Saturday, 31 August 2013

Charlie Smithers - Review - By An 'Ordinary Bloke'

It's impossible to express how truly gratifying it is when reading a review, and knowing without a shadow of a doubt that the person who wrote it 'got' everything I had intended. This was the case this morning when I read the following, posted on Charlie's page on, by 'Ordinary Bloke'. A simple 'thank you' seems a woefully inadequate response.

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A truly epic tale, exceptionally well written.31 Aug 2013
Amazon Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Adventures of Charlie Smithers (Kindle Edition)
I was attracted to this brilliantly written tale purely by the title - The Adventures of Charlie Smithers. It conjured up images of the sort of stuff I, as an English kid back in the 1960's, would read about in things such as The Boys Own, or tales of Biggles the dashing pilot. I was vaguely correct I suppose, but this was the most magnificent adventure I have ever come across. Anything Biggles, or William Brown for that matter, may have got up to in the way of adventures pales when compared with Charlie Smithers and what happened to him on his perilous, though always exciting, journey through untamed Africa. His journey is quite incredibly dangerous at times, and many times I was led to think 'surely he's a goner this time!?'. The author has written this quite amazing, yet very believable, tale with such aplomb that you cannot help - given that you get'right into it' - getting so involved in everything that happens. He has, as other reviewers have noted, done his research very well indeed and he held my attention to such an extent that my breakfast had been stood for four hours before I touched it, not being able to abandon the story for even ten minutes to eat. I was moved to genuine tears as the story reached it's conclusion, though the author skillyfully managed to ease the grieving with another charming twist. I really cannot recommend The Adventures of Charlie Smithers too highly,just buy it and read it yourself. You will surely find it one of the most engaging reads ever, whatever your particular preference, or usual choice of reading matter. This would, without any shadow of a doubt, make a magnificent film. I could easily see a modern day equivalent of Richard Harris in this. Though at times Smithers' tenderness and ability to wax lyrical would have been perfectly suited to another great of the screen, Richard Burton. I echo previous sentiments when I say I would love to read more of Charlie Smithers. To the author, very well done indeed Sir.
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Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Charlie Smithers - Another Five Star Review!

I'm going to have to put out a spoiler alert on this one, for those of you who want to experience Charlie Smithers without anything preconceived. It really is a very nice review, though.

Thank you Liamin!

5.0 out of 5 stars not normally my cup of tea but I loved this oneAugust 27, 2013
This review is from: The Adventures of Charlie Smithers (Kindle Edition)
Adventure books and history are not my normal choice of books, but it was a great read. Well written, warm characters and wonderful humor here and there, Yes, it was a sad ending, but it was probably all for the best for that day and age.
Thanks for the free review copy, Chuck, I really enjoyed your book!
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Friday, 23 August 2013

One of the Nicest Letters I've Ever Received

As I always try to do whenever I have the means, I wrote Ed Jenzen, managing editor of Canadian Stories Magazine, thanking him for my 1st Place certificate in Creative Non-Fiction for  'The Thing About Pantyhose", and for including "Fear of Flying" as an editor's choice. This is his reply, one of the nicest letters I've ever received as a writer:

PS: If this sparks your curiosity, you'll find both stories two posts down, entered on the 13th of this month.

You are very welcome.
We have three second timers who won before.
You are one of them.

Now I'll tell you a secret.
"Fear of Flying" almost won first prize in Fiction.
That was Bruno Penner's first choice and then he changed his mind.
I didn't agree but that's OK.
The judge should have full control and the right to decide.

But we met with Bruno and his wife Freda as we occasionally do over lunch. I read the story out loud to us four. I love it. I think it's the best contribution we have ever had. It so mirrors how I have "performed" many an approach to something I wanted.

Now here's the question: is there a metaphor in the story (?) and what is it...

----- Original Message ----- From: "Chuck Lovatt" <>
To: "Ed Janzen" <>
Sent: Saturday, August 10, 2013 12:27 AM
Subject: Canadian Stories

Monday, 19 August 2013

Another Great Review - Twisted Tails

Another review came in For Wild Wolf's Twisted Tails (and again: yes, the pun is intended). This is very rare, but I really don't know what to say in response without sounding like a gushing idiot.

