Excerpt: The Colonel

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This is a rough excerpt from my next ebook, which is still untitled. It takes place in 1999, at a small Christian college where I am a freshman.  

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Before I asked Angel out, I had to take care of one important matter: securing the permission of her father, a man who worked for the college.  He was known around campus as The Colonel, and this was not an especially soothing nickname.

This had been the point where I had lost the room.  Adam had tried to talk me out of it.

“Why are you asking her dad if you can ask her out?  That doesn’t make sense.  Just go ask her.”

I wouldn’t listen to him.  Residue of the homeschool culture still coated my insides.  This wasn’t 1999, this was 1799, and I had to obtain a father’s blessing before beginning the sacred process of asking a 19-year-old woman if she wanted to, like, hang out and stuff.

So here I was, standing in a waiting room in the administration building.  The Colonel was in his office, and he did not know me from John Scopes, and that reference always got laughs around campus.

Presently The Colonel became aware that someone was lurking outside his office.  He walked out to meet me and oh hey—this was cool—I immediately forgot everything I was going to say.

the colonel

The Colonel was an old military man who was shaped like an upright rectangle—nothing but square edges and precision.  His hair was completely white, so it was difficult to tell his age—he could have been 45 or he could have been 75.

“Can I help you?” he grunted, managing the forced smile of someone who missed the world of uniforms and salutes, where smiles were not necessary.

“Uh…hello.  Hello, sir…Good day.  I mean…”

The Colonel stood in his doorway and listened as I stammered through my intentions to ask his daughter out on a date.  Not a single muscle in his face moved.  He just stared at me like I was the bug on the wall that he couldn’t decide if it was worth to get up and squish.

“…so, with your permission…I’d like the opportunity to, um…to request your…I mean, to ask…to ask your daughter if she’d like to go out this weekend.”

Well, that was it.  For better or worse I had said what I needed to say.

The Colonel stared at me.  Unblinking, unflinching, like a game of chicken he had already won but wanted to keep playing.

I knew better than to blabber on just to fill the empty air.  At least I knew that much.  I stood there in the silence, staring at this old war horse and his big glasses and those dead eyes.  Over his shoulder I could see military paraphernalia adorning the walls of his office.

Tick…tick…tick…tick…

The creeping second hand of the clock on the wall was the only sound.

Suddenly The Colonel ended the siege.  His mouth formed a smile, one that was somehow warmer than his previous attempt.  He reached out and put his hand on my shoulder.

“You’re old fashioned,” he growled.  “I like that.”

And then he turned around and retreated back into his office.  There was no invitation to join him, so I stood there in the waiting room for a minute.  After replaying his response in my mind, I finally decided that yes, what he said qualified as his blessing.  I quietly excused myself and exited the building.

A few seconds later, I was floating across campus, a goofy smile stretched across my face.  I mean, this was basically, like, God’s blessing on my plan, right?  Of course it was.  Otherwise, The Colonel would have said no, right?

I would work out the theology of it all later.  Right now I had to get back to the dorm and make sure I had enough Old Spice before the big date.  And I also needed to find Angel and actually ask her out, but that was just a formality, probably.

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