Excerpt from Edgar and Lucy by Victor Lodato, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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Edgar and Lucy

by Victor Lodato

Edgar and Lucy by Victor Lodato X
Edgar and Lucy by Victor Lodato
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  • First Published:
    Mar 2017, 544 pages
    Paperback:
    Feb 2018, 544 pages

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1

Chanel Nº 5

 

Having a life meant having a story. Even at eight, Edgar knew this.

What he didn't know was his own beginning. Newborn brains were mushy. If you wanted to know how your life had started, you had to get this information from other people.

But what if these people were liars?

"I kept falling asleep," said Lucy. She was speaking of Edgar's birth. The boy liked this particular story, and so he made sure to roll his head in feigned boredom. "Even with all the pain, I was, like—" Lucy opened her mouth and made a stupendous snore sound worthy of a cartoon character. "It was nearly three in the morning when you decided to show your face."

She tossed back her hair and turned to the mirror. "And you didn't make a fuss, either. Doctor said he'd never seen a kid care less about being born. Slip, slap, and back to sleep."

"And then they put me in the box, right? In the glass box?"

"Yup. Because you were so small. And you didn't wake up for a week."

Edgar didn't remember any of it.

"Size of a dinner roll," Lucy said with a slight shudder. "And so white, I thought you were a friggin' ghost."

The boy looked up as his mother swiped a pink stick the color of cake frosting across her lips.

"Are you going out, Ma?"

"Yes, I am," she said. "Yes, I am."

She had a habit of answering certain questions twice. The first time, full voice, part of normal conversation; the second time, a more private matter, as if she were gauging the truth or untruth of what she'd said. She repeated words to see if she could believe them. The second round lacked conviction. To Edgar, the echo always seemed tainted by sadness.

None of this mattered to him, though. He liked to listen to her, even though he knew she was slippery. He knew the story of his sleepy birth was nothing more than a ploy to soften him toward bed. Edgar didn't hold it against her. Her tricks were the tricks of a child. Transparent. If she lied, so what? At least she wasn't boring. From her mouth shot forbidden words with a marksman's precision. And she had red hair—and, as far as Edgar was concerned, there wasn't another person on the whole of Earth who had red hair. No one, anyway, who could lay claim to what his mother possessed.

Plus, she had the most delicious voice. Like the lady on the peanut butter commercial, Edgar thought. You could actually hear the peanuts in her voice. You could practically taste them. Watching his mother fuss with her makeup, Edgar wanted to bark like a dog. He'd done it before, he was good at it. Sometimes it made her laugh, if she was in the right mood.

But she wasn't in the right mood. Edgar could tell. It wasn't just the candied lips (the unabashed color highlighting his mother's natural pout), it was the dress as well—so tight it made her breathless, like his grandmother when she climbed the stairs. His mother was nervous. And now she was putting on the shoes that sank hopelessly into lawns, if she wore them to picnics—which she did sometimes, to the old woman's chagrin. The shoes were red, shiny as plastic apples. Dorothy's shoes, Edgar thought. The good witch! The bark erupted, beyond his control.

"Stop that," Lucy said. "You wanna wake up you-know-who?"

"No," said Edgar. But then he did it again, this time adding a growl.

Even as Lucy glared at him, the boy could detect the smile held in check.

"You shouldn't even be up," she said. "But since you're here." She did a little turn in front of him. "How do I look?"

Bark.

Lucy smiled now without reservation, and then grazed the boy's cheek with her sticky mouth. "And I don't want you snooping around when Mr. S gets here. You hear me?"

They were always initials, the men. In respect for his father, Edgar supposed. His father who was dead, and who was always Frank. The other men were reduced to single letters, black flies over the bulk of his father's body. This was his mother's second date with Mr. S, who was a butcher. Edgar was astonished upon hearing it. It was like his mother was going out with a pig—or, even worse, a killer of pigs. From television, Edgar knew that there were machines one could employ to detect the microscopic bits of blood that were no doubt hiding on Mr. S's clothing. After committing a murder, a criminal always washed vigorously, but there was always a spot left somewhere, some glimmer of evidence, if you knew where to look.

Excerpted from Edgar and Lucy by Victor Lodato. Copyright © 2017 by Victor Lodato. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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