Fiction Outtake: Trevor in Tree (The Early Years)


I told Rhian last week that I’d post some high school antics for her in today’s Poetry Train. Come on and jump on the train — and don’t forget the Hidden Treasures Contest! We’re starting to wind down, so get your reviews in soon.

It was 3AM, right on the nose, when Patterson pulled into the driveway. He was so tired, he felt like he had to use his whole body to get the gear shifter, mounted to the steering column, up and into park. He hated these late-night calls, always had. He hated having to leave Sonya’s side, hated having to sneak in and out of his own house so he didn’t wake the kids.

Mitchell, at least, slept through anything. Short of pouring water over his head, that boy was near impossible to wake. An annoyance most days, on nights like this, it was a blessing.

With Amy at college, that should have been one less closed bedroom door to creep past. But she’d come home for a few days, needing to get away from the ruckus in the dormitory in order to study for one of her pre-med exams. He’d be sneaking for sure; she needed her rest.

Amy should have known better than to come home seeking peaceful surroundings, Patterson thought as he gathered up his briefcase and swung the door open. Since Trevor had moved in, the house wasn’t silent anymore. Even when the boy wasn’t home, it still crackled with his energy, as though he had somehow bewitched it.

That boy… Patterson sighed and heaved himself out of the front seat. Sonya had always wanted two boys to compliment her two girls, but Patterson didn’t think she’d envisioned a son like Trevor. He’d come to live with them as the result of another late-night call and while no one regretted it, it certainly hadn’t turned out as expected. The brightest point in a world made brighter by having Trevor in it full-time was that Mitchell was actually getting into less trouble these days. It seemed that having his partner in crime become a permanent fixture was making the novelty of their antics wear off. It was only a matter of time now before Mitchell straightened out the rest of the way. Nothing at all to worry about.

Patterson paused by the door, halted by what sounded like a cat in heat in the back yard. Since Mrs. Bretton’s prize Persian had been impregnated by the Wilsons’ tom, and since the coyotes had grabbed three cats from further up the street, the neighbors had been militant about keeping their pets inside, especially at night. It was doubtful that there was a cat, particularly a cat in heat, in the back yard.

What was back there — or more appropriately, who — didn’t surprise Patterson in the least. Trevor perched a good ten feet up in a tree, one of the boys’ guitars on his lap. Thankfully, given the hour, not even Trevor had been able to electrify it that high up.

Obstacles, however, didn’t stop Trevor. Patterson groaned as the young man, seemingly oblivious to his company — although with Trevor, one was never certain of anything except that frustration was imminent — began to sing.

“Son, come on down now,” Patterson called up to him.

“Finally home, huh? Did you catch the bad guys?”

“Nevermind that. Come on down before you fall and land on that guitar of yours.”

“Not gonna happen, powerful legal guardian. I’m busy serenading the neighborhood. Wrote the song myself. Like it?”

Patterson wiped a hand over his face. “Trevor, son, it’s late and we should both be in bed. You have school in the morning and I have work. Come down.”

“Actually, it’s early. And school’s a waste of time.”

“Regardless, you and I made a deal and I expect you to uphold it.”

“I want to see who else I can wake up.”

“So far, you would seem to have woken absolutely no one.”

Trevor shrugged. “So I’m starting small. But mark my words, one day, when I’m famous and the whole fucking world respects me, these treeside serenades will be what people all up and down the street remember. And every single one of these losers who’s too busy sleeping to appreciate my bad music will suddenly be my best friend.” He cocked his head. “Sort of like how until you Vosses came along, all the people who pretended to be my friend would bug out every single time I showed up with a new black eye. Only in reverse.” Trevor gave one of his satisfied nods, the ones that Patterson had learned meant he was hurting. “You watch. Every single person on this street will be able to tell you what songs I sang up here. Their memories will be so good, in fact, that they’ll fucking fight about them.”

“I suspect you’re right,” Patterson told him. This wasn’t the first late-night escapade Trevor had pulled, and it wouldn’t be the last, Patterson was sure of it. They tended to occur when the boy had nightmares and feared a return to sleep. This was probably the only part of the Trevor experience that he felt ill-equipped to handle; the boy’s scars ran deeper than anyone had anticipated.

“Well,” he said as Trevor began plucking away at the guitar again. “I am going to bed. These late nights may not be hard for you, but they are for an old man like me. I expect to see you at breakfast, ready for school.”

“I told you. I’m not going to school.”

“Then you will have to find yourself a new place to live.” He stepped back a few paces so he could see Trevor better. “That was our deal, and I know you’re not a deal breaker.” He paused to let that sink in. The boy’s pride would get the better of him; it always did. “Come inside with me and let’s go to bed.”

Trevor laughed, a brittle sound that carried farther and struck Patterson more deeply than his singing had. “Yeah, like I’ve even got a bed in this place. All you people gave me was a sleeping bag on blondie’s floor.”

“I seem to recall you being quite grateful for that sleeping bag. So grateful, in fact, that you refused our offer of a more permanent sleeping situation.”

Trevor stroked his chin and pretended to think that over. “Know what I’m thinking?”

“Trevor, your thoughts are entirely your own.”

“And that’s a good thing. Remember that.” Trevor pointed at Patterson like he was issuing an order. “Maybe I ought to go show some gratitude for that sleeping bag of mine.”

“Wise choice, son.”

Trevor monkeyed halfway down the tree, handed over his bass, and jumped, landing neatly beside his guardian. “But I mean it. One day, when the band’s the biggest of the big, all the losers on this street will remember this night.”

“Trevor, of that I have no doubt.”