Except to say thank you Lolli.

Wild Wolf's Twisted Tails

5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinatingly Horrific! August 13, 2013
By Lolli
Format:Kindle Edition|Amazon Verified Purchase
If you don't have a lot of time to read, or you prefer short stories, or you just want to read some excellent horror stories, Wild Wolf's Twisted Tails is tailor made for you. You'll especially want to read the stories by Chuck Lovatt. If I had one complaint about this book, it is that there are not enough stories by Lovatt. His tales are vivid, creative and scary, just the way I like them! Read it, my friends, and feel the goose pimples rise across your cold flesh.
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Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Stories - "Fear of Flying" and "The Thing About Pantyhose" - Two Stories in One

I've decided to put both stories on one post for your convenience. First - a sweet little nugget, I thought (only 2500 words) - "Fear of Flying".

As always, comments are welcome.

                                 Fear Of Flying

                                                                          CW Lovatt – 05/02/2012 – 19/02/2012

            Douglas Adams once wrote that the main ingredient in flying is to hurl yourself at the ground and miss.
I had always thought that was a clever thing to say. In its pure simplicity it alleges that flying might prove to be a bit difficult. For instance, if, say, a million people were to hurl themselves at the ground, all in unison, odds are really good that – not nearly, not virtually, but – absolutely all of them would hit it, and hit it hard enough to make them think twice before trying again. Pain talks, believe me: it’s only common sense.
That’s my weakness, by the way - common sense. You see, I haven’t any, but to continue on…
Of course Mr. Adams’ theory is also a metaphor, meaning that the greater the risk, the greater the reward, because let’s face it, flying would be really cool, but the risks attenuated might be considered egregiously dire, although by some, worth taking. In fact, flying is the most awesomely cool thing that can be imagined, and therefore the greatest reward that there is, making winning the lottery pretty boring by comparison. That, combined with my appalling lack of common sense, goes a long way toward explaining why I had fallen so madly in love with Jenny.
Jenny Anderson has that Girl-Next-Door look, if you know what I mean. There wasn’t anything about her that wasn’t untypically pretty, and I loved her desperately. She, on the other hand, was way out of reach, and despised the ground I walked on…or pretended to anyway…
“We should hang out.” I said it lightly - light as a feather, actually - like I had just had this brilliantly amazing idea, only modesty kept me from shouting it from the rooftops, so light and easy was the only way to go. I made it sound like it was no big deal if she hung out with me or not. I mean, amazing as that idea was, I made it sound like it was no biggy, one way or the other. I came across as though amazing ideas were merely commonplace with me. She could buy into this one if she so chose, but it didn’t really matter; there would soon be other opportunities. My next amazing idea was bound to be just around the corner.
I thought that it sounded good, but she didn’t bite. Maybe because this had been the same amazing idea I’d been having for weeks, and it didn’t seem likely to improve any time soon.
“Thanks,” she said, with a distinct lack of interest, “but no thanks,” and after a pause, found the energy to explain, “I’m washing my hair.”
“Tomorrow then?”
“It’ll need washing again.” She gestured casually around the street, her untypically pretty nose wrinkling with disapproval at the passing, exhaust-ridden traffic, then over to where a city crew were patching potholes in the pavement - the heavy aroma of hot asphalt clinging to the sweltering air - and finally to the fast-food establishment we were walking past just then, ripe with the rancid smell of old cooking grease. Her very posture displayed utter helplessness in the face of a polluted world. It protested that it wasn’t her fault that her hair required such an effort. Pity, but there it was.
I had to admit that it was an eloquent gesture, but then it was one she could afford to make with comparative ease, I mean, seeing as how I was carrying her books and all. When not gesturing eloquently, her arms were free to sway casually at her side, or fold protectively across her breasts, while my own were wrapped around what seemed like every textbook that had ever been printed, my biceps trembling from the strain…although I made every effort to appear casually content, in a disinterested sort of way.
“What about later?” I asked, determined not to sound determined.
Her arm barely paused from encompassing the world before a flick of her wrist indicated the freight I was carrying. “I have to study.”
