanting what we have, when we earned it… In the good old days, you didn’t see freaks, and ‘disabled’ people, and retards, and people practicing beastiality, and necrophilia, and homosexuality running around, making all this noise: Gimme, Gimme, Gimme! And it’s the professional homosexualists, they’re the ones who want to make our thoughts a crime. They’re the ones perverting not just today, but history! Nothing’s safe from them! We need to just clean our country out!”
            “Holy crap.” Wyatt whispered.
            Martin met his gaze and nodded.
            “Um…” Jonathon hesitated on screen. “I’m not really talking about getting rid of anyone–”
            Von Lawson cut him off. “But when it’s an enemy from within, you have to control the outbreak! If someone you love has cancer, you get doctors to cut it out, and then use drugs to kill it, cell by cell. Should we do any less for the country we love?”
            Jonathon looked lost. “I guess it’s important to, uhh, stick together? I wanted to say that not everybody in Lincolnville thinks Lincoln was a queer. I mean… most of us don’t, and if–”
            Von Lawson cut him off again by slapping his desk. “But the numbers are rising! What’s it going to take before this country wakes up?” A new camera angle let him speak directly to the viewers. “What’s it going to take before YOU wake up?”
Maybe Mackenzie had been warning him?
Von Lawson was on his feet, shouting, “Make no mistake about it, Real America! This is a war. A war for the very soul of our country. They are trying to weaponize history against us. We have to save Lincoln, and save the nation!”
            Huge applause and fist pumping as the image pulled back to show the studio audience. Von Lawson shouted over the going-to-commercial music, “We’ll be right back, with our Prayer For America!” Wyatt watched Von Lawson heartily shake Jonathon’s hand. For a second, he thought Jonathon looked dazed. And then Von Lawson said something in Jonathon’s ear and the two of them were laughing again, waving at the camera.
            Martin hit mute. No one said anything.
            How did Martin do it? Being gay – with everyone knowing – seemed like walking around with this giant target painted on your chest. Did Martin need to be afraid? Do I?
Wyatt’s dad was the first to speak, but he didn’t say anything about gay genocide or a war for the soul of the country. All he said was, “Dinner’s getting cold.”
* *
* *
Want to know why I'm serializing my entire YA novel for free right here on this blog? Click here. Ready for Chapter Twenty-Two? It will be posted on February 2, 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!

No comments: