Excerpts for Finding Stinko


Finding Stinko


By Michael de Guzman

Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)

Copyright © 2007 Michael de Guzman
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780374323059

Finding Stinko
Three years later ...
1 / Hard Knox
The military nature of the foster establishment run by Mr. and Mrs. Knox was a big problem for Newboy. Mrs. Knox wrote a daily schedule. Mr. Knox posted it on the corkboard by the doorless doorways to the two rooms where the boys slept, three to a room. The schedule told them where to be and when to be there and what they were supposed to do.
Wake-up was at 5:30, 6:30 on weekends. Breakfast was a half hour later. That lasted twenty minutes. Cleanup lasted ten. They had half an hour to make their beds and clean their rooms. There was another half hour of general chores. At 7:30 on weekdays, Mr. Knox drove them to school in the green van. At 3:30 he picked them up. They were monitored closely by teachers in between. At 4:00 the boys resumed their household chores. Dinner was at 6:00. Cleanup and homework followed. Bedtime was at 9:30. Weekend nights they were allowed an hour of television if they'd all been good.
Newboy's big problem was alone time. There wasn't any. The boys were supervised by one of the Knoxes, or they supervised each other by working in pairs. If one of them broke a rule or misbehaved or didn't do the job the way it was supposed to be done, both boys were punished. Punishment was swift and severe. Mrs. Knox decided what it would be. Mr. Knox administered the prescribed dosage. The other boys lived in constant fear. If one of them saw Newboy attempting to escape, he'd sound the alarm in an instant.
Newboy had spent weeks figuring the best way out. He'd run each possible scenario through his mind's eye, watching himself test each exit and fail, abandoning each until in the end he came to a single conclusion. He'd have one chance. He'd woken up knowing that this was the day he'd take it.
Sitting in the backseat of the green van after school, Newboy reviewed his plan. He took himself through it step by step. He pictured every obstacle and the action he'd have to take to get past it.
"How was school today, boys?" Mr. Knox asked. He asked them every day. He was a deliberate man with a fixed mind, a slow mover, a reptile on a cold day.
"Good," one of them said. It was as much of an answer as they'd give. In the system, a boy learned not to volunteer information. Never use two words when one would do.
Newboy couldn't have answered if he'd wanted to,which he didn't. His voice was still missing. "I did nothing in school today," he said inside his head. "Like always." They'd put him in a class for the kids with special needs.
"School's important, boys," Mr. Knox said.
"Here it comes," Newboy said inside his head.
"You don't stand a chance without a good education," Mr. Knox said.
"Which you'll never get," Newboy said inside his head, mimicking Mr. Knox's high-pitched whine to perfection.
"Which you'll never get," Mr. Knox said. He snickered.
The Knoxes made a business of their boys. For each foster kid in their care, they received a monthly check from the state to reimburse them for room, board, clothes, and living expenses. It was no secret to the boys that much of that money was added to what Mr. Knox made from his part-time job, and that the Knoxes worked tirelessly to hide the fact and to present the authorities with a rosy picture. On their occasional visits, state inspectors were treated like royalty, with both the boys and the house scrubbed and polished. Which was why the Knoxes were permitted to look after such a large number of wards.
Mrs. Knox handled the paperwork. Tonight it was a form with Newboy's name on it. Before dinner she sat Newboy down at the oversize kitchen table,which looked like it belonged in a school cafeteria.
"The state wants a progress report," she said, making it sound like it was his fault. "Well, we know how to take care of the state, don't we?" She was roly-poly, with a kindly face.
"Tell them I'm gone," Newboy said inside his head. "Tell them to forget me."
"You're still not talking, I take it?" she said. She always made it sound like he was faking.
"I wouldn't talk to you if I could," Newboy said inside his head.
"I've got you until you're eighteen," Mrs. Knox said. "That's six more years. You'll be talking before that. You'll be doing lots of things you're not doing now." She filled in a section of the form.
She'd tell the state that he was making progress. He knew that. He knew she'd tell them he was happy. She'd. make it up, then read it to him so he could feel worse about the truth of his circumstances. She took obvious pleasure in this.
Dinner was macaroni and cheese. Newboy did his homework and showed it to Mr. Knox, as each boy had to do. Newboy suspected that Mr. Knox couldn't read very well because it took him such a long time to get through a page, no matter what was on it. Mr. Knox always said the homework wasn't up to snuff, no matter how good it was.
After that, Newboy read his much-used copy of RobinsonCrusoe until lights-out. He'd brought it with him from the last place. It was a pocket-sized hardcover edition, printed in London in 1923. Newboy often marveled that such an old thing could have survived all these years and made its way to him.
Copyright © 2007 by Michael de Guzman


Continues...

