Attack of the Kindle Cases: Part Four

So after using the Kindle case with the built in light, the New Yorker case, and the Dragon Stones case, I decided that what I really wanted was a flip case.  Maybe one that had some storage pockets.  Maybe one like this, from RooCase:

Yeah, now we’re talking — now I don’t need a wallet anymore!

I did like this case; it was very well made and had a nice feel. I used it for quite a while, although I never did fill those pockets with credit cards and money. I did stuff my boarding pass in it when I went to New York, though. Unfortunately, this case had a couple of problems: Because it folded at the top, I couldn’t attach a light to the Kindle, and also, it wouldn’t stand up on its own. I used double-sided tape to attach a reading light to the big pocket, which took care of the lighting issue; and in order to get the case to stand up on its own, I rigged up a Velcro strap so I could attach the snap tab to the bottom of the case when it was open. And that did permit it to stand up on its own.

But it wobbled. And when it wasn’t wobbling, it leaned to one side or the other. This eventually drove me nuts. If only RooCase made a flip case that would sturdily stand up on its own, without wobbling, and without Velcro … that would be the perfect case, right? Right … ?

In other news, I am still editing part one of my big (Big! Part one, AKA “Shards”, is now over 100,000 words; part two is even longer) fantasy novel. I still think I’m on track to have it out by the end of the year. The first section of “Shards” is finally finished, just about, and the second section gone much faster than the first on every pass. Let’s do another compare and contrast of an unedited paragraph from the first chapter with its current counterpart, shall we?

UNEDITED CURRENT
Mercedes waited on the sidewalk in front of her house, rocking back and forth on her heels and clutching her books to her nonexistent chest. She had decided on a baggy purple sweatshirt and old, faded jeans, and on her feet were canvas tennis shoes but no socks. The cold air tickled her ankles; they’d probably be blue by the time she and Bernard got to school.

“Hey, look, it’s a Mercedes!”

Mercy glanced over at the intersection where the Maple Street extension joined her street, Reynolds Avenue. There were two boys there, wearing football jackets and sitting astride ten-speeds. She knew them. One was Warren Oates, and the other was Jack Kinsey.

Jerks.

“Don’t you guys have a school to go to?” she yelled.

“We wanna go for a ride in a Mercedes,” Warren said.

Mercy shifted one hand to her hip and glared at them. “It looks like the most you can handle is a bicycle.”

“Uh-oh, Warren, here comes her boyfriend,” Jack said, pointing up the street. Mercy looked and saw Bernard coming toward her, pointedly ignoring the jocks. He was walking slowly, head down, taking measured steps. Bernard loved the fall, the cool weather and the dry colored leaves that swirled on the winds, and it usually showed in his gait; but not today. Mercy wondered what was wrong.

“Why don’t you two shove off before you forget how to ride your bikes?” she said, taking a few steps toward Bernard. He stopped about five feet away from her, and she noticed tape on his glasses.

“Give her a kiss!” Jack urged.

“Slip her the tongue!” Warren added.

“You broke your glasses again, huh?” Mercy asked.

“Yeah.”

“You should keep an extra pair.”

“Dad won’t buy me an extra pair. He says why should I get to destroy glasses twice as fast and cost him twice as much money.” Bernard raised his head. “They’re leaving.”

“Good. C’mon, let’s go.” Mercy spun around and started walking, and he fell into step beside her. “Don’t let ’em get to you.”

“They’re jerks.”

“Agreed.”

“What were they saying to you?”

“The usual. I hate my name.”

“I like your name. It’s unusual. Like you.”

“I hope that was a compliment.”

“Of course it was.”

“Unusual is something you say about a funny-looking fish in a store.”

“You’d rather be ordinary?”

“No, but I wouldn’t mind being cute.”

“You are cute.”

She stuck her finger down her throat and made gagging noises. Bernard changed the subject. “Did you solve that computer game yet?”

“No, my party is still stuck in the ice cave. I’ll figure it out though.”

“You always do.”

“I know,” she sighed. “It’s a curse.”

They had reached the end of the houses, and now the sidewalk ran beside a remnant of forest that had so far escaped the developer’s axe, though a colorful sign declared that it would soon become a new tract of housing. It would be called Forestbury Circle and of course there would be no forest anymore, just a few trees left behind for landscaping effect. One thing Mercy had never figured out was why people came along and destroyed the things that made the land attractive, then named their rows of cookie-cutter houses after what they’d demolished. She supposed it was the same quirk of human nature that caused people to name cars after animals and, around here at least, places after the Indian tribes that had been driven out of the area.

The cement sidewalk was buried beneath a layer of crunchy, colorful leaves, which Bernard kicked into the air. “I love dry leaves,” he said, as if to himself. “When you walk they crunch so much it sounds like you’ve got an army behind you.”

Mercy tried and failed to picture Bernard at the head of an army. But hey, stranger things had happened, right?

