Join Prism Book Alliance® as John Goode goes Outside the Margins today.
So the latest Foster High book was released and there were…some bumps in the road.
It seems that the ending wasn’t to everyone’s liking and I can understand some of that in hindsight. The problem is always what a reader wants versus what must occur to make the story feasible to the writer. It is a dangerous line to cross at times and I have seen more than one author crash and burn by trying to write to their readers instead of writing to themselves.
In the end the story that we dream up has to satisfy us first, if it can’t do that it has no chance of pleasing anyone else. For those who read the book and left a good review thank you, it was heartening to know that my choice resonated with many of you.
But to those who didn’t like it, who thought it needed to be more. That you missed out on something important…I bring you this.
A Sneak peek at what is to come.
The name of the book is Tales From Foster High: Dream of a Waking Man and I hope to have it in your hands early next year. There is one small spoiler in here so if you have not read the last book and don’t want to know anything about what happens…you might not want to read this yet. So until then, enjoy and I hope this helps smooth things out between us. We shouldn’t go to bed mad at each other, that never ends well.
Let me tell you something about Kyle.
I have been in love with this tightly-wound ball of nerves and insecurities for more than eight years now. I know how he thinks, I know how he feels and most of the time I can even tell you what he is going to do before he does it. It’s not that he is that easy to predict it’s just he is that easy to predict if you know the names of the demons that chase him around in his head at night.
When faced with doing something he doesn’t want to do but might help someone else he will always do it. I mean if it is letting someone else take the last parking space when we’re late for the movies, if it’s giving a homeless guy on the street whatever change he has in his pocket, letting people ahead of him in line and once even give the last boxed set of the Marvel movies to some kid in Best Buy during Christmas. Almost every single time he will put people ahead of him and it if you know why you can predict when.
It’s because of Kelly.
It will be eight years ago this Christmas when Kelly shot himself but I assure you to Kyle it could have been yesterday. Well not yesterday but some day that’s not in the distant past. The fact he tried to help Kelly and failed weighs on him like layers of clothes do on a drowning man. Each little piece of guilt adds up and sometimes Kyle is pulled under and it’s up to me to jump in there and pull him to the surface.
I assure you it’s a job I will spend the rest of my life doing happily.
So though I may look shocked and seem surprised sometimes at what he does, trust me inside I was waiting for it to happen. And like clockwork it usually does.
I woke up for my morning jog around 6am every morning. Now 6am to me is just the morning. When I was on the baseball team I would get up, eat, get to school, run laps in the morning before class, maybe get some lifting done and then stumble into 1st period where I would fall asleep. Sometimes I would go and pick Jennifer up between lifting and school but I was always up. I am a morning person, a fact that nearly everyone in my life seems to hate. My dad? Hated it. My mom? Loathed. Kyle? I’m sure he has thought about dosing my drink at night to make sure I sleep in. So it’s no surprise to wake up and find Kyle laid out on his side of the bed, drooling on his pillow like he was a Saint Bernard.
This and after sex, are the only times he is at peace. The concentration lines on his forehead fade away, his mouth turns upward into a reflex smile and I see the boy who stole my heart in high school. Though still lanky age has filled him out some, which is not me saying in any way he is fat. What it means is that my boy has some meat on him finally. After years, and I mean years, of pressure I convinced him to find some kind of exercise to keep him healthy since he eats like Teamster near the crafts table.
He, of course, picked Wii Fit.
Leave it to the love of my life to find a video game to help him work out. I think it’s crap but hey, he does it, works up a sweat and I am happy because thought there is no way to tell he eats like a horse, sooner or later his body is going to give up the fight and he’s going to explode.
Hold on, I think what I said might be taken the wrong way. Let me clarify.
If Kyle gets fat I wouldn’t care. If Kyle lost an arm in a car crash, I wouldn’t care. If Kyle was in a fire I wouldn’t care. I love him and that will never change. I’m afraid of him getting fat because with is stress level he is just asking for a heart attack and I plan on getting very old with this man. Very old. Like Cocoon old and I want him to live that long to enjoy it.
Hence the exercise thing.
