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The Dallas Sarts

By Christopher P. Nichols All Rights Reserved ©

Drama / Romance

Chapter 1

Two o’clock in the morning. I had just finished a third reading of Blood Wedding and was suddenly scared that I had picked the wrong play to direct. It is a simple enough story: beautiful country girl in Spain is betrothed to a hard working young man who would give her a good life. But the wrinkle is that she may feel a desire for in her past who perhaps lingers outside her window at night occasionally. This man is the only character in the play that has a name, Leonardo. He is married, has a child, and his wife is pregnant with another child. He is irresponsible, neglects his wife, and rides his horse , a rare possession for these folks, constantly off into the night. After the wedding ceremony at the celebration dance the bride runs away with Leonardo. The bridegroom goes after them. In the woods, the bride tells Leonardo to leave her, He hears the bridegroom coming, they meet and fight to the death. The mother of the bride, the bride, and Leonardo’s wife meet at what may be a church. The mother possibly cuts the bride’s throat. It is a constant rage of passion, filled with poetry, a large cast, and mysterious characters in the woods and I loved it. But it is so powerful that I wondered, even doubted that I could give it the full production it deserved. I supposed that almost every director has doubts while preparing for a play and I have certainly experienced it, but this was different. There were no precedents for the play because our production at the Civic Theatre may be the first in the States.

The playwright, Federico Garcia Lorca, was known here primarily as a poet, but his plays were important in Spain. After the first couple of readings, I thought I saw the whole piece in my mind, and began to block it on paper, but it didn’t feel right. In the past, I had been able to block out a play in several late night sessions, go to rehearsal, and put it up on stage. This play needed music, dance, several sets, and terrific lighting and costumes...so my collaborators must be more special than I had ever worked with before. This was the first time that I studied the directing process of so many directors and artistic directors of past work and their ideas. My brother’s girl friend had suggested books she had studied while getting a degree in art history. They were primarily about Art Logic, that is all art works from general to specific. Paintings start with drawings and slowly go o a finished canvas. Dance with a collection of movements that move to a final production. And theatre with general movement and script interpretation to precise blocking and then to a set interpretation of the play. The owner of the bookstore where I work during the day found some writings of Russian of directors who founded a completely new philosophy of shaping plays. New to me was a former protégé of Stanislavsky’s named Vachtangov. His ideas of a more free form directing began to change my way of approaching this inspiring and difficult play. Of course, Stanislavsky’s list of new ways from the third book began to take on new meanings. The last two plays I directed I knew I had been directing by the numbers; I had lost a passion I had felt before. Well, Blood Wedding had better bring back the passion.

Tomorrow night is the casting rehearsal after two weeks of exhausting auditions with a break for the Arts Fair. I believe my pages of notes will help make my decisions good. I’m going to try something very new.

Chapter 1

I had been working my way through Somerset Maugham for several I decided to read before considering getting up, eating, and working on Blood Wedding. months and was about to finish Cakes and Ale. After a while, I put away the Maugham and reread Blood Wedding. I remembered a book I had about a Russian director named Vachtangov and some strange things he did with a production of Turandot. I ended up reading much more than about that production. His wild imagination is evidently, what set him apart from the Moscow Arts Theatre where he started. I also went back and read the appendix of Stanislavsky’s second book. It’s of steps to think about in production. The Vaktangov book gave me an idea for a set. I got to the bookstore early and talked to my boss about doing some study during the workday. He said it was fine if I could stop when customers came in. I certainly had no problems with that. I had a little desk near the front of the store where I could I could work and see anyone who came in. Graciously it was a quiet morning and I was able to read the play in a new light. I had decided earlier not to spend hours moving Jeordie’s little lead soldiers around on a tentative ground plan looking for a blocking scheme, but to give the actors much more freedom in developing the movement for their characters. I would set up zones rather than strict blocking patterns and shape the piece as it developed in rehearsal.

After working with about five customers, I ate the lunch that my mother had prepared, a meat loaf sandwich and a Dr. Pepper. Just as I was finishing my brother’s lady friend, Marilee, came in. She apologized for the interruption but she had some news. She had gotten a letter from a friend in New York. They were moving to Los Angeles and their daughter had accepted Marilee’s invitation to visit with her for a while before joining her family in L.A. The father was a Petroleum Design Engineer who Marilee had commissioned for several projects. She had first met them in France where they were originally from but since then they had moved to London and then to New York. The daughter had become very close to Marilee during her several visits with them. What had started out, as business became a good friendship.

I was rather taken aback by the suggestion that I meet her, but Marilee assured me that I would enjoy it.

“Timmy, I know this comes when you’re starting in rehearsal, but she is charming in a very sophisticated way and a striking presence. Her name is Claire Levant; she is twenty-two, and petite in a very different way. She should be in later this week. I will take a couple of days to show her around Dallas and get acclimated to the Texan south. No pressure, but please plan to come over next weekend. I’ll call you later this week.

“Marilee, of course, but of all the eligible men you know in Dallas, why me? Compared to a sophisticated girl from Europe I’ll be an uneducated innocent. Are you sure I’m the right one to meet her.”

“Well, I told her there was someone special I wanted her to meet. That’s you, Timmy. Sophisticated does not mean pretentious in Claire’s case, she is very down to earth and enjoys the arts more than anything. She studied Art History and just finished her Masters. I had advised them to get out of Europe last year. Her father can work anywhere and I hope for me eventually. He’s the very best in his field. Fifteen years ago, he got his engineering doctorate at A&M, so he’s no stranger to the U.S., but he’s always worked internationally out of Paris. Very few men in the world can go into a difficult field and set up drilling rigs as well as he. He solved some problems for Grant in Java that saved at least a year of set up time for drilling. And don’t have doubts like that about yourself; you are a special man and a fine artist.”

“Thanks, Marilee. How long is she going to be here?”

“Actually as long as she wishes. Nothing is set for her going to L.A. so it really depends on her. She’s very good company and welcome to stay as long as she likes. Daniel met her in New York and feels the same way.” “I feel like the chosen one, and that’s alright, besides I surely need to meet someone new. Next weekend is fine, just let me know.” “Great, Timmy. I’ll call you here or at home.” She hugged me and dashed off. I wondered what petite in a different way meant; being short that was at least a confidence builder. It was good to look forward to weekends alone again. It will be also good to be spending more time with Daniel and Marilee. I hadn’t expected this sort of distraction from working on Blood Wedding.

I went back to Vaktangov and his production of Turandot. He had actors come out in special costumes and change the set. They became a part of the production and he called them ‘Zanies’. There were several different locations in the play and scene change transitions were going to be difficult. Perhaps with Spanish music and Gypsy Zanies?! I’ll see what my designer says later today. Five weeks is long for rehearsals but not for set design and building and especially with all volunteer help. The designer was being paid but certainly not by professional standards. The Dallas Little Theatre was really all there was here and as close to professional as anything in Texas, or even the Southwest. Nowhere in the country would I have the opportunity to direct like here. But then I’ve been at the theatre for ten years. I had started working backstage when I was fourteen and was directing children’s plays at sixteen. North Dallas High School had mostly dominated my life.

It turned out to be a busy afternoon at the bookstore, but I felt good about the preparation and study I had done in the morning. I made a special effort at thanking my boss about letting me do some theatre work there.

Dinner at home was more of a family affair than I expected. My younger brother, Jeordie, had actually sold one of his sculptures at the festival. Lots of questions about Blood Wedding. Both parents and Jeordie volunteered to help, Dad to build and Mom to paint sets. I got to the theatre an hour and a half before the callbacks were to start. I asked my volunteer stage manager, Ginger, who had come in early also, to gather as many scripts of the play as possible. My ideas about trying new things also included a new way for me to cast the show. She seemed very excited about the coming rehearsals and would take notes for me in my conference with the designer. As she left to get the scripts, the scene designer walked into the lobby. I had actually known her for a year because she worked occasionally for my father at his shop as a carpenter. He had doubts about a female carpenter but gave her a chance on a couple of commissions and liked her work. She had mentioned to me that she had studied theatre but never told me in what area. It was brother Daniel’s suggestion to seek her out. We went to my little office in the back of the storage room. It was only a small desk and a couple of chairs, but it was great to have it. Our main problem was the many set needs of the play. I told her about my idea of the Vaktangov ‘Zanies’. We brainstormed about the idea of flying the sets, but I remembered an idea I had this morning that wasn’t quite complete yet. Could she design a pop up set that would be like a children’s book. They could be on roller platforms that could go into the wings as they became no longer a part of the play and a painted backdrop could end the play in the woods. The upper part of the backdrop would be sky and mountains with the forest below. The Zanies could move the platforms around in half-light with Spanish music playing and raise up the settings for the Bridegroom house, Leonardo’s house, the Bride’s house, and the church with bridal dance area. She thought, and I agreed, that the different sets could be not realistic but more suggestive or abstract with bright colors growing darker as the play got darker with red under tones of light for the last scene. I wanted to stage the fight to the death, which was an offstage part of Lorca’s concept.

“How about something like Javanese shadow puppets?”

I wasn’t quite sure how that would work, but it sounded interesting.

“With the actors being the puppets.” She said.“If we could work it out with some sort of projection device even a Fresnel mounted on the floor and having their shadows appear on the scrim?

”She thought we had the time to figure it out and then we talked some about costumes, which I wanted to be simple Spanish peasant, but with a romantic flair. She immediately solved that by showing me some drawing she done. Scarves, shawls, boots, and hats were her answer and they looked terrific. Hopefully we weren’t going way beyond our production possibilities and said so.“Tim, I love this play so much that I’ve been dreaming about it every night. It’s passionate, happy, sad, mysterious, and almost shocking. I’ve moved back in with my parents so that I can work full time on it. Let’s go all the way with it.”

“Good, I feel the same way about it. I’ll talk to Barney again about the budget, and if we need more, I guess we can talk to some of the patrons. I’ve never done that before, but as you said, ‘Let’s go all the way with it!’ She laughed and clapped her hands. We talked a few more minutes about schedules and deadlines. I told her that if possible I would like a definitive floor plan by the end of the week. We agreed to meet in the middle of the week and she left.

Ginger came in and said the scripts were on stage at my table and that the actors were here and ready.

I walked into the theatre from backstage which came off as kind of dramatic but unintended. The actors were sitting in the theatre seats all over the room. I asked them to come up on stage and take chairs that were stacked off right backstage then form a large crescent or semi-circle upstage. Ginger brought out two chairs and a small worktable for us. I got a stool from backstage that I liked to use when giving notes after rehearsals. I set myself up in the center of their crescent and began to describe the process I was going to use for the final casting and beginning rehearsals.

“Since the last time we were together I hope most off you have had the chance to come in and read the play if you hadn’t before the first round of casting.”

This started an unexpected discussion of enthusiasm about the play. All of them had read most of the play, or all of it, either here at the theatre or the two copies at the bookstore that had been set-aside for actors and potential audience to study.

“That’s a good start for any casting, much less the beginning of rehearsals. Obviously, I love the play and see directing it as an extremely challenging process, and that’s why we have six weeks rather than the usual four weeks. Already you can see that things are different. Everything changes now. I’m not going to look at new audition pieces, we’re going to do the play tonight with you moving in and out of the process, and we will walk through it. Now you know why I asked that anyone called back must be willing to spend the whole evening here.”

Ginger handed out scripts for everyone. I took this time to look at the group as a first real study for the evening. They were very different from any group of actors I had called back before. I wanted a European-Spanish look for the cast. I know several blond ingénues and dashing leading men who were very disappointed by the call. I had worked with several of them before but there was a new group of Mexican and Latin American actors who rarely felt there was a part for them here. I had put a special add in both the Morning News and the Times Herald about the auditions and that it was a “new” English translation of a famous Spanish play that needed new actors from the community. Everyone in this group had been very impressive in the first auditions. From the original sixty or seventy I now had twenty-five. All of them were strong looking from older characters, to characters, younger looking actresses, to the leading players for the Bride, the Groom, and Leonardo. I wanted them all in the cast and made an instant decision. They all had their scripts and were looking at me intently, ready to start.

“I want all of you in the play. I wasn’t sure of that until I saw you all together. There are, as you know, three scenes that can have a large group of people onstage. I hope you are interested enough to consider that. There will be leads cast, of course, but I think we need to develop a real ensemble for this show that is a part of the play almost all the time in production. The cast will change the set as we progress through the show. The set will be very different from anything I’ve worked with before. A backstage crew could do it but I think it would be much more exciting if the ensemble does it in costume as if we’re creating a total vision of the community portraying a passionate and tragic folk tale they have actually lived through. Not done as a pageant but a collective dream that haunts them. At times the play will be very loud and even raucous and then soft with a constant musical underplay that will be almost cinematic. The set changing will be like a dance that will hopefully enhance the continuity. The costumes will be from rough peasant garb to a just short of elegant gypsy flamenco performing group. All of the colors will progress through the show, lighting, set, and costumes. Sun bleached and washed out to bright with reds raging through its complete spectrum. Deep blues with heavy grays and browns. There will be special effects I’m adding to the play in the last scene. It won’t be anything too strange or elaborate, just some sort of projection from behind for the fight to the death scene between Armando and the husband. Of course, as you know this isn’t a part of the written script, but I think it will add to the desperate passion of the ending.”

Immediately everyone wanted to ask questions.

“When will you do the final casting?” was the first asked almost simultaneously by about three actors.

“After tonight’s work. How do you all feel about including everyone in the ensemble…first, before you answer; yes, it does expand the play in a different way with a kind of epic quality that will make it more exciting. Remember, this the first American production with no precedents. This will be like a laboratory workshop from the first rehearsal on. Every time I read or study the piece new ideas form in a way that seemingly demand a new style of acting; almost presentational in some scenes, not quite what Brecht describes as epic, but something new for all of us.”

Carolyn Carothers responded to the question about the large ensemble, “Yes, I want to do the play, just being involved sounds like something much more exciting than the usual production. Can you tell us more about your vision, which is terrific so far?”

“No, not really. I think that will happen in rehearsal. I think the passion of the play is the guide. In the past week, my directing plans have changed drastically. There won’t be any blocking rehearsals in the first couple of weeks or maybe not at all. I want to shape the play giving you more freedom to explore the characters working in zones rather than specific marks.”

Carlos Allende, an older Hispanic actor who was new to the theatre and came in with a terrific audition asked, “That doesn’t mean you‘re going to leave us confused about blocking up to the end, does it?”

”No, no, everything will be set well before the last couple of weeks just more exploration in the beginning weeks. You’re playing the characters and I want your imaginations not to be limited.”

“Will ensemble actors without major parts have to attend all of the rehearsals?” Was the next question by a young actor who I had called back because he was also a dancer.

“In the beginning, yes, to get the overall feeling and sound, but the second week will concentrate on major characters and scenes. Is there anyone who wants to not be considered for a major role but as a member of the ensemble?”

Several of the actors starting laughing saying, “Carry on and let’s see what happens.”

One of the really strong young actresses stood up saying, “I want to do this show, no matter how you cast.”

All of a sudden, the rest of them began to stand and agree to join the effort.

I thought that maybe I had sold the production after all with my spur of the moment idea of the large ensemble.

“Well, let’s start. I want to read the play all the way through moving people in and out. I have my ideas about the parts, but who would like to read for what parts?”

The stage manager took the notes, I chose the first group, and we proceeded through the scenes. The older actors grabbed rather quickly onto the parts. The potential leads started experimenting from the beginning. I wanted the wife and the bride to both be beautiful striking presences but different. Both needed to be capable of extreme passion but in distinctive manners. The husband should have a romantic gentleness about him and a self-assured quality that would make him attractive to the bride no matter what her doubts are, the promise of a good life and all that, but her overwhelming desire for Leonardo rules her good intentions. Leonardo needs to be charismatic and dangerous. His betrayal of a good wife is driven by his restless desire to posses the bride, no matter what the cost, which doesn’t appear to frighten or deter him. As the rehearsal progressed, I became excited and stopped frequently to shape a scene and go over it with different actors. The actors appeared to be as excited as I was, sitting on the edge of their chairs wanting to step into the scenes. At times, I was almost frightened by the passion of the play. Even in the innocence of this first broad staging, I felt an emotional surge from almost tears to an anger about what the characters were experiencing in their rage towards tragedy.

I staged the last two scenes several times as a self-inspiring action for new scenic ideas and casting. We had taken two short breaks so the “cast” could get away for a few minutes and I could talk to Ginger. I had never seen a group get back so quickly or such active conversations going on. As I went to my stool, they scurried to their chairs ready to continue. After the fourth time on the final scene, I stopped and asked what time it was, almost midnight. All of us were exhausted all of a sudden; the past five hours had gone by as if it were only an hour or so.

“I will see you all tomorrow here and announce the cast and we’ll discuss more concept and characterization. I am very excited, I hope you are.”

A mature Mexican actor laughed and said, “Por seguro, jefe!” They begin to leave, but all approached me giving handshakes and hugs, some just back-pats and nods. I had never ended a rehearsal with such rampant emotions. Ginger had taken over ten pages of notes about my directing and different stagings. She assured me they would all be typed up several hours before tomorrow’s rehearsal for my perusal.

When I finally got home, I went into the house and had a sandwich glad that no one was up. In my room, I sat in my soft chair after pouring a glass of the Spanish brandy, a gift from Marilee, knowing I couldn’t sleep. After a few a moments, I realized I was shaking and crying.

I woke up the next morning later than I should have and confused about the emotions I experienced last night. I remembered my reactions to my first reading of the play. I was amazed by the theatrical passions in it and wondered if it would be too much for a Dallas audience and thinking about if it would be too much of a challenge for me. At this point it didn’t make any difference if it was a bit much for Dallas because we were in process and it was a part of the season. I had already dived into the challenge and it was changing my entire approach to directing and commitment to a new way of thinking. Perhaps last night was just plain fear and excitement in a mix I had never experienced before.

I was at the bookstore by ten, which was late, but the owner was more interested in how the auditions went. I explained that it became a rehearsal with everyone called back a part of the show.

His reaction was, “Well, Tim, are those Russian books changing your style?”

“Yes, to some extent, but I think it’s more the play, and wonderfully enough, conversations with Marilee. I’m not sure if it’s a catharsis yet, but it’s sure something.

“ He laughed and said, “Maybe Daniel is experiencing something similar because his painting at the festival is certainly a new approach. I liked it very much. I’ve known Marilee for years but I didn’t know she was a muse.”

“Yes, she could be. She sure spurred me towards some new ways of thinking. I was beginning to feel some doubts about the way I had directed in the past and wanted to head in new directions with Blood Wedding. She hasn’t read the play, which I believe was good, so it wasn’t subject specific just kind of a way to get new ideas. It worked, and she has also given me some new books to read. There’s no doubt she’s a special lady. Daniel is one lucky man.” “You know I believe in your work, both at the theatre and here at the store. Tim, don’t downplay the influence of your family. They’re a special group of artists. Hey, I heard that Jeordie sold a piece of sculpture; that completes the circle. Maybe you should consider keeping a journal about your new ideas as the rehearsals progress.”

“I may have already started.” remembering Ginger’s notes last night and the page I wrote before I went to sleep.

A customer came in, which ended our talk and started my workday. It was busy all morning and slow in the afternoon, which gave me the time write at my desk. I started to write out a cast list that I thought became fairly obvious for the leads as the rehearsal had progressed, but the smaller roles were still in doubt. I decided not to rush that casting.

Chapter 2

My stage manager, Ginger, and I met an hour and a half early at the theatre. I first went to see Barney in his office and let him know what was happening so far with the auditions.

He said, “Spain is in the news every day; why not shake up Dallas with something this new. It’s certainly not a political play. We haven’t really lost money on any show this season, so why not take a chance. Tim, you convinced me several months ago that it’s an important new play, and we still will be the first U.S. production for a community theatre. I don’t think a college show counts.

“Good, Barney, I didn’t have any doubts about your support. My ideas about the set and costumes may push the budget some. My designer will give me her shop estimates later this week. And I really do want to use live music during the show. Would it be possible to pay a guitarist a nominal fee for the run?”

“Perhaps, but only a small nominal. Any chance of getting a volunteer player?”

“Possibly, but the person recommended is very special and would have to sacrifice working on the weekends. You know I wouldn’t ask if I didn’t think it was an important element”

“Okay, Tim, but go for low nominal. I don’t want to set any precedents that will upset the volunteer spirit here.”

“Of course, you know I agree with that. Oh! By the way, my whole family has volunteered to help. And I’ll be glad do to any fund raising if needed.

