This novel hasn't been published — traditionally or otherwise.

I'm currently seeking representation for it, and welcome agent and editor email.

Mixey (excerpt)

cover of the book "Mixey"; click to read the book

by John Fuller

 

A YA Comedy About Finding Yourself…
and Everyone Else

 

 

photo of John Fuller


contact me at
john • at • mixeybook • dot • com

Looking for a shorter read?

You can find my super-short stories here.

None of this material has been published.

Last update : March 15, 2017.


Chapter 1

It’s Not Easy Being The Son Of The Most Famous Black Lesbian Sex-Toy-Shop-Owning Political Activist In Semi-Upstate New York

Monday, January 5th

White Christmas

Today’s vocab words: reticent, evanescent, ophthalmologist

As was to be expected, my mom got arrested on Christmas Eve.

According to Kerieme, who is lying on my bed looking up at the ceiling practicing French verbs, most people’s mothers don’t get arrested every Christmas Eve for five years running, so he thinks I ought to be less reticent and explain that before I get going on the interesting part of the story. I told him that just because he’s from Sudan doesn’t mean he knows everything. He said he knew I was going to say that.

Okay, Mr. Smarty-Pants: Here’s the CliffsNotes summary of my mom. Try and follow along:

Mom lesbo. Not ‘gay’. Lesbo.

Mom have strong values.

Mom very often protest. She march, she chant.

She here, she queer.

Air Force should have bake sale! No judges in crotches!

Like any normal mom.

When you protest a lot, you can get arrested a lot. Mom’s lost count by now. Usually her stays in jail are evanescent, only an hour or two. An old college friend, Reggie, is one of the four cops in New Paltz, and he usually arrests her. By telling the judge his opinion that she poses no danger to public safety (true) she gets let out on her very own recognizance every time.

Just not this time. Reggie had the day off, so I had to walk to the police station in the snow to post bail. Had Mom been an ophthalmologist, she would probably be rich by now, and carry enough cash in her coat pocket to post her own bail. Unfortunately, though, you make a lot less money running a sex toy store than studying diseases of the eyeball.

So I got Mom’s emergency ATM card, walked to the bank, walked to the Bitter Dreg, and walked back to the police station with the money. You might wonder why I had to backtrack to the coffee shop between the ATM and the jail. Well, Mom’s bail was set at $50, but the ATM only spits 20’s, meaning I had to take out $60, and I simply didn’t know if jails give change. So I broke one of the 20’s by getting a mocha. Perfectly practical.

Why am I explaining the Anniston family’s Xmas eve tradition, you ask? And what’s up with those three words in bold italics? Let’s pause a moment so I can fill you in.

School started back up today, and all the teachers are piling us tenth-graders high with new assignments. One of these is to start a journal for Mr. Maung in “Eyewitness: History through the Eyes of Those Who Lived It”. 5000 words per month — that’s 250 words per school day for the rest of the year! It’s supposed to be ‘memoir’ style, which is writer lingo for a diary you think other people would ever want to read. For extra Fancy Points, pronounce it ‘memWAH’. So, welcome to my memwah.

Today was also the first day of “Vocabulary Is Word Power!!” That’s the high school’s way of saying “New York State Regents’ Exam Vocabulary Class!!” Eye-roll-worthy title aside (I actually left out one of the exclamation points), it’s supposed to get us ready for the English section of all the standardized tests they hit us with over the next few years. To help us retain this new word power, Ms. Kitts is making us write sentences for fifteen featured words every week. I’ll just include them in my journal entries and kill two birds with one stone. Sorry, birds.

Teachers sometimes inflict these tortures on their students to force them to be able to write. But I already like writing, and I pride myself on my ultra-dope vocab. So I say, Game on.

:>) - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -  (<:

Tuesday, January 6th

Santa LaBianca

Today’s vocab: libertine, infatuation

Mom’s nemesis is named LaBianca Ferrari. They have hated each other since before I was born, when they were in college together. I’m not sure exactly why.

