The Art of You Part 5

Have the courage to be yourself.

Have the courage to be yourself.

 

 

I could hear noises, like voices muffled together as if I were swimming under water and people were talking above in the air. I had dreams that were bold and vividly colored. Some were frightening, some were not. I could hear myself try to speak out and I felt like I was screaming out loud. My body ached and my head was being squeezed tight. It felt like people were grabbing me, pulling me, and pinching me. Lines of fire ran through my skin like streams of hot electricity.

Fatigue came to me often and no matter how hard I tried, my eyes would not open.

And then it just happened one day. They opened. The light was excruciating, as if standing in the darkness and having fireworks explode like the sun in your face. I remember blinking to protect my eyes and slowly, the world began to materialize around me again. I felt stunned and unsure of where I was at. What had just happened?

“She’s coming around, Jack!” someone called out.

“Do you think she will be okay?” Jack’s accent bit into my ears.

The blood pressure rose and the memories of the night in The Narrows came flooding back in. What in the world was he doing here?

“She is healing well. Thank the Lord there were no broken bones or internal bleeding,” an unknown voice piped in.

I tried to speak and sounded gravelly and dry.

A cup was pressed to my lips and I sipped eagerly to wet my parched throat.

“What happened?” I managed in a whisper.

Closing my eyes against the pain of the light, I could hear his voice speaking to me. “Well, Davis here hit you with the car. I’m terribly sorry about that. I swear it was all an accident.”

The panic in his voice was evident. Perhaps he was afraid I would sue him or perhaps he was more afraid I would embarrass him.

“But you’re going to be just fine!” he added quickly.

“Oh,” was my soft reply.

I allowed my eyes to open a crack and the white light all around contrasted sharply with Jack’s dark hair and eyes, the black shirt on his body. It turned his skin pale and showed stubble where there hadn’t been any the last time I saw him. He looked like an angel sent to help me and since I was helpless it only made sense that I let him.

As I was drifting to the brink of sleep again, a thought popped into my mind. Where were the kids? And just as I thought it, a panic of my own thundered in my ears and I tried to get up, which resulted in the room spinning and the light splintering my brain. What about my kids?

I must have muttered something in my struggle because Jack put his arms over my shoulders and gently pushed me back onto the pillow, hushing me.

“I was able to let your kids know what happened,” he said with a slight grin holding up my cell phone.

I let out a groan and relaxed. I was sure they would think the stalker had killed me. And in all realities, that was what happened!

“How long have I been here?” I asked.

There was a pause and I thought I heard Jack suck in a deep breath before he answered. “Just about three days, in and out. The concussion knocked you out and a doctor here was available to keep you medicated so your head could heal.”

“I’ve missed three days of working?” I tried to sound angry and ended up sounding lazy and pathetic. So I shut my mouth and let out a long sigh.

“Look, Miss Kramer…” he began.

“Just call me Ruby. I’m sure formality is out the window by now,” I cringed at the thought of seeing me anywhere near naked.

“Ruby, don’t worry about anything. I have everything under control. You just need to focus on getting better,” he said and placed his hand on the crown of my head. The pressure of it felt safe and I drifted off to sleep again.

It wasn’t until the next evening that I felt more awake and less sore. Without the sunlight, I could open my eyes without my head killing me. Jack helped me walk to the bathroom to do my business even. He tried to come inside, but I refused. So he agreed to wait outside the bathroom door in case I fell. I thought about locking it anyway, but I suppose I didn’t want to tempt fate.

What was the strangest of all was that I wasn’t in the hospital. I was in a hotel room. I could tell because of the smell. There was no kitchen, but it was more of a suite. Jack had mentioned a doctor tending me, so perhaps I was moved here after they knew I would be alright.

I was never one for using a toilet where anyone could hear me. It was mortifying to say the least. And knowing he was right outside the door just made me blush with embarrassment. But the bladder wasn’t going to hold on any longer, so I sat and let go, my head falling into my hands in defeat.

Jack acted as though nothing had even happened. I slowly emerged from the bathroom and he smiled, helping me to the couch. I’d had enough lying around.

“Can I get you some tea?” he asked.

I shrugged. “Sure, that would be nice. Thank you.”

Minutes later, he sat beside me with a steaming cup of a sweet smelling tea for me.

“Where’s yours?” I asked taking the cup between my palms.

“Still steeping,” he replied and went to get it.

I sipped gently and the warm liquid flowed down my throat and warmed my belly like a blanket thrown over my shoulders.

He sat again and we both sipped quietly, an awkward silence building.

I cleared my throat. “So why here?”

He looked at me intently then, almost suspiciously. But he licked his lips and answered, “I wanted to escape my life.”

I reeled back as though he had slapped me just then. “You? Escape?” I asked incredulously.

He laughed and set his tea on the short table before us and sighed. “Sometimes life just gets to you and you need to get away from it all. Cameras, autographs, rehearsals…” his voice trailed off like he meant to finish the sentence and other thoughts grew to be in the way.

“I would never have thought someone like yourself would ever know about a tiny little place like this. It is paradise though.”

Jack has a wistful look to his face and he nodded.

“This is my paradise,” I whispered.

“I can see why,” he smiled and clapped his hand on my knee.

“Where are your kids?” I pressed.

A shadow seemed to fall over his features. “They are just- uh- in the next couple of rooms,” he replied with a shake of his head toward the rooms. “They are at an age where they want their privacy and nothing here had larger suites, just adjoining rooms.”

