Yay! Charlie yells, and runs over to hug Erics legs.
We all look at my mom. Um, wow, honey! she says. I had no idea! She makes an apologetic face at us, but she knows very well there is no amount of money that is going to make us be OK with this plan. Thats why its a surprise! my dad says. Hes beaming, as if this is the best idea he has ever had. OK, OK. Lets get set up. He puts his hands on my shoulders and walks me backward so Im standing under the huge sign in front of the restaurant. You look terrific, sweetheart! he says in my ear. His stale coffee breath is particularly pungent.
Holden? You next. Right here beside Ferny.
I want Ferny! Charlie whines. He grabs hold of my legs so tightly, I almost fall over.
Watch it! I yell. And dont call me Ferny! I hate that name.
Daddy said it first!
Youre not Dad!
Stop it, Fern, my mom says. Hes paying you a compliment. Any time Charlie bugs me and I complain about it, my mom tells me I should be flattered. Flattered because hes the only one in this family who ever pays any attention to me? I dont think she gets how insulting that is.
My dad continues to line us up so that finally Sara, Holden, and I are squeezed in between my mom and dad. My dad picks up Charlie and perches him on his shoulder.
Im not doing this, Sara says, stepping out of line. Now, look, honey, my dad says. Im paying these people a lot of money. And with any luck, well get it back tenfold when the business starts booming.
I dont want business to boom. Thats just more work for me.
More money for you, sweetheart, my dad says through gritted teeth. You want your own car to take with you to college next year?
My sister perks right up. Seriously?
My dad nods. Now try to look happy.
Sara gets back in line, and we all plaster on our happy faces.
Just try to act normal, Eric says, fiddling with the camera lens.
Thatll be a first, Holden mumbles.
Thats us, one big normal family, I whisper back.
Hush, you two, my mom hisses.
Harry, you ready?
We all look at my dad. His name is George.
Ready when you are! my dad says.
Eric holds up his hand and counts silently on his fingers. Five, four, three, two, one, then points to my dad.
WELCOME TO HARRYS! my dad booms. Holdens sweaty arm rubs against mine. My mom is stiff behind me. I hope the camera is zoomed in on my dad because I think I cringed when he started talking. I try to smile as he lists off the most popular flavors of ice cream we sell.
. . . and our most popular, Dinosaur Crunch!
I hear Charlie chomp like a dinosaur. My dad laughs way too loud, then clears his throat. IF YOU HAVENT BEEN TO HARRYS, YOU HAVENT BEEN TO HEAVEN! he yells.
Sky motions for all of us to wave. Charlie flaps his arm frantically and shouts, See you at Hawees! in his worst baby voice yet.
I think my ears are bleeding.
Aaaaand cut, Eric says.
My dad tosses Charlie in the air. Great line, buddy! he yells. Should we do another take, Eric? Im not sure how that came out.
Nah, Harry. It was perfect. Well cut anything that doesnt look quite right and pan in on some scenes Ill take inside. Id like to film some customers eating cones, sundaes stuff like that.
Excerpted from See You at Harry's by Jo Knowles. Copyright © 2012 by Jo Knowles. Excerpted by permission of Candlewick Press. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Blood at the Root
"A gripping, timely, and important examination of American racism."
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