The Drowning of Stephan Jones

The Drowning of Stephan Jones

by Bette Greene

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780983468134
Publisher: Greene & Sandell
Publication date: 07/13/2012
Pages: 220
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.50(d)
Age Range: 12 - 17 Years

About the Author

Bette Greene's award-winning classic novels will be celebrating 40 years in print!

As an award-winning author, screenwriter and news reporter, Bette Greene is read worldwide in over 16 languages. Bette continues her legacy of writing and speaking for the victimized. Within the heartbeat of her storytelling and the realism of her prose lies Bette's demand that her readers feel what she feels and sees what she sees, taking us beyond our differences.

As the 20th century's youngest professional news reporter, Bette published her first news story at age eight. Bette Greene's first book, "Summer of My German Soldier", won the first "Golden Kite" award. This same novel outsold Prince Charles' book in his own country.

Bette Greene holds the honor of being the only author included in "Writers of Holocaust Literature", without having been a victim of the Holocaust.

As a 21st century master author, Bette Greene uses the social media platforms to reach out and touch her readers, Generation - X, Y and Z. According to critics, Bette Greene has given a voice to the voiceless, changing the course of young adults' literature in America.

For nearly 40 years, Bette Greene's books have been banned, censored and challenged. The theme of Bette Greene's award-winning library is always the same - Bullying!

Read an Excerpt

The Drowning of Stephan Jones


By Bette Greene

OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA

Copyright © 1991 Bette Greene
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4532-2583-7


CHAPTER 1

Carla Wayland had every intention of entering Harris's Handy Hardware Store just as though she were the world's greatest actress triumphantly striding across the spotlit stage to embrace her Oscar. But by the time she reached Jerry's TV Sales and Service two doors west of the hardware store, her heart was rat-atat-tatting against the walls of her chest. To distract herself from what felt like a fatal case of nervousness, she stopped and stared at the enormous fifty-two inch color TV in Jerry's window.

Although the volume was turned low, she was startled by the nearly life-sized images of men and women marching and waving cardboard signs, pink triangles on a solid black background. In front of the state capitol in Little Rock, their briskly waving banners demanded: GIVE US OUR RIGHTS! and PASS GAY RIGHTS Now!

Suddenly the camera panned to an opposing group of angry people, many of whom looked as though their faces had been left to harden in cement. Several hundred strong they marched waving the twin banners of the Moral Majority and the Christian Decency League. In the bone chilling cold, they chanted: "Hay-hay! HI-HO ... All the queers have got to GO ... Hay-hay! HI-HO ... All the queers have got to GO ..."

The camera seemed to fixate on these people who were heckling the gay rights protesters. Carla was struck as much by their hands jabbing into the air as by their granite looks misshapen by hatred. Fists clenched, they screamed "SAVE OUR CHILDREN! STOP THE QUEERS! SAVE OUR CHILDREN! STOP THE QUEERS! ...

Although some of the placards looked professionally printed, the largest one carried a message clumsily written with a Magic Marker on a grayish-white sheet:

THE SILENT MAJORITY SAYS NO! NO RIGHTS BUT DEATH RIGHT FOR PORNOGRAPHERS-MOLESTERS-FAGS!!!


Instead of being calmed down, Carla felt agitated. Why, she then wondered, was she getting herself worked up over this? This wasn't her battle! She certainly wasn't gay, and she didn't even know anybody who was. Was it only because she always managed to feel sympathetic for anyone who was being picked on? Particularly people who were picked on because they were different? Being different, boy, could she ever understand that!

That news segment ended, and an anchorwoman on the nightly news began asking the handsome young governor of Arkansas for his comments on whether or not he would run for the office of president of the United States. Carla turned from the screen and quickly began walking again toward Harris's. She reminded herself that she was not about to become unstrung over some injustice happening over in the state capitol. Lord knows, there was injustice aplenty in her own little northwest corner of Arkansas, right in good ol' Rachetville, U.S.A.

Besides, she was about to do something for herself, something that would stop the hurt of loving someone who didn't know that she existed. Oh, sure—he knew her name and face all right, he probably always had, but he didn't know her, not a bit. She was hellbent on making certain that that would soon change!

Even before reaching her destination, Carla was busy telling herself how much steadier and calmer she felt. And as she fished her lipstick and compact from her purse, it became necessary to wipe her perspiring palms against both sleeves of her navy duffle coat. It came as a surprise that her hands were so hot and sticky, because this particular late December day was about as cold as it ever got in this town.

