- Pub. Date:
Joaquin Dorfman is back with another smart novel that pushes the envelope of literary fiction, examining identity, high school roles, and even the high-blown concept of destiny through a cool science-fiction lens. What if, in a Freaky Friday moment, a wise and humble 40-year-old man woke one morning to find himself transported back in time, into his body more than 20 years before, when he was the popular, entitled, and arrogant quarterback of the school football team? Could the man do anything to stop a tragedy initiated by the cruel actions of the boy, or is fate too strong a force? It’s the small-town football worship of Friday Night Lights with a dark and unsettling Donnie Darko twist.
Praise for Playing It Cool:
* “A sophisticated mystery/romance/coming-of-age story full of red herrings and elaborate schemes.”—School Library Journal, Starred
Related collections and offers
|Publisher:||Random House Children's Books|
|Sold by:||Random House|
|File size:||2 MB|
|Age Range:||12 - 17 Years|
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
his eyes opened, and for a moment, Patrick didn't know where he was.
He blinked his way out of sleep, let reality tighten its grip as the guest room came into focus. Antiquated floral patterns along the walls, framed paintings that hadn't made the cut for any of the important rooms. White lace curtains, complete with delicate patterns sewn into the near translucent material. A desk, easy chair, dresser, miniature bookcase; all of which had lost their jobs around the house to updated versions of themselves.
From somewhere nearby, Patrick heard a door slam.
He grunted and stretched his toes, heard them crack under the stiff sheets.
Felt as though he should piss.
Patrick stepped out of the guest bedroom and into the hallway, down to the end, only to find light emanating from beneath the closed bathroom door. He changed his bearing toward the adjacent doorway, poking his head into Kelly's room.
Lil' Kim, 50 Cent, T.I., Eminem, and an oversized Jimi Hendrix stared down at Kelly's bed from the rectangle walls of their poster prisons. The purple/blue comforter lay in the middle of the room, crumpled and confused on the off-white carpet. A pair of black panties hung from a nearby chair, awaiting Jenna's long overdue return.
Patrick glanced back to the bathroom, saw a pair of stilted shadows from under the crack.
"Getting some juice," Patrick announced, words aimed through the door.
"Patrick?" Kelly's muffled voice sounded oddly cautious.
"Yeah. Getting some OJ. You want anything? I could cook up some eggs."
He took slow steps down the stairs, bare feet making sticky, smacking sounds on the polished wood beneath. Down another hallway and into the kitchen, where gray morning light robbed the room of depth, shone dully off the white countertops.
Glancing out the windows, Patrick saw the stereo stuck on the deck. He scampered out onto the damp wood, already hot in anticipation of another broiling day. Collected the radio and returned it to the kitchen, wiping the soles of his feet clean on the indoor mat.
Patrick opened the door to the fridge, procured some Tropicana Pure Premium. Poured a hefty helping and guzzled it down, all the while staring blankly out the window. A jazz bass line, compliments of Paul Chambers, did loops through his head. He hummed along through his nose, paying close attention to how the notes changed as his stomach grew in circumference.
Patrick set the empty glass down, smacking his lips.
He wiped some crud from the corner of his eye, blinked.
OK, now he definitely had to piss.
Patrick jogged up the stairs and was once again confronted with a closed door between him and much needed relief. He didn't want to bother, but his options were few; the downstairs was broken, and Kelly's parents never left town without locking their room.
Good times all around.
He sighed, fist raised and at the ready for a little knock knock action, when the door opened. Opened hard, practically swinging off its hinges, enough force to make Patrick jump at the sight of Kelly's body filling the entrance.
In the ensuing silence, Patrick went from believing he'd done something wrong to simply wondering what could possibly be wrong. Kelly's eyes were wide. Wide with what, exactly-surprise, amazement, bewildered fear, perhaps all of the above-that would have to wait. Patrick was more alarmed that Kelly should be in the grip of any of those emotions. It was the unspoken urgency of it all, the way Kelly stood poised with one hand on the door frame, the other fast on the knob. There was also the glaring detail that Kelly, fond of sleeping in the buff, hadn't bothered to cover up before heading to the bathroom.
Letting it all hang out, just standing there in his birthday suit.
Patrick found his voice, coughed. "Everything all right, Kelly?"
Kelly looked as though he was actually considering the question. Not so much considering, it was more than that. He narrowed his stare, leaned close toward his best friend's mouth, as though wondering if Patrick had even asked the question.
And Patrick thought maybe it was worth repeating: "Everything all right-"
A fairly simple question, although the uncertainty in Kelly's eyes, the honesty of the inquiry, left Patrick at a loss. Unable to answer, and for a moment, it seemed as though nothing would happen unless Patrick did. All the makings of an endless staring contest, but then . . .
"Patrick!" Kelly announced, answering his previous question with a delighted cry. He took Patrick by the shoulders, looked him up and down. Marveling at the sight of his best friend, Kelly then yanked roughly, pulling Patrick into a massive embrace.
Patrick's body went stiff. Playing possum as Kelly used his superior build to rock them back and forth in what felt like an extremely inappropriate slow dance. Kelly didn't seem to notice, and he rubbed his hands against Patrick's back, pulled away just in time to get his hands around Patrick's head.
Once again, Patrick remained still as could be, some primal instinct insisting his head was about to be ripped right clear from his shoulders. No worries, though. Kelly merely grinned, pressed his forehead against Patrick's, and let out a rapid, breathless rasp.
"Look at you, Patrick," Kelly whispered.
Kelly stepped back once more, gave Patrick yet another once over. "Look at you! Look at you, you . . . look . . . aces!"
Patrick was trying to figure out which one of them was still dreaming when Kelly began to laugh. Slow and uncertain, as though trying it out for the first time. Truth be told, it was the first time Patrick had heard this particular sound coming from Kelly. It was pure, giddy, and, under different circumstances, it might have been contagious.
Time being, Patrick remained unable to even speak as Kelly brushed past him.
The laughter continued, rising and falling on the back of invisible waves, as Kelly reached out to touch the hallway walls. Fingertips exploring with light strokes, as though checking for wet paint, Kelly made his way to the stairs, where he broke into a sudden trot. Down, down, down he went, thunderous footfalls rattling the house.
Patrick watched this mad dash, finally finding his voice: "You want anything, Kelly . . . ? I could . . . cook up some eggs, I guess."
We've already done that, Patrick's angels reminded him.
Patrick took the stairs two at a time, leaped past the last five.
He ran into the kitchen.
Glanced left, then right; caught sight of Kelly's ass disappearing through the doorway to the den.
When Patrick caught up with him, Kelly was walking around the extensive, L-shaped couch, fingers stroking the brown leather, bare feet brushing along the gray carpet. Patrick watched from the doorway, debating whether to descend those four steps into the den. Kelly glided alongside the large glass table stationed between the couch and the flatscreen TV. He didn't bend down, didn't try touching this time; just moved his hands far above the transparent surface, as though preparing for the final act of a magic trick.
He paused. Cocked his head to the side, listening . . .