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Here are some photos of my grandparents, to whom Brendan Buckley's Universe is dedicated:

Me with my grandparents, 2005
Me with my grandparents in 2005

My two grandpas
My two grandpas in 1973

Me with my grandma
Me with my "Gladys"

Brendan Buckley's Universe  |  Excerpt from Chapter One  |  Behind the Story  |  Order the Book

Brendan Buckley's Universe and Everything in It
Cover Art by Robert Papp
Brendan Buckley's Universe: Gladys and the Results of the Bladder Experiment

CHAPTER NINE

By the time I got home, Dad's car was in the driveway. The lawnmower roared to life in the backyard.

My arm had stopped stinging, but the rest of me was still burning up over how those boys had bullied us. Worse, Ed's pick was busted. I had found the pointy end and wrapped it with the tools. Question was now, how would I fix it?

I leaned my bike against the garage wall. As I neared the recycling bin I remembered the two-liters Khalfani and I had filled for our experiment. I looked behind the bin. Only mine was there. The Mountain Dew was gone!

I burst through the door and bounded upstairs. I shot into the kitchen. Gladys held the green two-liter above a tall glass. The yellow liquid poured over the ice, making it crackle. I sucked in my breath. Would she notice?

"Don't worry," she said. "Your mother's gone on a closet-cleaning binge. Dinner's not on for at least another hour."

I stared at the drink in her hand.

She raised the glass. "This batch got a funny color," she said. "Not as green-looking as usual." She shrugged and moved the glass toward her open mouth. Her nose twitched. "Funny odor, too," she mumbled.

"Wait!" I yelled.

She lowered the drink with a "you better have something good to say" look on her face.

"What are you doing here?" I asked. "I mean, on a Tuesday."

Her eyebrows lifted. "There some new law I don't know about?"

"No, it's just..."

"I didn't think so. I come and go when I want."

"You can't drink that," I said, eyeing the yellowish fluid. It must still have been pretty warm. The ice cubes were almost melted.

She lowered her chin and looked at me over the rims of her pointy glasses like, "Are you telling me what to do?" She would drink it for sure now.

I grabbed the glass from her hand and picked up the bottle. But now what? What was I supposed to do with a liter of pee?

The bathroom.

Gladys followed me down the hall. "Where do you think you're going? I know it's that nasty diet, but I've decided it's better than nothing."

I poured it all into the toilet and flushed.

"What in the world?"

"Nothing less than the real deal, remember?" I left her standing there with her hands on her scrawny hips.

I went straight to the garage, grabbed the other bottle and flushed its contents down the basement toilet. That was one experiment I wouldn't be repeating.




My editor thought that it might be better to let the humor of the bladder experiment stand on its own – that it wasn't necessary to take it further by having Gladys almost drink the "Mountain Dew." At first, I couldn't believe she wanted me to take it out. Wouldn't kids think it was hilarious? But I tried her suggestion (what would we do without our computers' "cut and paste" functions?), read the chapter without the scene, and realized that it completely interrupted the flow of events. (What would we do without editors?)

The moral of this story behind the story: Don't sacrifice the strength of your story for a few clever paragraphs. (You can always post the clever paragraphs on your website.)

What do you think? Is Chapter Nine better without the "Mountain Dew Mishap"? Read the book then Write Me and let me know!



Brendan Buckley's Universe  |  Excerpt from Chapter One  |  Behind the Story  |  Order the Book