Sunday, May 22, 2016
1st 5 Pages May Workshop - Langdon Rev 2
Name: Kate Langdon
Genre: Middle Grade; Contemporary
Title: The Great Rainy Schmidt
When a crow starts stealing cherry tomatoes from her mom’s garden, 10-year-old new wheelchair user Rainy Schmidt is impressed: the crow’s expert flying maneuvers remind her of her hero, the WWII fighter pilot ‘the Great Bambinzo.’
Rainy begins feeding the crow, and as thanks, he leaves her gifts in the birdbath. But one day, it’s not a piece of sea glass or a rusty bottle cap that awaits Rainy — it’s a beautiful diamond ring with a mysterious engraving.
Rainy’s not sure what to do with the ring until the grand prize for her town’s annual Halloween costume competition is announced: a free trip to New Orleans. New Orleans is home to the WWII Museum, and the museum has something that Rainy considers the world’s greatest treasure: the airplane that belonged to the Great Bambinzo himself.
Embarrassed by her wheelchair, Rainy believes the only way she has a chance at winning is if she buys an expensive costume off the internet, something her parents can’t afford. When her plan to sell the ring fails, Rainy decides to attempt unraveling the mystery of it’s engraving, hoping to discover it’s rightful owner — and maybe get a big reward in the process.
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.
Before I tell you anything else, you should probably know that what happened to me earlier this summer is worse than having a name as stupid as Lorraine Blatz Schmidt. A lot worse. I haven’t really seen anyone from school since it all happened — I haven’t wanted to.
But the days kept on marching forward, July turned into August, and now, somehow, the last day of summer vacation is finally here.is the first day of fifth grade, and I’ve got to go to school and see everyone whether I like it or not.
I’m in the living room, trying to distract myself from this fact by watching one of the most classic aerial fights in the history of World War II. The footage is old and fuzzy and the quality’s pretty bad, since I’m streaming it to the TV from YouTube, but I don’t mind. I’m watching 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.
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. Andwill 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. I’ve heard her use The Accident voice in other conversations, too.
“Susan’s husband. You know… the alcoholic.”
“Jennifer and Dan haven’t spoke since, well. You know. The divorce.”
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? 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 also says 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? You could invite them over for dinner. I could even make that lasagna that Brie likes so much. What do you think?”
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 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. “They’re probably busy, Mom. I’ll see them at school. 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. She marches down the stairs and into the yard.
“Shoo!” she yells, thrusting the broom at the crow. “Shoo!”