“The program will sound like Sart family promotion. But, that’s good.” At that point his phone rang, so I waved myself out of his office and read Ginger’s notes from last night as she posted the major’s cast list. Her notes were excellent, more than a good record, but a basis or back up for my journal. Ginger wasn’t surprised about my casting, thinking also it was a rather obvious choice. Her notes gave me confidence about my idea of shaping the piece through rehearsal. I knew it wasn’t a truly original idea, but inspired, perhaps, by the reading I had done in the past days, and especially the book Marilee had given me about art logic. In the past shows I directed I changed blocking several times when either actors or I had a better idea on movement and or interpretation. Perhaps starting like this from the beginning will create better collaboration between the cast, and me even though I’m sure it will be frustrating for them at times. I think working in my set up zones will help that if I can continue to have ideas or try things that will lead to good ideas.

The rehearsal went even better than the night before. I started out with a discussion about the characters and the beginnings of interpretation and a bit more on show concept, which I told them, would grow as the rehearsals progressed. Part of the concept was that I wanted to work in complete run-throughs of the play for the first couple of weeks so we could get a solid feeling of continuity; then go to act and scene work. This surprised the actors, but they seemed to be ready for almost anything.

The work through went well and a couple of the minor parts fell into place. I didn’t force the four and a half hour marathon of the night before and we ended in applause for the night.

I didn’t cry or shake when I got home, just a sandwich and a little brandy then falling asleep reading the play again.

The next morning at the bookstore the guitarist I had talked to, Eddie Flournoy, came to see me about the play. He was an American who had studied in Spain with the best gypsy flamenco troupes. He had even done some bullfighting. He left Spain when the civil war started, came back to Dallas, and was teaching at S.M.U. Being a great fan of Lorca’s work he was interested in being a part of the first production here. I liked him from the moment we met.

My concept of a constant underscoring of music excited him from my first description. He had heard of Blood Wedding, but had not scene it in Madrid. He said he would like to do the show, to my delight, and asked if he could be a part of rehearsals to get a feeling for the production and the way I worked. I immediately told him I was trying a new approach in my directing style so things will be different from the usual rehearsal process. His reaction to that was he had never done theatre before so he wouldn’t know the difference. We talked about an hour; luckily, no customers came in. I gave him a tentative rehearsal schedule and two scripts, both English and Spanish. His last words were for us not to even talk about money and he would arrange his schedule so he could be available for rehearsals and the production dates. We shook hands and he was gone. I immediately called Barney at the theatre and told him about there being no nominal fee for the guitarist. That added a pinch more to the budget. I called Ginger about this new layer added to the concept. I told her before that it was a long shot getting live music for the whole show so this was a real coup. She had been worried about finding enough recorded music that fit all of the situations so it was a relief for her also.

I had forgotten that Marilee wanted to know how the auditions went so she also got a call. She and Daniel were having a late breakfast or early lunch.

She laughed at my excitement, “Timmy, that’s great. Now I really want to sneak into your rehearsals…Oh! The friend I mentioned has arrived, so don’t forget about this weekend.”

“No problem there, Marilee. By the end of the week I’ll be so stirred up by Blood Wedding I’ll try not to be a ‘theatre babble’ bore.”

“I don’t think that’s possible, Timmy. I’ll tell Daniel about the guitarist. This weekend or ‘sooner’.”

That night I started the practice of notes before rehearsal in reaction to the night before. Eddie Flournoy joined us and I explained what he would be doing with the show.

He introduced himself individually to the cast, speaking Spanish to some saying that he would watch and listen primarily, but occasionally would play softly if I gave the okay.

The actors were now wearing rehearsal clothes; the women in long skirts, the men in boots and hats. There was a surprising amount of line work for such an early phase, which was a good omen for commitment. I told them not to get too set with line readings, but to keep trying new things all the time unless I put a momentary set on a scene. Putting a play up on its feet this soon was more confusing at first, but I started working with them pointing out zones and stepping back to see the stage picture. I had never been up on stage with the actors all the time before, usually I was out in the house giving directions and critique. There was nothing passive about this and I liked it, no directorial voice out from the darkness.

About three quarters through the first two acts, I did notice that two women were sitting close to the back of the house watching.

This wasn’t out of the ordinary because I didn’t usually have closed rehearsals until the last two weeks. Then I realized it was Marilee and I guessed her visitor she wanted me to meet. I waved signaling that we would be having a break soon.

We finished the second act and Ginger called the break. I walked back to greet Marilee and friend. In the half dark all I could tell about Claire Levant as we shook hands was that she had very pale skin, long almost curly reddish hair, spoke softly in an incredibly beautiful accent, was petite, and beautiful. I could tell nothing about her figure except that she wasn’t thin.

They had been there long enough to hear Eddie play during a scene we ran through for the third time. Marilee loved it. Claire nodded. I went back onstage to talk to Ginger almost ready to start again and work a bit before with Eddie and several actors.

I turned as the actors gathered; I saw our viewers were gone.

This weekend!?

The rehearsals progressed slowly. I had never worked so hard. Each evening late and part of the afternoons I spent studying the play, Ginger’s notes, and writing my journal. The journal turned out to be much more valuable than I thought it would. I seemed to stimulate new ideas about possible blocking, scene transitions, and character interpretations. Some of the actors were more used to learning lines as they were blocked, so this more free way of working was a new challenge for them. It was a collaboration they hadn’t expected, but were finding that they were having more freedom to use their own imaginations, not just the director’s. For the ones who could not quite adapt all the way I gave them directions that were more specific. It was turning into a good balance. I felt as if I were a cast member sometimes, more than the director, because I spent almost all of my time with them on stage shaping and giving individual directions. Sometimes I would walk beside them guiding to new positions. Other times I would direct movement and interpretation speaking softly beside them as they moved saying not to stop but to act as if I was in their heads giving ideas. At moments where the lines needed more truth or character contact I stopped everything and had the actors face off and talk the lines to each other. Though all of this was disorienting at first, it looked and felt like it was working.

On Friday I met with the set and costume designer and approved of the floor plans, the set rendering, and costume sketches. They were better than I had hoped they would be. She had taken my concept and gone even further and better. She promised to spike the stage and finish the elevations over the weekend. I met with Ginger for an hour planning the evening’s work and headed into a rough run through with the cast. Eddy improvised and played through every scene except the marriage celebration. Most were holding scripts, but some were off book on the shorter scenes. It actually was beginning to look like a play, but I knew the hardest work was ahead. My notes and critique were fairly short and I told them we would work on the first half Monday and Tuesday, the second Thursday and Friday, and the choreographer would work on the wedding party Wednesday when we would also try to set the staging for it.

The old Hispanic character hugged me and said, “Gracias, El Audazito.”

It was a Spanish word I didn’t know, but I took it as a compliment. Ginger brought me a note from Marilee. She had called while Ginger had gone to the office. She asked me to come by for drinks if it’s not later than ten thirty or so. They’ll be sitting around the pool. It was ten fifteen.

Chapter 3

I pulled up to their house at ten twenty five. I wished that I had had time to go home, shower, and change clothes; but I was in fairly good shape. I went through the unlocked front door and walked through the house to the back. Daniel, Marilee, and their guest, Claire, were sitting around a table almost in complete darkness. I greeted them and Marilee came to me with a prepared glass of the brandy.

“Ginger said you were almost finished so I knew, or hoped you would be here. I’ll light some candles.”

Daniel and I shook hands hugged and I turned to Claire Levant. Marilee had lighted about ten candles very quickly. As each one added one more light, Claire became more visible. She stood to greet me and I was speechless, and stammered a kind of “Hi…!”

She gave me a sideways European handshake and said, “Hallo, Ti-mo-thy.” She made my name three complete syllables in the most beautiful accent. All I could do was smile in a silly grin. I had never seen anyone like her. In the candlelight she seemed to glow. Her hair was a true auburn, long and curly. Her skin was also auburn or perhaps amber shaded and so light that I thought a touch would bruise her. Her face reminded me of my Dad’s favorite movie star, Louise Brooks, but more pixie like. Her smile was very shy. She was tiny except full figured, almost hidden by her flowing light dress. She was a true apparition like a cherubic fairy. We spent the evening discussing Blood Wedding and Claire’s trip to Dallas by train. Marilee brought out some great snacks, which I attacked with an embarrassing hunger. Claire laughed at my trying to eat and talk at the same time. Her laugh was almost as uninhibited as Marilee’s was. She seemed interested in my new approach to my directing style, and I told her of Marilee’s contribution to my new way of thinking.

Both of them had studied art history reading some of the same books. She knew the Art Logic book well and said it was an important influence on her writings at school. Claire loved Daniel’s paintings and wanted to see the new one at the museum. I quickly volunteered to take her. As midnight approached, I began to fade but wanted to talk with her all night. Daniel and Marilee watched us with an amused attitude of pulling back to listen to our talking and laughing. I gave in at twelve thirty saying I must leave. My boss at the bookstore had given me three weekends off, then for the last three weeks free during rehearsal.

I asked Claire if she would like to go to the museum Sunday. She literally clapped her hand saying she would. Marilee asked if we could make it a foursome. Claire shyly said that would be wonderful. Daniel even agreed quickly saying he would like to get out of the studio for a couple days. Marilee said to be here around noon for a light lunch. The evening would be free for a cook out, swimming and guests.

Before I left I asked Claire what “audazito” meant.

“It means little brave one. “ She said. “Why?”

“One of my cast members called me that” “Oh, my word!” and laughed softly.

That night I dreamed of her face and laughter. An innocent night of filmy visions. Somehow Claire became a part of my dreams of Blood Wedding, not as a character; just there, perhaps watching me. I woke up softly and slowly tried to reach back into my dreams for something to hang on to, but I couldn’t. I had never had a morning experience like that. I ate quickly in the house, but had time to tell my parents about the week so far of rehearsals and the evening at Daniel and Marilee’s. They were surprised about my different sort of enthusiasm in the play. They both said they had never seen me this excited and committed. I said that I was also scared hoping it wasn’t more of a challenge than I had bargained for.

They both laughed, and Dad said, “Well, now you’re into it. Every project that’s worthwhile is frightening. I almost didn’t send my new chair to the contest in New York last month. Don’t stop having doubts about your play. Maybe your talent for directing has made all of your other productions too easy.”

Thinking back, I didn’t think any of them were easy, but they were nothing like this production. I had done all of them like the directing texts said to, and now I was stepping into a whole new realm of process with no real complete precedents, just tid-bits of ideas and examples, almost all in the abstract. Mom hugged me and went into her studio room. Dad headed off to his Deep Ellum shop.

Two more days of rehearsal before the week end.

My curiosity about Claire was an exciting portent.

My thoughts turned to one of the real challenges of the production.

All of the actors knew I wanted them to sing or chant several parts of the play where the writing was in expansive poetry, lullabies, and descriptive lyrical passages. One of the hardest I thought would be the awakening of the bride. It includes individual actors and small choruses, some of them off stage. Most of the actors said it wouldn’t be a problem and Eddy said he could help with it. He is proving to be a very valuable collaborator. He has no desire to interpret the text, just be a part of the musically artistic process. I told him not to hesitate if he had ideas about interpretation. He watches and listens carefully, and especially to my notes. He says he trusts my concept and knows it will develop and change as rehearsal progresses.

The next two days went very well. More members of the cast were off book for the first act and some into the second though we were just beginning with the shaping of it.

Friday’s rehearsal went on to almost midnight, and all left very excited about the weekend off and what we had achieved in a week of new approaches to the rehearsal process.

I slept late on Saturday morning. After coffee and a quick breakfast with the family, I spent a full hour on my journal, and at the same time began to write out Monday’s opening notes and critique. I worked all afternoon and early evening.

Sunday morning I woke up rested and tried to dress as sharp as I could without over doing it. It had never seemed that important before, but there was no doubt why. I had no visions of anything special happening with Claire, but I had never met anyone like her. Her sophistication and worldliness was intimidating, but that didn‘t seem to come from her, just me.

Chapter 4

I drove up to their door and went in for the light lunch Marilee had prepared. Daniel, already sitting at the table, waved gesturing for me to join him.

Marilee came in with a pitcher of ice tea saying, “Welcome, Timmy, have a seat, Claire’s on her way down.”

“I am here”, Claire said as she entered the dining room. She took both of my hands and again said, “Hallo, Ti-mo-thee!”

I laughed, charmed by her greeting, and said, “Hi, Miss Claire.” She was so beautiful in the daylight I was shocked. I realized I was staring at her unable to say anything more. She smiled and turned to sit.

The sandwiches were excellent, a selection of Salmon and Lamb, plus a sweet Greek salad.

After we finished eating Marilee pulled the new Packard around front and put the top down. Claire and I jumped into the back seat, Daniel got behind the wheel as Marilee moved over beside him, and we were off.

On the way, Daniel drove up Swiss Avenue to show Claire the beautiful houses. Marilee told Claire this was just one of the parts of Dallas with magnificent homes, Lakewood was just as nice as was Kessler Park in Oak Cliff across the river.

“I pictured Dallas having just one enclave of big homes, like where you live, Marilee. This is certainly more than I expected. I hope I have enough time to see everything. Perhaps I was too much influenced by visions of the wild west.”

Daniel laughed saying, “The wild west really begins at the next town to the west, Fort Worth.”

Daniel circled around back to Haskell Avenue and on to Fair Park.

I told Claire a little the history of the fair grounds. I described the big Centennial Exposition two years ago and how Mother and Daniel had helped paint the murals, Dad designed the furniture for the Art Museum and the Hall of state, and about the show I did in a tent behind the Hall Of State. Daniel drove around Fair Park to show Claire what it looked like. She liked the Hall of State best, especially the Indian statue. She asked if there were any Indians around Dallas.

“I don’t know of any, but Marilee says there are a lot in Oklahoma.” “My company has offices in Tulsa and Bartlesville, both are close to reservations. It would be fun to drive up there some time, or even take the train. There are parts of Oklahoma that are beautiful, and the Ozarks of Arkansas are close.”

Claire quickly asked, “What are Ozarks?”

Marilee laughed saying, “That is a kind of funny word. They’re mountains, not quite like the Alps or even the Rockies, but they are beautiful.” Claire loved the murals on the Centennial Building. We pulled around to the lagoon in front of the Fine Arts Museum. We passed through the ornate doors through the foyer and into the large room. I’ve always loved the heavy wooden beams and high ceiling. Around a center area was the furniture that Dad designed and Daniel’s painting of the “Flood Zone” from the Arts Fair purchase and Mother’s painting that won the Texas Annual last year was right beside it.

“It seems as if they’re honoring the Sart family.,” said Marilee.

“Well, Dad’s furniture is always here, but I didn’t expect to be up front like this and have Mom’s right beside it.” Said Daniel. “This is great. Eh? Tim?

“Yeah, I love it. I like the ‘Flood’...even better than before.”

Claire seemed somewhat taken aback back by Daniel’s piece, “Oh! My. This is something special. It is wonderful, Daniel. I don’t think I’ve seen anything like it.”

Marilee appeared thrilled by her reaction, “Now you understand why I’m trying to get him to exhibit in New York.”

“I certainly do, Marilee. Do you want to Daniel?”

“Well, of course, but I don’t believe I have enough paintings ready yet.” “The way you’re going, you will soon, Dear heart.”

“Perhaps, I hope so.”

“We’re going up there later this year, to talk to galleries.”

“I’m trying very hard to talk Marilee into giving up the oil business and becoming my agent.”

“No problem about that, Daniel, I just believe in you so much.” “Igualmente, sweetheart.”

They kissed and hugged each other in front of his painting. Claire and I both laughed and smiled at their obvious love for each other, and looked around to see the other museum visitors watching. They were smiling, too. A couple came over and talked to Daniel saying how much they admired his work.

Claire turned to look at Mom’s painting saying it was lovely, “You must be very proud of your family, Ti-mo-thee.”

“Yes, very much so. It makes what I do seem rather trivial.”

“Oh! No Ti-mo-thee, theatre is one of the grandest arts because it is so ephemeral. I know it must feel like there is nothing lasting about it, but I remember many plays that have moved me deeply and I can always bring back the emotions I felt. Marilee tells me you are a fine theatre artist, so you have no reason to think it is not as important.”

The director of the museum, Jerry, joined us, having heard we were there. He hugged Marilee and shook hands with Daniel saying how much he liked Flood Zone. Marilee was on the museum board, so her presence was always special. Her family had been major contributors for years. He turned to me shaking hands and mentioned how eager he was to see Blood Wedding. I had no idea the word about the play had gotten around that much, but he couldn’t have said anything nicer, especially after the conversation Claire I just had. I introduced him to Claire. He actually spoke French with her. Jerry was a well know Texas painter, as well a museum director, and had studied in Paris in the early thirties. He had been like a close family friend as long as I could remember.

Claire and I walked around the other exhibition rooms. Even though I had grown up in the museum, there was always something from the permanent collection I hadn’t seen in a while and new acquisitions. Claire loved the extensive collection of Texas Regional Art. She had studied Art History, but had never seen a real collection of Southwestern art. After a good two hours, we met Marilee and Daniel at the museum store. Claire bought several books about Texas artists. Marilee gifted her with a special hard cover book about the museum’s history and the collection. We drove back on a short tour of downtown. Marilee had already taken Claire on a short trip to Neiman’s, but they hadn’t driven around. Marilee suggested I take Claire to the Palace for a film and to hear the organist while she’s here. I just looked at her and nodded.

She smiled and said, “Can we see a Cowboy movie, Ti-mo-thee?” I wondered what Marilee was up to, what ever it was I liked it. She must know something I don’t know...yet.

Daniel decided to include a drive around White Rock Lake in our afternoon tour for Claire. She seemed fascinated with everything she saw, which I thought funny since she had lived almost all of her life in Europe. I asked her how Dallas could compare to all she had seen.

She answered, “It doesn’t compare in any way, or I don’t compare it. It’s all so new to me and so different. Europe is an old world; this Texas is like being on a different planet, a very sweet one. I like it, it’s so spread out; on my train trip here there was what seemed like unlimited space for hours. In France or England there is nothing like the openness I’ve seen traveling across America.”

Marilee Joined in with, “Just wait until your go across the west to California. It takes almost a whole day just get to out of Texas with two more big states before California. I think Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio have more people than all of New Mexico and Arizona.”

“Oh my, the movies and books didn’t really prepare me as much as I thought they would. I like it very much. Ti-mo-thee, have you traveled much in America?”

“No, just in Texas. I’ve been to the woods in East Texas and out west with my mother when she studied with Peter Hurd. We took a family trip to San Antonio several years ago. We did go down to Galveston for a week on the beach, which was great. Traveling by car in Texas is a serious business. I don’t mean old wagon train stuff, but lots of hours in a car. Of course, I want to see Europe, especially London and Paris. And being ‘in’ theatre means I’ve got make it to New York someday soon.”

“Timmy, my offer will always stand about my apartment in New York.” “He is going, even if I have to drag him there, right brother?”

Claire was surprised at what Daniel had said, “To drag you there?” Marilee laughed out loud throwing her back and turning to us, “Explain that, Timmy.” I acted out in a melodramatic way,” He just means that one day he will come to me an say, ’we’re going to New York, Tim!” and I will say that I can’t because I have to..., and he will say, ‘no excuses this time,’ and we will go to New York.” I mimed being pulled by the arm.

Claire thought that one the funniest things she had ever heard. I thought she was going to start bouncing she laughed so hard.

Daniel turned off of Gaston Road on to Lakewood Drive to show Claire one of the most beautiful parts of Dallas. Then to Lawther Drive around White Rock Lake. I pointed out the Bath House and swimming area as the closest thing to a beach in Dallas. She thought the lake was wonderful and I hoped we would be back to it alone. We drove back on Mockingbird Lane by S.M.U though University Park to the secluded villa on the creek.

We got there about four thirty and Marilee asked me to stay. The Ayers were not due to be there until around seven thirty so why didn’t I stay and have a swim. I thought this a fine idea and perhaps I could do some work. Claire said she was going to take a short nap and join me later. Daniel also opted for a nap. I had never been able to take naps, but Daniel could doze off anywhere. He said it was a ‘gift.’ Marilee attacked the kitchen to set up for the coming evening so she would be free later for a swim while Daniel got the grill going before the guests arrived.

I went out to my car and got my satchel filled with play notes, journal, and two books; one Stanislavski, the other Marilee’s Art Logic. Blood Wedding had gotten me into the habit of taking my satchel everywhere. I grabbed at every opportunity to prepare. I now kept my bathing trunks at the cabana. The water was cool but not cold and very refreshing. I swam back and forth in the pool then just floated and thought about the day and evening before. I had never so quickly had feelings about a woman, I didn’t know what the feelings really were, but I sensed, I hoped, they were mutual. Perhaps Claire was this way with every man she had just met and kind of liked. Well, who knows, but whatever it was, it was nice. I knew she wouldn’t be here very long and I only had the weekends, so some possibly very pleasant hours spent with a beautiful, smart, funny, and sophisticated lady is just what I needed; a good respite from the pressures of the play and my job at the bookstore. I got out of the pool and did my silly habit a shaking like a dog to dry off. I took a quick shower in the pool house dressed and laid out on one the lounge chairs. I started reading but I actually dozed off only to be awakened and hour and a half later by Claire standing beside me.

