Jett: The Art Gallery

Another excerpt from the story of Jett.  This one is more sentimental and I actually wrote it for Father’s Day. )

The exhibit was crowded when they walked in. Ashley had helped Jett pick out an appropriate outfit. She was wearing gray slacks and a black blouse with flat dress shoes. Her dad was wearing a pair of black slacks, with a red dress shirt and a matching black blazer. It didn’t take long for Ashley to find them. She had arrived shortly before they did. She was wearing a black skirt, white blouse and black jacket.

“Hey Little Chica,” she said and gave Jett a hug, “I got finished early and came straight out.” To Jett’s dad she said, “I can see why you chose this exhibit. Good call.”
Jett, her dad and Ashley walked around the exhibit and looked at some of the pieces. The theme of the exhibit was “Strong Black Women: Mothers, Leaders and Warriors.” The artist was a young African American artist and each piece depicted black women in various stages of life and in various situations. Some were simply portraits that portrayed strength of character and beauty. Jett’s eyes widened as she took them all in. She said nothing until she saw the one of a woman with a young girl on a busy sidewalk.

“That one reminds me of me and Mama, back in Baltimore. When we were homeless.” Ashley worried that it may trigger some difficult feelings in the girl and shot her dad a look. He waved her off and asked Jett, “Your mom took good care of you, didn’t she?”
“Yea, Mama did. It was hard though. She cried a lot.”
“She was a strong black woman, your mom.”
Jett nodded and looked at a few other paintings. Ashley took the girls hand and said, “Do you want something to drink? A soda or something? Or a snack? I’m about to get a glass of wine. Would you join me?”

“Okay,” Jett said, and went with Ashley to the refreshment room. Her dad, meanwhile, went looking for one particular painting he had seen in a picture advertising this exhibit. He hoped he wasn’t too late. By the time he found it, he also ran into the director of the gallery, who was an old friend of his.

“Whoa! Who is this guy?” he said excitedly, “It’s been years brother. Where’ve you been?”
“Hey!” Jett’s dad said, “Good to see you. I’ve been running the business, working late nights, solving cases and all; and raising a daughter.”
“You have a daughter?? No way! Didn’t see that coming,” he said.
“That’s her over there.”
“With the attractive Latina women?  That your girlfriend by the way?”
“Nah. Business partner and friend. And she’s good with my daughter.”
“That’s your daughter with her? You did good.”
“I got lucky to have a good kid. She does well. Speaking of, I need to talk to you about this painting. Who is the artist?”

With this he and his friend went off to an office and talked quietly a moment. The artist joined them and they talked momentarily as well. While they were talking, one of the volunteers placed a red sticker under the painting they were talking about, indicating that someone bought the painting.

When Jett and Ashley returned, Jett handed her dad a cup of coffee and they resumed looking at the paintings. The director of the gallery approached them and introduced himself.
“I hear you’re the daughter of this crazy guy here. It’s nice to meet you, Jett. I’m the director here. And you Ms Garcia.”
Jett and Ashley shook hands with the gray haired man. “You know my dad?” Jett said.
“Oh do I. We go way back. We used to run around downtown together in the same crowd when we were young. Your dad was quite the guitar player, you know. He used to sit right back there in that corner with his guitar, his amp and all of his gadgets and play some amazing guitar pieces during exhibits like this one. He was the man.”
“Cool,” Jett said, “he still plays. He taught me some guitar.”
“Well, he’s the guy to learn from. Haven’t seen him around in forever. Good to see him and really great to meet you Jett.”

As they walked Jett’s eyes widened and she walked quickly across the room to a particular painting. It was the same painting her dad was looking for earlier.
“What do you think of that painting Jett?” her dad asked. Jett just stared at it. In the painting, a young girl, about Jett’s age, was holding a book in her hand. Around her were several books surrounding her, some open, some closed, and musical instruments, a microscope, and other items indicating the arts, science, literature, etc. The girl was looking to the upper left though, day dreaming. In the upper left was an older woman dressed as an Amazon warrior. She looked confident and strong, her eyes were bright and she had a fierce look on her face. She stared off into the horizon as well.

