Friday, March 2, 2018

Queer as a Five-Dollar Bill: Chapter 26

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, and visit my Kickstarter Project here:

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In Chapter Twenty-Five, Wyatt is determined to not have his own truth be erased anymore. And he reasons that if the truth about Lincoln didn't need anything but the truth, maybe it didn't need Wyatt to lie anymore, either... So Wyatt finally does what Lincoln was never able to do... he risks what feels like everything and comes out—to Martin, Martin's mom, and his own parents. Emboldened, Wyatt goes for his first real kiss with Martin, but Martin isn't interested in being wanted solely because he's the only other gay teen Wyatt knows. So no kiss. Just Wyatt's first gay 'let's be friends' kiss-off.

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

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Okay community, here's Chapter Twenty-Six!

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Chapter 26
Monday January 26

The School Rock read,


Wyatt had a great view of it from his window-aisle desk in detention.
He’d tried to get through the day zombie-style, with a plan to let nothing bother him – because really, what bothers the undead? – but it wasn’t working at all. Every time he’d been within earshot, Jonathon started selling John Wilkes Booth Appreciation Society T-shirts out of his locker and backpack. Mr. Clifton had trapped him after History, instructing Wyatt to tell his dad that their bowling team had decided Wyatt’s dad would be better off on another team. I’m sure he’ll understand why. And Mackenzie had been a no-show the whole day. She still hadn’t answered any of Wyatt’s texts. Was she okay? She hadn’t done anything stupid, had she? The guilt seeped through him, filling every pore.
As soon as Ms. Valens released them, Wyatt ran directly to Mackenzie’s place.
He took the stairs two at a time and rang the condo doorbell.
Mr. Miller answered, holding a bunch of dresses on hangers.
“I need to talk to Mackenzie.” Wyatt said.
“Leave her alone, Wyatt.”
“I have something really important–”
“I’m sure you think it is. But we’re dealing with hard stuff here.” Mackenzie’s dad stared at the dresses in his hands. Behind him, half-filled cardboard boxes were lined up by the kitchen counter. The one closest to the door had purses in it. “Moving on is hard.”
“But that’s what–”
“Stop!” Mr. Miller’s voice broke with pain. “Just go, okay? This is important healing time for us. Mackenzie will see you at school tomorrow.”
Wyatt’s eyes went wide when he saw the bottle of alcohol on the entry bench. It was only two-thirds full. Had Mr. Miller started drinking again? Because of him?
Mr. Miller followed his gaze. “Schapps. For some reason she liked this peppermint schnapps stuff, and I just couldn’t…” He picked up the bottle and thrust it into Wyatt’s hands. “Here. Take it to your parents. Better we don’t have any of this stuff in the house, after all.”
And then he shut the door in Wyatt’s face.
Wyatt stared at the bottle of alcohol. If he gave it to his parents, he’d have to explain this whole thing…
The building’s dumpster was around the side. The dumpster’s top was open, and when Wyatt was ten feet away, he spun the bottle through the air. It sailed in and smashed against the metal bottom.
Wyatt winced, hoping no one had heard that. He walked over and peered in. The smell of peppermint slapped him in the face as he saw the broken glass at the bottom of the otherwise empty dumpster. He wondered how long it would smell like that. There’s no fixing any of this, is there?
Heading home, he glanced down 4th Street to Union Square, one block away. Where were all the banners? They hadn’t changed any of the ones on 4th, so there should be all these banners announcing the parade…
Wyatt walked up the block to see the whole square. Every light pole was empty. Their town wasn’t advertising Abe and Mary’s ‘great love’ anymore, but they also weren’t even saying there was going to be a parade in nineteen days!
He raced home and got on the reception computer. It wasn’t on the Lincolnville Chamber of Commerce calendar anymore, either. No parade ad, and no listing.
But the parade had to happen! Without it, his mom was out of a job, and they were going to be forced out of here. Wyatt looked about at their wacky Queen Anne Victorian.
The history and dust.
Wax-Lincoln and the military mannequin.
His soldier.
The fake bed upstairs, and so many memories.
It was a weird place to live but… it was home.

