Today we have a sneak peek from Jim Musgrave’s coming-of-age novel, Freak Story: 1967-1969.
Buddy Hartman, a sober and clean music promoter in Minneapolis, discovers his biological mother is a freak, but he is incomplete.
Buddy’s life is changed forever when he takes his mother and aunt, the Hilton Siamese Twins, to the 1968 Chicago Democratic National Convention in an attempt to resurrect their entertainment careers and realize his own identity. Buddy learns what being a freak really means, as the power of the State meets the power of the counterculture heroes.
Here is an excerpt from Freak Story: 1967-1969…
At last, after a few more minutes, they were rounding the corner of Weyland and heading toward me. The first vision that filled my mind as I watched them walk, quite crab-like, from side-to-side, was that of the rare Pushmi-pullyu, an antelope-like creature with two heads described in the children’s book about Dr. Dolittle and his expeditions. It was the rarest animal of all and if Dr. Dolittle could capture it he could become rich and famous back home. However, it was said that you could not capture it because one head would always be facing you, and even when it slept it kept one head awake to watch for intruders. This human Pushmi-pullyu was side-stepping its way down the road, and I was mesmerized by the fact that this was the being who gave life to poor Buddy Hartman.
The Hilton twins didn’t look evil. They seemed to be very comfortable with their lot in life today. Certainly, it wasn’t the champagne brunches and bright lights of vaudeville, but they were holding their heads high, wearing their red-and-white checked shirts, the standard uniform for Park ‘n Shop employees. The twins waved to all the people passing in cars and trucks, all of whom seemed to recognize them.
I was hopeful they would be approachable when I finally decided upon the disguise I would use to gain their confidence. As I turned my head to look down the boulevard where they were headed, I saw a group of teenagers coming toward the twins. There were three older boys, one with flaming red hair, and one youngster, no older than thirteen, who walked behind them. The sisters seemed to realize what to expect, as they picked up their cadence, staring straight ahead, until they were almost directly under my tree. The kids also approached, and they soon began a ritual of taunting. While the two older boys yelled insults, the tall red-head began to dart toward the women, his arms outstretched, his voice a high-pitched imitation of a female’s soprano. He looked like an enraged bumblebee in his black-and-orange striped polo shirt and red sneakers.
“Hey, here they come! The Hilton Sisters. Two old hags for the price ’a one! How’re y’all stuck together, ladies? I bet y’all’s butts’re glued together, am I right?” The redhead turned to his pals and laughed. “What happens when one of y’all farts? I betcha y’all both stink!” He darted in and tried to pull up the twins’ skirt. They slapped at his hands, and the other boys howled with laughter.
The boys followed the sisters down the road a bit, but then, when a bread delivery truck pulled to the side of the road and stopped, they shouted some final insults and ran off, screaming with unbridled laughter. The driver said something in low tones to the sisters, and they got inside the front seat of his truck. He drove off, and I realized that my first chance to spy on the famous Siamese twins was now over.