Seven stories with different world-religion settings and characters of various corresponding faiths provide an “interfaith” context and partial overlap for AND EVE SAID YES. The story centers on Jason Hunter, a young well-read single man with no living relatives. Ex-sailor and retail stockroom supervisor, Jason is on a quest to resolve three life questions: absolution from guilt related to the accidental death of a coworker, attaining a renewed spiritual grounding and connectedness, and the rediscovery of his lost soul mate whom he encountered briefly during a horrific dark storm.
He immerses himself in Catholic classes for a time. He solicits advice from his Jewish landlady as well as an old college chum involved in the Self-Realization Fellowship church with its Hindu influence and also engages in friendly repartee with an earthy atheistic night-watchman buddy. Jason seeks the counsel of fellow workers at the outlet store including a Hebrew teacher, explores doctrinal details with Muslim students who are customers at the store and finally reestablishes an acquaintance with an old professor of religious studies, all colorful characters in their own right.
His path involves dangerous, unexpected twists, such as risking his life in a flood to save an elderly stranger and the confrontation with a knife-wielding thief when making rounds with his night-watchman friend. Jason’s search ultimately takes him back to the college town where his life had first taken a turn and culminates in a séance setting where a surprising and amazing resolution to his quest is revealed.
My four years in the Navy were spent reading books, a compensation I’m sure for the loss of my family and a derailed college education. But returning to civilian life, I found that I’d amassed pitifully few answers, only more sophisticated questions—questions that cut to the very quick and marrow of my being. And those questions persisted, snapping viciously at my heels like a recalcitrant cur, as I resolved to keep opening new doors one after the other, a pilgrim among pilgrims seeking and searching, until the grace of resolution and direction presented itself. And, finally, it did. But, of course, how all that came about is my story.
At sea one Sunday morning, not far off Luzon, I was below deck, off duty, and reading Jack Kerouac when I came across that famous remark made in an interview. He was asked what the Beat Generation writers wanted and what he was trying to do in On the Road and he responded, “I was waiting for God to show his face.” I was contemplating what he meant exactly when a disconcerted mate called me topside to have a look at something strange on the water. I scurried up the ladder and onto the deck, pausing at the starboard rail. What met my eyes was a seascape from another world, one I’d never witnessed prior and would never see again.
Our craft had entered into an absolute dead calm, the water flat and placid as a pane of glass mirroring flawlessly and indistinguishably the somber copper sky. The horizon line was but a draftsman’s faint illusion, heaven and sea as one with all sound and motion void, the rhythmic breath of nature extinguished in toto, a vast and engulfing entropy disturbed only by the beating heart in my own tiny locus. It felt as though we were about to be swallowed up in the gargantuan maw of eternity. And at that moment I reflected again upon what Kerouac had said, about his quest to experience the face of God, and, standing at the rail looking into forever, I realized I myself was in no way desirous of or prepared for such a rendezvous. The mere anticipation froze my soul because, since that Friday night in Columbia, Missouri, when I had encountered Eve, I’d never fully sorted out the question of good and evil—or, more precisely, the constitution of “sin” and its ultimate consequence. I wasn’t equipped to face any “Maker.” I wasn’t ready for a Judgment Day. That recognition, with all its attendant trepidation, descended upon me without amelioration or mercy . . . and I remembered my mother, a Jehovah’s Witness, and my father, an agnostic, and their untimely passing from this world . . . and I thought again of Eve.
About the Author
Mark Scheel grew up in east-Kansas farm country. Prior to writing full time he served overseas in Vietnam, Thailand, West Germany, and England with the American Red Cross, taught in the English department at Emporia State University, was an information specialist with the Johnson County Library in Shawnee Mission, Kansas, and served on the editorial boards of Potpourri Publications and Kansas City Voices magazine. His short stories, poems, articles, and essays have appeared in numerous periodicals, and he was co-author of the book Of Youth and the River: The Mississippi Adventure of Raymond Kurtz, Sr.
His 1997 book, A Backward View: Stories and Poems, received the J. Donald Coffin Memorial Book Award from the Kansas Authors Club. When not writing, he enjoys listening to talk radio, traveling with his wife, Dee, lending support to the FairTax movement and participating in interfaith activities. His blog series appears on The Grant Journal and Scriggler, and in 2015 sixty of the entries were collected in the book The Pebble: Life, Love, Politics and Geezer Wisdom.