“We could study together.”
“I’m a Psych major,” she pointed out, more bored than ever, “ and you’re…” She left it at that, like she couldn’t bother trying to remember what my major was, as if it was beneath her interest or something.
“English Literature.”
“Right.” It was the same tone she used when she said, ‘Whatever’.
“So what’s the big deal? You could study Psych, and I could catch up on my Fielding. We could just hang out.” I resisted the urge to add, ‘C’mon, it’ll be fun’. I didn’t want to sound like I was desperate or anything.
“I don’t think that’s a good idea.”
Although I was careful to remain outwardly impassive, my heart gave a flip that probably registered on a Richter scale somewhere out on the west coast. Maybe it was nothing more than another case of my natural avoidance to all things logical but, at that moment, it struck me that she might be entertaining suspicions about my intent. If so, then the idea of the two of us alone, with the possibility of my making advances, had appeared at the forefront of her thoughts, and therefore been given life. You know what they say - wherever there’s life there’s hope.
I couldn’t let the moment pass.
“We could order take-out.” Take-out wasn’t a date – not an actual date – but it was close.
Yet, whatever inner turmoil I was causing, outwardly Jenny was fielding my assault on her willpower with casual – if not jaded – ease.
That’s when I decided, and took a very deep breath, before slowly letting it out again. My options had now dwindled to one. The moment had finally arrived, and I was nervous as hell. But it all came down to whether I could continue with the status quo, or discover if there was any chance that it could lead to something more. The problem was that what little I did have with her would be lost forever if I failed, and that seemed all too likely. Still, if there was a chance of our going further, both of us would have to see something in me other than what was currently being displayed. So, girded with thoughts of how God hates a coward, I took the plunge and opted for Plan B:
 “We could go out.”
I had just metaphorically hurled myself at the ground, even though I could already see how it lay: hard as flint, and unforgiving as sin. No two ways about it, this was gonna hurt like hell.
To be sure, Jenny sighed, long and loud; then her eyes did this dramatic roll, like this was something that had been expected all along, but was totally unwelcome.
 “Look Kevin, I don’t…”
“To Ottavio’s.”
She stopped in mid-sentence.
Ottavio’s wasn’t trendy like what the university crowd was used to, but it was posh and romantic, with a maitre d’, and the whole nine yards. It was also expensive…which would be why I’d be working double shifts at Giuseppe’s for the next six months, on the one-in-a-million chance she said yes.
In fact, she didn’t say anything. My mentioning Ottavio’s had got her thinking, like she realized that I was offering her the impossible, like the Taj Mahal or something. I was surprised by her hesitation, but I wouldn’t say I was delighted – I didn’t dare.
Then she laughed. I thought that her laughter was untypically pretty, too.
“You’re pulling my leg! We couldn’t possibly get a table on such short notice!”
I found myself speaking around this huge lump in my throat, vaguely aware that it must be my heart.
“Say yes,” I told her (completely disinterested, you understand), “and it’s as good as done.”
Jenny wasn’t just kidding about how difficult it was getting into Ottavio’s; she was speaking from experience. Untypically pretty girls attracted untypically rich guys like ants to honey – the type that liked to impress. That didn’t always work with Jenny, though…or with Ottavio’s either, for that matter. In addition to being posh, romantic and expensive, it was also pretty exclusive, requiring reservations being made weeks – if not months - in advance. To just walk in off of the street and not be turned away was so unlikely, it seemed like madness even to try.
It was my boss who first put me onto the idea.
Giuseppe could be difficult to work for. Sometimes he could be a real pain in the butt. He was one of your swarthy, sharp-tempered Italians who ran his pizzeria like a fiefdom. But he had a heart behind that teakwood exterior…and he had an Italian’s passion for amore.
Just the other day he’d cornered me in the kitchen, and said, “Listen-a to me, boy,” in a deep basso-baritone, the thumbs and middle fingers of both hands forming perfect ‘O’s. He held them to the sides of his face and shook them at me, the way he always did when he…well, the way he always did. “It’s-a seemple! You like-a this-a girl? Then you must-a feed her!” He continued, with his face twisting in ecstasy. “Food! She’s-a the heart of-a life! But wine! Wine she’s-a the soul!” and brought the lecture to an end by tapping a sagacious finger against my chest, “A woman, she knows-a theese!”
