by Christopher S. Bell
Paperback: 234 pages
Publisher: My Idea of Fun
Release Date: December 12th, 2012
Link: My Idea of Fun
About the book
Transferable American Morals follows twin prodigies, Libby and Neil Robinson, in the fall of 1972. Born and raised in the small town of Marble Valley, Washington, the siblings are pushed into the limelight by their father, Brian, at the age of thirteen, soon arising victorious as grand-prize winners on the popular game show Teenage Know-How.
Now both seventeen and ridden with hormones, the Robinson twins are living separately across town from one another. Libby is a shining example at her religious mother’s side, until college boyfriend, William Hamilton the III, violates the girl’s every conviction. Sick and stranded at a university gala, Libby finds solace in slacker, Evan Wheeler, soon meeting his older brother, Davy, an addicted Vietnam veteran reduced to working carnival games on the outskirts of town.
Neil is unstable, residing above the garage at his Uncle Dennis’ humble abode and unfortunately in love with his Cousin Grant’s girlfriend, Josie Crissman. The twin locates a temporary solution in newscaster, Mona Gilmore, stranded by her own sense of trust following husband Woody’s invitation into a swinger’s lifestyle. Neil and Mona begin a sordid love affair just as Libby and the Wheeler Brothers dance around the point.
Amongst all the routine confusion, the Robinson twins fail to notice their mother Carol’s new boyfriend, Gabriel Hegedus, snaking his way into their lives. Approaching holidays, unexpected engagements and rising suspicions all coalesce as Neil and Libby slowly discover half-truths about their rare talents and interwoven lifestyles.
Libby was at a loss after getting shouted at by another frayed student of Hickory University. She subtly caught her balance and noticed the tall bottle of liquor sitting in the same vicinity as the grainy tobacco. “I’m sorry. I… I’m just a little out of it.”
“Well you’d have to be, to be here,” Evan sealed the sloppy brown bits into the paper.
“Yeah, I guess,” Libby suddenly crawled back into her dense and instructed self, approaching him with steadier steps. “So what fraternity do you belong to?”
“None,” he chuckled, before lighting the white end and breathing out the smoke.
“Then why are you here?”
“Stealing this, killing time,” Evan pointed to the bottle with little thought, and went back to the breeze. “What about you?”
“Oh I’m uh… Well I’m kind of looking for the easiest possible way for all of this to make sense.” Libby wondered if he’d think her assessment of the universe was at all childish or misinformed.
“For what to make sense?”
“Just why I’m here. Why it looks as if happenings like this may be the rest of my life.”
“Oh… Well, I don’t know. I guess I can’t make any assumptions, but I can say that I think it’s normal for people to talk out loud about things like that nowadays.”
“Yeah, it’s more socially acceptable to be destructive, or paralyzed by our own thoughts now, just because everything’s in pieces everywhere, ya know?”
“Sure,” she sighed, trying to determine if the person in front of her was going through a similar loss in judgement and direction.
“But anyway, I’m getting out of here now, so it was what it was, ya know?” He buttoned the bottom of his coat, and began to stroll as Libby attempted to see if she was at all attracted to his exaggerated form. She had a low tolerance for smoking and slicked back exteriors, but that was a mere offshoot of memorized prayers and reactions.
“Actually um…” Libby hesitated before finding her words right where she had left them years before the death of curiosity. “Do you maybe have another cigarette for me?”
They were then frozen cliches, attempting to resurface from months of swimming around parallel social scenes. Following introductions on the stroll to his downtrodden vehicle, Evan and Libby both realized that they had most likely passed each other by multiple times in the previous two months, and yet were more so in awe at how easy it was for them to talk about less than nothing.
They were hardly personal, projecting skewed points of view on taste and largely square environments, before traipsing around more dense issues of time and place. They became so lost that after a few sips of the bottle and the soft chill of the wind on her face, Libby Robinson completely forgot about everything tying her down. Their night was merely waiting to begin.
Neil briefly considered Jesus Christ willfully donating his time and powers to such festivities, before crossing the possibility out completely. He scurried back toward the hallway, painting a similar line with his steps. An invisible underdressed specimen had wandered in at the perfect time. Neil noticed Suzanne Romano sloppily French-kissing a longhaired socialite on the outskirts of the clump, before leaving a cloud of dust behind them, and surprising Josie with the bottle. They didn’t wait to drown away their sorrows; soon back on the streets checking Neil’s wristwatch as the numbers motionlessly passed by.
“Unbelievable,” Josie stated, somewhat in awe of the bottle before taking another quick swig.
“Ya know, we probably shouldn’t just drink that in the street,” Neil said, somewhat nervously checking the angles again.
“Why the hell not? We’re fine Neil. I mean, if we get caught, I know how we’ll get out of it.”
“How?” He asked, slightly confused.
“All we have to say is that we know Lou Hinterliter,” she grinned
“Just because we know the chief of police’s name, doesn’t mean we’d get out of trouble.”
“Are you sure? I mean, isn’t that what your dad did to get out of a jam all those years ago?” Josie knew she shouldn’t have brought it up, and yet couldn’t necessarily resist the devilishness of her comment.
“You’re stepping into shit right now, and I’m not sure I should even tell ya how much it stinks.” Neil snatched the bottle from her hand, and cut down the nearest alley, cringing as the thick syrup made its way down his throat.
“I’m sorry, but I mean… you know that’s how it works, plus considering that Paul’s going to be at the same party we’re headed to means we’re free and clear to get this shitty in the middle of the street. Big Lou’s not gonna bust his own son.”
“Must you always point out each and every hypocrisy of the system we live in?” Neil knew he was being a condescending smart-ass, and yet could very easily blame his mood and tone on how fast the booze was kicking in.
“Hey, I’m just trying to make this walk a little more enjoyable since you’re freaking out about everything.” Josie’s eyes grew wide as her smile crept up and exploded on Neil Robinson in a monumental flash.
“At least I had the balls to walk in and steal that. You just hid in the corner like a little girl.”
“I didn’t wanna have to see all of them in their suits and dresses.”
“Because it reminds me too much of how we’re all just wasting away.”
Josie Crissman’s honesty always had a funny way of sneaking up on Neil when he least expected it. The continuation of their walk to the threadbare house on Third Street was exactly as he had dreamed it would be. They laughed and danced around all the vital points before entering into a familiar crawl. It was exactly where their weekdays had led them. Drugs and narrow simplicities under the radar in a somber living space. She ran to Grant who had gotten off from the restaurant early, reliably drunker than the both of them. Neil merely hoped that his cousin’s charm would fail and that he would still be awake when it was time to pick up the pieces. Missing the mark for the greater good and the rest of their nights.