My upcoming Christmas novella, The Boys Upstairs, will be an ebook but nevertheless have a cover. I’ve been contacted by the artist, who wanted me to do things like refine what I meant by “house.” (Because, as it turns out, I can say “house” and an artist then visualizes fifty different kinds of house without the slightest difficulty.)
While deobfuscating my non-artistic scrawl on the “cover suggestions” sheet, it occurred to me that the artist might want to illustrate one of the actual characters. Fortunately for me, Wendy had drawn one long ago, when the story was in its first incarnation.
Meet Jay, former wild youth on the rocket train to a lifetime in jail, injured during the war in Iraq, converted while in the hospital (a la St. Ignatius Loyola, whose feast day is tomorrow) and afterward ordained a priest. His injuries left him legally blind and with several physical disabilities due to nerve damage.
His brother, formerly his partner in crime and now a cop, is estranged from him. The story opens with Jay’s brother bringing three homeless kids to the rectory. For more than that, you’ll just have to wait.
Our scanner is kaput, so I photographed the drawing in the frame and emailed that to the artist. Afterward I displayed it on one of the book shelves in our library. (It should be our formal living room, but it looks like a Barnes and Noble vomited all over it, so we just say “the library.”)
The next day, while I was upstairs with the baby, Kiddo#1 came into the room and said, “I have a paper cut.” He got a band-aid and went back downstairs.
A few minutes later he returned saying, “I need another band-aid.” This time I took a look, and he’d sliced two of his finger tips. Okay, I said to myself as I patched him up, this ought to be good.
Somehow, Kiddo#1 informed me, the picture of Father Jay had toppled off the bookshelf — he had no idea how, and it certainly had nothing to do, not even a little, with their game of BalloonBall taking place in the library — and the glass had shattered. Ever the brilliant kid, Kiddo#1 stated that “Mom will be very, very imaginative in coming up with a punishment for this” and reached the only possible conclusion: he should try gluing the shattered glass back together.
His IQ is something like 350, you see, but he comes up with the same kind of Patented Brilliant Ideas as his mother.
I threw out the big pieces, vacuumed up the rest, and then surgically extracted Father Jay from what remained of the frame. How could I be angry: it was merely a case of life imitating art!
I have purchased another frame for Father Jay, and he has received an honorable discharge from the book shelf. I have not been very creative in punishing the kids. This story, however, has gone onto the internet, something Kiddo#1 will find more humiliating than the most humiliating punishment I could possibly devise.
I’m such a mean mom.