When Lonny moved on, Avril walked over to the mirror on the far wall just to check that the woman hadn’t been making fun of her. Nope. Still fabulous. Still sparkly with the glitter and hairspray she’d spritzed on before leaving the house.

With the pre-order for the completed Cry Baby Cry going up on Amazon this week, this will be the last sneak preview excerpt for CRY on this blog. I hope you enjoy it and will check back for future notes when I start to birth my next Street Stories novel.

Avril had seen an article once on coffins made with glitter. They came in any color. She would pick all the colors, she thought. Tell them to spray all the damn sparkles on the thing when it was time for her funeral and toast her with champagne as they lowered her into the dirt.

She looked down at her body without shame or hate or disorientation. The penis she had securely tucked beneath her red, white, and blue tutu didn’t mean she was a man any more than yearning for real breasts meant she was a woman. Her body simply was and whether she changed it to reflect who she was inside or not, she would always be Avril McCartney because that was who she chose to be. Who you made love to didn’t define who you were, either. Loving at all, that was what defined you: treating people, treating yourself, with compassion and humor and camaraderie.

Avril Feeds Rosie

Avril sat down and started talking to Rosie, asking her what kind of fool would send a beautiful baby like her to such a messed up world anyway. The baby watched her with wide eyes as if she understood all of it, as if she had the answers maybe even, but wasn’t about to let on what they were. Soon the fevered sucking on the nipple slowed, allowing a trail of water to slip down the side of her mouth. One tiny fist spasmed upward, latched onto a bit of fabric, and held on tight.

There’s something about a baby that makes a heart melt, even a street-wise, smart-mouth transvestite heart like Avril’s.

“You about done with that tasteless water?” Avril realized she was talking all “goo-goo baby-ized,” but didn’t care at all. No one else could hear her but Rosie and she seemed to like it. “You do, don’t you, sweet thing? You like it when Auntie Avril talks the sweet talk, don’t you?”

This was the first time she’d ever been so close to an infant, except for when she’d helped deliver this one. She’d heard how natural it felt to cradle them in the crook of your arm, how their eyes could melt into you like welcome laser beams.

“Babies supposed to smell good, too, though, ain’t they?” she asked Rosie. “Not all stinky like you. You a stinky girl, yes, you are. Stinky girl.”

Was that a smile? No, they didn’t smile this little, did they? Whatever gas had passed across Rosie’s face, Avril felt it tug at her insides like a string tied to her colon.

“How about Auntie Avril see if she can get some of that street stink off of you, hmm?”

Rummaging in the baby box on the floor, she found a small bottle of Johnson’s baby shampoo and another receiving blanket. When she finally lowered the baby into a sink full of warm water, Rosie jerked at first in surprise, sending up a small splash, then kicked and squirmed enough to create a tsunami.

The child was a natural born Michelle Phelps. “Or maybe you a Mike?” Avril asked Rosie. “I’m not about to make the same mistake my daddy did. You free to grow up to be whoever you want, child, no matter what parts mother nature gave you on the outside. You remember that.”


In her dreams, Avril was kneeling in front of Lily again, hands held out to catch the baby sliding out of the girl. “Push,” she told Lily and suddenly there it was, slipping into Avril’s waiting fingers like a pit from a cherry.

When Jo dreams earlier in the book, I use italics and present tense, hoping to bring the reader into the dream to give it more depth, but for Avril’s dream, it seemed more appropriate to watch it from the outside, like this.

“What is it?” Franco yelled in Avril’s ear. “What is it?”

Avril knew he was asking if the baby was a boy or a girl. She tried to focus on the tiny naked worm she held. The baby’s face was twisted and squinting, clearly pissed off at being born, but for the life of her, Avril couldn’t tell what gender it was. It was like she held a baby Ken doll in her hands, one that squirmed and was covered with wet, blood-speckled slime.

“What is it?” Franco asked again, but Avril could only look at him in confusion. “I don’t know,” she admitted. “I don’t know anymore.”

I question if this is a realistic dream. I want to show Avril’s fluidity and possible confusion over her own sexuality, but is this too stereotype?

The baby wailed in protest, fists waving, feet kicking. Avril was ready to wake up. Enough of this nonsense, she told herself. Wake up. Wake up.

