by philip scott wikel
He awoke the next morning to find his painting had been stolen. Just below where it had hung was a charm from Heather’s bracelet.
Later he went into town to look around for people who knew Heather. He thought he saw her everywhere. He’d come up behind someone and call,
“No, my name’s Kelly.”
“My name’s Amara.”
“My name’s Robin, can I help you with you something?”
“My name’s Loren.”
“My name’s Linda.”
“My name’s Diane.”
“No. I’m Mary.”
“No I’m Jeanette.”
“I’m Vicky, is there something wrong?”
“No, it’s just that you look like someone I used to know.”
“A good memory I hope.”
“s’allright, sorry to bother you.”
“No, I’m Kendra.”
“No, I’m Megan.”
“No, I’m Thea.”
“No, I’m Jen.”
“No, I’m Julia, but I know Heather.”
It went on like this for hours. It was if she was everywhere and nowhere at all. He thought of a book he’d read called Native American Testimony. In one chapter they explained their frustration at dealing with Cholera and proclaimed, “If only I could see this thing,” or maybe it was all in his head.”
The sense of loss began to creep in but he quickly shook it off. He’d always believed in God and never more than now. It’ll all work out, he said to himself, and felt, at the same time, that God had put those words into his head.
He thought he might speak with the local district attorney though he’d been warned that the DA was a bit of a pin head. The story he’d heard went something like this: In the case of a custody battle the DA looked the other way and favored a woman who was an obvious drug addict and prostitute. He was heralded as the champion against deadbeat dads and didn’t seem to be able to change his tach. That was what he’d gained his notoriety for and apparently being entirely one-sided was the way he would continue. A lot of money changes hands in these types of offices and one never knows who’s paying the bills. And given that custody case there was a good chance the DA would side with Heather and possibly even go so far as to fabricate charges against him.
He walked the short distance to his parents house and explained what had happened.
“Let’s take it the police,” his dad said.
“I don’t know dad. I don’t think this is the sort of thing the police can deal with.”
“How ‘bout the State Troopers?”
“Maybe. But I think I have a better idea…”
And he explained.
“You know I showed a photo of your painting to a gallery friend of mine.”
“Yeah, and he’s guessing there’s probably someone in New York who’d pay an awful lot for it.”
“But it’s my first painting?”
“It doesn’t matter kid, you’re a natural, you have a gift.”
“I don’t know that I’d want to sell it.”
“Well that’s up to you kid but it’d set you up to paint for a very long time. Sometimes, well, sometimes, as an artist, or a writer, just ask your mom, you’ve got to make the choice that gives you the most opportunity for freedom.”
“I guess there’s a history of paying for your freedom.”
“Mmm hmm. Think about it and let’s put your plan into action. And just lay low on the women thing for a while. Do your own thing.”
“I just figured I’d wait for Katie to get back from school dad.”
“Good… Katie’s a good kid and if she doesn’t come back when you expect her to, don’t worry, your life is more important right now than any relationship. You’re pretty young kid. Take your time.”
“You’re right dad, my life is real simple and clear right now… but you know… if I had that kind of money I’d want to help other people with it. The kind of people that suffer from the fall out of war and people who might not otherwise have an opportunity to do the kinds of things I’ve done… travel, paint… you know… the things that the middle class takes for granted… I’ve joined the Big Brothers thing and maybe I could do more with that. There’s this one kid and…”
“Sounds honorable kid, sounds good.”
“It’s just that it’s the right thing. It’d take a lot of money to do the kinds of things I’d like to do for people and I’d rather not jump through hoops and red tape to do it.”