You probably think that being a walking, talking skeleton is the best gig imaginable. I can stay up all night, I never need bathroom breaks, and I can’t have weight problems. But there are a couple of downsides. One is having to share a house with Byron, an Akita who eyes me far too covetously whenever he sees me. But the dog I can handle. What I don’t like is that I don’t get out of the house much.
Hard though you may find this to believe, a lot of people freak out when they see me. Though the literature says the condition is rare, there are a surprising number of cartilogenophobics around the town of Pennycross, Mass. Or maybe it’s necrophobia, because technically, I am dead, but you’d think my being both ambulatory and extremely personable would chase that fear away. But some people still find me threatening, even when I smile my biggest smile and reach out to give them a big hug. So in deference to their issues, I stay at home a lot more than I’d like.
Recently, however, I happened upon a place I could go out and about without anybody blinking an eye. In fact, people seemed happy to see me. They laughed, they sent their children over to hug me, they posed for selfies. Admittedly, for some reason people kept calling me Jack Skellington instead of Sid, but that’s a small price to pay for such a warm welcome.
I’d share some of the pictures they took, but Georgia, my best pal and housemate, says I should keep it quiet that I went to this world-famous vacation spot. Something about not being able to sneak me in again. All I can say is that it’s the happiest place on earth.
Of course, I can’t go to Dis—to that wonderful “world” every weekend. That’s why Madison, Georgia’s daughter and my other housemate, and I came up with the brilliant idea of hiding me in plain sight. On stage, in fact. I’m going to star in a play at Madison’s high school!
Okay, maybe starring is exaggerating a bit, but I will be in a featured role. I’m going to be in Hamlet as Yorick, of “alas, poor Yorick” fame. Unfortunately, I don’t have any lines, and only my skull will be involved, but it’s a start. Madison reminds me that there are no small parts, and actually, my skull is one of the bigger parts of my frame, whether or not it’s the biggest part in the play.
When I’m not in rehearsal, I get to hang around backstage, which is great! I’ve been hearing about all the hot games, the best movies, the funniest cat videos on YouTube. And the gossip! Since I don’t actually remember being alive, I’d never realized that most high school happens off stage, not on.
So for the past couple of weeks, my daily routine has been to get up in the morning and help Georgia and Madison fix breakfast, then plop my skull into a bag for Madison to carry to school. I spend the first part of the day in her locker, listening in and peering out through the vents, and after classes are over, Madison takes me to rehearsal. Once that’s over, it’s back home again. I just hope she doesn’t forget to pick me up one day.
It is a little weird not having the rest of my bones around. If I were to hear anything requiring manly action—like a fire alarm or a theft in progress—I wouldn’t be able to do anything but yell. Still, what are the chances of that happening? How likely is it that anybody would, for instance, commit murder in a high school auditorium?
PS – Now that I think about it, Georgia only said I couldn’t post photos taken of me at that place I went for fun. This, however, isn’t a photo—it’s a drawing by the soon-to-be-famous artist Maggie Kelner. I can’t help it if you figure out where it is we went. (I’d totally be winking right now if I had eyelids. Or eyes.)
You can read more about Sid in The Skeleton Takes a Bow, the second book in the “Family Skeleton” mystery series, published by Berkley Prime Crime. The first book in the series is A Skeleton in the Family.
GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by 6 p.m. eastern on September 23 for the chance to win a copy of either THE SKELETON TAKES A BOW or A SKELETON IN THE FAMILY, winner’s choice. The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only.
About the author
Leigh Perry is Toni L.P. Kelner in disguise, or maybe vice versa. As Toni, she’s published eight books in the Laura Fleming Southern Mystery series and three novels in the “Where are they now?” series; written a couple of dozen short stories, many of which were nominated for awards; and co-edited seven urban fantasy anthologies. As Leigh, she’s still a newbie. The Skeleton Takes a Bow, a September 2014 release from Berkley Prime Crime, is the second in the Family Skeleton series, and Leigh is hard at work on the third. No matter who she is, she lives north of Boston with her husband, fellow author Stephen P. Kelner; their two daughters; two guinea pigs; and many many books.