For your summer reading pleasure

Ed
Ed Smith
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Ed's note: In this hot and sticky week, I thought I'd do something different and introduce to you a short section from one of my upcoming books, "A Splendoured Thing." I have three novels in various stages of completion at the moment.

She was perhaps 19 and much prettier than the proverbial picture, with or without the much lamented Foster and Allen's "beautiful picture frame."

The view from here - Ed's note: In this hot and sticky week, I thought I'd do something different and introduce to you a short section from one of my upcoming books, "A Splendoured Thing." I have three novels in various stages of completion at the moment.

She was perhaps 19 and much prettier than the proverbial picture, with or without the much lamented Foster and Allen's "beautiful picture frame."

The eyes were a translucent blue. I knew looking into them that very few would be fortunate enough to reach their depths. Even fewer would be permitted to try.

Our eyes met and held for only a moment before she turned back to the boy who was speaking to her with some animation.

I was in a group of high spirited young people and acutely aware that they all knew each other from childhood while I was practically a stranger among them.

The fact that I had taught a few of the younger people senior high school English in their final year was hardly competition for lifelong familiarity.

I wasn't returning in the fall.

She wasn't in my class. In those days of church-sponsored education she had graduated from another school in the same community but another communion.

Thinking about it, I realized how much the two words had in common. They meant much the same thing but in fact in most little towns "communion" only succeeded in keeping people in the same "community" separate.

What an insight! It also explained why in this July I had never seen her before. I was beginning to develop a strong dislike for the word "communion" because I was really interested in getting to know her.

I had seen my buddy, Philip, sidling up to her earlier but now he was nowhere to be found. I needed his advice here badly.

We were at a house party while the parents of the host were away on vacation.

As far as I could tell, the party had been going on for two or three days, including the intervals between the more intense sessions.

It would be considerably good news for mine host, Jackson, if his dedicated Salvationist parents never did find out what went on in that house during that time.

I had seen enough myself and heard enough from Philip and friends to be fairly certain that had Jackson's father found out about even 10 per cent of it, he would have taken a sharp knife by the handle and his son by the back of the neck and led him to a high rock for sacrifice.

If Abraham had been there with his son, Isaac, preparing for the same rather bloody act of worship, it is likely that Jackson Sr. would have elbowed Abraham out of the way to get to the gory rock of sacrifice first.

I found Philip and his friend for the evening, at least a few minutes of it, in an inside room all by themselves and busily engaged.

The door was slightly ajar.

They hadn't even bothered, or perhaps had forgotten, to turn out the lights. I knew Philip would not appreciate being interrupted at this stage of the proceedings.

The young lady, whom I knew mostly by reputation, would be much of his mind.

No point in appealing to her higher instincts. Every last one of them would be employed in the realization of the immediate goal. The sound effects indicated that she, even more than Philip, was well on the way to that realization.

I knocked lightly on the door. No response from inside. I knocked louder. Then louder. Nothing broke the pattern of moans and groans. I considered waiting for them for all of three seconds.

Then I shouted loudly, "Phil! Phil!" and slammed the door quickly in case of thrown objects such as boots.

I heard Phil swear with great feeling, or perhaps it was the young lady. It was difficult to be sure in that kind of high and blasphemous cacophony of sound. Just in case they should forget me and get back to business again, I pounded on the door and shouted a couple more times. Philip and I were good enough friends that I didn't think he'd try to do me bodily harm when he came out.

I wasn't at all sure I would be as charitable toward him in a similar situation, should I ever be caught in one. I was even less sure about the young woman.

The door opened a few inches.

"What the hell. ... Do you know what you're doing? What's going on, anyway? The house on fire? The Jacksons come home? My God, that's it, isn't it! Come on, there's a back door."

Finally I broke through the flow of words to his conscious mind as he was buttoning up his shirt.

"What about Rebecca?"

"She can dress herself. Come on, man, come on!"

"Phil, listen to me. There's no big problem. I just want you to introduce me to the girl with the beautiful blue eyes, the one I saw you talking to earlier and who obviously wasn't interested in your idea of entertainment for a few minutes."

"You mean," Phil was as unhappy as I'd ever seen him, "that I'm in there with all of Rebecca laid out before me and for me and you're interested in someone's eyes? My God, man, have you no idea of priorities and ... and ..."

"Will you introduce me to her or not? Remember, I'm the one with the car and you're the one without a car and remember how much you like the backseat in my car."

Phil relaxed visibly.

"OK, OK," he said, holding up his hands. "Don't get nasty. Just give me another 20 minutes, will you? Rebecca is ..."

"I know what Rebecca is. You've got 10 minutes, buddy. Ten."

Phil's hands flew to his shirt again.

"I'm coming, Rebecca. Don't move!"

Ed Smith lives in Springdale. His e-mail address is edsmith@nf.sympatico.ca.

Geographic location: Jacksons, Springdale

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