Monday, January 31, 2011

Dignity Takes a Holiday excerpt by Rick R Reed

In the twisted romantic comedy Dignity Takes a Holiday by Rick R Reed, Pete Thickwhistle doesn’t live what one might call a charmed life. At age forty-seven, he’s a flamboyant gay man who believes no one knows he’s gay, still living at home with his harpy of a mother. Worse, he’s still a virgin, longing to find just the right man to make his life complete. Pete’s an upbeat kind of guy, yet he’s never learned that the answer to his motto “What could possibly go wrong?” is always: “Everything.”

Pete’s road to love and happiness is full of potholes, yet he never tires of searching, despite job losses, weight battles, clothing faux pas, and disastrous vacations, parties, and dating debacles. Pete is the ultimate underdog living a television situation comedy, one named Dignity Takes a Holiday.

Dignity Takes a Holiday
Dreamspinner Press (January 19, 2011)
ISBN-10: 1615817212
ISBN-13: 978-1615817214

(Just remember if you read to the end of this excerpt: appearances are not always what they seem...)

The disagreement started over something simple.

Helen placed the package of generic toilet paper in the shopping cart and went to get some Kleenex.

“Wait a minute, Mother!”

Helen stopped.

“What is this?”

“It's toilet paper, you idiot. You mean you're 47 years old and you still aren't on a friendly basis with TP? Good Lord, no wonder no one wants to go near you.”

A man and his wife, also in the aisle, snickered.

“Oh you're a real scream, Mother.”

The couple moved on.

“I meant why generic? You know I always like Charmin.”

“It's a lot cheaper, Pete. And you know we need to watch our pennies.”

“Look, when it comes to basic comfort, we can afford a little extra.”

“I don't mind the generic a bit.”

“Well, I do.”

“Yeah...I guess you have a lot more to comfort.”

“Mother, you know I just lost five pounds.”

“Spit in the ocean, Pete. Spit in the ocean.”

“Damn you!” Pete returned the generic toilet paper to the shelf and took down some Charmin. “Squeezably soft!” he giggled, delighted.

“Honest to God, I've never seen anyone so excited over something to wipe your ass with.”

“You're crude. Let me remind you: we're in a public place.”

Helen switched the toilet paper again. “Really. If we cut back on some of the extras, we can save a lot of money.”

Pete sighed. “Oh, let me have my nice toilet paper,” Pete begged, switching the toilet paper once more.

“You've got your ice cream.”

“You're perfectly welcome to stick a scoop up your ass, but I can't eat the Charmin.”

A woman with two little children hurried away from them.

“Mother! You're embarrassing us both. Now cut the filth in the store.”

“As soon as you put that damn, over–priced, ass–wipin' paper back on the shelf.”


“Put it back, you old fruitcake.”

“Mother! That isn't very nice.”

“No, what isn't very nice is that you've had about two dates in 47 years.”

Pete stepped back, reeling as if he’d been dealt a physical blow. Through blurred eyes, he saw a crowd had formed.

“Going to put it back?” Helen's face was set.

“I’d sooner die.”

“Then I will.” Helen reached for the Charmin.

Pete slapped her hand as hard as he could. “Don't you even think about it.”

Helen's mouth became set in a line. She slapped Pete a good one on the ear. Pete heard bells.

“Gimme that toilet paper!” Helen barked, lunging for it.

“No!” Pete grabbed the paper with one hand and with the other, slapped Helen's face.

Helen kicked her son in the shin. “Now let's cut this nonsense out right now! The next time, I'll aim higher. Hand it over!” Helen grabbed for the toilet paper, but Pete wasn't letting go.

The mother and son pulled on the plastic four–pack: a grim tug–of–war. Helen muttered, “Pansy!” while Pete came back with: “Hellion,” “Scoundrel” and “Rascal.”

Helen reached up and dug her nails into Pete's cheek, clawing four bright red lines in her son's face.

Pete gasped, but quickly threw the toilet paper back in the cart. With lightning speed, he pulled a ten-pound bag of kitty litter over the toilet paper. “There!” he shouted, triumphant. He touched his cheek and his hand came away bloody. Pete gasped. “Why you!” Pete grabbed a hunk of Helen's hair and used it to bring her head down sharply on the edge of the shopping cart.

Helen stood, reeling backward. Pete watched her eyes as she tried to focus and felt a twinge of remorse.

Once Helen had her composure, she said, “Well! A fine way to treat the only person in this whole world who loves you.”

Pete sobbed. “That's not true.”

“It is! It is! Name someone else who gives a frig if you live or die.”

Pete thought for a while. “It's coming to me.”

“No, it isn't. Nothing's coming to you but more weight and wrinkles.”

“Why, you old, mean, selfish, dried–up bitch!” Pete no longer cared about the people who had gathered to watch the fight. Mother had gone too far this time.

“You show a little respect, Tootsie. I'll knock your teeth down your throat.”

“Show a little respect for what? A senile old hag who does nothing but make my life a living hell?”

“Oh, if it wasn't for me, you'd have committed suicide long ago. No one else wants you.”

“If it wasn't for you, I'd probably have someone by my side, someone to share my life with—”

“Don't kid yourself.”

“—And have a nice house and a couple kids. You've ruined my life.”

“Well, I can just get the hell out of your life...then we'll see how you like it. I've got lots of places to go.”

“Nothing would make me happier,” Pete cried, sobbing. “Nothing.”

“I'll go home right now and start packing.”

“Good. I hope you're out by the time I get home.

“Oh, I will be.”

“Great. Just dandy. I hope I never see you again.”

“Ditto.” Helen walked from the store. Pete picked up the package of generic toilet paper and flung it at Helen. It missed her and knocked over a display of Campbell's soup cans. Pete whispered, “Shee–it.”


When Pete arrived home from the supermarket, he had cooled down. As he mounted the stairs, laden down with three bags full of groceries, he giggled and shook his head ruefully as he thought of the scene they had made.

As Pete fitted his key in the lock, he noticed there was no TV or radio going. It was then he began to worry.

The apartment was dark and quiet. Well, I guess she went ahead and did it. Pete took slow steps to his mother's bedroom, expecting to find it empty.

Mother lay face down in a pool of blood near the door. A Butcher knife stood up out of her back, pointing at Pete, almost accusing.

Pete closed the door quickly. He then reopened it, hoping for a different outcome.

But Mother still lay in the pool of blood.

“Good Lord.” Pete knelt. Helen's blood felt lukewarm, sticky on his knees. Pete was afraid he was going to vomit and rushed into the bathroom, where he splashed cold water on his face. He was too shocked to scream or cry.
Back in the living room, Pete picked up the telephone receiver. “Operator, could you please get me the police? I'd like to report a murder.”

Dignity Takes a Holiday:

To purchase, click here

1 comment:

Victor J. Banis said...

Another winner from Rick - rack 'em up, big guy!