Natural Ability

Cousin Shelley

As he sat in front of the fire, Van Helsing thought about Carl throwing him the holy water in the town square. It was a perfect shot, and if it hadn‘t been intercepted by one of the brides in mid-air, it would have reached Van Helsing as perfectly as if Carl had handed it to him.

When he‘d asked for details about what had happened while he was freeing the monster and grappling with Dracula, Carl had told him about finding the antidote, Igor‘s demise, Anna staking Aleera. . . And had offhandedly mentioned throwing the stake to Anna. Van Helsing marveled at how his friend, who normally spent all day hunched over his experiments and creations in a lab, could throw on target so perfectly, under such pressure. He turned to his friend seated next to him and asked exactly that.

"You shouldn‘t seem so surprised that I can actually do something well, Van Helsing," Carl said, sounded a little offended. "After all, I--"

"I know, Carl. I know. I‘m not surprised that you can do something well, you do many things well, I‘m just surprised you can do that so well. Where did you learn to throw?"

Carl tilted his head and took the kind of deep breath that Van Helsing recognized as one that precedes an extremely long and overly detailed story. But Carl only waved a hand at him and said, "When I was boy. Came naturally. " Then he got quiet, seeming to turn inward in remembrance.

Van Helsing did something he rarely ever had to do. He prompted Carl to continue. "And?"

"When I was younger, there was a game we would play, wherein the object was to throw a ball of rope back and forth to your teammates, who stood in a crude sort of circle, while keeping it away from one person who stood in the center. I was very good at it, and could almost always throw it to whom I wanted without the person in the middle being able to grab it. We also used to set up tin cans on tree limbs and make a game of knocking them off." Carl smiled at the memories. "I was very much in demand for these games, because I seemed to have a natural ability. Some of the other boys would practice for hours--I never had to."

"I don’t suppose there's much call for you to throw things in the Abbey," he said, more statement than question.

"Oh no, it’s been years," Carl replied. He looked at Van Helsing and shrugged. "I guess the body remembers."

Van Helsing didn’t remember anything before crawling, bloody and injured, up the church steps several years earlier. Looking into Carl’s eyes, he thought about all the blood he’d shed with relative ease in service of the Church, since then.

"I guess it does," he whispered.

March, 2006