Stepping out into the bright sunshine, I inhaled deeply of the fresh air, remembering the damp swamps of Vietnam and felt such gratitude to be back here in this great land of freedom.
The bookstore stood next door to Landers' and I looked at the front window, with books displayed on a table draped with a colorful cloth. Others stood slightly fanned open on the floor.
Opening the front door, I heard the slight jangle of the bell, alerting the shop owner to my presence. He came into the room from behind a curtain in the rear of the shop.
"Welcome! Can I help you?"
These words came from the elderly man, who observed me with a toothy grin, as I glanced around the shop. His eyes were dancing merrily as he spoke to me. I immediately took a liking to him.
"Hi! Could I just kind of look around for a few minutes? It's been awhile since I've been around so many books."
"Why, sure, young feller! Like reading, do you?"
I could see that he liked to talk, so I decided to converse with him.
"Yes, it was a favorite pastime of mine, growing up. I would spend all my spare time with my nose stuck in a book. My Grandda told me he was afraid I'd ruin my eyes from reading so much. I didn't, though."
"Hmmmm. Lived with your grandfather, did you?"
"Yes, sir. My Ma and brother and sisters, too. He owned a farm down in Kentucky. I had chores to do, so there wasn't a
lot of spare time for reading. I also read in my New Testament. I'm looking for one to give to a new friend of mine. He needs it real bad. He has mine for the time being."
"Christian, are you? Somehow, I had you pegged as a good feller, young man. What's your name, if you don't mind telling me? You remind me of someone I once knew, years ago. He had the same red hair like you do."
"Zebulon O'Hanlon, sir."
"I knew it! I'll bet I met your father one time! Was he named Seamus? I'll never forget his kindness!"
I could hardly believe my ears! Was I hearing him right? What? How? When?
(To be continued )