By omission he was admitting that Giuseppe’s wasn’t the right fit for what was required. If I was serious about Jenny, I would have to set my sites altogether higher, and in our town, that meant Ottavio’s.
Meanwhile, Jenny continued without speaking, and I could almost feel the wind in my face as the earth rushed up to greet me. We’d just reached Twenty-fourth and Park; the apartment she shared with three other girls was another block over, so I slowed to a crawl, forcing her to follow suit. I had to admit that it didn’t look good, but one way or another, I wanted an answer before we reached her front door.
Finally, still mesmerized by something on the sidewalk, she said, “I really do have to study.”
“Sure thing.” I tried for light and breezy, but the weight on my chest was pulling me down to my destiny. No surprise there.
“So, even if by some sort of miracle you did manage to get a table, I wouldn’t be able to stay very long.”
At first I didn’t understand. Inside, I was already curling into a protective ball, bracing for the inevitable collision with the ground. So when her meaning finally filtered through, I had to do some radical uncoiling. She was actually considering saying yes! I might not be flying – the earth was still coming up pretty fast, but it hadn’t reached me yet. This was an updraft under fledgling wings: not strong enough to keep me aloft, but sufficient so that the words ‘hurtling downward’ no longer applied. For someone who bore too many bruises from too many encounters with the downside of life, this was a very big deal.
“No one’s asking you to.”
Then she did look at me: her untypically pretty eyes were cold, and the ground lurched dangerously close. “There’s something else we’d better get straight.”
“This wouldn’t be a date, understand?”
It took a super-human effort, but I forced a smile, and lied. “Nothing was further from my mind.” This was love after all. Everything was fair.
She continued to study me, like she was seeing me for the first time, or maybe she was searching for the lie. If so, I had it buried deep beneath the thermals, and never let on.
Then something curious happened. Whatever she saw in me must have prompted her to try for a little honesty herself, maybe for no better reason than to give us both a chance to back out, considering that an evening together was bound to be a waste of her time and my money. She cared that much, at least, and I felt the updraft again, and thought that maybe this time it was a little stronger.
She said, “I don’t like you, Kevin,” but the ground didn’t come any closer.
“I know, I was hoping to change that.”
“You’re just so…so…”
She gave me a glare…that gradually softened into a sad smile. My heart gave a turn when I realized just how untypically sweet it was.
“Everyday you’re around me like some sort of lost puppy, pestering away until I end up letting you carry my books.” Her mouth twisted into a bitter smile, but I didn’t think that the bitterness was directed at me, “and I always allow it.”
“Because you find me useful?”
“Because I find you useable, Kevin, there’s a difference.”
“That doesn’t reflect very well on me, does it?”
Every instinct I had urged me to say whatever was necessary to sooth her conscience, but then the cosmos took yet another quirky turn, and I found myself deviating from the script at the most crucial moment of my life.
I said, “It doesn’t reflect well on either of us.”
The smile grew sadder, and she nodded slowly to herself.
“I don’t have time for a boyfriend. My course load’s pretty heavy.”
“I’m not your boyfriend,” I told her. In the span of a millisecond, the idea had become juvenile. “I’m Kevin.”
Suddenly she laughed, and I could have swore that there wasn’t anything bitter or angry this time. I also could have swore that there was something playfully coquettish in the way she slapped my shoulder, and I was sure that the ground receded a few inches.
She took a breath – paused - then reached a decision.
“Okay, hot shot, you’re on.” She produced a pen and wrote her number on the back of my hand. “If you can arrange it, give me a call.” In the brief moment that followed, her smile became quizzical, like maybe she was wondering if I was a magician – maybe even hoping I was.
That’s when the ground fell away altogether.
After she disappeared inside her apartment, I was left with a sense of all parts of myself flying off in every conceivable direction. Compared to the miracle that had just happened, getting into Ottavio’s would be simple - in fact nothing could be easier.
Giuseppe was always willing to help when it came to matters of the heart.
“Boy, you get-a that girl to go out with you, just-a say the word to Giuseppe,” he’d shrugged with his shoulders hunched up around his ears, “an’ she’s a done-a-deal! After all,” he’d continued, with his eyes a-twinkle, and a wicked grin lurking deep beneath the heavy brush of his moustache, “Ottavio, he’s a smart-a boy! He knows-a better than-a to say no to his papa!”
I turned for home, soaring high above the clouds…and flipped open my cell.

