What's All This Then?

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What's All This Then?

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The Chronicles of Narnia
by C.S. Lewis

Field-Tested by Francis Heaney

in Rocky Hill, New Jersey

I was a quiet kid. My grandmother tells me that, sometimes when I was visiting her, I’d make so little noise while I was in her bedroom by myself that she’d get worried that something had happened. She’d look in on me and there I’d be, playing with Colorforms, reading, or drawing incomprehensible comic books; perfectly happy, perfectly silent.

Of course, I had friends and was quite capable of running around with them in the backyard, pretending that we were under attack by a mad scientist with a tornado-creating machine, but I never minded being alone. You know, more time to read.

Mostly, I read at home or in the back seat of my stepfather’s rusting Ford Pinto, but for a while when I was nine, give or take a year, I would spend a lot of time reading at the clothing store where my mother worked. I guess I would have been brought along if she had to work on the weekend and my stepfather was away (as he usually was, since he drove an 18-wheeler), or during the summer. Sometimes I’d wait in the employee area in the back of the store — that’s where I read my first Pogo collection, bought at a bookstore a few stores away in the same shopping center, thus initiating a lifetime fandom — but I preferred to sit inside the circular clothing racks.

Like I said, I was quiet. Mostly no one noticed me, and the women who did found my presence more cute than startling. And that’s where I read most of The Chronicles of Narnia: sitting inside a clothing rack, under fluorescent lights, “Knock on Wood” and “American Pie” piped through the sound system from above. I spent a lot of my childhood in my own world, but never as much as I did in that store. The Pevensie children’s trip to Narnia began by stepping through a wardrobe, and as I sat there, surrounded by dresses and dangling sale tags, it was easy to imagine an alternate universe on the other side, just waiting for me to part the clothes and step through.

While you're waiting for Francis Heaney to finish writing his fantasy-slash-mystery novel, you might enjoy reading his humor collection, Holy Tango of Literature, or solving Crasswords, a book of dirty crosswords that he edited for maximum inappropriateness. Like many people, he has a blog.

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