‘Club 33′ by Katie Arnold-Ratliff
From Five Chapters:
Surprise! my Mom says from the passenger seat, and she tells me Okay, open your eyes (slight movement of my jaw to the LEFT), and I do, seeing many looped freeways and parking lots and the sign of Oakland Airport (cough, move wrist). And on a building, like a warehouse sort of a building, is a picture of a guy with a retarded smile, and he’s holding his kid in the air. Live Smart, Live Well, it says above his head.
Kinda-Grandma Betty turns from the driver’s seat to see my surprised face. My sister Josie says Tada and goes back to her magazine (cough, sniff TWICE). We’re flying obviously somewhere, it’s an airport, and then I know Disneyland because that’s where we go. Dad always wanted to go to Maui. The year they got divorced we still went to Disneyland, but that time we stayed at the Disneyland Hotel for sixteen days. The toilet paper had Mickey on it. In the Mom-and-Dad suite there was Mickey-shaped pineapple slices. What I say out loud is, Oh, we’re going to Disneyland.
Kinda-Grandma Betty says, Gus? Aren’t you surprised? And I shout, OF COURSE I FEEL SURPRISED! But she screws up her painted-on eyebrows and frowns (move neck forward while moving jaw to the LEFT). I am a bad actor. Mr. Madeira put me as “Second Knight” in the fourth-grade Medieval-unit play. My part was to get dragged offstage, shouting, by the dragon. He told me it would be hard to have a speaking part but I told him that I’d probably start ticcing during the scream anyway so what difference did it make? I tic no matter what.