                                     The End

                                                   CW Lovatt 19/02/2012

"The Thing About Pantyhose" (also 2500 words) is the only non-fiction story in my entire repertoire, and probably one of the easiest to write, as I was merely recounting events as they happened. Sure, maybe those events happened more than a half century earlier, but the memory's as fresh as if it were only yesterday...probably because my family never let's me forget! Just kidding! No, I think what makes it so memorable - apart from the personal trauma - was that this may have been the time that I first discovered how good it felt to make people laugh. Hope you do, too.

                  The Thing About Pantyhose

                                                                                    CW Lovatt – 03/06/09 

I was twelve years old, that precarious age between child and unchild, when I had my first experience with that mystery-of-mysteries, one that holds a fascination for boys of all ages: women’s underwear.
 The story I’m about to relate took place in the early sixties, on the prairies of southwestern Manitoba, where our family of seven (Mom, Dad, two older brothers, two older sisters, and myself bringing up the rear) farmed a thousand acres.
Now, a farm takes plenty of work, or at least it did in those days. With this in mind, I could go on and on about getting up before dawn to milk the cows, feed same, as well as the pigs and chickens, not to mention clean out the pens and stalls, generally seeing to the well-being of the livestock before we had our own breakfast, and then afterwards, out on the fields, spending long hours tending the crops. So too could I wax nostalgic by telling you that it would all have to be done over again in the evening, and then often working the fields well into the night, before going early to bed in order to have a running start on the next day. After all, it’s well known that those of our years glory in reciting tales of how rough we had it compared to following generations; but calm yourself, I have no interest in boring you to tears. This story has a different path.
It was harvest time and the mornings were warm, so it must have been late August, or early September. While the sun evaporated the dew prior to our getting out on the land, we filled those mornings maintaining our machinery.
At twelve years of age I would be just learning about that end of things. But young as I was, I felt poised to take on a man’s share of the work, and so to be accepted into that hallowed circle. It seems strange now, to be in such a hurry to grow up, but I was quite determined not to fail in whatever rites might be required of me for that long awaited passage, and took care never to miss an opportunity to show my father the stuff I was made of.
So you see how the stage was set when, on one particular morning, my dad was demonstrating how to check the fluid levels on our old 1953 Chevrolet ton-and-a-half grain truck. First, with myself hovering keenly at his elbow, he pulled out the dipstick to check the oil. Invariably, there would be a frown before telling me to draw off a quart from the drum in the shed. When this was done with all due haste, he would twist off the caps of the battery cells to check the water level.
Another frown.
Finally, he checked the radiator to see how the fluid was holding up there as well. My father’s disapproval notwithstanding, it wasn’t extraordinary for those levels to be down. That old Chevy only had a six-cylinder engine, and the lugging was heavy, plowing over the soft earth with a full load of freshly harvested grain, going as fast as possible, to and from the granaries. It wouldn’t do for the combine to be just sitting out in the field with a full hopper when you got back. To my dad at harvesting, the worst sort of sin was a motionless combine. Considering all the pitfalls nature could inflict on an uncollected swath, in almost less time than it takes to mention, even I could understand his point of view. So during those sweltering days of summer, with clouds of suffocating chaff constantly being sucked into the grill, that engine lived life on the edge.
He twisted off the cap and peered inside. By the familiar set to his face I didn’t need to be told the core was showing.
Without looking up, he told me, “Get a pail of water out of the cistern.”
And it was here that the ignorance of youth took its toll, and another story was added to the family’s lore, sadly, at my own expense.
I don’t know how many of you know what a cistern is. I understand that some rural homes still have them, but largely they are a thing of the past. So for your information, a cistern is a holding reservoir, usually for water. Ours was a concrete tank in the basement, and was fed by a pipe that collected rain from the eavestroughs. Although not sweet like the drinking water we drew from our well, it was free of minerals, and ideal for use in such things as batteries and radiators.