  1. julia

    August 5, 2007 5:24 pm

    Ah – bad boys. I fear I would have thrown something at him if he was in my neighborhood. But I would have liked listening to him play once he stopped acting out.

  2. Bob-kat

    August 5, 2007 5:48 pm

    Ah, hormones and guitars are a heady mixture! LOL! I wonder if they all did remember that night later on ? BR/BR/Michele sent me to say hi 🙂

  3. Susan Helene Gottfried

    August 5, 2007 5:50 pm

    None of the neighbors knew about it, Bob. What’s to remember?

  4. Thomma Lyn

    August 5, 2007 6:26 pm

    I love it! What a treat to read about the young Trevor, pre-Shapeshifter, full of confidence and vulnerability, anticipating the years to come. I love his tough, can-do, “piss-me-off-at-your-peril but-pleaseplease-love-me-too” spirit.

  5. Rhian / Crowwoman

    August 5, 2007 9:41 pm

    ooooohSusan! this was incredible. Damn, i can just see Trev fighting to define himself, to find a strong place inside that will carry him thru the world and past the secret pain. Clapping! Nicely done! Can i please take Trev home now?

  6. Robin

    August 6, 2007 12:11 am

    I knew a guy like that in high school, but he hadn’t found a better place to live. We all used to sleep with our cars unlocked, just in case B* needed a place to crash. You never knew if you were going to find him sleeping in the back seat in the morning… BR/BR/I wonder what ever happened to him. Nothing as glorious as ShapeShifter I suspect.

  7. Nancy

    August 6, 2007 8:15 am

    I love it. Just love it. THe image of him in that tree w. the guitar….BR/BR/Very nice!

  8. T.A.Chase

    August 6, 2007 9:00 am

    Great excerpt, Susan. I’m enjoying the background on the characters. 🙂 Trevor seems like he’s always been a handful.

  9. Rhet

    August 6, 2007 10:05 am

    “…Trevor monkeyed halfway down the tree…”BR/BR/Rock Stars do not “monkey” down trees, they sashay with grace and aplomb!

  10. Amy Ruttan

    August 6, 2007 10:32 am

    I would have listened and definitely remembered. Very cute teenage Trevor.

  11. Lisa Andel

    August 6, 2007 1:33 pm

    Huh. And here the overconfident jerk was just starting to grow on me too. Now he’s got more … depth.BR/BR/Next you’ll be telling me he has Ifeelings./I

  12. Susan Helene Gottfried

    August 6, 2007 3:40 pm

    Mitchell actually answers that in Trevor’s Song. So you have until the book comes out to get ready!

  13. Sparky Duck

    August 6, 2007 5:33 pm

    Trevor the sweetheart

  14. FRIGGA

    August 6, 2007 6:38 pm

    Gosh, I’m really going to have to come over here more often then just Thursdays! I like Trevor more everytime I come back :PBR/BR/I want to let you know I posted the results from last weeks TT13 the Food Edition.

  15. Camille Alexa

    August 6, 2007 9:04 pm

    Working on a Summer Treasure over here…

  16. Susan Helene Gottfried

    August 6, 2007 9:05 pm

    Cool! BR/BR/But… no love for Trevor???

  17. L^2

    August 7, 2007 3:55 pm

    Love it! 🙂

  18. Lisa Andel

    August 7, 2007 7:02 pm

    Susan, were we really that awful? I do apologize if we were. But I’d really like to know because it’s not all that hard to curtail. I’m just sorry we chased you off. That matters to me a whole lot more than nonsense banter in the comments.

  19. Joy Renee

    August 8, 2007 4:55 am

    this gives Trevor more substance and depth and turns a few of his porcupine quills into hooks to hang our sympathy on. not pity, mind, Trevor would have no use for anyone’s pity. but inability to give and receive sympathy is the mark of a sociopath and that is definitely not Trevor.BR/BR/thanx for visiting my poem Monday.

  20. gautami tripathy

    August 8, 2007 9:11 am

    I really enjoyed reading this. BR/BR/Sorry for getting here late!

  21. Marcia (MeeAugraphie)

    August 11, 2007 12:34 am

    Susan – After that scene, there is not way I could not read the book. Trevor just wangled his way into my heart. And then you say Mitchell is going to be answering the question. I don’t like waiting. What if I lose track of you and the book gets a strange title and I don’t read the advertisements? Or I move to the mountains and there is no mail service and… no cell phone coverage and no delivery and….

  22. Susan Helene Gottfried

    August 11, 2007 10:44 am

    NOW you understand the siren’s lure of self-publishing, Marcia!

  23. jadey

    February 22, 2008 12:02 pm

    You always have such wonderful posts. These are the tough years with Trevor.

  24. anthonynorth

    February 23, 2008 11:27 am

    I remember similar conversations myself. People just don’t understand a guitarist on the way to the top.BR/In his dreams, at least 🙂

  25. paisley

    February 23, 2008 2:36 pm

    and he couldn’t be any closer to the truth… have you read the heroin diaries???

  26. Susan Helene Gottfried

    February 23, 2008 7:24 pm

    Paisley, you must have missed all my posts about it. Brilliant, brilliant work, the Heroin Diaries.

  27. ren.kat

    February 25, 2008 4:26 am

    Monkeyed is one very cool verb!

  28. Rambler

    February 25, 2008 11:49 am

    I liked it a lot..

  29. LittleWing

    February 26, 2008 6:45 pm

    hmm, another jimi hendrix unfolding…

  30. Bethanie

    May 5, 2008 9:37 am

    thomma lyn hit the nail on head for me… and I love the way Trevor is Too Cool For You about changing his mind and going to bed. Brilliant!

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