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When Wyatt got to his room, there were two thin envelopes that had come in the mail sitting on his chair, since his desk was kind of a mess. They were both hand-addressed to him, one in a jagged scrawl, the other in fancy script.
            The scrawled one had a sheet of yellow notebook paper folded inside. Wyatt opened it, and a five-dollar bill fluttered out. The note read:

                        Wyatt –
                        Loved learning Lincoln was gay! Can’t come to stay at your B&B
                        but hope this helps. Stay strong,

            Wyatt held the five in his hand, and took the good feeling in. He didn’t know who Mark was, but there was someone out there who believed in what he was doing!
            Kind of excited, he opened the second envelope. On cream-colored paper, the fancy script read:

                        My Dear Wyatt, and of course, Mr. & Mrs. Yarrow as well,
                        Please do not allow small-minded people to hold you back. After all,
“The Truth Shall Set You Free.” – John 8:32
                        However, in my life I have learned that sometimes, the truth can be expensive. Wishing you blessings of Peace,
                                    Mrs. Daisy Locke

            There was a check inside. For $500.00
            Wyatt started shouting as he ran for the stairs. “Dad!”
            He raced the downstairs corridor to the kitchen, check and Lincoln five-dollar bill in his hand, but stopped short at a pottery SMASH!
            “No parade!” His mom’s voice was high and scary.
            When he got to the doorway Wyatt saw his mom let go of a plate – SMASH! It shattered on the tile by her feet. His dad’s eyes were wet with tears as he watched her. And Rhonda and Martin were by the dining room door, silently taking in the whole thing.
            Wyatt’s mom picked up another plate from the stack on the counter. “No parade!”
            “No –”
            She cursed, freaking Wyatt out even more.
            “Mom! Stop!” Wyatt cautiously entered the room, pushing shards away with his sneakers.
            “Hi, Wyatt.” she said like normal, grabbing another plate. “Did you hear the news?”
            He tried to speak fast, before she dropped it. “Yeah – about the parade.”
            “It’s official. You can’t have a parade with two entries. Even ‘Tykes on Bikes’ cancelled.” His mom put the plate back on the stack, like she’d changed her mind. Then she shoved all five remaining plates off the counter. They CRUMPED into large pieces on the floor. She let out a long breath. “I always hated that pattern.”
            It seemed safer since she’d run out of plates. “Mom, there’s something I need to show you.” Wyatt stretched his arm out over the jagged debris.
            “What’s this?”
            She took the check and money and he explained to them all, about the letters.
            “Five-hundred-and-five dollars is nice, but it’s not going to get us out of the financial hole we’re in.” His mom handed the check and bill back to him. “I have to clean this up. Gregory,” she spoke to his dad. “I think it’s time to sell the Lincoln bed and all the things in the museum.”
The bed. Wyatt avoided looking at his Dad. It was his dad’s secret’s to tell, and he didn’t want to give anything away.
His mom leaned heavily against the counter. “I’m sorry, I know… It’s not what any of us wanted. But when they foreclose we’re not going to have anywhere to store–”
            “Stop! No!” Wyatt cut her off. “You don’t have to!” He swiveled between his parents. “We’re not going to lose this place.”
            His mom raised a weary hand. “Wyatt, I know you want to help, but you have to let us adults deal with this.”
            “We need a parade, right?” Wyatt said. “If there’s a parade, and it's a big success, the Mayor said you can keep your job. Well – we’ve been trying for the wrong kind of parade!”
Blank stares. None of them knew what Wyatt meant.
“Mom, you’ve been calling, trying to get people to be in the Lincoln and Mary parade, right?”
            “I must have made two-hundred calls.” His mom said.
            “We need people to come to the Lincoln and Joshua parade!” Wyatt looked at them all.
Martin’s eyes went wide. “You want to do a parade about Lincoln being gay?”
Martin was right. Who would come to that? They needed a crowd. Like that March on Washington. Like going back in time to add Gays to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s list…
Wyatt felt the goosebumps prickle on his skin, traveling up the sides of his back and neck as the idea took shape.
            ‘Black men and White men. Jews and Gentiles. Protestants and Catholics.’
            And Gays, and Women, and the Disabled and… everyone.
That was it!
All men are created equal – Lincoln believed that, right?” Wyatt’s face shone as he tried to get them to see it, too. “And Martin Luther King, Jr.! What if it’s more about that? About how we’re all created equal. Men, Women. Black, White. Gay, Straight. No exceptions.” He repeated it, feeling it sink in. “No exceptions! That’s our new parade theme. All people are created equal – no exceptions!
Wyatt held up the check in one hand and the five-dollar bill in the other. “And people will come to that!”
His mom looked to Rhonda. “What about our permit? Could they pull it?”
 “Parade permits aren’t theme-dependent…” Rhonda shook her head as she thought it through. “Even if they don’t like the new theme, they can’t stop it.”
“Which means they can’t stop us!” Wyatt said.
Martin did a quick search on his cell phone for a number, then dialed. They all watched as he pressed the speakerphone button.
A man’s voice answered, “University of Oregon switchboard.”

“Hi!” Martin said, giving Wyatt a wink. “Can I speak with the person who books your marching band?”
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Ready for Chapter Twenty-Seven? It will be posted on March 9, 2018. 

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