Daysong Graphics
Christa Banister 

Like anyone with an insatiable love for words and books, Christa Banister always wanted to write a novel. So after she received her B.S. in Journalism From North Central University in Minneapolis, she packed whatever fit into her trusty Buick Century and moved to Nashville to pursue her lifelong dream of writing for CCM Magazine, the premier national Christian music magazine. After working there for five-and-a-half years as a columnist and editor, she launched her own freelance writing business and wrote everything from music features to movie reviews and artist bios. Eventually landing at NavPress, her first labor of love (with all the names changed to protect the guilty), Around the World in 80 Dates released in October 2007. A few months later, she penned the sequel, Blessed Are the Meddlers, which continues the crazy adventures of Sydney Alexander and hits store shelves on August 15, 2008.

Stinky Switcheroo

Stinky Nate - Part 2

Last time we caught up with Stinky Nate, he’d impulsively hopped a city bus to Roseville in search of his true “roots.”

Sensible or not, Stinky Nate was never afraid of doing something a little bit crazy—especially on a whim.

Examples from his personal history proved this again and again. In fact, two days before his senior pictures were taken, he dyed his hair indigo (and eyebrows to match) because he thought bluish purple would render him more dramatic like a vampire, his obsession of the moment.

His suburbanite parents were mortified, of course, but there was no stopping Stinky Nate once he got an idea in his head. I mean, this is a guy who showers once every two months, and once ate only foods that started with the letter pfor three months (thankfully, his beloved polenta was included or he would’ve starved) because it “sounded like fun.”

But even this business of finding his “real family” was a bit radical for Stinky Nate. As he settled into the last available bus seat, a lumpy one toward the back, he quickly realized that he hadn’t exactly thought this scenario all the way through.

Or even part of the way through.

How am I going to explain this stinky switcheroo and convince the Fosters that I’m really their son and that Sam’s really part of my family? Nate tugged at a frayed thread on his favorite jeans. How do you even bring this up? You know Sam, the son you’ve loved, nurtured, and rooted for all these years? Well, he’s not really your son. I am.

Surely, there had to be an easier way, but nothing came to mind, so after a couple of minutes of contemplation, he opted for the simplest approach: Just lay it out there. And if the Fosters didn’t see eye to eye with him, well, what could he do? He certainly couldn’t make them believe he was their son.

But if Stinky Nate did manage to convince them to at least consider the possible baby switch at Ramsey Evans Hospital nearly twenty-eight years ago, that would answer many questions that have haunted him for years and years.

Even with his all his eccentricities, Stinky Nate still longed to belong. And while he loved his family, he never really felt like one of them. But when Nate considered all he shared in common with the Foster—well except for Sam, the family’s lone neat freak—he felt like they were his life’s missing link.

As Nate exited the bus and made his way to the Foster’s front door, the major case of butterflies in his belly caused him to briefly consider taking the first bus right back home. But as he glanced at the array of friendly garden gnomes scattered near a bed of sunflowers (his wife’s, Rain, favorite flowers), he decided it was a sign that he was to proceed.

When he was a kid, Nate felt like his neighbor’s garden gnomes were the only people who really understood him. Sure, he wasn’t crazy enough to believe they were capable of responding, but they offered an objective ear whenever he needed to vent. So between the sunflowers and the gnomes, Nate felt enough peace to finally knock on the door.

Dressed in a wacky pair of plaid pants probably purchased at a nearby vintage store, Mr. Foster answered the door on Nate’s third knock.

“Well, Nate, this is a surprise,” he replied, as he took a sip of his latte. “It’s nice seeing your face outside of Moose and Sadie’s.”

“Thanks,” Nate said, running a hand through his shoulder-length hair. “Have a minute to talk?”

“Yeah, of course. Why don’t you come in?”

Not hesitating, Nate walked right in to the Foster’s cozy home. Not a thing had changed since he’d last visited. Every last hippie handicraft was in the same place.

“Care for a latte?” Mr. Foster asked. “I’m sure Patricia would make you one.”

“No, thank you,” Nate said, making an extra effort to be polite. “I’ve already had seven today.”

Mr. Foster laughed. “Seven? If I had seven lattes, I’d be so hopped up that I wouldn’t sleep for a week.”

“Yeah, you build quite a tolerance when you do the coffee thing professionally.” Nate shoved his hands into his pockets. Clearing his throat several times, he launched into his pitch. “So, Mr. Foster, this isn’t easy, but I have something I want you to consider.” Nate paused.

“I’m intrigued, but we’ve already done our budget for the month, and I’m afraid I can’t purchase anything—”

“Oh, no, no, I’m not selling anything. I don’t know if you remember me telling you that I’m against capitalism.”

“How can you work at a coffee shop, then? Surely the owners of Moose and Sadie’s don’t exactly share your belief.”

“Well, until I find an acceptable noncapitalistic alternative for making money, I have to work somewhere. And so I choose to work at Moose and Sadie’s for the perks. You know, free lattes. I had to put investigating other options on hold, though. I’ve been working on another project.”

Mr. Foster eyed Nate. “What’s that?”

“Glad you asked. Your question is the perfect segue into why I stopped by. See, I think I may be your son.”

Mr. Foster’s eyebrows shot up. “My son? Um, I don’t think that’s possible.”

Before Mr. Foster could elaborate, Nate cut him off. “Here’s what I’m thinking. Sam and I were born at the same hospital a few days apart. And I have nothing in common with my family, and Sam doesn’t have anything in common with you guys, so I think a little switcheroo happened at the hospital. It was probably accidental, but the more I thought about it, the more it made sense—”

Mr. Foster held up his hand like a stop sign. “Let me stop ya right there. While I think a ‘switcheroo’ is highly unlikely, have you ever considered that even if you were switched at birth, there was a reason you were brought up in your particular family? I mean you’re a dead ringer for your dad physically. And while he’s . . . how do I say this . . . not as unique as you are, he’s still your dad, and you can learn things from him.”

“Yeah, maybe you’re right, but I never felt like I belong there. And your house is way more my style, so I thought—”

Mr. Foster patted Nate’s shoulder. “Sure, I get that. I’m glad you feel a connection at our place, but your family loves you very much, Nate. I wouldn’t really give this matter another thought. There’s nothing wrong with being the oddball of the family. In fact, I’m guessing your parents like it that way.”

While Nate wasn’t sure of that, he felt a little better after considering Mr. Foster’s kind words. Then after he had indulged in his eighth latte of the day (Patricia made it perfectly with just a dollop of foam), Mr. Foster gave him a hug before sending him on his way.

Midway through the hug, though, Nate was positive one of the gnomes nodded in confirmation that Mr. Foster was, indeed, his real father. But Nate couldn’t be sure, so he headed back home to Rain. After all, he had to figure out how to survive financially without subscribing to capitalism.

Christa Banister © 2009