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DELETED SCENE: Boyfriends and Girlfriends

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I will be presenting some of the numerous sections that were deleted from the final version of Bloody Waters, all of which will be linked from the Extras page. Some of these are straight up scenes, some of them are epistolary sections, some are musical numbers… I cut 50,000 words from the biggest draft to the sleeker 90,000 word version that Jan, my editor at Possible Press helped me locate so there is a lot of extra material and some of it I think is quite fun, superfluous though it might be.

Here are some scenes that were excised from chapter 1, raw and unedited. As you can see I kept some of the interstitial prose and also one of the sub-headings. They concern concerning tennis, the politics of a high school orchestra, Clarice’s first boyfriend and Clarice’s first enemy. I hope you like it.


4. Boyfriends and Girlfriends

Clarice’s school required all students to participate in an elective sport for two hours each week.  Clarice chose tennis and stuck with it, because she wasn’t interested in learning the rules of any other game.  As a result she became quite good, although she refused to play for the school team.  When the coach insisted that the students learn to play doubles, Clarice was halfway convinced that he was punishing her.  That was how she came to be paired with Eric Lessner.

Eric was quarterback on the seventh grade football team and a place-getter on the swim team.  He was a natural athlete, but he was also smart and self-effacing enough that nobody called him a jock:  Eric was a Golden Boy, and everybody but him seemed to know it. Clarice was not impressed.

Eric had been taking tennis lessons since the age of six, and he was good enough to be able to accommodate Clarice’s style of play:  it was a matter of staying out of her way and letting her know when to stay out of his.  They won every game.  The coach renewed his efforts to get Clarice onto the team, but she steadfastly refused.

When Eric offered to carry Clarice’s books home for her she laughed at him.  “If you want to ask me on a date, ask me on a date,” she said.  “I can carry my own books.”

Eric grinned sheepishly. “Want to go on a date?”

“Why the hell not?”

Eric took Clarice to see Nightmare on Elm Street 6, after which they went on to play Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in a video arcade.  Clarice let him pay for everything; she was still saving for her electric.  They agreed to go steady on the bus home.  By the following day, the whole school knew about it.

Eric had recently broken off a three-week relationship with Stacy Lumann.  Lumann was the striker on the field hockey team and the captain of the debating team.  She also played the flute.

The following term, the boys’ and girls’ Phys. Ed. classes in Clarice’s grade were combined for a unit of square dancing.  Clarice complained loudly about the music and shuffled through the steps, though the footwork was trivial compared to her regular jiu jitsu classes. Soon her irritation turned to boredom, and she began to look for ways to entertain herself through the interminable double periods of bad music and repetitive, low-energy movements.  She found two good ways of doing this.

The first was to seize the hand of any tentative partner and then try to crush his fingers before he could get a proper grip.  She had a guitarist’s hands, her grip was strong.  Clarice’s second trick was retaliatory: if a boy accidentally stepped on her feet, she would, in return, stomp on his as hard as she could.

There were more girls than boys in the combined class.  As the number of male casualties mounted, Clarice found herself more and more frequently rotated off the dancefloor.  That was fine with her.

Stacy Lumann confronted Clarice in the change rooms after class, backed up by three of her friends from the hockey team.  “I noticed you spend a lot of time sitting on the bench during square dancing.”

“Who cares?”

“Dancing is how you get boys,” said Lumann.

“Dancing is for rednecks and old people.”

“You’re just saying that because you never get to dance with Eric Lessner.”

“I can see Eric any time I want,” said Clarice. “I don’t have to dosey-do around the school gym to get his attention.”

“We all know what you and Eric Lessner get up to after school.” She spat his name like it was poison. “You slut.” Lumann’s friends fanned out behind her.

“Oh, really? What do we do, Stacy?”

Slut things!” Lumann spluttered.

“I guess you don’t know, after all.”

Lumann stepped forwards and clawed up a handful of Clarice’s t-shirt. “Listen, Marnier.  You stay away from Eric and you stay away from me, or I’ll…I’ll get…I’ll do something you’ll regret.”

