Academic journal article Dialogue : A Journal of Mormon Thought

Bode and Iris

Academic journal article Dialogue : A Journal of Mormon Thought

Bode and Iris

Article excerpt

It may seem odd that an experienced fornicator like Bode Carpenter would get the girl pregnant in the first place-particularly because he carried a condom in the watch pocket of his jeans on that fateful evening. Be it said here, Bode had knock-out good looks-five eleven, neatly trimmed blond hair, a just-right nose, a square jaw, muscular arms, and a taut belly. He lived in Richfield, a town in central Utah. He was a Mormon, and he had an eight-hour-a-day job at the AgriCo-op, a feed and farm supply store, with a half day's work on Saturdays at overtime rate. As for room and board, his parents let him live at home for free because they hoped to nudge him back into the paths of righteousness.

The girl was Iris Denning. She worked in a café in Salina, a town about twenty miles north of Richfield. Another waitress at the café, Sibyl Holinshed, dated a backsliding buddy of Bode's, Abe Larkin. On a Saturday evening in June, Abe brought Bode along and, after the two girls had come out of the café at quitting time, he introduced Bode to Iris.

She wasn't pretty. She had a hawk nose and a prominent overbite-a true Plain Jane, according to Bode's judgment. That didn't matter, of course, Bode being chiefly interested in her nether parts. Abe drove his old Cadillac up to a reservoir, and while he and Sibyl got busy doing unwholesome things in the front seat, Bode and Iris got out of the back seat and walked up a nearby hill.

For an eighteen-year-old just out of high school, Iris had a lot of savvy about religion. Also, she was aggressive about putting down Mormonism. Maybe it was just the natural result of belonging to a religious minority in a predominantly Mormon town. She was a Baptist, as she let Bode know immediately, and she wanted to know why Mormons believed in three heavens.

"We don't believe in three heavens," he said. "We just think heaven is divided into three degrees of glory."

"That sounds like three heavens to me" she said. "But this is a free country. If you like believing in three heavens, nobody is going to stop you."

Bode was thinking this Plain Jane was somehow running circles around him. Time to fight back.

"So what do Baptists believe?"

"They believe in salvation by faith, not by works. They believe in the Bible. It's all you need to find out how to be saved. They believe in baptism by immersion-after you are old enough to make decisions for yourself. They believe in just one heaven. They don't think you need three of them."

She said this crisply-no sign of hesitation. Nonetheless, Bode decided to take another swing.

"Baptists believe in fire and brimstone," he said. "They believe the devil tortures people in hell."

"Fire and brimstone! That's just silly. The torment of hell comes just from knowing you'll never be with God or Jesus forever and ever."

Bode could see he wasn't going to be running any circles around this chick. Time to back off and leave well enough alone.

They stopped walking and faced each other. Moonlight didn't help her features much. She edged toward Bode and on an impulse, he kissed her. It was kind of a duty, he was thinking. Homely girls needed to make out once in a while just like anybody else. The important question was, would she be interested in something a little more substantial than mere making out? She put her arms around him, and they went on kissing. "You're so good looking," she murmured. Shortly, the sensuous flexing of her lips got to him, and he tried to slide his hand down through the open collar of her blouse. She grasped his hand and placed it on her waist. They continued to kiss, but the spirit had gone out of it for Bode.

Later, after Abe and Bode had dropped off the girls at their homes and were heading back to Richfield, Abe said, "Well, how was it, ol' buddy?"

"Not so good," Bode said. "She isn't exactly a Marilyn Monroe, and she doesn't want anybody messing around below the neckline. …

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