Happy Pride Month, and welcome to back to The House On Glass Beach. I am on the verge of completing and submitting a short story for a new anthology, but in the meantime, I’d like to reveal that I’m no longer beating myself up about things that were not revealed in Crush that are now being revealed in Armour. I like to think of my 3 novels like this: A child is first aware of his/her/their own world first, then their world expands a bit, and then a universe is revealed that will shock and surprise and hopefully delight everyone. That is my dearest wish for Armour…to be an amazing surprise for people who adored Crush and Bright. My snippet for today is from Armour, but surprise! It’s from the perspective of Jamie Pearce. Yes, Jamie will speak up now and then during Armour, the story of his dear foster father Lloyd Tafford, and Lloyd’s dearest friend Derek Rollins, who until now, has not been talked about. Why? Perhaps because Crush was about the life of Jamie, and his partner Tammy Mattheis, and how they both navigated through the dark labyrinth of self hatred, confusion, first love, heartbreak, and finally recovery from the mountain of insult and injury they’ve suffered. Crush was the beginning. Bright was about another couple, but an extension of Crush, told through the eyes of Tammy’s cousin Natalie, who had also been abused. It’s about the same family extending to welcome new members and to discuss the meaning of family.
Armour reaches far back into time, decades, to explore the lives of two young boys, one a native Arkansan of Armenian, Italian, and Native American descent and the other a newcomer to the small town of Lyra, Arkansas, of English and Irish descent. They deal with absent mothers, abusive, philandering alcoholic fathers, haunting stories from history, unwanted puberty, whispers from their peers, experimenting with false eyelashes, abandonment, killer tornados, forced early parenthood, and relocation to the Texas Gulf Coast. Lloyd and Derek, best friends, homoromantic asexuals, inseparable, joined at the hip but not at the pelvis, yet the “parents” of this enduring family, unrelated by blood, related by endless love. Does it begin with Lloyd and Derek, or did it begin with Jamie and Tammy? Does it really matter? Love is a circle, like a wedding ring, like the ring we asexuals wear on our right middle finger. Love is love.
When Mola Ram ripped the heart out of that poor man and then lowered him, shrieking in torment, into the pit of lava, I began to scream, “No! No! No!” It was visceral. I couldn’t stop. I would have a similar reaction to the electrocution scene in The Green Mile years later. I was sitting there, my hands over my eyes, sobbing uncontrollably, just screaming, “No!” over and over, somehow seeing my mother’s face in the evil shadows of Mola Ram’s face paint, holding a lit cigarette instead of a flaming heart that was still beating…
Lloyd turned that awful Indiana Jones movie off and tried to hug me. I flinched and screamed. “It’s okay, Jamie. It’s okay.”
“How evil!” I cried.
“How evil and stupid,” Lloyd muttered. “How could they make something so depraved. It should be rated R.”
I loosened my arms and hugged Lloyd. “I’m sorry for acting like a baby, but that was so…”
“It was horrible.” Lloyd sounded like he wanted to cry. “I feel so bad. I didn’t know…the last movie was a little scary, but this!”
We hugged each other for a long time, and from then on, no matter what time of day it was, if I had a panic attack or nightmare based on that stupid, violent, inept depiction of Indian religion, all I had to do was tell him, and we would talk about it for as long as it took.
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