But all this was of no consequence to me. All I knew was that my father wanted water from the cistern, and I was determined to get it for him pronto.
Now, there is one other point I feel should be mentioned, and which is my sole defense every time this story arises, meager though it may be. Just inside the back door of our house was a washstand. This was where the men folk (and aspiring men folk) would wash, either for meals or after the day was done (any other reasons for being indoors were seldom accepted). In those days running water was virtually unheard of in the country. So, in as many homes as you might care to visit in those parts, you would find an equal number of inventions to remedy that lack. In our case it was a small hand pump set to the side of the basin, its pipe descending to that holding tank in the cellar.
I have always maintained that if my father had said, “Get a pail of water from the pump by the back door,” I would have obeyed with flawless alacrity, but he didn’t. He told me to get it (I will say it again) from the cistern.
I knew where the pump’s water came from, but I was not specifically directed to get it from there. What the reason was – or if there even was a reason – I didn’t know, yet neither would I ask, being too embarrassed by my ignorance. Had I but asked and been told that there was no difference – that there was no strange transformation when the water issued from the pump’s spout - I would have been light years ahead; but instead, determined to show my initiative, and (perhaps paradoxically) to follow my father’s instructions to the letter, I found a bucket with commendable speed and ran (I always used to run) to the house and down the basement stairs.
There was a gap of some sixteen inches between the underside of the ground floor joists and the top of the tank’s walls, and it was to this that I now addressed myself. Obviously, the top of the wall was far above my head, so I lost no time dragging over various items of furniture and constructed a scaffold, the making of which being easily achieved by an expert at reaching cookie jars and such since infancy; but when I ascended to the pinnacle of my structure and peered over the side into the depths below, I saw at once that the water’s surface was well out of reach. It was obvious that I would need a rope, but there were none to hand.
Frantically, I cast my eye about the basement - keeping in mind that necessity was the mother of invention - and noticed some laundry lying in the corner, among which was a pair of my sister’s pantyhose. That’s when something tripped in my brain…and made a fateful connection.
I don’t know if anyone tells the story nowadays, but many’s the time I used to sit, spellbound, listening while my older brothers - and probably my father as well - told the legend of a certain couple, who had been out for a drive when the fan belt on their vehicle broke. Since this was late at night, in an uninhabited, out-of-the-way area, any hope of rescue seemed bleak. What this couple was doing out in such a secluded place at such an unusual hour was not recorded, but as I listened to the lurid narrative, filling in the blanks with my imagination, it was mentioned - in grave tones of implied genius - how the lady had removed one of her nylons so that it might be fashioned into a temporary substitute for the worn out belt. The story had many variations before and after this salient point, but it always ended with them reaching safety and with much wise nodding of our collective heads over the deceptive strength of women’s under-attire.
So great an impression did that tale have on me, that I suppose it was inevitable that it was in the forefront of my mind when I thankfully leapt down from my structure, seized the pantyhose – which seemed just an advanced version of nylons - tied one toe to the bucket, and then scrambled up again. I was so confident that my invention would be more than equal to the task, that glowing visions of my father’s admiration began to gather in my mind, bringing me one giant step closer to being accepted into that fabled land of manhood.
It was only a matter of a moment to toss the pail into the water (with a self-satisfied smirk), but then – much to my sudden, bone-chilling consternation - when I tried to haul it back up, it took but a fraction of that time for those treacherous pantyhose to tear through the middle, and the bucket to plummet back down to the bottom, carrying all hopes of efficient alacrity and glowing admiration (not to mention acceptance into manhood) along with it.
