“The Bearded Lady’s a big fat fake.”
On a balmy afternoon under a cotton candy sky, Million Dollar Pier smelled like seaweed and French fries. The only money among the three of us was what Bobby had gotten from Mom and Dad, and from Norman and Betty, in exchange for keeping an eye on Lita and me for the afternoon; and Bobby had no intention of blowing his babysitting pay on a freak show. “I got a date tonight with an Irene’s Fudge girl,” he said. “I’m holding on to my money, and so should you. That Bearded Lady’s phony.”
The barker in front of the Bearded Lady’s tent must have heard Bobby. The hulky redheaded man stopped mid-pitch—“Step right up, ladies and gent…” He glared at us. Bobby, sixteen and streetwise from years on the boardwalk and in gypsy camps in Florida, stuck his tongue out at the man. The three of us turned to go back to the boardwalk.
“What’s a Bearded Lady?” asked Lita. She was only five—two years younger than I. She had mud-colored, curly hair, like mine, but hers was long, cascading in ringlets past her shoulders. And, like me, she was reed-thin and suntanned. Some people thought we were siblings, even though we’d met only a week earlier.
The barker hollered, “Step right up, ladies and gentlemen! Come see the Incredible Bearded Lady! Only a quarter—one thin quat-ah!” Lita stopped; she dug in her heels, grabbed our wrists and tugged us back toward the tent.
“It’s dumb, it’s fake!” Bobby said. He stooped and looked Lita in the eye. She pouted. Suddenly Bobby’s face lit up. “All right, you want to see the Bearded Lady? Follow me. Be cool.”
And so the two little kids follow Bobby the gypsy. And then... (Paperback coming June 3! If you can't wait, get the Kindle e-book available now.)