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The Ups and Downs of Skeeter Kitefly

Skeeter Kitefly's Sugardaddy Confessor

13 Black Cats
Under a Ladder

Bolster, Not Molest Her

To Be Honest

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Last Updated

February 24, 2013




a disturbingly hilarious novel

about a compactified young woman

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  1—O Say Can You Skeet

At a 4th of July party in 1965, the not-quite-six Kelly Rebecca Kitefly (“Miss Skeeter” to her  Grampa Otto) has a cavortin’ good time, oblivious to her parents having broken up—and also to the dangers of skyrockets.

…It was getting really, really dark now and Kelly Rebecca started back, lingering by the old chicken house since Dougie Hungerford had swiped a cherry bomb from the fireworks supply, and had whispered to her that later on they were going to try blowing up the old chicken house with it. Kelly could hardly wait. Being involved in an explosion wouldn’t faze her at all, nossir! Never a skinned knee nor a bruised finger despite all her antics; and though she’d broken collarbones by falling out of trees, they had never been her collarbones…

("O Say Can You Skeet" appeared in DigiZine)

  2—Two Points

Living with her grandparents in smalltown Marble Orchard, Skeeter is confined to bed with the German measles, her hyperactive imagination, and other family legacies.

…Skeeter had no sooner landed in a sickbed than she’d entertained high hopes of ambulances and oxygen tents, her life being despaired of, all her friends at school chipping in to buy flowers that could double if necessary as a funeral wreath.  But what a gyp: nothing but a week of tucked-in isolation and denial of TV rights, since Gramma wouldn’t move the family Magnavox upstairs…

  3—The House in the Trees

Left on her own one Sunday afternoon, Skeeter occupies herself with multilayered make-believe—and testing the limits of a cat’s patience on a treehouse level.

…Wrinkle your pointed-button nose and look down it at the rest of you.  Someday soon you’re going to be big, with boobies out to here, and wear stylish unmentionabubbles to tote them around in.  Lawnjer-ray, lawnjer-ree, lawnjer-RAH-hahaha—and pose in tight sweaters with an arched back like Ann-Margret…

("The House in the Trees" as it appeared in DigiZine)

  4—Brownie Like Me

The eight-year-old Skeeter and her intense friend Janey take advantage of their Brownie uniforms as they conspire to buy their first cigarettes.

…The girls had already done plenty of experimental smoking, despite a lack of material. Janey’s mother had been raised Mormon, and wouldn’t allow tobacco in her house; and Gramma Otto, while puffing through quite a few cigarettes, was nobody’s fool and kept them under literal lock and key.  “When we get BOYfriends, we can take their cigarettes,” Skeeter’d decided. “Till then we’re on our own…”

("Brownie Like Me" was published in Rhapsoidia)

  5—Power & Light

Visiting her uncle in Chicago, Skeeter gets her first taste of Bright Lights Big City—and takes part in the fracas surrounding the 1968 Democratic convention.

…lookit all the burlesque houses! the pawnshops! the saloons! the drunk-looking man staggering out of that one!  This must be the genuine authentic BAD part of town!  But “Wait, it gets better,” Buddy was saying, swinging them roundabout again and heading off in a new direction.  “1-2-3 Red Light!”  Skeeter sang—and all at once the world lit up like the carousel at the Booth County Fair…

("Power & Light" appeared in The Sidewalk’s End)

Sister Sadie What Have You Done

Skeeter meets Mercedes Benison, a potential big stepsister who alternates between eager affection, moderate fury, and outta-here! bossiness.

…Sadie was still lecturing about race relations and social injustice when they reached the edge of Oswald Avenue.   Here Skeeter found it necessary to punch her on the arm.  “Ow! What was that for?”  “Slug-Bug went by,” Skeeter explained, pointing to a passing Volkswagen.  “Look, there goes another—”  “Ow!  Quit it!  Who do you think you’re punching, squirt?”  “Gee, Sadie, I thought it was you…”

("Sister Sadie What Have You Done" as it appeared in The Sidewalk's End)

  7—Buying the Farm

About to leave Marble Orchard in 1970, the impatient Skeeter plans her own going-away party, heedless of the left-behind.

“...Okay!” she’d run home to inform Gramma, “here’s the latest: I’m going to hitch the ponies up to Jeff’s uncle’s neighbor-that-used-to-be- a-milkman’s cart, and do it up like Cinderella’s pumpkin, right? and get driven to school my last day, and be hahnded out at the door in this red velvet gown cut low front ‘n’ back—”


  8—The First of the Svens

"Becoming a woman" at age eleven, Skeeter pursues her first teen Cool Boy—right into his bedroom, with unexpected fallout for them both.

