Excerpts from Teaser by Burt Weissbourd

“I’m wired,” Maisie said. “Like I can’t slow down.” She wore worn jeans, and a white, hand-woven Mexican blouse.

Abe sat at his desk, watching her, waiting. Maisie had large, sea blue eyes. Her lips were full and her smile alluring. She was thin, delicate, growing into a sensual woman’s body—an intense, unwieldy business. Abe sensed that she was keenly aware of her nascent sexuality, though unsure how to manage it. Maisie fidgeted, anxious, running a hand through her short, brown hair.

“Sometimes things start to spin,” she said. “I told Verlaine. The sixties-stoner stepdad wants me to take Prozac.”

Abe almost smiled, caught himself. “Do you want to?”

“Are you like kidding or something?”

“So sometimes things start to spin,” he repeated. “What would you like to do about this spinning?”

“Well, I skipped flute yesterday, and today I cut Spanish. My mom was totally pissed when I missed flute.”

“Why did you skip flute?”

“I was getting it on with Aaron.” Maisie touched the gold ring in her eyebrow. “We met this really cool girl. She’s got a place near Broadway, and she lets us come over.”

He waited before asking, evenly, “Does your mother know why you missed flute?”

“I think she picks up on it. It’s like she can smell sex. She can’t be exactly satisfied in that department. I mean Verlaine wouldn’t even know if he got her off. Un-unh.” Maisie raised her palms – she knew that much. When Abe didn’t say anything, Maisie sat down in the brown leather chair. ‘Now, can we talk about something personal?”

“Sure.” Abe waited, watched her drum her fingers on the arm of the chair.

The drumming stopped. “I tried some cocaine,” she volunteered. “Afterward, we got it on, the three of us.”

Why, he wondered, is she being so provocative?

“And?”

“Is that crazy or what?” Maisie closed her eyes.

“I don’t know. Here, with me, you often say something shocking, then measure my response. Did you expect something terrible to happen?”

“Won’t it?”

“Not necessarily.” Abe waited until he had her full attention; this was important. “The drugs worry me, though. I’d like you to stay clear of them. Can you do that?”

“She made a face. “Even weed?”

“Yes.”

“And if I can’t?”

“I know a good program. You’ll have to live there until you clean up.”

Her mood shifted, Abe could see it change her face. She laughed. “No way.” When he didn’t respond, Maisie squinted, tense, then snapped, “No fucking way.”

She was keyed up now, almost speeding. Abe waited until she wound back down, wondering if her desire for sexual intensity was related to managing her own mercurial feelings. “Maisie, you’re sixteen. This is important.”

Maisie flipped him off as she left.

Another Excerpt from Teaser

Stay cool in your mind, Teaser was thinking. He was working the grill at the Mex drive-thru. Sweating. His eyes were watering and burning from the smoke. He had to keep this job. It was part of the plan. So he had to pay attention to his boss Raoul, who thought cooking freeze-dried greaser food for minimum wage was some kind of an honor.

While he grilled chicken and vegetables for the fajitas, he was getting ready. Going over the list in his head. Taking his time about it. He had four things left to do today. And everything had to be perfect – just so. He thought about Maisie. He could picture her now. He’d watched her from the shadows. Invisible. He’d learned to be careful. Finally. And he’d learned that if you were careful, if you took your time, your time would come.

Just like that, Raoul was there with a spatula, turning the soft, shriveled-up green peppers right in front of him, yelling in his ear about how he had to pay attention, take pride in his work. Teaser could feel the heat, inside. The drive-thru cook telling him to be careful? His thin lower lip slid between his teeth as he numbed up. Teaser looked at Raoul, said “Sorry, sir,” then nodded at everything.

On his break he stepped outside. Under a tree Teaser stuck the point of a plastic toothpick under his thumbnail. He watched it disappear under his skin. Later he pressed on his nail, wondering how to let the bad blood out. When he raised his thumb it caught the moonlight, and he thought he saw a little blue line.

 

A portion of the proceeds from the sale of this book will be donated to services for homeless youth in Seattle.


"Weissbourd’s stellar writing, memorable characters, especially Corey Logan, and an extremely well crafted narrative never disappoint."
Melinda in The Discerning Reader - All Things Books


More from Teaser

There were five to ten thousand homeless youth and young adults in Seattle every year, one thousand on any given night. They couch surfed; they squatted in empty houses and abandoned buildings or in big clumps of bushes at the U.; they stayed in shelters, parks, on the street, or under I-5…. The kids commonly hung out on Broadway, at Westlake Park, or on the Ave, spanging,,,, Drugs were often part of life… And there was always danger.

The girls prostituted themselves at Seattle Center, or on Aurora Avenue, or wherever worked. The boys did the same, near the Federal Building, at bars, malls, and so on. It bothered her that so many people didn’t get that the drugs and prostitution usually began after these young people left home. She frowned. Even more troubling, these kids were always vulnerable. During a three-month study, two-thirds of the boys and one-third of the girls had been physically assaulted. Still, they came. Corey knew that for most of them, there was no chance at home.


Another excerpt from Teaser

Corey started walking back toward Star’s apartment, trying to get a grip. She was mucking about in the swamp, losing her way. No one was doing anything. The police had no “hard” evidence. The parents, the people in charge, weren’t listening. They thought she was crying wolf. Even in the cold air, she was overheating, sweaty. “You know, you’re about the only person in this who doesn’t think I’m some rabid dog foaming at the mouth.”

Abe watched her, taking his time. “Lou’s not taking this picture business lightly. He’ll be all over Teaser, if they find him,” he eventually offered.

“Teaser’s ahead of everyone. They won’t find anything to tie him to whatever is going on. Whatever he’s doing, it’s already happening.” With her free hand, Corey was hitting every parking meter they passed.

Abe slowed, then he turned. The lines in his face had softened. “So it’s up to us.” A statement, and a question.

Corey stopped. Abe could often distill a complicated thing into one decision. “Yes,” she said. “It is.” And saying it made her feel better, a sea change. She didn’t have to convince anyone, anymore, of anything.

“Thank you, Abe.” She took a slow breath. The night air was cool and sweet.


“It is official. Burt Weissbourd is my favorite freshman author. I look forward to forthcoming novels from this undeniable master of creative and consuming thrillers ...” Malinda Hintz on Nightly Reading