Carla cooled and calmed herself down with her very own whispered words of encouragement: "Probably a hundred—probably even more than a hundred—people pass through these doors daily, especially now, only three days till Christmas, so why in the world would anybody think twice about one more person—namely me—doing the same exact thing?"

As she brought the tube of Crimson Nights to her lips a man speaking mere inches from her ear softly whispered, "Somebody's going to be impressed." Carla was startled. The words as well as the warm sound of the cultured accent and well-modulated voice suggested that he had come from someplace a long way from this place, and both gave her more courage.

Carla had never really lived any place else or even been very far from her Ozark Mountain home. Even so, there just seemed to be something within her that always made her yearn for experiences she had never had as well as places, far-far-away places, where she had never been. Although she mightily resisted looking up, she felt as though she just had to put a face on that wondrous voice. She looked up.

Without slowing his step, the man flashed a slightly sideways conspiratorial smile. And as he and his equally good-looking male companion entered the store, Carla stood statuestill. Despite the cold, she somehow felt warmed as well as encouraged. Actually she felt as though the stranger was at this precise moment a friend. As she slid the lipstick across her heart-shaped lips, she wondered if friendships had to endure for a certain period of time before they could actually qualify as friendships?

Carla breathed the mountain air deeply before throwing her chin up, squaring her shoulders, crossing all of her fingers, and entering the well-lit hardware store. Once inside, she looked neither to the left nor to the right but headed purposefully for the Christmas light display. At first the only Mr. Harris she sighted was Andy's father, the proprietor. Mr. Lawrence Harris had a reputation in town of knowing practically everything there was to know about hardware, and there weren't many do-it-yourselfers who hadn't at one time or other profited from his constructive advice. Harris's Handy Hardware Store's housewares catalog went out several times a year all over this state, and in Oklahoma and Tennessee, too.

Plenty of mail-order money flowed into the pockets of Mr. Harris. It also flowed out of those very same pockets; you could just tell by the way that both the father and the son dressed that their clothes were bought through the catalogs of stores that purported to have come into this world to cater only to sportsmen and gentlemen.

What always struck Carla about Mr. Harris was the way he seemed to take such commanding control of his cash register. It reminded her of the way a combat pilot might take charge of his cockpit. At this moment, however, Mr. Harris was lazing against the counter of his television department as he watched one of the several turned-on sets that brought the six o'clock news from Little Rock.

Although Carla kept her head down, pretending to stare transfixed at the festive display of Christmas ornaments and lights, her searching eyes were still able to catch an occasional discreet, passing glimpse of Andy, who was deeply engrossed in demonstrating a microwave oven. It was clear, at least to Carla, that this lady customer was unaccustomed to hearing such strong and persuasive salesmanship flowing so smoothly from a mere lad of seventeen. Andy was wearing a baby-blue sweater that looked positively washed-out faded when compared to the truer blue of his eyes. Carla was convinced that with those extraordinary eyes there wasn't anything he couldn't sell.

When Carla rhapsodized about those eyes to her best friend Debby, she could almost make her believe that Andrew Anthony Harris's blues were truly one of the really wondrous wonders of the Western world.

Carla couldn't tell for certain, but she would have bet a buck that her hero was wearing matching socks. He had a reputation to uphold of being a sharp dresser.

Although Carla absolutely, positively knew for a fact that Andy couldn't tell she was observing him, she was terrified that somehow he might just up and guess that she was, so she purposely refocused her eyes on the man with black hair who had whispered encouragement to her. A wool scarf of bright scarlet tossed across the stranger's neck gave him a casually elegant air, and for some reason she felt it also gave him a decidedly brave look.

Brave? Carla came pretty close to laughing aloud. She recognized the laughter part as definitely her mother's influence. Sometimes she wondered if Judith, who had taught her to question everything, had perhaps taught her a little too well. But then again, on second thought, maybe just maybe she was right the first time, because it really was true that no man in Rachetville would ever be brave enough to be caught dead wearing a scarf, leastways not a flaming red one!

If an out-of-towner were to drive through downtown and glance around at what the menfolk were wearing, then he'd quickly come to the conclusion that folks don't give one god damn about what they throw on their bodies. But boy oh boy, would he ever be wrong! And if that same stranger got the impression that there's not a dress code in all of Rachetville, well then, he'd sure enough be wrong again. 'Cause the rule, the never-to-be-broken rule, was and always would be: Clothes have to be rough and tough to show the world who the wearer was and always would be even more rough and tough.

