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The Underbelly: Dr. Jacquelyn and Mrs. Hyde

The_Underbelly_220x_maxAbout the Book:

An upmarket adult novel with comic undertones, The Underbelly is aimed primarily at women, but several men who read it confessed to having a crush on Trishita. One wanted her to run for president of the United States.

Trishita McCabe, 25, six feet tall and redheaded, wants an education in order to escape the slums and her alcoholic mother. Her father, a visiting professor from Scotland, knows naught of her. She has supported her mother and small half-brothers by working full time since age twelve and feels trapped by their need.

When the little brothers are rescued away, she develops the courage to find employment as a live-in maid where she hopes to learn the ropes of the Middle class.

Dr. Jacquelyn Hyde, assistant superintendent of a large suburban school district, suffers from a secret obsession to break up people’s collections of useless things like empty beer bottles or Lalique figurines. She lives with her husband and two teen-aged children in a beautiful home in a suburban town. She reads Trishita’s well written, varied and phony letters of recommendation and hires her. Their stories collide.

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Excerpt:

Chapter One

Hailstones drummed the roof of the little house on Glendale Street in Worcester, Massachusetts on the dark night of the new moon. Jacquelyn, age two and a half, propped three teething rings and six pacifiers against the buffer on one side of her crib. She started with the smallest and arranged them by feel according to shape and size. Her skin itched with the thrill, the power. She could create her own order. She would’ve called herself smug if she’d known the word, for she had hidden each new pacifier along with the teething rings inside the rip in her crib mattress until she had enough to make a proper line up.

Then her bedroom door opened. A flash of light came in, followed by her father, mother and brother.

“Hey, Kiddo,” her big brother said, “are you organizing again?”

“Well, my wee Jackie,” her father said. “I thought I heard you scurrying about. Why are you awake?”

“Night, night, Papa.” She dove onto her stomach, stretched her legs and, seeing her big brother’s grin, clenched her eyes shut. She’s coming to get me.

Her mother’s narrow chin moved in closer. Jacquelyn peeked. The V crease between her mother’s eyes mirrored her pursed lips.

She’s the other Mama, the light-hair one, my new Mama. She won’t hit me if I go to sleep. I dint break her tiny elephant.

“Tsk, tsk,” her mother said. “You’ll catch a death of cold.” As she pulled the covers over Jacquelyn, she knocked the pacifiers and teething rings out of line.

“My word, where did all these come from?” She scooped them all up and left, taking them with her

Jacquelyn covered her head and cried herself to sleep.

***

Forty-two years later, Dr. Jacquelyn Hyde drove her BMW through a hailstorm into Worcester, back to the small house on Glendale Street where she grew up. Her parents were moving to Florida, and much as she disliked visiting them, she felt obligated. After all, they had paid for her Ph.D. A group from their church was helping them pack Sunday afternoon, and her father wanted to show her off. It was the least she could do.