Hi guys, we have Robin Lippincott & Julia Watts popping in with their upcoming new adult release Rufus + Syd, they’re letting us have a peek at an excerpt so check out the post and enjoy! <3 ~Pixie~
Rufus + Syd
Robin Lippincott & Julia Watts
Vermillion, Georgia, is the small town that time forgot, or at least that’s how it feels to fifteen-year-old Rufus. As if being a scrawny ginger called “Matchstick” isn’t bad enough, Rufus is also gay, an artist, and the son of conservative religious fanatics. He doesn’t have a prayer of fitting in in the Bible Belt—at least not until he meets Syd, a spiky-haired girl in black eyeliner. Sick of being the adult her mother can’t seem to be, Syd hides behind a snarky attitude and takes refuge in classic movies, and eventually, her friendship with Rufus.
As isolated as they feel in Vermillion, Rufus and Syd soon discover they’re not as alone as they thought. Josephine, an aging free spirit who once ran a repertory cinema in Chicago, and Cole, a middle-aged gay man living with a brain injury as a result of a violent homophobic attack in his youth, offer help as the two teens struggle to discover who they are, what they want, and where they might belong. But not everyone in their town is so freethinking or open-minded.
When things become unbearable, where do two outspoken atheists turn? Trusting in each other and standing together is their only chance of making it through the opposition on all sides.
The voice is somehow both beckoning and threatening at the same time. I hear it but I don’t see the body it’s coming from.
“Little faggot going home to mommy?”
Though this isn’t the first time this sort of thing has happened on my walk home from school, I’m never quite sure what the best thing to do is: should I run? Or just keep walking like I don’t hear it?
Before I can make up my mind, the body attached to the voice jumps out from behind some tall shrubs that line this part of my walk home. I don’t know if it’s better or worse that I don’t recognize the guy; sometimes I know them from school. But this one seems older, and he also seems to know my name, Rufus.
He massages his cock through his jeans for my benefit, and I have to admit that I like what I see: he’s cute in a dangerous sort of way.
Now he grabs my arm, pulls me into the bushes and twists the other arm behind my back. Because of the conflicting things I’m experiencing—arousal, terror—I have never felt so afraid in my life.
The guy massages himself again, and then he begins to slap me about the face. “Is this what you want little gay boy?” They aren’t punches, but a lot of little hard, stinging, open-palmed slaps.
He releases my arm but now has me by the back of the neck. His hand is big and strong, and it hurts; I feel fragile, like my neck might break, as he pushes my head down toward his crotch. Somehow—maybe it’s an adrenalin rush?—I manage to wrestle free, and then I take off running and don’t stop until I’m about half a block from home.
I turn around now for the first time to see if he’s following me. No. I’m so relieved that I could cry. I try to catch my breath and just hope against hope that Mama’s not home for a change. But as soon as I walk in the door, she’s there.
“Rufus, you look like you just saw a ghost! Are you okay?”
“I’m fine, Mama. I just ran home to shake off the school day, you know?”
She gives me a look that suggests she doesn’t know, but that she wonders.
I go into the bathroom and close the door, to have a little peace.
I sit down and immediately replay what just happened: I’ve got to get out of this hellhole. This is a red town, Vermillion, Georgia, and the problem, or one of the problems, is that I’m a blue-green person.
I’m a synesthete. I know the word may sound like a kind of disease, though it isn’t, but it’s kind of hard to explain what it is: essentially, synesthesia is a condition that means you experience one sense as another. Like, for me, the sound of a car’s honk is the color orange. Or, I see rain as blue-green. Some synesthetes see the letters of the alphabet as colors—things like that. I’ve read up on it.
My last name is Snow, which is pretty funny coupled with a red name like Rufus. It’s like the colors for Coke—red and white—which are supposed to be great for advertising. Also funny is that I’ve never even seen the stuff in my entire life—snow, I mean—since we don’t get it here. And really, this town is more like gray. Or brown. It’s really dull. But the violence is red. I guess maybe they named it after the clay that Georgia is so famous for? Who knows, and who cares?
All I really care about is getting out of here. But because I’m only 15 and a sophomore, it’s not like I have a lot of power or control over my life or anything. Mama and Daddy are the ones who pull the strings—which I guess makes me a puppet, something I really hate.
Mama is knocking on the bathroom door now.
“Mama!” I’m hoping to express exasperation. “Can a guy have a little privacy?”
I hear her sigh, as she says, “I just want you to know that you can talk to me.” And after a beat or two, she adds, “Anytime.” Then she backs off, and I can hear her walk away.
Anyway, I guess what I’m trying to say, the gist of it, is that it sucks being me here. I don’t know how it happened, really; I was just born here. And if there was ever anything to prove the non-existence of god! I mean, if there really was a god, he—or she—wouldn’t have been so mean as to put somebody like me here, would they? And this is where Mama and Daddy and my brother and I disagree. They’re like, hardcore born-again Christians, and I’m a proud atheist. It’s made for some tense times at the dinner table. But I just don’t see how any intelligent person could believe in god at this point in history, you know, I mean with everything that’s happened in the world—like the Holocaust, and the bombing of Hiroshima, Hurricane Katrina and the recent tsunamis, just for a few examples.
I throw myself down on my bed and continue musing: I wouldn’t mind having somebody to talk to, but I don’t know anyone like me here in Vermillion, at least not anyone my age. And for sure I don’t see anybody who looks like me. I’m kind of tall, and very skinny, and also really pale. But here’s the capper—HA!—capper, since I’m referring to what’s on my head: my hair is red. And I’m not talking like a subdued, dark-almost-brown kind of red, but more like orange-red, like a flame or a carrot. It’s naturally this way. And in fact, one of things that I get called, is “Matchstick,” because they say I look like one. And that’s about the nicest thing I get called. All the other things the kids at school call me, well—
See, because it’s true: I am gay. I’ve known it for a long time. And that’s really not a cool thing to be in Vermillion, Georgia—or a lot of other places, for that matter. So you can imagine, I get called a lot of other names, too—like “faggot,” which I really hate; it’s kind of almost as bad as the “N” word to me. I’ve been harassed enough times to make a book, and sometimes it gets physical, too—like today. But it’s not like I can change, or that I have a choice. As far as I know, this is who and what I am, and I’ve just got to deal with it. And really, I honestly don’t have a problem with it, and I know that there are places in the world where it’s not really a problem either, but this is not one of those places. As for where Vermillion is, it’s way in the southwest corner of the state—the “butt of Georgia” as some people say.
Sometimes it feels as though the universe is playing a cruel joke on me, putting me here. But maybe it’s one of those trial-by-fire things, you know? Also, there’s that saying, “What doesn’t kill me makes me stronger.” And I guess I am, very slowly, getting stronger. I think it would help if I had a friend.”
About Robin & Julia
Robin Lippincott grew up in a small town in Central Florida. He escaped as soon as he could and has lived in the Boston area ever since. Robin is so proud of his most recent book, Blue Territory: A Meditation on the Life and Art of Joan Mitchell. He has published three novels and a story collection, and has received multiple fellowships to Yaddo, and a fellowship to The MacDowell Colony. He teaches in the low-residency Master of Fine Arts in Writing Program at Spalding University.
Julia Watts, a native of Southeastern Kentucky, is the author of numerous novels for young adults and “old adults” alike, including the Lambda Literary Award Finalist and Golden Crown Literary Award winning Secret City and the Lambda Literary Award winning Finding H.F.