LaBianca owns the Mini-Cooper car dealership here. (With a name like Ferrari, you’d kind of have to sell cars.) Her ex-husband is named Susie. Yes, you read that right: Susie is a male to female transsexual, who split with LaBianca around the time she made the change. Her name was Tank — I’m not kidding — back when she was rocking her man-mojo. Seems like she stayed friendly with LaBianca, though, which is good since they share a daughter.

LaBianca is also President of the Chamber of Commerce here, and when Mom opened her sex toy store, LaBianca was not pleased. She said it sent the wrong message to families coming to New Paltz as tourists. She is afraid the vacationers will become libertines.

LaBianca isn’t mwa-ha-ha evil, just a big pain in the ass. And she has one very redeeming feature, and that is her daughter Mercury, heart-with-arrow-through-it. I may have been putting off telling Mom I’m crushed out on Mercury — on account of the whole nemesis thing. And my infatuation could go away. (I hope not, though.)

:>) - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -  (<:

Wednesday, January 7th

Xmas Smackdown

I never finished the story of Mom’s Xmas eve arrest. I’ve always been easily distracted.

Today’s vocab: contraband, tyro, mellifluous

I bailed Mom out and she came home. Xmas morning we opened presents with Grampa Jordan and Auntie Cheryl, and Grampa treated us to a movie followed by dinner at the restaurant in the New Paltz Hilton (named for Paris’s little sister), which was unreal. Great turkey, great potatoes. And stuffing that good ought to be contraband.

Endless. Sundae. Bar. I’m no tyro at making sundaes, so I really outdid myself. I love the almost-throwing-up feeling you get for the first three or four hours after a king-size dinner.

Kerieme reminds me that I haven’t said why Mom got arrested.

Well, the New Paltz Chamber of Commerce puts up a crèche every Xmas. It’s hard to be offended by it, if you ask me. Over the years various figures in it have had to be replaced, and you can’t always get a perfect match, so at this point the sheep is larger than the cow, and let’s just say a Baby Jesus that big could not have entered this world through the vagina of the nearby Virgin. No wonder the Mary figure looks so depressed.

Mom complains every year that all the people except one wise man are white, when everyone knows Jesus and Co. came from Semitic stock with darker skin, and hair “like lamb’s wool” according to the Oracle at Grampa Jordan. Mom wrote a letter to the paper complaining about it, and the Chamber promised to make it more representative of the world’s Christians. They never followed through. In case you haven’t figured this out already, not following through is a bad strategy with Kendra Anniston.

Now, on the one hand it is hard to know why my Mom would give a damn about a Christian holiday display; I mean, we celebrate Xmas, but you wouldn’t call her devout. Maybe she started the whole thing just to spite LaBianca, but I’d like to think my mom is bigger than that. On the other hand, it is beyond me why anyone would break a promise to the most famous Black lesbian activist in barely upstate New York. So LaBianca loses a point there.

Result being that for 5 years running Mom has snuck into the crèche the night before Christmas Eve and put a little Black baby doll in the manger. She hides the original Baby J in more or less clever places, the driver’s seat of LaBianca’s Mini Cooper being my favorite. (No-one locks their cars here, and a lot of people leave their keys in the ignition. New Paltz would be the easiest place in America to escape from after robbing a bank). She then handcuffs herself to the crèche in protest.

So this Xmas eve rolls around, and the Mini–Messiah is as Caucasian as ever, but Mom has upped her game. In the middle of the Chamber of Commerce’s Carol Sing, she claps on the handcuffs. Instead of substituting a Black doll for the White one, Mom’s packing some special quick-drying spray paint. She corrects the little guy’s melanin in like five minutes. As she’s putting the finishing touches on, the not-very-mellifluous sound of sirens can be heard. (I’m not saying LaBianca called the cops, but in the photo of the whole thing in the local paper she is actually on her cell phone standing in front of the crèche. And it would have been a weird time to order a pizza.) Since Mom’s vandalism is on private property, the cops decide they can make everyone happy (especially Mom) by hauling her off to the police station for booking. End of story.

