Guest Post For Krysten Hager
There are many different forms of family these days. It isn’t all simply ‘Mom, Dad and kids’ anymore. Some families have two moms or two dads. There are homes with blended families, half-brothers and sisters or even where another family member cares for children for various reasons. There are also friends who care for and look out for one another like family. Regardless of how one defines it, as long as there is love, nurturing, guidance, acceptance and a sense of security, it is a family.
That’s the base of where I got the idea for ‘Just Shut Up and Drive’. Wil Carter is an eighteen-year-old young man who endured tragedy at a very young age when he lost his parents in a car crash. Fortunately for him, he had a strong support network that made sure he was brought up by the best person. And that was his Gramps.
Gramps Wilf isn’t your typical sweet old man. He is a feisty ninety-five year old man with a short temper and more energy than guys Wil’s age. But despite his tough exterior, he cared about his grandson. He just wasn’t always gentle in his approach. But tough love was what Wil needed, considering how his life started out, and Gramps ensured he got it.
I love the characters in this book. I made sure to introduce a couple of other non-essential characters they duo came across along their way who contributed to the storyline, but the bulk of the story revolved around Wil, Gramps and the things Gramps wanted his grandson to understand about life before he went off to college.
My grandfather did the same thing for me. Well…it wasn’t really a road trip, and if we had done one it certainly wouldn’t have been as eventful. But it would have been just as eye-opening and meaningful.
Here is a little blurb that gives an idea of the relationship between these two men, and how alike they are, as much as each of them would most likely disagree, despite their ages.
You want to do what?" eighteen-year-old Wil Carter asked his grandfather.
Gramps Wilf clicked his tongue. "I know you aren't deaf, my boy. I said you and me are going for a road trip for a week or so in the summer."
Wil shook his head, picturing being crammed in his puny hatchback with his ninety-five-year-old grandfather. For "a week or so." Sounded like the start of a really bad cheesy movie: “The Adventures of Young Dude and Grumpy Old Man.” Wil thought of more than a fistful of things he'd rather do than drive hundreds of miles with a grouchy old geezer. But he knew there was no use in putting up a fight. He'd end up doing exactly what he always did: what he was told.
All Wil wanted to do over his summer holiday was work over at the corner drugstore and hang out with his buddies. After all, it was going be his last summer in Winnipeg before he headed out east to go to university. But, no, Gramps had set his plan in motion, yet again, without him even knowing.
"Gramps," Wil said, releasing a sharp breath. "You know that I work at the pharmacy every summer. How am I supposed to earn up my tuition if I'm chauffeuring you around the country? Besides, Mr. Bassey isn't going to give me that much time off. He's shortstaffed and—"
"Already taken care of," Gramps interrupted, shuffling over to his favorite recliner, backing up to it, and then plopping himself down. "Jim said he could spare ya for the time we're gone by getting the other gals to take their holidays later. Done."
Wil allowed his jaw to fall slack. "Uh, Gramps? Did it ever dawn on you that, maybe, I'd like to… oh, I don't know… have some fun this summer, being that I have to go to university in the fall?"
Gramps flipped the footrest of his recliner up, scootched his body back, then folded his hands across his belly. He tilted his head down, staring into Wil's pale blue eyes over the rims of his Buddy Holly-styled frames. "What? You got a girlfriend?"
"Big plans aside from workin'?"
Wil put his hands on his hips then looked up at the ceiling. "No."
"Doin' anything special on your days off aside from slackin' off with those freaky friends of yours at the beach, starin' at those girls you only wish could be your girlfriends?"
Wil looked back down at his grandfather. "Ouch, Gramps. And, yeah. Hello? I said I wanted to have some fun.”
Gramps grabbed the remote from the armrest. "Mmm-hmm. Well, 'fun' should be spent doin' things you're interested in and good at."
"Well I'm interested in sitting on the beach, and I'm good at looking at girls. C'mon, Gramps. It's summer. And it's the last one I have in high school. Some of my friends are moving away to go to school and—"
The old man leaned forward and pointed the remote at Wil, who took that as a cue to shut it. "Let's get something straight, son. You're still living under my roof. I know you're a man now and want to be makin' all your own choices, but there's still plenty of things you need to learn about life before you'll make it on your own. And I'm gonna teach you those things this summer. I got some important things I need to show ya. I said we're goin' on a road trip, and that's exactly what we're doing. Now either sit on down and watch the news with me or find something more useful to do."
With that, Gramps pressed the remote with his thumb and Wil heard the TV blaring behind him. The two men glared at each other for a few seconds, then Wil dramatically flopped himself into the green-and-white-checkered barrel chair beside his grandfather's recliner. He put his elbow on the armrest then leaned his cheek onto his fist.
"Can you at least tell me where we'll be going?"
"What? Why not? If you're going to kidnap me, I should at least know where I'm going. Especially since I have to be the chauffeur."
"We're just gonna make a few stops between here and the other side of Saskatchewan. You'll find out soon enough. And by the way, if I'm kidnapping ya, then you don't need to know exactly where you're goin', now do ya? Since you're the driver, you just gotta go where I say."
From the corner of his eye, Wil saw his grandfather's mouth tug up into a little smirk. Then Gramps cranked the volume loud enough for any passerby outside to hear the news right along with them. Another subtle sign that their conversation was done, at least from Gramps' perspective.
Wil squinted at the TV, heat radiating from the nape of his neck. Great, he thought. A week or more of my summer vacation wasted with His Royal Crankiness.
He wondered what his grandfather could possibly have left to teach him. Or if he really wanted to know.
CHYNNA LAIRD – is a mother of four, a freelance writer, blogger and an award-winning author. Her passion is helping children and families living with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) and other special needs. She’s authored two children’s books, two memoirs, a Young Adult novella, a Young Adult paranormal/suspense novel series, a New Adult contemporary novel and an adult suspense/thriller.
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