Here's an excerpt from my upcoming novel You Don't Think She Is (coming in print and Kindle editions July 2015).
Fall 1973, eighth grade, Quaker Valley (PA) Junior High School: It's time to pick a last period club, and narrator Brian Pressley is on the fence-- Debate? Newspaper? AV club? ("Do you really wanna be one of those guys pushing the projector carts around the halls?")-- and gearing up for the hard sell from his friends...
Clubs met last period on days three and six, and Marty had already asked me if I was going to sign up for debate.
"We'll have fun," he said when they handed out the forms. "Trust me."
It was that "Trust me" that made me not want to trust him.
Anyway, ever since he'd mentioned it, I'd felt like he was gearing up for a hard sell, and the day before the forms were due, in gym, he asked me if I wanted to walk downtown to the record store with him after school. "They just released all of the Beatles' old singles on Apple Records," he said, "and I want to get a couple of them," which made no sense, since Marty'd already told me --several times-- about how Davy "just gave me all of his old Beatles 45s" when Davy upgraded to albums.
"I thought you had all those," I said.
Marty stuck his head in his locker. "Yeah, but those... those are on Capitol," he stammered. "I want them on Apple."
Marty shut his locker door and the blush had almost vanished from his face. "Because... you know... the labels are cooler."
Anyway, I was primed for an after-school walk downtown with Marty. It'd be like vacationing at a timeshare: Marty'd do his hard sell for debate, and then, once his presentation was concluded, we'd browse records and go for ice cream. I liked Marty and I wasn't really looking forward to telling him No, I'm not doing debate, no way... but I was pretty sure, as I stood at my locker trying to figure out what books I'd need for homework that night (or, rather, what homework I could put off till study hall the next day), that I was going to do newspaper with Margo.
Any doubts I had about that decision were erased when I heard Margo's "Hey, Bri!" from down the hall. I looked up and there she was, 20 feet away and fast approaching... and a half-step behind her, just like with Kathy at the pool, there was Christy, in blue jeans and a red turtleneck.
"Hey guys," I said, and they stopped in their tracks, like I'd caught them about to hurl water balloons at me.
"Hey, Bri," Margo said again.
I smirked at her repeat. "Echo... echo... echo..." I said, looking back into my locker.
"Shut up!" Margo tittered.
I didn't mean to bury my head in my locker, but I was still trying to map out my study plan (or slack-off plan). Did I want to take home my reading (Lord Of The Flies, about which I remember NOTHING) and do my math the next day in study hall... or do my math that night and read in study hall... or take home both that night (fat chance!)... or save both for study hall (not a good idea)...
As I pondered this, I could feel that I was being watched... watched, and whispered about... and just as I was about to say Yes?--
Giggle... stifle... snort...
"Hey, Bri," Margo said a third time, her voice a'titter, "don't... don't forget your reading for Engrish," then, a little more serious, over her shoulder. "Do you guys have any math, Christy?"
Margo sputtered a laugh. "What do you mean, 'uhhhhhhh.' You have your math book, woman."
Christy cleared her throat. "Yeah, but he might... he might've already done his."
Margo sighed. "Did you do your math homework yet, Bri?" she asked, her voice impatient.
I shook my head no. I'd made my decision. "I'm doing it in study hall tomorrow," I said, grabbing my paperback of Lord of the Flies, and as I bent over to stick the book in my bookbag, I heard the SLAP! of a hand on blue jeans, then Christy shrieking "Margo!" and Margo whispering "Come on..." as she pushed Christy toward me, till Christy was standing about a foot behind my right shoulder.
I tensed up... no way could I look right at her, but I could see her out of the corner of my eye, and I could smell her perfume (Honeysuckle! Like our fort!).
Christy took a breath.
"Brian?" she said, her voice just a little wobbly and nervous, and then she swallowed and exhaled a Wrigley's Spearmint breath. "Is that your locker?"
Margo sighed hard. "Christy..."
Margo shifted into a Dumbass Voice. "'Is that your locker?'" she said, and then she chuckled "No, it's Dick Smiley's, Christy. Doyeeeee..."
I laughed out of reflex, and then realized that my laugh might make Christy feel bad, but when I heard Christy laugh and say "Shut up, Margo..." I relaxed.
"Come on," Margo whispered again and then she sighed. "'What... club--'"
"Brian, what--" Christy said quickly, before she could pull the words back, and then she swallowed and took a breath. "What club are you doing?" she asked, a little calmer.
Maybe this was the hard sell.
"I don't know," I said. "Marty wants me to do debate..." I finally looked back at the two of them. Christy had her binder and books pulled in tight to her red-sweatered chest, and she looked down as soon as I turned my head; behind her, Margo was eying me, waiting. My eyes went from Margo back to Christy. "Or... maybe newspaper."
Christy exhaled, her voice soft. "Newspaper," she repeated. "I think you should do that. That's what Margo and me are doing." She looked up and her face was almost as red as her sweater. "Just... don't do A.V.," she giggled, and she spun and retreated to the water fountain ten steps down the hall,
Margo stepped in close as I looked in my locker. "You heard it, Bri," she whispered. "Debate?--" and she dropped her chin to her chest and let out an exaggerated snore "‑‑or..." and she gestured back toward Christy, who was bending over the white ceramic fountain, blue jeans tight against her legs and butt. Christy's chest may have been flat, but she was getting fuller and rounder in other places. I stared for just a second and then looked back at Margo's face. "Or... the cart," she said, patting my arm. "It's up to you," and she spun and stepped away, snagging Christy by the beltloop and pulling her down the hall past Marty, who was coming toward me.
"What are they laughing at?" Marty said as I saw Christy look back over her shoulder at us (me?) one last time before the two of them disappeared into the stairwell, their voices getting louder and echoing indistinctly as they walked down the concrete steps.
As for Marty's hard sell... as we checked out at the record store (I bought one of the new Apple copies of "I Want To Hold Your Hand" and Marty didn't buy anything: "No, I... I have all these on Capitol...") Marty asked me what club I was doing, and I told him newspaper, and he just said "Oh! That sounds fun. Maybe I'll do that."
And, true to form, he signed up for band.
But at least he wasn't pushing a cart.