The upshot is that he has filled out some, making him even better looking than he was in high school. Of course he was still Kyle which meant he hated the way he looked and was about as body conscious as a nun doing a Sport’s Illustrated spread, so times like this, when he’s asleep, are the only time I can really just look at with him without him screaming at me or asking me what fifteen times.
God he really turns me on.
I fight the urge to wake up and him and forget the run but we had already gone at it twice yesterday which meant waking him up for another round of sex would be dangerous because I would be taking away his sleep. I’m not joking when I say dangerous. Like taking food away from an eating dog dangerous. Kyle likes his sleep and normally a random bout of sex can sway his wraith but I think I used up all my random sex chits this week so instead I got up and changed for my run.
Besides, I could always jump his bones when I got back.
So after a run, a light work out I busted ass to class and tried my best not to nod off in the middle of history. I don’t know what history had to do with me coaching high school athletics but it was part of the required essentials so I went to class and did my level best not to snore. I wasn’t worried about failing the class though, after all I kind of shacked up with my last history tutor, so I think I’m covered.
It was after lunch by the time I got home and found Kyle sitting in his office staring at the Star Trek sized monitor attached to his iMac. He was staring at some email, looking concerned, which wasn’t odd. What was odd was the way he was sitting on the chair. He had curled up with his knees pulled up, his hoodie stretched over his legs.
Doesn’t sound too bad right? See, you don’t speak fluent Kyle.
The hoodie was a bad sign, it was his security blanket since forever. Though it wasn’t the same one from high school it was a pretty accurate replica except it that said Property of Sunnydale High on it, which I think is a nerd thing but I never asked. Him wearing that hoodie around the house was nothing new, it was his…that thing Middle Eastern women wear…you know to cover themselves up? Burka! It was his burka to hide what he thought was a hideous body from the world at large. I hated the fucking thing and he knew it so I rarely saw him wear it.
He only wore it when he felt ugly, naked or vulnerable and sometimes cold but it wasn’t cold so him wearing it was bad.
Two, Kyle is not a small guy. He has these long ass legs that I think are just insanely hot and is packing enough heat downstairs to make sitting like that uncomfortable if you know what I mean. He may have been able to sit like that in high school but nowadays there was no way he wasn’t crushing his balls at least a little. The fact he wasn’t caring and just staring at the screen told me he was oblivious to the discomfort.
Or the letter was causing more discomfort than his balls.
And lastly, he didn’t even notice me coming in and that was not like him at all. All of this added up to my Brad sense tingling. I put my backpack down and walked over into his office. “Hey babe.” I said gently, trying to gauge his emotional state. “How you doing?”
He kind of jumped and spun the chair around to look at me. “Hey.” he said relieved. “I didn’t hear you come in.”
“What’s that?”I asked nodding at the monitor.
“An email.” he said distractedly as he looked back at the screen.
“Yeah I can see that from the way you have Outlook open. Who’s it from?”
He closed the program before I could read it. “Some kids, it’s nothing.” he said quickly standing up. “How was class?”
“Some kids are emailing you?” I asked, deflecting his question. “Kids you know?”
He shook his head and moved into hug me. “Nope. So you hungry?”
Classic Kyle tactics. First, try changing the subject, next, bring up food. Next will be sex and then he will try to turn it back on me.
“So some kids that you don’t know emailed you?” I asked hugging him back.
“We could order some Thai food and see if we can finish before the delivery guy gets here.” he whispered in my ear.
So fucking tempting.
I pulled back. “Come on Kyle, what’s wrong?”
“Why does something have to be wrong?” he asked in mock anger. “Why do you always try to start a fight?”
And there it is, the full Kyle in all it’s glory.
“Ok fine.” I said shaking my head. “You pretend that whatever was in that email doesn’t have you messed up and I will pretend that I don’t know you’re messed up and we’ll order food and have sex. But it doesn’t change the fact you’re messed up and I know it.”
I pulled my shirt off and tossed if across the room. “You want to order while I strip or you want me to call?”
Sighing he sat back down in his chair. “Fine. But it’s nothing.” He pulled up Outlook again and opened the email for me. “You’re going to make a big deal about this.”
I leaned over his shoulder and read.