“Oh, I see. You should go take them out to do something tonight. I will be just fine and I think you are due.”

He shook his head to the negative. “We played hard a few days and they have been enjoying the beach out there. They recognized you, you know. From the rocks where they were jumping.”

“Why didn’t you jump too?” I asked him cocking my head to the side.

He laughed loudly and he sounded so free. “Well, someone had to stay with the boat to keep it from floating away.”

I figured there was more to it than that. Perhaps it unnerved him as much as it did me.

“I didn’t think anything could bother someone like you,” I laughed back with him.

“I’m just a person as you are, Ruby. There are things I like and things I don’t. If I cut myself, I bleed just as you do. Sometimes I wish I were still just a face in the crowd,” he replied sobering and I felt a cad.

“I’m sorry, of course you do. I just meant…” but I wasn’t sure what else to say. How did I really mean it?

“I see you and what a free spirit you are, unowned by contracts and money…free to look as you wish and dress in what you like. You have no pressures to fit in a certain stereotype and I love that about you. What I admire is your ability to step out and be who you are in your red lipstick and flowers in your hair, rocking the camera when you sit poised and ready to strike.”

His smile of sincerity made me take pause and my cup lowered to my lap.

“I just see art in everything. The camera helps me notice the magic that is always around. Most people just don’t see it that way. The camera helps me bring little things like drops of water to the forefront, I suppose. Sunsets are such a cliché thing to photograph, but the right one at the right time could take someone’s breath away,” I said still staring at him, barely breathing. I wanted to tell him that he took my breath away, but I wasn’t sure if it was his looks that attracted me or his public figure.

“That is a magnificent talent to have,” he said softly. “I think I have forgotten to notice little things like drops of water.”

I got up and found my backpack. I prayed the camera escaped without injury as I pulled it out. “I’ll show you,” I smiled. “What do you see?”

I pointed at a vase with dried sticks and branches in it. There was a heavy round rock that had been polished to shine and be a focus of the room.

“I see décor.”

“Okay…” I got down on my belly, a hard thing to do since I hurt so badly, but I did it nonetheless. Carefully, I aimed the lens at the rock, zoomed in to where I wanted it and snapped. Then I turned the camera on its side and rocked it backward toward me a bit. Focused, zoomed out, focused again, and snapped.

Gingerly, I picked myself up and made it back to the couch. I hit the review button and the photos showed up on the little screen.

“You see décor, but I see a planet sitting in your hotel room. See the stripes and striations of the rock under the polish? The shadow just right on the other side? And this one is just a testament of Mother Nature, with the clay vase of the earth and salvaged limbs from a tree that give a sense of peace just having them in the room. It is all magic. Life is art.”

He smiled then as the wheels of his mind started turning. He let out a small chuckle. “That is amazing,” he breathed.

I stood and walked a few paces from him and he looked at me in wonder. Suddenly, I spun as fast as my body would allow, pointed the lens at him and snapped. He looked relaxed and calm, with a lamp shining on one side of his face, leaving the other in shadow to be a mystery.

Showing him the photo, I pointed at the screen. “This is the art of you. No poses, no pretend. This is just you.”

The look on his face was pure shock. I had shown him a side of himself that he hadn’t seen before. In the fast paced life of fame, he had forgotten who he was.

Gently, he took the camera from my hands and pointed it at me. Immediately I shielded my face from his view. “Oh, no you don’t,” I laughed. “I take the pictures. They don’t take me.”

“Now Ruby, I let you take a photo of me…well, actually several of them. It’s my turn,” he said sternly.

“I have no makeup and I look awful!” I declared.

“Come on, hands down.”

Slowly I lowered my hands, a grin of unbelief on my lips. Here I was, in Jack Harrington’s hotel room where he wanted to take a photo of silly old me. I thought of the look on his face when I exposed him on camera and introduced him to the guy he was. My body softened and I was so happy to be there at that moment.

I heard the shutter snap closed and I dreaded to look at myself. He hit the button and my face, forties wrinkles and all, stared back at me. But the light was fully on my face from where I was sitting and washed me out a lot, erasing some of the age in my face. It took me back to a time where I had taken photos of myself for my husband. Photos that I was proud of in that they captured the beauty that came from me, inside out.

I glanced back up at Jack, tears glossing my eyes over. “I’m tired again. I think I will go back to bed. Thank you for the tea.”

I stood to go and he grabbed my wrist. My head snapped back to look at him.

“What did I do?” he begged an answer.

I pulled my arm back. “You did nothing, I promise. I just struggle sometimes.”

He followed me to the bed. “Tell me…”

I just wanted to get into bed, bury my face and cry a little bit. “I don’t want to.”

“You will feel better, that’s my promise,” he kept on.

I slid into bed. “I lost my husband some time ago. There are things that remind me of him sometimes and I can’t help but feel his loss. It is like an instant feeling of loneliness no matter how many people are around.”

“My picture showed you that?”

“The grief never stops, Jack.”

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The Art of You Part 4

Loving the Rockabilly style...

Loving the Rockabilly style…

 

 

 

 

 

For dinner, I went for a different look than earlier in hopes I wouldn’t be recognized. I spent time brushing on foundation to make my skin youthful and creamy, a dab of blush, a dusting of powder, attention to my eyes with shadow and liner, my treasured falsies topped off with mascara and penciled brows. I applied the stay put red lipstick I so loved and pinned a flower in my hair above my right ear. Satisfied, I shrugged into some slim fitting jeans, pumps and a red checkered shirt that I tied around my middle.