“Hi, there, special lady.”

“Hallo, Ti-mo-thee.”

“How long have you been out here?”

“For just a few moments, I was watching you sleep. You were so peaceful. Do you feel rested?”

“I didn’t even know I was tired. I never take naps in the afternoon. It has been a good day. And how about you?”

“I feel fine, my little sleep was the right thing to do, and yes the day was special. Did you get any work done? I picked up your book, it had fallen beside you.”

“No, not really, maybe half a chapter.” She pulled a chair over beside me. Her dress was filmy and loose flowing showing more of her figure. There was a softness about her that I had not seen before. Her waist was small and her ankles and calves were pretty and shapely. Yet she was full figured in a hidden manner, almost as a protection, as if that part of her would remain a mystery.

“I must be careful in the sun because my skin is so pale.” Pale was not quite the right word, I think luminescent is a better description. There must be few women in the world like her, I had seen pictures of girls in Ireland but with hair that was red rather that Claire’s beautiful auburn.

“I know of Stanislavski, but I have not read him. He founded the Moscow Arts Theatre, true?”

“Yes, and his writings are a constant source for me. This is his last book and it’s different from the first two, more a primer of experiences.”

“Oh. You’re so serious about the theatre, I mean in your preparation. Painters don’t usually read about art when they’re out of the studio. Is it the literature that is a part of it, I know that sounds like an innocent question, but I’ve never really known a theatre artist before, I mean not to talk with about their work, especially a director.”

“I thought I was serious before, but this play and the whole production are more difficult than all of my previous shows. They’ve all been important, to me at least, and they did fairly well at the box office, but this is something completely new. It’s not quite a world premiere, but one of the first in English. My friend, Dick Ayers, who’s coming tonight, is one who told me about the play. He saw it in Spain, loved it, and thought of me. He sent me a copy in Spanish, which I struggled through. My boss at my job got the new translation for me, strangely enough from South America.”

“Did you like it from the first time you read it in English; was it different from your Spanish reading?”

“I liked it in Spanish, but I certainly couldn’t have translated it and didn’t have the rights, or permission to do it anyway. It was a lucky break the translation became available. It’s still a problem with the war going on there. I think my boss had as much fun finding the play as I did when I started trying to convince the manager of the theatre to let me do it. The passion of it scared him at first, but the poetry won him over.”

“Yes, Lorca is a wonderful and passionate writer. I only really know his poetry well, but I did see a dramatic reading of a drama in Paris, in French, of course. I wish I could see your play. Experiencing a writer in three languages I like will be fun.”

“Will you be here that long? You said, ‘will be fun’.” “Did I? When will you start performances?”

“In four weeks.”

“Oh. My. I don’t think I will be here that much time. My parents will be expecting me in Los Angeles.”

`“That’s disappointing; I would have really liked your being able to see it. Hmm...Would you want to come to rehearsals? It would be a rough vision of the play; as a matter of fact, I would be glad to have you watch it happen.”

“Yes, I would like that. Perhaps I could stay a bit longer, two weeks or so more. Do you think Marilee will mind? I don’t want to impose on her. I don’t want to do anything that would harm our friendship.”

“I guaran-tee she wouldn’t mind. I think she’s thrilled you’re here. I’ve invited her many times to my rehearsals, and she’s come. She says, as if she’s quoting, ‘the process is as exciting as the product’.”

“That’s funny, I’ll tell her that.”

“Good, then any time. Claire, tell me more about you. Marilee has told me only that you’re from France but have lived in England for the last year or so and have studied in both countries, art history, right?”

“Yes, Art History, not to teach, but to work in a museum. Well, I think you know my father is a petroleum engineer, and has worked for Marilee’s company in Java. He thought we needed to leave France for all kinds of reasons, and he had good opportunities in Great Britain. This last year she talked him into moving us to America. I had finished my studies at the University of London and even had a chance to work at the Victoria and Albert, but my father insisted that I come here with the family. I also have a younger brother, Jean Paul, who is fourteen. He’s quite a character who’s decided he wants to be in Hollywood movies.”

“My younger brother, Jeordie, is also fourteen and a character of the first order. I think he’s also cursed with this artistic thing. He sold a piece of sculpture at the Arts Fair last week.”

“Ti-mo-thee, I’m sure it’s a blessing, not a curse.”

“I hope you’re right. What else did you study?”

“French literature was, of course, required and I also majored in languages. That is what you say here isn’t it? To major in a subject.” “Yes.”

“Spanish because we quite often vacationed in Spain, and English. I didn’t know that I would eventually live in England and now America, so it was an especially good decision. English because I wanted to read novels and plays in English, I love the literature especially Shakespeare, Kipling, and the romantics. I’ve been reading modern novels lately. I like Somerset Maugham most of all.”

“That’s great, he’s my favorite. I’m just finishing Cakes and Ale. I wish his short stories and novellas would go on forever. Have you read Rain?”

She replied by laughing and clapping then said, “I read it twice. Did you see the film with Joan Crawford?”

“About three times. I thought it was terrific. Since you know Spain, have you read Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises?”

“I read it first in French, but liked it so much better in English. I thought Lady Brett was an even sadder character than Sadie Thompson Oh! My family and I went to the Festival de San Firmin in Pamplona, though it was long before I read the novel, and I was too young to really appreciate it. My brother and I watched the nighttime festivities from our hotel window while our parents enjoyed the evening parties. The daytime was fun. My father wanted to run with the bulls, but my mother put a stop to that. Jean Paul and I did get to wear white shirts, red neckerchiefs, and berets. I still have that beret.

“It sounds like it was a great adventure. How long were you there?” “Four days I think. There was so much celebration going on at night that I do remember we almost never got to sleep until morning when things settled down.”

“A beret, I always have wanted to wear one, but in Dallas it would just be strange.”

“Oh, Ti-mo-thee, you would look great in a beret.”

“Thanks, but I think I’ll wait until I have more of an arts status.” “Well, perhaps you need a beret just in case that status happens all of a sudden.”

“Maybe I could go the beret store...finding a beret in Dallas would be as big of a challenge as directing Blood Wedding. That’s funny we have so many reading habits in common, well, not funny but a pleasant surprise. I wonder if...”

“For some reason, I don’t know what, I’m not surprised. I don’t think we will have any trouble finding something to talk about.” “Neither do I.”

“What do you wonder”

“If there’s more...”

“Me too.”

“My friends will be arriving shortly, would you like to walk down to the creek before they get here?”

“Yes, that would be nice.”

As I stood up, she took my hand and turned to walk with me. It was a sweet surprise.”

“Ti-mo-thee, please don’t think I’m being forward. It just seemed natural to hold your hand.”

“No, Claire, I probably would have reached for your hand if you hadn’t of taken the lead. Yes, it does seem natural.”

“I’ve not met many people with whom I immediately felt a special kinship; especially not young men. Most men look at me and make a face that looks like they’re thinking, ‘what a strange girl.’”

“They all sound like ‘strange’ men to me. You’re certainly not strange in any way.”

“No, you didn’t look at me like that. And thank you. At first, today, I thought you were very shy, and then when we started talking, well, I didn’t think that any more. When I met you that first night at the theatre, you looked very romantic. The handsome young director walking down from the stage in the dark. I think I remember a word from Jane Austin’s, or someone’s books, I was ‘smitten’ by you. Is that a good word?”

“Yes, it could be the best word I’ve ever heard. I’ve never used it, myself before, but it is certainly appropriate here. Yes, ‘smitten’ is the right word for my reaction to seeing you that first evening here , and today. Thank you, for putting words in my mouth.”

“You are welcome, Ti-mo-thee. I was a little embarrassed to say it fearing you would think me silly and laugh at me, and look at me strange. I’m glad I was brave enough to say it.”

“So am I, Claire. I was having trouble trying to describe my feelings about you, but yes, I’m ‘smitten’ by you.”

We both laughed and walked out on the little dock on Turtle Creek. Marilee and Daniel had a canoe and a small rowboat tied up.

I suggested we try the rowboat. Claire liked the idea not showing any fear of the prospect. I rowed us down stream about twenty-five yards. This is one of the most beautiful places in Dallas. As a little boy I would wander the shores of the creek hunting frogs with a group of friends, but I had seen this area only once before from a boat. The houses backed up on the creek like nowhere else. Willows and old Oaks hung out over the water even though it’s fairly wide here. All of the houses are secluded and separated by trees and stonewalls. Several are classic old south looking, but most are very European. Marilee’s is almost hidden by trees, but looks like a romantic vision of Italy.

“This is a lovely place, Ti-mo-thee. It doesn’t look like what I thought Texas would be. It’s almost like a secret place.”

“To most of Dallas it is a secret.”

We didn’t talk anymore but looked at each other smiling. I stopped and relaxed for a few seconds then in an unconscious impulse leaned forward and kissed her. She gently kissed me back and I pulled back. She made a little sound taking a big breath.”

“Ti-mo-thee, what is...?”

She didn’t finish but just slightly leaned towards me and I kissed her again, longer this time as she responded more. Just then we heard Marilee calling us from the dock. We realized she had seen us kissing. As we arrived at the dock, Marilee was standing with her hands on her hips and said, “Well, that was quite a sight. I think you must thank me immediately for introducing you two.”

Claire climbed up on the dock, hugged Marilee, and said, “Yes, thank you, dear Marilee. We are ‘smitten’.”

Marilee laughed very big and put her arm around me, kissing my cheek. I smiled, not quite embarrassed, more shyly happy.

“The guests have arrived “smitten’ ones.” We walked up to the patio with Marilee’s arms around both of us.

“I told you she was a special lady, didn’t I Timmy. I really had a feeling you two would like each other. But I thought it would take a couple days to happen, though.”

“Some things are just a mystery, Marilee. Am I right, Claire?”

“Yes, Mr. Ti-mo-thee Sart, I’m happy it’s not a scary mystery, well, it isn’t yet.” We all laughed at that.

Everyone was gathered close to the pool. Daniel was preparing the barbeque grill, and Dick and Camila were watching him trying to get it lighted. They turned as we walked onto the patio. Dick hugged me and Camila kissed my cheek. I introduced them to Claire. Camila and Claire immediately started speaking Spanish to each other. Dick joined them and tried his French, which turned out to be very fluent. Dick turned to me and said forgive their delving into their European selves. Marilee, it was good to hear something beside English.

“The Spanish will get Timmy in the right frame of mind for his Lorca experience. Dick, Camila, let me show you Daniels studio.”

Dick said, “After seeing ‘Flood Zone’ I definitely want to see more. Do you mind, Dan?”

“No, not at all, it’s a mess, but my recent work is scattered around the room. I’d like to know what you think of it.”

As Marilee took them to the studio, Daniel offered us drinks.

“Tim, There’s a pitcher of Martinis and beer iced down. Claire, what would you like?”

“I love Martinis, or more like Martini. I don’t think I’ve ever had more than one.”

Well, you’re among friends. It will be our secret if you have two. Tim, I know you want some Spanish brandy, but that’s later.”

“Yes, that may have been a mistake to introduce me to that, but a Martini sounds great. Do you need something, Dan?”

“No, actually, I’m having Bourbon. Which you can have if you please.” “No, thank you.”

I poured drinks for Claire and me. Claire had her’s over ice.

“What are we having from the grill tonight, brother?” “I’m trying something new tonight, Lamb ribs. Marilee found them at Simon David’s, also some chicken and some very good Italian sausage.” “Lamb is my favorite, but I’ve never had the ribs.” said Claire.

“They’re a bit greasy, but they should be great. Tim, did you get any work done this afternoon, during nap time?”

“Well, brother, a surprise, I fell asleep.” “That is a rarity. Claire, he’s never been able to take naps, even when we were kids. This play is changing you, maybe for the better.” “It’s certainly changing me, I hope for the better. Perhaps it’s just tiring me more. Too much thinking, I even dream about it.”

“You need the weekends then. I needed to get out of the studio, too. I started a new big canvas this week and I think I dreamed about it, not sure though, perhaps it was Marilee dancing in my head.”

“Ah! Sweet dreams.”

“Indeed, awake and in my dreams.” Claire laughed at our brother talk and said, “It sounds like love to me. I woke Ti-mo-thee up when I came down and I’m glad I did, we went for a boat ride.”

“Is that why Marilee was calling out for you? I thought you might have been hiding.”

“Claire didn’t really wake me up, she was just there, and I awoke. I almost wish we had been hiding, but the boat ride was great.”

“Its so beautiful here, Daniel. Seeing the house from the water gives a different view of how secluded it is, and this is in the middle of the city. Isn’t it?”

“Well almost. Sometimes I feel like my studio is out in a secret place in the country.”

“My word! These Martinis are great. Did Marilee find a new recipe?”

“I think she did, but it’s her secret.”

“Yes, I like it more than any I’ve had before.”, chimed in Claire.

Dick, Camila, and Marilee returned from the studio.

Dick said, “Daniel, your new work is terrific. It looks like its time for an exhibition.”

“Can we buy one? I like them all.” Asked Camila.

“You’re right about the exhibition. We’re going to New York soon to find him a gallery.” Responded Marilee.

“Even better still, why don’t you choose one and consider it a wedding gift.” Said Daniel.

“Thank you, Dan. That’s more special than you can imagine. Camila, it’s your choice.”

“Oh, Daniel, we certainly didn’t expect that. How wonderful, I already know which one I want. The scene of the snow and farm, is that in the western part of Texas?”

“Great choice, he did it earlier this year in near west Texas. He went off by himself and came back with several great pieces. I wanted to go, but a ridiculous business thing kept me here. I sometimes can sit for hours and watch him work, I think it distracts him but he won’t say.”

“No, sweetheart, you are in no way a distraction but an inspiration. To change the subject away from ‘my art’, Dick, how are you doing? Is the cane a permanent thing?”

“I don’t believe so, thanks to Camila’s father. If it had been an actual battlefield injury, I could have lost the leg, but being just outside of Madrid made the difference. They got me to the hospital quickly and her father is a masterful surgeon. The muscles were torn up and I lost a little bit of bone, but my new doctor here says it looks like every things going to grow back together and perhaps in a year, no cane. Not even much pain anymore, just a couple of aspirin occasionally. And, of course, you know I had the best nurse in the world.”

“And I had the best patient.” laughed Camila.

I asked, “How is it going now over there, have you heard from you parents, Camila?”

“I think it’s very bad. My father won’t say much except that’s worse in the hospital. I want them to leave Spain, but I don’t know if they will. I hope my mother will be the determining factor. Daniel says a surgeon of his skills will have no trouble working here. My father is republican and a patriot, so...well.”

“Dick, if it’s not too difficult, can tell us what happened, I mean how were you wounded?

“Well, I wasn’t really involved in the actual fighting, just curiosity about what was going.

I thought this would be good time to ask Dick about his experiences that had led up to his being shot. Dick knew it was coming, but he was hesitant to speak.

“Are you sure this is the right time, Tim?

“The night is still young, and being an incurable romantic, I want to hear about you and Camila,” insisted Marilee.

“Well I never was a member of any military group but remained a graduate student at the National University in Madrid. Of course, my sympathies were with the Republican side, being a rather progressive-minded American, family tradition, and all that. The whole thing started not long after I arrived in ’36. The educational situation remained rather isolated in the beginning but there were factions building up at the school that caused only a certain amount of confusion at first and then became full-scale demonstrations and rallies. The majority of the students seemed to side with the Republicans, and Madrid was the Democratic government’s capital while the Royalist-Franco faction seemed to be headquarted in Granada. Classes went on, although in a rather chaotic fashion at times. Some teachers left to follow their own regional loyalties and the various military factions.”

“What was it like in the city, were people scared? Were there shortages?” Marilee asked.

Camila chimed in her charmingly accented English, “I think the first changes were noticed in the hospital where I worked. Trucks started arriving in with the wounded, and I saw things beyond my worst bad dreams. I was unprepared for what war could do to people and the hours spent there were never less than twelve or thirteen a day. Sometimes we couldn’t even leave. All of a sudden, we had half the doctors to do ten times the work because some were called to the front and others joined the Franco factions. In the beginning, though, everyone I knew thought it would be over quickly and the Republican National Army would put a stop to it, but the German and Italian intervention changed that.”

“How about the Russians?” asked Daniel.

“Well, we don’t know yet,” said Dick. “Before they got involved, people had hoped the USA would help, but because of the Russians I don’t think there’s any chance.”

“Why?” Marilee asked Gwen. “I thought Spain was a Democracy, elected leaders and all that.”

“It is, but of a different sort, and with a strong Socialist Party with ties to the Communist parties in France and, I guess, elsewhere.” answered Dick.

“Yes, international politics are a real mess; I’m very happy Mrs. Sart here decided for me that is to not even consider volunteering. I would probably be in a mud hole with a bunch of Lincoln Brigade crazies eating old mutton, and not here celebrating.

Dick and I had been fast friends since meeting one summer at Camp Tejano when we were about ten. The East Texas camp was a rare extravagance, but that summer they had offered a Spanish language workshop, which my parents thought was a good idea for me. And it was great; I loved the Spanish studies, swam in a lake, rode horses, and met Dick. Going to different high schools didn’t separate us. I would go watch him play football at Woodrow Wilson, and he would come to see my feeble attempts at acting at North Dallas. Though it was quite a bit grander than ours, I was just as welcome at his house in Lakewood. With its big houses, and even some swimming pools — Lakewood was a sort of Dallas version of Highland Park. The Park Cities, Highland and University, where Southern Methodist University was, were incorporated cities in the middle of Dallas. Dick looked at me, smiled and nodded in a good-to-be-here fashion and continued his story.

“Madrid was actually very exciting during the first year, even more international. The clubs and tapas bars were filled with writers and volunteers from all over the world. It was a kind of desperate celebration because most were on their way to the various fronts. The Russians were a dour lot who spoke none of our languages. English and French were the linguas francas, but you heard everything. I met some great New Zealanders who, for some reason, felt a kinship with a real Texan. There were also a lot of women who weren’t exactly camp followers but seemed to chase the excitement wherever it was in the world. As a student, I wasn’t really a part of the war. I hoped it would all be over soon and I could finish my studies, come back to the University at Austin, and go to law school. But if you were there, you couldn’t help getting involved. There were constant parades of troops passing through Madrid on their way to the front. The Lincoln and George Washington Brigades were the most interesting to watch. They were less military in their marching and waved flags from almost everywhere. They yelled and sang with their fists in the air as if on to victory, but as I know now, it was off to the slaughter. They were a sort of semi-disciplined Foreign Legion with men from all corners of the earth – Americans both white and black, Arabs, French, Greeks, Orientals, and Latin Americans. Yes, there was a romantic quality to it, but it was also sad, because after this if there was no victory, there was no home.”

“Were you scared of the outcome and thinking it was time to get out?” Daniel asked.

“No, well obviously later, but no, not at first. The cause seemed so right, and it was a vivid experience to have all of this happening around you. As things progressed, we could hear the battles in the distance and eventually I wanted to see it. I had been awarded my diploma in a rush as the University became more chaotic. There were ramparts not far outside of Madrid manned by students and townspeople, along with a city militia. I went with a group of mixed nationality students. As we got closer, the noise increased…and there it was. The wide road into Madrid was blocked at the southern end of a small village that had been an exclusive retreat outside of the capital. Cars were turned over, and buses were situated sideways to form the fighting positions. The Republican cannons were to the East and West away from the village. As we arrived, their barrage ceased, but not the other side’s. Their shells were dropping on the gun positions and not the town. There was a lot of screaming and barking of orders. Hundreds of people were running around, frantic, and the wounded were being carried to the rear ranks. There didn’t appear to be much of an organized military group, just lots of people carrying rifles. Someone up at the barricade started yelling for us to get down because an enemy barrage was coming. And it did. Shells began to come down in back of us and we had no choice but to run towards the people up front. It went from curious excitement to overwhelming horror. I think I had visions of watching the war from afar, like those stories of people taking picnic baskets and riding out from Washington and watching Gettysburg. That changed real quickly as the sun went down and there was no real darkness because of the explosions. It lasted all night, and there was an attack in the morning. I had spent hours under an overturned truck but crawled out when everybody came out of hiding running to the barricades. Two of my companions pulled me along with them, and the attack was on. I didn’t have any sort of weapon so all I could do was watch it happening in front and in back of me. That went on almost all day until a man ran up to me with two rifles and gave me one. I had no desire to shoot anyone, but an attack was on, so I climbed up the barricade and fired into the advancing troops. I don’t know if I killed anyone, and I don’t want to know. Our artillery started up again and the advance was stopped. I was there for one week. By then I decided that I had better go back to Madrid and not get further involved. I gave my rifle to the member of an arriving militia. But before I could get out, another bombardment started, and I was hit in the leg by a piece of shrapnel. Tim, do you remember when I broke a couple of ribs during the last game of my junior season?”

