The Kissing Bandit
I have a dilemma.
I’m working on Spark and I’ve finished a chapter that I’m not sure if I should keep or not.
I randomly asked Twitter and just as randomly the amazing Valerie Parv replied!
Sounds like it ought to stay in LOL RT @AinsliePaton: Do I keep the chapter about the Kissing Bandit or not? – Decisions
— Valerie Parv (@valerieparv) April 21, 2013
But just because it’s a sexy/mildly amusing phrase I still need to worry about the chapter doing the right thing. It’s kind of cute. But it might not advance the story enough so I’m not sure if it should stay. I’d like it to stay – but what would I know!
What do you think?
Here it is: (it’s rough, first draft – but you get the general gist). Spark is set in the mid 70s.
8: The Kissing Bandit
“See that lady.” Kim let go of the top of the fence to point and Dean followed her arm. There were lots of people at the bus stop. He dug his shoes into the brickwork and pulled himself higher against the wall.
“The one with the wobbly lips.”
Now he had her. The lady had a stripy jumper on and brown slacks and high heels and her fuzzy hair all up on her head, and she definitely had wobbly lips. So wobbly her lipstick had gone on places it wasn’t s’posed to.
“She’s the Kissing Bandit.”
“Ew. What does she kiss?”
Kim got on the top of the fence and sat. They weren’t allowed to do that and she could get in trouble, but she didn’t care. Dean stayed as he was, hanging on, his toes in the bricks and his elbows on the top.
“She kisses people.”
“Ew. What people.”
Kim was making it up. “She does not.”
“She does too.”
“Why would she do that?”
Dean watch the lady. Kim was pretending not to watch for Mr Morris so she could get down before he saw her. The lady was sitting at the bus stop right outside the school gate now and she was talking to herself.
“She says ‘darhlink I luf you’,” said Kim. “Then she kisses you.”
“She does not.”
Dean thought about that. He’d like to see the lady kiss someone but he’d already lost three bets with Kim. He’d given her his sea monkeys, a pet rock and his pickup sticks. They weren’t allowed to go out the school gate until his mum got here, but Kim would do it if he dared her.
Kim slithered down the wall to the seat below. He did too.
“I dare you to go and sit next to her and count to one hundred,” she said.
No, no. He wasn’t going to do that. Kim was s’posed to do the dares.
“You’re chicken-shit, Dean.”
“You said a bad word.”
Kim shrugged. “Steve says chicken-shit, so I can.
“It’s still a bad word. My Mum says ‘damn’ but I’m not allowed.”
“You’re such a baby.”
Dean stood up. The toes of his shoes were all scuffed. Mum might be mad about that. He wasn’t s’posed to go out of the gate but the bus stop was close and he could count quickly and Mum wasn’t here yet. And he wasn’t a baby—he was nearly nine and he was getting a bike.
“Are you?” Kim was surprised. She didn’t expect him to go so she’d be more surprised when he got back. “You watch.”
He went to the gate and stood behind it while some kids who were allowed to walk home went out. It was hot and he wished they could go to the beach. He wished Mum would come and then he wouldn’t be able to go to the bus stop. He looked through the bars of the gate, maybe the bus was coming.
But it wasn’t.
Kim was sitting on top of the wall. He could see her underpants. They were pink. He had to do it or she would call him a baby all the time. He wasn’t a baby. He was the man of the house now that Dad wasn’t there.
He checked for the bus again. The Kissing Bandit was still sitting in the bus stop. He’d count to ten and if the bus was there he wouldn’t go, and if Mum came he couldn’t go. He counted to ten, and then to twenty. He looked at Kim. Her mouth made the word chicken-shit. He went out the gate and over to the bus stop. He started counting before he even sat down on the seat at the other end to where the lady was. She smelled funny, like the empty beer bottles Steve left at their house sometimes after he was finished talking to Mum.
When he was at thirty, she looked at him. She said, “Hello darhlink,” and he lost count.
