Monday, March 17, 2008
The Big Picture: Chapter One (part I)
Okay, so it's not really Monday as I send this.
Here's the first half of chapter one of The Big Picture, coming to a shelf near you in April. Mark your calendars. Call your friends. Take a sick day and camp out at the book store.
Before I post it, I would like to make a random comment and say that there is nothing like the grief of getting home with your Mexican takeout and finding your queso swimming in the bottom of the sack instead of the container it's supposed to be in.
Anyway, here is the first half of chapter one. Sorry for the cruddy format. It's the best blogger could do. Pop some Tylenol.
The second half will be posted on "Wednesday," so pace yourselves.
A quick blurb:
There's a fine line between a comedy and a tragedy. And Katie Parker is walking it.
Bobbie Ann Parker, released from prison, wants to start a new life with her daughter - in a new city. Katie is forced to walk away from In Between, leaving the family she loves, an endangered town drive-in, and a boyfriend who suddenly can’t take his eyes off his ex.
As events away from In Between spin out of control, Katie must rely on her faith to keep it together. Yet God seems to be nowhere around. Can she trust Him to see her through, and will her big picture ever include a happily ever after?
“If I eat anymore popcorn, I’m gonna hurl.”
I shove the bucket away, and Charlie Benson, my date for the evening, takes it and peers inside.
“In other words, you ate the top layer where the butter was and now you’re done?”
I lean back in my chair and smile up at him. Smart boy.
The town of In Between doesn’t have much to offer, but I will give it points for a cool hangout spot for Friday nights. The drive-in. There are very few left in the country but, much like the rusty water tower and home grown shops downtown, In Between hangs onto its classics, including Bubba’s Big Picture Cinema.
Slurping sounds come from Frances’s direction.
“Nash,” I call to her boyfriend. “Get her another root beer so I can hear the previews.”
Charlie’s fingers intertwine with mine and he whispers close to my ear. “The previews are twenty years old.”
And that’s what makes them perfect.
The four of us sit beneath a sky crowded with stars and watch the screen pop and crack to life. Bubba’s only shows old movies, and tonight is eighties night. And with our chairs arranged in the back of Charlie’s truck, we settle in for the first flick of the evening, Sixteen Candles.
Frances spouts off some useless facts about Molly Ringwald, and while my ears are trained on my best friend, my eyes are totally glued to Charlie.
Charlie Benson, Mr. Four-Point-Oh and quarterback for the In Between Chihuahuas, is some pretty fine stuff. He and I have been spending a lot of time together lately. And you’d think that would be great. I mean, he’s hot, he’s brilliant, and he has some well defined, ’roid-free muscles that make a girl want to just drool.
Sometimes I wonder if we’re just friends.
Who occasionally hold hands.
“Actually”—I bat my eyes at the boy beside me—“I could use another drink myself.”
Charlie steps toward the cab and digs into the cooler until he finds a Diet Dr. Pepper. He pops the top then places it in my waiting hand.
Awww, he’s sweet like that. All the time. Except when he avoids me at school. Like he has this past week.
Did I mention he’s not my boyfriend? But I want to rectify that tonight. You know, make him define what exactly we are. Maybe he thinks we’re exclusively dating, and assumes I think the same? Or what if he thinks we’re just really close friends and is under the impression that I know that’s all we are? But let me tell you, Frances and I are close friends, and she doesn’t open my cans and hold my hand.
As Charlie sits down, my green eyes lock onto his gray peepers. My expression says, Thanks for the drink. You’re so thoughtful. By the way, do you plan on kissing me anytime this century?
Behind us Frances and Nash break out the cookies, as Frances continues her list of everything she knows about the movie. Which is too much.
“Did you know the cake at the end of this movie is actually made of cardboard? And it’s interesting to note that when the girls are in the lunch line . . .”
Charlie looks over at the two of them then leans closer to me. “Frances still gets a little nervous around Nash, doesn’t she?”
I inhale his light scent and smile. “At least she no longer requires her inhaler every time he’s around. I’d say that’s progress. We did pretty well hooking those two up.”
His brown hair blows in the evening breeze. “Yeah, we’re a good team.”
See? He’s always saying things like that. We’re a good team? What does that mean? A good team as in Bert and Ernie? Or as in Spider-Man and Mary Jane?
The last few weeks Charlie and I have been hanging out. A lot. We’re at that point where we call each other every night. And my foster mom told me if I didn’t cut down on the texting, I was going to have to sell an organ to pay for the next bill. I love a good text message—but maybe not enough to sacrifice a kidney.
But lately Charlie’s been acting strangely. I’ve barely seen him at all this week at school. A suspicious girl would wonder if he’s avoiding her. But then tonight . . . he acts like there’s no place he’d rather be than out here, with me, watching a girl from the eighties try to figure out her life while wearing hideous blue eye shadow.
“Um . . . Charlie?” That’s it. I’m just going to put it out there. Lay it on the line.
“Yeah?” His eyes never leave the screen.
"I was wondering if maybe—”
He shifts in his seat. “Are you hungry?”
Hungry for us to move onto the next level? Why yes! I am.
“I packed some sandwiches for us. Er, for all of us.”
I lay my hand on his arm and scoot closer. “I don’t want a sandwich.” I want you
telling the world I’m your girlfriend. I want to scribble your name on my notebook and have other girls look on with envy.
“I know we just had popcorn, but I thought maybe—”
“Charlie, I think we should talk.” I look behind us and make sure Frances and Nash aren’t listening in. “I was wondering if you and I—”
Copied from The Big Picture, by Jenny B. Jones, copyright 2008, by permission of NavPress, www.navpress.com. All rights reserved.