Taming the Star Runner Read online

  Taming the Star Runner

  S.E. Hinton


  Diversion Books

  A Division of Diversion Publishing Corp.

  443 Park Avenue South, Suite 1004

  New York, New York 10016


  Copyright (c) 1988 by S.E. Hinton All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form whatsoever.

  For more information, email [email protected]

  First Diversion Books edition April 2013.

  ISBN: 978-1-938120-83-1

  To Nicholas David


  I'd like to thank my friend and typist, Dorothy Scott, for the courage to tackle my handwriting. I'd also like to thank my trainer, Libby Barrow, for her technical advice, which I always take in the ring, and sometimes took in this book.

  Chapter 1

  His boot felt empty without his knife in it. It didn't matter that he had never had to use it (sure, he'd pulled it a couple of times to show off, but the times he could have really used it, he'd forgotten about it and used his fists, as usual); he was used to feeling it there, next to his leg. What a security blanket. But even if the juvenile authorities hadn't taken it, it wouldn't have made it through the airport scanner. I could have packed it, though, he thought.

  Travis stopped at the end of the line of people waiting to go through the airport security check. The sight of the security guards made his heart speed up. It was already pounding out a rhythm a rock group could have used. He tucked the cardboard carton he was carrying under one arm and wiped the sweat off his face.

  "No jokes," he said. Joe and Kirk looked at him blankly. They had been treating him funny since he got out of juvenile hall. Travis thought: They think I'm crazy like everybody else does.

  Travis pointed to the sign. "No jokes about bombs and hijacking and stuff."

  Motorboat meowed, protesting being held sideways, and Travis straightened up the cardboard box. Motorboat had been drugged at the vet's before they left for the airport. Jeez, he gets drugs and I don't. I'm the one who needs them.

  He handed the box containing his cat to the attendant and walked through the detecting doorway, half expecting to set off an alarm. No alarm went off, and he picked up his box on the other side. Kirk, who had been to the airport before, didn't think it was any big deal to get scanned, but Joe was almost as nervous as Travis, and had to bite his tongue to keep from cracking a joke.

  Joe would have been a great comedian in juvenile hall, Travis thought, since his reaction to tension was to get funnier and funnier, the way I get quiet and mean.

  He couldn't remember ever seeing Kirk tense. Kirk could shrug his shoulders and walk out from under anything. He wondered for a second how two guys so different could be his best friends.

  Mom was last. They had walked too fast for her to keep up with them. That was partly accidental. Travis could not slow down for any reason. It was also partly on purpose, because he couldn't stand any more of her soft frettings.

  About how he should act when he got to his uncle's. About how he should stay out of trouble. (I could stay out of trouble all right, if it just didn't come looking for me. This last business sure wasn't my damn fault.) If it wasn't a mistake taking Motorboat with him. Like Travis should leave him here for Stan to kick around.

  If he had packed the right clothes.

  That last almost drove him to punch his fist through the wall. (He had done that once before--no bones were broken.) The right goddamn clothes! Sometimes he thought she was going to drive him crazy. He couldn't believe the stuff she had packed. New stuff (slacks, for God's sake!), stuff he'd shoot himself before he'd wear. Cowboy shirts! Could you believe that? He didn't care if Uncle Ken lived on a horse ranch. T-shirts were good enough to wear on a horse ranch. The horses wouldn't care.

  Travis had dumped out all the new clothes and hidden them under his bed, and filled the two suitcases with his jeans and T-shirts and books and tapes and tape player. He wanted to take the tape player on board with him, but there was a rule about only one piece of carry-on stuff. He had learned a lot about the rules, trying to get the damn cat on.

  It was practically a three-mile hike to get to the right gate, and they outdistanced Mom again. There weren't too many people there yet, they were way too early. Mom had seen to that. Not that he minded. He couldn't take staying in the house, now. He sure couldn't take any more time in juvenile hall. What was left but leaving?

  The plane was there, at the end of a long passenger ramp. He could see it out the window that took up a whole wall. It looked huge. The passenger ramp looked like a giant eel, clamped onto its head. God, that was a big plane! He'd never realized how big planes were. How the hell did they ever get off the ground?

  Kirk settled into a seat in the lounge. Kirk liked to be comfortable. It was one of his biggest goals in life. Travis set the cat carrier in Kirk's lap.

  "I'm goin' for some cigarettes."

  "This thing going to pee on me?"

  "It'll improve your smell if he does. Come on, Joe."

  Travis and Joe strode down the hallway. Travis had spotted the cigarette machine from a long way off. He had left his at home and who knows, maybe nobody on the plane would let him bum one. Bumming cigarettes was one of his worst habits. Travis knew that. He pretty much knew what his worst habits were. Bumming cigarettes. Getting into fights. A lot of times he drank too much. On the other hand, he didn't bully anyone, and didn't have a smart mouth like Kirk, and he only bummed cigarettes, not money like Joe. He wasn't a bad person, no matter what Stan was saying. There were a lot worse people than he was.

  They stopped at the john. Travis knew there were johns on the plane, but he wasn't taking any chances. Maybe he'd be sitting next to the window and have to crawl over a bunch of people to get out.

  Next to the window. His breath stopped. Maybe not.

  Travis combed his hair, staring into the mirror with fixed concentration. He was good-looking. Probably one of the best-looking guys in the school. He had dark brown hair, not so long that he looked like one of the dopers, not so short that he looked like one of the straights, the student-council preppies. Five foot eight. Not bad for sixteen, and by the size of his hands and feet he hadn't stopped growing yet. Good eyes. Great eyes, actually. Gray-green and as cold as the Irish sea. He had read a book about F. Scott Fitzgerald once, and it said he had eyes as cold as the Irish sea. Travis liked that. He secretly liked his eyelashes, too, a black fringe, as long as a girl's. He had a good build, long-boned and lean and flat-stomached, and that was the reason he liked tight T-shirts. Kirk was taller, and had broader shoulders, but Travis thought his own build was as good as any in the school. A lot of girls thought so. A lot.

  "Maybe I'll get a tan," he said out loud. If he had a fault to find with his face, it was its paleness. But then, from what he read, Fitzgerald had never tanned either.

  "Huh?" Joe said. He never spent as much time looking in mirrors as Travis did, being one olive-brown color all over, hair, eyes, and skin, and inclined to pudginess.

  "I'll probably get a tan, being outside all the time. You got any downers on you, man?"

  "Hell, no. You think I'm going to try to go through that security shit with downers on me?"

  "They're just looking for metal junk, like knives and guns. You could have brought some, they'd never catch it."

  "Yeah? Then why didn't you bring some?"

  "They weren't exactly dishing it out like candy in jail."

  Travis knew the difference between jail and juvenile hall (it hadn't been so long ago that he was thanking God for the difference), but he liked to think that nobody else d