...Ginny had been terrorstricken by her menarche, and turned scarlet at the mention of periods and colons and other marks of punctuation.  Skeeter, contrariwise, had welcomed her time’s arrival; and she collected nicknames for it, such as high tide, That Midol Moment, and “riding the cotton bicycle.”  (In future years she would sometimes punch men in the stomach—playfully, but punch—and say, “THAT’S for being a guy and not having

("The First of the Svens" appeared in Entropic Desires)

  9—Visions of Sugarbongs

Skeeter spends New Year's Eve '72 at Sadie's college dorm, where she can't wait to get high like a practically-adult for the first time.

...She applied herself to the mouthpiece slowly, deeply, with a steady sssucckkkk—gag! choke!  HUCK HUCK HUCK, sounding like runaway Jim on the fogbound raft.  There was genial laughter from her elders.  “Mmmm boy that’s good grass,” coughed Skeeter.  “So how soon before I’m ripped?  Does it happen instantaniciously?...”

("Visions of Sugarbongs" appeared in Unlikely Stories)



Starting high school, Skeeter slices open her first worm and renounces all nursing ambitions, focusing instead on Halloween mayhem.

...Skeeter had no intention of ever growing up, of course, or old, or fat (yuggh) but adults were always asking what she wanted to “be” when (not if) she did the first of these.  Yeah—right.  Like she was ever going to be five full feet tall, or would ever want to be.  Grownups couldn’t be buttoncute, or have any authentic fun, or even take a proper bathtub wallow.  Forget it...

("Spookacious" was published in Arnazella and also
appeared in Ten Thousand Monkeys)

 11—Initially Illustrated

Deep in the Derelict Days of 1974, Skeeter pledges a sorority (actually more of a skag-gang) and insists that a tattoo be part of her initiation.

...after further consideration she settled on her baptismal initials, K.R.K., and them to go on her right hindquarter after all.  To this end (and past it) Skeeter wriggled out of her fancy-free jeans and fire-engine-red brevities (for which she’d recently given up her virgin-whites), while helpful Nat kept her in staggering stitches by wondering aloud whether Bless This Buttock ought not to be added...

("Initially Illustrated" was published in Arnazella and also
appeared in Ten Thousand Monkeys)



At loose ends during her junior year, Skeeter is shanghaied into school theatrics and seeks tutelage from a local brasslungs legend.

...Skeeter was exactly the right type for this part, according to Mr. Minie; the librettists might’ve had her in mind when they wrought the play.  For was not Bitsy bitesized, jocose and twinkle-eyed, with toothsome grin and roguish giggle and verve as big as all outdoors?  All of which Skeeter was, had, or could readily approximate...

("Projectile" appeared in The Sidewalk's End)

13—Little Artful Antics

Skeeter alternates between devising a standup comedy routine and dancin' away the summer night—both of which culminate in Sadie's morning-sickness.

...bring on the night!  And in it charged!  A windy howl, blowing up Skeeter’s Farrahfications layer by layer into a peachy fuzzy mushroom cloud, rising, twining, undulating: “Medusa you say!”  But Skeeter a gorgon?  Just look at that face, deeLISHus round winsome pink peeping out of the boy-howdy cloud; how could it petrify anybody?  Then look again at the abruptly-pointed chin, the tipped-up buttony nose, and listen to the peals of cacklelaughter—oh my God she was a witch!  Beware, lest she turn you all into newts!...

("Little Artful Antics" appeared in Ten Thousand Monkeys)

 14—The Clearing Stage

Giving up on drama as a career option, Skeeter quits college at age twenty and starts life on her own in downtown Demortuis at the height of Discomania.

...Nobody doubted Skeeter’s stage presence, or her knowing where she was coming from.  It was the going-to that kept tripping her up, especially when interacting with comedians liable to pull the unexpected.  Joe undertook to coach her, but all for naught; as an improv comic, Skeeter made a damn fine audience.  She would get agog and engrossed in what her partners were coming up with, then miss the ball altogether when it was thrown her way, or burst out cacklelaughing fit to die...


In 1980 Skeeter meets Jim Midge, the Ultimate Laplander: a man who might be THE One AND Only for her ... in a very terminal way.