Excerpted from Finding Stinko by Michael de Guzman Copyright © 2007 by Michael de Guzman. Excerpted by permission.
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.

Finding Stinko
Three years later ...
1 / Hard Knox
The military nature of the foster establishment run by Mr. and Mrs. Knox was a big problem for Newboy. Mrs. Knox wrote a daily schedule. Mr. Knox posted it on the corkboard by the doorless doorways to the two rooms where the boys slept, three to a room. The schedule told them where to be and when to be there and what they were supposed to do.
Wake-up was at 5:30, 6:30 on weekends. Breakfast was a half hour later. That lasted twenty minutes. Cleanup lasted ten. They had half an hour to make their beds and clean their rooms. There was another half hour of general chores. At 7:30 on weekdays, Mr. Knox drove them to school in the green van. At 3:30 he picked them up. They were monitored closely by teachers in between. At 4:00 the boys resumed their household chores. Dinner was at 6:00. Cleanup and homework followed. Bedtime was at 9:30. Weekend nights they were allowed an hour of television if they'd all been good.
Newboy's big problem was alone time. There wasn't any. The boys were supervised by one of the Knoxes, or they supervised each other by working in pairs. If one of them broke a rule or misbehaved or didn't do the job the way it was supposed to be done, both boys were punished. Punishment was swift and severe. Mrs. Knox decided what it would be. Mr. Knox administered the prescribed dosage. The other boys lived in constant fear. If one of them saw Newboy attempting to escape, he'd sound the alarm in an instant.
Newboy had spent weeks figuring the best way out. He'd run each possible scenario through his mind's eye, watching himself test each exit and fail, abandoning each until in the end he came to a single conclusion. He'd have one chance. He'd woken up knowing that this was the day he'd take it.
Sitting in the backseat of the green van after school, Newboy reviewed his plan. He took himself through it step by step. He pictured every obstacle and the action he'd have to take to get past it.
"How was school today, boys?" Mr. Knox asked. He asked them every day. He was a deliberate man with a fixed mind, a slow mover, a reptile on a cold day.
"Good," one of them said. It was as much of an answer as they'd give. In the system, a boy learned not to volunteer information. Never use two words when one would do.
Newboy couldn't have answered if he'd wanted to,which he didn't. His voice was still missing. "I did nothing in school today," he said inside his head. "Like always." They'd put him in a class for the kids with special needs.
"School's important, boys," Mr. Knox said.
"Here it comes," Newboy said inside his head.
"You don't stand a chance without a good education," Mr. Knox said.
"Which you'll never get," Newboy said inside his head, mimicking Mr. Knox's high-pitched whine to perfection.
"Which you'll never get," Mr. Knox said. He snickered.
The Knoxes made a business of their boys. For each foster kid in their care, they received a monthly check from the state to reimburse them for room, board, clothes, and living expenses. It was no secret to the boys that much of that money was added to what Mr. Knox made from his part-time job, and that the Knoxes worked tirelessly to hide the fact and to present the authorities with a rosy picture. On their occasional visits, state inspectors were treated like royalty, with both the boys and the house scrubbed and polished. Which was why the Knoxes were permitted to look after such a large number of wards.
Mrs. Knox handled the paperwork. Tonight it was a form with Newboy's name on it. Before dinner she sat Newboy down at the oversize kitchen table,which looked like it belonged in a school cafeteria.
"The state wants a progress report," she said, making it sound like it was his fault. "Well, we know how to take care of the state, don't we?" She was roly-poly, with a kindly face.
"Tell them I'm gone," Newboy said inside his head. "Tell them to forget me."
"You're still not talking, I take it?" she said. She always made it sound like he was faking.
"I wouldn't talk to you if I could," Newboy said inside his head.
"I've got you until you're eighteen," Mrs. Knox said. "That's six more years. You'll be talking before that. You'll be doing lots of things you're not doing now." She filled in a section of the form.
She'd tell the state that he was making progress. He knew that. He knew she'd tell them he was happy. She'd. make it up, then read it to him so he could feel worse about the truth of his circumstances. She took obvious pleasure in this.
Dinner was macaroni and cheese. Newboy did his homework and showed it to Mr. Knox, as each boy had to do. Newboy suspected that Mr. Knox couldn't read very well because it took him such a long time to get through a page, no matter what was on it. Mr. Knox always said the homework wasn't up to snuff, no matter how good it was.
After that, Newboy read his much-used copy of RobinsonCrusoe until lights-out. He'd brought it with him from the last place. It was a pocket-sized hardcover edition, printed in London in 1923. Newboy often marveled that such an old thing could have survived all these years and made its way to him.
Copyright © 2007 by Michael de Guzman


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