They turned right at a well-worn path that snaked between the trunks. The trees swayed in the breeze and what leaves remained to them rustled like a thousand whispers. “You know what, Bernard?” Mercy said, looking off among the trees.

“What?”

“Sometimes I wish this path went on and on and came out somewhere else. Somewhere magical, like in my games. I wish there were elves in the forest and spirits in the air.”

“And goblins under the rocks and dragons in the caves?”

“Sure. Why not?”

“Because dragons and goblins eat people.”

“Not me,” she said grandly. “I would be Ambrosia, the Sorceress. I would deal with the goblins and the dragons.” She gestured at a tree, wiggling her fingers as if casting a spell, and said, “Ala-Kazam!”

Bernard grinned. “You’d be Mercy Vaccaro wherever you were.”

“Spoilsport.”

“Hey, I like Mercy Vaccaro,” Bernard said.

Mercedes looked at him, her eyes glinting from behind a fallen lock of hair. “Well, you’re about the only one,” she said after a moment.

“Oh, no I’m not,” Bernard said.

“Who else likes me?”

“The teachers all think you’re great.”

“The principal thinks I’m too big for my britches.”

“And my father likes you.”

“Your father thinks I’m a snot.”

“No, now he just thinks you’re a tomboy.”

Mercy stiffened and glared at him with those big green eyes he liked so much. They were just the right color for her face, he thought, green like a new leaf. Except at the moment, they were kind of narrow and annoyed-looking.

“I hate that word,” she said. “You know why?”

Bernard shook his head, his eyes wide, wondering if he had just gotten himself in trouble.

“Because it means that girls who act a certain way aren’t really girls. It means I’ve been judged and found guilty of not acting like I should.”

Yep, he’d gotten himself in trouble. “It does?”

“Yes it does. Don’t ever call me a tomboy again.”

“I didn’t call you a tomboy, my dad did.”

“You agreed with him.”

“I didn’t say that.”

“Lover’s quarrel?”

Bernard and Mercy looked up the path, where Warren Oates was emerging from the forest and tugging on his zipper. His bike was lying on its side in the dust and leaves, where they hadn’t seen it. “Didn’t you ever hear of a bathroom, you barbarian?” Mercy said.

“Oh, she’s nasty!” Warren lifted his bike off its side and mounted it. “I just asked an innocent question.”

“Get bent,” Mercy said.

“If you were really a guy, instead of just looking like one,” Warren said, “I’d beat the crap out of you.”

“Ditto back at you,” Mercy said.

“Watch it, Vaccaro—”

“If you touch her, I’ll—”

“Shut up, Lansing,” Warren said. “Nobody’s talking to you and I could break you in half.”

“Why don’t you just get on your bike and pedal your ignorant butt to school? Maybe you’ll learn something for a change,” Mercy said.

Warren glowered at her, then rode down the path, his bookbag bouncing on his back. “You better watch your mouth, Edsel!” he called, not turning his head. “It’ll get you in trouble some day!”

“C’mon,” Mercy growled, resuming the walk to school. Bernard stood momentarily still, then hurried to catch up with her.

“You gotta be careful,” he said. “Oates could hurt you.”

“He won’t touch me.”

“Why not?”

“You think he wants everybody at school to know he beat up a girl?”

“I don’t think he’d care.”

Mercy shrugged. “Either way I’m not scared of him. He touches me, I’ll kick his ass. You could get yourself in trouble if you keep mouthing off to him, though.”

“He’s a creep.”

“I thought that was my point.”

“Hey—” Bernard put his hand on her shoulder. “Hey, what would Ambrosia the Sorceress do about Oates?”

“What would she do?” A grin spread across Mercy’s face. “She would put a curse on him. She would give him pimples, and butterfingers so he always drops the football, and she would give him body odor he could never wash away. How’s that?”

“Okay for a start.”

“For a start?”

“Well, I think she should do more.”

“Like what?”

“Like give him the head of a chicken, or make him grow a tail, or make him a eunuch.”

“Ouch,” Mercedes said appreciatively.

“Or all three.”

“What could be worse than being a chicken-headed eunuch with a tail?” Mercy mused.

“Being a chicken-headed eunuch with a tail and body odor. Yeah.” Bernard grinned. “Body odor.”

“If you ever learn magic,” Mercy said, “remind me not to make you mad.”

“Oh, you could never make me mad,” Bernard said.

“Sure I could. But we gotta go, we’re gonna be late.”

She was right, as usual.

Mercedes waited on the sidewalk in front of her house, rocking back and forth on her boot heels, clutching her backpack to her chest. She wore a baggy purple sweatshirt and old, faded jeans, and, just to spite her nemesis Tom Tuttle, no gloves, no coat, and canvas tennis shoes with no socks. Suck it, Tom.

“Hey, Edsel!”