Except it wasn’t a dream. Not the crying part anyway. Avril awoke to hear the sound of a baby bawling somewhere in the building. Groaning, she rolled over and pulled a pillow over head trying to drown out the disturbance. It had been an extra late Saturday night for her, working hard to make up the lost time traveling to Englewood to track down that pesky Franco. Bad dreams or no, all she wanted was to get back to sleep.

Then arguing rose over the sound of the baby. “No. I don’t want to,” someone whined, close and high pitched. The answer was male, but almost as feminine sounding, “Well, where else, then, huh? You wanna go back to Riley’s, do you? For fuck’s sake, Lily, make up your God damned mind already. It’s here or Riley’s or out on the streets. You think Rosie’s safe on the streets, do you?”

Lily? The name, filtered through the pillow, sounded like part of the dream, but when Avril heard Joe Clark from next door bellow down the hall, “For Christ’s sake, shut that kid up, will you?” she knew she was wide awake. The voices had to belong to Lily and Franco, which meant the baby was little Zara Rose.

Just as the reality of that made itself clear, a knock on the door brought Avril fully upright in bed.

“Avril?” Franco called. “Avril, you home? Come on, open up.”

Just a Job

Avril suddenly became aware that she’d been standing in the same tense pose since they’d started talking. Her shoulder blades ached. Her calves screamed for release from the murderously high heels. She dropped into the nearest lounge chair and fingered the broken vinyl on the armrest.

I like the idea of showing that there are many levels in the trans world, and tried to express it in Avril’s description of Lonny: “Lonny had transitioned late in life and all the hormones and surgical procedures in the world couldn’t disguise her masculine beginnings.”

“Everywhere I look, there’s dead ends,” she said. “I went to the police to ask them to look into it, but they don’t even pretend they will.”

She didn’t expect sympathy. Certainly didn’t want it from Lonny Kane. But she also didn’t expect the frigid bitch to look down her nose at Avril and say, “You sure there’s a problem, Avril? Sure you’re not overreacting?” That gave Avril more buzz than an 8-hour energy drink.

“Oh, that’s right, accuse the drama queen of theatrics.” Avril jumped to her feet, ignoring the stab of pain from her feet when she did. “Makes life easy for you, does it? Pretend Zara’s fine. The tranny just crazy, that’s all. If you wasn’t a woman, if you wasn’t so pathetic a woman, I’d black your ass from here to Lake Michigan.

“How’s that for overreacting?” she called over her shoulder as she stomped to the exit. “You just lucky I don’t react all over your face.”

The sun and heat blasted her like a welding arc when she stepped outside. Blinded by the light, by her mad, with the blood rushing through her veins, Avril had to take a sec to calm down before she could think, before she could move.

She should be home sleeping, resting up for the long haul of making ends meet after dark. Some people whored because they were roped into it, hard-run by pimps like Riley King. Some just didn’t give a shit what happened to them, maybe doing it to feed a bad habit. Booze. Drugs. Whatever. For Avril, it was a job. A job that could be fun as hell, or scary as hell.

Some day, it wouldn’t bring in enough to build a life with, but she didn’t like to think about some day. Live for today. And today, God damn it, she was going to find out what the hell happened to Zara Rose if it killed her.

Katja is Now Zara Rose

“Haven’t seen you for awhile, Avril.” Lonny came around the office area and leaned against the counter. She was wearing a very cute pant suit and her red hair was styled in a fashionable chignon that let a few sexy strays escape to softly frame her face. This disarray was deliberate, Avril was sure, and effective. However, Lonny had transitioned late in life and all the hormones and surgical procedures in the world couldn’t disguise her masculine beginnings.

I needed another name for Avril’s friend–something unique enough to cause Avril to suspect Lily knows her friend when she names the baby that, but not something that might be confused with any other characters in the books.

Avril used one hand to bounce the curly tips of her ice blue synthetic hair. “Well, you know, a working girl only has so many hours in the day. Even us girls who work the night shift. I’m here about Zara,” she added abruptly.

“Zara? Zara Rose? I haven’t seen her for months. I thought you two were friends. Why come here looking for her?”

“What other Zara you think I’d be talking about, woman?” Avril dropped all attempts to be polite. “No one’s seen her for months. And if you cared at all about the people working here, you would know that, now wouldn’t you?”

Lonny straightened both her pose and the line of her mouth. “She asked for leave last September, I think it was. I don’t pry into personal business so I didn’t ask why. I’ll admit I was surprised when she didn’t come back a few days later—”

“So you did notice,” Avril cut in.

