Tuesday, January 13, 2015

A Place of Brightness: Cans of Soup as Weapons...

I read with great interest (and horror) a story of how children were being taught to fight back against a school aggressor with anything they have around them, even a can of soup:


The plan is, of course, ludicrous. The chances of any given school being the target of violence, let alone the chance that any given student would be the "last line of defense" and needed to throw a can of soup at an aggressor, is so staggering low that efforts to thus educate are a horrible waste of time and energy.

That said, a can of vegetables is actually a weapon in my novel A Place of Brightness. Here's the passage. An Orthodox priest had been trained in his childhood to be a commando to fight the Communists in Romania. But today, he's stumbled into a grocery story robbery:

Father Stefan Valquist headed toward the checkout area. As he approached the store entrance, he noticed a sudden and strange silence in the normally bustling space.
“Hands up!” a voice bellowed.
Stefan’s eyes quickly struck upon a masked man sweeping a gun through the area.
“Open that thing up,” the man shouted at a teenage girl behind the cash register. “The rest of you take out your money and don’t try anything stupid.”
The half dozen shocked customers standing there responded slowly to the demand.
The man looked Stefan up and down while he stuffed money from the till into a bag. “What’s with the black robe?” he asked. “You think you’re some kind of ninja?”
“I’m an Orthodox priest,” Stefan said, holding his hands up at shoulder level. “This is what we wear.”
“I don’t care if you’re the Pope,” the man barked. “I’ll put a bullet through you all the same. Keep those hands where I can see them.”
An elderly woman nearby began to convulse in sobs.
“You got a problem, lady?” the man asked, slamming the drawer shut and walking quickly toward her.
“Please don’t …” she gasped, cringing from his approach.
Shooting a glance around his perimeter, Stefan spotted a display of canned vegetables within his grasp. Just outside his reach stood an assortment of brooms.
“You better shut up,” the man yelled. “Or you’ll be sorry real soon.”
“Leave me alone!” she cried.
“That’s enough,” the man barked, swinging his gun toward her.
Stefan’s hand snapped out to seize a can. An instant later, he had hurled the metal receptacle to smash into the man’s face. The thief staggered backward in shock.
The priest bounded forward, his hand grabbing one of the brooms. He dropped to one knee and swung the stick forward. The sound of a hollow crack rang throughout the store as the wood exploded aside the man’s head.
The astonished crowd watched as the thief collapsed silently. After a moment to register the unexpected event, they erupted into applause.
“You’re a hero!” a young woman exclaimed, throwing her arms around him.
“Someone please call the police,” Stefan said, gently extracting himself from the woman’s embrace. He walked to stand over the man. “How is he?”
“Who cares?” the woman asked.
“I can’t kill,” Stefan whispered.
An older man knelt beside the unconscious robber. “He’ll live,” he said, looking up curiously. “But what do you mean you can’t kill?”
“I just can’t,” he said, closing his eyes. “I’d lose my priesthood.”
Stefan leaned against a wall, as the store became a chaos of sounds and motion in the aftermath of the incident.
The elderly woman approached him. “Thank you, young man,” she said softly.
Stefan smiled faintly and nodded.
“Where did you learn those things?” she asked.
His eyes glistened. “My mother taught me.”

If you'd like to read the first two chapters of my novel A Place of Brightness, visit my website and read the first two chapters for free. Thank you for your consideration.