“It’s awesome. I want to be her so bad.” Jett said.
Her dad’s friend, the director, touched his arm and said, “I’ll be right back,” and smiled as he walked off.
The painting was called “The Fierce Warrior.” Ashley put her arm around Jett’s shoulders and said, “She’s beautiful like you.”
“More like you. You’re a fierce warrior,” Jett said.
“I wish Little Chica. But thank you,” Ashley said.

“Jett,” her dad said, “I brought you here today because I wanted you to see these paintings of strong black women. It’s because you are growing into an amazing young lady and one day you are going to grow up and be a strong black woman yourself. I want you to see this so you can know how amazing you are, not just through my eyes, but through your own as well. You’ve had to deal with so much adversity that I thought this would inspire you. When I saw this painting, I saw you. You’re the girl in this picture and you are going to grow into the woman in the picture. You’re going to be a Fierce Warrior one day. You’re going to be a strong, beautiful and intelligent woman just like the women in these paintings. You’re going to accomplish so much that you don’t know yet. It seems the world has so many ways to push people down that I want you to always be reminded of who you really are and who you are going to grow into.”

Jett’s lip quivered as her dad spoke and she started crying. She reached over and hugged her dad as he spoke. When he finished she said, “hormones,” and laughed through the tears. “Thanks dad. I love you,” She said next.

The Number

Based on a True Story:
There was a boy at a university. He was shy, awkward, lonely. All his friends had girlfriends, but he just hadn’t met anyone. Semesters went by, and he had a few dates here and there, but he still longed to meet that one girl that would be his college sweetheart. That’s all he really wanted. Not one-night stands, or nights of drunken, crazy sex; but just that one girl who would change everything.

Then he met her. He had a long break between classes. He saw her sitting alone in the Café in the Student Center. She was pretty, in a “plain Jane” kind of way, which is what he liked the most. She wore a pair of jeans, a blue sweat shirt and black framed glasses. Her long brown hair framed her face as she looked down at the book she was reading. She was curvy, maybe a little more so than the other girls, but she was perfect to him. He got up his nerve, walked over, and introduced himself.
“Hi. . .my name is. . .uh. . Steve. . May I join you?” he asked.
“Hello. . uh Steve. . .” she said, “I would love that. My name is Amy.”
She smiled and invited him to sit down. They had coffee together. He was thrilled at the attention this beautiful girl was giving him. She was smart. She had a beautiful smile and she used it often. She blushed at times, which was cute. They both talked and talked and talked. They both felt like they had known each other forever. They both said that they wanted to get to know each other more.
They went for a walk together. They held hands. The talked about anything and everything. They giggled. They sat on a bench outside of Building C and cuddled. His heart pounded almost out of his chest as she got close. His breathing sped up and he probably turned red. She didn’t seem to mind his awkwardness. In fact, she seemed thrilled by it. Then they kissed. Neither of them knows who kissed who first, maybe it was a tie. It didn’t matter. It was one of the most passionate and beautiful and awkward kisses in the history of the University. To this day the old timers still talk of this kiss. The perfect kiss between two lovers that would kick off a lifetime of perfect kisses. So perfect and raw. So innocent and awkward. So deep. He felt like something changed in him after he kissed her. In that moment after their first kiss he felt like he was finally complete. In his mind, he kept fast forwarding to many years later, when they would talk about this kiss to their kids and grandkids; when they would talk about the magic of love at first sight and of the first time they met. How she would slap him on the leg, laugh, and tell the kids how shy and awkward he was and how she had seen him so many times and just wished he would get up the nerve to talk to her in the University Café; and of the excitement she had to contain when he finally did. He entertained every corny romantic notion that a boy at University entertains when he meets the girl of his dreams. But not during the kiss. During the kiss, he was in a state of perfect zen. He felt every motion, every sensation, every breath. He felt the give and take as their mouths groped for each other. He felt the the softness of her lips, wetness of her tongue, and the coffee on her breath. He could remember the smell of her skin and the feel of her face against his. All of this he felt, and he could recall it in detail every day for the rest of his life.
She was late for class and had to go.  He pulled out a piece of paper and a pen. He wrote his name and telephone number on one side of the paper and she wrote her name and telephone number on the other side. He tore the paper in half and, while they kissed one more time, he placed one half of the paper in her soft hand. As she kissed him again, she stuffed her half of the paper in her purse, smiled, walked away and ran back and kissed him once more, and then ran to class. He stared at her running to class as he stuffed his half of the paper in his pocket.
“Call me tonight!” she yelled as she excitedly ran away.