“—but she was only a volunteer, after all. She’s not required to give notice if she decides she doesn’t have time to—”

Zara is a common nickname for Zahara which is deeply rooted in the Arabic zahra that means “flower” or “blossom.” Zara has Algerian heritage on one side of her family which accounts for her beautiful creamy complexion and the name choice when she transitioned to female.

This time Avril was not going to allow her interruption to be interrupted. “Zara worked here for four years. Four years. Every day she came to be with the kids. This like her home. You know that, I know you do. You really think she’d just walk away one day and not let you know? Not let the kids who’d come to count on her know? What’s wrong with you? Did you skip the operation that’s supposed to give you a heart?”

Avril and Bobby

Avril kicked off her pumps and sighed with relief, bending down to rub first one instep then the other. Reaching behind her with one hand, she undid the bra clasp, catching her breasts with the other arm as they fell loose.

“All right, Bobby boy,” she said softly as she sat in front of her vanity mirror. “Time for nighty night.”

Author’s Aside:
I think I’ve got a better handle on Avril now, thanks to a blog I found at Some interesting perspectives on what it means to be trans can be found there.

The ritual removal of makeup was soothing and allowed her to get a good look at that pimple she had popped the other day. She stared at it a moment, then shrugged, satisfied the blemish left behind would soon be gone.

The daily transformation from Avril to Bobby and back again was unremarkable to her after all these years. She’d had her conversations with social workers and doctors, working girls and drag queens, individuals ranging up and down the diverse spectrum that was the LGBTQ scale. More productive conversations than any she’d have been able to afford with an actual psychologist, for damn sure.

No one had the right answer, she’d decided long ago. Not for her personally, anyway. “Live your truth” was her motto and most days it worked well enough.

Today, though, had been hard. Seeing Granny again, pretending she didn’t notice the arthritic knuckles and slow step. The worry in those faded brown eyes. She loved the woman dearly—probably wouldn’t be alive if not for her—but any time she visited, the ghost of little Bobby Boyle haunted her even after she left.

Daddy had caught Bobby in a dress once—eight years old he’d been then. Beat the living shit out of that boy and locked him in his room for a week. Thankfully Big Daddy Boyle went on another bender soon after, and Granny had been there to unlock the door, dry Bobby’s tears, and take him shopping for a pretty pink ribbon for his hair.

Author’s Aside:
As I progress with this writing, it’s going to be tricky to post excerpts without giving away too much of the plot. Hopefully this last paragraph is more of a tease than a spoiler.

That’s why Avril knew she’d done the right thing. For now at least, that baby was safe as it could be anywhere. What came after, well—Avril scratched the irritating stubble on her chin and grabbed a razor before heading to the shower—that was a worry for another day.

Lily Gives Birth

Mud, wet and stinking. Filthy hair clinging to her cheeks, to the tears and rain on her face. Roots drip from the earthen hole that surrounds her. She shudders, curled protectively around her belly, gasping for breath. Thunder. Lightening. Bolts from the sky stained with red and blue lights from the cop cars.

“I’m a bug,” she whispers. Just a doodle bug rolled into a small ball in the black dirt. Hard shell outward to ward off enemies. Soft underbelly sucked in close to her spine.
The creek rises outside of her hole in the earth, past the tree roots that curtain her refuge. Water reaches the opening, trickles in. If she stays, she will drown. If she leaves, she will die. If she dies, her baby dies.

“You have to,” Katja says. “You have to be brave for the baby. We’ll be fine. You’ll tell the police. They’ll get us out. Go, now, quickly. Go!”

Then gunshots echo in the basement, and red like a bloody mouth gaped beneath Katja’s breasts, and Lily was running, running, and no one would believe her. Not the police. Not Katja’s friend. No one. She’d tried. And it was all her fault. All of it. If she’d been a good girl, then …

“Be a good girl,” her father whispered, his voice reaching her through the pain. “Let Jesus into your heart again and he will cleanse you of this sin. He will forgive you. I will forgive you. But you must repent.”

Author’s Aside:
Flashbacks. Always tricky. How much to reveal? Which tense to use? Yet I love them.

