Excerpt of Family and Other Accidents by Shari Goldhagen
(Page 3 of 4)
Printer Friendly Excerpt
"Get out." Jack bends down so they're eye level. "You're done
"It wasn't my fault."
"You decided we were in England." Jack drums long fingers on the
car frame. "How is that not your fault?"
"You were making me nervous."
"Yeah, well, it makes me nervous when you drive into other cars.
You're going to give me a fucking coronary." Their father's
heart hadn't outlasted his fifties. Instead of exercising or
eating vegetables, Jack makes lots of slightly off comments
about having heart attacks. "Come on. If I have to take you out
of the car, we're both going to feel really stupid."
Connor doesn't move, and Jack reaches in and unhooks the seat
belt. Putting one hand on Connor's shoulder, Jack slides the
other under the bend in his brother's knees. Maybe half an inch
taller, Jack outweighs Connor by twenty-five pounds, could
probably pick him up without much effort.
"Fine, I'm moving." Connor smacks Jack's hands away, climbs over
the console into the passenger side, feet tangling with the gear
shift and the cup holder.
Jack sighs, gets in, starts driving.
Cleveland rolls past, brown and crunchy in early November.
Springsteen's Born to Run album is in the cassette deck,
so low it's barely audible. As "Thunder Road" starts its whiny
harmonica intro, Connor fiddles with the volume knob. But it's
hard to adjust it blindly and he doesn't want to chance looking
at his brother. So he stares out the window, tapping his fingers
on the cold, cold glass in time with the music.
"Are you mad at me?" Jack asks.
"No," Connor tells the window.
A two-mile silence.
"Look, I don't think we can do this without killing each other,"
Jack says, turning onto their -cul--de--sac. "Call the driving
school you went to last year. Just give them a check."
It's the same kind of thing his parents did before they
died--his father when Connor was ten; his mother of an aneurysm
while showing a house in Shaker Heights two years ago. When
Connor was born, his parents had been old enough to be his
grandparents; there'd been lots of things they paid other people
to do for their youngest son.
"I can't just go to the driving school," he says. "You're going
to need to sign something."
"Have them fax me whatever I need to sign," Jack says. "Do you
need a ride anywhere? I told the reporter I'd meet her at nine."
Waiting for the garage door to roll open, Connor can see into
his bedroom window, where the shades are open, lights left on.
Over his desk hangs the framed black-and-white poster of John
Kennedy, hand under his chin, looking pensive and presidential.
"Jenny can pick me up," Connor says, out the door and in the
house before Jack even puts the car in park.
One hundred and ninety-two hours before Jenny Greenspan's pills
start working, Connor's head is between her thighs in a pile of
dead leaves in Lakefront Park.
"Higher, higher." Jenny is on her back, jeans and panties
bunched around hiking boots at her ankles.
He and Jenny have been going down on each other every weekend
for the past four months, but he still has no idea what she's
asking for, what he's supposed to be doing. His friends offered
bad metaphorical advice-like your tongue is a fine-point pen;
not like you're trying to wallpaper a house. None of them warned
it would taste very, very bad or that her pubic hairs would get
caught in his throat. Jenny's orgasm-a series of uninspired "oh
Gods"-seems largely faked, far too similar to that scene in When
Harry Met Sally.
Excerpted from Family and Other Accidents by Shari
Goldhagen Copyright © 2006 by Shari Goldhagen. Excerpted by
permission of Doubleday, a division of Random House, Inc.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be
reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from