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Authors: Rene Gutteridge

Boo

BOOK: Boo
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What People Are Saying About
Boo
by Rene Gutteridge

“Rene Gutteridge’s new book is a darling story with a rare blend of love, intrigue, and laugh-out-loud humor. It will tickle your funny bone, but even more important, it will make you think about how often we try to force our notions of God’s will onto everyone else. Don’t miss this one!”

—C
OLLEEN
C
OBLE
, author of
Without a Trace

“Ever wonder what a horror writer must think and feel when he’s off the clock? Ever wonder if he might have a soft side, a caring side that writes tender poetry in his dark lonely mansion? Ever wonder what might happen if one day he was redeemed? Gutteridge doesn’t give up on anyone in this story. Her fast-paced plot (where new faces pop up like pneumatically rigged spooks in a funhouse) and her crisp dialogue won’t let you stop reading, and she certainly doesn’t give away the ending until the last page, where Boo finally gets to—okay, okay, I won’t give it away either. But hurry up and get started. And, oh yeah, bring a blanket, a box of tissues, and lots of cat food.”

—C
HONDA
P
IERCE
, comedienne and author of
It’s Always Darkest Before the Fun Comes Up
and
On Her Soapbox

“I understand Ms. Gutteridge has a professional baseball player in her family tree. Not surprising. This is Major League storytelling that has the crowd on its feet.”

—M
ICHAEL
O’C
ONNOR
, author of
Sermon on the Mound

“Rene’s characters jump off the page and invite you to be part of their lives. I just wanted to curl up with my cat and live in Skary, Indiana. What a fun and cozy read!”

—K
RISTIN
B
ILLERBECK
, author of
Blind Dates

“Don’t be scared—Boo is fun and fresh! When a Martha Stewart wannabe (who fries up her own potato chips, no less) meets a best-selling Stephen King type (who’s just found God and subsequently lost his taste for horror), sparks fly in the town of Skary and in this clever original novel.”

—L
AURA
J
ENSEN
W
ALKER
, author of
God Rest Ye Grumpy Scroogeymen; Dated Jekyll, Married Hyde;
and
Thanks for the Mammogram!

“Picture Tom Hanks as a bachelor horror-writer-turned-new-Christian. Now picture Meg Ryan as an unmarried waitress with a chip on her shoulder because of the handsome novelist, but also with—to her horror—an unmistakable attraction to him. Add a small town busybody, a profit-driven New York editor, a boorish veterinarian with a secret, and a town mysteriously overrun with dozens of black cats. Throw in a Thanksgiving dinner to rival anything Martha Stewart could produce, and you have Rene Gutteridge’s
Boo
. I smiled all the way through this delightful book. In my opinion,
Boo is
definitely ‘a good thing.’ ”

—N
ANCY
K
ENNEDY
, author of
Move Over, Victoria

I Know the Real Secret
and
When Perfect Isn’t Enough

“Rene Gutteridge has a knack for posing an intriguing ‘what if?’ scenario and then spinning it out into a tale full of twists, turns, and surprises. She has kept me reading waaaay past my bedtime on more than one occasion.”

—D
AVE
M
EURER
, author of
Stark Raving Dad!

B
OO
P
UBLISHED BY
W
ATER
B
ROOK
P
RESS
2375 Telstar Drive, Suite 160
Colorado Springs, Colorado 80920
A division of Random House, Inc
.

The characters and events in this book are fictional, and any resemblance to actual persons or events is coincidental.

Copyright © 2003 by Rene Gutteridge

Published in association with the literary agency of Janet Kobobel Grant, Books & Such, 4788 Carissa Avenue, Santa Rosa, CA 95405.

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying and recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.

W
ATER
B
ROOK
and its deer design logo are registered trademarks of WaterBrook Press, a division of Random House, Inc.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Gutteridge, Rene.
       Boo / Rene Gutteridge.— 1st ed.
            p. cm.
       eISBN: 978-0-307-45740-0
   1. Fiction—Authorship—Fiction. 2. Novelists—Fiction. 3. Indiana—Fiction.
4. Tourism—Fiction. I. Title.
       PS3557.U887B66 2003
       813’.6—dc21

2003007287

v3.1

F
OR
M
OM
AND
D
AD

Contents

It was a balmy afternoon—

Balmy? No. Cloudy.