He saw his friends later that afternoon. He told them all about Amy. His friends, who were usually encouraging him to find a girl to sleep with and nothing more, were different. They all encouraged him to call her that night, and were glad he found someone and that this seemed like the real thing. They told him to go slow, not to rush her into anything and to focus on having a relationship. For all their usual foolhardy playboy tendencies, they knew their friend was different. He was the serious type who deserved to have that special girlfriend. They never thought that much of themselves but they did of him, and they were all happy for him.
That night, after he got home from class, he ran straight for his phone. He reached into his pocket and pulled out the paper. He unfolded it as he picked up the receiver and got ready to dial. His heart pounded at the excitement of calling her and planning their first date. A million thoughts flooded his mind at once. He almost put the phone down because he was so overwhelmed with emotion, but he persevered and put the phone to his ear, holding it with his shoulder, as he got ready to dial. He unfolded the paper and just stared at it for a what seemed like eternity. . .
Then he put the phone down, crushed with disappointment.
He never saw Amy again.

Many many years later, one failed marriage and too many martinis to count he found himself sitting at some bar somewhere contemplating his next move in life. Things kept going from bad to worse, then from worse to worse, and yet again he ended up alone. He had gone to visit his family recently and found an old box from college. Among all the old artifacts and pictures and awards was this small slip of paper, folded in half. He kept the paper. Now, sitting at that bar, wounded by what his life had become and struggling with yet another bout of depression, he pulled out the paper and stared at it again, just like he did when he was a boy at Univeristy. On the paper was written:

“Steve 867-5309”

The End

It Happens in Your Sleep

“It happens in your sleep, Steven” – What I was dismissively told when I first became curious about love and sex.
This will never work out. We’re not compatible.
We’re too different:
If I hold her she will sleep.
But if I don’t hold her, I will sleep.
She can’t go to sleep unless I am holding her.
I can’t sleep when I am touching another person.
She suggested I hold her until she falls asleep.
Then let her go, so I can sleep. Once she is asleep, she will not know I am not holding her she says.
She’s a very practical woman. A problem solver.
But she has nightmares. I hear her. Her breathing speeds up.
She startles. She tries to cry out. But she has no memory of these in the morning.
So I held her one night when she was having the nightmares and the nightmares stopped.
The nightmares she doesn’t remember.
If I don’t sleep, I’ll be okay. I’ll know that she didn’t have the nightmares. This will sustain me.
So I start holding her and I don’t let go.
Late at night, when I’m awake holding her, her hands grasp my hands and our fingers are interlocked.
Her legs are intertwined with mine. She holds my legs tight with hers.
We wake like this, but she has no recollection of how it happened. I dismissively told her that
It happened in our sleep, “who knows? it’s just one of those things,” I said .
“Hmmm. . .” she said, and then she gets up and takes a shower.
At night, when she subconsciously grasps my hand. When our fingers are interlocked
And our legs are wrapped around each other
It’s like her soul is breaking through her subconscious mind.. begging me. .saying
“Don’t let go baby. . .never let go.”
And my soul answers, saying
“Baby. . I won’t let go. I will never let go.”
Now, something strange has happened. When I hold her and don’t let go
I sleep. . .. . . .. . . . .
Sometimes it does happen in your sleep.