I wrote a haiku about it in Ms Gbolade’s Japanese Culture class today:

Darkness in the town
Our hero brings paint and brush
Jesus gets a tan

:>) - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -  (<:

Thursday, January 8th

Do the (300-lb.) Chicken

Today’s vocab: sublime, deprecate, ineffable

Mercury, LaBianca’s daughter, is the same age as me — well, six weeks older. Mercury and I aren’t technically supposed to like each other. I think her mom’s a few eyeshadows shy of a makeup kit, and she probably thinks my mom is too unstable for life on the Outside. Nonetheless, here is the voiceover for the movie:

“In a world...where Bayard Anniston has never had a girlfriend...one young woman changed him forever. One girl — one day — one dance — rocked his world. This is the epic tale of that forbidden love...”

[Wavy Screen...]

It all began at our school’s Festival of Drama & Dance on December 8th, one month ago today. There were like fifteen dance routines interspersed with 4 or 5 short scenes from different plays. Some were meh, some good, a few totally amaze-balls, which is to say sublime.

Now, dancing just rocks a certain amount of sexy, if you ask me. But the last dance was on beyond. Written in by hand at the end of the program, it was called ‘La Fille Autruche’, which Google translate says means ‘The Ostrich Girl’. The performer was listed as Big Bird, which Kerieme and I agreed must be an alias, since the real Big Bird coming to New Paltz High School was too much to hope for.

A solo dancer took the stage. Her costume made her look like an ostrich, and that’s not an insult — it was on purpose. She was dressed in a long-sleeve black leotard. The skirt she wore was covered in fake ostrich feathers — the big fluffy grey kind you see on mega-fancy hats. More feathers sprouted off the left side of her waist to make the ostrich-butt. Her right arm was the giant bird’s neck, colored pink from her fingertips to a little past the elbow. Her hand was the head, with orange eyes painted on the sides. Greyish-yellow tights completed her costume.

All of her skin was painted black: neck, face, ears, and her left wrist and hand, so they were pretty much invisible. Her hair must have been crammed under some kind of a cap, because you couldn’t even notice it. All you saw was the bird shape. I wasn’t the only one who laughed in embarrassment for her during the silence that preceded her act, during which time she stood perfectly motionless.

Despite the ostrich angle, though, I was responding very sexually to the shapely muscles in her body, and something about her bare feet on the stage really set the dogs barking in my junkyard, if you get me. God knows why. Or Kerieme knows why, since he is from Sudan and knows everything. He says my crush on Mercury had already started. Because although I didn’t know it, the Ostrich Girl was Mercury.

There was no music during the act. After a minute, her bird hand began to move around, sliding up and down, turning this way and that as if it were looking around, like a real ostrich, but also sort of like a cobra. It was kind of creepy, and we all stopped laughing.

Mercury ostrich-strutted up to some folding chairs at the far left of the stage, where a dozen teachers and school staff were sitting, and slid along, examining one teacher after another. She stopped at Mr. Carle, who teaches Algebra.

Mr. Carle despises the students. He always calls on kids who don’t know the answers, and deprecates them. It’s so subtle that if you read a typed-out version of what he said you would have no idea of how humiliating it is if you are his target.

Ostrich Girl — back in our seats, we were all trying furiously to guess who it was — stood in front of Mr. Carle’s seat, and the ostrich-head looked him dead in the eye from three inches away. For like sixty seconds! Tilting its head left — then right — in that weird way birds have.

Eventually, Mr. Carle had to say something, just to break the tension of the moment. But the millisecond he opened his mouth, the ostrich screeched, and struck out at him, and pinched the bill of the stupid ball cap he always wears to seem cool.

It was so sudden that almost everyone jumped — I know I did — and many people gasped in surprise. We were no match for Mr. Carle, though, who let out a huge terrified squeak. Think parakeet trounced by honey badger.

Mercury started running huge circles around the stage, round and round. She really looked like an ostrich, moving her arm, her legs, her pelvis in the most authentic way, ineffably bird-like.