It was a cloudy afternoon—

Cloudy or balmy?

It was a—

It was what,
for crying out loud?

It was a—It was a—a—sad. Sad, sad day. The worst day ever.

A sad day? Weather isn’t sad.

It was a sunny day—

Yes, start out sunny. You can’t go wrong with sunny.

 … a sunny day and …

Scratch the weather. That’s cliché. Are you cliché now? After all this time? You can’t come up with a better beginning than a weather report? Start over.

A dark shadow of evil, one so fierce it threatened to destroy all in its path, loomed over the partially cloudy horizon.

That’s good. A dark shadow of evil. Is evil a shadow? What is that dark shadow? What is the evil? Think, think, think—

The evil can only be seen when there is light, because shadows only exist when there is light. In the dark it is hidden, inching forward over the landscape like a thick, black ink, fearing exposure by the rotation of the earth, waiting for the light to reach it again.

What is the evil? Must establish the evil. It is invisible without its shadow. It is exposed by the light because one can see its shadow. It sits on the edge of a tiny town, ready to drown it. Torture it like an overpowering storm. What is it? What has a shadow but can’t be seen?

Who cares? Why do you care? What is this? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Just like you. You’re absolutely nothing. A smudge of an existence.

 … waiting for the light to reach it …

Don’t wait. You can’t afford to wait. You are dying a slow death, and you know it. You are writing formulas and fabrications and fuddle. Yes, fuddle. People hang on every word you write, and you never think twice about what it is you’ve said, or how you’ve said it, or why you’ve said it.

It’s over. This is over. It’s all over. Not another word exists in you. Not one more single description. Not an ounce of fascinating character. Not one brief moment of brilliance.

Not a glimmer of light.

CHAPTER 1

M
ISS
M
ISSY
P
EEPLE
shuffled down the gravel hill as fast as her callous, fungus-ridden feet would let her go. She could feel her ankles swelling. She hadn’t moved this fast in years. But she had news that would shake up her little town of Skary like they’d never been shaken before. This was comparable to the news her sister, Sissy, had delivered almost thirteen years ago. At seventy-two, poor Sissy had slipped on some gravel and hit her head on a slab of concrete on her way to tell the important news. But she had made Missy proud. She had managed to utter in her dying breath the words that would have the town talking for years: Dr. Schoot and Nurse Wintery were having an affair. She’d given her life for the sake of Skary.

But this old maid had news that might raise Sissy from the grave.

Missy huffed and puffed her way down Scarlet Hill, maneuvering her cane this way and that to keep herself from tumbling to her death. It was a balmy day—oh, perhaps not balmy, but sunny and slightly warm for this late in the season, and Missy was sure she was actually breaking a sweat.

The clock tower rang out proudly that it was noon, and only a few hundred feet in front of her Missy could see the folks gathering for lunchtime at the community center. Her lungs seemed to collapse further with each breath she tried to take. But she must keep going. Quite frankly, she’d rather die than not tell all.

She made her way onto the sidewalk, where her shoes glided more easily but for the crack here or there. She managed to avoid those so as to not break her deceased mother’s back. Howard the barber stood outside his shop smoking a stinky cigar and reading the weather report from the newspaper.

“Those dumb weathermen! Look at how bright the sun is shining today, and they’re saying here that it’s going to be cloudy! What do they know?”

“Not now, Howard! Not now!” Missy spat as she scooted past him, clubbing him in the foot with the end of her cane. “I must get to the center. I’ve got news!”

Howard laughed heartily. “What is it this time, Missy? Dr. Twyne’s cloning pigs again?”

Missy scowled and gave Howard a nasty wave of her hand. Her news was too pressing to go back and argue with Howard about the pig cloning, though she
did
have proof of that, no matter what anyone said.

Fifty yards to go and her arthritis kicked in. She managed to scoop an aspirin from the bottom of her purse, chew it up, swallow it, and never miss a step. She always did like that bitter taste.

Half her bun was falling down, her nylon stockings were barely holding up, and her polyester floral dress was sticking to several parts of her body by the time she managed to shove her way through the line into the center and make her way to the small platform that held the American flag the way an athlete holds a trophy.

BOOK: Boo
6.34Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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