Digging through my bag, I found some pearl clip-on earrings and a choker along with my white sunglasses. Slinging my backpack over my shoulder, I left the apartment.

Just minutes later I walked through the doors that would lead me to the amazing aroma of cheese and chili powder. I could taste it already and my mouth watered like crazy. The host asked if I was waiting for anyone and I shook my head and smiled at him.

“Just one then?” he asked with a thick Spanish accent.

“I’m afraid the lady will not be staying. Darling! I’ve been looking for you everywhere!” that man’s voice said behind me as he grabbed my arm.

Perhaps the panic on my face showed and perhaps not. I didn’t have time to evaluate the host’s expression before I was pulled out of the restaurant and back out onto the main street. When clear of the double doors, I halted and ripped my body back out of his clutches.

“What do you think you are doing?” I demanded with hands on my hips.

“My apologies, Miss Kramer, but I am to deliver you elsewhere,” he replied cool and calm as ever.

“Yeah, well I don’t think so. I have no idea who you are, but I don’t know you and I’m going nowhere with you. Now back off, I’m hungry. You are coming between a starved woman and her food. I would suggest you just leave me alone,” I sassed him.

The man chuckled at my attitude and ran a hand through his dark hair. “So sorry, but I think you really need to come with me.”

And with that, he reached out and grabbed my arm again. “It will all go much easier if you don’t cause a scene, Miss.”

“I will not go with you and not struggle. You aren’t going to kill me without a fight!” I bellowed at him.

There were some strange looks from the people walking by us. The man nodded politely at them. “Play practice, everything is fine, folks.”

And they believed him! They all smiled and nodded with stars in their eyes as they beheld an “actress”. Then, he guided me away and into his fancy black car.

Once he had shoved me in there and closed the door, I frantically tried the handle to open my door but it wouldn’t open. Growling in frustration at the invention of child locks, I tried the automatic windows that did nothing.

The man slid into the driver’s seat and started the car. The engine was near to silent and I tried the window again.

“Please stop,” he said as though I was insulting him.

I glanced up at him looked at me through the rear view mirror. “This is how women come up missing or dead! They are bullied into cars by strange men!” I fired out.

He simply shook his head and laughed as though I were trying to be funny.

The car lurched forward and took a short spin not too far the other direction from where I was staying. I knew this place! It was a historical hotel that had been around for an impossibly long time, Shore Lodge.

The man pulled into the lot and parked, coming around to let me out. Grabbing my arm quite snugly again, he led me to the door where we were shown to the dining area of The Narrows. I was held all the more tightly until we came upon a table overlooking the lake. The fading light of day was dissolving into shades of mandarin and teal through the windows.

I flicked my gaze to the lone person at the table and my mouth fell open.

Jack Harrington was staring me down as the sun was setting in this small mountain town. An uncomfortable heat flushed my face and despite the use of it, my deodorant was useless. I could feel my heart hammering in my chest and my mouth went instantly dry. What did he want with me?

Waving his glass of wine in the air, he smiled and said, “I like the Rockabilly look. Suits you well. Please, have a chair.”

I could feel the shakes coming on and the man holding my arm peeled his fingers away from my sweating skin. Jack merely nodded to the man and he left. Timidly, I sat and set my bag on the floor, then folded my hands neatly in my lap.

“You look like an artist,” Jack grumbled.

“What does that mean?” I piped up indignantly.

A waiter in a smart looking uniform came to the table. “Drink, ma’am?”

“Water,” I replied not looking at the man.

“Please bring an extra glass just in case,” Jack said to him breaking eye contact with me.

Jack cleared his throat. “What I mean is, you have that creative flair that is evident in how you decorate yourself.”

I could tell he was a tad uncomfortable sitting there with me. All the other tables were empty around us…within earshot, that is.

I sat back in my chair and folded my arms over my chest.

“Look. I asked my employee to bring you here to discuss a thing or two,” Jack said running his index finger over the rim of his wine glass.

“I don’t know what you are talking about…” I tried to laugh it all off.

“What I am talking about is the way you show up everywhere I go and take pictures of me and my kids while we are trying to enjoy ourselves out of the spotlight. I deal with your kind all the time, believe it or not. There wouldn’t be a single photo of me to be found if it weren’t for people like you who steal every private moment from me,” he complained and then sipped his glass.

“For your information, Mr. Harrington, I came up here to take some beautiful shots of the wilderness. It wasn’t my fault that you photo bombed a lot of my pictures. I’m not following you, but you are sure having me followed. I have every right to take pictures of what I find interesting,” came my volley.

He cracked a smile. It was just a glimpse of one, but the lines around his mouth deepened just a bit. “You have a lot of spirit, Miss Kramer, I will give you that. All I want from you is the card that sits in your camera there. You have photos of my kids that I don’t want anyone else to have access to. They didn’t have a choice in their life and it is my job to protect them.”

I heard little else after my name. “Have you completely checked me out? Are you kidding me? That’s how the two of you know my name, isn’t it?”

His look turned apologetic. “Welcome to my world, Ruby. Now, I will take the card.”

I stood up. Where was that glass of water? Grabbing my bag, I held it up in the air and shook it Jack’s direction. “This is paying my mortgage this month and the month before and the month before that. I would never give it over to you, but I won’t sell your shots. That’s the best I can do for you.”