The sound of maybe a hundred kids’ phones getting whipped out could be heard, as everyone realized this was something worth posting. Kerieme had been recording ‘La Fille Autruche’ on his iPad from the beginning, which I found almost suspiciously lucky at the time.

“If you send me that video, I’ll give you like a million dollars,” I said, turning my head to Kerieme but not taking my eyes off the girl running on the stage.

“Two million,” he replied.

“Deal,” I agreed.

The projector flashed words on the rear curtain:

“The ostrich can run at speeds OVER 35 MPH.”

She stopped, and she was breathing hard, standing there, stock-still, until the slide changed.

“Females can weigh as much as 320 POUNDS.”

Then Mercury, who we still hadn’t figured out was Mercury, began to strut around the stage, slowly this time, fluidly, like a slinky, bending, sliding, and flowing around the floor.

The words cast by the projector changed again:

“It is one of the few non-mammal species that has a CLITORIS.”

This caused a few loud expressions of disapproval from boys who had to make sure everyone knew their opinion of all parts of female anatomy besides breasts the size and shape of Jupiter.

Mercury was unflappable. (See what I did there?) She started doing cartwheels all the way across the stage. Since one of her arms and her human head were blacked out, it looked like the giant bird was tumbling from its ostrich head to its legs to its head to its legs. She disappeared backstage.

Utter silence reigned for ten seconds before we all burst into wild rock-concert applause, whistling and shouting so loud you couldn’t hear the Principal on the mic trying to calm us down. It took the teachers fifteen minutes to shepherd us back to our classrooms, and the buzz continued all day as we tried our best to identify Ostrich Girl.

That’s how I fell for Mercury.

:>) - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -  (<:

Friday, January 9th

Mom’s Day in Court

Today’s vocab: magistrate, dubious, reclusive

Mom went to court today with her lawyer to enter a plea. (Not guilty, in case you were wondering.) She knows almost everyone involved in the proceedings, because probably half of their work is generated by my mom’s political actions. For the most part, I think they admire her for taking strong stands on important issues; but they must also feel she is a real pain.

If there’s no threat to public safety, the police won’t even bother to file the paperwork to charge her, and she doesn’t have to enter a plea. The judge dismisses the case, everybody’s done in time for lunch, and the District Attorney can move on to doing more useful things (we hope). That’s how it usually goes.

But not this time. LaBianca showed up for mom’s arraignment, and made a huge scene. Because defacing a privately-owned baby Savior is a property crime, the owner of the property gets to decide whether to press charges. Guess what? LaBianca wanted to press charges.

In New York state, if you do up to $500 in damage to someone’s property, it’s a misdemeanor, sort of like a mini-crime. Normally, the owner of the property just wants their shit replaced, so the evil-doer agrees to pay for what they damaged in exchange for a suspended sentence.

But LaBianca had done her homework, and discovered that more than $500 in damages can be charged as a felony — the legal word for “ten times worse” if you are not familiar with the lingo. LaBianca actually brought the judge a receipt for $511 for the brand-new Baby Jesus the Chamber of Commerce had purchased for this year’s crèche. The magistrate was clearly dubious, and asked how a doll could possibly cost $511. Turns out it’s a collector’s edition 30-inch-tall “Lily” doll (WTF?), outfitted by a reclusive inventor with custom robotics to make it move like a newborn — even cry.

Mom had destroyed the crèche equivalent of the Robo-Mona Lisa.

Here’s what’s super fucked up: New York has a law called the Repeat Offender Control Act, which says that if you have been convicted of two felonies, anywhere in the US, and find yourself charged with a third, you can’t get bail. If you wind up getting convicted, it’s worse: ROCA means you get a mandatory sentence of 15 years to life in prison.

And guess who has two prior felony convictions? Yup.