Pain tore through her, ripped from her spine through her abdomen, spasmed through her legs to her toes. Lily screamed and sat up. But she wasn’t in the hole by the creek, nor still in the prison of the basement. She was in a crumbling ruin of a room, with Franco kneeling over her, his face gaunt and worried.

“What do I do?” he asked. “MayBe? What do we do now? Should I get her? You said not to, but I don’t know what else to do.”

And she nodded. Avril wouldn’t want to help her if she knew. Would hate her. But to save her baby, Lily would have to pretend. To lie. She was good at that, wasn’t she?

Lily tried to catch her breath as the pain retreated again. She felt lightheaded, with pain, fear, hunger. Franco left her, but she barely noticed. She laid back. Her ears were ringing. God, she was going to die here, wasn’t she? Die alone in a dark room with a dead baby spilled out between her legs in pool of blood and—

She sucked in a breath as another pain shot through her. Above her silent scream of agony, she heard a crash, then a shriek from somewhere in the house.

“You call this a stairway, boy?” The high voice had husky undertones. “This here’s a death trap, that’s what it is. Worse than plastic pieces snapped together like that Mousetrap game. You know what game I’m talking about, boy? Of course you don’t. You just a baby, you.”

Then the speaker was standing in the doorway of Lily’s room, the form outlined by the flickering light that spilled in from the alley lamppost. Short skirt, long hair, seven inch heels, and broad muscular shoulders.

“Lily May Beckett,” the creature said. “You making me risk life and limb to get up here just cause you scared of some hospital? What’s wrong with you, girl?”

Avril. The thought of the woman brought a fear even greater than knowing she might die. What would Avril do if she knew? Then another contraction ripped through Lily and all thought fled.

“Lil? You okay, Lil?” Franco dropped to his knees and took her hand in both of his. She squeezed his fingers so hard he yelped. She didn’t care, though. It wasn’t him had a knife tearing its way out of her body with slash after slash.

“Avril, damnit,” Franco yelled. “Do something. Do something.”

“Darlin’, I don’t know what makes you think I can help matters. You forget I ain’t got the same equipment as her? I know I look all Xena Warrior Princess on the outside—” She tossed her hair over one shoulder and batted her eyelashes. “But you do remember there’s a surprise curled up under my skirt here, now don’t you, hon?”

Lily screamed as she pulled her knees up and gave in to a need to push, to shit this baby out of her no matter the cost, no matter what happened before or after. The only thing that mattered was push, breath, push, breath, push!

“You can do it, hon. Good girl.” Katja? Avril?

“Mom?” Lily sobbed. “Mom, I’m sorry, I’m sorry.”

You have to be brave for the baby. But she wasn’t brave. She was a liar, and a murderer. A sinner. The only person who’d ever tried to help her was dead because of her. Blood dripping from her fingers, surprise on her face.

“Katja,” Lily breathed as blessed darkness washed over her.

Jo Meets Avril

“So, she’s in the hospital, you’re saying?” Jo Sullivan was confused. She’d been interrupted right in the middle of this week’s column which was due in a half hour, then hurried to the front desk to meet a visitor who’d insisted she needed to speak to Jo urgently, only to be confronted by a six foot four transvestite with a five o’clock shadow and foundation makeup that desperately needed a refresh.

“It sounds like everything is taken care of,” Jo continued. “I really don’t understand what you want from me.”

Betty at the front desk and the two reporters that had walked through the lobby since their conversation started had managed to keep their mirth under wraps, but Ed Logan was due back from lunch any second, and Jo just knew he wouldn’t let an opportunity like this slip by. She had to get back to work soon.

“Woman,” Avril said, leaning over her and saying each word slowly. “You. Are. Not. Listening. She named the baby Katja. Don’t you get it? It’s plain as the Adams apple in my throat. Which, by the way, you can quit staring at any time now. Yes, I am a man. Yes, I am wearing makeup, a wig, and one damn expensive pair of Jimmy Choo’s. Now can we get back to this girl Lily May and what happened to my friend?”


Author’s Aside:
Katja’s first name is just a placeholder for now. It’s too similar to Jo’s friend Keisha to keep long term. When I replace it, though, it will have to be something just as uncommon in order to trigger Avril’s concern.

“Yes, my friend Katja. Why else would she name the baby that? This Lily has to know where the woman is, but the nurses won’t let me near the girl, even though I’m the one who called the ambulance, not to mention delivered the baby my very own self in that disgusting hovel of a building those kids call home.”