“Yes, I spent about fours a day at your house listening to you moan.”

“Yes, well, I thought I knew what pain was…I didn’t. Shocking and immobilizing pain…and blood. Luckily, there was an ambulance unit close by and heading into Madrid. There was almost not enough room for me, but the English driver heard me screaming in English and piled me into the front seat where an Irish attendant put a tourniquet on my leg and gave me some morphine pills. I woke a day and a half later in the hospital where Camila worked. My leg had been operated on. I had a strange hallucination that was a half dream when I first awoke. Some kind of large animal, like an elephant or hippo was standing on my leg, so I awakened screaming. That was my first sight of Camila, her trying to hold me down. I didn’t fight her because I was sure she was an angel catching me in midair falling into heaven, that is! I eventually calmed down, realizing I was still alive and that my leg was still there. And Camila spoke to me in English, though she said I had been babbling in Spanglish, so she knew I spoke Spanish. I had lost a lot of blood and the pain was raging, so the first week, needless to say, was the worst I had ever experienced except for”

Dick put his arm around Camila and kissed her cheek. She shyly returned the kiss as tears poured down her face.

“And then?” I asked.

“Then well. There was no then for awhile. Just being in the hospital talking for hours with Camila and falling very much in love.”

“I neglected almost all my other nursing duties and stayed as much as I could with Dick. Yes, me too, I also fell so much in love that the war disappeared from my mind.”

“That sounds like me and Daniel, without the war well, you know what “I mean. These Dallas boys.” Marilee said, and then laughed slightly.

“With a Sartian spell, they entrapped us, bless the spell?!”

“Thanks, More Dick?” I prompted eager to hear the rest of his story.

“Camila, took me to her family’s house to recuperate, and they quickly accepted me as almost a family member. Her father is the surgeon who fixed my leg, so I couldn’t have asked for better care. They realized immediately how we felt about each other but felt very strongly about me getting out of Spain in case things got worse. But I had no intention of leaving without Camila. After several weeks, we decided to get married. Living together but apart was becoming intolerable. We would talk all day and into each night, and I was learning to walk again. Neither of us was getting any sleep, and she wasn’t going to the hospital in any sort of regular fashion. One night, we fell asleep in each other’s arms. It wasn’t a real intimate situation, just exhaustion. Her parents woke us up the next day. They were very upset, but when we revealed our desire to get married, they accepted it with genuine joy and arranged everything. We were married a week later in the garden in back of their house. We got her a new passport at the American Consulate. My papers said I was a student and I had my diploma, but the wound could have been a problem. Camila’s father got a statement from a police commissioner friend saying I was an innocent victim and not a combatant. We crossed the border into France through Barcelona and worked our way up through the country by train to Le Havre, where we caught an American ship to Baltimore. We stayed there for several days to acclimate Camila to the U.S. and then spent a week in New York, where I saw a doctor about my leg. We just got here three days ago. We’re living with my parents, who adore my beautiful wife. I would’ve called you, Tim, but I knew I would see you at the Festival. That’s the story in brief, with many more tales to tell.

“I love Spain.” Claire immediately said, “I hate the idea of a civil war there. For a while we even had a house on the southern coast.”

“And how about you, Claire, do you miss France?” asked Camila. “Marilee said you had been living in England for a couple of years.”

“I don’t expect I’ll see France for some time. I liked living and studying in Britain, but I like you, Camila, am a new American. I have resident papers and plan to eventually to work here, I don’t know where yet. I guess it depends on where my parents live.”

“I hope it’s going to be here. I’m still trying to get your father to consider Dallas.” Said Marilee.

“Well, I think it would be alright with me. I like Dallas so far.

What are you going to do, Camila? You were a nurse?” “I hope to go back to medical school. I finished my third year in London, but I went back to help in Spain.”

“Where were you studying there? I finished my studies at the University of London.”

“I studied there, too. I hope I can finish my degree; it depends where Dick goes to Law school. Dios mio, meeting a schoolmate in Dallas. If you’re here long enough let’s have lunch together. There were so many things I liked about London, especially the museums and parks.”

“Oh, Camila, I would like that very much. I don’t know how long I’ll be staying here. I don’t want to wear out my welcome at Daniel and Marilee’s. I hope to see some of Ti-mo-thee’s rehearsals.”

Marilee responded quickly, “Claire, don’t be silly, you can move in here if you like. I told you that in New York last winter. Timmy’s rehearsals?

“ Well, that’s a good sign. Folks, Timmy and Claire are ‘smitten’!” Everyone thought that was the funniest thing they had ever heard, much to the embarrassment of Claire and Me.

“Oh, Marilee, I didn’t know you would tell everyone. It was a secret.” “I’m sorry Claire, but it was so cute when you told me. Besides, we’re all smitten here. Right?”

Daniel from the grill, “At the very least ‘smitten’, my dearest heart.”

“When I first met Camila, I was certainly ‘smitten’.” said Dick.

Camila seemed confused, “What is ‘smitten’? I don’t know the word.” Marilee answered, “It’s sort of like, almost, love at first sight.”

“Yes, I think it was like that when I first saw Dick. Camila smiled at Dick.

I said, “It’s sure something at first sight, but then...”

“But then nothing, Timmy. I knew it would happen. Just a rare intuition.” Claire flushed, then looked at me and smiled.

“Just a little bit more at the grill, how about a new round of drinks, and a toast to being smitten.”

“Some more of your Bourbon would be great. Camila dear, another Martini? “

“Not just yet, but soon perhaps.”

“Do you mind if I have another, Ti-mo-thee?”

“Of course not, I’ll serve and join you.” The Lamb ribs turned out to be tasty. Marilee told about finding them, she had had them Java and wanted Daniel to try them on the grill. She toasted him throwing a kiss. We spent the evening in great conversation. I discussed my week with the play again thanking Dick for sending it to me; Claire and Camila discussed their reactions to Texas and America. The most serious discussion was Marilee telling us the worries about keeping her drilling operations going in the east, saying a pull out was in the plans. We talked so much we almost forgot about swimming.

Both Marilee and Daniel decided it was time for an evening swim. Dick and Camila had brought their bathing suits and mine was in the cabana. All went to change and Claire looked at me almost in fear.

“Do you want to swim, Ti-mo-thee? I’m hesitant, but Marilee took me that store downtown this week to buy a suit.”

“Why are you hesitant? If you want to, I think it would be fun and a nice topper to the evening.”

“I’ve always been very sensitive about my figure and shy about swimming.”

“Claire, there’s no reason for you to feel that with me, I think you’re beautiful.”

“You’ve only seen me in clothes. I look like a pear, or actually more like an overblown hour-glass.”

“Did you notice that Marilee turned out most of the lights and you’re with friends, not on a public beach?”

“I like you, Ti-mo-thee. I don’t want you to see me as some little grotesque girl creature.”

“Do you want to swim?”

“Yes, very much.”

“Well, then there now, let’s do.”

I went to change after Dick and Camila came out of the changing room. Daniel was out and pouring snifters of Villa-Lobos brandy, which I though would be the drink of the season, or at least during my Lorca experience. We were all in the water when Claire came out of the house. She had wrapped a large towel around herself. She came close to where I was in the water by the pool edge, dropped the towel and joined me in the water. She had stood for a few seconds before coming in, and I was shocked at how truly beautiful she was. Yes, full-figured as I had never seen before, round with a small waist and secret seemingly large breasts hidden behind a frilly top. Her suit had a little skirt that didn’t really hide her derrière.

“Claire, don’t you ever be shy with me. I think you have the cutest figure I’ve ever seen.

“Do you really mean that? I’ve always thought of myself as ugly, I mean my body. I stick out too much every where.”

“Don’t think ‘too much’.”

“Have you seen photographs of that ancient little figurine of an earth mother called the Virgin of Willendorf?

“I think so, in one of the art books at my house or the bookstore.”

“Well, that’s what I’ve always thought I looked like.”

I laughed and hugged her, “No you don’t. I’m a man who finds you to be an extraordinary woman; that is everything I know so far.”

“Oh, Timmy, I don’t know what all of this means, but I feel very lucky. It all seems too fast but not the thing wrong to do. Do you feel the same way?”

“Yes, It seems as if we met weeks ago, and a natural happening between us.”

“I feel that, too. I wasn’t thinking of meeting someone or even hoping to. I hope you don’t tire of me during our weeks together. I did talk for a few minutes with Marilee about my staying for a couple of weeks longer. I must call my parents tomorrow though.”

“You know I’ll be busy at work everyday and in rehearsals at night.” “Then perhaps you won’t tire of me, but I do want to come and watch rehearsals when you will permit me too.”

“How about Monday and the other days of the weeks? I’ll even come and get you and bring you back here.”

“That sounds very exciting, but I do know Marilee has some evenings planned for me.”

“She’s not going to be introducing you to much more eligible young men, is she?″ She knew I was kidding, but not completely.

“No, she is not. She’s very pleased about our being ‘smitten’.” We did a shy little kiss and joined the others at the shallow end.” They were talking about coming plans for the year. Dick was going to recuperate during the summer and wait for his reply from the law school at the University of Texas. Camila had already talked to Parkland about nursing. Marilee and Daniel planned to go to Taos where Daniel could paint, before their New York gallery search. Marilee said they surely weren’t leaving before my show opened. I hoped that wasn’t a disappointed wait. Claire took my hand under the water and gave me a sad smile, which I knew meant she was leaving before my play did open.

The evening didn’t last much longer. There was no real water frolicking as there would have been during the day, just relaxed conversation enjoying the calming nature of the water in near darkness. I could tell that Daniel and Marilee considered Dick and Camila to be new friends that they would enjoy spending many good times with. Claire mentioned coming to my rehearsals which immediately interested Camila, which I thought was great. A Spanish lady could possibly help me with some of the things I didn’t quite understand about the culture. I gave her an open invitation, Dick said he would bring her but not stay because he wanted to know nothing about how I was directing before it opened, just the surprise of the play in English. Spending this time with Dick reminded me of how much I had missed him. He had been my only best friend. I felt an envy of the two other couples, because of their permanence and love. My caring for Claire had been a wonderful surprise but I was well aware of her leaving soon there was a different feeling of a strange kinship. I didn’t even expect a sexual relationship; I didn’t think it was even possible because I couldn’t imagine Claire rushing into that no matter what our feelings were for each other.

Dick, Camila, and I dressed. Marilee handed out the robes she always kept in the cabaña for her Daniel and Claire. Dick and Camila proposed an evening at their house; they were staying in the rather large guesthouse behind Dick’s parents in Lakewood. Dick assured me it wouldn’t be during my rehearsal workweeks. They left with hugs and laughter. Marilee proposed the four of us sit together for one last brandy. We talked about the evening, Taos, and Claire’s liking Daniel’s paintings. I was glad Blood Wedding didn’t come up. When they went upstairs, Claire and I walked out to my car.

“What a nice evening, Ti-mo-thee.”

“Indeed it was, Claire.”

“I like your friends very much. You made feel very at ease, I’ve been so shy about myself that...”

“Claire, you don’t ever, ever need to feel that with me. I think you are a glorious woman.”

She just sighed and stepped into my arms. Her softness was glorious. She didn’t have on her little heeled shoes so her petite height seemed to fit me, I could still sense her reticence holding back. I pulled her away a bit to look at her face revealing a new openness to me. I cupped her face in my hands; even in the almost darkness she glowed, her luminescent complexion was magical. She came into a kiss with me without the innocence of before in the boat.”

We held each other for a moment. I told her I would be studying and writing in the morning and then to the theatre in the afternoon for technical work watching the spiking of the stage, but would she like to go out for dinner in the evening. I suggested Mexican food. She said Marilee and Daniel had a previously set up engagement so it would be fine and that it would be fun to try this new taste. I promised to pick her up between six and six thirty; took her hand that she had placed on my cheek kissed her forehead and was off in the night towards home. I slept deeply with reoccurring dreams of her kiss

Chapter 5

I slept late but not so late that I couldn’t join my family for a big breakfast. I told them about the last two evenings with Marilee, Daniel, and about Claire. They wanted to know everything about Claire, I guess only because I kind of drifted off when I mentioned her. It wasn’t nosy just curiosity about someone who affected me in reference to them. I acknowledged she was a special new friend but for them not to expect a new big romance because she wasn’t going to be here for long. My father said it sounded like something good to him, Mom wanted to meet her, and Jeordie asked if she was cute. I gave him a look that ended that quest quickly. Jeordie talked about school being out soon and that he planned to spend as much time as possible at Uncle Willy’s shop learning how to be a better welder and try some more metal sculpture. I realized I hadn’t seen Uncle Willy in a while and suddenly thought I wanted him to meet Claire. If anyone would understand my feelings for her, it would be him though I wasn’t sure what my feelings were except something new. A whirlwind of emotions; Blood Wedding and Claire. She wasn’t going to be in any way a distraction and I looked forward to her being at rehearsals occasionally. Both parents reaffirmed their commitment to help the production. I was constantly amazed at their support for my theatre choice. We got into a short conversation about the fragility of choosing the arts as a way of life. Dad said he was more of a craftsman than an artist, which Mom disagreed with immediately saying his designs were art. Jeordie said for us not to worry about him because he was going to be either a ‘shaman’ or an engineer. That ended the gathering with laughter.

I spent two hours studying my new floor plans and writing in my journal. I took a long shower and found myself surprisingly missing Claire. Nothing had ever happened this fast before. There was something so different about this even knowing there was no future. Claire was an apparition with a most solid form.

I went in through the back door of the theatre and found my designer and Ginger hard at work on stage spiking with different colors for each scene. I walked the stage and suggested several changes, which weren’t big enough to change her design, they facilitated the movements and potential blocking changes that I knew would happen. I realized the show was becoming more of a visual happening in mind. I had written in my journal about working from general ideas to specific ones. Pure specific was dress rehearsal and I was glad I had four more weeks. I hoped these thoughts weren’t a rationalization for chaos, but I was excited, not feeling the trepidation that occasionally crept in. My mother had given me a soft lecture last year about how fear of failure cannot be a part of the creative process except as an inspiration. I knew she was right, but of course, it still appeared as a rush of reality, like those moment I experienced last week at the arts festival.

We laid out the rolls of colored cloth, which were one half inch in width, in the out line of each major set piece. They were smoothed out and tacked down. Each scene had a different color. The first act single colors, second act two over lapping colors, and the third act three colors. Ginger made a large legend poster and mounted it near the stage manager’s station back stage. I got a smaller copy she had done in watercolor. When we finished spiking, the stage was a colorful grid, which I walked several times to see if there would be too many confusing overlaps; there weren’t. The designer and I set up a table in the wings with the most light and studied the models she had made on Saturday. It looked like the pop-up idea would work but the scene paint colors didn’t seem to quit fit what I had in mind. She acknowledged that was the main problem she was having in finalizing the design before elevations were drawn. I told her to carry on with the elevations and asked if she minded if my brother looked at the models. She knew Daniel’s work and especially loved his colors from ‘The flood Zone’. I hadn’t talked to Daniel about any collaboration on this show, but I thought he would agree to help. I went to the office and called him. He was actually excited about helping. I told him I was taking Claire out to dinner tonight and would set up the models on the table in the library with the sequence of left to right, first scene to last scene. We talked a few minutes about my concept exploiting the natural passion of the piece. He thought bright earth tones using reds to increase in strength as show progressed. I liked what he said. He would try to have something by the end of the week. I had approved the set so the colors were not the most urgent except for costume harmonizing. Once Daniel worked on some colors, the costumes could be finalized.

I spent some more time with Ginger going over her notes from Friday, and rounded things up just before six.

I arrived at Marilee’s at six twenty. Claire met me at the door and helped me carry in the models of the set. We set them up in the library. Claire thought the idea of pop-up units was intriguing as I explained it to her. She asked questions about the set up and who would do it. I told of my idea of the ‘Zanies’ moving in and out and how it would be the cast as stage crew doing it to music.

“Is that your idea?”

I described what Vachtangov had done with Turandot, but that he used people who weren’t in the cast and they were in black outfits.

“That’s funny, Lorca being influenced by Russian theatre, but I love it. I want to see it happen...Well, perhaps I’ll see the beginning of it happen. Oh, Ti-mo-thee, this so exciting. I wish I could help.”

“Have you ever helped build sets?”

“No, but I could learn. I could help paint. Would that be good?”

“Yes, that would be great, consider yourself hired. We won’t start that for a couple of weeks...so...you may have to stay longer than you planned.”

“I called my parents today and said how much I liked it here. They said I could stay as long as I liked but that they missed me.”

“I hope you didn’t tell them about us, yet.”

“Oh, no, that would scare them to death. They are very protective and forget that I’m a grown woman. I was almost on my own in London for two years, so they trust me being with Marilee. And what is there to tell, yet? This is awfully fast between us, isn’t, Ti-mo-thee? I was so excited about us going out tonight, this something very new for me. Did you think about me at all? Oh, how silly of me to ask that...”

“Very silly, I’m shocked that you would ask it...why we barely know each other. Let me think...Did I think of you? Humm...! Well, before I went to sleep, in my dreams, the moment I woke, and, oh, yes, all during the day. But that’s all.”

Claire laughed, hugged me and kissed my cheek. And said, “What a strange coincidence, me too about you.”

“Shall we go and have some Mexican cuisine, Mademoiselle Claire Levant?”

“Oui, Monsieur Ti-mo-thee Sart.”

Claire had never been in my car before and she liked it. She asked about it and I told her the whole Uncle Willy story and even how much I wanted her to meet him. I told her about Uncle Willy’s adventures in the navy on a gunboat in China and about his business at his machine shop and how he built cars for a racetrack here. She also was excited about my family wanting to meet her and that a dinner was in order before she left.

“I’ve never learned to drive, Ti-mo-thee; could you teach me?” This was a surprise, but she explained that if she was going to live in America, someday she would have a car, and why not learn now. I told her to watch what I did in shifting the gears, and how to use the clutch and the accelerator. I assured her when I did give her lessons we would go somewhere where there was no traffic. She thought that would be a great adventure. I laughed about how learning how to drive could be considered a “great adventure.”

“Well, it will be for me. We didn’t have a car in England. My father knew his Renault wouldn’t work there because of the side of the road they drive on.”

“What kind of Renault was it?”

“I believe it was called an Avant Traction. My father loved it, but he sold it when we left France. The autobusses and the underground were so efficient in London that he just never got another one. But he does have one in Los Angeles, though I don’t what kind it is.”

“Would he mind if I taught you to drive?”

“Yes, he probably would, but only because he would consider it his duty to teach me. I don’t think he would have the time because he is already traveling quite a bit; besides it would be more fun with you. Don’t you think so, Ti-mo-thee?”

“It’s fun just talking about it.”

“Good. Where are going to eat?”

“ I thought we would try the El Vaquero in Lakewood. It’s been one of my family’s favorites for years; and I think you will like it. Dick Ayers said that while he was in Spain the two things he missed the most were Mexican food and Dr. Peppers.”

“Oh, I had a Dr. Pepper today.”

“How was that?”

“I’m not sure, it must be an acquired taste. In England, I think the equivalent to Mexican food is Indian, as in East India.”

“I truly didn’t believe you meant Navajo or Cherokee cuisine. What about in France?

“Do American Indians have a cuisine?”

“I’m sure they must have something, but I’ve never heard of it.”

“In France it’s North African food, like in Algeria; and some times I miss it. Paris does have everything though, but I never saw a Mexican Restaurant.” We arrived at El Vaquero and got a good booth, which was a new form of seating to her. She loved the way the restaurant was decorated in the Mexican style. We started off with a Mexican beer and I suggested cheese Enchiladas or a Chile Relleno. She chose the enchiladas.

She asked what my favorite style of art was. I explained that I had been exposed to art books all of my life and that my tastes were rather eclectic. She was surprised that I liked the Pre-Raphaelites and that she reminded me of Rosetti’s paintings. She blushed saying she considered that a great compliment because she had written a paper on them and had also fallen in love with their romantic vision, even though she didn’t consider it the greatest of art. Diego Rivera and Picasso, two of my favorites turned out to be hers too. We talked and talked, she liked the food. We found even more things in common; architecture, the history of republican Rome, and the renaissance. She told me about plays she had seen in London and asked what other plays I wanted to direct. ”

“For sure Berthold Brecht’s The Three Penny Opera and one of Somerset Maugham’s plays. Everything we choose has to be measured by commercial potential, but every season I can sneak in something like Lorca. I think Maugham would work just fine; I don’t know which one yet, perhaps The Constant Wife. The evening ended too soon. We sat in my car in front of Marilee’s and talked more then we kissed with more passion than we had experienced so far.