...Feeling creepy-crawl and goosey-bump, Skeeter scrubbed her face and throat and further south; rinsed, toweled, stretched to hang towel and washcloth over the shower rod, hoping vaguely that the sight of her other best side might warm the blood and thaw the atmosphere.  No response.  She rolled on Secret, tended to her teeth, brushed her hair a little, put her glasses back on—and found an ashen face staring back at her, immobile, from the mirror.  Heeeere’s Jimmy...

("ELOHSSA DECAFTIHS" appeared in Unlikely Stories)


 16—Really Weird Dreams

Her carefree merry-go-round having broken down, the bewildered Skeeter seeks comfort in solitaire and overeating.

...For many nights afterward she would have a dream, this really weird dream of going to bed and almost to sleep before the bed rolled forward like a dresser drawer being opened, and a goddam spotlight came shining right in her eyes which wouldn’t close or even blink—and there were her folks, staring down at her from either side, all aghast.  Jeez quit it she’d try to say, you’re acting as though I’m DEAD—

("Really Weird Dreams" appeared in October Moon)

 17—Near Dowels

Returning to college in search of the answer to What-For, Skeeter finds only botherment from ne'er-do-wells.

...Third time’s the charm (they say) and this was, let’s see, yes: the third time in Skeeter’s short life that her highfalutin derring-do had flamed out on her.  Gone into a tailspin, a SHWEEEEE-OOOOP nosedive, aiming to auger in at Mach 1+ and not with any whizbang but a stumblebummy whimper.  So where’s the charm?...

(an excerpt from "Near Dowels" was published in Lynx Eye)


Skeeter spends New Year's Eve '82 alone with her cat, a bottle of tequila, a ceiling ready to leak, and dismal dim reflections.

...See Kelly Rebecca as she must have been originally envisioned, conceived on a vast Amazonian scale, with proportionate appetites and capacities: a great big amazing colossal girl!  See her the child of scrunchdown by Jolly Dame Nature, abridged and condensed into a little ole bitty Skeeter-type doll: the compact version that could get high on an Eskimo pie, for awhile...

("Otherwise" appeared in The Fiction Warehouse;
"Skeeter with Castanets On," a poeticized excerpt,
was published in Culebra! and nominated for the 1993 Pushcart Prize)

 19—Taking Avail

Working harder than ever before, Skeeter struggles to break out of her tailspin—going so far as to cross the ocean on a ship full of hungry missionaries.

...Her first impulse was to take off immediately, at once, for Nowhere or Anywhere; but that was Sadie’s way out and Skeeter was wise to its dead ends.  No: another coop-flying might be due, but this time there could be no lidflipping involved.  She’d have to plan things out in advance, keep both feet firmly on the ground—act very grownup, in fact, if she truly hoped to stand a chance...

("Taking Avail" appeared in Unlikely Stories)

 20—Ring Around with RoBynne

After some premeditated maneuvering, Skeeter gets a New Wave mentor in the makeover-minded RoBynne O'Ring.

...Where and when and how to shop for a nouvelle image: to begin with, you aVOIDed the malls—hanging out there was for like high school sophomores, y’know, soooo immature.  No, Skeeter’d done the right thing by hitting on thrift stores, and some of the stuff she’d bagged there might be salvageable; but RoBynne knew lots wickeder places...

("Ring Around with RoBynne" appeared in Ten Thousand Monkeys)

21—Kitefly in the Ointment

Even surrounded by her nearest and dearest, Skeeter still feels trapped in a constant loop-the-loop reel-to-reel Slinky spiral.

...The sun was setting now, right in her eyes, like that goddam spotlight in the dresser-drawer nightmare.  Seen through Skeeter’s wraparound shades it began to strobe and whirligig—to flashdance, in fact.  “What a feeling!”  “A girl’s gotta keep believing.”  How conveniently easy that would be if you too could weld by day and BoogaBloo by night, and have a wealthy (yet handsome) steel-mill owner waiting for you at The End with a bunch of goddam flowers...

("Kitefly in the Ointment" appeared in The Shadowshow)

 22—Merely SAD

Sliding sockfooted down a fresh-waxed corridor, Skeeter bowls over a tall bald man whose shrouded observation makes her think about Death ... and Life.

“...I mean you’re straight and single and kind of rich and not bad looking and have these really Byzantine eyes and that really smooth scalp and obviously adore being ridden down waxed floors by knockdown-gorgeous women—”
  “You’re right about the knockdown part, anyway.”
  “Well then,” said Skeeter, “wouldn’t you love to be my sugardaddy?...”

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