here’s that rainy day

Funny how love becomes
A cold rainy day…
Funny
That rainy day is here

 

I met Faith one rainy day in Chinatown.

I came in to escape a downpour, and there she was in her raincoat, sipping coffee and smiling. She was the most beautiful woman I ever saw, but more than that, I was captivated by her radiant smile.

Her eyes brightened in recognition—as if she had been waiting for me all her life.

I’ve never been suave, especially with women—I’m terribly bashful and socially inept, but with Faith, it was different.

I walked over to her table grinning as if we planned to meet, and said; “I think we’ve both been rained upon enough today. May I join you?”

She was wearing a colorful scarf to keep her hair dry and she took it off, shook out her bright copper locks and lit up the room. “Buy me lunch, and I’ll say yes.”

How could I refuse?

Now, I’m standing by our curtainless window staring at gloomy sky, white drop cloths over the furniture and wondering how the years sped by.

 

“I’m worried about our finances, Jay.”

Her brow was furrowed with worry lines. She had curled up on one end of the couch, clinging to a brown velour throw cushion as if it were a teddy bear.

‘Why worry, Babe? It always works out. You know writers—it’s a fine madness, but all it takes is one best seller and we’re back in the black again.”

“But I always feel I’m in the black, Jay—and it’s not a good place to be—under a dark cloud, uncertain what the future may bring.”

“Don’t we always get by?”

She shifted uncomfortably, her face a scowl, as she stared into the fire. “We do get by somehow, but it can’t go on forever, Jay. Whatever happened to that old adage about saving for a rainy day?”

“There’s no writers’ pension fund if that’s what you mean. But you knew that when you married me.”

I knew my words had an edge, but I also knew she had a point. I’m a natural pessimist and figure I’m only one bad decision away from losing everything. Maybe that’s why I act reckless.

“It’s okay for you, Jay, but you’re gambling with my future here too. If something happened to you, where would I be?”

“Probably married to a banker from Bay Street.”

I regretted the words the moment they were out of my mouth—it was a low blow.

Faith was a commodities investor working for a major bank. She was all futures—investments and dividends. I was free-spirited and careless.

Maybe that’s why it worked for us then—but that was then, and this was now. She had a point, and I couldn’t always go by the emotion of the moment.

“Look Babe, I’m sorry—you’re right. I’m wrong. I’ll make an appointment at the bank tomorrow. I promise.”

And that’s how my relationship began with Vanity Hall.

 

“You’re wife is right, Jay—you’ve made a ton of dough, but you’re all over the map in your investments. I don’t see any strategy here at all—and certainly nothing that would secure your future.”

Vanity folded her shapely legs, tilting them to one side, and combed her perfectly manicured talons through her silky blonde hair.

There’s something sensual about grooming rituals, subliminal or not—and something fascinating about impossibly long red nails.

Come to think of it, everything about her was fragile and brittle—stilettos and lipstick-red nails. She was a slender, porcelain ballerina pirouetting on a pin.

Now, she was staring intently at me, fixing me with her enormous dark eyes. “You’re lost aren’t you?”

I was truthfully. My feelings were on a runaway train and I was watching it leave the station.

“I call this lipstick and high heel syndrome,” she chuckled softly. “It’s similar to white coat effect, when you’re in the doctor’s office having your blood pressure checked. Financial planning can be stressful.”

She was right. I would hate to have my blood pressure checked right now. It was caused by lipstick and high heels all right, but had nothing to do with the state of Bay Street.

“Are you finding it hard to concentrate?” she asked.

I blushed, thinking she read my thoughts, but before I could make some lame excuse, she went on, “Board rooms are ‘bored’ rooms, as they say, and somehow stuffy surroundings aren’t congenial to a relaxed perspective.”

She glanced at her watch. “It’s almost noon—why don’t we get out of here and continue our conversation over lunch?”

My heart began racing and I could hear the blood pulsing in my ears. “Sure—why not?”

I said it with feigned indifference, but had to clench my hands to conceal the trembling.

“I’ll clear up a few details here and meet you at Coro’s in about fifteen minutes. How does that sound?”

“Sounds like a plan,” I said.

There was a gleam in her eye. “Order me cab sav and fettuccine alfredo.”

“No salad?” I croaked.

“Do I look like I need to eat salad?” she grinned mischievously.

“No,” I grinned back, “definitely not.”

 

There were fifteen minutes between my decision and her arrival. I felt like Prufrock—strangely empowered, yet powerless.

“Time for you and time for me,
And time yet for a hundred indecisions,
And for a hundred visions and revisions,
Before the taking of a toast and tea.”

I was sitting in a window booth and it had begun to rain. I thought of another restaurant on another day, and a smile so radiant, it made the clouds go away.

“I got rained on.”

