…if you have retained some interest in my personal blog, started about a weak ago. Yes, a weak. As in might have been a moment of weakness. You know, the story I started to tell about the girl, the one who apparently found me irresistible, and who, in spite of being half my age (actual percentage I believe is closer to 42% of my age, but there was only the lamp light so hard to pin it down) hinted at a solution when I did confess that I was indeed bored when she ask me if it were so…
Do any of you remember Haley Mills? Daughter of that fine English actor, Sir John Mills. Before Walt Disney decided that Haley was the perfect Pollyanna, Haley starred in a great black and white film based on a novel her mother wrote of the same name, Whistle Down the Wind. The film will be fifty years old in a year, I think, and I remember it quite well, parts of it anyway.
Starts out at a race track. We see a knife flash, a murder take place, and the wounded assailant escape to the English countryside. He crawls his way into a barn on Haley’s farm, eluding capture.
But to Haley, it is not a barn–it’s a manger. She has recently returned from Sunday school, with the picture of the bearded Christ, bedraggled hair, suffering on the cross, firmly embedded in the forefront of her thoughts.
And it is the face of the murderer cowered among the sheep and the swine and the straw. It becomes her mission to tend to his wounds, and help him avoid detection until he is healed.
She shares her secret first with her brother and sister, and then a few children in the village, and soon they all want to come to see him, to sate their curiosity or bathe in the light of his virtues. Eventually, the police figure it out, and surround the barn, with the murderer inside, alone with his protector, Haley Mills. Perhaps he speculates the girl would be an excellent hostage, but he repays her kindness and chooses to surrender. “I will see you again,” he says, eluding to a second coming? He exits the barn, and on a hillside with the dark sky creating only his silhouette, he tosses his revolver and on command of the police extends his arms to the side, replicating the cross on which Christ was crucified…
…I go back into the office, our clubhouse, after my encounter with the woman. I realize I am trembling, just a bit. A longing has been stirred (not shaken). I would be delighted to think that declining her offer was a result of moral fortitude. I believe that’s called “spin”. The truth might have something more to do with fear than virtue, virtue from the Latin meaning “strength.” The proof that we are raised in a god culture is that whenever we do or contemplate doing something we perceive as wrong, what we feel is fear. The trembling, the fluttering in my stomach, was not just excitement, but fear. The implication of fear is that some sort of punishment, whether self inflicted or at the hands of others, will follow if we do something we think is wrong.
I promise, this ain’t a commercial, but in my novel, The Boy with a Torn Hat, my protagonist starts out in conversation with a woman on a city street. She says:
“Are you sure? I’m just around the corner.”
“Thanks. I’ll pass.”
I can’t help but smile. Convenience anda discount…
I realize how close this was to the conversation I just had. Hey! Maybe she read my book?
I open the double doors that lead to the deck and entry of A Word with You Press. I look down the street. When we parted, I told her to be careful. She smiled and said something in return, which I did not recall until this evening.
The two men she has succeeded in engaging are uniformed policemen. Blue and orange and red lights swirl, and white light emitted from their flashlights peel her skin. I can hear indistinct radio chatter. They have told her to drop her purse. They have told her to extend her arms to the side for the indignity of a pat-down.
I see only her silhouette against the darkened sky.
And tonight I remember what she said to me over her shoulder as she crossed the street, after I warned her to be careful.
“I will see you again.”