Hey everyone! Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Burn Baby, Burn Baby by Kevin Craig! I am so excited for this blog tour because the book was amazing! (Check out my review here!)
Seventeen-year-old Francis Fripp’s confidence is practically non-existent since his abusive father drenched him in accelerant and threw a match at him eight years ago. Now badly scarred, Francis relies on his best friend Trig to protect him from the constant bullying doled out at the hands of his nemesis, Brandon Hayley—the unrelenting boy who gave him the dreaded nickname of Burn Baby.
The new girl at school, Rachel Higgins, is the first to see past Francis’s pariah-inducing scars. If Brandon’s bullying doesn’t destroy him, Francis might experience life as a normal teenager for the first time in his life. He just has to avoid Brandon and convince himself he’s worthy of Rachel’s attentions. Sounds easy enough, but Francis himself has a hard time seeing past his scars. And Brandon is getting violently frustrated, as his attempts to bully Francis are constantly thwarted. Francis is in turmoil as he simultaneously rushes toward his first kiss and a possible violent end.
“I’m out of here,” Georgia says. She stands up, grabs her purse and makes for the stairs. I look to Trig, who is just sitting there. Doing nothing.
“Aren’t you going to go after her?”
“No. I told her not to bother you. She could have listened to me. It’s you and me, France.” He just sits there, shaking his head.
I wobble for the stairs. The booze is really getting to me now. It’s had a little while to work its magic on my body. I fumble a lot, but I make it to the top before she’s gone.
“No, Fran. Don’t worry about it. I’m okay. I know when he gets like this I need to get away from him. He’s a pig, like his Dad. I love him, but he’s just so—”
I wave her off. “I know. He’s total Archie Bunker.”
“I don’t know who that is, but I’ll take your word for it.”
Obviously, she hasn’t spent years healing through afternoon after afternoon of sitcom hell like I have. I know all the old ones. I also read all the classics, even Shakespeare. Actually, he kind of rocks. It was either that or twiddle my thumbs, right?
“Yeah. Take my word for it. That’s exactly who he is. I love him, but his shoulders are totally slumped. I’m sure his knuckles are scarred from dragging, too.”
“Ha!” she says, finally cooling down enough to take something in jest. “Yep.”
“I’ll see you later, okay?” I ask. “No hard feelings?”
“I love ya, Francis. You’re my friend. We can disagree and still be friends.”
“Cool,” I say. I sweep her up and hug her close to me. I kiss the top of her head, maybe taking it a step too far… but maybe not. “I’ll see ya.”
“Ciao, France,” she says into my chest as she returns the hug. “Say bye to the caveman for me.”
“I will,” I say. She leaves and I shut the door behind her.
I know he’s down there stewing. I spend a few seconds on the stairs trying to figure out a way to calm him down without getting back into it.
But what the hell? I’m the drunk one here. He’s just a hostile loser who just had sex with the hottest girl in Helltown.
I stumble my way down the stairs and he’s standing there flexing, walking back and forth. The steam is rising from him in waves.
“Jesus, Trig,” I say as I push him down onto the sectional. “Relax. It’s no big deal.”
“Ha. Yeah. No biggie. Don’t you ever think of him, France? Don’t you ever want to track him down and kill him? I mean, really kill him? Dead.”
“Meh. Sometimes. But then I think it must really suck to be him. You know?”
He looks at me and shakes his head. “No. I really don’t know. He tortured you.”
“And he spent years in jail. He has a criminal record. He’s not even allowed in this town. And he has to live with his brutality. To me, that seems like torture. He’s probably in his own private hell.”
“Not that it really matters now,” he says. “The damage is done.” With a great sweep of his hand, he takes in my entire right side. “Look at you.”
If I hadn’t downed six mini bottles of liquor, I would swear he’s the drunk one. He’s so totally maudlin. Maybe this happens after people have sex. Maybe they get all nostalgic and sad.
About the author:
Kevin Craig is the author of three previous novels; Summer on Fire, Sebastian’s Poet, and The Reasons. He is a 4-time winner of the Muskoka Novel Marathon’s Best Novel Award. Kevin is also a playwright and has had eight 10-minute plays produced. His most recent plays were included in Driftwood Theatre’s Trafalgar24 Play Creation Festival and the InspiraTO Festival at the Alumnae Theatre in Toronto. Kevin’s poetry, short stories, memoir and articles have been published internationally Kevin was a founding member of the Ontario Writers’ Conference and a long-time member of the Writers’ Community of Durham Region (WCDR). He is represented by literary agent Stacey Donaghy of Donaghy Literary Group.