It was Vanity, droplets sparkling like jewels in her hair, giggling at her little misadventure while men’s heads in the restaurant turned her way.

It was intoxicating. I was drowning in chains of seaweed while my Siren was preening and turning men to stone.

“I cleared my calendar for the afternoon.”

We clinked glasses and wordlessly toasted our freedom, and I pushed aside a mountain of guilt.

 

“Bless me Father, for I have sinned.”

Breton slid open the panel behind the grate and the Good Father listened to a sad refrain—one he had heard many times before—just not from me.

“Have you told Faith?”

“No. I don’t think I can.”

He nodded as if understanding, but even he had to pause and stare off into space. “I thought you two had something special—I suppose no one is immune from the weakness of the flesh.”

It was my turn to nod.

“You’ve ended it, of course?”

I stared at him and blinked.

His countenance fell. “Oh Jay—you know I can’t absolve you. If you’re  bent on continuing in this sin, it would be a sacrilege—living a lie. You have a choice—either admit it, or quit it. There’s no other way.”

“I sighed. “I know it, Father—I guess I just had to hear you say it.”

I left with no absolution, no penance—other than that huge mountain of guilt I was carrying on my back. I carried it two more months because I couldn’t let her go.

I left her a dozen times over those months—tear-stained and desolate, yet I always returned. In the end I was found out, as inevitably, I knew that would be the way things would fall out for me.

“What are these charges at the Park Hotel?” She was asking, but the crumpled MasterCard statement, said she already knew.

“Is it over?”

I shook my head.

“It is now.”

 

Three months and thirty thousand dollars in lawyers’ fees brought me to where I am now.

I’m standing by our curtainless window staring at a gloomy sky, white drop cloths over the furniture and wondering how the years sped by.

What happened to that adage of saving for a rainy day? Faith is gone and Vanity is too… with a banker from Credit Suisse near King and Bay.

I have my absolution. I’m living my penance every day.

Funny how love becomes
A cold rainy day…
Funny
That rainy day is here to stay.

© 2015, John J Geddes. All rights reserved.

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mesmerized

It was the opportunity of a lifetime—coming to Florida’s Gulf coast and living rent-free the whole winter, ‘just painting and becoming’ as Uncle Rossof said. The house was well provisioned and right on the ocean. A few stores were only a short drive away, across the causeway, back on the mainland. So, it was curious the way the locals greeted my arrival.

“You’re going to stay at the French House?” The lady in the coffee shop looked shocked.

“It’s my uncle’s house and he’s loaned it to me for the winter. Why do you call it the French House?”

“Word around here is that before the turn of the century, a French couple built the house and lived there. He was an architect and she was a painter.”

At the mention of the word, painter, my ears pricked up, “A painter, you say?”

“Yeah, an artist like you—although I’ve never seen any of her work.”

“Interesting,” I mused, looking out through the shop window toward the curve of coast and the causeway leading back to the island. I wanted to go there immediately.

I paid the woman and padded out through the warm sand to the car. I tried to ignore the curious looks and whispered conversations of the onlookers.

Don’t get many visitors here, I suppose.

The sky over the ocean was immense, filled with scudding white clouds driven by sea winds. A pang of loneliness filled my heart. It was strange—why such a reaction to a place where I had never been? A harbinger of things to come, perhaps.

 

The first glimpse of the house filled me with awe. It was everything Uncle Rossof said it was. Two storey weathered wood. A charming Victorian lady. It even had a turret and a Widow’s Walk on the roof. I had to catch my breath as I stared at it in delight.

I parked the car in the rutted lane that led to a small dead-end. This was really peaceful and remote. Just what I needed. I carried my few belongings into the house and discovered Uncle Rossof was again true to his word—the larder was well-stocked and the fridge full. It seemed he had provided for everything.

I finished putting away my things and then grabbed a beer from the fridge intending to spend the next hour sitting in an Adirondack chair on the huge wrap-around porch. The sea breeze and murmur of waves, however, were so intoxicating, I dozed off and didn’t awake until after seven.

I was fixing some bacon and eggs when I heard a light rap on the door.

An older man in a baseball cap and blue-checked lumberjack shirt waved to me through the beveled glass. I turned down the gas and went to greet my visitor.

“I’m Ben Carver. I’m your neighbor. I live just over that hill there.” He pointed down the lane to where a black F 150 was now parked.

“Sam Wainwright,” I said, shaking his hand, “I’ll be here for the winter.”

“You must be Jake Rossof’s nephew—You’re a painter, aren’t you?”

“I am,” I smiled, “Would you like to come in?”

“Oh no, I have to be getting back to Gladys—she’s my wife—broke her hip last month. Just went into town to get her medicine. Just wanted to let you know we’re here in case you need anything.”

“That’s very nice of you Ben—tell Gladys I hope to meet her and hope she feels better real soon.”

