The Ups and Downs of
Bolster, Not Molest Her
To Be Honest
Split Infinitive Editions
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February 24, 2013
a disturbingly hilarious novel
about a compactified young woman
Click here for the
Split Infinitive Edition
1—O Say Can You Skeet
At a 4th of July party in 1965, the
not-quite-six Kelly Rebecca Kitefly
(“Miss Skeeter” to her Grampa Otto)
has a cavortin’ good time, oblivious
to her parents having broken up—and
also to the dangers of skyrockets.
…It was getting really, really dark now and
Kelly Rebecca started back, lingering by the old chicken house
since Dougie Hungerford had swiped a cherry bomb from the
fireworks supply, and had whispered to her that later on they
were going to try blowing up the old chicken house with it.
Kelly could hardly wait. Being involved in an explosion wouldn’t
faze her at all, nossir! Never a skinned knee nor a
bruised finger despite all her antics; and though she’d broken
collarbones by falling out of trees, they had never been her
("O Say Can You Skeet" appeared in
with her grandparents in
smalltown Marble Orchard, Skeeter
to bed with the German
measles, her hyperactive
and other family legacies.
…Skeeter had no sooner landed in a sickbed than she’d entertained
high hopes of ambulances and oxygen tents, her life being despaired
of, all her friends at school chipping in to buy flowers that could
double if necessary as a funeral wreath. But what a gyp:
nothing but a week of tucked-in isolation and denial of TV rights,
since Gramma wouldn’t move the family Magnavox upstairs…
3—The House in the Trees
on her own one Sunday afternoon,
Skeeter occupies herself with
testing the limits of a cat’s patience
on a treehouse level.
…Wrinkle your pointed-button nose and look down it at the rest of
you. Someday soon you’re going to be big, with boobies out to
here, and wear stylish unmentionabubbles to tote them around in.
Lawnjer-ray, lawnjer-ree, lawnjer-RAH-hahaha—and pose
in tight sweaters with an arched back like Ann-Margret…
("The House in the Trees"
as it appeared in
4—Brownie Like Me
eight-year-old Skeeter and her
intense friend Janey take advantage
their Brownie uniforms as they
conspire to buy their first cigarettes.
…The girls had already done plenty of experimental
smoking, despite a lack of material. Janey’s mother had been raised
Mormon, and wouldn’t allow tobacco in her house; and Gramma Otto,
while puffing through quite a few cigarettes, was nobody’s fool and
kept them under literal lock and key. “When we get BOYfriends,
we can take their cigarettes,” Skeeter’d decided. “Till then we’re
on our own…”
("Brownie Like Me"
was published in
5—Power & Light
her uncle in Chicago, Skeeter
gets her first taste of Bright Lights
Big City—and takes part in the fracas
surrounding the 1968 Democratic
…lookit all the burlesque houses! the pawnshops! the saloons! the
drunk-looking man staggering out of that one! This must be the
genuine authentic BAD part of town! But “Wait, it gets
better,” Buddy was saying, swinging them roundabout again and
heading off in a new direction. “1-2-3 Red Light!”
Skeeter sang—and all at once the world lit up like the carousel at
the Booth County Fair…
("Power & Light"
The Sidewalk’s End)
6—Sister Sadie What Have You Done
meets Mercedes Benison, a
potential big stepsister who alternates
eager affection, moderate
fury, and outta-here! bossiness.
…Sadie was still lecturing about race relations and social
injustice when they reached the edge of Oswald Avenue.
Here Skeeter found it necessary to punch her on the arm. “Ow!
What was that for?” “Slug-Bug went by,” Skeeter explained,
pointing to a passing Volkswagen. “Look, there goes another—”
“Ow! Quit it! Who do you think you’re punching,
squirt?” “Gee, Sadie, I thought it was you…”
("Sister Sadie What Have You Done"
as it appeared in
7—Buying the Farm
to leave Marble Orchard in 1970,
the impatient Skeeter plans her own
going-away party, heedless of the
“...Okay!” she’d run home to inform Gramma, “here’s
the latest: I’m going to hitch the ponies up to Jeff’s uncle’s
neighbor-that-used-to-be- a-milkman’s cart, and do it up like
Cinderella’s pumpkin, right? and get driven to school my last day,
and be hahnded out at the door in this red velvet gown cut
low front ‘n’ back—”
8—The First of
"Becoming a woman" at age eleven,
pursues her first teen Cool Boy—right into his bedroom, with
fallout for them both.
