Now that A Higher Voice is in print, every witty comment by a friend is followed by, "Is this going to turn up in your next book?" Finally I was asked, "Do you get tired of hearing that?" and I answered, "No, I don't pay any attention to it."
Until this week.
We were traveling in Maine with our friends Don and Carolyn, and Carolyn noticed that the man at the next table in a Searsport restaurant had begun to cry. She wondered what could possibly be wrong. And Don answered with a story that began something like this...
As Redding Pearce waited in line at the toll booth, he flicked his lighter over and over. An old habit, from his smoking years, but it helped him think. In the backseat of his dark blue '76 BMW convertible was a body zipped up in a black bag, and he needed to dispose of it quickly. When he reached the window, his eyes took in the wavy red hair of the voluptuous operator, and her name tag, which read Gwendolyn.
"Gwendolyn," said Redding, "I can tell you are a beautiful woman. I know I only have twelve seconds, but would you consider meeting me for a cup of coffee after your shift?" ...
Don's story continued throughout the evening, involving the fact that Redding was a chiropractor, Gwendolyn only had one leg, and something about a partially burned body and a mad dash for Shreveport. His tale fizzled at the end of Chapter Five with this sentence: Redding paused, mesmerized by the blue light flashing in his rear view mirror.
Fun, huh? But that's not the end of it. Our last night, in Bangor, we pulled in to a restaurant on the river, and there sat this '76 BMW:
A man caught me snapping this photo after the others had gone inside, and he and I had a brief conversation about why I was taking the picture. That same man sat at a table near us, and Don said it was Redding. "Notice the shoes; he's definitely a chiropractor," Don declared.
After the meal, the man got up and left. Carolyn excused herself to go to the loo and came back. In a minute, the man came up to our table, put his hand on Don's shoulder, and said, "Excuse me, but I couldn't help but notice that your back is unbalanced. I'm a chiropractor, and I can help you with that." We all looked at each other--Don's eyes were huge. "Really, I am a chiropractor. Remember, you took a picture of my car?" I burst into laughter. He continued, "My name is John Redding," By then we were all laughing.
It seems Carolyn punked us. When she said she was going to the loo, she actually followed the man and talked him into the prank.
Good one, huh? Now if I can get Redding and Gwendolyn out of Shreveport, I might have a story...