When Jo first met a street artist nicknamed CRY, the brutal murder of a friend and his fear of being forced to turn tricks to survive on the streets had made the boy somewhat homophobic and yet it had been this Avril who he’d gone to when looking for a missing girl and it was Avril who he’d continued to correspond with by letter after he got into Job Corps.

So there had to be more to this woman—man?—woman than Jo understood.

“Okay, okay.” Jo held up both hands to stop what was obviously going to be another diatribe of what sounded like nonsense. “Let’s slow down here a minute, all right? If you could hold on for another ten minutes or so while I finish this article I’ve—”

“Hold on? Hold on? Well, Ms. Sullivan.” Avril’s words dripped with sarcasm. “I’ve got all the time in the world. So does Katja, I suppose. Apparently it is all the same to you if a missing girl shows up dead instead of alive. Is that why you got to Lexie Green too late, hmm? Had an important article to write, did you?”

Guilt and regret bloomed from Jo’s center like a stinking corpse flower. Lexie Green had been murdered by a psycho funeral home employee, a fact neither Jo nor Lexie’s friend CRY had known until way too late. It had been almost a year since that happened, and Jo had done all she could at the time, but nothing could erase the glimpse she remembered of the young girl’s tiny feet in their tubular tomb.

“So this is how you want to play it?” Jo asked bitterly. “You come to ask me for help and then insult me? Who’s not getting it now?”

She turned to leave but Avril’s firm grip on her arm stopped her. Jo looked down at the long fingers with their purple-glittered nails and dark hairs sprouting from the knuckles.

“I’m sorry,” Avril said, letting go. She really did sound sincere. “I’m just so upset I’m not thinking straight. Am I just imagining things? Katja’s been gone for two months and no word at all, not to no one. I know I might just be grasping at strays, girl, but don’t you think it’s too much of a coincidence? I mean, this girl approaching me out of nowhere and then naming her baby after my missing friend?”

Straws, Jo thought, suddenly tired. Grasping at straws. Avril’s very real worry about her friend Katja was something she could easily understand. If Jo’s best friend Keisha had been off the grid for two months Jo would also be turning over every stone, straw, and stray she could find.

She sighed. “No such thing as coincidence.” Okay, she gave up. “Here, let’s go somewhere we can sit down, at least. Betty, will you ask Nick if he can wait another half hour for my column while I deal with this?”

“Wait?” Betty raised one perfectly plucked eyebrow. “You want me to ask Nick Simonoff to delay a deadline? All right,” she said quickly, holding up a hand when Jo started to speak. “I’ll ask. But it’s your head, understand, not mine that will roll if I have anything to say about it.”

The staff lounge was empty with so many out for lunch at this time of day, so they didn’t have to deal with any startled looks when they walked in and settled down at a table near the coffee pot.

“Coffee? Tea?” Jo asked.

“The biggest cup of joe you got, please, girl. I’ve been up all night. Well, usually am, truth be told, but not dealing with all this drama. Babies popping out at one a.m., paramedics asking me all kinds of questions I got no answers to. Good looking paramedics, mind, so it was a pleasure and all, really, but Lord, if it all don’t leave me with a need for caffeine. Thank you, hon.”

While Avril filled her cup with so much sugar and cream the cup overflowed, Jo tried to piece together the hodgepodge of data the man—woman?—had unloaded on Jo as soon as she’d walked into the lobby.

“You said Lily’s been hanging around Lakeview how long again? A week? Two?”

“All I know is that’s when she come up to me. At my spot by Dunkin Donuts, you know? Had no place to stay, she said. Hungry. So many of these kids ’round here is these days, right? When I asked why she thought I was Santy Claus, she started saying a friend told her, but then she shuts up, says never mind, and walks off.

“I thought nothing more of it, except, why me? I got my own business to mind to, don’t go snooping into any others. Chicago got homeless services up the wazoo if you know where to look. I saw her around a little after that, hanging with Franco’s crowd, so I figured she found a squat and her street fam would look out for her. They do that, you know, these kids. Family tight as any you could hope for.”

“Franco is the guy who came and got you last night.”

“Franco Stakoviak. Little kid, thinks the fifteen hairs on his chin means he’s growing a beard. He’s one of Riley King’s.”

Once again Avril had hit a nerve. Jo had run into Riley King more than once, the first time because he’d been the one that sent Lexie to her death.