The red-scarfed stranger was as far removed from the Rachetville dress code as you could get. And if that wasn't enough then there was still another thing that fascinated her, the vertical line that ever-so-decisively bisected his forehead like an exclamation point. It was clear to Carla that his energies were now focused on convincing his blond-haired companion of something terribly important about one of those small appliances.

CHAPTER 2

It was a cinch to see that the two obviously intense men over at the small-appliance counter were disagreeing with each other and actually beginning to lose patience with one another. "Money be damned!" her dark-haired "friend" burst out, loud enough to be heard clearly even at this distance. His startled companion, whose light-as-beaten-eggwhite skin was stretched tight enough over his high cheekbones to make any Apache wince with envy, gave his friend little patty-pat-pat signs, trying to calm him down.

And he did calm down, too, but not before that overheard phrase had piqued the interest of the unseen matron who'd been listening to Andy from the next aisle over. Her beautifully coiffed salt-and-pepper-colored head began to visibly turn so she could better overhear the man who spoke with so passionate a voice. "Why, dammit, why is it so hard for you to understand? I hate not being able to buy you beautiful things, fast cars, or go on trips to romantic places. Well, by God, I can at least buy you the best damn ice-cream maker in this town. And that's little enough to do for you ... my love!"

At this point, the listening lady seemed to have forgotten all about her handsome salesman, for on her lips was just the barest trace of a smile. It was as though she had become wistful, almost girlish, as she was flooded with memories of a time past when she was young ... and in love.

However, her reveries were shaken and then shattered as two men appeared with the ice-cream maker. Holding the chosen appliance aloft, Frank Montgomery, the man who had mere minutes ago encouraged Carla, inquired, "Sorry to intrude, but would you know if you have another just like this one? Only still in the box?"

Andy dropped obediently to his knees to search on the lowest shelf for the sought-after appliance, while the woman's eyes protruded as she stared unblinkingly at the two men. First she shook her head one way and then she shook her head the other way. In the same kind of a way you might shake away a nasty little mosquito ... or maybe an even nastier little truth!

Slowly it dawned on her that there was no other possible explanation except that explanation. And no other truth except that truth! The same, exact truth that was right now banging up her senses. Sucking in great quantities of air, she seemed to grow boxier and more bosomy. As quickly and as deadly as a cobra, hissing reptile-like at the startled men, she spat out a lone, venomous word: "Sodomites!"

Instantly, silence fell throughout the store. Not a normal silence, but more like an end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it silence. There didn't seem to be a single eye that wasn't now staring at the men who stood publicly condemned.

The deep olive of her "friend's" complexion seemed to turn two shades darker, while the other, light-haired man's already pale skin became completely chalky. It was clear to Carla that the pale man was going to bolt. And that's probably what would have happened, too, if her friend hadn't reached out his hand and placed a sustaining but gentle touch on his forearm. Frank wordlessly told Stephan that there was not all that much to be afraid of. At least not more than they were capable of facing together.

Like a man who has had more experience with emotional self-defense than he ever wanted, Frank Montgomery sighed wearily. "Know something, madam?" He spoke clearly, allowing his quizzical voice to ring out strong and proud. "You remind me of something my mother once taught me. A long time ago, she sat me down and said, 'Frankie, I know you'll forget a lot of what I tell you, but I sure hope that you'll always remember this: Only a real honest-to-goodness pervert,'"—he twisted the last word so hard that it seemed to come out of his mouth harshly deformed—"'would get jollies worrying about other people, and exactly what it is they do or don't do behind closed doors!'"

The woman's eyes widened still further and her lipstick-bright mouth hung slack. She looked exactly the way a woman would look who, without warning or cause, had been slapped violently across her face. She panted audibly for air while the moments dragged on endlessly, as though time had in some way become stuck in a long-forgotten time warp. Then the moment passed. Still breathing hard, she abruptly turned to almost hurl her hefty body toward the door.

Before exiting, she twirled on sensible heels to give the men a final piece of her mind. "If you for one minute think that our God-fearing Christian legislators are going to pass your gay rights ..." she boomed out. All background noises ceased and Carla and all the other startled customers and clerks continued to stare. "Well, let me tell you this: You've got another thing a-coming! Just because you faggots are ranting and raving and carrying on about your rights outside our statehouse—who do you think you are? If God wanted you to have rights, then why would he have gone and invented AIDS!?" Then, without waiting even a millisecond for any possible response, she flung herself out the door.

The store was so still and the people in it so shocked silent that the scene looked like a photograph. The moment was interrupted by Frank Montgomery's cool and calm voice. "Oh, you've located one!" he said, sounding very pleased as he noticed a physically and emotionally stalled Andy holding a box with a full-color picture of the wanted appliance on the outside of the carton. "Would you be a good fellow and gift-wrap it, please?"

