Welcome Julie Mulhern. So glad you can be here with us today. Julie is the author of the Country Club Murder Mystery series.
The Friday nights of my teenage years—at least the autumnal ones—were spent crowded in a football stand. September was hot but gave way to pleasant. October was crisp. November was downright chilly.
No matter, the parent-run concession stand sold everything from ice-cold soft drinks to hot apple cider. The stand’s popcorn flavored the air, mixing with the scent of falling leaves and the hint of coming cold.
There were cheers. “Big.” *clap-clap, clap* “Red.” *clap-clap, clap* “Big. Big. Big. Red.” Over and over again until the stands shook with clapping hands and stomping feet.
There were games, there must have been, although I don’t remember a single detail of a single play.
There was drama. So. Much. Drama. All of the angsty teenage variety.
There were parents who wanted to watch their sons run up and down the field.
There was yelling and cheering and gasping and groaning. In retrospect, I suspect there was lots of groaning—ours was a small school that prided itself of on academics.
Those Friday nights are the inspiration for the opening scene of Guaranteed to Bleed set in 1974 at a high school remarkably similar to the one I attended.
From Guaranteed to Bleed:
My second mistake was dropping my lipstick.
It clanged against the metal riser, spun for a tantalizing second just beyond my fingers’ reach, then dropped to the nether regions below.
My first mistake was buying the damned thing. Purchased from a terrifyingly chic sales girl at Galérie Lafayette in Paris, it was the perfect shade of red. A hue, she told me, so sublime the French manufacturer declined to sell it in the United States. Then she looked down her slightly hooked, Parisian nose as if she was Marie Antoinette and I was a peasant who dared ask for bread. Who wouldn’t be intimidated by that level of chic? I handed over a ridiculous number of francs and bought the transformative, perfection-filled gold tube.
What was I thinking? Rouge Chaud had no business on my lips. I wasn’t chic or sophisticated or Continental. I was a mother, an artist, a daughter. I wore soft pinks and delicate corals, not red, not Rouge Chaud. Lesson learned—when making major life changes, don’t start with red lipstick. The stranger in the mirror looks so odd it’s disheartening.
My third mistake was going after the silly thing.
“What are you doing?” Libba asked when I stood.
“I dropped my lipstick.”
She nodded but I doubt she really heard me. She seemed quite intent on the line of boys in blue jerseys. Libba actually likes football and her nephew was somewhere on the field. Maybe. Telling the difference between one boy and another was only possible when their numbers were visible.
Personally, I’d rather be audited by the IRS than sit through a game. If my daughter, Grace, wasn’t cheering, I’d have skipped the whole evening—the stands, the noise and the sight of boys knocking each other flat while their parents urged them to hit harder.
Obviously not everyone shared my opinions. The combination of a cool fall evening and a cross-state rival had packed the stands. The Suncrest fans wore phthalo blue—cadmium yellow being nearly unwearable. Across the field sat a healthy contingent of traveling Burroughs fans clad in Brunswick green.
I eased my way past the first few people seated in the crowded row, murmured apologies, avoided stepping on drinks but not toes or handbags, and blocked the views of eager parents. Something happened on the field. A collective second of held breath then a collective gasp.
The man whose view I blocked leaned around me. “Go, baby!” He yelled loud enough to render me deaf in one ear.
Just a taste of the roar to come. Everyone cheered. They stood and yelled and stomped their feet on the risers until the stands shook.
I turned and looked. Who wouldn’t?
A boy in blue with a ball tucked deep in the crook of his elbow ran down the field.
On the sidelines, Grace and her fellow cheerleaders jumped impossibly high, shook their pom-poms and encouraged more yelling.
He reached the end zone and the stands erupted.
The crackling PA system announced a defensive touchdown. High fives abounded.
I pushed my way to the end of the row, descended the stairs, and walked down the sidelines to the exit.
Julie Mulhern is a Kansas City native who grew up on a steady diet of Agatha Christie. She spends her spare time whipping up gourmet meals for her family, working out at the gym and finding new ways to keep her house spotlessly clean--and she's got an active imagination. Truth is--she's an expert at calling for take-out, she grumbles about walking the dog and the dust bunnies under the bed have grown into dust lions.
Her first romance was a finalist in the 2014 Golden Heart® contest. That book, A Haunting Desire released July 28, 2015.
Julie also writes mysteries. The Deep End (available now) is her first mystery and is the winner of The Sheila Award. Look for book two, Guaranteed to Bleed, on October 13, 2015.
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