In the deserted wasteland of the traditional romantic comedy, “The Cure for Shyness” emerged as a screenplay written to the normal standard: A girl. A boy, a conflict, a resolution. A happy ending.
Throw in a sister with Down syndrome, an abandoned German shepherd, and a leading lady with a debilitating stutter, and you have, “The Cure for Shyness.”
The character of Randy will be immediately familiar to anyone who knows my sister Amanda. Her disability doesn’t hinder her flash of wit, nor her natural inclination to reach out and help others.
Tess, the leading lady, has her work cut out for her. She has moved home to take care of her aging father, and gets Randy thrown into the bargain. In this scene, she has decided to apply for a job at the small town local newspaper. She is spotted by her new love interest, Grant.
“The Cure for Shyness” is available in book form on Amazon.com. It is a fun, light read, but harbors an important message or two. That’s all the spoilers I will include for now. Enjoy! 🙂
The Cure for Shyness – Excerpt – From Chapter 2
When Tess and Randy walk into the reception area of the small news office, Tess’s entire demeanor has changed. She is nervous and subdued. Randy follows her in and tails her every step, whispering to her as they go. “Breathe… Breathe… Breathe.”
Tess, reaching back, pushes her off. “Shh!”
The two sisters walk up to the counter. A young man comes around the corner and greets them.
“Can I help you?”
Tess instantly transforms into someone grey and forlorn, looking down, fumbling with her purse.
“We – we’re looking f-f-f.”
Randy chimes in. “We would like to speak to Lucy, please.”
The young man nods. “Yep. Gotcha. Have a seat.”
Tess looks visibly relieved. The greeter disappears. The two sisters sit down together and Randy continues to coach. “Just remember. They are more nervous than you are.”
Tess folds her arms and whispers fiercely. “That is not even close to the truth.”
Randy leans closer and pats her sister’s arm. “Picture them in their underwear.”
“I am right here for you.”
“I can see that.”
Randy brushes a bit of lint off Tess’s coat. “Sit up straight. Don’t fold your arms like that.”
“I’m fine. It’s Lucy. We’ve known her since high school. It won’t be a problem.”
The office door bursts open, and in a flash of blazing lipstick, Lucy is beaming at Randy. ”Miranda Kimberly Riley Henderson!”
Randy stands up. “Hello, Cheesecake!”
Lucy crosses the room, pumps flashing, smiling brightly, and seizes Randy in an enthused embrace. She turns to Tess and reaches out her hand. “Tess! How long has it been?”
“Too long!” Randy blurts.
Lucy beams. “Truth! Come on back, ladies!”
She flings the door wide and marches through the busy press room. Cubicles buzz with various reporters deep at work, talking on the phone. One of them, a bright-scalped, beaming giant of a man named Harvey, reaches up and high fives Randy as she passes. Calls of, “Randy!” and “Hey Randy!” float across the room.
“Hey, Flash!” Randy turns to Tess. “This is my sister, Tess. This is Harvey. But we call him Flash. Short for Flash Mob. He is the D.J. for all our community group dances.”
Flash shakes Tess’s hand, enveloping her palm in flesh so wide that she can’t close her fingers.
“So nice to meet you.”
Randy nods at Flash. “He has a bad ass karaoke machine.”
Tess gives Flash an apologetic smile. “You’ve heard her sing? I’m sorry.”
Randy whirls. “Hey! Shut up!”
“You shut up!”
Suddenly, a voice stops Tess in her tracks. “Is that Schultzie?”
Tess turns, smiling, but then shudders in an involuntary flinch. The voice has come from a banana costume. Grant is beaming through the hole allowed for part of his face. A curl of dark hair is poking out over one eye. His legs are encased in white tights, and he is waddling toward her, the whole yellow length of him, holding out a gloved hand. Over one arm is slung the strap to a camera with a mile-long lens.
“Long time no see! How are you?” he enthuses.
Tess takes a hesitant step toward him, but she stumbles, dropping her purse. She attempts recovery but then just keeps on tripping until she slams into him. He grabs her, steadying her as her legs fly and splay out.
Randy stands watching, shaking her head. Grant looks up at Randy. “She hasn’t changed a bit.”
Randy nods, then thrusts her chin at him. “But how you’ve ripened.”
She turns and gives the chortling Lucy a quick high five.
Grant is grasping Tess firmly by the shoulders. “You okay?”
Tess is wresting herself from his grip. “I’m fine!”
Randy turned to the still-giggling Lucy. “I think she slipped on his peel. That must happen to him a lot.”
This launches Lucy into a whole new bout of hilarity. Tess picks up her purse and straightens her shoulders. “Good to see you, Grant.”
Too embarrassed to even indulge the obvious, which is to question why he is dressed as a fruit, she brushes herself off. She walks away after Lucy, who has taken the cue to keep moving. Randy lifts a hand to wave at Grant. He winks at her. “See ya later, Kitty Kat.”
Randy winks back. “Yeah. Gotta split.”
Lucy’s office is small and cluttered. A shelf behind her desk is laden with photos of her smiling with a couple of kids. Lucy twirls a chair in their direction and plops down behind her desk. There is a dish of candy in front of her, and she shoves it toward them.
“Help yourselves, you two. Halloween leftovers. Take as much as you want.”
“Don’t mind if I do!” Randy reaches for it. “Thank you!”
Tess looks at Lucy. “Well?”
Tess gestures toward the door. “Why is Grant Forrest here, and what is with the getup? Last time I checked, Halloween was over.”
“Oh. He is one of our photographers. He volunteer teaches Special Ed a few hours a week.”
Randy pipes up through a mouthful of toffee. “Lord knows they are all bananas.”
Tess rolls her eyes. “Har har.”
Randy fakes a drumstick riff. “Tssshhh.”
Lucy’s eyes narrow. “You seem to know Grant pretty well. How come? He’s a bit younger than we are.”
Tess drops her gaze. “I – I used to babysit for him. Looks like there’s still a job opening there.”
Lucy grins, leaning toward her. “Really? Wow. Like, changed his diapers?”
“Not. Not quite that far back.”
Randy nods. “He’s my age. He was in my mainstream class. Now he’s like, ooh. Wow. Come to Mama.”
Tess looks at her sister. “How could you tell under all that fiber?”
Lucy nods. “All the women say that about him. He’s had a rough life.”
“Couldn’t hold a job. Couldn’t stop drinking. He got out of rehab and I gave him a chance. I haven’t been sorry. He is one of our best photographers. He’s building a dog kenneling business or something out at his place.”
Randy cuffs her sister’s arm. “There you go, Tess. Woof woof.”
“Nah. I can’t shake the image of him blowing his nose in my hair. And now this.”
Lucy smiles. “What’s with the ‘Schultzie’ thing?”
“We liked watching old Hogan’s Heroes reruns. He called me Schultz because I let him get away with stuff. ‘I see noth-thing.’ Naturally, he always requested me.”
“Well what kind of stuff did he do? Anything pervy? Has he always dressed in phallic?”
“No! Well, actually…” Tess blushes at a sudden memory.