With that, I stormed away expecting his henchman to grab me and tie me to the chair until I relented. But no one chased me down and I even looked back to see Jack casually sip his wine as he watched me leave and place a cell phone to his head.

I couldn’t believe what I had done. For once in my life I had stood up for myself. That one moment showed me I didn’t need to be the push over I had spent my life being. Just because he has money doesn’t mean I am his doormat, I reasoned with myself. And I agreed.

It was significantly cooler out when I burst through the doors and into the parking lot headed for the sidewalk. I was still starving and bound for Chapala’s again when all I saw was a bright pair of headlights blinding me. I froze and shaded my eyes as the grill tagged my legs and I screamed out loud, my body rolling over the hood and smashing into the windshield. The car screeched to a stop and I rolled back down over the hood and onto the asphalt where everything went black…like ripping the cord to the television from the wall.

The Art of You Part 3

The view from the rocks toward the ponds.

The view from the rocks toward the ponds.

I crunched into an apple as I turned down the main drag and made a left at Notch 8 and on out to Ponderosa State Park. I paid the fee at the toll booth and the black and white striped barricade lifted for me to pass. I gave the short gal a wave of thanks and then followed the familiar road through the campground. Instead of taking a left to go where we had always met for family reunions, I stayed straight. That road led me to an area where the trees were so tall and thick they blocked out the sunlight and cast the area in shade.

Not really sure where my destination would be, I came up on a curve in the road that sloped slightly downhill. There was a make-shift parking lot to my left littered with cars. Images flashed through my mind. This was the cliff-jumping site.

“Oh my…I haven’t been here forever!” I breathed being swarmed with memories of sun drenched rocks and kids squealing in fun while jumping into the cool waters below. I even jumped once as I held tight to the hand of my husband.

He was so patient with me that day, I was decked out in a wetsuit to stay warm, the heat of the day making the water enticing. I stood there frozen with fear. Natural bodies of water just freaked me out. I loved looking at them, not a fan of being in them. So my legs were shaking as I sat perched on a rock about eight feet up, if that. I practiced plugging my nose and holding tight. The anticipation of the butterflies all the way down about made me sick. Little kids, maybe four and five years old, wanted to go and they waited for me to just jump. I could feel them mocking me, a grown woman, who was so afraid to take that one step off the edge.

I laughed and stepped to the side and they climbed up the face of the rock and just plopped right in. We waited for them to make it out of the way and I finally jumped. I never let go of his hand. Not even the strength of the water when we hit could tear us apart. I bobbed to the top and saw him there waiting for me, a smile stretching his face from ear to ear with pride.

“I’m proud of you, baby!” he laughed and swam behind me as I shook all the way back to the stability of the rocks.

I jumped once more that day, still holding tight to him. However, the other hand slipped from my nose and it felt like an ice pick had been driven up my nose. That was enough of that.

Shaking my head free of cobwebs from the past, I grabbed my backpack and stuffed the camera inside. It was a bit of a hike…okay, I’m lying. It is not a hike, it is a rock climbing adventure to get back in there. Having wised up years ago, I discarded my flip-flops and started wearing some little tennis shoes for that trek.

Slipping over rocks and hefting myself up the crags, I made my way to the cliffs. There were a few people here, hence the cars in the lot, but not so many that it was crammed. It was only Thursday, after all. Probably the best day to be back there. I fought to catch my breath and sat on a rock under the one tree that miraculously grew there. The shrieks from the kids jumping from fifteen and twenty feet filled the air and I couldn’t resist the urge to snap some photos as they left the solid ground and fell through the air to hit the water below them. I smiled fondly. My husband was not afraid to jump. He went twenty feet up and would take the leap again and again.

I imagined him perched up there with the others, the water running from his close cropped head of dark hair and the steady drip of droplets that fell continuously from the hem of his swimsuit. He would be talking openly with those up there and I could hear him laugh, just happy to be in the sunshine out in the middle of God’s country.

That stubborn lump came to me again and I cursed inwardly at myself. Perhaps this was not the right decision. Perhaps I should have stayed away and let the ghosts be ghosts.

I could hear music and I diverted my attention to an incoming vessel. It was the white boat with the yellow stripes and red canopy from the morning. They had music blaring so loud I had no idea what it even was.

My camera snuck to my face and I peeked to see who these people were that disturbed my peaceful moment.

Involuntarily, my finger depressed the shutter in surprise. There he was, his kids jumping off the side of the boat and into the water. They swam to the rocks and climbed the natural staircase passing me as they went to the platforms.

Just to be certain, I put my eye to the camera again and there he was, manning the ship, laughing and cheering his brood as they gathered the courage to jump. And then, he looked right at the camera again.

Feeling so flustered, I turned away from him and took shots of the two teens making the plunge. I heard a sharp squeal and then two distinct splashes below. Jack erupted into cheers and clapping, the sun bouncing off his dark glasses.

The kids broke the surface again to the sound of their dad cheering them on. I heard them call out to him and he laughed saying something about having to watch the boat.

I snapped as many photos as I could while he was so in his element. Every time his kids jumped, I focused on his reaction and for a while I just held the shutter down. When I saw him put a cell phone up to his ear and send the evil eye my way, I decided it was time to go.