So there I was, helplessly staring, with a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach, and a half pair of pantyhose in my hands, struggling to understand how everything could have gone so completely and suddenly awry. If this were a fictitious piece, now would be the time to insert some sort of Divine Inspiration or Firm Resolve to save the hero. But this is not a work of fiction, and I was beginning to have a creeping suspicion that there was to be (alas!) no hero. Instead, finding myself with only my own inadequacies to fall back on, I was forced to the sad conclusion that there was nothing else for it.
Anticlimactically, shoulders slumped, feeling more than ever like a little kid, the useless remnant fell from nerveless fingers as I began the long trek out to face my father, rather like a dead man walking.
When he saw me returning empty-handed, he frowned and asked, “Where’s the water?”
Naturally, there was only one explanation I could give.
“The pantyhose ripped,” I told him, and I believe, may have vented some indignation that, insofar as that item might well have been strong enough to use in place of something so sturdy as a fan belt, it inexplicably - yet obviously - didn’t possess anything near the resilience required to fetch a simple pail of water. All of which, I might add, had caused a seed of doubt as to the veracity of that particular story in the first place.
Upon hearing my account, my father reeled two steps back, like someone who has just received an unexpected blow to the forehead.
“What?” he asked.
So I had to tell him again.
He must have been slow on the uptake that morning because he remained deeply puzzled…almost incredulous. Whereas he was not usually given to strong emotion, that was but the first he was presently to display.
It was when I told him a third time, but in rather more detail, that I could see I was finally getting through.
Yet, instead of gentle understanding, it seemed to me his stark disbelief became mingled with some sort of horror. But when I made no effort to clarify what he obviously hoped was a mistake, his face quickly became a kaleidoscope of conflicting passion.
I could have sworn that the corners of his mouth jerked upward in a prelude to laughter…before he caught himself and jerked them down again into an angry scowl. His eyes may have sparkled before he could regain control, but although it seemed quite a struggle, control he eventually achieved, and began to burn wrathful holes through my body. All the while, apparently unable to reach a conclusion of their own, his nostrils maintained an indecisive twitch.
Now, as was the case with many fathers in those days, mine was a firm believer in corporal punishment, and in order that chaos might be kept at bay, issued it without hesitation (and at that moment, I could tell he was convinced that, if chaos was ever upon us, it was now). So when I saw those angry eyes boring into me, I stood in sad resignation, waiting for the inevitable. I had failed in this most critical of tests. Let the blow fall; it would be as nothing compared to the dejection I felt inside.
But I was wrong about that too.
Oh, I think he might have mentioned, in so many words, what he thought of my failed initiative, but that was about all – and was, perhaps, the same conclusion I had arrived at myself; but to my relief, after we had fashioned a hook onto a metal rod, and used it to fish the bucket out of that accursed cistern, it was back to work as normal.
For the rest of that day, whenever time allowed, and I was not burning with shame, I reflected on lessons learned; on the aspects of pantyhose and their various uses – how they could be serviceable for one application, yet not another. I might have seethed at those idiot designers, who had so foolishly not foreseen the purpose for which I had intended, but most of all, I wondered at the many imponderables of feminine undergarments and their curious place in the world. Perhaps too, I might have been given a premonition as to how confusing life was to become on the road to enlightenment.
Although the story got out in the end (keeping secrets was never my strong suit) not a word was mentioned of the affair during that long grueling day, nor did my father ever allude to it again. Yet that night, many hours later, as I lay in bed drifting off into an exhausted sleep, far away down the hall I thought I heard something coming from my parents’ room. It was a muffled sort of thing, and only because of the silence could my ears pick it up at all.
It was difficult to be sure, but it sounded like stifled gales of laughter.

                                          The End

                                                                        CW Lovatt – 03/06/09