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Fiction: The FindĀ©

By Donald Kerr
arttimes online August 2, 2016

I thought I'd found the Garden of Eden. Right here in Ohio, a few miles off Route 30.

My friend Johnny Gray was skeptical.

"Don't be ridiculous," he said to me. "The Garden of Eden wouldn't be in Ohio for gosh sakes!"

"Why wouldn't it be?", I shot right back. "It's got to be somewhere. Why not Ohio?"

"Ohio gave light and flight to the world," Anna, his wife, pointed out. She was referring to Thomas Edison with his invention of the electric light bulb and the Wright brothers, Orville and Wilbur, with their invention of the airplane.

"Well, what's that got to do with it?", Johnny demanded.

"It means the ground in Ohio, there's something about it. Something magical. A lot of presidents have come out of Ohio, too," I added.

"None of them worth anything," Johnny said.

"Oh, I wouldn't say that," I disagreed with him.

"Well, I would," he said.

It made me mad. I had half a mind not to tell him why I knew that the Garden of Eden was in Ohio and Adam came from Ohio. But I'd already promised him I'd show him and Anna the proof, so I couldn't very well back down on it now.

That's why we were walking through the woods up to where I'd discovered the Garden of Eden.

"Are there snakes in here?", Anna asked. She didn't like snakes and neither did I.

"Well," Johnny said, "if the Garden of Eden is around here, then obviously, there's snakes around. You know as well as I do from the Bible that there was a snake in the Garden of Eden."

"Have you seen the snake?", Anna asked me.

"Well," I admitted, "I've seen one near the Garden. I don't know if that's the one that tempted Eve or not."

"Supposing the Garden really is here in Ohio, which I don't believe for a minute," Johnny said. Boy, he could sure make me mad. "How is it you even got into it, supposing it even is here? There's an angel guarding the Garden, if I remember rightly from my Bible reading and he's got this sword and the way it reflects the sunlight or something, why, that closes up the entrance to the Garden and nobody can see it and nobody can get in."

"Well," I said, hotly, "I guess the angel has been told to stop doing that, because I sure gained entry."

"Bullshit!", Johnny snarled.

"Johnny!", his wife scolded him. "Don't use that kind of language. What if the Garden is near here? That's sacred ground. Don't go to swearing near sacred ground, for heaven's sake. We'll get in a heap of trouble!"

"That wasn't swearing," Johnny said, but he said it subdued and you could see that what Anna said had gotten to him. You got to behave when you get near holy stuff. Of course, you got to behave all the time, because angels and such are watching all the time recording what's going on, but that's especially so near sacred stuff.

We sloughed on through the woods until I came to the big rock. "When are we going to get there?", Johnny asked, irritably.

"Not far now," I said brightly. "Just up over this little hill."

We struggled up the hill and there, down in the valley, was a clearing with some trees and a little lake. Kind of like an oasis in the meadow.

"That's it?", Johnny said. He didn't sound impressed.

"That's it," I answered and hurried on toward the trees by the lake.

"It don't look like much to me," Johnny said.

"Well, you got to realize," I pointed out, "It's been thousands of years since the Garden of Eden. Probably a lot of the trees that were originally there, they died. Maybe an earthquake or two, it reshaped the ground. But, it didn't take away all the evidence that it was the Garden of Eden, as I'm about to show you."

"This is a wild goose chase," Johnny commented, but he and Anna followed me toward the big tree by the lake. I got there first and was waiting impatiently for them to catch up.

"So," Johnny said, "where's the proof?"

"There!", I said and pointed at the tree.

"There where?", Johnny asked, peering at the tree. Anna strained to look also. She was the first to see it.

"Oh, my!", she exclaimed.

"Oh, my what?", Johnny asked, exasperated.

"Why, it's right there -- right there in plain sight!", Anna said, in awe. She was as impressed as I was.

"What is?", Johnny asked and he leaned closer to the tree to examine it. Then he saw it also.

And burst out laughing. "You idiot!", he said to me.

"What do you mean, idiot?", I asked, indignantly.

Johnny pointed to the tree where someone, long ago, a long, long time ago, when the Earth was just beginning, had carved the words "ADAM LOVES EVE" into the tree trunk. "You think Adam did that?"

"Well, that was his name, wasn't it?", I asked, hotly.

"I'm sure it was," Johnny said. "Adam Brown or Adam Smith or Adam Horovich. But not Adam from the Bible."

"Why not?", I asked.

"You imbecile," Johnny said. "Even supposing it was Adam who carved that name, the original Adam that is, which it was not, he wouldn't have carved it in English!"

"Well," I said. I'd never thought of that.

"English wasn't even invented then, you jerkhead!"

"He has a point," Anna agreed.

"Well, gosh," I muttered. "It sure is old. Look how deep it is in that tree trunk. It must be a couple thousand years old."

"Boy, I wish I had some swampland somewhere to sell," Johnny said. "You'd be the perfect sucker to buy it!"

I was crushed. I had been convinced that because of that carving "ADAM LOVES EVE" in that tree that I'd found the original Garden of Eden right here in Ohio. But what Johnny said made sense.

I thought I'd been a damn fool until that snake hung down from a branch just above our heads and asked, "Anybody got a cigarette?"

(Donald Kerr lives in Loudonville, Ohio)