Dear Mr. Stilleno,
You don’t know me but my name is Kevin Tirrell and I go to school in Paddington, Texas. I’m sixteen and gay and I hope you don’t mind me writing to you but I don’t know what else to do. I go to Richardson High School and there are two other kids that identify as gay or lesbian here with me. We tried to organize a gay-straight alliance here and the school administrator told us we couldn’t. I googled gay straight alliances in Texas and I saw your name from the one you set up in Foster. I don’t know if you remember what it’s like in high school but it is horrible to be considered different. All we want is a place to be safe and accepted and the school isn’t letting us. I read that you were a lawyer and we were wondering if you could help us? Can they just tell us no? Don’t they have to let us have a group? We don’t know what to do, please mail me back with some advice. We don’t know what else to do.
I finished the email and stood back up. “How old does he think you are? I don’t know if you remember what it’s like in high school? I mean it hasn’t been that long.”
“If you had gotten Jennifer pregnant senior year you guys would have an eight year old kid now.” Kyle said closing the email. “If you knew someone with an eight year old in high school you’d have said they were ancient.”
I really hated that he was right.
“Whatever, so what are you going to write back?” I asked, knowing the answer already. When I got out of the Navy Kyle was in the running for a position at a pretty big law firm and it meant the world to him. Right up to the point that I told him I wanted to share my life with him. He put all that on hold, got his law degree and now mostly did legal work out of the house on his computer. I had told him a thousand times that if he wanted to go be a lawyer and stuff that I would support it completely.
But he wanted to just stay with me.
It was sweet and I knew what he was doing, He was doing the same thing I had done when he got into Berkeley. He was putting what I wanted to do first and it was incredible but I told him time and time again he didn’t have to but he said he was happy so I shut up. I had been waiting for something like this to come up. Kyle was never as happy as he was when he was out there making the world a better place and this letter was perfect.
I held my breath waiting for his answer.
“I’m not going to.” he said with a finality that shocked me. “I’ll forward it to Teddy and see if they have a case but this isn’t my thing.”
I was so floored I said nothing as he got up and kissed my cheek.
“But I wasn’t kidding about the Thai food, I’m starving.”
He just walked away and I just stared. What the hell had just happened?
Hey do me a favor. While I’m ordering food take a look behind me and see if he’s glaring at me like he’s figuring out which weapons in Clue to kill me with ok?
Yeah I thought so.
See this is why I didn’t want to tell him anything because I knew it was going to become a thing. I mean honestly, some random kid emails me and I’m supposed to what? Go charging to his rescue? Who the hell designated me resident crusader? I mean I have a life, a job and a house and a boyfriend for fuck’s sake. I’ll forward the email on to my friend who is a lawyer and he will see if there is any pro bono work the firm needs. They don’t need me, they need a real lawyer.
Hold on a sec.
“Yeah I need an order for delivery. I need pahd thai with extra shrimp, an order of thai chicken with mixed vegetable hold the green pepper and…hold on. Hey you want a tea or something?”
Oh look he’s still glaring at me.
“…yeah two unsweetened ice teas. It’s cash. Can I get a total?”
So anyways, I don’t see why this falls to me. I mean it’s a random email from a random kid. This has nothing to do with me.
Oh what now you’re going to glare? You know what, I don’t need this. Go talk to Brad.
There is some bullshit going on.
I would have bet all the money in my pockets against all the money in yours that something like that email would have made Kyle jump up and take charge but instead he is ordering Thai food trying to ignore me. Something is going on and I don’t like it.
What this needed was finesse.
See, he knows I’m mad and am about to go all Jessica Fletcher on him. What? I like Murder She Wrote, sue me. He knows I am about to go all postal on him and he is waiting. So in some weird Kyle logic that is what he wants. So if I push it that gives him permission to get all defensive and further back away from the topic.
So the answer here is to ignore it.
I watch him get off the phone as I turn on the tv. “Food’s on the way.”
“Cool.” I say turning to Sportscenter.
“You ok?” he asks, knowing I’m not. That’s the bait, that’s the helpful question that then leads to me going off and gives him what he wants.
So not happening. “Yeah, just want to see who’s playing tonight.”
