Samwell said, “well, since you aren’t selling anything, take a seat and I’ll get you a glass of cold lemonade.” I politely begged off, having so far escaped my diabetic coma, not to mention that I had just eaten lemon pie, so I told him that I would be grateful for a glass of water.
He excused himself and went inside. He walked sort of bent over, and it looked like every step he took was painful. I imagined it was from old age as much as anything, but I didn’t know. He was an odd looking little fellow. He was gaunt and frail and had skeptical, watery eyes. The bags under them made him look as if he hadn’t had a good night’s sleep in years, and his voice was soft and muted, much like a psychopath.
He came back outside, carrying a mug of lemonade and a glass of water. He was a little abrupt, but not in a rude way. He looked at me with stern eyes and got right to the point. “So, what have you got on your mind? You say you’re not selling dishes, and I don’t think you came all the way here for water.”
I told him that I wanted to inquire about the painting. “Oh yeah, you mentioned that,” he said. “You’ll have to forgive me. My mind isn’t as sharp as it used to be, and I get distracted rather easily for some reason.”
I described the mural in Miss Mabels’ house as well as the one in Dawns’. I told him that Dawn suggested that I might want to talk to him and mentioned, “Samwells’ dilemma.” Samwell laughed and said, “yep. That Dawn is a real character.”
He looked at me and said, “I guess you’re wanting to see it.”
My heart skipped a beat as I tried to control myself. Despite the fact that Samwell could indeed be a psychopath, I told him that I would love to see it. Besides, I had my little plate and I could smack him with it, and if that didn’t work, I was sure that I could outrun him.
“Okay,” he said. “Come on inside, but mind you, be careful of Cujo.”
“Cujo?” I asked. I had seen that movie and that was one dog that I would never want to tangle with, rabies or not. The question was, which was scarier? Being murdered by Samwell or eaten alive by Cujo?
I lost all sense of good reasoning, cast my fate to the wind and went in. Laying on a satin pillow was this tiny wiry-haired dog that could have fit into the palm of my hand. He growled when I went in and his teeth looked like little hypodermic needles. A snap of Samwells’ fingers and the command to stay was all Cujo needed to hear. Samwell smiled and said, “he things he’s a lot bigger than he is.”
Naming that little snip of a dog Cujo made me appreciate Samwells’ sense of humor, and I decided that he wasn’t a psychopath…well not anymore.
We made our way down the stairs to the basement. When he turned on the light, I was witness to what I was sure was another of Katys’ unbelievable masterpieces. Samwell said, “I was told that this was painted for the folks who lived here before I bought the house.”
Like my house, his house had stood empty for years.
Shaking his head, he said “I wondered why none of the children wanted it, especially given that this painting is here, but you know young folks. They don’t appreciate much these days unless it’s brand spanking new. I just didn’t have the heart to paint over the picture.”
I quickly realized that Samwell was one of those old souls who saw beyond the mundaneness of the world. Modernization was unimportant when it came to saving a piece of art like this.
He didn’t mention a wife or children of his own, but his statement about young folks not appreciating much, made me think that maybe he had a ungrateful child or two.
Once again, I was staring in awe. She had painted the couples’ children playing in the back yard. Like the beach and the stallion, those children looked alive.
Samwell looked at me and said, “don’t you feel like you can almost hear them laughing? But look at their eyes. Their eyes look so very sorrowful somehow.” He was right and I wondered if the family had noticed.
A little boy was in a swing and if your imagination allowed, you could hear him begging for someone to push him higher. A little girl was holding a floppy rag doll, while stooping to pick a dandelion. I believe had I touched the rag doll, I could feel the softness of the fabric, which had so carefully been sewn together.
A third little boy peered from behind a tree as if playing hide and seek. The bark on the tree was so realistic, I thought I could actually pull off a piece, and the longer I stared, the more I swore I could see the little boys’ eyes follow me as I moved from one end of the painting to the other.
I wondered aloud to Samwell where those children were now. I wondered if they had no appreciation for having had their young lives captured for posterity. This wasn’t a photograph, which could fade or possibly be misplaced or torn. This was a snapshot, frozen in time that would last through the ages.
In this picture, they would remain forever young.
The mural was dated 1966 and like the others, hadn’t been signed. I asked Samwell if he knew who painted it. He shook his head and said, “no. I surely don’t.” I told him that I believed it was painted by a girl named Katy, who used to live in my house.
“Is that right?” Samwell said. “Well she sure was an artist.”
We made our way back upstairs, and he told me to sit for a spell. He looked peculiar when he asked, “why are you so interested in these paintings, besides the fact that they’re pulchritudinous?”
Ah, I thought. Samwell is using a fifty-cent word, and I was impressed. “Are you a sesquipedalian?” I asked. He smiled and said, “well, I’ve gotten about. I’ve gotten about.”
I took his response to indicate that he was educated, most likely highly educated but wasn’t the boastful type.
I told him about the notes I had been finding in the house. “All of them were written to God,” I said. “So far the dates range from 1956 through 1964, and two pictures were dated 1965 and I believed, 1968.”
Samwell asked if there was a painting on any of the walls in my house. “Sadly,” I said, “if there were, I think they have been painted or plastered over.”
It was time for me to go back home. I felt like I needed to crash and burn. Samwell gave me an standing invitation to come visit any time and I reciprocated. Like Dawn, I liked Samwell.
To be continued_________________________