Andy stammered and nodded his head at least two or three times more than what was actually necessary. But after placing the boxed item on the counter next to his father's beloved cash register, the boy kind of backed himself away, leaving the two strangers to face his father. At first, Carla was puzzled; she couldn't exactly make sense of it. With all those eyes, all those angry eyes, fixed on them, why did both of the men seem so deliberate in their motions, as though they had all the time in the world? Wouldn't you think that they'd stare down at the floor while practically racing out just as fast as their feet could carry them?

But the more she observed, the more the answer became apparent: They wouldn't want—couldn't accept—for the onlookers to think that they could be so easily scared away like a pair of dumb animals in the night.

With his arms folded defiantly across his drum barrel of a chest, Lawrence Harris glared down at the boxed appliance as though his own ice-cream machine had been transformed before his eyes into a toxic dump site. Pretending not to notice the merchant's fixed face of fury, Frank pointed to a festive roll of green-and-red Santa Claus wrapping paper beneath the counter. Slipping some bills from his wallet, he asked pleasantly, "Would you please wrap it with the Christmas paper? It's a gift."

Lawrence Harris made change, then picked up the unwrapped cardboard box, tore off a short piece of gift paper, and placed the items on the counter into Frank's less-than-willing hands. "You've got what you came for," he said, his words emerging heavily encrusted with contempt. "Now get the hell out of here!"


(Continues...)

Excerpted from The Drowning of Stephan Jones by Bette Greene. Copyright © 1991 Bette Greene. Excerpted by permission of OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Drowning of Stephan Jones 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
So glad that so far there has just been positive reviews about this book. It brings a message: Don't judge. Let people do what they want to do. You don't have to do that yourself, but respect them. Don't be an ignorant hater. But sometimes in situations like in this book, people you think you know show their true colors, as Carla finds out. I love how Bette Greene is so diverse with her writing. She writes about all different kinds of people, and I love that. Thank you, Bette Greene. You are my favorite author.
Guest More than 1 year ago
It is sad how people actually do this in real life. It is unfair how one would do such a thing. I believe that one has the right to be gay if one chooses to. Back on the subject this book is extremely good. Though it saddens me how someone would go to the extreme like that. I know it has happened in the real world. And that is what saddens me. I hope that each and every person who reads this gets the real idea that being gay isnt all about sex. And that people who are gay have feelings too. I think that is what the author intended to show. That people who are gay are real people too, they have feelings too, being gay isnt all about the sex, its a real relationship, just like one with a man and a woman. Also that people can be so hateful that they do some of the worse things ever. It's hard for someone to be gay, I have friends who are... and unfortunately their self esteem has gone into the negatives. I hope you realize this once you read this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is one of the best book that I have read. Carla is a strong- headed girl who stood up for what was right instead of following the crowd.It's a great book and it is a book for people who beleive in equality.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Aren't we all like Carla? We see injustice happening everywhere, but fear for our lives and dignity prevents us from saying or doing anything. I highly recommend this book to anyone who cares enough to champion the persecuted.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I started reading this book because i was struggling with my sexual preference but when i finished i realised it had changed the way i look at life. I am a person who doesnt like to read as do some other people but when i picked up this book i couldnt put it down, but if i had to i couldnt wait to read more. I would ask my teachers if we could read at the beginning of each class so i could finish it. The words and the story-line provoked me and it intrigued me. The controversy of this book could appeal to anyone who touched it. The book taught me that it doesnt matter what happens to you, your life is always going to have bad points,in this case the worst, but you shouldn't do anything that could cause pain as andy did in this book it is just the worst thing you could do. Also this book showed me that there was something to gain from reading so i have been reading for the past 6 months and i have finished at least 100 books about this and others so if you read this before you read the book READ IT! i can tell you that i gauruntee you will love it!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read this book last year out of my school library. Since then i have been wanting to purchase it. I DO NOT like to read but this book grabbed me and i couldnt stop reading!!! I wish everyone in this world could see how hatred can cause the worse things. People can be so narrow minded and its very sad. if i could have jus one wish it would be for people to be more openminded and more accepting of other's differences. I loved this book and i really think everyone should at least read it once.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is one of the best books i've ever read. When I really began to get deep into the book, i found that i couldn't put it down no matter how hard I tried. I suggest this book to anybody who likes to read, because this is by far this most attention-grabbing book i've ever read.