“We are going too fast, perhaps Ti-mo-thee, but it still seems to be the right thing. I’m a little scared. Not of you, but what I am feeling, it is a new experience for me. I’ve always been careful about any relationships, but I think that was because I hadn’t met someone like you.”

“What’s so special about me? An uneducated Texas boy?”

“You’re not uneducated. You are very smart and well read. You’re an artist who knows more about everything than most well educated people I’ve met. You’re a wonderful Texas boy. And what’s so special about me? No, no, I’m not asking for compliments, it’s a kind of rhetorical question. I feel like an out of place little French girl starting a whole new life and I didn’t expect to meet a you, anytime, anywhere.”

“I’ve been trying to figure this out, too. Everything about you is good, but I think we shouldn’t try anymore to understand what’s happening, just enjoy it for the time we have, and this is hard to say because I don’t want to think of an end.”

“You’re saying what I was thinking, we have some time and I can’t think of end either...Can I go to your rehearsal with you tomorrow?”

I laughed out loud and hugged her.

“Yes, you may Claire. I was going to almost insist that you come. I’ll be by to get you at six. It will be a long evening, is that alright?”

“Of course, I think it will be exciting and I’ll try not to be a distraction; I’ll sit way back in the dark.”

“You don’t have to sit way back, but I’ll be real busy for the whole evening.”

“That’s fine, I expected you to be busy because I know how important it is to you for this to good.”

We kissed again and she walked me to the door.

I sat in my room and had a snifter of brandy. I thought of Claire. Nothing but good thoughts. I was changing as if new windows were opening in my mind. Before I slept, Claire’s beautiful face appeared in the dark, “And made the black night beauteous.”

Chapter 6

Monday at work was good; just enough customers for the store to do well, and not so many that I couldn’t work on my script and journal. I found myself wanting to write about Claire, so I did in notes on the bottom of each page. I didn’t write about how attractive she is but what is most interesting about her as a person; her laugh, her interests, what I knew about her life experience. And then I tried to describe her; her face was different in that her resemblance to Louise Brooks, without the flirty pout, was a constant element of curiosity. Her face was more round than Brooks’ and her eyes green, of course I’d never seen a color picture of Brooks. Her accent was a combination of French and British English, just listening to her talk a joy. And no more writing about things I knew or even the mystery of her appearance while I was directing Lorca. Thinking about her seemed to give me new ideas for rehearsal, it seemed to clear my thoughts and I came back to questions with a new spirit. This was a strange experience because never had a person affected me in this manner, yes, Marilee helped me to think in a different way, but that was through conversation and recommended reading. Perhaps it was that Claire made me want to be a better artist, of course, that’s true because I wanted her to be impressed by my work, or I enjoyed her presence and our hopefully mutual attraction. Yes I’m sexually attracted. I didn’t have sexual fantasies about Claire like women in the past; with us a kiss has been a high point and a thrilling experience. My journal took on a new duality; the play- rehearsal, and the mystery of Claire.

I left work a little early so I could run home grab a bite to eat, shower, shave again. I dressed more spiffily than I usually would for rehearsal and I was off to pick her up. She answered the door ready to go dressed more casually than I had seen before; slacks with a light long jacket both in earth tones of brown and purple. She looked great. Over her shoulder was a satchel similar to mine.

“I’ve brought my drawing pad, do you mind if I sketch, Ti-mo-thee? I’m not really much of an artist, but I can draw and I like to record experiences that way, like a camera.”

“No, I don’t mind in the least. This is something new about you.”

“I’ve been doing it for years. When I was young, I thought I wanted to be a painter; but I realized I liked studying art more than making it. In France I took life drawing, and then just started making scrapbooks of places I went. I haven’t had a chance to draw since I’ve been here and I’m excited about watching your rehearsal. I haven’t shared this part of me with many people, Marilee doesn’t even know.”

“My word, I hope you find it interesting enough to draw. From out front in the house it will probably look pretty chaotic.”

“I’m sure it looks better than you know now.”

“You know, this could be a great help to me. Stage pictures have been important to me, but the way I’m working now doesn’t give the usual freedom to constantly step back and repeat everything. I’m trying not to stop the flow. Claire, every time we’re together there’s a new surprise.”

“I wasn’t sure I should ask you or bring my pad, but I wanted a record of you working. It would be wonderful if I could help you this way. Oh, Ti-mo-thee, I’ll try not to be a bother.”

“Now that’s silly and impossible.”

“Good, Monsieur Sart. Oh! I forgot to tell you; Daniel spent part of the day working on colors. I think he’s excited about helping. He likes the design and says it’s innovative.”

“I’m getting more family collaboration than I expected, and now you. Yes, this is good; I’m happy, yes, this is good.”

“I’m happy, too.” She reached over and squeezed my hand.

When we entered the theatre Ginger was in the office waiting with the elevations from the designer. I told her that Daniel was working on the colors for the set and that he thought it was an innovative design. I introduced her to Claire and that she would be doing sketches during rehearsal and how it could possibly help develop the stage pictures. We went over her notes again from Friday looking for any new thoughts for the evening. The three of us had a cup of coffee that Ginger had made in the theatre kitchen. Claire and her struck up a quick friendship.

The cast started arriving at seven and we all met on the stage. I introduced Claire to each member individually; she spoke Spanish with the Latin actors; which impressed them setting a good start for Claire’s involvement. Claire found her place in the house. I gave notes, critique, and what I wanted to achieve during the evening. Ginger pointed out the legend for the stage spiking. They walked the stage for a few minutes finding the taped first act lay out. We worked the first act going through and repeating each scene. Eddy Flournoy arrived a little late and started working the music into the act. The actors had evidently worked very hard on getting off book because even though they carried their scripts they rarely used them. I walked through each movement and constantly gave character notes. In an hour and a half, we had a beginning set for the act, it was still rough, but it had a good flow. I decided we had the time for a work though of the second act after a break. I went down into the house to see Claire taking Eddy with me for an introduction. They talked about Spain and Flamenco music; it turned out she was a real aficionado. I hadn’t told her about the live music during the play.

The rehearsal went even better than expected. It was a great experience having Claire in the house. Friends had watched before but her being there became a soaring inspiration. I didn’t perform for her; I just worked more clearly with a stronger feeling of confidence. I decided right at the last moments to have short warm up sessions before each evening started. The idea I had was to use a Shakespearean sonnet memorized with physical exercise. I thought perhaps it would help to create concentration at a higher level.

After the practice, the older Mexican came up me and said, “Ella

es mucha mujer, Audazito. Creo que tienes buena suerte por esa projecto. “

He was right. I was having good luck. Claire in her gentle manner was making everything better.

I met with Ginger for a few minutes before taking Claire back to Marilee’s. She met us at the door demanding that I come in for a nightcap. I readily agreed. We sat in the library and Daniel showed some of his beginning ideas on colors. They were brilliant, much better than I imagined they could be. He said he would do colored drawings of each set piece. Claire told how much she enjoyed being there and then she opened her sketchpad for me. Her work was beautiful. She had several for each scene even including me in the ensemble. Daniel was extremely impressed by her ability to capture the feeling of a rehearsal. I asked if I could take them to study for the next session of act one. She was thrilled that I liked them and wanted her to continue.

I just smiled at her and said, “Indeed, dear lady. It looks you’ve become a part of Blood wedding, and a most welcome one.”

After our brandy, she walked me to the door. I told her about my idea of trying warm-ups before rehearsal starts. She asked why I wanted to do that and I said that even though it was going well it took the actors a while to get into the process.

“Perhaps reciting a poem would free them up for starting, to concentrate on something completely different from the play, to free them of any distractions or anticipation. Also it could be a vocal warm-up for the poetry in the piece. What do you think?”

“If you believe it could help in any way, why not try it. I don’t know much about this, but I trust your ideas.”

“I thought possibly a Shakespearean sonnet would be good. Do you have a favorite?”

“There are so many I like but twenty-nine has always been a favorite. Do you know it?

‘Fortune and men’s eyes...’”

Yes, I remember the line. Daniel even used it last week. I’ll read it tonight.” We just held each other for a few moments. Finally she said, “Thank you, Ti-mo-thee.”

“You thanking me, I’m the one who needs to be thanking.” We kissed long and nice then I was on my way home. Before going asleep, I read the sonnet, the perfect choice. Good peaceful sleep.

The next day at work Claire, Marilee, and Camila dropped in. I was glad Camila had made the connection. She asked when she could watch rehearsal and I mentioned that Wednesday the choreographer was coming. Camila liked that idea saying that Dick would bring her. We talked for a few minutes and Claire bought a couple of books about Southwestern Art. As they left Claire turned to me with a smile that was almost as good as a kiss.

I had the chance to spend some time with my boss at the store. He was interested in how the rehearsals were going and seemed enthusiastic about the new things I was trying. He also said he was postponing inventory until after my show opened, we couldn’t have done it with my three weeks before opening off.

When I left for the day he shook my hand and said, “Do good work, Tim.” I nodded thinking how valuable his support was. It was the second time somebody had said the same thing.

When I picked Claire up for the evening, she was dressed in a completely different manner. Marilee had taken her shopping at Sanger’s and a ranch store on the Fort Worth highway. She was wearing a pair of Levi dungarees and a tan jacket with pockets; she called it a light barn coat.

“It was difficult finding something to fit me, but everything I brought with me seemed wrong. Do you like it?”

“I think it’s great. Did they have jackets like that for me?”

“I think so. I was constantly reaching into my bag for different pencils though I do feel like I’m going on a hunting trip in Africa. Look at my boots.” They were some short suede women’s riding boots.

“You’re starting to look like a Texas girl.”

“Well, thank you sir. I hope that’s good, is it?”

“Without any doubt, Mademoiselle.” At the theatre, we met Ginger in the lobby and were joined by Barney. Claire charmed him immediately and I told him about the sketches she was making of rehearsals and how much it was helping me. Within a few minutes, Camila and Dick joined us; he checked on the time to pick her up still refusing to watch the rehearsal which knowing Dick I understood completely. He said Saturday night was good for them at their house. Claire and I agreed quickly. We went into the theatre where the girls found their place to watch. In my meeting onstage with Ginger, I revealed my idea on warm-ups and she liked it. The choreographer, Aurora, arrived and I introduced her to Claire and Camila. She was a recent immigrant from Mexico who had studied in Spain before the Civil War. She also had read my call in the paper for cast, crew, and dancers. Camila was thrilled to meet someone who had spent that much time in Spain. They exchanged reminiscences about Madrid in Spanish. Eddy soon

arrived and he and Aurora went on stage to set some music for the marriage party in act two.

At seven the cast set up in their crescent on stage. In the beginning of my notes and critique, I described the concept of the warm-ups. They all were pleased by it and I dictated sonnet twenty-nine. I asked them to have it memorized by Thursday spending the time on it that they would on lines from the script. They had gotten used to taking notes in their pads I had asked them to use. Carolyn Carothers, who was playing the mother, she was almost too glamorous for the role, already knew the sonnet. She stood up and recited it very dramatically and the cast applauded and several commented on how appropriate a choice it was. Carolyn said her husband had used it when wooing her. I quickly thought to myself that perhaps I should learn a couple.

Aurora and Eddy explained how they would work for the evening and she demonstrated some basic steps and then did them to Eddy’s playing. We did a speed through of the beginning scene of act two as Aurora and Eddy prepared further then it was their rehearsal. Aurora had read the play in Spanish and loved my idea of expanding the wedding party into a dance celebration. I set up the stage picture for the opening of the wedding gathering and stayed on stage with them through out the evening.

After rehearsal, we adjourned to the lobby where Barney surprised us with several bottles of wine. He had never done anything like this before for any of my shows in rehearsal. It was a terrific gesture of support. Dick made it for one glass equally surprised by the small celebration. Camila introduced him to Aurora and Eddy; they were both curious about his experiences during the war wanting to know about any new development over there.

On the way to Marilee’s we talked about the success of the collaboration of Aurora and Eddy. In the library Claire showed me her drawings of the evening and as before they gave me a new perspective.

When I was leaving Claire whispered closely, “It is wonderful watching you work, Ti-mo-thee.” Then a sweet goodnight kiss.

The next morning at breakfast my parents asked if I would like to bring Claire over for dinner on Sunday night.

“I’ll ask her tonight, but I think she would like it very much. She’s mentioned she would like to meet the rest of my family.”

“Hey, big brother, do you mind if try out my new Brownie camera,” asked Jeordie.

“I don’t think so, but try not to be obnoxious about it. Be sure to ask Claire if she minds.”

“Okie, dokie. That money from my selling a sculpture also got me a new little radio.”

“I’ve already had to show him how to turn down the sound twice.” Laughed Dad. “Terry and the Pirates is not my favorite at that level.”

Jeordie was off to school and I had a few moments alone with them.

“Timmy, I don’t believe I remember you spending this much time with a lady friend. This seems awfully quick; she must be a special girl. How do you feel about her?” Asked Mom.

“I don’t think ‘special’ quite describes Claire. She’s more than that. We’re both a bit confused about how good it is to spend time together. Not bad confused, maybe just amazed. I know she’s a sophisticated, well-educated, European girl, which is part of my amazement. How could she care for...?”

“Timmy, there are very few men who are as special as you. She must see in you what I always knew was there. You’re already a beginning success in your work. How many young men can say that?”

“Well, whatever it is between us, I like it, even though I know she will go to California to be with her parents.”

“Are you sure she will?”

“I don’t know if I truly understand what love is, but I think I’m learning a bit about the concept. You’ll understand when you meet her.” Dad finally said, “A concept? Don’t be too analytical, just enjoy these new feelings, it’s about time for you anyway. You’ve been too much of a loner in the last years. Maybe it’s just good luck for you to have met her.”

“One of my cast members said the same thing the other night...humm. Marilee had a good feeling about us before we even met. Yes, could be, but I believe it’s more than just good luck.”

“Tim, there’s nothing more than good luck.” Chided Dad.

“True, Timmy, and quite often some happiness comes with it.”

In rehearsal we tried out my idea for warm-ups. They recited the sonnet as I led them in simple physical exercises, then they did it in a staggered chorus with groups of two saying the same line. It worked and we started with much more energy and concentration.

Rehearsal went very well with new discoveries happening constantly, but there were places that were extremely difficult, especially the chanting of the poetry. The ending of act one was a scenic problem I couldn’t quite see yet. Some group singing off or up stage? Or could I get a balance from working from both sides? I tried both ways several times deciding on using the whole stage both on and off. The bridesmaids and friends are awakening the bride and preparing her emotionally for the wedding and the aftermath. The actor playing Leonardo had grown enormously. He was getting the idea of a romantic villain. There had to be a reason the bride would give up everything for him. His seductive wooing needed from the beginning to be obviously dangerous, but his charisma must almost scare the audience. In an old melodrama they would be screaming, “don’t listen to him.” The actor playing the part was not Latin but a Highland Park cotton broker who had played several parts in the past two seasons. He was tall, dark, and moved with a dancer-like fluidity. The actress playing the bride was a beautiful South American woman with an earthy gypsy look whose husband had met her in an oil well drilling sojourn in Colombia. I had met them as theatre patrons and didn’t know of her dramatic aspirations until she auditioned. The Bride and the Bridegroom were a striking couple except that she, seemed almost too good looking for him. He was a student at S.M.U. who acted with the Arden club there. The four of them had the most difficult task in the production. If the passion and chemistry between them didn’t work the show wouldn’t; and they knew it. I started in Thursday’s rehearsal to spend extra time with them. I would let the other actors run lines or practice the dance while I worked their scenes. Leonardo at first had a hard time being rough with the wife then saw the contrast he needed with bride, the sacrificing of everything for an obsession from a past rejection. The Bride accepted her betrothal to a potentially successful husband but her lustful passion for Leonardo drove her to betrayal. They are doomed which still must be a surprise. The Bridegroom and the wife are the tragedy. All of this happening as a dance of death. The third act is almost a fantasy epic, first in a forest then a church-like scene totally white. I’m sure it will take a full week to stage. We still hadn’t solved the problem of the fight to the death and I didn’t want to give up on it. I’ve thought several times about Ginger’s comment on the shadow puppets. A scrim with Leonardo and the Bridegroom behind it with a soft light projecting their shadows and using gobos projected on the front for the forest could possibly work, but the segue into the last scene and still keeping their bodies in view was still a challenge.

Eddy’s guitar was already adding continuity especially between the scenes even with no sets to change yet. He and Aurora had agreed to full dance and movement rehearsals every Wednesday. In all of a director’s work, an ensemble is hopefully a part of the process, but I don’t think I really had ever achieved it to the extent I needed to now, and I believed it was happening. The cast was working harder than any I had worked with in the past and they seemed more excited about the play in every rehearsal and accepted completely what I was trying to do.

Claire’s drawings were beginning to help me more each day, and she was enjoying being a part of the production. After rehearsal, we would sit in Marilee’s library and I studied them. After Friday’s run-through, we worked for a while then joined Daniel and Marilee for a swim. Daniel had finished his color renderings to give to Ginger. Claire and I both thought they were perfect for the play. Daniel had read the play in the middle of the week and had started over completely changing his original thoughts. He said the passion of the piece had rather knocked him for a loop, so he needed to re-think his first thoughts. Marilee and I both laughed about his reaction to it reminding him of our discussion in the parking lot at the art festival.

The swim cleared away my exhaustion. Claire and I stayed outside alone by the pool lying close together on a lounge chair. We kissed and looked at the stars not talking about the play or us. For the first time I pulled her close to me stirring a new feeling for both of us. She only said my name softly and held me closely. When I knew it was time to leave, she walked me to the car.

“Tomorrow I need to work all day on my journal and go over Ginger’s notes. There are some problems coming up I need to solve before Monday. I’ll pick you up at six for dinner at Dick and Camila’s.”

We were both looking forward to seeing Dick and Camila.

I had mentioned earlier about dinner with my parents on Sunday and she was anxious but excited.

“I’m, of course, nervous about meeting them, Ti-mo-thee, are they always so welcoming to your lady friends?”

“There haven’t been that many lady friends. Actually this is the first time for this sort of invitation.”

“What have you told them about us?”

“Not much, except that you are a special friend. They’ve never seen me spend so much time with someone and just want to meet you. I believe you will feel completely at ease with them. My brother, Jeordie, will also join us.” “After getting to know Daniel and you, of course, I’m looking forward to meeting them. Do you think they’ll like me?”

“Yes, I do. It’s going to be very different from Marilee’s. A kind of humble family of struggling artists.”

“I know that, and I know I will like them.”

“Would it be too much if we spent Sunday afternoon together? We could do some driving lessons and maybe drop by Uncle Willy’s.”

“Ti-mo-thee, I know I’m going to miss you tomorrow. No it’s not too much. I was hoping you would ask me to do something or just be together. I’ve wanted to meet all the Sart family after knowing you. My goodness, I’m feeling so happy, I never thought of myself as being unhappy...Oh, Timmy, you make me so happy.”

“You called me Timmy, did you know, and I like it.”

“Did I? Do you mind?”

“No I don’t.”

She hugged me laughing kissing my ear then my lips. I just seemed to pull her up to me in a rush of caring.

“Claire, Claire, When I think of you, I smile and...I’m so happy too. When we’re apart I want to be with you, I mean just be. And I love it when you’re at the theatre with me, I’ve never been so happy when I was directing before, you make me want to do very good work. I want you to be proud of me.”

“It meant so much to me when you liked my drawings. You’re making me feel a part of something very special. I am proud of you.”

“Good night, dear heart.”

Saturday was the best workday so far during the two-week rehearsal period. I wrote ten pages in my journal and set up Daniel’s color renderings next to the models. On a second look the colors worked even better. I read through Ginger’s notes and laid out Claire’s drawings. Her sketches gave me several ideas on adjusting my stage pictures though still early in the scenic positioning. What they did was save me about five or six hours of stepping back to view a scene then repeating it.

After four or five hours work I went to the theatre to see the designer and show her Daniel’s renderings. She had her volunteer group laying out the lumber for the wagons that will carry the set pieces. We went into a conference with the completed elevations of the set and the color renderings. She felt the colors were better than anything she could have come up with; her only doubts were about mixing them. Did we have the right hues at the theatre shop to achieve it? At this point I volunteerede my mother to help with it. The designer knew she would be working full time just to get the set built so any help was welcome, especially an expert in color. Her ensemble spirit was matching the cast. At this point Ginger joined us. She had more notes for me from Friday and a concept for the show program. Three hours later I was back at my place resting, reading Ginger’s notes, and reading the play another time. I actually took a short nap then showered, dressed and was on my way to pick up Claire.

At Marilee’s everyone was sitting in her living room. I joined them and told Daniel about the reaction to his colors. He said he would be glad to help mixing the colors too, and how much fun it would be to work with our mother. Claire brought me a package wrapped like a present.

