birds in a barrel's mission is to release creative nonfiction into the wild.

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

Wanna Come?

He’s sitting in a mostly empty row. I’m hurrying to find a place before the lecture on Christianity and Capitalism begins. I started to sit next to him on the left; he asks me to sit a few seats down on his right. I shrug and move, in response to, “Someone asked me to save these, sorry.”

He’s thin and tall, brown-haired, and wears wire-rimmed glasses [everyone did in 1979]. He’s very soft-spoken. A beautiful blond sits down next to him. I get the picture.

Another he—a cute blond—sits in the new location. I try to strike up a conversation. He’s a lawyer – stop. He lives in LA – stop. He’s just visiting the church – stop. I stop asking.

“That’s going nowhere,” I tell myself.

The speaker is passionate about his faith, and about his economics. He really believes capitalism is next to godliness. I am intrigued, and annoyed. The hour ends, and I go up to ask a question—don’t remember what. I turn from the lectern to see the brown-haired guy approaching, alone. The blond is nowhere in sight.

He asks his question. I hang around. We walk away together. He’s a physicist. He lives in El Segundo and works for Hughes. He begins to tell me about his interest in this particular church and his interest in religion. We start a tripping verbal dance about Jesus and the Bible and the church. It starts to feel fun—and, then it’s time to separate.

There’s an awkward mumble about maybe another time, but I shake my head.

“Nope, I’m just visiting this one time. I need to visit a bunch of churches this year, and there are only a few Sundays.” We shrug and titter nervously.

He goes left while I turn right. I hike down a dirt trail to a parking lot a hundred yards below. About half way down my toe catches on something gleaming gold. I bend—a belt—someone. I pick it up, “Now what to do with this!” I don’t want to hike back up the hill; I don’t want a belt.

I go on, and there he is, again. I hurry to him, holding out the belt. “You go here. You can turn this in to Lost and Found next time. I’m never coming back again.”

He reaches out. Our fingers touch. Electricity—really! And, of course there’s not.

There’s the nervous titters again.

“I’m going to grab some soup at The Good Earth, and take a walk at UCLA. Wanna come?”

I feel a blush dashing across my cheeks. “I’ve got time. I don’t have any money—”

“That’s okay—on me. You can pay another time.”

We talked all afternoon. I was late to dinner with my best friend and her husband.

The next day I call to tell him about a sold out play next Saturday a hundred miles away. "Wanna come?"

He said yes.

That was 38 years, two rings, two children, and a million other memories ago.

That's Him

Shannon