He tipped his hat, smiled and was gone.

I returned to my mess of bacon and eggs, added a mug of hot coffee and was as happy as at the Ritz.

 

The first week in the house I fell into an easy routine of an early morning walk on the beach, followed by a day’s worth of painting, followed by sitting out on the porch with a glass of wine and enjoying the sunset. All was calm and serene until Friday and the first storm warning over the radio.

Ben came over and brought a portable radio and flashlight.

“Don’t know if you have these, but you should be prepared at any rate.”

“Thanks, Ben. How are you and Gladys getting on?”

“Don’t worry about us, Sam—we’ve weathered storms here for over forty years. If you need help, just give a shout.”

Again, he was off into the wind, pausing only at the foot of the hill, to give a cheery wave. I went back inside and began closing windows and securing doors.

I settled down in the den with a book and a roaring fire while the first drops of rain were splattering the windows. It was a sleepy, lazy kind of night, with the heat from the fire in front of me and the wind rattling the windows behind me. I was debating whether to get up and make a pot of tea when I saw her.

She was lovely. Her long brown hair reached to her shoulders and her mouth and eyes were dark. She paused momentarily in the archway and then seemed to glide down the hall toward the turret stairs.

At first, I was so mesmerized by her beauty that I was glued to my chair, not wanting to breathe, lest she disappear, but when she continued to the stairs, I was on my feet and stealthily creeping after her, book in one hand and flashlight in the other.

She ascended the stairs so gracefully; it reminded me of the Moon rising in the sky—but with such sad steps and with so forlorn an expression that my heart melted within me. I was drawn to her and would have followed her to the ends of the earth.

At the top of the stairs she melted through the door leading to the widow’s walk. I carefully climbed the stairs, just managing to keep the top of her head in sight above the risers. Her hair was floating behind her and her face resolute as she gazed out to sea, oblivious of both rain and wind.

I stopped at the door, rooted to the spot and watched in fascination as she paced restlessly back and forth along the walk. Now and then, an occasional flare of lightning illumined the roof and her slender figure. She reminded me of Keats’ poem, She Walks in Beauty Like the Night—although she was fairer than the lady of the poem she still possessed the same ethereal qualities of bending light and dark into a portrait of exquisite loveliness. As I was contemplating her beauty, there was a great crash of thunder and she was gone.

An incredible loneliness filled my heart, an anguish as inexplicable perhaps as finding a tear’s circle on some distant star. Who was she? In a way my heart already knew. She was the painter, the nameless wife of the architect and I already guessed why she walked these rooms and revisited the Widows Walk.

I don’t know what happened inside me, but I had to paint that face. I fairly ran downstairs and got a sketchpad and began attempting to draw the face I saw in the storm. I worked all night trying in vain to recreate even one feature. It was useless. The impressions were strong, but no memory of that face remained.

 

Over the next few weeks I’d sit staring out to sea striving to recall the lovely face I saw in the lightning’s flash and the thunder’s roar—all in vain. Daily, I sat looking past the crumbling cliff and the sea oats, past the patio umbrella dripping rain like faint blue paint or the pewter puddles of rain circles.

She haunted my dreams like a siren calling to me out of the night—fragmented images tormented me—glimpses of open windows, white curtains billowing and floating on the breeze, splattered bird cherries, glistening trees and sparrows sheltering under eaves.

Then one day, her name came—Roseanne, clear as a dewdrop. An aching started deep in my heart, like the groaning of a thousand guitars—Roseanne, my beloved, my goddess, my Muse.

I spoke to her in the emptiness of my uncle’s house and confessed my pitiful longing. I raved, I rambled and paced the floors seeking release.

Your eyes mirror the painted skies, I told her; Your beauty has burned me black until I’m parched and filled with longing. Only appear and give me one last glimpse of your loveliness.

She never did reappear. Ben found me two days later collapsed on the floor, clinging to the portrait I tried to paint.

The therapist waited while I wept.

“Can you show me the painting?”

I was reluctant to give it up.

“I won’t take it—I just want to see what you’ve painted.”

I hugged it tightly to my chest, but he was kind and I could see he meant no threat. I gradually relaxed my grip and at last allowed him to take it from me.

He glanced at the canvas and then back at me. “But what is this?”

“It’s called Face a la Quelle.”

“Face of the What?” he translated literally.

“Precisely,” I replied.

“But, I see no person.”

“It’s not a representation. It’s a depiction.”

“A depiction of what?”

“Of the scar she left upon my soul.”

He looked at me quizzically and then at the canvas—at the ragged blue line crossing its face.

He shook his head.

I watched him scrawl in his notebook.

Delusional thinking.

The lightning flashes; the thunder roars and there, my dear, in the weather’s din, I paint your lovely face. —Lermontov

 

 

© 2015, John J Geddes. All rights reserved.

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