There’s a Story Right Under My Nose

I’m writing my first novel, he says and he says it like it really matters—like we aren’t standing in the middle of a cul de sac street in a suburb in West Virginia. Like my dog isn’t sniffing his feet and his aren’t barking at me through the window. 
Like a retired gentleman wearing a hat has nothing to be self-conscious about—he’s writing his first novel after all.
I bend my head and look closer at my neighbor. I see that his flat cap is made of a tight honey-colored straw weave—perfect for these hot days. The short bill of it sits angled cockily above his brow and he smiles easily. Don’t I already know this? Hasn’t he always waved heartily from the front porch when we walk by? How long has he lived here? How many years have I been walking this dog by his house? 
I take a step closer. 
It was Lucy Mae what drew him off the front porch. She saw a rabbit in his yard. We had a good laugh at her inept stalking attempts. And when he meets me in the driveway to have a look, I realize this is the closest we’ve ever been.
I don’t know his name.
I can’t remember how we got there, but he says it. 
I was a journalist for years. Now I’m writing my first novel
I hesitate only briefly but I know it’s what I’m supposed to do. I pick up the end of that dangling thread.
I take another step closer. 
Lucy Mae lulls in the shade of his rose bush.
Really? I say. I’m a writer too.
And it’s like someone has lit a fire under his skin he looks so happy. 
And he tells me about his time in the service—how he was stationed in Japan.
Imagine this light post is the island, he says. I was right here (he points to the finial) at the tippy top…
He tells me about his Japanese girlfriend and how they met, how rowdy the boys were, and how he rode a motorcycle everywhere. He played basketball and during his last month in, some scouts from BYU picked him up. We talk about God and he tells me about his Native American friends from BYU and how they taught him about reverence. He tells me about his time as a ski instructor at Sundance and how Robert Redford always told his wife she has nice legs. 
We talk for an hour on that street—Lucy Mae giving me the look and the sun sinking low behind the trees. 
He talks about California—living there a time—and how he worked at Paramount. He knew some big names but that doesn’t bother him.
I wasn’t about all that, he says. I was about experiencing things. I was about a story.
He tells me about a movie he just went to see.
They don’t make stories like that anymore, he sighs.
I tell him I have to go—have to pick up my kids at church. But neither one of us want this street talk to end. We’ve covered a lot of ground in a short amount of time. Because that’s what word people do when they find another like them. It’s a soul connection. 
He walks a little ways with me up the street.  He’s ready to turn around but I have one more thing.
I don’t even know your name, I say.
He tells me his and I tell him mine and we clasp hands and smile into each other’s eyes and as I make my way up the street, heading back home, I feel happy.
That guy sure can tell a story.
This week’s memory verse:
Check previous Tuesday posts for prior verses.

For memory cards of the whole book of James visit this post. 


  1. says

    How delightful Laura. I find myself hungry these days for word people. I have so many things I want to ask someone right now – so much stirring in my heart I’m unsure of.
    I hope you have many more conversations with him. He sounds like a born story-teller, and you are such a joy to know.

  2. says

    SO lovely, Laura. Life is like that, isn’t it? We can live close to wonderful people, wonderful stories and not even know it. And that movie? LOVED IT. Saw it with Dick and then took my mom to see it, too. Sad however, because Mom could not follow it…yet another sign that things are fading, fading. Thanks for this beauty here tonight.

  3. says

    “…it’s like someone has lit a fire under his skin he looks so happy.”

    Put two writers together.
    Love this, and love that all he cared about was the story.

  4. says

    I can picture the two of you chatting away…what a gift to connect with another person…you’re the 2nd person that has recommended that movie to me… thanks, Laura, for another delightful read 🙂

  5. says

    Oh my land, this is terrifical!

    Even though it was your first conversation, I reckon it won’t be your last. (My only neighbors are yowling coyotes and mangy moose and flighty deer so I very rarely have one-hour conversations with ’em. 😉 )


  6. says

    I love these types of encounters. I think they’re God directed. This made me teary, Laura, and it was so beautifully written. Thank you. I hope you get to chat more with this fellow.

  7. says

    I love this story…and how God weaves us together in moments like that. Hope you have more chances to share your words. Something about people of that generation that is such a treasure in conversation. A simple moment, a beautiful story, captured. Thanks for sharing it.

  8. says

    This is like one of Charity’s stranger meet-ups, but yours is with a man.

    When I meet someone like him, someone who has a story to tell, I feel guilty that I get to write all the time, and yet I’ve hardly lived. It’s not fair. He deserves more.

  9. says

    And yet another reason to slow down. If you were worried about an endless to-do list, you would have completely missed this.

    I feel as if this is the beginning of a cool friendship.

  10. says

    Precious! Do you realize the gift you gave him, sweet Laura? I love to think about him walking back into his house with a warm smile on his face, savoring the conversation, replaying it in his mind. And so a friendship is borne–the Lord is SO good! 🙂

  11. says

    Oh, Laura. I love this. Right on the street.

    He sure can tell a story (as can you) — and you sure can see one coming. Glad you picked up that dangling thread. Hope you still have hold of it, too. 🙂

  12. says

    Hi Laura,

    After I read this wonderful post, I began thinking of a woman who touched my life briefly a few weeks ago. I wrote a post about her last night, and linked up with this one on my blog. Wanted to share your beautiful words with my readers too… 🙂

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