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Boy Minus Girl
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Boy Minus Girl

Written by Richard UhligAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Richard Uhlig


· Knopf Books for Young Readers
· eBook · December 9, 2008 · $10.99 · 978-0-375-89136-6 (0-375-89136-6)


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Seduction Tip Number 1:

Tongue Twister

The Seductive Man knows his tongue is an invaluable erotic instrument, which must be exercised daily. Stick it out as far as it will go, then pull it back deep into your mouth. Do this ten times rapidly. Next, flutter your tongue like the wings of a hummingbird for three minutes. Soon you'll be ready to pleasure her with the Velvet Buzz Saw.

Mom, Dad, and I sit at the oval kitchen table, trying to eat Mom's meat loaf. In the window above the sink, the yellow lace curtains frolic in the hot May wind, diluting the strange scent wafting off the meat. To my right, Mom, in her starched nurse's uniform and red-checkered apron, primly sips her iced tea. To my left, Dad, in his dress shirt and tie, squints at the Wichita Eagle-Beacon lying beside his plate.

"Uh, Dad," I say, "the talent show is a week from Friday."

"Uh-huh," he says to the newspaper.

"And, well, my magical vanishing box is nowhere near done."

"Not tonight, son, I'm bushed."

Beneath the table I'm fondling a red grape, massaging the soft skin with my fingertips. This is an exercise recommended in The Seductive Man by M.--a book my best friend, Howard, is loaning me--to condition my hands for a woman's nipples. Someday soon I will be performing this task expertly on Charity Conners, my dream girl.

Dad points to the newspaper but looks at Mom. "Says here this could be the worst tornado season in decades."

"Mmm," Mom says absently. (We are quite used to this sort of announcement from Dad.)

"After dinner I'll go down and make sure the shelter is stocked with enough provisions to last us a couple weeks," Dad says. "In case the house is blown away," he adds.

Dad fears for us all, all of the time--natural disasters, nuclear war, rabid skunks, Lyme disease-carrying ticks, mosquitoes whose bites will make our brains swell up and burst. To Dad the whole world is a virtual land mine of deadly diseases and impending disasters.

I pipe up with: "Maybe this would be a good time for us to go on a trip. Get out of the vicinity of the twisters. Y'know, in three weeks my summer vacation starts. What if we all went to Florida?"

"Florida?" Dad looks at me as if I had just suggested we pitch a tent on Mount Saint Helens.

"The Schneiders are driving to Epcot Center for their summer vacation," I offer.

"You don't say," Mom says. "The Schneiders still owe your father a hundred dollars for setting Tommy's broken arm last January. But I guess for some people a luxurious vacation is more important than paying their debts."

Dad shakes his head. "I can't leave town. I've got a hospital full of patients. Besides, Florida is boiling hot in the summer and your mother's prone to heatstroke."

"Speaking of hot, when can we turn on the air-conditioning?" I ask Mom, unbuttoning my shirt a notch to drive home the point.

"We can easily get by with fans for at least another month," Mom, the family accountant, announces. "I refuse to pay for any more electricity than I absolutely have to. The electricity rates this town charges, why, it's highway robbery!"

"But, Mom, I've heard your very own personal physician say that you're prone to heatstroke," I remind her.

"You know, Les," Mom continues, "you make it sound as if air-conditioning is your birthright. You kids today don't appreciate how spoiled you are with all your luxurious conveniences."

Luxuries? We are practically the only people in town without a dishwasher or cable TV or a garbage disposal. Dad won't allow a microwave in the house for fear of radiation leakage, and the only reason we have a new TV is because Mom won it at a raffle at the IGA. She drives a ten-year-old Buick she inherited from her great-aunt Irma, and we live in the same humble house Dad grew up in. And we aren't poor: Dad has a very busy medical practice, and Mom works, too.

As I stare at the meat loaf and massage the grape, I try to imagine Dad fondling Mom. How could they ever get past the rising cost of groceries and the constant threat of salmonella enough to get in the mood? Yet, here I am. How? Was I adopted? If I was, who are my real parents? Do they ever eat in restaurants? Do they like to travel and socialize and go shopping? Maybe they live in a high-rise in New York City, like the Jeffersons, and stay up late with their glamorous friends, trading witticisms over martinis and discussing the latest Broadway shows. I look at my mother and see we have the exact same light-blue eye color; I look at Dad and see my big brow.

God, I have nothing to look forward to this summer. God, I'm in a slump. God, I need something. Something more. Big-time.
Brring-ring.

"Got it!" I grab the wall-mounted phone by the fridge. "Eckhardt residence."

"Who's this?" a deep, male smoker's voice asks, from what sounds like a pay phone on the side of a busy highway.

"It's Les."

"Lester the Mo-llester! Hell, this is your uncle Ray! Remember me?!"
Remember him? The last time I saw him, he was passed out, face-down drunk, on our lawn!

"Hi, Uncle Ray!"

Dad smiles while Mom puts her hand to her mouth. My uncle Ray is Dad's only sibling. He was here last for Grandpa Eckhardt's funeral, at which he sported a black leather jacket, torn blue jeans, and no tie. His girlfriend wore purple eye shadow and a low-cut dress that barely contained her gigantic bazookas. I was in the fifth grade and had never seen anyone drunk before (or since).

"Your old man around?!" he shouts over a passing truck horn.

"Uh, sure, Uncle Ray, one sec." I hand the phone to Dad.

"How the hell are you, little brother?!"

I see Mom wince at Dad's coarse language.

"Uh-huh . . . right . . ." Dad nods and smiles, wrapping the phone cord around his index finger. "Well, that would be just fine, Ray. Look forward to it. We'll leave the light on for ya, as they say."

Uncle Ray is coming! Will he bring his generously endowed girlfriend with him? Please please please please please.


From the Hardcover edition.

Excerpted from Boy Minus Girl by Richard Uhlig Copyright © 2008 by Richard Uhlig. Excerpted by permission of Knopf Books for Young Readers, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.