Preview of A Pirate’s Time Served
The preorder campaign of my latest young adult/middle grade book, A Pirate’s Time Served, is well underway. The book tour thru the blogosphere begins in two weeks with the book’s official launch set for August 25. Thanks to all who have gone to Smashwords and preordered the eBook version. In return, I’ve reduced the price by 1/3 to just $1.99. Preorders are available on all eBook platforms with the exception of Amazon. Why? Because they’re Amazon and can do whatever they wish. However, both eBook and hard copy will available there as well on August 25 with the audio book to follow shortly.
In appreciation, I’m going to begin releasing the first few chapters every so often. That’s only fair and so many have asked that I do it. Here’s the first installment. I hope it sparks your interest and that you’ll go to the Smashwords site and preorder the book.
All the best,
My bedroom door swings quietly open thanks to the WD-40 I sprayed on the hinges yesterday. I kick off my flip-flops then step out onto the carpet. If Mom and Dad hear me creeping down the hall for sure they’ll drag me into their latest shoutfest. I’m not taking sides.
My big sister’s door is shut tight. Sarah is not asleep. No one could sleep through the fight downstairs. I just want all the yelling, all the sniping to stop. Well, it just might. And really soon.
I knock twice on Sarah’s door. Nothing. I’m not standing out here exposed for much longer. I knock again. “Open up, Sarah.”
Finally the door cracks open. A sliver of face appears. Her left eye scans me up and down.
For starters, stop the war between our parents. But what kid can do that? Well, maybe this kid can. “I need your help. It’s important.”
Her door inches open just enough for me to slide in, then silently shuts. Since she turned sixteen last month this is forbidden territory. When we turn sixteen we get to redo our bedrooms. Sarah just finished redecorating. My chance comes in four years. Sarah’s room is girly all the way—pink walls with cream-colored ceiling molding and baseboards.
“I’m the reason this time,” I walk over to the white-framed mirror on the wall opposite her desk where she keeps her laptop. “I told them it would be nice to get out of New York City sometime this summer—”
“Oh please. That’s your sixth grader’s thinking.” Sarah leans up against the bookcase beside the desk where all of her school books are supposed to go but instead end up scattered around the room.
From downstairs Mom shouts, “This is not about where we go. It’s about being together as a family.”
“Still wrong, Brian,” Sarah says.
I brush my fingers along the fringe dangling from the pink-shaded lamp that lights up her workspace. Scraps of paper and post-it notes litter her desk. I couldn’t stand the mess. My room isn’t as new or fancy. But at least it’s neat and I can find my things.
“Your strategy of punishment by ignoring Dad seems to really be working. Great way to get his attention, Sarah. That’s what you really want.”
I see her surprised smile. Gotcha. She picks up a post-it, begins tearing it and slowly nods. “Daddy being pissed off has at least something to do with me. Forces him off that cell of his even if it is only to yell at me.”
“Do other kids have this problem?”
“Sure they do, little bro—like all of my friends. Parents are from another planet. You’re the straight-A student and president of your class. Got any ideas?”
“Actually, I do.”
“You do? Okay, Brian Schilling, Mr. Scary Smart Geek. Spill it.”
* * *
This is a first. All four of us in the same room at the same time. Even if we are just downstairs in the library where Dad usually works until late at night. We’re squared off with Mom and Dad sitting on a red leather couch; Sarah and I on the one opposite. A glass coffee table separates us like a neutral buffer zone.
Mom’s voice is pleasant, “Isn’t this nice. A family conversation. We should have these more often.” Dad’s cell phone vibrates. We all look at him. Dad raises one finger—asking for a second—and says into the phone, “Got an interesting conversation going here. Talk to you later.” Then he does the unthinkable—he holds down the button until it turns off the phone completely.
“What’s up kids?” asks Dad. “Take all the time you need. All night, if you want. Tomorrow’s Saturday. We can sleep in.”
We all know the joke. Dad never sleeps past 5:00 a.m. He says he’s just wired that way.
Sarah looks at me. I nod my head. She begins, “Look, we can’t stand all the fighting. This house has so much anger. We’re tired of it.”
