New excerpt from Yoharie
And an excerpt within an excerpt from The Totem-Maker
Giarma and Trevor
Roberta swore…or she didn’t swear…
She avowed, maybe.
Dr. Witticombe wasn’t a friendly woman, per se. She didn’t have brio, among her habits of speech. She was, Giarma considered, sort of an exasperated wizard. She came out of her home study, imparted the wisdom you sought from her. Then her eyes strayed to the hall clock.
“He has a blog, Iron Seeds. And another blog, Conspire Right. I don’t really know how he gets his money…advertising, I guess…because, why would I know that? I’m not Kate Hibbler.”
Dr. Witticombe—the other—had laughed through an open doorway. Roberta rolled her eyes; then she heaved a sigh and shook her head.
“I apologize. I shouldn’t mention the Hibblers at all.”
She’d avowed, though, that you could knock with confidence at Trevor Royce’s door, that his weirdoness was ordinary weirdoness, not the scary kind. Giarma still, home again in her dad’s front hall, putting on gloss in the mirror (of that whatyacallit of Dawn’s…parson’s bench); putting on a fleece vest, to make her shoulder-to-waist area formless and lumpy, resented this deeply. What was wrong with Dawn, she couldn’t do this herself? Was she afraid of him?
Walking to the end of the cul-de-sac, weighed by reluctance, Giarma thought: what a ship of fools this neighborhood is! She also thought, iron seeds, conspiracy…some creepy male vitamins. Does Dawn understand what she wants Val involved with?
He had a doorbell. She found herself riven on Trevor Royce’s stoop, with irritation, certain this bell would play something cute and stupid. It didn’t. He opened the door, after two rounds of classic ding-dong, after a minute in which she’d heard thudding feet approach. He didn’t bug his eyes and jump back, Busby-like, or say, “What can I do for you?”
He did have an ugly beard, like a cartoon-show prospector. He was a little smelly.
“Howdy,” he said. “I think I know you.”
“I’m Giarma Yoharie.”
“I think,” she said, “you’re kind of friends with Dawn.”
“Dawn need something?”
“Um.” She looked past his shoulder.
“Oh, yeah. You wanna come in?”
I sure don’t, buddy. She followed him. “Do you know I have a brother?”
“Yeah. I like your brother. Cool kid.”
His living room looked like the house had been staged by a realtor, and he’d bargained for the furnishings. One wall—the one with no fireplace, no shelves, and no opening to the stairs—was covered in artwork, push-pinned through the paint, drawings or print-outs, most of them, some tacked over posters. They were done in umbers and a persistent purple, brownish-eggplant, a repetition of melancholy-eyed, thin-featured figures, robed and booted. Medieval fashion, as interpreted by comic books.
It seemed to her manifestly not, but she said, “Did you make all that?”
“Nah. People send them to me.”
The purple caught her eye again. A stack of books on his coffee table, the paperback on top yellowed and dog-eared, the hue progressing from book to book, newer and brighter. Oh, yes. That was the thing about Trevor.
“So has Val ever read Totem-Maker?”
Something in this was offending Giarma. She didn’t know what…possibly the insider-y dropping of the article. She said, “That’s a weird question.”
“I’ve never read the Totem-Maker, maybe you’d like to know.”
“Well…so…you have a brother. Sit down.”
She crossed her arms, standing.
“Don’t sit down.”
“Oh, this is getting retarded.”
Giarma pulled a crocheted throw off the recliner, and sat. “Dawn would like you to be Val’s friend. And she wanted me to come over and say so.”
He sat, on the sofa, reaching for the uppermost of his books. “Aren’t we friends?”
“It’s like everyone thinks we ought to be.”
“Welcome to the war zone.”
At this came silence, the awkward one. And her job to break it, because she’d come with a request. “I don’t mean retarded.”
“Because…you think I’d take personal offense?”
She laughed, and Trevor laid the book on the cushion beside him. He drew the one at the bottom of the stack out. “Take this. It’s the edition from 2010. They’ve got an anniversary reboot coming in October, with new art and all. Should’ve asked me to write the foreword.”
“Okay…thanks…so,” she said. Now, a second late, it came to her she should have given his joke a laugh.
(copyright 2017 Stephanie Foster)