“Open it now, Timmy, please.”

“It’s good to hear someone else call him Timmy.” Laughed Marilee.

“Don’t expect me to, Tim. And Marilee don’t you start calling me Danny.”

“Well, sometimes you are a Danny, but Timmy fits your brother more for me all the time.”

“Y’all stop this, the right ladies are calling me Timmy. No one else may.” “Y’all? I haven’t heard you use that before. That’s real Texas. It does mean you-all, doesn’t it?” Asked Claire.

“Yes, second person plural” Added Marilee with a finger in the air in a funny professorial accent.

“I tried to get out of that habit, using ‘y’all’ that is. Perhaps to sound more Cultured.”

“I like it. I like you to sound Texan.” We all laughed at that and I opened my present. It was a light barn jacket in dark blue and it fit perfectly. I smiled at Claire and squeezed her hand. She knew I liked it. I wore it that night.

The guesthouse that Dick and Camila lived in was not in any way diminutive as guest houses go. It was beautiful with three rooms and a patio over looking the pool behind Dick’s parents house. When we arrived his parents came out to greet me, I had not seen them for several years. They immediately took to Claire, commenting that their favorite Dallas men were being charmed by these wonderful European ladies. They obviously loved Camila because they both kissed her as they wished us a good evening.

We had drinks on the patio and Dick and Camila told us more about their escape from Spain. It had been no easy trip from Madrid to Barcelona. They had been stopped several times with Dick’s papers being questioned as to their authenticity. In one small town they had to wait for two days waiting for a telegram to get to and from the authorities in Madrid. They stayed in Barcelona for a week so Dick could rest. The crossing into France was also difficult but Dick was able to convince them of his student status and that their marriage was legitimate. After that France was a pleasant trip but you could feel that there was uneasiness about the Germans. Getting on the American ship was almost like reaching home and it was an uneventful crossing.

Camila and Claire reminisced about London, the university, their favorite restaurants, and museums. I asked Dick about his trip to Pamplona for the running of the bulls. He had mentioned it in a letter.

“What an adventure that was, I got almost drunk on wine and ran with them. I got knocked down but luckily wasn’t gored as several other people were. The fights were the best I had seen up to that point and the party was unending. But two weeks later I saw Manolete fight and you knew very quickly why he was called the best. His control in the ring was magical. I think I saw all the other great matadors but no one, I mean no one was like Manolete.

Oh! Tim, I brought you something.”

Dick left the room and brought back a bag and handed it to me. A night of presents. I reached in and pulled out a leather bag with a spout and a shoulder strap.

“What’s this?”

“Oh! Timmy, it’s a bota!” Cried out Claire “You fill it with wine and push it together.”

“What?”

“It’s the traditional wine carrying thing in Pamplona. You hold it above you head and as Claire said, you squeeze it and the wine squirts in your mouth. I don’t expect you to carry it around, it’s more like for hanging on your wall.”

“It’s great and it will go up on my wall.” “Tim, reach into the sack again.”

I did and pulled out a beret.

Claire laughed and hugged me and almost cried saying, “See, maybe you have reached that artistic status already. Oh, Timmy, put it on.”

I did and Claire started crying and kissed me.

“See, I was right. You do look great in it.” Dick and Camila were opened mouthed at what had happened between us. Dick asked, “I hoped you would like it but what was that all about?”

“Well several days ago” I replied, “we had a conversation about berets. Dan, I love it, I’ll try to get my nerve up for wearing it.” “No rush, I just wanted you to have one. You’re a true artist now Tim. Anyone who has the nerve to put on Lorca’s Blood Wedding here and in a new way is a true artist. Camila couldn’t stop talking about your cast and what you were doing.” Camila had cooked a classic Spanish Paella with the seafood and all. We ate to the fill, drank bourbon, and laughed. Old and new dear friends. Sometimes Claire and Camila would go into the kitchen I think to talk away from Dick and me.

“Tim, you and Claire seem to be getting along rather well. True?”

“Yes, I believe it’s much more than getting along, but neither of us is sure what. I don’t think I’ve ever been happier.”

“I believe one could also say she’s happy too. This is first time I’ve ever seen you like this, never before.”

“Yes, you’re certainly right about that. It’s very easy and sweet with no pressure, primarily because I know she’s leaving to go to her parents in Los Angeles. I think they’re probably trying to persuade her to go there as soon as possible. I don’t know this for sure, but I kind of suspect it.” “Maybe they’re not, perhaps she just feels the pressure from them. Well, enjoy every moment, this is a rare experience for you and about time. Try not to see the end coming even if it’s inevitable. I wish I could give you some comforting advice, but that’s it.”

“Marilee has talked to her father about working full time for her company, but that’s fairly far in the future. He will probably go to the Far East if it remains stable there. But you’re right, ‘carpe diem’, and each one has been good.” “Well, my friend be strong. She appears to feel the same way you do; who knows what will happen.”

The girls came back from the kitchen laughing as if sharing some secret girl thing. I hoped a recipe.

We left Dick and Camila’s, having strengthened already strong bonds.

We left early enough that I thought a drive around White Rock Lake would be good. It was. I drove up to Winfrey Point and parked the car overlooking the lake. It was a beautiful clear night and too early in the season for any serious mosquito attacks. We talked about everything, the evening, Dick and Camila’s Spanish adventure, the play, my presents, and her parents wanting her to come home. She said she would be talking to them in the morning and no idea what would happen but she was sure they want her to leave soon. Then we folded into each other’s arms. Claire started crying very softly saying she didn’t know why, except that she was very happy and it just kind of overwhelmed her.

“Timmy, I’ve never had something come over me like this before. Do your remember us talking about the mystery of being ‘smitten’ and that I hoped it didn’t get scary. I’ve been scared several times you would forget to come get me to go to the theatre, or that you would call and say that you needed to work alone. I’ve always been so independent and never bothered by postponements or cancelled plans.”

“I know exactly what you’re feeling. I sometimes fear that you might call and say that you couldn’t come, or that I would come for you and you would be gone, you know, just gone. Once I even imagined if you were real; I would go to Marilee’s door and she would say, ‘Who’?”

There wasn’t anything more to say. We pulled each other close and came as close to petting as we ever had. Her softness beautiful and I wanted to touch her but was hesitant to rush or offend her in anyway. She sensed this and took my hand and placed on her breasts. We kissed as never before with a passion new to us.

“Timmy, I’ve never wanted anyone to touch me so much before. I’ve been frightened of letting anyone close to me like this, but not with you. I was afraid you wouldn’t like touching me, that...”

“I do, you’re as beautiful to touch as to see and to be with. I’ve never, well, I...”

“You don’t need to say it, I know it...just hold me, Ti-mo-thee.”

And I did. I kissed her face and her neck. She whimpered and kissed me back. And I also knew we could go no further, not here, not now, not yet, perhaps not ever.

When drove back, Claire sat over next to me with her head on my shoulder. At the door she reached up and put her arms around my neck and said, “Goodnight, my dear Ti-mo-thee.”

I told her I would pick her up at noon tomorrow. She just smiled and nodded yes. I slept dreaming she was in my arms with her head on my shoulder.

Chapter 7

I had called uncle Willy to find where he would be on Sunday Afternoon. He said he would be at his shop, which was good. I wanted Claire to meet him in his real environment.

Claire ran out to meet me, “I can stay until your play opens, Timmy.” “What?! How did that happen? Great!” Marilee came out, “It was mostly my doing. I couldn’t stand the thought of her working with you on Blood Wedding and not getting to see it. I kind of created some travel plans that can always be postponed. So I put on some strong persuasion and it worked. I hope it doesn’t mess up my relationship with her father, but it’s worth the chance, besides you two are the happiest folks I know, well, next to me and Daniel. And the trips are almost legitimate because I had thought of them, but that was before the ‘smittening’ happened” I laughed and hugged Claire and Marilee at the same time. Claire and I just stood and looked at each other smiling, holding hands.

Dan came out greeting us with, “Great news brother, we’re as happy about it as you two seem to be. Claire is more like family than a guest.”

As we were pulling out of the driveway Claire turned to see if Marilee and Dan had gone back in the house; they had.

“Stop Timmy for a minute.”

I did and she moved over and kissed me and then said, “You can go now, Monsieur Sart.”

On the way to Uncle Willy’s I told her how close I had always been with him and how he had gotten me interested in cars and machinery. I had liked working with metal and Daniel liked worked with wood so I had spent untold hours at his shop and Daniel spent time with Dad building furniture. When we drove up there were several people getting their race cars ready for the evening races and asking Uncle Willy’s advice on about everything car wise. He waved and joined us opening Claire’s door for her. He is a bit shorter than I and stockier with the same unruly shock of black hair I had. He had always sported a thin movie star like mustache. I introduced them and he was immediately taken by her. He showed us around his shop describing his new projects. Most of his business was for his machine shop, but the building of cars was beginning to take over most of his space. The shop was a big brick building with a high ceiling and big garage like doors in the front. He had placed big fans everywhere hanging from the rafters, so it was almost breezy. He showed us his new special project; an open wheeled roadster with a big Cadillac engine in it and exhausts coming out the sides with long round mufflers showing. He said his lady, Rosie, wanted an open car and this was it.

“This may be more than she wanted, but we’ll both be driving it so I made it more of a sportster. I am having second thoughts, and may try to find something else for her.”

I asked him if he had seen Marilee’s Packard.

“She brought it by the second day she had it. Now, that’s a classy piece of machinery. I drove it in the neighborhood and didn’t even scare her, of course, Marilee is quite a classy lady, I wouldn’t expect anything less than the Packard, although I did try to talk her into buying a Lincoln.”

He had heard that my new friend, Claire, was staying with Marilee and that was how we met. He talked about how much he loved Daniel and Marilee being together and they seemed to be the perfect couple. We agreed with that and Claire said staying with them couldn’t be more comfortable. Uncle Willy teased me about theatre saying I sure would have made a good machinist and mechanic.

“Now, that’s a real profession, Miss Claire, maybe you could be an influence on him. Even Jeordie’s making art from old metal parts. You know that boy has read every engineering book I have here in the shop. He’s one of the best I’ve ever seen with the mathematics of it.”

“I’m looking forward to meeting to meeting the family tonight especially Jeordie since I have a brother the same age.”

“Tim’s mother called and told me y’all were gathering tonight for one of her special dinners. They’re just as anxious to meet you.”

“Goodness, I hope they’re not disappointed.” “There’s no chance of that, I guarantee you of that. I knew you must have been rather special to get this character here to spend time with you. And by the way, Tim boy, it’s time for you to bring that ‘34’ of yours in so I can make it even better. I think it’s time I put in some more modern brakes and I’ve got a bigger engine I’d like to install. I think you would really feel the difference.” About this time his wife, Rosie, drove up. She had heard I was coming by and wanted to meet Claire. Mom must really have been spreading the word. Rosie was almost tiny and bubbly cute with curly blond hair. They had never had children and considered me the closest thing to a son and I thought that Jeordie was now stepping in since theatre had taken over my life. Rosie hugged me and surprised Claire with one too.

“Sister had invited us over tonight but nothing interrupts Will’s race night, besides we hoped you would come by today, and here you are. Well, no wonder everyone wants to meet you, Tim’s dad said you’re from France but you’re looking like a Texas girl.”

“I’m from France but I’ve lived in London for the last two years. My family moved there and I went to school at the university; and I can thank Marilee for my new look.”

“That Marilee is an influence on everybody, in a good way I mean. We sure miss her and Daniel. Will said he saw her a couple of weeks ago when she came over in her new convertible. Have they opened the pool yet? That’s always a highlight of the summer and they insist we use it. Oh, Claire, has Will shown you my ‘new’ car, I can hardly wait till he finishes it.”

“Yes, the first thing. It looks almost more European than American.” We all went into Uncle Willy’s office and had a Dr. Pepper from his iced down cooler that seems to always be filled.

“I think I’m beginning to like the Dr. Pepper, Timmy.” We laughed and I told the story Dick had told about his calling for Dr. Pepper when he was in the Madrid hospital. They said they heard he was back and had brought home a beautiful Spanish wife. Uncle Willy said he was just glad he got back in one piece and what a mess it was in Spain and a whole bunch of other places and how it looked like China was in real trouble with Japan. He told us of having seen the beginning of that in Manchuria.

“Has Marilee talked about her business in Java, now may a good time to get out and cut the losses?”

“She mentioned something about it last week but I don’t think she will take any losses. Evidently it has been good for her, Grant made sure of that before he died.”

“Well, she’ll still have Oklahoma and Burkburnnet.” Rosie stepped in, “How long are you going to be here, Claire? Dallas could be a good place for a new home.”

“My father has set up his business in Los Angeles and they expect me to come there after Timmy’s show opens. I just found out today I could stay until then.”

“Well, that’s good news, nephew.

“Yes, at the very least good news. Claire’s me helping with the production and her being able to be at the opening is going to make it more of a celebration.”

Rosie chimed in with, “That means we’ll see you again, we insist.” “No matter what we never miss one of his openings. He’s turned us into theatre fans and it sounds like this one could be real good.”

“I think real different is a better way to describe it.”

“That’s alright too, Tim. I’m used to that around here.” We left Uncle Willy and Rosie with hugs and waves and went looking for some good semi-deserted roads. I thought maybe Fair Park would be good and it was with little traffic and wide streets and there was a big parking lot behind the livestock barns. I found a completely open area, stopped the car and got out telling Claire to get behind the wheel. I adjusted the seat with a pillow from the trunk gave her instructions.

“What if I hurt your car, Timmy?”

“You won’t, I’m right here.”

With several rough starts she was able to go in first gear and with instructions got into second with a bit of grinding but moving. She steered around the lot, stopped and started again. As she gained more confidence went to the streets and she loved it. Everything went slowly but she was driving. She laughed, giggled, and squealed with every success and mistake.

“I think I would be too scared to drive on real streets with other cars around. Am I doing alright, Timmy?”

“Fine, perfectly fine. There’s no rush to get out in traffic yet. With several more lessons you’ll be on the streets. It’s alright to be scared at first, that makes you more careful.”

On one of our stops a Texas Ranger from the station there pulled up and asked us what all the stop-start was about.”

“Teaching this lady from France how to drive in America.” He introduced himself and Claire was thrilled to meet a real Texas Ranger. He said he guessed the fair grounds was about as good as anywhere to learn when there’s not many people here, but we should probably cut it short since people would be coming soon to picnic around the lagoon and go to the band shell. Claire and I traded places and drove to the parking in front of the art museum and walked around the lagoon. We sat in the grass, watched the ducks and talked about the visit with Uncle Willy and Rosie.

“They are some of the sweetest people I’ve ever met. They really love you, Timmy. This is a real Sart family day for me. I hope the evening goes as well, I so hope your parents like me. What have you told them about me and us?”

“Well, that I care for you and that you’re helping me at the theatre. They’re just surprised I’m spending so much time with one person and they want to meet you.”

I’m surprised that I’m spending so much time with one person and I hope it doesn’t change while I’m here. A good surprise. I don’t know what...”

“I think I know what you’re trying to say. I feel the same about it being so right. It’s as if we’ve found some kind of magical place in time. I hope that doesn’t sound too strange, but I don’t know how else to describe it.”

“No, not strange at all. Whatever it is, I’m changing, I mean I’m different, or I mean I’m experiencing something different.”

“Yes, me too. I want to tell you everything I’m thinking or ever thought. I want to tell you what I feel about theatre and why I want to do it.”

“Why do you believe you did decide to do theatre?”

“I hadn’t thought about it that much before except that I like it and can do it, but since meeting you it all of a sudden became clear. I did a lot theatre in high school and I like to work with people. The other “artistes” in the family work in a solitary fashion. There’s a chapter in the first Stanislavsky book named ‘communion’, it’s more or less about connecting with others, more to the actors viewpoint, but this production has changed that. And it’s a French word that makes it different; ensemble. I couldn’t work in a studio alone all day, not that I have the talent for it.”

“Who cares if you have the talent for the studio, I know you’re talented in theatre. I see you every evening working with your cast and it’s wonderful. I wish it were that clear for me, well; I guess it is. I know someday I’ll work in a museum. But I also want to tell you everything I’m thinking and about places I’ve seen, and my dreams...well, they’re. Can I tell you enough how happy I am when I’m with you?”

“No, but sometimes you don’t need too, your smile tells me. And, of course, your kiss.”

“May I kiss you now, Monsieur Sart?”

“Oui, Mademoiselle Levant.”

We lingered a while by the lagoon.

“Is the museum still open?”

“Yes, I believe so.”

“Could we go in for a minute? I want to see Daniel’s painting again and especially your mother’s, and your father’s furniture before tonight.”

On the way to my parent’s house Claire asked, “You’ve never told me what your parents names are.”

“Dad’s name is Charles, no diminutive; and Mom’s is Eleanor but she prefers Elly.”

“Don’t worry, I won’t walk in and say, hallo Charles, hallo Elly.”

We laughed and I replied, “I think they would love hearing you saying their names the way you do...’Sharlez...Ell`ee!” I drove up the alley to my parking place and went through the back gate as I pointed out my little apartment.

“May I see it tonight?”

“Without almost any qualms.”

She giggled and, “almost...?”

“This morning I thought you may see it, so I cleaned it up, and if I know Mom, she also put her touch on it.”

“My goodness, you make me feel very special.” We went in the back door and to the kitchen.

“Timmy, sometimes the front door is the proper entrance. Claire, I’m so glad you’re here, I’m Elly, please.”

She shook Claire’s hand then said, “Oh, that’s not enough, my dear...” And she hugged Claire, “Welcome to our little house.”

“Thank you, misszuz Sart”

“Now, now, Elly.”

“Ell`ee...I love your house. Art is everywhere.”

Dad came in and did a double take when he saw Claire, “My word, So this is the lovely French girl who has made Tim so happy...Hello, Claire. Welcome. Please call me Charles.”

“Thank you...‘Sharlez’.”

“Elly, from now on I want you to say my name like that.”

Mom laughed out loud at that and gestured for us go into the living room.

“Meestuer...I mean Charles, Did you make this furniture, its lovely?”

“I have a hard time with anyone else’s design, so yes my stuff is all over. I’m glad you like it.” And the paintings, they are yours’ Ell`ee?”

“Most of the canvases are mine but some are Daniel’s early work.”

“We went in the museum for a few minutes today. I wanted to see Daniel’s flood painting and your large still life again. I like them both very much.”

“Tim said you studied art history, so that’s a real compliment and he showed me your sketches from the theatre, you’re quite talented yourself.”

“I can sketch but when I started trying to use oils, I knew it was time to stop. What do think of Daniel’s new painting? His colors are extraordinary.”

“They sure are, he’s found a whole new of approaching his work. He’s left me behind on that.”

“No, no you both work so differently and these portraits, they’re wonderful.”

“Thank you, dear.”

Dad stepped in with, “Let’s have a cocktail. Marilee taught me her special recipe for Martinis. How’s that?”

“I think I’ll have bourbon. Claire?”

“Marilee’s Martinis have become a favorite of mine, too. Thank you.” Mom sat down and pulled Claire down beside her, “Will called us and told about your visit this afternoon. They both fell in love with you.” “Oh, they are the sweetest people. He is funny and Rosie is the perfect match. They made me feel like...well, part of the family. Is that alright to say?”

“Yes it is, and I hope we can make you feel the same way here.” called in Dad from the kitchen.

We heard some skipping footsteps coming down the hall and Jeordie burst into the room. He stopped in place and stared at Claire, then said, “Wow, you’re beautiful, you look like a movie star! Hi, I’m Jeordie.”

Claire blushed in her auburn red way and laughed, “I thought you might be. Timmy tells me you are fourteen, my brother, Jean Paul, is too.”

“Timmy?! He must like you to let you call him that.” I gave Jeordie a strong look and,

“Enough little brother!”

“Hey, Claire, can I take your picture? I just got a new camera and Tim told me to ask you first.”

“I suppose so.”

“Little brother, don’t over do it. Of course, I would like a whole roll.” “Jeordie, if you must and Claire doesn’t mind, but don’t be obnoxious.” “Yes, mamm.” and he was off to get his new camera.

Mom wanted to know all about Claire’s life in France and England and how did she like Dallas so far. Claire responded softly and told an abbreviated version of her life. She also described how Marilee had made her feel much at ease here. Dad asked about her parents and how soon would she have to join them.

“I thought I would be going to be with them very soon but this morning they gave me permission to stay until Timmy’s play opens. Marilee also had a talk with them and so I will be staying. I would have been most unhappy if they had refused. I so want to be here to watch rehearsals and do what I can to help. Timmy told me you both would be helping to paint and to build his settings.”

Dad smiled and said, “We’ve gotten involved on several of this shows. Most everything is done by volunteers so why not us?”

