The Photographer, Part 7
John Henry Beck
“We both have a bunch of stuff to do tomorrow, but this has been great.” I stood up and stretched, trying to look tired. Helen looked up from the couch, though I was following her lead, I could tell she was losing her nerve. Marcia looked first at me and then at Helen.
“Can you just stay a bit longer? There is so much you haven’t seen. The best is yet to come isn’t that right, Jack?” Marcia looked over at Jack who had also stood up and looked ready to say goodnight.
“If they need to get going, that’s fine. They can come back some other time.” Jack said.
Marcia shot a look at Jack, willing him into silence. To her, he was speaking heresy; there was no way that Helen and I were leaving until Marcia was through with us. Jack’s suggestion startled me as well. If we left, then we would owe Marcia a return visit, or worse yet we may have to invite Jack and Marcia to our house and she would bring the portable projector.
“We can stay a little while longer. Can’t we?” Helen said and smiled at me.
I had to suppress my flight response, but I swallowed, smiled and looked at Marcia.
“No problem. Let’s see the rest of the show.” I sat back down and fixed my gaze on the screen. I didn’t want to look at Helen now.
The next sculpture was called the Brushstroke by Roy Lichtenstein and it looked as though a drip of paint were pouring from the sky to the ground or as the name suggested an invisible and oversized paintbrush had colored the sky with a red, blue, yellow and white. I must say that I rather liked this one.
“This one wasn’t too bad. It was at least colorful.” Jack said. Marcia shook her head disapprovingly at her husband.
Jack had taken about ten shots of this piece and the crowd that had gathered around it. It was after the third that I noticed that Jack had included the blonde from the Seated Cardinal statue. She stood with another young woman but the lens had cut the friend in half but captured the blonde while making the sculpture the focal point of the shot. Marcia didn’t seem to notice. I looked at Helen but she also seemed unaware.
We stayed and viewed slides for another hour and in that time, I noticed the blonde woman in multiple shots. She wasn’t in every one of them but she was in a lot of them. I had to admire Jack because there was a subtly to his work and the young blonde women was never in the center of the shot, always on the edges, but he managed to capture something about her each time. It was clear to me that Marcia wasn’t the only artist in the family.
Marcia focused entirely on the sculpture and ignored the crowds around them, including the blonde. She had something to say about everything. I started to tune her out, but Helen sat listening to Marcia. She asked questions and commented on how beautiful everything was and how she and I need to get out to a museum.
“We should go together sometime.” Marcia offered.
Helen and Marcia began to work out the details of a museum trip and I looked over at Jack. He sat back in his chair and smiled. It was a quiet satisfied smile and he seemed unaware of the people around him. He was somewhere else and I wondered if it was with the blonde from his photos.
The evening came to an end when Marcia announced. “My arm is really starting to hurt. Maybe we should cut this short.”
“Are you alright?” Helen said. She placed her arm around Marcia, trying to comfort her. Jack stood up and poured himself another drink. He pointed the bottle towards me, to offer me a drink; I mimed a “No thanks.”
“Maybe you should take her to the doctor, Jack.” Helen said. Jack continued his slow pour and then slowly turned around and stared at the two women. “I really shouldn’t drive. I’ve had a couple too many. Marcia is tough. Always has been.
Helen scowled at Jack and was getting ready to volunteer to take Marcia to the hospital herself, after ten years of marriage you can just tell what your wife is going to do, but before Helen could make the offer, Marcia waved her off.
“I’ll be fine. Don’t worry. I have worked on a new sculpture and I was using my arm too much. It is my fault.” Marcia smiled, but it was weak.
The four of us stood and milled about in media room before slowly moving towards the front door. Helen and I said we had a wonderful time and Marcia said we had to do it again sometime. Helen and Marcia talked about a trip to the art museum and Jack and I stood watching the women talk. I felt like we should be saying something to each other, but I couldn’t really think of anything to say. I wanted to ask about the blonde woman, but there was no way to do that, so I stood and smiled.
The door shut behind us and Helen and I started our walk back to the house in silence. I looked up at the night sky and a display of stars spread across the blackness of the sky. I picked out the Little Dipper and the bright dot that was Venus.
After walking in silence for a while, Helen finally spoke.
“I’m worried about Marcia. I don’t think Jack is taking care of her arm. Did you see the way she winced? I am going to call her tomorrow.”
I thought about Marcia and her arm, the new lawn tractor and the blonde in all the pictures. Helen hadn’t seemed to notice the blonde and it felt like I was violating an unspoken trust between Jack and me. Some kind of primitive male code of ethics, passed down over the centuries. So I couldn’t say anything.
“You should call, but I wouldn’t worry. Jack will take care of her. He takes care of stuff.”
“What is that supposed to mean?” Helen asked. “Did he tell you something in the garage?”
She stopped walking and stood looking at me.
“He didn’t tell me anything except about the new lawn mower. That’s all.” I said.
Helen shook her head and walked away from me. Helen didn’t believe me. I jogged a couple of steps to catch up with Helen.
“Jack didn’t say anything in garage, but there was something about the way he talked about the lawn mower. It just made me think that something was going on.”
“What do you mean?” Helen looked puzzled.
“Jack is the kind of guy who is never satisfied for long. Once something loses its shine he moves on. At least that is what he said about the lawn mower.” I said.
“You mean LAWN TRACTOR.” Helen said, mimicking Jack’s voice.
“You should call Marcia tomorrow. She might need a friend.”
Helen gave me a quick kiss and we walked the rest of the way home in silence.