City Slickers

From “World Without Love ~ A Collection of Short Stories that Together Tell a Story (page 15):

City Slickers

(August 1959)

Sassy came skidding to a stop on her sparkly Schwinn Sting-ray banana-seat-bike with high handlebars and pink-and-white streamers flowing from the handgrips. 

“You movin’ in?”  she asked.

“Yes.”  I saw she had playing cards clothes-pinned into her spokes.  That’s what made the noise like a motor when she pedaled.  Cool.  I had never seen that before. 

“My name’s Sassy.  What’s yours?”


“Where you from?”  She seemed nice.

“Emmett, Idaho.”

“Never heard of it,” she laughed.  “Where’s that?”

“It’s farm country,” I explained, “We’re going to be city slickers now.  That’s what all my cousins say.”

“City slickers?”

“That’s what they call us now.  My dad got a new job, so we had to move.”

“Do you go to school?”  She asked.

“I’ll be in first-grade when school starts,” I bragged.

“Are there any other kids?”  She was unimpressed.  “Do you have a brother, or a sister maybe?”

“I am the oldest.  I have a sister Karen who’s four, a brother Layne, he’s two, and my baby brother Kenn, he’s going to be one.  Plus my Mom is pregnant with another baby.”

“Are you Catholics?”

What a funny question.  “No, of course not.  We’re Mormons.”


“The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.”  I had it memorized. 

And then it hit me: 

“You’re not a Mormon?”  I gulped.

“Nope, not a Mormon.”  She said it just as if it had never occurred to her to care about something so important.

I’d never met a non-Mormon before, but Sassy seemed clean and nice.  “You don’t go to church?” I worried.

“Yes, we go every Saturday,” she replied.

“Saturday?” I was confused.  “You’re supposed to go to church on Sunday.”

“Well, we go on Saturday.  We’re Seventh Day Adventists.”

I couldn’t believe it.  Portland was strange place indeed.  “Is everybody here a Seventh Day … thing you said?”

“No, not at all,” Sassy laid down her bike and pointed to the house next door.  “Your neighbors are Christian Scientists.  Their name is Cress.  They’re old, but they’re nice.  They have a dog.  You’ll like them.  The people across the street are Methodists.  They have two kids, but they’re in high school.  Two houses down, that’s my house.  And across from us are the Jacksons.  They’re Catholics.  Brian is eight and I think Mary is the same as age as you.”

Sassy seemed to know the whole neighborhood.  But this orientation was extremely disorienting.  I had heard of other religions before, of course, in Sunday School.  The whole point of Mormonism was that God told Joseph Smith that all other religions were false – that’s why he had to start a new one.

“What about my other next-door neighbor on this side?” I pointed, holding out hope.

“I don’t think they actually go,” she wondered.  “I never see them go to church.”

“This is bad.”  I said it right out loud.

“What’s so bad about it?”  Sassy reached down and picked up a rock and looked closely at it, as if this were just any other ordinary conversation.

“It’s bad because all those other religions are false.”  (I thought this was common knowledge.)  “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is the one-and-only true religion.”

“But that’s what everybody thinks about their own religion,” Sassy found a new rock to inspect.

“But they’re wrong,” I insisted.  “Only the Mormon church is true.”

“How do you know?”  She looked up.

“I know it in my heart.  I know it with all my heart.”  Certainly, that would satisfy her.

“But that’s what everybody thinks.”  She laughed.

“But they’re all wrong.”  It was so perfectly obvious.

“But if they believe it, how can they be wrong?”

“Because its not true.”  I thought I had explained this already.

“So if people can believe something, and be wrong, how do you know what you believe isn’t wrong?”

“Because I believe in the truth.”  It so simple.

“Well, did ya ever think that if somebody’s wrong, it might be you?”  She picked up her bike.

I didn’t like Sassy so much any more.  “I’m not wrong,” I stomped my foot.

“How do you know?”  She swung her leg back up over that sparkly banana seat.

“I just know.” I stood my ground.

“Maybe everybody’s wrong,” Sassy shouted back over the sound of the playing cards in her spinning spokes as she rode away.




You can learn more about “World Without Love ~ A Collection of Stories that Together Tell a Story” HERE!

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