Shakespeare High: Petruchio gets roped into a blind date
Pete's always up for free drinks. So when he gets a last-minute request from Lucas to fill in on a blind double-date, he does Lucas a solid and shows up. But Pete's a little anxious about this Kat girl he'll be meeting. In "Wingman," young-adult author Eric Walters situates the two couples from Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew in a packed bar. Will sparks fly?
"Wingman" by Eric Walters
I looked around the crowded bar and saw Lucas across the room, waving to get my attention. I waved back and proceeded to wade and weave my way across the jammed dance floor and packed room until I reached his booth.
“Great to see you, Pete!” he said as we shook hands. “Thanks for coming on such short notice.”
“Good to see you. So tell me, what’s this all about?”
“Can’t one friend just call another friend and see if he’s interested in a night out on the town?”
“That doesn’t usually involve the friend calling on less than an hour’s notice and saying that he’s willing to pay for everything—dinner and drinks and even the taxi to get me here,” I explained.
“Well, I guess I was a little desperate. I had a double date, and the other half of the date called to say he couldn’t make it,” Lucas explained.
“So why not just cancel that half of the date?” I asked.
“No can do. They’re a package deal. It’s either both or none.”
“Both sounds like your idea of a fantasy date,” I joked.
“Even more of your fantasy date.”
“It isn’t like that. I really need a second guy,” he said.
“So I’m your last-minute wingman and the fact that you’re willing to pay for everything tells me two things. One, your date must be pretty spectacular.”
“She is,” Lucas agreed. “Unbelievable. Incredibly beautiful and sensitive and, it may sound strange, but I think she could be the one.”
He sounded so taken, I couldn’t help but laugh. “The one—or the one for right now?”
“No, I’m serious. She’s special.” He paused. “And what’s the second thing you think you know?”
“That there must be something equally spectacularly wrong with my date.”
“Pete, would I do that to you?”
“Well, yes, probably, so tell me about her.”
“I’ll tell you about both our dates. They’re sisters. Bianca is mine and Kat is yours.”
“Cat? As in a feline with sharp teeth, and long claws to take out my eyes?”
“It’s short for Katherine. She’s the older sister.”
“And just what, exactly, is wrong with her?”
“Nothing. Nothing at all. She’s beautiful, and smart and talented. She’s a lawyer.”
“The first thing we must do is kill all the lawyers.”
“What did you say?” Lucas questioned.
“It’s a line from Henry VI.”
He still looked confused.
“It was written by Billy Shakespeare . . . you might have heard of him . . . he wrote some plays,” I explained.
“Yeah, yeah, English guy, spoke funny, died hundreds of years ago, wrote a bunch of things that made high school English even worse. But still, if anything, I hope you can kill her with kindness.”
“I can be kind.”
“That might be a challenge. Bianca says her sister is really a nice person, underneath, but she gets all caught up with being a lawyer.”
“And that means?”
“She either cross-examines her dates or treats them as if they committed a crime.”
“Oh, great, so you’re saying that she’s really a bit—”
“Come on, now, we don’t use the b-word,” Luke said. “Let’s just say she’s a little intense and I need you to put up with that intensity for the night.”
“And if I do?”
“You can eat whatever you want, and drink the best liquor in the house.”
I nodded my head. “I might need a few drinks, but I can be your wingman.”
“I’ll owe you a real solid . . . and there she is.”
He pointed to the entrance. There was a beautiful woman with long brown hair standing there.
Other people had noticed her too, and had turned to stare.
“Now I guess I understand,” I said.
“Actually, you don’t,” Lucas said. “That’s your date, the fair Katherine.”
Eric Walters began writing in 1993 as a way to entice his grade 5 students into becoming more interested in reading and writing. Since then, he has published 83 novels and picture books, including End of Days, Shattered and Safe as Houses. His novels have all become bestsellers, have won over a hundred awards, and have been translated into numerous languages including French, Japanese, Spanish, Dutch, Chinese, German, Swedish, Korean, Italian, Swedish and Norwegian. Prior to teaching, Eric was employed as a social worker with two Children’s Aid Societies, at a children’s mental health centre, private practice, and in a community hospital. Eric lives in Mississauga with his wife, Anita. He was named a member of the Order of Canada in 2014. Follow him on Twitter @EricRWalters.
Click on each character in the image below to go to his/her story.
Original illustrations: Graham Roumieu