Mom says, “Honey, your dad and I are just two very strong willed people both with high pressure jobs. If we didn’t let off some steam every so often, we’d both burst. It doesn’t mean anything.”
“Mom is right. It’s the ones who keep it all inside you have to watch. They’ll explode from the pressure build-up and die of a coronary.”
“Even so,” continues Sarah, “It hasn’t been easy for Brian and me. We want a change. Actually, it was Brian’s idea. He’s the smart one between us.”
Mom nods. “So what’s your idea, Brian-the-Brain?”
“Well, summer vacation starts next week. Without school and its air conditioning, it’ll be miserable here in the City. So Sarah and I want to leave.”
“Leave?” asks Dad. “You mean, just the two of you? Without us?”
Mom asks, “Leave as in run away? Honey your friends will think that you’re some elementary school kid. Aren’t you worried what they might say?”
“No. Besides, Brian and I are not running away. We are going away for the summer. Of our own choosing. We’re going to Aunt Helen’s and Uncle Jack’s house in the islands.” Mom first opens, then shuts her mouth.
She needs some help with the next step. “Uncle Jack and Aunt Helen live on a beautiful Caribbean island for the summer. They don’t fight either.”
“Really?” asks Dad as if this is news. He knows where Aunt Helen and Uncle Jack live in the summer. At least he doesn’t quite reject my idea. “So you both want to leave home for three whole months? Both of you forsaking your friends? What if they forget about you, Brian? Sarah, what if Bobby Jones falls in love with someone else?”
“His loss. Anyway, we will be the coolest kids in our class, getting to spend the summer on an island. And we can always stay connected to what’s happening with our friends on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snap and the rest. It’ll be like we never left, only we’re too cool to stay here melting away our summer vacation in New York City.”
The library in our house has walls covered with dark brown leather and the floors are dark hardwood; the furniture is red leather. It’s like all this darkness sucks in the light. Mom’s face is in shadow. Even so when she turns toward the lamp I can see the lines across her forehead.
Sarah breaks the silence, “It will be nice just laying out on the beach with no one telling us what to do and when to do it. I like Aunt Helen and Uncle Jack. They’re so mellow.”
Dad raises his eyebrows. Then he winks at me, “And Aunt Helen is beautiful. But then again, your mom is gorgeous. Bet you think I don’t notice. But I do.”
Sarah says, “Do you know why I never invite my friends over? It’s because of all the tension here. Remember what happened at the Jonathon Club last Christmas?”
Mom’s forehead wrinkles some more.
Sarah continues, “That was awful. The manager had to call security. Then you both kept yelling at each other while the valet was getting the car.” Sarah shuts her eyes at the pain. “I never told you that someone—I never found out who—videoed your fight and sent it to the school list. Whatever it costs me, I will never risk such humiliation again. Never.”
“So being out of the house for the summer beats being away from my friends every time. Besides, like I said, I’ll stay in close touch on my cell.”
My turn. “I already called Aunt Helen and told her about my idea.”
“You did?” asks Dad. He seems surprised. “What’d Helen say?”
“She and Uncle Jack are cool with it. They both said that we need your permission. Uncle Jack even said he’d go to bat for us.”
“The deal is done,” says Sarah. “Aunt Helen and Uncle Jack already said yes.”
Dad stops clenching his jaw. I take it as a sign of defeat.
Dad says, “Okay. We admire your initiative. But you two need to know some things before you make your final decision.”
It can’t be this easy. What’s missing?
“Your Uncle Jack is a great guy,” Mom begins, “I’ve known him for twenty years. He is a solid person and one in whose care I would trust you both for three months. Same with Helen. They said they’re glad to have you.”
“Wait,” Sarah says. “You already talked with them?”
Mom laughs, “Of course, Honey. Helen and Jack both called us as soon as they got off the phone the first time Brian called begging for an invitation.” Mom stops talking. “What? Every kid needs to understand that they’re never smarter than their parents. And they won’t be until they have their own kids. So, yes, we talked—several times, actually. They even flew in last week and spent a whole afternoon with us. Together we figured out what your summer vacation on the lovely island of St. Croix will consist of. We have planned the curriculum, the physical objectives. Everything. Day-by-day and with progress reports from you each week in the form of a video conference call with us…”
* * *