The sound of crickets and cicadas sounded loud in the dark of the woods. An owl hooted and somewhere in the distance, a deer crashed through the bush. It was just past nightfall and Joshua Gardner was on his way home from his grandfather's farm after helping bale and put up hay. He was sweaty and itchy from the grass and hauling bales up into the old barn loft.
I tore off one of the phone number slips from the bulletin board post and figured I would at least give it a try. Just the kind of job I was looking for, high pay (for a college kid at least), and didn't sound like a lot of work. I had never been an artist's model, or even really knew what that entailed. I was an engineering student.
When I was little I used to sit outside with my Grandmother on her wide front porch and we would dream about what we would do to the gardens one day. It was one of my favorite things to do with her when I was visiting.
My parents died when I was in my early twenties and my Grandmother was all I had left. Eventually I moved to New York City and made my life there, becoming a very successful writer. I had more money than I knew what to do with and I would send her checks, telling her to make her special garden.
The summer of 1976 was especially hot. It was late August and I was studying in the library at college but found it impossible to concentrate. Every time I looked out of the window I could see carefree people in the quad, laughing, enjoying life, making the most of the wonderful, warm weather. I felt left behind, stuck in this mausoleum reading but not taking anything in. I was feeling restless and thoughts of sexual activities were assaulting my brain.
I picked my way through piles of corrugated tin, broken toilets, and lawnmower parts and came to a halt when I saw the blue uniforms and the wheel-less old Lincoln Town Car, with the smashed-in engine compartment, sitting on concrete blocks. Mullins had said it was an Inevitable Case when he'd called me, but I'd never get used to seeing the various ways that could play out. What we referred to as an Inevitable Case was a street whore or hustler some john or pimp had taken for that final ride.
I came in from work about noon on Friday. I had been gone for a little over two weeks. Pulling in the driveway, I noticed that my daughter's car was gone but her best friend's car was parked in front of the boat on the far side of the carport. You talk about a pair to draw to; those two were it. My daughter is tall, dark, and slender, Sissy is even taller, blonde, and equally as slender.
Tom was sitting in coach seat 23B, the middle seat. The seats on either side of his were empty, for now. The passengers were streaming onto the plane in that herky-jerky hurry-up-and-wait mambo that is repeated a million times a day on every flight to everywhere. As each passenger approached, Tom silently evaluated them and put them into one of two categories.
After a short courtship, Mara and I married in a small ceremony with only a few close friends and family members present: her mother, my mother and father, her brother, and of course, my son Luke.
Luke was 11 years old now, not the best age to go through such a large life change as getting a new stepmother, but then again, is there ever a good age for that? In any case, he was clearly feeling better than he had just after his mother died. He was performing better in school, and he seemed to be bonding with Mara.
Dawn felt the big boat move, and tensed, remembering again where she was. She sat up straight, and looked out the window, watching the jetty recede, and the people still milling about on it get smaller. The boat rocked faintly, and she swallowed. It was not as bad she had originally thought, but what on earth would she do if this thing capsized? She couldn't swim, and she knew no one on the boat. She opened her pocketbook and searched for the little notepad and pen.
He had just turned sixty when his wife passed away. Along with her passed the dreams of a retirement of travel with her as his constant companion. They had planned to travel the world together, but it was not to be. Now he moped about their home with no ambition or desire to do anything, including keep the house clean. He sometimes straightened a little, knowing how disappointed she would have been to see her home in such disorder. He couldn't bring himself to show much interest in anything, until finally, his children told him he had to clean up his act.