The climb back left me breathless again. The adrenalin flowed from the encounter with Jack so my hands and knees were shaking and like jelly. I slid behind the wheel of my car again and sucked a few breaths before I turned the key and pulled out of the dirt parking lot. But I didn’t go right and head toward town. I turned left. Another car followed my lead.

Around the bends in the road I sped, watching for deer and other animals along the way. I rounded the lake a bit until it opened up a bit for marshy areas and ponds that stood still as glass.

“There it is,” I said out loud to myself and pulled the car to a stop.

Ahead of me and off the road was a congregation of great boulders of different sizes. The car following stopped as well, but they never got out of the car. With my camera around my neck, I started climbing until I stood at the base of a cliff. The very cliff I had climbed so many years before. I didn’t make it to the top, but I gave it my all. My husband had made it all the way. He gave me the strength to even try.

But more than that, I turned back toward the cars along the road to see the pond sparkling in the sunlight and the tall firs surrounded it casting shadows over the smooth surface. It was quiet here. I just sat on the warm rock and randomly captured the rugged scenery around me.

A man came my way, struggling over the rocks in some places. I fleetingly wondered if I looked as silly as he did. But he didn’t come dressed for the occasion either. Loafers and jeans were not climbing clothes.

He was huffing and puffing when he reached where I sat and I looked up at him.

“Hello,” I said politely.

The man looked up at the height of the cliffs above. “Howdy,” he replied not looking at me.

“Such a gorgeous day,” I added to make conversation.

“It is,” he said. “What is a woman like yourself doing out here alone?”

I noticed a foreign accent in him but his statement alarmed me. I suddenly became uncomfortable and stood to step down from my rock and skip one to another.

“I didn’t mean to frighten you,” he called out.

“You reminded me that I need to meet with someone back in town!” I called out hoping he believed my bluff.

I thought I heard him growl up there but I didn’t care. When I reached my car, I looked back at the rocks and he was coming back down. My heart sped up and I gulped at the air. What if he killed me? No one would find me. My kids would be left alone. Suddenly the gravity of my situation caught up to me and I turned the key. When the engine roared to life, I flipped an easy u-turn and started back to town. The sun was setting, the man was still following me, and I was freaking out. I didn’t know they had creepers in a small mountain town!

I began plotting where I would go if the man kept up his pursuit. Maybe I could make it into a place to eat before he would get to me. Maybe I could go inside the main house back at my apartment. Surely the owners would protect me from people like this guy.

I was able to leave him at a stop light and I knew it wouldn’t stay red long so I hurried as fast as I could to my apartment. As I pulled into the driveway, I grabbed my camera and unbuckled the seat belt. Then I bolted for the stairs taking them two at a time. I cursed myself for fumbling the key as I tried to slip it into the lock. Finally it obeyed my rough commands and I burst through the door, quickly closing it and locking it tight. I left the curtains closed and instinctively ran into the bathroom slamming the door and locking it too.

Then, I slumped on the toilet, setting the camera on the counter and let my forehead fall into my hands. I was breathing like I had just run a marathon and I closed my eyes against my fear.

I couldn’t just stay in the bathroom, and I knew that. I needed dinner and I wanted to feel free of weird people. Okay, weird guys. What if he was waiting until I ventured out again?

The feeling of being utterly alone crept into my bones. It was the same feeling I had when I buried… well, you know who I’m talking about. I was surrounded by people as I was then too, but I was alone. While I took solace in being by myself these days, that awful feeling of panic shed a new light on the subject. For once I wished I had just one friend I could call.

My phone. I needed to send a message to my son. If anything happened to me, he would know where to tell people to begin looking.

“Not to worry you, but there is a strange dude following me. If I disappear, let the authorities know that I was in McCall in a studio apartment on the lake not far from town. I’m turning on the GPS so they can track my signal. I’m fine, just being careful” was what I wrote.

Less than a minute later, my phone rang and a panicked young man was near to shrieking on the other end. I talked with him a spell and calmed him down. Reassuring him I was safe, he finally let me hang up and I made sure I turned the tracking on.

The shaking had ceased and my breathing was normal once more. I ventured out of the bathroom but peeked warily about to make certain I was still alone.

No one there. So I decided to change my clothes and head down the street for some Hispanic food. There was a great place with a view of the lake just steps from where I was. With any luck, Mr. Stalker wouldn’t be there too.

The Art of You Part2

Parade America 169

 

 

 

 

 

 

He looked straight into the lens of my camera. I was several hundred feet away from the man and he still saw me. I gasped and turned in the opposite direction.

Now I had heard of these movie star types from Hollywood that loved coming to Idaho. And why wouldn’t they? There is a little of everything here. I mean, you walk ten steps in any direction and scenery changes from urban to rural, from mountains to desert, from prairies to bluffs. Everything is here in this little state except the ocean, so we have lakes instead. Wildlife is abundant and recreational land is generous.

I suppose it had just shocked me. It isn’t everyday that a man you see on the big screen, one who wins award after award and lives the big life just shows up on a boat dock in a small removed town. He just seemed so…out of place.

And were those his kids? My head screamed at me.

I let out my breath after finally realizing I had been holding it for a while. That was my cue to head back to my little apartment.

There was no way I was about to stow my camera now. If I could get a great shot or two, it would be worth some dollars for my collection. Nope, that baby was staying out the rest of my trip.

I passed the grocery store and stopped in for a salad and water. Of course, I wandered the aisles a while and chose a few things that probably were not the best for me. I didn’t really care that much.

