Whack Job

I first saw Mary Poppins at the age of eight and its sunny disposition impressed on me in a most needed way. So much happy and fun and freedom tucked into those one hundred and some odd minutes – and I loved them all.

I climbed the three flights of stairs to the top floor of the Ballantyne Foundation’s Big House, a billion dollar charity where I serve as Director. With over eighteen thousand square feet in the building, the Ballantynes squired away the highest floor for their private quarters.

I opened the first door on the right, twisting the heavy antique knob, and entered the room that shaped my most beloved childhood memories. The walls above a pristine white chair rail were painted a soft taupe, while below they were papered with a custom Velveteen Rabbit pattern. Though Vivi Ballantyne insisted it was only a guest room, the fanciful paper gave her away. The first book I was ever gifted. And by Vivi herself.

As a child, my parents and I summered in nearby Summerton, South Carolina, not swanky Sea Pine Island. We drove down from Michigan every May from my first year of life until their last, when I was twenty. Being good friends of Edward and Vivi Ballantyne, they occasionally spent the night when the Ballantyne Foundation hosted a late night party at this very Big House. And I was my parents’ third wheel, so books and movies kept me company whilst they kept each other company. My parents loved me, of course, they just loved each other more. And while the Ballantynes loved my parents, they just loved me more.

An enormous four-poster bed sat beneath an oversized picture window. A whimsical chandelier dangled above and a square TV circa 1980 hunkered close to the foot. Many a summer night I spent watching movies while the generous and the affluent danced three floors below.

This is where my imagination took flight. I was born with the wings, but Mary Poppins taught me to fly. Something so thrilling, so freeing, so inspirationally delightful about medicine that tasted like sugar and an afternoon spent dancing with penguins. But most of all, with a sunny day and a silly kite, everything would be okay.

I walked to the far corner where a four foot beauty hung. Made from an old patriotic quilt with red, white and blue squares, and wood from a picture frame, Mr. Ballantyne and I crafted it in a single afternoon and tacked on a ten-foot hand-tied tail.

With a gentle hand, I plucked it from the wall and left my childhood sanctuary. The tail trailed behind as I climbed down the three flights of stairs and out to my Mini convertible. It was the annual 4th of July Ballantyne Kite Flying Brigade at Oyster Cove Beach and I always flew this kite.

Or at least tried. It may have been the most cherished and adored kite to fly above the sand, but definitely not the most aerodynamic. Though I wouldn’t change a thing. No better way to celebrate freedom than a day on the beach, flying a kite, made from love. With a snap to my seat belt and a push on the start button, I zipped toward the ocean singing “Let’s go fly a kite, up to the highest height….”

You can read more about Elliott in Whack Job, the second book in the “Elliott Lisbon” mystery series, published by Henery Press. The first book in the series is Board Stiff. Books are available at retail and online booksellers.

Comment on this post by 6 p.m. EST on May 20, and you will be entered for a chance to win a copy of WHACK JOB. One winner will be chosen at random. Unless specified, U.S. entries only.

Meet the author
Kendel Lynn is a Southern California native who now parks her flip-flops in Dallas, Texas. Her debut novel, Board Stiff, is an Agatha Award nominee for Best First Novel. It features Elliott Lisbon, a mostly amateur sleuth who has a slight aversion to all things germy and is only five thousand hours away from getting her South Carolina PI license. Along with writing, Kendel spends her days editing, designing, and reading subs from the slush pile. Catch up with her at www.kendellynn.com.

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