...Ginny had been terrorstricken by her menarche,
and turned scarlet at the mention of periods and colons and other
marks of punctuation. Skeeter, contrariwise, had welcomed her
time’s arrival; and she collected nicknames for it, such as high
tide, That Midol Moment, and “riding the cotton bicycle.” (In
future years she would sometimes punch men in the stomach—playfully,
but punch—and say, “THAT’S for being a guy and not having
("The First of the Svens" appeared in Entropic Desires)
Skeeter spends New
Year's Eve '72 at
Sadie's college dorm, where she can't
wait to get high
like a practically-adult
for the first time.
...She applied herself to the mouthpiece slowly, deeply, with a
steady sssucckkkk—gag! choke! HUCK HUCK HUCK, sounding like
runaway Jim on the fogbound raft. There was genial laughter from
her elders. “Mmmm boy that’s good grass,” coughed Skeeter.
“So how soon before I’m ripped? Does it happen instantaniciously?...”
("Visions of Sugarbongs" appeared in Unlikely Stories)
Starting high school, Skeeter slices
open her first worm and renounces all nursing ambitions, focusing
instead on Halloween mayhem.
had no intention of ever growing up, of course, or old, or fat (yuggh)
but adults were always asking what she wanted to “be” when (not if)
she did the first of these. Yeah—right. Like she was ever going to
be five full feet tall, or would ever want to be. Grownups
couldn’t be buttoncute, or have any authentic fun, or even take a
proper bathtub wallow. Forget it...
was published in Arnazella
appeared in Ten Thousand Monkeys)
Deep in the Derelict Days of 1974,
Skeeter pledges a sorority (actually
more of a skag-gang) and insists that
tattoo be part of her initiation.
...after further consideration she settled on her baptismal
initials, K.R.K., and them to go on her right hindquarter
after all. To this end (and past it) Skeeter wriggled out of her
fancy-free jeans and fire-engine-red brevities (for which she’d
recently given up her virgin-whites), while helpful Nat kept her in
staggering stitches by wondering aloud whether Bless This Buttock
ought not to be added...
was published in Arnazella
appeared in Ten Thousand Monkeys)
At loose ends during her junior year,
Skeeter is shanghaied into school
theatrics and seeks tutelage from a
local brasslungs legend.
was exactly the right type for this part, according to Mr. Minie;
the librettists might’ve had her in mind when they wrought the
play. For was not Bitsy bitesized, jocose and twinkle-eyed, with
toothsome grin and roguish giggle and verve as big as all outdoors?
All of which Skeeter was, had, or could readily approximate...
("Projectile" appeared in The Sidewalk's End)
13—Little Artful Antics
Skeeter alternates between devising a
standup comedy routine and dancin'
away the summer night—both of which
culminate in Sadie's morning-sickness.
...bring on the night!
A windy howl, blowing up Skeeter’s Farrahfications layer by layer
into a peachy fuzzy mushroom cloud, rising, twining, undulating:
“Medusa you say!” But Skeeter a gorgon? Just look at that face,
deeLISHus round winsome pink peeping out of the boy-howdy cloud; how
could it petrify anybody? Then look again at the abruptly-pointed
chin, the tipped-up buttony nose, and listen to the peals of
cacklelaughter—oh my God she was a witch! Beware, lest she
turn you all into newts!...
("Little Artful Antics" appeared in Ten Thousand Monkeys)
14—The Clearing Stage
Giving up on drama as a career option,
Skeeter quits college at age twenty and
starts life on her own in downtown
Demortuis at the height of Discomania.
...Nobody doubted Skeeter’s stage presence, or her knowing where she
was coming from. It was the going-to that kept tripping her up,
especially when interacting with comedians liable to pull the
unexpected. Joe undertook to coach her, but all for naught; as an
improv comic, Skeeter made a damn fine audience. She would get agog
and engrossed in what her partners were coming up with, then miss
the ball altogether when it was thrown her way, or burst out
cacklelaughing fit to die...
In 1980 Skeeter meets Jim Midge, the
Ultimate Laplander: a man who might
be THE One AND Only for her ... in a
very terminal way.