The first thing I did was race out to the balcony and act as though I were just watching the scenery, but I was combing through all the people to see if he was still out there or if he had just been a figment of my imagination. There were no bodies on the docks in the marina any longer. I put my camera up to my eye and brought the beach into focus. I didn’t see him at all.

Fearing I was crazy, I walked back inside and pulled the drapes. I lowered the Murphy bed that sat snug in the wall until it sat firmly on the floor. Grabbing my camera and plopping my body down on the soft mattress, I hit the review button.

There he was. I could not have been crazy. There was no denying that this was the very sexy, very handsome actor I followed on the screen. Jack.

I sighed and dropped my camera to the mattress. I had one photo of him and it wasn’t the best. I knew I could do better. These pictures could pay my mortgage for several months!

I sat there and plotted in my head when I should wake up, where I should go first, and how I could track Mr. Movie Star down. He would never know I was there, my lens was that good. Except that he seemed to know when my camera had been pointed at him earlier, but that was purely a coincidence.

I laughed out loud at my own stupidity and fell over backwards on my pillow.

“Just work twice as hard, Ruby. You don’t need his photos,” I told myself.

The evening went by quickly, compliments to the television. I ate my salad on the balcony as I watched the sun set behind the mountains. Every few minutes I would snap another shot as the colors developed above the tree line. The surface of the water became like diamonds, glittering and sparkling at me. I shivered when the breeze tickled my skin and the heat from the sun dissipated for the day.

Leaving the sliding door open and closing the screen, I surfed the guide for a movie. I figured I would look to see if one of Jack’s movies was playing. There were a couple on, a superhero flick that was about over and a mushy romance of star crossed lovers. I plugged in the channel and sat back to enjoy the next couple of hours.

Taking out my phone, I sent a text message to my boys: Made it safe and sound. Love you guys.

I nearly jumped out of my skin when my phone buzzed a few minutes later: Cool. Luv u 2.

I smiled and plugged the thing in to charge.

I was running away. Finding it near impossible to move, I kept struggling just to put distance between myself and whatever was following me. It was just black. Just empty. It had no shape or identity, but I was quite afraid. Out of nowhere, a voice shouted out to me and grabbed my arm. I screamed and was moved roughly to the side as the blackness devoured everything. I looked over at the man who grabbed me and it was Jack. He spoke to me and I couldn’t understand his words. It was like he was speaking a different language. We slipped into a building, dark and deserted. He was still talking to me, his mouth moving and nothing coming out. I tried to read his lips but I just nodded in agreement instead. A loud crash sounded and he shouted out to me, taking my hand and running with me again. The blackness seemed to find me no matter where I went or how much I tried to hide from it. But every time it sought me out, Jack would grab my arm and take me down another path to another hiding place.

It was still dark when the lilting sound of the waves filled my head and I woke up. I wondered briefly where I was at and then it all came rushing back and my breathing returned to normal. Grabbing my phone, I hit the button on the face and it burst into light searing my retinas. I blinked to relieve them and focused on the time. It was only four in the morning. The sun wouldn’t even be peeking for another hour and a half at least. So I rolled over and closed my eyes in hopes that I would sleep again.

But alas, I merely tossed and turned until the sky began to lighten. That was when I slid out of bed and hopped in the shower. I dressed quickly and towel dried my hair a second time, letting it fall where it wanted to in the casual pixie cut that adorned my head. It was a lazy cut, but easy when being casual and fun when I wanted to be fancy.

It was then that I looked at myself in the mirror. Who was that old woman staring back at me? How could I have possibly changed so much in such a short amount of time? The youth in my features was being replaced with deeper lines around my eyes, rounded cheeks and a slight redness to my skin. Of anything, my eyes stayed the same, large orbs like the green of the ocean, twinkling and bright when I was happy, dull and dropping when I was sad. They hadn’t been very bright for a long time…so long, that I had forgotten what they looked like any other way than sad.

I sighed. All I could do was plaster my face with makeup. It was an improvement, but it would all sweat off by noon. I shook my head.

Feeling like I could start my day, I decided to head to the beach and snag some pictures of the sunrise.

I walked around to the Mile High Marina’s boardwalk and stumbled my way down the dock floating in the water. The sun was rising, the golden light of morning washing over the lake, the sand on the beach changing colors from a blue-gray to orange and then to gold. There were large puffy clouds drifting over the horizon that looked like vanilla pudding against the morning’s blue sky.

Closing my eyes, I breathed deeply of the fresh air, still just a tad chilly. Nowhere else on the planet could it possibly smell so clean. A boat’s motor roared to life somewhere in the maze of docks behind me and to my right. I spun in surprise, but I couldn’t tell which boat was going out. The waves started sloshing as the boat’s engine disturbed its calm.

Shoving my camera to my eye, I focused in on one boat and then another and another, until I saw a little movement aboard one vessel. Slowly, it started to back out of its resting place. It was a large boat with fancy yellow stripes on it that ended in smart swirls of happiness. There was a tall canopy of red over pristine white seats. As they came out of the no-wake zone, the boat suddenly lurched forward, the water crystal sheets coming off the bow, the sun catching the droplets in mid-air like jewels.

I heard myself laugh and set the camera to the action setting. Then, I pointed the lens at them and held the button down, listening to the sound of the click, click, click of the shutter as it took one photo after another.

It felt like the small town gave a stretch and a yawn and the inhabitants slowly began to crawl out into the glory of the summer morning. Butterflies fluttered about and the occasional bee buzzed by. I basked for hours before deciding I would go for a drive.