Clarice stepped back and twisted Lumann’s hand free of her shirt.  Bent the hand towards the wrist and turned it to the right until the joint locked. Then she turned it some more.

Lumann screamed and fell to her knees.  Her friends squealed and receded.

Clarice let go of Lumann’s hand and stepped away. “Funny,” she said, “I was gonna say the same thing to you.”

5.  Hits and Memories

It took Stacy Lumann three days to acquire a new boyfriend, but that was because she had specific requirements.

Sean Mulvill was an amiable–if none-too-bright–guy from another class.  He was a linebacker on the junior football team.  Three days later, amiable and none-too-bright Sean Mulvill accosted Eric Lessner in the hallway with his ham-sized fists clenched and his chin jutting.  Stacy Lumann stood behind him to make sure he didn’t fluff his lines.

“Hey, Lessner,” said Mulvill.  “You still dating that slut-bitch Marnier?”

“Sean,” said Eric, “You better take that back.”

A circle had formed around them.  It was five minutes before first period and the locker room was crowded.

Stacy barely had to nudge Mulvill to get him to step closer to Eric.  The linebacker was a head taller and ten kilograms heavier than the quarterback.  “Ain’t gonna.”

“Take it back,” said Eric, “Or I’ll be forced to kick your ass.”

“No,” said Mulvill.  “I’m gonna kick your ass.”

Dipwad,” hissed Stacy.

“I’m gonna kick your ass, dipwad,” said Mulvill.

“Here and now?” asked Eric.  “Or do you need to wait for air support?”

“Right here, right now,” said Mulvill.  “Unless you need to wait for…air support…”

The circle around the two boys broke and then reformed as Clarice elbowed her way into the arena.  Eric and Mulvill both turned to stare at her.

Clarice dropped her books at her feet and squinted up at the bigger boy. “Mulvill,” she said, “I know you don’t know any better, so I’m gonna give you a chance to back down.”

“Clarice…” said Eric.

“Ain’t gonna,” said Mulvill.  “I’m gonna back up.”

“Clarice, please…” said Eric.

Clarice pushed past him.

“Ooh,” said Stacy Lumann, poking her head out from behind Mulvill. “Eric’s so tough he needs his girlfriend to do his talking for him.”

Eric tried a different tack. “Sean, come on,” he said, but Mulvill wasn’t listening to him anymore than Clarice was.

“Yeah, Eric needs his girlfriend to do his talkin’,” said Mulvill, rolling forwards; expecting Clarice to get out of his way.

Clarice stepped up to him threw an uppercut that caught Mulvill under the chin.  His head snapped back like the top of a novelty Pez dispenser.  She planted her left fist in his stomach and he doubled over.  She paused, lined up one more, and delivered a straight punch that broke his nose and encouraged him to sit down on his ass.

Mulvill looked up at her, eyes wide and wet, lower lip quivering.  Snot bubbled in his nose and blood ran down his chin.

Clarice looked around, shrugged, picked up her bag of books, and walked away.  Eric watched her go, slack-jawed.  Stacy Lumann was nowhere to be seen.

5. Ride the Lightning

Clarice continued saving for her electric guitar.

She checked out every second hand music store, pawn shop, and junk dealer she could find, looking for the best guitar she could get for the best price.  She spent hours poring over price guides and technical specs, trying out different rigs, and generally annoying the shit out of every salesman in every guitar shop within bussing distance of her parents’ house in Los AngelesCounty.

Finally, she found what she wanted: a scratched-up blue Ibanez.  Only the paintwork was damaged, the electrics and the neck were in perfect shape.  Clarice visited it in the pawn shop in Inglewood every fortnight until she had enough cash to buy it.

For an extra twenty bucks the clerk threw in the dusty but warm-sounding thirty watt Marshall amp that he had in the window, muttering that he was pleased to have finally gotten rid of the instrument–and Clarice.  The amp was worth about two hundred.

Once Clarice had the Ibanez she quit playing the trumpet and dumped Lessner without a second thought.  “I don’t have time for you anymore,” she said.  “I’m joining a band.”


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