“But also you will bring a special expertise. It’s become quite a family endeavor. The colors Daniel has created are so perfect for what I think Timmy’s vision is. Perhaps Jeordie could take photographs.”

Jeordie entered, as Claire was finishing, “Great idea, Claire. What do say big brother?”

“Not a bad idea at all, but you’ll have to wait until the last week when there are lights on the stage. Could you do it and make no noise or be a distraction?”

“Of course, I want to help, not be a problem. Thank you, Claire. I’ve always wanted to help but didn’t know how before. I’d better get a lot of practice...Uh...starting now.”

Mom laughed and said, “Well, that completes the circle.” We talked and laughed as Jeordie moved around taking pictures. Finally Mom said it was time to eat.

“I’ve fixed one of Timmy’s favorites, Lamb Curry. I hope you like it, Claire?”

“Curry is one of my favorites, too. If you live in London for any time, you get used to it as a cultural cuisine, and in France, North African, or Algerian dishes are a national favorite. It’s also very spicy.”

Dinner was a big success and my family insisted that Claire come back anytime and that she didn’t need an invitation.

We left through the back door and went to my apartment. Mom really had put her touch on it because I had never seen it this clean. I turned on my reading lamp and started to turn out the overhead but Claire asked me to wait. She wanted to see all the paintings and posters I had on the walls. The portrait Mom had done of me when I was a little boy took her immediate attention.

“You look just like that now, well, I mean you look like that grown up. These are Daniel’s aren’t they?”

“I’ve liked everything Dan has painted and he gives me a painting a year almost. Not this year yet, but he told me to choose one and I haven’t been able to make up my mind on which one. I hope to get one with his new colors but it really depends on what he needs for his potential New York show. I don’t believe there’s any doubt he’ll get one; especially if Marilee has anything to do with it.”

“If I know anything about the New York art world all Marilee has to do is just be with him and get introductions. He is genuinely unique.”

“This is a nice flat. I wish I had had one like this in London.”

“Did your parents let you live alone there?”

“No, but our house was big enough that I had a separate entrance. It was a...is basement the right word?”

“If it was underneath, yes.”

“Then a basement flat that connected to the rest of the house with a little door under the steps up to the front door.”

“It wasn’t quite like living on my own, but if I had had the opportunity, I would have done. My parents would never have allowed that though. I don’t know if they ever will. They’re very protective. If they didn’t know Marilee so well I wouldn’t be here now. Thank goodness for her, yes?”

“Indeed, thank goodness for Marilee for many things.” Claire sat down on the bed and I sat beside her.

“I don’t believe I’ll ever forget this day, Timmy. I’ve never felt this close to a different family before. Are they like this with everyone?”

“No, not usually. It’s truly that they liked you, from the moment they met you. They’re pretty good at judging people at first sight. It’s always taken a while for them to accept my friends, but tonight you were a ‘hit’”

“A hit?”

“Like a ‘hit’ show, a big success.”

“Oh. Well all of your family is a ‘hit’ with me, too. You are a ‘hit’”

I laughed and hugged her and we laid back together on my bed. I snuggled in close with her. She whispered something in French in my ear. I didn’t ask what it meant. I whispered to her, “Pienso en ti, Claire.” “Timmy, hold me. It feels so nice.”

“I moved my hand down to the small of her back and she moved even closer. I ran my hands over her thighs, so soft, a different experience in closeness. I moved up to her derriere, round and full, but equally soft like she was made in a way I never imagined.”

“I’m so big back there, Timmy. I’m a bit embarrassed for you to know me like this.”

“No, don’t be. You’re a beautiful woman to touch and hold.”

“Oh, Timmy.”

And we kissed and I caressed her breasts and she kissed me, opening her mouth and our tongues touched; like a suddenness of electricity.

“I’m not scared of us, but I feel a little out of breath. Let me look at you.” Her eyes were misty. I kissed them. She cried in small way, not shaking but tearing with a smile.”

“To cry because I’m happy is wonderful, Monsieur Sart. I’ve never laughed or cried this much in my life.”

“You smile pretty good, too.”

“You’re being a silly boy, and don’t stop it.” I glanced at my alarm clock. It was midnight and time to go. We parted sweetly at Marilee’s door just holding each other.”

Chapter 8

Breakfast Monday morning was a interesting session of a discussion about the night before. Both of my parents understood why I had been so involved with Claire for the last couple of weeks. Their only worry was how it would affect me when she left. I told them I was reconciled to that coming.

“Timmy, remember I said that sometimes with good luck comes happiness but at its end a sadness may come. Please be ready for that to happen knowing there was a special time had and it can make you stronger. I know that’s not much of a conciliation but I just don’t want your heart broken. Claire may experience the same thing. I saw her happiness and how at ease she is with you. I can tell she truly cares for you.”

“Enough of this sad talk. I think she’s a wonderful young lady. We both, your mother and I liked her immensely. Enjoy your time together. You never know what will happen, so it’s really now that counts; and please bring her to see us more.”

Jeordie came into the kitchen ready for school, “Tim, I sure liked Claire. I can’t wait until I get this roll developed. Her brother sounds like a guy I’d like to know. She’s not really going to leave, is she?”

“Yeah, after my play opens.”

“I’ll have my photos by the end of the week. I hope they’re good. I want one of her to put up in my room and show my friends what good looking girls my brother knows.”

And he was gone. We talked a bit more about when they would be needed to help at the theatre. I didn’t let the conversation bother me, I knew I would see Claire in the evening. Moment by moment. All of this talk is taking a too serious nature. I must accept that Claire and I are having fun and enjoying each other’s company and...well, it’s a good time at the right time. I sense and feel it’s more, but then so does she.

Monday at work I had a surprise visitor, Uncle Willy.

“I had to go to the bank downtown so I thought I would drop in and see if I could take you to lunch.”

My boss and Uncle Willy had known each other for years. He had found rare auto repair books for him and even some auto racing prints, which hung all over his office. They talked for a few minutes and Uncle Willy needed a shop manual for an Auburn Roadster. He had found a wrecked one in Tulsa and wanted to restore it. Wow, an Auburn. The boss gave me the lunch break and we left for some Oaklawn Barbecue.

Over sandwiches and ice tea Uncle Willy told me his main reason for stopping by.

“I didn’t want say anything yesterday, especially in front of Rosie, but I was kind of shocked when I saw Claire; When I was in Shanghai I met a girl. She was a white Russian whose family had escaped the revolution and civil war there. They had lived for a while in Vladivostok, Port Arthur, and finally settled in Shanghai, China where there was a fairly large White Russian community. She looked so much like Claire I couldn’t believe it. Her name was Adriana and she was a looker. Claire is more beautiful but their figures, skin, and hair are almost the same. I was there on a long shore leave and once we met we spent every minute together. I fell head over heels in love with her but her family would have none of it. Up to that point I had never been happier and it was a sad parting. We wrote for a while but that ended when she got married to another Russian. Of course, I don’t know how I would have gotten her into this country, much less how she would have liked it here, but it was a great life experience. Yesterday I saw you kind of going through what I did. When Claire said she had to go back to her family it all came back to me. I guess all I wanted to say was enjoy every second you’re with her. There’s always been a special kinship between us Tim and I guess even more now. That was the long ago past and I was lucky to find Rosie, but it sure whelled up when I saw Claire.”

I was touched deeply by his story and all of a sudden missed Claire. I won’t tell her about this because it may hit her even harder. It wasn’t a sad story just a shock that his past would become my present. I assured him that I would remember his advice, as if I wasn’t already.

In between customers I worked on my journal and planned the rehearsal for the week generally and tonight specifically.

Claire jumped into my car and we were off to the theatre. Every time I saw her now she seemed more beautiful than I remembered from the day before. She was excited about the week looking forward to watching the play grow. When she got home last night Marilee was still up and they had a long conversation.

“Marilee understands how much being with you for rehearsals has been and is a good experience. I told her of all the different things I’ve done and working on this has been the most intriguing. I studied hard, wrote papers, traveled for research, interviewed artists, and got my diploma early; but they were done by me alone for me, but this is like you described, a group involvement...an en-sam-`blay. I believe what you’re doing is important and my being a part of it is the first time I’ve felt important. Oh, and I think all of your family is wonderful and so does Marilee. I thanked her several times for bringing me here and bringing us together, Timmy.”

I couldn’t say anything, I didn’t know if I could without choking up. No one had ever said things like that to me. When we arrived at the theatre we walked to the door holding hands.

The rehearsal started in high spirits. My note session cleared up most questions from the cast and they understood where we would be going with the work this week. I laid out the zone tighter for the fist act but still giving them the freedom to develop their character’s blocking. I talked about technique using something I had worked on Sunday morning. I tried to describe it as ‘scenic positioning,’ or where on stage they would be most effective in relationship to their characters, the other actors, and the audience. And that they go together all the time.

If that became a part of their thinking and growth the whole play would be more effective in touching the audience. One actor asked what if it didn’t feel natural. I replied that nothing on stage is natural and that all is for the audience’s visual viewpoint. They must be able to see each gesture and expressive nuance. If they miss anything it’s our mistake. I want them to hear every word, and see every thought on your faces. I want them to be shocked by your expressive power, by your reactions to the moment; everything a surprise. If you anticipate, so will they and the moment is lost. We lose them for a few seconds and it’s hard to get them back. I had no idea when I started my notes that I would be saying all of the things I did, but it worked. They were leaning in to my words, some taking notes, some in just high concentration. No rehearsal ever had started for me with such a feeling of ensemble, we were together. No questions. They all stood up for warm-ups. I turned to Ginger, she was just looking at me smiling.

“I feel like I just took a course in advanced theatre, that was great. Tim.”

We proceeded into the first act after warm-ups with the sonnet. I roamed the stage adjusting the groupings and stage pictures that I had seen was needed after studying Claire’s drawings. I was on stage with them every minute, beside them, side directing for individual actors as they moved or went through a short movement and interpretation of scene breakdowns. Eddy’s playing was a more involving part of each scene. He was improvising for the moment and finding new ideas as the actors were. It was all working as I had hoped. I was improvising with them and I felt a surge of excitement when the ideas we were having together jelled into strong creative steps. They all knew I had a concept from a knowledge of Lorca’s play and was trying for more than just a presentation of the script and to take the passion of the characters to a level beyond the audience’s expectations. Beyond all of our expectations.

When I called for a break the cast yelled out and applauded each other as if they had taken some steps that were new to them. Then most everybody just sat down on the stage, others ran for a drink of water, the older Mexican actor passed by me saying, “El Audazito!”

I walked out into the house to spend a few minutes with Claire. She stepped into my arms saying, “My goodness, El Audazito, that was thrilling to watch. I couldn’t draw fast enough, sometimes I stopped just to watch you.”

We went out to the lobby for a drink of water and to sit down. All of a sudden I was out breath, it just hit me how good the rehearsal was going; and it continued for the second part of the evening. We had built a good beginning for the first act.

After rehearsals that night and the next Claire I talked non stop about every thing. We laughed and stopped to look at each other and smile then started up again.

We left each with tender goodbyes almost as if would be a week before we would see each other not the next day. On Wednesday Camila joined us again for the dance practice with Eddy, Aurora, and the cast. She asked if I would mind if she watched the run through on Friday and afterwards Dick would join us for drinks somewhere. Of course, she was welcome on Friday and it sounded good about afterwards.

The wedding party was starting to look like a Flamenco celebration with couples dancing to Eddy’s playing and individuals stepping out to hold the floor. It was still in an innocent staging but headed to something even more vivid than I had hoped. Eddy, Aurora, and I held intense conferences of ideas as the evening progressed. During one of these talks I had the idea of asking Aurora if she would join the cast and do a solo sequence during the wedding party. Eddy immediately said it was a great idea and we both looked at her.

She reached out and took my hand saying, “Claro que si, el Audaz.” She had heard about the old actor’s name for me. I took it as respect that she didn’t use the ‘ito’ on the end. I turned and told the cast and they applauded.

It was hard to believe that it was going so well but it was, but I was still going into an unknown territory for me. Could I pull all of this together into a powerful show. The process can’t be better than the product. “The show didn’t work but the rehearsals were great.”

At the store I worked and planned, studied and wrote in my journal. I set goals for each evening and how it related to the total production. I started visualizing generally the next three weeks to set up for the final week of run throughs and two night of dress and tech through to set the lights. Claire’s drawings were a revelation. I could lay out each scene seeing the progression and how I needed to adjust for segues between the scenes and enhance the stage groupings. I knew they would be even more valuable when the cast started changing the sets.

My being on stage all of the time turned out to be no draw back at all with her help. I had never thought of myself of being part of the cast before and didn’t seem to be inhibiting the actors. I was close but I don’t think intrusive. I knew I would pull back gradually as we headed toward dress.

After Friday night’s work Dick met us in the lobby. He suggested we go in his car, a new Buick sedan, leaving my car at the theatre. We went to a private club downtown. His dad was a member and they stayed open late on the weekends. Claire and I had dressed up a bit knowing we would be going out. We ordered drinks and Camila talked about the run-through.

“I saw the whole show, Tim. I know it’s early but it’s there. If it keeps growing like this it’s really going to something.”

Dick told us more about having seen it in Madrid, “It was in a much smaller theatre and very intimate and close. I loved it but I can’t wait to see yours. The audience went crazy in Madrid, applauding and jumping up and down. I don’t expect that to happen here just because that was Spain.”

Claire said in response, “Once in London I saw a standing ovation. Would that be good here?”

We all laughed and I said, “At the very least that would be good. One can hope.”

They brought out a late light dinner for the patrons. I hadn’t realized how hungry I was, but had never felt so energized. Claire and Camila strengthened their friendship, Dick and I were glad to renew ours. We laughed and talked going back to the theatre. I drove to Marilee’s with Claire’s head on my shoulder. When we stopped I realized Claire had dozed off. I awakened her as she cooed asking if we were home yet.

The next day was to be a busy one at the theatre. I was going in at ten-thirty and Marilee was bringing Claire over in the early afternoon.

At breakfast on Saturday morning, Dad joined me. Mom had gone to the art supply store. We had a chance to talk for the first time in weeks without anyone else there.

“Your mother has been concerned about your feelings on Claire’s leaving.”

“Well, of course I dread the day she leaves, but it has been, I believe, a wonderful ‘Quirk of Fate’.”

“That’s good to hear; I guess ‘quirk of fate’ is the best way to describe it. Your mother was concerned about you being hurt. I told her that ‘my God, you’re a twenty-four year old man not some fragile teenager.’ And after meeting Claire we understand why you’ve been so happy. It’s not distracting you from your work on the show, is it?”

“No, not at all, as a matter of fact she’s an inspiration and her sketches have been a great help in this delving into a new approach of directing. I don’t if know I would do every play as I’m doing this one, but it will certainly be a big influence if it works, and it seems to be.”

“I know it’s kind of frightening when you turn creative corners. I’ve gone through it several times several times and so has your mother; and it looks like Daniel has changed the way he uses color in a big way. Yes, and a couple of times it hasn’t worked for me, but as you said it has influenced everything afterwards. Don’t have any doubts about it.”

“I don’t really, it’s been so all enveloping that I haven’t had any time for them. I love the play, my cast is terrific and hard working, there’s a whole lot of collaboration going on, and there’s Claire. One of the best things I’ve done has been keeping a journal. Every day when I write, I have new ideas; all of which have been useful. You know, Dad, I never knew how important it could be to have a lady you care about being supportive of your work. I’ve always been so solitary in it, and I thought that was the way to do it...humm”

“Well, that in itself is a revelation. I guess you’ve noticed how much closer your mother and I have been lately; it mostly has to do with being supportive of each other’s work. Of course, we started out that way, but as we later became dominated by the need to support the family and still do what we felt we had to do, we drifted apart emotionally and physically, well, you know all about that ; but something happened this last year; we just started looking at what each other was doing. She truly liked my chair design for the New York contest and my ideas for some commissions; and I fell in love again with her paintings. It has helped everything around here, and I mean everything, if you know what I mean, son.”

I laughed at this and said, “Yeah, I understand what you mean, Dad; that’s great. “

I got up to go to my room. Dad came over and put his arm around me, which was rare, and said, “We’re all excited about your work on this show, and Claire is a rarity, a special rarity. Don’t even think about her leaving. It’s good now, and perhaps that’s enough. Maybe she’s going through some big changes too.”

“I think she is, but I don’t know how it’s going to effect us. Well, I know how it’s effecting us now but...Well...I”

“You don’t need to say anything more, I understand; more than you know.”

We seldom had heart to hearts like this but when they did happen they were always good, this one was especially good. I had only thirty minutes to write before getting ready for the afternoon, but they were some of the best minutes yet.

When I arrived at the theatre the designer and I worked a bit on the plans then started gathering the right lumber for the day. We had decided to not use any flats but thin plywood braced with frames. It wouldn’t be as light as flats, but less likely to tear or break during the many set changes. The lighting designer, who did all of the shows at the theatre, came in with his design for just general lighting and we had a good conference on what I wanted for the production. He liked my ideas for the colors and scene separations. He agreed to finalize once he had studied Dan’s colors for the set. His two volunteer assistants came in, one from SMU and the other from Highland Park High School. They started bringing out the lighting instruments and prepared to hang them. It became a beehive of activity. Mom and Dad came in around noon. Mom had studied Dan’s renderings and wanted to start gathering the right colors for the eventual mixing. Dad worked with the designer in solving some of the problems on the pop-up scenery. I went to the office for a budget conference with Barney. By the time I got back on stage some of the cast members had arrived to help. At two Claire, Marilee, and Dan came in. Claire was in her dungarees and had gotten some canvas tennis shoes to work in. She greeted me with a hug and a shy kiss. A good day got better all of a sudden.

I squeezed her hand and said, “Hi there, Super Girl.”

“Hallo, el Audazito.”

Dad and Mom both greeted Claire with a hug. Marilee kissed both of them. Dan hugged Mom and slapped Dad on the shoulder. I had felt family before but not like this and Claire was a part of us.

Marilee brought a big basket of sandwiches and a bucket of pop she had gotten at an Ice House. Everyone took a break for Marilee’s treat. After eating we all went back to work. Marilee had a conference with Barney and offered help for the budget needs. It was an unexpected surprise, her reason was that she had no building or painting skills but she could help this way. I didn’t know what to say except, “Thanks.” It was enough for her. She just laughed and hugged me and said she wanted to be of help than giving me a couple of books.

Dan and Mom collected most of the paint needed but said they had to get some more for the most difficult mixes. Claire stepped right in carrying wood and learning to use a hand saw and drill. She had never used a hammer before and got a sore thumb as a result but was enjoying every moment of the afternoon. Jeordie walked in after a bicycle ride to the theatre and had his photos from the last weekend. They were very good. The family groupings were something we didn’t have, and Mom wanted some more prints made. The ones of Claire and me together and Claire together brought her to tears.

“I like this photography thing. If I ever sell another sculpture I’ll get a better camera. I don’t think Uncle Willy will be disappointed if I agree to take pictures of his cars. Maybe I’ll try to put together a darkroom during the summer if Mom will let me use that empty closet in back of the kitchen.”

Dad said, “Slow down, son. One roll does not a photographer make.”

“One roll? I’ve taken almost six rolls this week at school and everybody liked them. I’ve decided I’m going to try to get on the Newspaper staff at North Dallas next year.”

Mom looked at him seriously and asked, “And what about engineering school?”

“I can do both, can’t I?”

“Yes you can, son. What about being a ‘Shaman’”

“Aw Dad, I just said that to shake up Mom.”

Mom got a half serious laugh out of that knowing that Jeordie was a constant trickster. Dan and Marilee left after a couple of more hours letting Claire and me know that we were expected for dinner and a swim. Dad realized he had some hinges that would work better than what the theatre had and that there wasn’t much more he could do. The designer was exhausted, ready to call it a day. Mom had totally reorganized the paint cabinet and needed to get home to fix dinner for Dad and Jeordie. Most of the crew had left and I had only to have quick conference with Ginger and get her typed up notes from Friday’s rehearsal. Claire ended up sweeping the stage and helping to put away the tools. I wanted to change clothes before going to Marilee’s, perhaps even take a quick shower, and Claire said she could visit with my parents while I got ready.

We both went in through the back door at my house. Mom insisted Claire sit in the kitchen with her while she prepared dinner; Dad joined them. I rushed out to get ready and was back in the house in less than thirty minutes. Dad was having bourbon while Claire and Mom were having a glass of wine. Dad insisted I join them for one drink before leaving and I did. They had been having a spirited conversation about modern art. Claire told the story of having seen Picasso in Paris several times and even going to his studio with a group of students and their professor, who had been a friend his. Mom’s comment was that it proved Picasso was a real person. Claire laughed and squeezed Mom’s hand in response. Claire asked if they had seen Daniel’s latest work in his studio. Neither she nor Dad had and were anxious to see it. Claire remarked that a couple were even more powerful than ‘Flood Zone’; one was larger, almost abstract, and another was a brilliant triptych.

