This children's book, EMU MAN has never seen the light of publication, and that's because publishers have good taste.
If only I could be like those other mothers who can take their kids on a school field trip, have fun, and then go home and that's it. Instead, I conjure up back stories, paintings, a hundred photographs, and figure out how it can all be turned into a trilogy.
Even though perhaps it shouldn't be done, it must be done.
Boys love comic book heroes. They are so inviting because Comic Heroes turn into something really Cool or Scary.
In real life, my son's best friend got bit by an Emu on the Fall Field Trip.
(and I accidentally got a photograph of it).
Hmmm, what would happen if you got bit by a Emu like Peter Parker got bit by a spider?
Ha, ha. An Emu!
Not too scary nor too cool.
This guy (photo from a ZooBooks Magazine), he looks pretty cool. Look at those red eyes.
However, our Hero Warren Washington, looks more like this.
So, the premise is that the two best friends go on a Fall field trip, and one gets bitten by an Emu and emerges into a part-time Emu and a part-time boy.
Completely at random, I picked out a page for an excerpt.
Secretary Jones is sitting at her desk. She has round glasses like Warren's, so maybe this is a sign that I should discuss my best friend's problem with her.
"Mrs. Jones," I clear my throat.
"Yes, Stewart," she says but doesn't look up, still typing away at the computer. I'm amazed at how fast she can type. Her fingers fly over that keyboard. Why can't we learn that in school? Maybe we will? Her desk is filled with hundreds of metal slots with piles of junk. I pull out one of the papers and it looks like a lunch schedule. Man, this is boring food. I resist the compulsion to write in something better. Is there no other food on the face of the earth besides burgers and pizza? What about Emu souffle. I snort, Gadz, I'm talking about my best friend here.
"You know, Mrs. Jones, some people may not want to eat greasy chicken. In fact, they may have a real aversion to any type of bird as food, entirely," I say.
She snatches the schedule from my hands and files it back in place.
"Couldn't they at least use real fruit in the cobbler?" I ask.
"Stewart, please, I have to finish this, is there something you want?"
Her face has a fluorescent glow bouncing back from the light of the screen. Her blond hair is tucked and twisted around the rims of her glasses. That doesn't look very good, but I guess she can't help it because she's old. She must have permanent dents in the sides of her head where her glasses have been shoved there for thirty years. This makes me curious, so I lean in and examine her ears and hair.
"Stewart . . . Mr. Deason has excused you, so please return to your class," she says.
"Mrs. Jones, I'm wondering if you know anything?"
She pulls her glasses to the tip of her nose.
"What I mean to say, do you know anything about that Emu?"
"Everyone is curious about that stray Emu. Even though it came on the bus with you students, we'll put it back on the farm," she says.
"But, what if you had a friend who could turn into an Emu and it's definitely getting out of control, and you really didn't know what to do about it? What would you do? Can you help me fix it? There I said it!"
"Stewart, you are a very funny boy, and I like you a lot, I really do, but you need to go back to Mrs. Sweeter's class before she starts to worry, and before I start to get a headache." She stands up grabs my elbow and escorts me to the door.
"But Mrs. Jones, I'm trying to tell you that my best friend Warren Washington is the one turning into that Emu and we need help. I thought you'd understand since you saw his talons coming from that window and you wear those glasses."
"Yes, yes, I'm sure that I wear glasses," she says, shoving me out the door.
I stand beside that slammed door knowing that telling Secretary Jones did absolutely no good whatsoever. Maybe, I should confide in Mrs. Sweeter? I need to get to class, anyway, before both of us get in trouble. So, I head to homeroom. The entire class stares as I creak open the door. There is no Warren. They all are sweating a tough math problem.
"Is Mr. Washington coming soon?" Mrs. Sweeter asks.
"Yeah, I guess so, but I've go no idea where that bird-brain has run off to," I grumble. She assumes he's in the Principal's office.
I sit in my chair and stare at the empty sit which once held Warren.
Joe didn't help. Mrs. Jones didn't help. Maybe Mrs. Washington might? She loves her son. Plus, she's probably noticed Warren acting strangely. She's probably the person who I should have told all along. You know, allalong should be one word. That looks absolutely fabulous together. I look around the class and they are biting their lips, pulling on their hair, glaring at their papers. Not one of them can figure out that math problem. What was she thinking when she put that on the board? Does Mrs. Sweeter think we go to college?
I write something reasonable on my paper - words that need to be turned into one.
1. Allalong - Allalong knowing right from the beginning that your best friend shouldn't transform into an Emu.
2. Alltogether - My best friend is alltogether stupid for not listening to me in the first place.
3. Anyway - One shouldn't have a best friend, anyway, because they don't listen.
Then, I see a shadow.
A big overlapping shadow of Mrs. Sweeter.
"Stewart, you've disrupted the lunchroom, and now you're sitting here doodling! Please do this problem," she snatches my paper, hands me a blank sheet, then takes my list and throws it in the trash. That isn't very nice and Mrs. Sweeter was the last nice one left, so I huff my unhappiness.
"Oh come now, don't stew over it. Just get the work done."
I put my hands into my face, "Not you too, Mrs. Sweeter, not you too!"
"Oh, I didn't mean . . . that is to say, no, I wasn't meaning that, Stewart."
The whole class is laughing at me, again.