A little more than a week after Dawn and I visited the gallery, I got a call from Sally. She excitedly asked “how quickly can you get up here?”
I was caught by surprise and it took me a few seconds to get my wits about me long enough to say “I can walk up there in about fifteen minutes.” Almost commandingly, Sally said “drive.” I asked her if she had gotten robbed or if had there been a fire or my fondest wish, if had she found the artist.
“Just get up here,” she said. I grabbed my car keys and headed up the street. I was so nervous, excited, worried and a little hopeful that when I got to the gallery, I didn’t even remember how I got there.
I walked in and Sally grabbed my arm. “Come here,” she said. We walked to the area where Katy’s paintings were. A gentleman was standing there and she introduced us. “What’s going on?” I asked.
She said “this gentleman was looking at The Journey Of Life and when I was lowering the shades, he yelled ‘hold it…hold it…hold it’.”
She leaned over and whispered “I thought maybe he was having a stroke or something so I ran over to see about him.”
He said “look. You can see just the faintest difference in the colors here and I think I can see a word. I noticed it when the sun hit it in a certain way.”
Sally said “he asked me if I had a black light, which of course I did, so we lowered all the shades, turned off the lights and shined the black light on the paintings.”
She smiled and said “and there it was…on all of them. A word. She said “it was in a foreign language and I didn’t know what it meant, but he did.”
The gentleman scratched his head and said it was a strange word to be on paintings and it really didn’t make any sense to him.
When he told me what the word meant, I understood why it was there and I immediately knew that my suspicions had been right all along. There was no doubt that all of those pieces had been painted by Katy.
I believed that Miss Mabel somehow had a hand in this particular gentleman showing up on this particular day, at this particular time, looking at this particular painting. Again, I wrestled with the idea of telling Sally that I knew who the artist was but I think Katy’s intent was to have a certain je ne sais quoi attached to her paintings and I would not take that away from her.
I would like to say that once again, paintings mysteriously began to arrive at the gallery. I would like to say that I was eventually able to purchase one of her masterpieces. I would like to say that I found her and discovered that she had finally found peace and happiness. I would like to say all of those things but I can’t.
I have no idea what happened to Katy. She just might be on that island as I hoped, or she might be resting in the cemetery near Miss Mabel, having been reduced to nothing more than a forgotten, nameless number.
I did know one thing. I had been witness to extraordinary work, the likes of which I was sure I would never see again. Katy had touched me in a way that no other had or ever would. As long as I lived, she would not be forgotten.
Some of the notes she left had almost ripped my heart out but the paintings she left made it sing with joy.
I think we all want to leave a mark and whether or not she realized it, she had done just that. She left a mark on many lives…Miss Mabel’s, mine, Samwell’s, Dawn’s, Sally’s and every person who gazed in awe at her exquisite work.
I think about the word she hid in all of her paintings. The brutality of her father’s words had never stopped ringing in her ears and the wounds left by those words had never healed.
I kept repeating the word and I will never forget the gentleman at the gallery cavalierly saying. “The word is WORTLOS. It’s German.”
“Translated, it means…worthless.”