Books & Beyond

Devolution by Peter Clenott @PeterClenott #excerpt #YA

Posted on: February 12, 2014


Chiku turned to the chimpanzees and raised her hands. What fascinated Kessel was the way the girl from Brookline transformed herself. Chiku didn’t just use her hands to communicate with the lesser primates. She evolved. Her whole body became the story she was telling. She had pored through Tim’s old library of books last night after dinner and had chosen a child’s version of Disney’s The Lion King to stuff in her backpack. Retrieving it, she not only became each and every character in turn, she bent like a tree in the wind and threw herself around like a storm on the grasslands. She held the chimpanzees in such thrall, none of them moved until she was done with her story. Then, feigning exhaustion, she dropped to the ground just so she could feel the embraces of all the delighted chimpanzees. Scallion came up last and hunkered down beside her, his back braced against hers.

The two men, Tim and Mark, just gaped at her. Kessel placed her hands on Chiku’s shoulders and whispered in her ear. “You should have been the one to run things around here, not your father.”

Chiku beamed, glancing up at Kessel. “You have your father’s eyes,” Kessel told her. “Toughness, I think. I hear you were bitten by a crocodile.”

“She was almost supper,” Forsberg said. “Myself, I think the croc would have taken one chew and found her too hard to swallow.”

“Thank you.”

“Did anyone look at the wound?” Kessel asked.

“Mrs. Hayfield. I think it’s okay,” Chiku said.

“You mind if I look. As a professional.”

Chiku stood up and, with a procession of chimpanzees trailing behind, followed Kessel to the large tent Seth Flynn used as his sleeping/living quarters. Inside a three-drawer wooden bureau, he kept a medicine box that Kessel opened. She told Chiku to sit on the lone cot in the tent.

“Lift up your pant leg.”

“You’ve been here before,” Chiku said.

“How did you know?”

“You know where Dad keeps his medicine.”

“I’ve been here once or twice. Occasionally, your dad needed medical assistance.”

“Because he was drunk?”

Kessel pulled down Chiku’s pant leg and looked up at the patient, wondering at the sixteen-year-old’s astuteness. “How did you know that?” she asked.

“I lived with him for eleven years.”

“Yes, well,” Kessel said. She got up without further elucidation. Just outside the tent flap, Tim and Forsberg were pacing, occasionally peeking in to see how their female charge was doing. Kessel said, “Maggie did a good job on your leg. I didn’t know your mother. She had… well… What was she like?”

“Smart. Fun.”

“She loved your dad.”

“Yes. What else?”

“His drinking didn’t bother her?”

“I never asked. What’s it to you?”

Chiku felt a sudden chill in the air and, putting her arms about herself, got up, to  wander about the tent.


Buy Now @ Amazon & Smashwords

Genre – Young Adult

Rating – PG

More details about the author and the book

Connect with Peter Clenott on Facebook & Twitter



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