The Answer to Everything
Remember John Keats':
"Beauty is truth, truth, beauty, -- that is all
Ye know on earth , and all Ye need to know."
With those lines in mind, here's a scene from my novel, The Answer to Everything
Note: The narrator is Jodi McGee, mother of Mystery, age 16, and partner of Clifford Hickey, whose children are Feliz, 17, and Tommy, 13. They all are living together in Coronado, CA, in one side of a duplex owned by Alvaro, Clifford's brother, a lawyer who is defending the murderer of a Mexican cartel hitman. On account of cartel threats and previous atrocities, the Hickey/McGee household woman and kids are mostly homebound all summer. Clifford and Alvaro have jobs.
In this scene, on a rare outing, Jodi, the giris, and Tommy are accompanied by Eric, a Navy Seal friend they have retained as a bodyguard. Also mentioned is Charley, Jodi's estranged husband:
On our way to the beach, on a day of gentle onshore breeze that brightened everything, the houses in our modest yet gentrified neighborhood gleamed in earth-tones, their windows sparkling, the porches and balconies edged in planters. Herbs, daisies, gardenias, and California poppies perfumed the air. Elms, magnolias, oaks, acacia, every kind of palm from bushes to ones taller than Jack’s beanstalk yet with trunks so skinny I could almost encircle them with my hands — all those wonders shaded or towered above us, and jacarandas still flowering from the June gloom rained their tiny violet petals.
We crossed Ocean Boulevard about a quarter mile south of the North Island Naval Base, a short mile north of the Hotel Del Coronado. Our beach from the sea wall to the shore, even at high tide, was as wide as the length of a football field. Sifting my toes through the tropical sand, I felt pampered as any princess ought to.
Eric had posted himself on the sea wall, wearing a hooded sweatshirt over his holstered Sig Sauer.
The girls wore Clifford’s t-shirts, so I didn’t know what suits they had under them till we spread out our blanket. They peeled off the big t-shirts and ran to the water. For a minute, Tommy stood in a pose like a classical marble statue, maybe David assessing Goliath, then followed the girls, slowly as a stalking predator. When I caught up with him and tapped his shoulder, he jerked with a start.
“Since Feliz is your sister,” I said, “I presume it’s Mystery you’re, um, admiring. Right?”
He blushed and tried to look away, but even with me beside him, his eyes kept tracking her way. For good reason, since Charley and I had made a masterpiece. She was tall but not in the least gawky, her waist and hips were sleek and firm, her breasts modest but full, her legs long and muscled from skiing. Her shoulders were rather wide and strong like a swimmer’s, and she moved with a dancer’s grace though she wasn’t much of a swimmer and had never practiced dance. Her swimsuit bottom wasn’t much more than a thong and the top was a couple large pasties and a string.
I said, “Beautiful, isn't she?”
“Okay,” Tommy said.
In part to relieve him of the embarrassment, in part to lure his thoughts — which I doubted were entirely aesthetic — away from my daughter, I pointed to an older woman, short and hunched with deeply wrinkled, desert-rat skin and a distended belly. “To God she's every bit as beautiful as Mystery.”
“Okay then, since you brought it up, what is God anyway?” Tommy said in a voice that implied the addendum, “If you’re so damned smart”.
“Love,” I said.
“Okay, then what is love?”
Tommy sighed, “And what is beauty?”
He looked willing to carry on as long as my silly game lasted. “And truth is?”
He sighed again and shook his head. “So, how about this: where is God?”
“And where is eternity.”
At last, I had worn out his patience. He turned back to watching the girls.
“Imagine,” I said, “in eternity, everybody looks as beautiful as Mystery does out there frolicking in that tiny swimsuit, which by the way I didn't even know she had.”
He gave me a cynical glance. “So everybody will be gorgeous and have a perfect body and skin and all?”
“Not will be gorgeous, is gorgeous. In eternity, we see with God’s eyes, see them all, everybody, the way God sees them. Beautiful.”
You all should read the whole novel. Here it is.
And here's a link to songs used in the trilogy I call Hickey and McGee, the third book of which is The Answer to Everything.