He stood up. She stood up too. She said, “You are beautifool boy. I kiss you,” and she put her arms out. His legs had forgotten how to run and her hands had lots of rings on them and they were on his shoulders. He looked in her face and she had pink lipstick on her nose. She kissed him on the lips and he pushed her away and somebody yelled.
Now his legs remembered how to run and he was he one yelling and he ran around the bus stop and back inside the gate and past Mr Morris who said. “Stay inside the gate, Dean.” And he ran to Kim. She was sitting on the seat and she was unhappy.
He sat beside her and his knees felt loose like the handle on his scooter.
“Did you do it?”
He looked at Kim. She was frowning. “Yeah, didn’t you see? She kissed me and everything.” He remembered he should wipe his mouth so he did with the back of his hand and then he pulled his shirt out of his pants and used that too, just to make sure there were no lady germs on his lips.
“No. I had to get down. She did not kiss you.”
“She did too. She smells bad and she had lipstick on her nose.”
“Bloody hell,” said Kim.
“Told you I’m not a baby.”
Kim nodded. But she didn’t see how brave he was. He was annoyed about that. “Don’t ever call me chicken-shit again.”
Kim crossed her heart.
He could still smell the lady. She had really pointy boosies and they’d touched him. He hoped he didn’t have a nightmare about her. He’d had a nightmare about Captain Hook once and he’d wet the bed. He had another nightmare that was kind of about Captain Hook and kind of about Dad. In it Dad had a hook hand and had made him walk the plank.
He stood up. “Mum is really late.” There were hardly any kids left in the playground now.
He wanted to go home and put other clothes on and ride his scooter. And he was hungry too.
“Do you think she’s forgotten us?”
Dean shook his head. “No, she’d never forget me. She’s just late.”
“Steve forgets me all the time.”
Dean thought Steve was a bit scary. He was big like The Hulk and he was really loud all the time. But he wanted Steve to like him, because Mum really liked Steve. “Why?”
Kim made her lips go flat. “I dunno. Dad gets real angry with him when he does, so we make it a secret.”
They waited and after a while Kim said. “I think Steve might be my real dad.”
“What do you mean?”
“They fight about me when they think I can’t hear and Dad gets angry but Steve never does.” She swung her legs. She was short enough they didn’t touch the ground. Dean was taller, he needed to sit on a stool to do that. “Steve looks after me more than Dad does.”
“My dad hardly ever looks after me, but he’s my real dad.”
Kim nodded. “Sometimes I wish Steve was my real dad.”
Dean thought about that. It was hard enough having one dad. He didn’t think he wanted to know what it was like to have two.
They waited a bit more then Kim said. “If she doesn’t come I know the way to walk home, you can tell Steve, but don’t tell my Dad.”
“Okay. But she’ll come.” Dean was only a little bit worried that she wouldn’t and he was beginning to get a sick feeling in his tummy, like he had just before the Kissing Bandit touched him. He looked down and his shoe lace was untied. He tied it and when he looked up Mum was coming through the gate.
“Hello you two. Sorry I’m late.” She crouched down and held out a banana and an apple. Dean snatched the apple. He’d rather have had the banana but Kim liked apples best and he was mad with her for not watching him and the Kissing Bandit.
“Dean, don’t grab.” Mum stood up and held out her hand. “Come on, Steve has your swimmers in the car, we’re going to the beach.”
He got in the back of Steve’s Sandman with Kim and they got the giggles putting their swimmers on because Steve made the car go fast and they rolled all around on the mattress and Kim’s sock flew in his face. Steve said it was lucky it wasn’t her shoe and then he turned the radio up loud and they all sang Kung-fu Fighting, except Mum but she was smiling really big.
When they got to the beach, Mum sat on the sand. She had a new blue bikini. Steve went in the water with him and Kim. He gave them turtle rides and he taught them how to stand on the boogie board and it was so much fun Dean stopped being angry with Kim, he felt a bit sorry he’d taken the apple, and he almost quit about being worried Mum had forgotten him. Best of all he could hardly remember how scared he was about the Kissing Bandit and he thought if he saw her again, he’d let her kiss him, but this time he’d make sure Kim was watching.