Near us was a coffee bar which sold expensive gelato and coffee to tourists, the rush of water from the artistic waterfall gave a soothing feeling, meditative and relaxing.
We ate in silence as the tourists and workers grabbed their lunches. Jordan finished quickly and pulled out his book to sketch a few faces he liked. I leaned over to peek. He was sketching the baby sleeping. Then the tired parents. He looked up and smiled at me, his eyes crinkling on the sides. This made it easier, subjects for his work. Not reminders of the family I mourned.
I glanced at the gelato bar. “Want some ice cream?”
“Can I have a bite of yours?” he asked.
“Sure.” I wondered if he was the sort that said that, then ate all of it. I decided on a large with two spoons. He looked up when I sat down and his eyes widened when he saw how much I bought. The family had left by the time I sat down.
He closed his book and put it in his back pocket. Then he grabbed the spoon to take a bite, which turned into him eating most of it. I’d guessed correctly. I glanced at my watch. The day waned, and I clutched onto each moment, savoring them as my last meal. It was almost time for his show. What if he had my picture on the wall?
“I want to show you one more thing here.” He took our tray to the trash bin, and I followed him. We walked up a set of winding stairs. The room was small, and the paintings were large. Both paintings were landscapes, but the landscape was nothing I’d ever seen before.
“What is this?” I asked.
“Eleanor,” he whispered.
I looked at him. “What?”
He grinned. “Eleanor did these twenty years ago.”
I walked closer to the wall. “No Title. Eleanor Parker. American artist. 1950- present.”
I turned to look back at Jordan. “No way. She just gave me a painting. That’s insane.” I laughed. “Do people know a famous artist is sitting at that kiosk?”
“No, but someday they will look at those paintings and realize that they have an Eleanor Parker and it will be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.”
I smiled. I am never getting rid of my Eleanor Parker. It was worth more to me than money.
Thunder crashed outside.
“We should take a taxi back to your hotel.” Jordan said.
He turned to leave, and I stayed staring at Eleanor’s work. “Did she work with you on some of your paintings?”
He didn’t answer at first and stared at the painting. “How did you know?”
“The painting of Perseus has a background with a farm. It looks sort of like this.” I pointed to the painting on the right.
“Yes, I copied it and I put Perseus in front. I was here and Eleanor saw it. She laughed for a few months over that.” He ran his fingers through his hair. “I had a hard time when I came back from LA. I guess we all have to deal with our demons. Instead of pushing my pain down, I let it out in the most destructive way. It took me a bit to settle down and express my pain differently.”
What did he mean by that? How was he destructive? He seemed to have everything in order, almost too perfect.
He glanced at Eleanor’s pictures and then beamed. “Katie, will you come to my show tonight? I’d like you to see what I’ve done. It’s taken me this long to show it. I’m letting people into my destruction, then I’m hoping to push it away and move forward.”
“I let you see into my head.” I gave him a small smile. “I’d love to see more of you… of your work.”
The taxi got us back to the Willard fast. Jordan paid but told her to wait.
“I have to be there early.” He handed me a card. “Can you meet me here? This is the art gallery address. Be there by six?” I agreed, taking the card and his grin grew wide like an enthusiastic kid.
* * *
The rain pelted us as we stepped out of the car, and he walked me to the front door as George waved to us both.
“I have people I want you to meet tonight. They’re special. My family.” He opened the door.
“I’d love to meet your family,” I said.