The Art of You Part1

Sunset on McCall

Sunset on McCall

So, I have refrained from writing anything for a while now. However, I had this crazy dream last night! So, I woke up and recorded some main ideas on my phone’s note pad. After work, I came home and decided to put some thoughts down or I would just go nuts. That’s what happens when you are a writer. The story chooses you, not the other way around. So without going into detail about my dream, I am posting this beginning part before I go work on my school work. Should be pretty interesting! (The places are real, the people are fiction. FYI.)

The Art of You Part 1

I’m Ruby.

I’m a girl from a small town in a small state but I love the big city and I love the ocean. I love looking at the world through a camera lens and showing people that magic does exist all around us everyday…you just haven’t seen it through my eyes yet. I love everything about the past and being a lady as my grandmothers were.

I love pin curls and fingerwaves, saddle shoes and crazy English hats. I march to the beat of my own drum, you might say. I cherish my Hollywood haircut and adore my tattoos.

More than anything, I love my kids. My sons have taught me to love and hurt, but they have brought me laughter and life’s lessons that I had hoped to spare them of. I’m the middle aged widow of a man that changed my life. He taught me one of the greatest lessons of all…to love myself as much as he did. I’m okay with being different now.

I’m a starving artist that makes my living with my camera, selling my perceptions of the world to those who fall in love with my eye and my flair. That’s right…I have flair. No, not little buttons pinned to my clothes, but a personality that is all mine and a way of thinking that defies modern ways. I’m a victim of days that have been gone for a long time and yet I crave the happiness that the images of yesterday bestow upon me.

I firmly believe I got in the wrong line in Heaven. I should have been born in the Middle Ages…or perhaps the roaring 20s…or even the hopping 50s! Here in the 21st century, I’m considered strange when I walk in the store with red lips, black and white hound’s tooth pants and a red sweater all topped with black pumps. I hear the snickers from young girls as I walk by and I snicker back at their baggy pajamas and slippers they wear to the grocery store. These girls aren’t maturing into women. They are simply a robotic by-product of our modern, lazy society.

There is a place on the map of the United States, a very small dot that is called Nampa, Idaho. My home is small, a bungalow style with three small bedrooms and a single bathroom. My youngest son, ready to turn 18 years old and my adopted son almost 15, are all that remain at home from our gigantic family of nine. I rarely see the others or the grandchildren. Family just doesn’t quite mean the same thing these days. People are so wrapped up in their own opinion so often that there leaves little room for things like love and loyalty. Respect is a thing of the past and the only time you hear “yes, sir” is in the military. Forgiveness is a long word that no one seems to know the definition of anymore. It has become such a give-it-to-me-now society that the only person in their view is themselves. How did we fail this generation so badly? Surely the extinction of the spanking didn’t do this. Maybe single parent households that rip through the world like an epidemic have helped?

I am to blame for my part in that. I asked for the divorce from my first husband. He begged me to stay more than once and I still turned my back. Now, I can feel the grudge my children hold whether they know it or not. Then I married into a large established family of five more kids over my four. I was the enemy there, perceived as trying to be a mother when there was already a mother in their life. I was given no credit for just holding it together since there were many times that I wished I would just fall completely apart. Perhaps then I wouldn’t care as much as I did.

Eventually, my smoldering, broken heart cooled and steeled against people. I stepped out onto the stage of life as me, having stripped off the layers that were false fronts and an effort to just fit in with others around me. When my husband died, I merely shut off. I mean powered down until I felt nothing. I wandered aimlessly through my life, always walking, always looking, always listening but never living or moving or seeing or hearing.

Photography melted out of the picture for a long while. I saw no beauty out there anymore. I didn’t care to stir up feelings with images for others. I detested posing families and watching them smile in unison while mine was shattered by death. It wasn’t until the collection notices started arriving and threats were made to levy my bank account that I finally blinked.

My fourth grandchild arrived in February. This was the first one I had any chance of knowing and having a relationship with. I loved my other three, but they weren’t exactly “mine”. In my heart, I was Grandma and I didn’t want it any other way. Once my husband passed, it seemed I became invisible. It was difficult at best to be a figure the children knew since they lived a state away from me. Money was tight for all parties so Facetime gatherings were the closest thing to giving those sweet babies kisses.

This new baby, a little girl with light eyes like her mother and red hair like her dad entered the world. She was the first child of my own blood to grace the world and I cried when I first held her and marveled at her beauty. She made my heart beat again. The world came at me fast and furiously…the magic returned. I wanted to see the things differently for that little baby.

That’s when I picked up my camera again. One day, I would be able to sit down with my photos and show her all the places I went and recorded so she would know them as I did.

So it came to be summer, hot in the valley but cool in the mountains. My favorite place to go for picture taking was a smaller dot on the map: McCall, Idaho. The weather blew in and blew out at such a pace that the same scenery never looked the same. Early in the summer, the tall grasses were deep green and sprinkled with tiny pink and purple flowers. The river was high, gushing and frothing in the beds, the spray creating little rainbows in the bright sunshine.

McCall is a mountain town that parents a ski resort and the Payette Lake that attract tourists year round. It’s a diamond in the world of Mother Nature with the vivid blue skies and tall creaking firs. The smell of warm dirt and pine needles makes me smile and the slight curling of a campfire makes me long for days when we would gather as a family in the state park.

