“Hey, Lady! You dropped your ring! Wait up!” Jason stumbled over the low cement wall bordering the grounds of the Episcopal Church just as the bells repeated their resplendent gong…gong…gong. Resonating out, chiming across the Plaza, circling St. George St. and parading back to King St., the repeated rings circled, drifting and slipping over his shoulders a like a fallen halo.
Oh right, lay it on. Ha! That halo had slipped a long time ago. What an illusion! Jason thought, as the ancient burnished leather suitcase he had dubbed Aeolus, packed to the brim with his ‘life’ in so many ways, went flying, spilling his books, canvas, paints, brushes and pens to land in a geometric heap. His ponytail fell left, his beard flew right and his treasured black Greek fisherman’s cap landed upside down as if a holy chalice for serving the communion wine.
Opening one eye, Jason flashed back to his earlier days as an Episcopalian Priest, before he had become a lamb, trotting along with the herd. Or as others whispered: ‘A Fallen Sheep’ and sure enough, next to his cap he read “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.” What a line!
There on the ground was his old beaten up copy of Dante’s Inferno. Now there was an oxymoron: a comedy about Hell! With ‘Divine’ in the title. A visit to Hell as comedy? Chuckling to himself, he wondered “Was this another sign? From God?”
Well, it had to be. Didn’t it? After all, one doesn’t just fall into church, or in this case a church yard imbued with the scent of a great Cabernet, he envisioned that amethyst liquid he had faithfully served to sinners and saints alike for over ten years. Then, the sound and pealing of those bells, caressing his shoulders like an ancient anthem. It was rather startling when you thought about it.
I guess I haven’t been doing too much thinking lately, dusting off his black cowboy boots, Leo attempted to get up, to stand when he saw the red head, lying on the grass, lost in the wrinkled mess of the ecru crocheted vest, peasant blouse and red cowboy boots. Wait. She had cowboy boots on? Whaaaa?
She was reaching for her train case and half humming half singing “Blue Moon, I saw you standing alone…without your suitcase in hand…”
“Well! I must say, this is a fine way to meet my Prince Charming” she cooed in her basket full of peaches and cream Southern drawl. “Where have you been all my life, handsome?”
Leo looked around, “Prince Charming? Where!?” He felt like he had just stepped out of an O. Henry very short story. Even wilder yet, possibly down the Rabbit Hole. No one had bothered to even glance his way since after leaving the church, becoming practically homeless or ‘less’ in other words. Living aboard his tiny sailboat that leaked and groaned whenever he was forced to leave the dock was akin to living as a hermit, except he did have roof over his head at night.
Where have I been? Where have I been!? “To Ithaca!” he wanted to reply.
Shaking his head, he stammered, “Well, as my dear old daddy used to say, ‘been to Halifax and back, to Kalamazoo and Katmandu but home’s the place and I’m goin back!'” he laughed and began to sing “Fly me to the moon and let me dance among the stars…Let me see what life is like on Jupiter and Mars…” to this beautiful young lady.
Their eyes met as she chimed in while they pulled each other up off the ground.
Suddenly they were both embarrassed as other people, pushing along the street, looked sideways at these two crazy loons, singing in the church yard. “Well! I’m going inside the church and I must thank God that I finally met a real genuine gentleman. You’re kind, I can tell that! You’re someone I could trust — and I haven’t trusted anyone for a very long time!”
She paused, looking down at the scattered materials, she spied her ring. “Oh, there’s that ‘ring of fire’ you found. It’s always slipping off my finger. Thank you for chasing after me! As they say, star crossed right time, right place! Where DID you come from?”
Jason bowed and said “My name’s Jason. My boat’s tied up at the marina. What’s your name?”
“My name… I answer to Circe or C.C. I haven’t been to church since — well, I know the walls will shiver and shake but I just feel the need. It’s a longing. Do you ever feel the need… the need to just escape? To disappear? To start your life all over again? I’m so tired.” she trailed off.
C.C. started humming a captivating melody, reached into her case and pulled out two books. She pressed them into Jason’s hands, turned, and evaporated into the shadows of the church. Mystified, Jason turned the mildewed books over to finally make out the two titles, Dante’s Divine Comedy and Odysseus.
Carole Prior is a Teacher/Drama Director/Writer/ now ‘TRANSFORMED’ after 30 years of teaching Theatre Arts and looking forward to ‘Is there life after teaching those wild and wonderful high school students?’ Honoured as Teacher of the Year, President’s Award,Top Ten Teachers Who Care, Director’s Cut Award and the National AATE Dina Reese Evans Award feature among the highlights of a career filled with one madcap adventure after another. Having prepared students for Theatre competition as International Thespian Sponsor for 28 years, Prior also served on the Florida State Board for Florida Association of Theatre Education (FATE) where she served as the State Chair for Theatre in Our Schools. (AATE now EDT) Directing over 200 productions including Main Stage, Musicals, One-Acts and Dinner or Dessert Theatres led to writing many plays centered on the life of a teenager. Conceived and originated ‘Write People’ an assemblage of creative writers and Bon Vivants, who are collaborating on short stories set in and around Florida to be published by Amazon. She is proud to be the mother of four incredible children who gave her eight indelible delights known as grandchildren. She is married to Tom Prior who creates the laughter and the Esprit de Corps of life on Vilano Beach.
Personal Philosophy: Life is a journey, make it an adventure.