A Secret Grave 83: The Biggest Gamble

 

Alicia got up from the couch, stretched and walked around my studio. It was a gray January day, windless and still as if the trees in the yard were waiting for secrets to be told. Even though it wasn’t cold, I gave a shiver. Alicia went and stood in front of my easel, which as usual I’d turned around so that the painting that was on it was facing away.

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“Who’s this?” she asked.

I’d just begun a portrait of my son, a handsome young man with thoughtful eyes, deep dimples and a myriad of tattoos. It was in very early stages in fact, I’m only going to post a reference photo now as the drawing itself is too primitive.

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My son, Julian

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“You know I love selling paintings and I’ve done very well at it, but I’m not sure my heart’s in the business anymore,” Alicia said from behind the easel. I couldn’t see her face, but her voice sounded hollow and sad. “Victor’s portrait being stolen didn’t help. And then Charlie’s murder—“

She didn’t finish the sentence and didn’t have to. It struck me for the first time that Alicia might conflate the violence of her past with the violence surrounding Victor’s painting.

“Are you going to quit?”I asked, immediately regretting my choice of words.

She came back to the couch and sat down. “Quit? No, that’s not my style. I’d like to close the Palm Beach gallery. I mean it’s been fun – not to mention very lucrative – but I need to spend more time home with my family. And then,” she paused and bit down on her lip, “well, even though it scares the shit out of me, I want to pursue this thing with the guy who attacked me.”

I didn’t say anything for a minute. But my mind was racing. I thought of Alicia going to a rural Arkansas town and getting in trouble with her standout red hair and urban manner. “Would you go with Gharith?” I asked.

“I don’t know. He’d be kind of hard to travel with. What I’d really like to do is go with Emil.”

I thought about that, too – Emil in his white shirt and khakis, the wise and well-known Jewish therapist confronting Alicia’s nightmare rapist in a town filled with people who probably wouldn’t take kindly to outsiders. Maybe not such a good idea. “When’s Emil getting out of rehab?” I asked.

“Three weeks. I really expect him to make a full recovery.” She played with a strand of hair. “Of course, I’d wait awhile before asking him to do a thing like that.”

We stared at each other, both of us thinking the same thing: Emil traveling to Arkansas in search of a hidden criminal would be the biggest gamble of his life.

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Emil

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And then, nervously, we both burst out laughing.

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To be continued…

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Cover photo ~ http://conservative-headlines.com/2015/07/league-of-the-south-holds-confederate-battle-flag-rallies-in-harrison-ar-and-stafford-va/

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