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Roberta Olsen Major
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Emma is skating. She does her homework, puts in hours at her uncle’s roller rink, and still hangs out with the same kids she’s known since middle school.
She’s living in the present and ignoring the future—until, one stormy night, the past comes back to haunt her.
It was a dark and stormy night.
Okay, it wasn’t that dark, but it was definitely darker than it should have been at a little past five in the evening.
And yeah, five o’clock isn’t exactly night.
But it was definitely stormy.
Of course, stormy happens a lot around here. In fact, my Uncle Ray says Houston weather forecasters have the easiest job on the planet because it’s either as hot as hell and humid as all get out, or there’s thunder, lightning, flash floods and tornadoes--which any fool can see by just looking out the window.
And that’s exactly what I was doing on the aforementioned dark and stormy night.
Only it wasn’t exactly a window I was looking out either.
Uncle Ray is not a weather forecaster. He’s actually the owner of a roller skating rink called Rockin’ Roll. And he’s pretty mellow about everything except forces of nature.
I work for him after school on Thursdays and Fridays, and pretty much all day Saturday, wearing a dorky striped skate guard shirt, selling concessions, blowing the whistle at kids who are doing what old people tend to call "horseplay," scrubbing wheel marks off walls, scraping gum off the hardwood floor, and whatever else Uncle Ray tells me to do. He says he likes having a sweet young thing to boss around. He says the "sweet" part because I’m his niece--and he likes to think sweetness runs in the family. Also, good looks. (He’s wrong on both counts.) But he’s got the "bossing around" part right. And I can’t exactly bad-mouth the boss behind his back because he’s my mother’s brother.
Nepotism has its drawbacks.
This particular day was Thursday, which is Family Day at the rink. But there was such a huge thunderstorm going on outside that the only family to show up for our reduced rates was Mrs. Ferguson and her five kids. Uncle Ray had already sent the other two skate guards, Jerry and Will, home, since we weren’t exactly swamped with customers.
Swamped. Ouch. Bad choice of words, considering the rain.
The window I was looking out was actually the two sets of front doors, which Uncle Ray had propped open in case the power went out.
Rockin’ Roll can be a scary place even with all the lights on--all those leering happy face posters and pictures of old dead singers like John Lennon and Jimi Hendrix stuck to the wall. Really old songs pour out of the speakers, sung by groups with weird names like Three Dog Night. As I said, it can be scary even with the lights on, but when the power goes out, as it does around here regularly during thunderstorms, it goes beyond scary.
Which is why I had just made another safety announcement over the sound system for the benefit of Mrs. Ferguson and her string of ducklings, to the effect that if the lights go out, stop skating immediately and sit down right where you are until the lights come back up.
Uncle Ray can’t stand the sight of blood any more than I can.
Anyway, it was a kind of dark and very stormy evening, and I was looking out the propped open doors and wishing we could just close early so I could finish my math homework in peace, when I saw a minivan slide into the rear of a really nice-looking pickup. The pickup shot into the ditch.
"Uncle Ray, someone just had a wreck!" I skated over to the open doors, but not outside since I didn’t want to get drenched. Besides which, Uncle Ray has an "absolutely no skates in the parking lot" rule.
Uncle Ray pushed his wire-rimmed glasses up the bridge of his nose and headed over to the doorway in his tie-dyed tee shirt, looking like an aging hippie--which, in fact, he is. Then he went straight for the phone to call the accident in to the police
Roberta Olsen Major wore out two toy typewriters as a child before her parents decided it would be more frugal to provide her with the real thing. Throughout junior high and high school, she used two fingers to tap out lurid, angst-filled stories peopled with impossibly beautiful characters speaking highly improbable dialogue.
After earning a BA from Brigham Young University, she worked as a librarian in sensible shoes, before switching her Major to the care and feeding of a scientific husband and two charming children.
A published playwright and reviewer of children’s books, she now lives in Texas, where she collects dust, gets taken for daily walks by her faithful Schnauzers, and is, as always, working on her next book.
The Ice Cream Crone: “…a galloping romp of hilarity on a quest of pure enjoyment. Roberta Olsen Major delights her readers with wit, puns, and good old silliness… filled with the perfect combination of chivalry and joviality… Life, love and the pursuit of laughter reign…” --Joyce Handzo, In the Library Reviews, October 10, 2003
The Ice Cream Crone: “… takes ‘happily ever after’ a hop, skip and a jump farther, leading the child in us all on a merry romp through ‘what if’.” -- Pam Ripling, author of Locker Shock!
Book Publisher: Wings e Press
No. of Pages: 174
Paper Weight (lb): 7.4
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