Saturday, June 5, 2010

And Now, For Something Completely Different.

Those of you who have been following me on LinkedIn know that I (i.e., Kit Kiefer) just finished a kids' book.

The story behind this book is that my then 10-year-old son Andy told me over last Christmas that he doesn't like reading.

You know how that goes. "No son of mine is going to tell me he doesn't like reading!" and so on.

I asked him why he didn't like reading. "Because there's no books about stuff I like," he said, or close.

I asked him what he liked. "You know -- mysteries about snowboarding."

I have to hand it to him. If the bookshelves are dripping with mysteries about snowboarding, it's a very surreptitious drip.

"Okay," I told him, brimming with fatherly pride. (I can't shoot a 30.06 to save my life but I can write, by jingo.) "I'll write you a mystery about snowboarding if you keep reading."

He kept his end of the deal and I kept mine, and some of the result is below. I can say without fear of contradiction that it is one of the top 100 mysteries about snowboarding ever written.

I still don't think Andy is much of a reader, but writing the book was fun. Hope you like the excerpt.

“You ever feel like you landed in a movie where everyone but you has a script, and they’ve all read the ending?” Jacob asked. There was a big bowl of buttered popcorn in front of him, and a math book, but Jacob wasn’t interested in either.

“Don’t worry about it,” Mitchelle said. “I’ve got it all figured out.”

“Got all what figured out?” Jacob said. “How do you figure that I have a stolen snowboard?"

“You have a stolen snowboard under your bed.”

Jacob shook his head again. It really was like he was in a movie, and he was the only one who didn’t know his lines. “Yeah – that.”

“All right,” Mitchelle said, and drew herself up tall. “Everyone knows that Micah was accused of stealing the snowboard, and everyone knows Micah’s your friend. I know you’d do anything for a friend. I also know you had your dad take you to Micah’s house the other night to defend your friend. Your dad went in the house to talk to Bill Cody because he knows Bill Cody and wanted to help you and Micah. When your dad was in the house you took the snowboard and hid it in your dad’s trunk, then when you got home you snuck the snowboard out of the truck. You hid it under the bed because, hey, where else would you hide it? No offense, but you’re not the most imaginative guy.”

Jacob raised his eyebrows. That was it, all of it. “So you don’t know I took the snowboard – you just have it figured out that I took the snowboard.”

“To protect your friend.”

“Yeah. So who took the snowboard in the first place?”

“Koast Summersweet, no doubt.”

Well, that part was good, Jacob thought. “And planted it at Micah’s?”

Mitchelle nodded. “I know – well, I almost know. I heard him talk. I’ve seen the hat and coat. And, come on – you take a policeman back to a place they’ve already searched because they didn’t find what you thought they’d find? Guilty. Super-guilty.”

Jacob leaned back and looked at the ceiling. It was a long way up. He blew out a long stream of air. “So what do you want me to say? I took the board from Micah’s?”

Mitchelle laughed. “I want you to say I’m right.”

“And you’re not going to sell me out to the Summersweets?”

She shook her head and looked down before looking up and into Jacob’s eyes. “I’ve been with Them – I’m not one of Them,” she said. “I decided I’d rather hang around with people who give themselves up for a friend than people who’d give up their friends for themselves.”

“And you’re not, like recording this somewhere? No iCarly hidden camera?”

“None – cross my heart.” And she actually crossed her heart.

Jacob was silent a long time, staring at the high, honey-colored ceiling. “You’re right,” he said, almost in a whisper. “I took the board from Micah’s.”

“And put it under your bed?”

“Yes, and put it under my bed – but my old bed, up in the loft over my garage.”

“Yes!” Mitchelle exclaimed with a fist pump. She looked at Jacob with a big grin. “I’ve never gotten it all right before.” She jumped up and did a little I-got-it-right dance.

“Great,” Jacob mumbled, looking down. “So are you, like, Nancy Drew?”

“Ruth Rose,” Mitchelle said with a giggle, and a little bit more of the I-got-it-right dance. “You know, in the A to Z Mysteries.”

Jacob groaned. It was just his luck – mystery girl to Ruth Rose in five minutes flat. “Okay, junior detective fortune-teller – what now?”

“Okay, here’s what’s going to happen now,” Mitchelle said, like it actually was going to happen now. “Kape Summersweet’s royally bent because Chris Carmyn stunk him. You saw that.”

“Oh, yeah,” Jacob said with a grin.

“Koast Summersweet’s coming home royally bent because he took the sheriff to find a snowboard that wasn’t there – plus he knows that after his little wild-goose chase the sheriff’s going to get suspicious.”

“With you,” Jacob said. She’s a nut – but she’s good, he thought.

“So you’ve got two royally bent Summersweets about two houses down from us, and an equipment locker that holds Chris Carmyn’s snowboard around the corner from them.”

Suddenly Jacob caught on.

“Another one of Chris Carmyn’s snowboards is going to disappear tonight,” Mitchelle said, but Jacob was already ahead of her.

“Borrow your phone?” he said quickly. Mitchelle picked it up off the table between them and tossed it to him.

Three times Jacob’s trembling fingers stumbled over his home phone number. Finally he dialed it right and hit the Talk button.

“Dad?” Jacob said into the phone. “Yeah, Dad, it’s me – Jacob. Yeah, it’s Mitchelle’s phone. Yeah, Dad – Dad? Stop. I have to ask you this, and ask you this fast, and if it sounds kinda weird it’s just the kind of day I’m having. Okay: Dad, after I came into your office and talked to you, did I come back in again?” There was a pause, and Jacob took a deep breath. “And did I say anything?” Another pause. “Okay, Dad, thanks. Gotta go. And Dad, can I stay a little later? We’re studying – uh, spelling. Okay. Nine. Bye.”

Jacob ended the call and looked at Mitchelle. “We’ve got to get to that equipment locker – now!” he said, excitedly. ”The Summersweets have the key!”

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