“He’s turning tricks for King?”

“Probably. Or dealing. Or both. He’s a good boy, though. Lily was having a hard time, he said. Wouldn’t go to the hospital. Bleeding. Poor kid thought she was going to die. So I went. What else could I do? Just in time to catch the little worm wiggle its way into the world.” Avril held her huge hands up and looked at them like she was amazed that they’d held a newborn life.

“Why you?”

“That’s what I’m saying.” Avril’s voice rose again. “And then… in the ambulance, when they took the baby from her saying they’d take good care of it she says, real soft so I could hardly hear her, she says, ‘Her name is Katja.’ Katja. Who I been worrying about for weeks now. Katja, who works for the LGTBQ center in Uptown. She must have told this girl she could trust me.”

“You said Katja is, um, a transvestite, too?”

“Katja is transgender. Why is it so hard for you people to understand the difference? Transgender is someone born with the standard equipment of one sex who feels they should have been assigned the other model. I, on the other hand, just happen to look damn good dressed as a woman, and not afraid to admit it, thank you very much. Katja had all the upgrades completed over a year ago, and that girl could turn heads, you know what I’m saying?”

“And you think Lily is connected to your friend because she’s a lesbian.”

“Well, she’ll deny it seven ways to Sunday, I’m sure, if you ask her. Claims Franco is her boyfriend, when everyone knows that boy is gay as Truman Capote. He’s her beard, she’s his, if you ask me. It’s plain as the nose on your face, if you don’t mind me using a cliche.”

“I do.”


“I do mind cli— Never mind. How’d Lily end up pregnant then, if she’s into women?”

“If you have to ask that, hon, then it’s time you go back to Junior High sex ed. That’s a question you need to put to her.”

“What makes you think she’ll answer me?”

“Look, I’m here because of Chris, like I told you. Crybaby. He wrong about you? Kid’s got nothing but good to say about you when he writes. So far, I’m getting none of that here, but you helped him and all I’m asking for is the same. If you’re willing.”

Author’s Aside:
And here’s the rub. Jo feels socially awkward around the transvestite. Is this going to be a turn off to readers? Or will they stick with me long enough to see if her feelings change?

Jo closed her eyes. Why was she so resistant? Was it because Avril was trans? Was she really that small-minded? Or was it because finding Katja Larsson reminded her too much of trying to save Lexie, and failing?

“Jo?” Betty’s voice made Jo jerk around. The receptionist was leaning in the doorway, trying hard not to stare at Avril. “Nick says now or never. And Ed’s offering to do the job if you don’t so if you want to keep your byline on this column …”

“Okay, okay, I got it.” Jo turned to Avril. “Look, I’ll go with you. I promise. I’ll talk to her. But you’ve got to give me ten minutes here, or I’m going to be the one looking to make a few bucks on the corner, all right?”

Avril tossed her long hair over one shoulder. “You? Woman, you like to starve working the streets. Ain’t no man gonna pick up a prickly pear like you for enough to buy a cup of coffee.”

She sat back and seemed content to wait, though, and Jo took that as a sign she would, for a while at least.

Avril’s Opinion of Jo

Avril leaned back in the passenger seat and watched Jo from beneath long, lowered lashes. She wasn’t sure what to make of the woman. She knew from Chris’s letters that the reporter had helped the boy find his missing friend and get into Jobcorps. Standard goody-two-shoes material, she’d figured.

Author’s Aside:
I’m having a harder time getting into Avril’s voice than I did Lily. I want to avoid making her a caricature. I want to show that despite her sometimes over-the-top responses  she is a realist.

When Avril had been known as Bobby Boyle—she shuddered as she thought the name, that pale, hideous moniker—she’d made fun of people like Jo. Liberals who thought handing out bowls of soup at a shelter would make any damn difference to the big picture. That’s what she’d told her friend Katja once. Lord, hadn’t that turned into a late night debate.

But instead of the bleeding heart Avril expected to find, this Jo Sullivan acted hard and edgy. In fact, for someone who supposedly cared about homeless kids, she actually seemed pretty cold and callous to Avril.

And she drove like a maniac.

“The light! The light! Watch the light, woman!” Avril grabbed the dashboard and shut her eyes, then opened them again in time to see a startled pedestrian step back onto the curb then give them the finger.