Junior
by
John Boilard

Coming July 2024!
 
Binding

ISBN 978-1-60489-369-4

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Junior Beauchamp has a good shot at art school if he can just stay out of prison. All heís got to do is keep his nose clean for the summer. When his mother disappears on a drug-fueled bender, Junior shacks up with a gun-toting hermit called Bluepriest who teaches him and his kid brother a thing or two about living off the grid. Then the situation goes from bad to worse when a skeleton from their past threatens to destroy his future. Junior reveals a Massachusetts few have seen. Forget the Kennedys and their idyllic Camelot glistening by the sea to the eastóthis is a backwoods dystopia hidden in the rural western hills like a dark and dirty family secret. 

 

About the Author:

Jon Boilard was born and raised in small towns in Western Massachusetts. Today he lives and writes in Northern California. His debut short story collection, SETTRIGHT ROAD (Dzanc Books/2017), was preceded by two novels, THE CASTAWAY LOUNGE (Dzanc Books/2015) and A RIVER CLOSELY WATCHED (MacAdam Cage/2013), which was a finalist for the Northern California Book Award the following year. Jonís award-winning short stories have appeared in some of the finest literary journals in the United States, Canada, Europe and Asia. He has participated in the Cork International Short Story Festival in Cork, Ireland, the Wroclaw Short Story Festival in Wroclaw, Poland, and LitQuake in San Francisco, California.


Excerpt from Book:



Midmorning and raining outside and the children have just finished their snack. The clear-eyed sons and daughters of farmers and mill workers. Mrs. Padykula instructs them to return to their desks. She claps her hands three times, and her students settle down for the most part.

I want to get your minds ready for the day with a simple art assignment, she says.

Some of the children groan, especially the boys.

Take out a single sheet of paper and a pencil and draw, she says with a fast snap of her fingers to regain their attention. You have fifteen minutes. Go.

Nobody bothers to ask, Draw what. They all know the answer. Take whatís in your mind and spill it on the page. Mrs. Padykula provides the same exact guidance for writing assignments, also to the bafflement of her third-grade students, as well as their parents.

Lily Baskin looks out the window for inspiration. William Contois balances his number two pencil on his upper lip to get a laugh. A few kids whisper. Junior Beauchamp, though, puts his head down and his arms in a semi-circle around his piece of paper like to guard it. Furiously is the word the teacher uses to describe the way he was approaching the assignment later to the cop.

Hereís a boy that usually sleeps through class, she says. His home life leaves a lot to be desired. Heís on the free food program here you know.
All right, the cop says, already bored with the family history. So, you approached the perpetrator.

Heís just a child.


And you approached him.

Well, yes, all eyes were on him, and he was completely oblivious to the rest of us in the room. But not in the usual way. I walked over to his desk to have a look.

And what did you see.

I mean, it was lovely, and I told him so. He had captured the scene so perfectly; it was a garden. I had no idea he had this ability. Nobody did. And I was trying to encourage him.

Is that when he stabbed the Contois boy, the cop says.

William said something first, I wonít repeat it, and when I asked him to sit back down and mind his manners, Junior, well, he got up and he did what he did.

The cop checks his notes. According to one eyewitness, he says, William called Junior a fucking food stamp faggot and then Junior stuck his pencil into Williamís thigh.

These arenít perpetrators and eyewitnesses; they are just children.

All right. And then this child who had a moment ago buried his writing utensil into another childís leg all the way up to the goddamn eraser, excuse my French, this budding young artist as you describe him, he jumped out the window and run off.

Well, yes, that about sums it up. Mrs. Padykula looks out the window.

And where did he go exactly, the cop says, losing his patience again.

He lives just on the other side of those train tracks, she says. So, I imagine he went home.