I know who is playing and he knows that too.
“So…” he says confused. “…I’m going to take a shower.”
I glance over at him and smile. “I’d join you but one of us needs to pay for the food.”
He nods. “Right. Ok.” he looks completely flustered. “You sure you ok?”
I nod, keeping the smile perfectly still.
“Ok then.” he says turning towards the bathroom and then stopping. He turns around, looks at his office and then goes the other way. It’s amusing to watch as his mind tries to process the fifteen different thing it’s trying to figure out.
Me, I grab a beer from the fridge and wait for the food.
Round one to me.
What the fucking fuck?
He didn’t join me in the shower but he smiled at me like nothing was wrong. What is he up to? I know what this is, a guilt trip. He is trying to make me feel guilty for not answering that email. Well fine, two can play at this game. If he thinks he can out quiet me he has another thing coming. I spent the first seventeen years of my life playing the quiet game. Ok I wasn’t really playing as I found myself thrown in the middle of a game of it against the world and I really didn’t want to lose, so if he thinks uncomfortable silence if going to get to me he’s nuts. I’m the guy who thinks talking is uncomfortable.
I dried off and changed into some sweats. The Thai food smelled great from here, the next part had to be done carefully. I had to make sure I didn’t crack first. So I walked out into the living room and saw he had set up everything on the coffee table.
“Looks good.” I said smiling brightly. “You want a beer?”
He geld a bottle up. “Have one thanks.”
I walked over to the fridge and got myself one. “We need napkins?”
“Also got em.”
Well played Graymark.
He was already scarfing his plate down watching TV as I grabbed mine. “Is it good?”
One nod as he never took his eyes off the TV.
“So how was school?”
“Boring as always.” he answered, intently watching whatever was on.
“Get a good workout?”
I almost slammed my plate down. “You know I can not answer that email if I don’t want to.”
“Ok.” he said, still not looking at me.
“It’s not like I am a trial lawyer anyways. I can’t do anything for them.”
“And who made me savior of gay teens anyways? Who says I have to do it?”
“No one.” he said after taking a swig of his beer.
I tried not to pout, but it felt like I was pouting.
“It feels you’re mad at me.” I said in a tiny voice that came from nowhere.
He turned and looked at me. “Honey, if you don’t want to help those kids fine. That’s your choice. I’m not mad at all.”
“But you’re something.” I prompted.
He took a second to think about it. “I’m just surprised I guess. This sounds right up your alley.”
I opened my mouth to protest.
“But if you don’t want to to it it’s your choice and I will support it. You know that.”
“I just don’t want to talk about it any more.”
He nodded. “Ok, topic dropped.”
I took a deep breath and picked up my plate again. “What are you watching anyways?”
Round two to Graymark as well.
We sat and watched TV all night and when Fallon came on we moved to the bedroom to watch the monologue as we drifted off. We got to the first guest and I turned it off and rolled over. The room was quiet for a long time before he moved up behind me and spooned the back of me.
“Please don’t be mad.” he whispered.
I turned around and pulled him into me. “I’m not mad, I promise.” I kissed the middle of his forehead. “I just think you’re just selling yourself short.”
He didn’t say anything in return.
“You’re my superhero, you know that.” I said gently. “I guess I just expect you to go charging in to make things right.”
“I’m not that guy anymore.” he said sadly, like he was trying to convince himself and not me.
“You’re always that guy to me.” I said and pulled him into an embrace. His arms moved around me and we pressed together as tightly was we could. As it was in high school, he fit perfectly against me. We held each other for a long time, after awhile I could hear his breathing slow and he drifted off to sleep.
“You’re still that guy.” I whispered before closing my eyes.
Title: Tales From Foster High: Dream of a Waking Man
Author: John Goode
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
About John Goode
Hi. I’m John. Um…I like getting caught in the rain, I am not into health food and I have been on a plane. I write, but you know that or you wouldn’t be here (stupidstupidstupid, get it together John) Anyways, I have three cats, but not like a cat lady cause I am…um…a guy. I mean that, the cat lady part not the guy part. I mean I do mean the guy thing and can prove it…sigh. I like turtles.
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
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