Naked Without a Hatby Jeanne Willis
Life isn't going so well for 19-year-old Will. His mother is always nagging him about the lucky knit hat that he never takes off; his mother's boyfriend has forbidden Will to play "Wild Thing"—the only song he knows—on the guitar; and he just got fired from his job at Burger King. But Will's luck changes when he moves into a flat with Chrissy, James, and Rocko and gets a new job at the local park.
At the park Will meets Zara, a gypsy girl whose family is camping there illegally. Will has never been happier. Until his mother threatens to ruin everything by revealing Will's childhood secret. Is Will and Zara's love for each other strong enough to survive?
Heidi Hauser Green
- Random House Children's Books
- Publication date:
- Product dimensions:
- 5.24(w) x 7.88(h) x 0.85(d)
- Age Range:
- 13 - 17 Years
Read an Excerpt
I left home mostly because I don't like Ray. I called him a liar and a riot pig. I didn't mind him being in the police so much, but he worked nights, you know? He slept in the day so I couldn't play my guitar. I could play it anytime before he came along. Anytime, day or night. All afternoon if I felt like it and sometimes I did. It kept me from thinking.
Now I couldn't play when I wanted and I wished to hell Ray wasn't my mother's lover. I told her that, but she didn't want to hear it one little bit. She just couldn't take it. She said she wanted us to be a happy family--Ray likes you, Will. He really does. No, really. How dare I call him a pig and a liar? She just stood there waiting for me to say sorry.
I apologized for saying pig, but either he was lying or she was. I hoped it was him because say it wasn't? If my own mother was lying to me, how could I ever trust anybody? She always said I played a mean guitar. Those were her exact words. I took it to mean she thought I was good. I wanted to believe that but maybe it was just another lie.
I taught myself mostly when we were living in Denver. I had an acoustic given to me by a Spanish guy, name of Pablo. A real old guy he was--skin so black and flaky he looked like he been smoked. He used to work the bars, and one time he saw me sitting lazy on a low wall and he sat down right next to me and asked what I was thinking. "What you thinking, boy?" and I told him I'm tired of thinking.
"Don't think. Just listen," he said, and he shut his eyes like he was sleeping and played his guitar until my head filled with birds rising and the wind blowing the corn and I thought I would burst with the beauty of it. After, hetook his guitar and put it in my lap. It fitted just right, like I was born with it there. I held it in my arms. Touched it. Stroked it. It felt like a living thing and I didn't want to put it down.
"You have her," Pablo said. He had a deep laugh mixed with a cough. "Have my old lady. She's tired of old men's fingers."
And that's how I got to keep his guitar. He came by on and off and showed me tricks. All different sorts of music--classical and rock. No one ever knew he came around except me.
The wall where we played was out of the way. I used to wait for him there on warm evenings. He wouldn't turn up if it was too cold for shirtsleeves. He told me that. He told me a lot of stuff. I don't know how, because he never spoke much. He didn't seem to need many words.
One day he just stopped coming. I don't know why. Died of drink maybe. Fell off a wall maybe. I missed him pretty bad, but the way to stop missing him was to play his old guitar. I played and played until I got it to sound just like him and as long as I kept playing, it felt like he'd never gone.
One afternoon my mother came in from working on some campaign and caught me sitting on the swing seat in the yard. Rumpuss was under the swing chair licking his belly fur in the shade and I was playing "Wild Thing." I played it straight off--no fluffs. It sounded good but I never knew she was listening until I heard clapping. I turned round and there she was. Well, my mother couldn't believe what she'd heard and she said I played a mean guitar. Afterward she was always wanting me to play for people.
I played for Ray. The first time he heard "Wild Thing" he said how good it was. He said it sounded just like the real thing but by the end of the week he'd gone off it big time. He shouted at me down the stairs--if I played that fucking song once more--just once more--he'd take my guitar and shove it up my ass.
I got to thinking he'd lied about me being any good from the start and that's what finally made me want to leave. My mother came to my room after all the shouting and said she didn't want me to go--I didn't have to go--I was her baby, but then she stopped crying and said maybe I'd be happier doing my own thing and she'd help me find a place--just as long as I promised not to tell anyone about my secret.
"What secret is that, Mother?"
I always said that--like I'd forgotten. It was the only way to make her shut up. I wish I could forget and carry on as normal, only every time she told me not to mention it, she reminded me all over again, which was stupid. I told her that while we were packing.
"Stupid? That's funny coming from you," she said. Why was I always picking on her after all she'd done for me? Why didn't I just leave her alone, for chrissake? She'd be glad when I was gone. I was happy to go. I'd had enough by then. I wanted her off my back.
"Don't worry, I'm going," I said. "I wish you'd died instead of Sweet Caroline."
"You know what, Will? So do I."
Even so, she gave me a lift in the car. I wasn't too sure which bus to catch. It was spitting outside and it was too far to walk. When I said goodbye, I told her there were raindrops on the inside of her glasses. She said yes, that's what they were and to ring if I needed anything. Then she said, "Look, I know you think I'm going on and on but please don't tell anyone. Not even friends. For your own sake? And do you have to wear that hat? Take it off."
I liked that hat. It was a part of me. I didn't see how my hat was any of her business. I was so glad to be leaving home, you know? I'd rather be in my own place doing things wrong than staying at home being told how to do them right.
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This book was amazing beyond one's imagination. The way he writes, you see yourself there on the carousel, you feel the happiness when Avery see's Zara. You'll find yourself yelling,crying,laughing,and swooning for all the witty remarks and intmate moments they share.