She sighed. It was tough when your name was associated with a brand of luxury automobile, but you looked like something that had been dragged out of a used-car lot out behind the junkyard. No one really teased her about her name anymore—being seniors, they were above such childish antics—but some of the old nicknames had stuck. Unfortunately, Edsel, one of her least favorites, was one of them; and the voice that had just used it was one of her least favorites, too. She glanced toward the corner where the Maple Avenue extension crossed her street before terminating in a heap of dirt and a faded sign announcing a new subdivision that had never been built. Jack Kinsey and Warren Oates, her auxiliary nemeses, had stopped their mountain bikes there to indulge in a bit of baiting. “Don’t you two have to pedal your asses off to kindergarten?” she called.

“We’d rather ride a Mercedes,” Warren said.

“Yeah? Looks to me like you can barely handle a bike.”

“We can handle more than that!”

“Oh really? Got your learner’s permits? Sorry, but you’ll have to practice on somebody else.”

“Uh-oh, Warren, here comes her boyfriend,” Jack said, pointing up the street, where Bernard had just come out of his house. Bernard, her best friend since fourth grade, had never called her anything but Mercy. Disturbingly, though, he had recently developed a crush on her that he thought she didn’t know about. She couldn’t help but worry that it would mess up what had been a long-standing and perfectly satisfactory platonic relationship, as boy/girl stuff was wont to do. Maybe she should snap a picture of her morning self in the mirror and give it to him; that ought to cure him.

While Bernard paused to lock his front door, she turned back to Jack and Warren. “Why don’t you two shove off before you forget how those things work and have to spend another five years learning all over again?” They exchanged a glance, then saddled up and wheeled around and rode off in the general direction of school. That had been too easy; she didn’t like it. As Bernard’s footsteps crunched toward her, she watched them vanish into the woods. Evidently they were really going, not planning to come back around and circle them like a couple of sharks sniffing at a diver with a bleeding hangnail.

“Hey,” Bernard said. She glanced at him, then at the spot where the mountain bikes had disappeared, then, startled, back at Bernard. “Nice double-take,” he said.

“You broke your glasses again, huh?”

“Is it that obvious?”

“Well it wouldn’t be if you hadn’t fixed them with electrical tape.”

“I couldn’t find the transparent tape.”

“And the only color you could find was pink?”

He shrugged. “It was in my mom’s craft drawer.”

“What does your mom need pink electrical tape for?”

“How should I know? For making Easter bunnies, maybe.”

Mercy shook her head. “You’re not doing yourself any favors, my friend.” As they began walking up the street, she added: “You should have used duct tape. That would at least be semi-cool.”

Bernard looked dubious. “I don’t think we have duct tape.”

“Everybody has duct tape,” Mercy said.

“Who needs to tape ducks together?”

She snorted, blowing out a cloud of steam.

Mercy kept a wary eye on the woods as they neared the path, but it looked like her friendly neighborhood jerk-offs were not lying in wait. Too cold for them, perhaps; after all, reptiles were known to become sluggish in chilly weather. She and Bernard turned right, leaving the sidewalk and starting down the well-worn path through a forest remnant that had been left standing to provide green space, though at the moment there was nothing green about it; the trees were denuded of leaves, having long since shed them for winter. Last summer’s verdure was well on its way to becoming a sludgy precursor to topsoil.

“You know what, Bernard?”

“What?”

“I wish this path went on and on and came out somewhere else.”

“Somewhere else besides school? Sure, who doesn’t wish that?”

“Not just somewhere else besides school. Somewhere magical.”

“What, you mean like Disneyland?”

“No, not like Disneyland!” She smacked him on the shoulder. “You’re being obtuse on purpose, just to annoy me.”

“I know, I know. The world bores you. You want to fall down the gopher hole and end up in Wonderland with Alice.”

“Rabbit hole, Bernard. Alice fell down a rabbit hole.”

“Oh, right.”

“Anyway, no, I don’t want to go to Wonderland. I want elves and trolls and dragons and—”

“Trolls? Don’t they eat people?”

“Maybe. Not me, though. I’m Ambrosia the Sorceress. They get fresh with me, they’ll be on the receiving end of a fireball.”

“Oh, of course,” Bernard said, in a ‘there you go with the fireballs again’ tone of voice. She decided to drop it before she got a lecture about growing up and accepting reality. He used to go along with her flights of fancy, but lately he had gotten rather stodgy about such things. She blamed this on the looming prospect of graduation and then college and then, horror of horrors, work.

They emerged from the woods at the edge of the athletic field; the school building stood at the top of a low rise across a wide expanse of frosty grass and asphalt like a drab fortress waiting to be stormed. “I guess today is not the day that the path leads somewhere magical,” Bernard said. “Can Ambrosia the Sorceress teleport us to homeroom? I think I hear the bell.”

Ambrosia the Sorceress said: “Crap.”

Yick! I can hardly even stand to read the original version. *shudder*

Of course, in a year or two I will feel the same way about the current version, but at least for the moment it seems like an improvement…

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