The cops are required to file official felony charges to detain anybody, and LaBianca wanted Mom held in the court until the forms were filled out. But the cops, obviously on Mom’s side, said there was no way the forms would be ready until after lunch, which gave the judge the excuse to postpone Mom’s arraignment until Monday and let her go for now. When LaBianca raised the concern that Mom might flee to avoid prosecution (like my Mom has ever tried to avoid prosecution), the judge, with some eye-rolling, ordered Mom not to leave the State of New York. So at least the two of us can spend the weekend together…

It would be funny if it wasn’t so serious. Mom is looking at life in prison, technically. For painting a doll. It’s hard to believe LaBianca will go through with it, but their hatred only seems to get worse with time.

:>) - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -  (<:

Sunday, January 11th

What We Look Like

Today’s vocab: fortuitous, condescending, indifferent

I don’t have to write on Sundays, but I need to ignore my (& my Mom’s) troubles for a little while.

According to Mr. Maung, our journals should take care to paint vivid pictures of the people in your life, so here goes.

Bayard Anniston (me): 16 years old. Don’t know who my dad is. I might be biracial, since I’m a shade lighter than my mom, but my whole family’s Black. I have the light-medium-brown skin that is often evidence of two different skin-tones knocking boots, although of course my dad could be any color, genes being what they are. Anniston Family Fun Fact: whenever I say the word biracial, or mixed, around Auntie Cheryl, she always yells, like some screechy crazy grandma, “CHILD, YOU JUST LIGHT-SKINDED!” I kind of like the word mulatto, but if you say it around my family, you can sit back and watch the fireworks.

One thing you definitely notice about me is a scar on my right cheek-bone. It’s one eighth of an inch wide, and an inch-and-a-quarter long. I got it when I was 8 at a Planned Parenthood rally, when some nutjob tried to whack my mom with a bloody-fetus-photo sign, and got me by mistake. The story and photo of adorable me in the paper the next day was probably the best thing that ever happened to Planned Parenthood in Poughkeepsie.

My name is pronounced ‘BY-erd’. Remember that now.

Kerieme: Tall. Gay, but he dresses nice. (Kerieme, man, I told you not to read this…) About the most reliable person I know. Regal. Calm. Perfect English, even though he spoke only Sudanese Arabic until he was three. We’ve been friends since we were three, sometimes more so, sometimes less. By seventh grade, he figured out he was gay, and he used to piss me off by constantly flirting with me. It wasn’t that I thought gay-goo would rub off on me, so much as I wanted girls to know I was available. (Not that they cared. I was ‘available’ for quite a while.) In eighth grade we really clicked, and we’ve been hanging ever since.

Kerieme’s family left Sudan during the civil war. His mom says him not remembering much from Sudan is fortuitous, though she’s sad he will never feel at home in the country where he was born. But you’ve heard in condescending documentaries about tribal societies, “they are a proud people”, right? Well, Kerieme is one mutha-fuckin’ proud people. Holds his head high, and almost never says anything negative, although he can be very mean if you hurt his feelings. My favorite saying of Kerieme’s is, Chill, and the world chills with you. It sometimes helps me not freak out when a situation or conversation is going to hell.

Mercury: I’ll describe her objectively, even though all I want to do is talk about how much I like how she looks, especially when her hair is wet… There I go, see? So — Mercury is tall but not crazy tall, like five feet five. Definitely biracial and she’s gotta feel it, what with LaBianca there repping the White perspective, while Susie covers the Black angle. Mercury has the luscious lips of a lot of African-American people, but her pale skin is covered in freckles, and her face is almost all freckles. She has that kind of biracial hair that is beyond frizzy, light-brown streaked with red and even a bit of yellow. It makes her look electric, powerful. Her hair is like…. Focus, Bayard, focus… She’s solid, not thin. She wears big black nerd-girl glasses which I find very hot.

Kerieme works hard and succeeds at everything but dancing and origami. I work fairly hard mostly and do OK, except I seem to be the only person in the Hudson Valley incapable of learning Spanish. Mercury is an indifferent student: she only works hard if she’s interested in something, so she does worse than me grades-wise, but she is the top scorer on both the ice hockey AND lacrosse teams. She does three-digit multiplication in her head. Which I consider spooky.

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