Sunday, May 15, 2016
1st 5 Pages May Workshop - Langdon Rev 1
Name: Kate Langdon
Genre: Middle Grade; Contemporary
Title: The Great Rainy Schmidt
My name’s Lorraine Blatz Schmidt, and before you flip your wig about how stupid of a name that is, you should know I actually go by Rainy, and my fighter pilot call sign is Rain of Death. Mom only ever calls me Lorraine (or “LORRAINE BLATZ SCHMIDT!” when I’m in trouble), but sometimes Dad calls me Rain of Death, which I really do appreciate. I think all fighter pilots probably prefer their call signs over their real names. Except if they have a bad one maybe, like Chuckles or Brillo-pad.
I’ve got fighter pilots on my mind for two reasons. The first reason is because right now, I’m in the living room watching one of the most classic aerial fights in the history of World War II. The quality is old and fuzzy, since I’m streaming it to the TV from YouTube, but I don’t mind. It was filmed in 1944, after all. This is my favorite clip, the one where my hero, The Great Bambinzo, is almost brought down by his arch-nemesis, the Silver Devil.
“The Silver Devil." I shiver. Just whispering his name out loud is enough to send an icy chill down my spine.
The second reason I’m thinking of fighter pilots is because tomorrow is the first day of fifth grade and honestly, I’d rather be up against an army of fully loaded enemy warbirds than face going to school tomorrow. I just can’t stand the sad and sorry look people get in their eyes when they look at me now.
Mom is on the phone in the kitchen, and despite the BLASTS! and the BOOMS! of the scrappy P-51 dogfight, I can hear her conversation.
“It’s been hard,” she says, sighing. “Gerry’s been working double shifts, but we’re barely making ends meet. And Lorraine… oh, my sweet Lorraine. She hasn't been outside all summer, she just wants to sit inside and watch airplane videos. And tomorrow will be the first time she’s really seen any of her friends. Since, you know… The Accident.”
The Accident. Mom always says it the same way, tilting her head to the side and lowering her voice, like it’s a cuss word she doesn’t want me to hear.
I turn up the volume on the TV.
The Great Bambinzo has shaken off the Silver Devil for now, but his left wing is smoking, and he’s suddenly flanked by two more enemy planes! In a classic lift, he pulls above them, and then he’s firing, his bullets raining down… rat-a-tat-tat!… he hits one! The enemy plane goes down whistling — PEUUWWWWWWWW — and then explodes — KABOOOOOOM — in a great big fiery ball!
“Lorraine,” Mom says, poking her head in from the kitchen. “Will you turn that down? I’m on the phone.”
I make a big show of lowering the volume a few levels with the remote and then turn back to the TV.
“Actually, Jessica,” Mom says, “I should go. Can you still stop by next Thursday? Oh, that’s great. See you then. Thanks again for calling.” Mom comes over and plucks the remote from my hands.
“Hey!” I protest as she clicks off the TV. “It hasn’t even gotten to the best part yet!”
“You can watch more later. It’s a beautiful day,” she says, sweeping her arms toward the window. “Go outside. Get some fresh air, a little sunshine.”
“I don’t need fresh air,” I grumble. “What I need is to see the Great Bambinzo exact his revenge on the Silver Devil.”
“Go,” Mom says, pointing to the screen door. “I’ll bring you some lunch in a couple of minutes.”
I sigh dramatically, loud enough so Mom will hear me on her way back into the kitchen. If she does, she pretends not to notice. I sigh again, but this one’s just for me.
I spin around, and try to figure out what my route will be. I still haven’t gotten used to the turning part.
“These turns are a real tough nut to crack,” I say out loud. That’s one of the Great Bambinzo’s favorite phrases. He says all sorts of funny, old-fashioned things like horsefeathers, jeepers, and ah, applesauce! This one time, in a radio interview, he was talking about some lady he thought was a good dancer and he called her a ducky shincracker. I laughed so hard that orange juice came out of my nose.
I maneuver around the couch alright, but I bump into the end table with a loud crack. The lamp rattles, wobbling back and forth, and for a minute I think it’s going to crash to the floor. I’m strangely disappointed when it doesn’t.
I go outside. After a few minutes, Mom joins me on the porch with a PB&J and a bunch of purple grapes.
“Thanks,” I say, as she sets it down in front of me. She’s still hovering by the door, and I can tell she wants to say something else. I look up at her. “What is it?”
“Well, I was just thinking,” she says, dragging out her words. “Why don’t you give Brie or Sarah a call? Catch up, see how their summers were? You haven’t seen either of them in a while.”
I pop a grape into my mouth and look into the yard. Brie and Sarah have been my best friends since kindergarten. We always hang out at Sarah’s house, because she’s got this killer diller attic that her parents turned into a playroom for her and her brother. You can only get in by tugging on a string that hangs from the ceiling, which pulls down a rickety old ladder. It squeaks and trembles as you climb, and it’s thrilling, because you know that at any second it could fall apart and crash to the floor with you on it.
But honestly, It hurts something fierce to think about that attic. Sarah’s called to invite me over a few times since she’s been back from camp, but I haven’t wanted to go. Each time she’s asked, I’ve pretended to be sick. And let me tell you, it sure doesn’t help that Mom doesn’t get it. Why don’t you go over to Sarah’s house? she’s been asking me. Why not, Lorraine? Why not?
Well, I want to holler, you can’t exactly climb up a rickety old ladder when you’re stuck in a stupid wheelchair, now can you?
I take a big bite of my sandwich and shrug. “I’ll see them at school tomorrow. I’ll talk to them then.”
Mom’s making the face like there’s still more she wants to say, but this time, I’m the one who pretends not to notice.
“Alright, well…” Mom says, trailing off. She’s looking at a big black crow that’s flapped onto our backyard fence, right by her vegetable garden.
“That’s the thief who’s been stealing my cherry tomatoes!” she says, pointing at the bird with one accusing finger. She runs inside and comes back out with a broom, marches down the stairs and into the yard.
“Shoo!” she yells, thrusting the broom at the crow. “Shoo!”
The crow hops off the fence, flapping out of reach. He stays like that for a minute and then, horsefeathers!, I can hardly believe my eyes, he executes a perfect dive bomb — like a small, feathered Junker 87 Stuka — right to the cherry tomato plant! He grabs a tomato in his long black beak and flaps his wings again, hovering just above Mom’s broom.