The drive up from the valley is long and winding. If you venture up between Thursday and Saturday, the roads are littered with slow moving campers or people in convertibles enjoying the scenery. You can’t blame them for that. I had been up and down those roads enough that the scenery was noise. I wanted to get up the mountain and just be there. I didn’t care to follow at 20 miles under the speed limit and spend the whole day driving.

In light of knowing this, I decided I would leave the boys home and take a much needed road trip to my favorite place, renting a studio over the lake for a week. I packed my little car with my suitcase, threw on some shades and took off after hugging my sons. I set my camera bag on the passenger’s seat and gave it a pat and a smile. Without wanting to waste another moment, I made my way out of Nampa that Wednesday morning and on toward the highway that would take me up to paradise.

The invisible bands loosened from around my chest with every mile traveled away from home. Soon, I was singing to the radio…the local doo wop station. I was tapping my fingers against the steering wheel and bouncing on the brakes to the beat at the stop lights.

The highway was slightly congested and I had to step on the gas a few times to pass a car with the oncoming traffic lane. My heart thundered in my ears and my face grew warm every time I did it. It was more of a thrill than I had allowed myself to experience in three years. It made me laugh out loud a time or two.

Rolling into the small town of McCall, I took a deep breath of satisfaction. Too long had I stayed away living in the darkness of grief. I came right through the middle of town and made a left when I ran out of street. Just passed the tiny city center was a house that had the studio apartment above the garage. I pulled into the familiar driveway and slipped the keys into my pocket, humming as I walked to the front door of the house.

The master of the abode answered my ring and handed me the key to the empty residence, just waiting for me to fill some of the space. It was probably 78 degrees there at two o’clock in the afternoon. Quickly, I collected my bag from the back seat of the car and slipped up the steps where I unlocked the door and made myself at home.

I set my bag against the wall beside the door and threw open the drapes that covered the enormous picture window overlooking the blue waters of the lake below. Unlocking the sliding door, I stepped out onto the balcony. In the distance I could hear children’s laughter carrying on the summer air. I could hear dogs barking and waves slashing. There were the sounds of jet skis in the water revving the engine as it jumped haphazardly through the wake of a speed boat pulling a water skier behind. This was summer.

I couldn’t wait any longer. It had become a tradition of sorts to grab an ice cream at Ice Cream Alley when my husband was still alive. We would drop our bags and make our way down there, then sit on the rocks to people watch and bask in the sunshine. So, I shrugged into my backpack that contained my camera and took off down the street. It was only a few blocks away from where I was staying and I got there in no time at all.

Happy they were open, I asked for a cup of Rocky Road, paid the gal, and walked across the street to finish our ritual. I felt naked without him with me. A lump started to form in my throat and sadness tried to claim me. So I ate my ice cream.

“Wish you were here, my love,” I whispered low so no one would hear me. “I hope you are eating an ice cream wherever you are.”

A tear tried to gather in the corner of my eye and I stubbornly wiped it away before it could fall and shoved my sunglasses back on my face to hide the evidence of my weakness.

I watched the kids playing in the sand of the beach. There were babies that started bawling when their parents took them into the cool waters of the winter run off. A chuckle escaped me and I remembered a time when the boys jumped off a dock, made one pass between it and the one beside it and decided it was way too cold to enjoy. I could still see the photos I snapped of each of them when wrapped in their towel, the sun glinting off the drops running down their faces. I smiled a lost and far away smile. That felt so long ago.

To my right, there was a man playing catch with his lab and at my one o’clock there were toddlers playing in the fountain that would shoot out water when they would get close enough. They would shriek and run back, their diapers sagging with the weight of the water. One fell on his rear and I winced, imagining all kinds of issues from tears to explosions, but he just got back up and clapped his chubby little hands ready to go again. I just shook my head and gobbled another bite, random giggles escaping me.

Behind me, school aged kids were jumping from rock to rock and I could hear my husband saying one would slip and break their face open before long. I laughed and nodded my head in agreement. Silly kids…going parkour on the hillside.

Standing, I climbed the slight hill that led to a main sidewalk that stretched around part of the lake. I dumped my cup and spoon in the garbage then took out my beast of a camera. The long lens clicked into place and I aimed toward the sandy shore, depressing the button slightly to bring it all into focus.

A little girl, maybe three or four years old, came walking out of the shallow water, her face beet red as she screamed and screamed. Tears streaked her sun kissed face and her hair stuck to her skin in clumps sending trails of water down her cheeks. I could see her little pearly teeth and then her fingers went into her mouth and I snapped the shutter closed. Such a raw display of honest emotion from her. That little girl summed up how I felt inside and she had no idea. How I wished I could just lose it and cry that way and have it be socially acceptable to do so!

The sun was starting to dip to the horizon a bit and it seemed that more people were flocking to the convenient little strip of sand. A slight breeze was picking up and I could hear flag clips clanging against masts on the boats that still sat in the marina ahead creating a rhythm of song. The beams of light were growing weaker and bounced off the metals of the boats tied up. I pointed my camera and zoomed it in until I could see people walking on the docks. Lucky dogs, I grumbled. It was a man and two teens, a girl and a boy. The man turned his face just so as I was about to pull my lens from them and I gasped in surprise.

“That cannot be…” I said to myself and clicked the shot just to be sure.

I looked again. “Well, I’ll be. That looks just like Jack Harrington. What is he doing out here? This is a long way from Hollywood.”