...Feeling creepy-crawl and goosey-bump, Skeeter scrubbed her face
and throat and further south; rinsed, toweled, stretched to hang
towel and washcloth over the shower rod, hoping vaguely that the
sight of her other best side might warm the blood and thaw the
atmosphere. No response. She rolled on Secret, tended to her
teeth, brushed her hair a little, put her glasses back on—and found
an ashen face staring back at her, immobile, from the mirror.
appeared in Unlikely Stories)
PART THREE: WINDOHWA
16—Really Weird Dreams
merry-go-round having broken down, the bewildered Skeeter seeks
comfort in solitaire and overeating.
...For many nights afterward she would have a dream, this really
weird dream of going to bed and almost to sleep before the bed
rolled forward like a dresser drawer being opened, and a goddam
spotlight came shining right in her eyes which wouldn’t close or
even blink—and there were her folks, staring down at her from
either side, all aghast.
Jeez quit it
she’d try to say, you’re acting as though I’m DEAD—
("Really Weird Dreams" appeared in October Moon)
Returning to college in search of the
answer to What-For, Skeeter finds only
botherment from ne'er-do-wells.
time’s the charm (they say) and this was, let’s see, yes: the third
time in Skeeter’s short life that her highfalutin derring-do had
flamed out on her. Gone into a tailspin, a SHWEEEEE-OOOOP nosedive,
aiming to auger in at Mach 1+ and not with any whizbang but a
stumblebummy whimper. So where’s the charm?...
(an excerpt from "Near Dowels"
was published in
Skeeter spends New Year's Eve '82
alone with her cat, a bottle of tequila,
a ceiling ready to leak, and dismal dim
...See Kelly Rebecca as she must have been originally
envisioned, conceived on a vast Amazonian scale, with
proportionate appetites and capacities: a great big amazing
colossal girl! See her the child of scrunchdown by Jolly Dame
Nature, abridged and condensed into a little ole bitty Skeeter-type
doll: the compact version that could get high on an
Eskimo pie, for awhile...
appeared in The Fiction Warehouse;
"Skeeter with Castanets On," a poeticized excerpt,
was published in Culebra!
and nominated for the 1993 Pushcart Prize)
Working harder than ever before,
Skeeter struggles to break out of her
tailspin—going so far as to cross the
ocean on a ship full of hungry
...Her first impulse was to take off immediately, at once, for
Nowhere or Anywhere; but that was Sadie’s way out and Skeeter was
wise to its dead ends. No: another coop-flying might be due, but
this time there could be no lidflipping involved. She’d have to
plan things out in advance, keep both feet firmly on the ground—act
very grownup, in fact, if she truly hoped to stand a chance...
("Taking Avail" appeared in
Around with RoBynne
After some premeditated maneuvering,
gets a New Wave mentor in
the makeover-minded RoBynne O'Ring.
...Where and when and how to shop for a nouvelle image: to
begin with, you aVOIDed the malls—hanging out there was for like
high school sophomores, y’know, soooo immature. No,
Skeeter’d done the right thing by hitting on thrift stores, and some
of the stuff she’d bagged there might be salvageable; but RoBynne
knew lots wickeder places...
("Ring Around with RoBynne" appeared in
Ten Thousand Monkeys)
21—Kitefly in the Ointment
Even surrounded by her nearest and
dearest, Skeeter still feels trapped in a
constant loop-the-loop reel-to-reel
...The sun was setting now, right in her eyes, like that goddam
spotlight in the dresser-drawer nightmare. Seen through Skeeter’s
wraparound shades it began to strobe and whirligig—to flashdance, in
fact. “What a feeling!” “A girl’s gotta keep believing.” How
conveniently easy that would be if you too could weld by day and
BoogaBloo by night, and have a wealthy (yet handsome)
steel-mill owner waiting for you at The End with a bunch of goddam
("Kitefly in the Ointment" appeared in The Shadowshow)
sockfooted down a fresh-waxed
corridor, Skeeter bowls over a tall bald
whose shrouded observation
makes her think about Death ...
“...I mean you’re straight and single and kind of rich and not bad
looking and have these really Byzantine eyes and that really smooth
scalp and obviously adore being ridden down waxed floors by
“You’re right about the knockdown part, anyway.”
“Well then,” said Skeeter, “wouldn’t you love to be my sugardaddy?...”
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