READ: An Excerpt From Sean Hayes Debut YA Novel TIME OUT
Actor Sean Hayes is what we in the biz call booked and blessed. On top of his Tony-nominated performance as Oscar Levant in Good Night, Oscar, Hayes has partnered with Todd Milliner and Carlyn Greenwald for the release of their new YA novel Time Out.
Heralded by many as Heartstopper meets Friday Night Lights, Time Out follows hometown basketball hero Barclay Elliot who decides to use a pep rally to come out to his school. When the response is not what he had hoped and the hostility continually growing, he turns to his best friend Amy who brings him to her voting rights group at school. There he finds Christopher and… you will just have to grab a copy and find out what happens next. Luckily for you, Time Out hits shelves on May 30 and to hold you over until then we have a special except from the book just for Theatrely:
The good thing about not being on the team the past two weeks has been that I’ve had time to start picking up shifts again at Beau’s diner and save up a little for college now that my scholarship dreams are over.
The bad part is it’s the perfect place to see how my actions at the pep rally have rotted the townspeople’s brains too.
During Amy’s very intense musical theater phase in middle school, her parents took her to New York City. And of course she came back home buzzing about Broadway and how beautiful the piss smell was and everything artsy people say about New York. But she also vividly described some diner she waited three hours to get into where the waitstaff would all perform songs for the customers as a way to practice for auditions. The regulars would have favorite staff members and stan them the way Amy stans all her emo musicians.
Working at Beau’s used to feel kind of like that, like I was part of a performance team I didn’t know I signed up for. The job started off pretty basic over the summer—I wanted to save up for basketball supplies, and Amy worked there and said it was boring ever since her e-girl coworker friend graduated. But I couldn’t get through a single lunch rush table without someone calling me over and wanting the inside scoop on the Wildcats and how we were preparing for the home opener, wanting me to sign an article in the paper or take a photo. Every friendly face just made the resolve grow inside me. People love and support the Wildcats; they would do the same for me.
Now just like school, customers have been glaring at me, making comments about letting everyone down, about being selfish, about my actions being “unfortunate,” and the tips have been essentially nonexistent. The Wildcats have been obliterated in half their games since I quit, carrying a 2–3 record when last year we were 5–0, and the comments make my feet feel like lead weights I have to drag through every shift.
Today is no different. It’s Thursday, the usual dinner rush at Beau’s, and I try to stay focused on the stress of balancing seven milkshakes on one platter. A group of regulars, some construction workers, keep loudly wondering why I won’t come back to the team while I refuse proper eye contact.
One of the guys looks up at me as I drop the bill off. “So, what’s the deal? Does being queer keep ya from physically being able to play?”
They all snicker as they pull out crumpled bills. I stuff my hands into my pockets, holding my tongue.
When they leave, I hold my breath as I take their bill.
Sure enough, no tip.
“What the fuck?” I mutter under my breath.
“Language,” Amy says as she glides past me, imitating the way Richard says it to her every shift, and adds, “even though they are dicks.” At least Amy’s been ranting about it every free chance she gets. It was one thing when the student body was being shitty about me leaving the team, but the town being like this is even more infuriating. She doesn’t understand how these fully grown adults can really care that much about high school basketball and thinks they need a new fucking hobby. I finally agree with her.
[She’s wearing red lipstick to go with her raccoon-adjacent eyeliner as she rushes off to prepare milkshakes for a pack of middle schoolers. I catch her mid–death glare as all three of the kids rotate in their chairs, making the old things squeal. My anger fades a bit as I can’t help but chuckle; Amy’s pissed-off reaction to Richard telling her to smile more was said raccoon makeup, and her tolerance for buffoonery has been at a negative five to start and declining fast.
I rest my arms on the counter and try not to look as exhausted as I feel.
“Excuse me!” an old lady screeches, making me jump.
Amy covers up a laugh as I head to the old lady and her husband’s table. They’ve got finished plates, full waters. Not sure what the problem is. Or I do, which is worse.
“Yes?” I say trying to suppress my annoyance.
“Could you be bothered to serve us?”
Only five more hours on shift. I have a break in three minutes. I’ll be with Devin at Georgia Tech tomorrow. “I’m sorry, ma’am,” I say, so careful to keep my words even, but I can feel my hands balling into fists. “What would you—?”
And suddenly Amy swoops in, dropping two mugs of coffee down. “Sorry about that, you two,” she says, her voice extra high. “The machine was conking out on us, but it’s fine now.”
Once the coffee is down, she hooks onto a chunk of my shirt, steering us back to the bar.
“Thanks,” I mutter, embarrassed to have forgotten something so basic. Again.
“Just keep it together, man,” she says. “Maybe you’d be better off with that creepy night shift where all the truckers and serial killers come in.”
Honestly, at least the serial killers wouldn’t care about my jump shot.
It’s a few minutes before my break, but clearly I need it. “I’ll be in the back room.”
Right before I can head that way though, someone straight-up bursts into the diner and rushes over to me at the bar. It’s a middle-aged dad type, sunburned skin, beer belly, and stained T-shirt.
“Pickup order?” I ask.
“You should be ashamed,” he sneers at me. He has a really strong Southern accent, but it’s not Georgian. “Think you’re so high and mighty, that nothing’ll ever affect you? My kid’ll never go to college because of you and your lifestyle. Fuck you, Barclay Ell—”
And before this man can finish cursing my name, Pat of all people runs in, wide-eyed in humiliation. “Jesus, Dad, please don’t—”
I pin my gaze on him, remembering how he cowered on the bench as Ostrowski went off, how he didn’t even try to approach me. “Don’t even bother,” I snap.
I shove a to-go bag into his dad’s arms, relieved it’s prepaid, and storm off to the break room.]
Amy finds me head in my arms a minute or two later. I look up, rubbing my eyes. “Please spare me the pity.”
She snorts and hands me a milkshake. Mint chocolate chip. “Wouldn’t dare.” She takes a seat and rolls her shoulders and neck, cracks sounding through the tiny room. “Do you want a distraction or a shoulder to cry on?”
For more information, and to purchase your copy of Time Out, click here.