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True Valentines: The third wheel on a first date

A first date takes an unexpected turn in this lively true story by Robin Harvey, received as part of our BloodLines writing competition.

"The Nephew" by Robin Harvey

Vergena stood in front of the mirror by her brass bed wiping sweat from her forehead. She pulled on a silk dress. It was light enough to let in air. A trip to Sunnyside could mean a pavilion dance or a roller-coaster ride, (her secret hope).

The phone rang. “Come down, it’s him and you know the old lady hates calls,” Audrey hissed.
Audrey and Vergena were book end best friends. Audrey a more heavyset, fair-skinned blonde to Vergena’s olive-skinned, black curls and high cheekbones. On a double date one fella got Ava Gardner with Marilyn’s body. The other; a young Shelley Winters.

Two years earlier Vergena hopped the ferry to the mainland for dances at the Newfoundland Club and movies at The Palace Theatre. Now the girls worked at Wrigley’s on Carlaw near their Victor Avenue boarding house.

Vergie pulled off the silk, shimmied into a robe and dashed downstairs.

“Hello,” she said, hoping out of breath sounded Marilyn-ish. 

She first met Eric back home. He’d lived in Toronto five years now and working at the Weston Road factory filled him out some sweet. His eyes twinkled. His practical jokes were legends.
“I hopes you’re not vexed, but I’ve got me nephew here. Buddy’s our third wheel,” he said.
If he hadn’t kept her in stitches, gatching and goofing on their last dates, she might have refused. But the mercury hit 91 and the lake beckoned. “No troubles. See you soon.”

At least the kid fixed the wardrobe problem. Back upstairs my mother threw on white pedal pushers, a red cinch belt and a black checked blouse. She put a scarf in a straw bag before applying a dollop of bright red lipstick.

Downstairs Audrey had a picnic basket waiting. Outside a 1949 Oldsmobile rocket honked. Vergena sauntered down the porch steps. Her date held the car door open, grinning like a jackass. She slid across the front seat and turned to welcome the kid.

He stopped her heart. 

The nephew had jet black eyes and black hair, combed in a front curl. His white shirt opened to his waist and, rolled up at the sleeves, revealed coffee-tan forearms with rippling muscles from weeks working construction northwest of the city. Then the clever devil stuck out his tongue and winked.

His smile shone so bright, she was speechless. By then her “date” was driving. 

“Ericson’s my uncle, but he’s five months younger and has to ’bide me,” the nephew said.

“ 'Bide me, y’arse,” Eric said.

They parked. When the uncle left to pay, the nephew grabbed my mother’s arm and rushed toward the ferry docks. Safe aboard the Sam McBride my mother settled in the arms of the man she’d love for life.

“You’re the darling from B Bay I been waiting on since you were 14,” he said and kissed her.


“The bootlegger’s grandson! Dad’ll kill me.”

They married a year later. The uncle wanted to be best man but had to work overtime.

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