Jeordie came just before we left and almost shouted out, “Hi, Claire. Did you have fun at the theatre today?”

“Yes I did and I like your photographs very much.”

“Thanks, I’ll get some more prints of those two you liked.”

“Remember, not the one of me but of Timmy and also the family group.”

“I’m putting one of you up on my wall.”

“You had better be careful, it will give you nightmares.”

“Well then on Tim’s wall, no, I’ll take the chance.”

“Timmy, you didn’t tell me your brother was so brave.”

“He’s not, he still has to sleep with a light on.”

“Claire, don’t you believe a thing my big brother says, I mean about anything.”

“Oh, my! That’s a frightening thought. Timmy?”

Dad stepped into this with, “Claire I think you’re safe with Tim, right Elly?”

“Well, Claire, he is a man, but one of the more trustworthy ones.”

“Ah, my parents to the rescue. Jeordie we need to have a serious talk someday if I ever have the time, say later this summer.”

“Gee, Tim, I better go put that on my calendar. No, Claire, Tim’s alright, he even likes my sculpture.” On the way to Marilee’s Claire noticed I didn’t bring my satchel. This, dear heart, is a real night off. Tomorrow I work.

“Good, Timmy. I was thinking the same thing. I won’t insist on talking about ‘the play’; today was fun though. It seemed like a good amount was done. Did you think so?”

“Yes, but it’s only a beginning. This is actually a pretty big show with lots of complications ahead; but it was a good day. You were great. How’s your thumb?”

“It doesn’t hurt anymore. It was just like in the cartoon movies. I actually hit my thumb like Donald Duck would.”

“And you were a big girl. You didn’t even cry. Funny girl, cries when happy, laughs at smashed thumb.”

“The answer to that is ’I’ve never been this happy before and everyone has had bumps before. There’s a difference in happy crying and I did get better with the hammer. Didn’t I?”

“Yes, you did. You built a whole frame for a plywood flat.”

“I am now an experienced theatre craftsman or girl. But I must admit I almost cried when I hit my thumb. When I said “Ow!′ I thought you were going to come over and make a scene.”

“I almost did. I could imagine your parent’s reaction to your hand being smashed while being forced to work backstage in a little theatre.”

“I’ll try to hid from them that I’ve become a theatre slave. No, Timmy, when you asked across the stage, ‘Are you alright, Sweetheart?’ all the pain went away.” She giggled and put her head on my shoulder and I put my arm around her.

At Marilee’s Claire went up to her room to take a bath and I joined Daniel in his studio. He said he wanted to do a bit more work on this new canvas before starting up the grill. This new one was kind of a skyline view of Dallas with an exaggerated Trinity River behind it. It was separated into three or four different color spectrums as if each section had a different filter in front of it. The spectrums were both vertical and horizontal.

“Boy, wait until Mom sees this one. She’s very excited about your new approach to colors, but this one is absolutely...I don’t know what to say, other than it’s brave. You had better hide this one after it’s finished or it will be gone before you ever get that New York show.”

“I hope that means you like it. I thought I may have gone too far with this one, but as I work on it I’m not sure I’ve gone far enough. There are a couple of other ones I’m working on at the same time. I don’t think I’ve ever gone back and forth so much before. They’re over there.”

He pointed across the room. I went over and held one up. This one was of White Rock Lake with the city behind it, equally extraordinary. The other was a vertical painting about two feet wide and six feet high. He evidently had painted it in his backyard here; it was of Turtle Creek going from their dock to the north; shore line, trees, boats, kids fishing, and the houses all Italianate. It was Dallas but it wasn’t. Horizontal color bands progressed narrow to wide from the bottom to the top; and a sort of diagonal filter effect running from a corner on top to the opposite one below. They were breathtaking.

“These are perhaps my last paintings of Dallas. I’m looking forward to Taos and the mountains. What do you think, brother?”

“I like. What’s in between now and Taos”

“I’m doing some figurative drawings. I want to do one of the family. All of us.”

“You’re not going to require a sitting, are you?”

“Nope, just how I see us.”

He put down his brushes to clean turned and said, “It was great working with Mom at the theatre today. Claire has sure become a part of the whole production. Her sketches are quite good, I can see how they’re helping. How are things with you two? I only get the girl’s viewpoint.”

“And what is their viewpoint? “

“Well, it seems that Claire is having the time of her life. Marilee said that when she has known Claire in the past there was a kind of sadness about her. She had always seen glimpses of her sense of humor but there was a holding back quality about her. It’s as if she has suddenly flowered or come alive. Marilee did say that Claire said she never expected to meet someone like you.”

“My word, we’ve become a major gossip topic. I don’t really know what to say about us, except that we’re having a good time together.”

“Please don’t think I’m trying to dig into your personal life, but...Well, I guess I am. You’ve usually seemed to be sort of a loner. But very quickly you and Claire have gone way beyond ‘smitten’, am I correct?”

“Yes you’re correct, we’re beyond ’smitten.’” I believe that was a cute, and it was, word from Jane Austin that described our instant reaction to each other. We’ve tried to figure it out but have given up and decided to enjoy what’s happening. Dad and I had a talk this morning about the same subject. Everyone seems to be concerned about us, and what’s going to happen when she leaves. Well, I don’t know what’s going to happen. It’s true I’m having feelings I’ve never experienced before. She is a wonderful woman, and I certainly didn’t expect to meet anyone like her either.”

“Are you falling in love with her, or should I say have you?”

“Yes, I have, if falling in love means I think of her every minute and feel most alive when I’m with her; and she not a distraction from my work but a true inspiration; and she tells me she feels the same way. I didn’t believe I could say that. I don’t know much about love as an experience. I read about it and I direct it in plays, but...and what’s even more interesting is that I understand Blood Wedding with a new depth everyday. Is that love? You certainly know more about it than I do.”

“It sure sounds like love.”

“Too quickly? I don’t know what that means. I believe if we had met each other in a situation where we couldn’t be together all the time it would have taken longer perhaps, but it would have happened. I have no doubts about it, nor does she, I believe. Please don’t say anything about this conversation. We haven’t told each other we’re in love with each other. And we may never get the chance, but I feel extremely lucky to have met her. I know Marilee’s is glad we’re so happy together, but this has got to be between us.”

“I’ll truly honor that request, but it wasn’t even needed; this has been between brothers.”

“Good, please don’t think I’m upset with you, I’m not. Actually I was able to express something I didn’t believe I could. Love...Yes...Saying it certainly puts all my questions about what’s going on into perspective.

“Thanks, Daniel. You know if Dad had asked me if I was in love with Claire, I probably would have said something like, ‘Gee, whiz, Dad...I don’t know.’”

“There’s something you should...Well, on second thought nothing.” “What?”

“Oh, just love advice. I decided you don’t need it.” Marilee’s entrance into the studio ended our brother to brother.

“Would the fabulous Sart brother like to have a swim before lighting up the grill? I think I will. Timmy, Claire will be down in a few minutes. She told me about the visit with the family and how much they made her at ease. I assured her that wasn’t always the case, so they must really like her. Her answer to that was she hoped so because she really liked them.”

“There’s no doubt about them liking her. I wasn’t surprised, she’s not just a regular girl as I believe you are well aware of.”

“No she’s not just a regular girl, and right now she’s a ridiculously happy girl. And I sense it’s more than the usual Sart men’s charm.”

“Well, I don’t know about that, but right now I’m a ridiculously happy fellow.”

“Yes, I can see that, Timmy. Good for both of you.” We went out on to the patio and pool deck and I changed into my trunks in the cabana. The cool water was a delightful release of the day. I was glad we agreed not to get into any play talk. I needed the separation. Daniel and Marilee joined me in the pool we even ‘frolicked’ and splashed each other. In a few minutes Claire came out jumped into the water laughing and swam to me trying a dunk. I was able to quickly dunk her. She came up sputtering and giggling and put her arms around me. There didn’t seem to be any reason to be inhibited around Dan and Marilee any more. They came over to us and put their arms around us. Marilee kissed Daniel and me in a playful sweet way. We all worked our way to the side of the pool and held onto the side. I talked about how much I liked Daniel’s new paintings and was eager to see what happens with his figurative subjects. Claire had been impressed with the filtered color effect varied in layers saying even though she had been to all the major museums in Europe and New York she had never seen anything like it. Marilee said she wasn’t going into the studio as much while Dan was painting because she was enjoying the surprise as he finished each new piece. Daniel seemed rather humbled by the praise but was obviously excited by what had happened in his style of work.

“I don’t if what I’m doing is good or just different and strange.”

“I feel the same way about my play.” Breaking a pledge to mention the play went by the way side as I realized I had said the same thing as Dan just did. I didn’t believe either one of us had doubt about where we were going. For me it was as if I had been caught up in a whirlwind that had taken hold of me and I was going where it carried me.

Claire commented immediately, “I’m sure your paintings are good Daniel and Timmy; theatre is the most ephemeral of the arts but if the production is as exciting as what’s happening in rehearsals it’s going to be wonderful. Of course, I’m biased, but I still have a pretty good critical eye. If I’m moved and touched by what’s happening this soon, well...I think you’re both brilliant artists.”

“Hear, hear! I couldn’t agree more, bien dicho, Claire.” Cheered Marilee.

We got out of the pool and instead of getting dressed we wrapped towels around us. Dan attacked the grill saying steaks were the offering tonight. Marilee mixed up some of her special Martinis, Dan and I chose bourbon. We sat around the patio table not talking as much but enjoying each other’s company. Claire sat close and held my hand. Marilee mentioned how beautiful Taos was in the summer and would be glad to get there next month. Claire was curious about New Mexico not knowing there were mountains and forest there. The steaks were as good as they get and the Spanish Brandy followed dinner.

Marilee and Dan took one more quick dip in the pool and then went inside and up to bed. Claire took care of clearing the dishes and then joined me on the poolside lounge chair. Our bathing suits were almost dry by then.

“Did you notice my bruises? If I bump into anything I get bruised, they don’t hurt, but it’s so unattractive.”

“No it’s not, it’s just you. Claire is Claire, is Claire, and I like Claire.” “Thank you, Monsieur Sart.”

She leaned into my arms and I kissed her long and softly. We had never been this close before without being fully dressed and it was a physical encounter that changed our whole reaction to each other. Our touching aroused a newer passion, not a frantic lust, but awareness of our caring.

“Timmy, you make me feel like an attractive woman when you hold me close. I can’t get enough of you...I mean I don’t want this to stop; this just being close.”

I stroked her thighs and back, still amazed that she could be so soft and appear so firm. I touched her covered breasts and she made little sounds that drew me closer. I kissed her face and eyes and shoulders feeling that incredible little electrical shock of being with a woman who returned all of my feelings in her own passionate way. I didn’t think of anything but the present, especially not any sexual advancement in our togetherness; I wanted to feel every moment of this gentle awareness of each other.

We whispered about the goodness of our happiness and time together. We practiced saying our names and new endearments, where one word seemed to recite long romantic poems. We were both on the edge of a new level of our relationship. If this is love, it’s a reason for existence.

We both started dozing a bit and knew it was time to go home.

“Timmy, will I see you tomorrow?”

“Lets do dinner together. I’ve got to write and plan for the big week coming up.”

“I will miss you, but I know how important this week will be.”

“Don’t you dare think I won’t miss you too.”

“I know, sweetheart. I need to spend some time with Marilee. She has mentioned lunch at the club. Do you mind if I write you a letter?”

“No, but don’t mail it.”

“I don’t know if I could be with you when you read it.”

“Well, mailing it may be good. I’ve already written to you but haven’t put it all together in a letter. Let’s do that.”

“Maybe I can say things that are hard to say out loud.” She walked me to my car kissing me long and with an almost writhing passion. I wanted to tell her something that I wasn’t sure she was ready to hear or that I had the nerve to say yet.

Chapter 9

Sunday morning breakfast was pleasant with little talk about Claire or the play. Both parents thought the time I was spending with Claire at Daniel and Marilee’s was good for me. They felt Daniel and I needed to get as close as possible before our ‘careers’ took us away from each other. Jeordie showed me his photos from school and I told him he just might have talent as photographer. He seemed all consumed by it, which was a new Jeordie. Even his dabbling at sculpture hadn’t interested him anywhere near what he was expressing about using his camera.

My late morning and the afternoon were dominated by writing in my journal and writing out plans for the week. Building a play in rehearsal through improvisation with the script was much more demanding than the usual process. The improvising was used to create a more collaborative approach to imagination, but to work it must get closer to setting a scene or I could improvise ad nauseam. Each day of rehearsal I had to see where the next step needed to be. The major parts of each scene were now blocked into tighter zones of about three feet of freedom for the actors to find new but slight changes. The response so far from the cast was that they appreciated the opportunity use their own imagination and not be locked into a tight blocking pattern from the beginning. And they trusted me, when something wasn’t working in their movement or interpretation, they knew I would see it and head them in a better direction more often than not. The most difficult part about what I was trying to do was the intense constant concentration it demanded from all of us. Each step had to be layered on the last in a productive manner or there was a danger of wallowing into a process of indecision. We didn’t have the time for let’s go back and try what we did before, that was gone. My being with them on stage all the time made the difference, I would get no farther from them than the lip of the stage, and giving directions as they worked. I would talk to them but they wouldn’t stop, it was as if I was whispering ideas and they would adjust physically or advance interpretation. Everyday I gained more confidence but I was teaching myself and using every bit of technique I could garner from the best writers on theatre. Claire’s drawings had made the difference for me in setting better stage pictures and she was getting better as she understood more how her drawings were an asset. Her work was getting faster and more broad without all of the detail but of grouping as we progressed through the scenes. At this point I wasn’t sure that what I was doing would work with a more traditional play such as a Somerset Maugham that I wanted to direct. Blood Wedding is so open for new ideas for the many scenes with difficult segues and fantastical settings that I believe it demands new ways of thinking. Sometimes when I write in my journal I get scared to death hoping my ideas take the creative leap to production; but then it’s so damned exciting. The writing about it is making the difference; it seems to give the improvisation more discipline. I’m getting more facile in advancing the script with an outline of the process. Part of the outline is written out and another of arrows drawn toward listings of emotional desires for the scenes and individual and group interpretations; it’s looking like a scientific formula for an experiment. I understand it but I’m not sure anyone else would, well except for Claire. I showed her my diagrams and she had some ideas about how to make them clearer.

Claire enters my mind every time I stop writing for a minute. I wonder what she’s thinking and doing, and then I think of a question I want to ask her, “What do you think of this idea, should Eddy come in stronger here, should I spread the dancing out more, and why are you more beautiful ever time I see you?” Never have I had someone close to talk to during rehearsal, especially someone as close to the show as she has become.

In the middle of the afternoon Jeordie came to tell me I had a telephone call. It was Claire.

“Hallo, Timmy.”

“Hi there, wonderful girl. How’s your afternoon going?” “It is fine, but I miss you.”

“And I you.”

“Marilee just talked to your parents about us all getting together tonight. I wanted to tell you and see if you agree. She says the club is having a nice and rare Sunday night buffet and we’re all invited. What do you think? Do you want to go?”

“It sounds good to me. Do you want to?”

“If you do. We were going to be together anyway weren’t we?”

“Of course. You couldn’t possibly think I would change my mind?”

“I hope not, Timmy. Let’s do then, I enjoy being with your family. Could you be here at six and have a little time together before we leave?”

“How about earlier? I can be there at five. Is that too early for you?” “No, all I have to do is dress. I had a delightful bubble bath an hour ago. I’m glad you’re coming earlier I’ll be at the door. Bye mi ‘audazito’.” “Bye, super girl.”

I worked on my journal for another hour and made out diagrams and notes for the week in general knowing I would have a chance to be more specific at the store during the day. I read the play again and went back to my notes several more times. I read Ginger’s notes from the past week. My concentration was getting better everyday and my thoughts of Claire helped. Having someone believe in your work was an incredible advantage. I finished, got ready, even wearing a tie for the club, and put on a jacket that Uncle Willy had given me last year. He had gotten it in Hong Kong years ago, but it was still stylish and made of a beautiful dark blue silk. I went into the house and told the family I would see them at Marilee’s.

When I drove up to the door Claire came out. I got out of my car and stepped into my arms whispering,

“Hallo, Timmy. You look so handsome.”

I stepped back from her and looked at the absolutely breathtaking outfit she had on. It was a deep rich burgundy that made her auburn hair and glowing skin even more striking.”

“Do you like my dress?”

“I don’t think ‘like’ quite says how beautiful it is.” “I got it at that store downtown. Is it Neiman’s?”

“It looks like a Neiman-Marcus dress.

“I was saving it for your opening, but I couldn’t wait.”

“Don’t give it a thought, now is right.” We went into the living room and sank down in the cushy leather sofa. She wanted to know how my work went today and I told her in detail about the diagrams and journal writing. She was interested in everything. She told me about her day and that it had changed because they didn’t go to lunch at the club. Marilee talked her into a swim early in the afternoon and they sat around the pool and discussed her helping you and the family. The Sart family had given Marilee a whole new feeling of completeness and she expressed it in loving terms of trust and support. She had been worried at first that she wouldn’t be accepted but there had been nothing of the sort. Her relationship with Daniel from the beginning had been so good very quickly and they became a part of it. They just seemed to know how much we loved each other. It was not hard to share that love with them. She had described how close immediately she felt with Uncle Willy and Rosie.

“Marilee surprised me with something she said; that she thinks she wants to be a Sart...that she wants to marry Daniel, but she hasn’t told him. We have become very close since I’ve been here but I didn’t expect her to become that open and trusting. She said it was all right to tell you but for it to go no further.”

“My word, that is something; of course, I won’t say anything. My impression has been that what they have now is too good to change.”

“Yes, but she feels because her of money that Daniel may resist being an actual part of it. I think she’s wrong about that. They would have fallen in love if he had had money and she didn’t, or if neither one had any money. They are as happy couple as I’ve ever seen. Don’t you think so?”

“I believe what they have is amazing. And, you know, I believe Daniel would say marriage is just fine with him. It could make their life easier in a way.”

“Evidently she has no doubts about their relationship at all and wants to be a real member of the family.”

“Well, she already is, but I understand, I think, what she wants is to be named Sart; not just be accepted as Daniel’s lady friend. Humm..., Maybe she wants to have children with Dan?”

“You are a smart man, Monsieur Ti-mo-thee Sart. I’m sure she does too. She didn’t say as much, but I could just tell by the look in her eyes. She loves and adores Daniel so much that I believe she’s ready for the natural progression of it.”

“Something that I think is good about this is that she is talking about it, and to you. You know, I don’t think she’s had anybody to talk with before you came. Most of the people she works with are men and I haven’t noticed her having any close women friends. But then I haven’t been around that much until lately. I mean, I usually see them about once a month. Well, anyway it is an interesting turn of events. Did she say she was going to approach Dan about this, or just wait and see what happens between them?”

“I don’t think she’s sure about what to do. She doesn’t seem to be in any desperate urgency and perhaps was just seeking some advice or support. That’s kind of funny considering I’m probably the most innocent woman she knows; in these sorts of matters anyway.”

“Well, I know she respects your intelligence and for sure she knows you’re not a scatterbrain.”

“A scatterbrain?!” Claire laughed, “What a funny word. What does it mean? Wait...Scatter means to spread out, but with brain?”

“Yeah, your senses spread out in all different directions...uh? Not logical. Silly? Well, I think you’re very logical and only silly at times.”

“Timmy, you’re being silly right now. Do you think I’m a silly girl?” “No, I don’t. You are the most un-silly girl I’ve ever met. I swear on a stack of funny papers to the moon that’s a true statement.”

“Oh, Timmy. I don’t you want to ever think I’m a scatterbrain.”

“I think that’s the least of your worries. As a matter of fact, you’re the smartest lady I’ve ever know.” She leaned over into my arms. I kissed the top of her head. Her hair’s beautiful scent held me for a moment, I then turned her head toward me.

“Claire, at times I have a whole new rush of feelings for you.”

“Me too, Timmy.”

I kissed her gently.

“You want to know what I told Marilee?”

“If you want to tell me.”

“I said that on their travels to New Mexico and New York, away from Dallas would be a good time to bring it up slowly with Daniel. You know, not all at once like ‘let’s get married, Dan!’ What do you think?”

“I believe that’s the best thing you could have said. Very good advice, Mademoiselle. What was her reaction?”

“She agreed. I believe she was thinking the same thing and just needed someone else to say it.”

“They would sure have beautiful children.”

“Yes...”

Claire stopped there, went very quiet and looked at me. Suddenly tears started down her cheeks. I kissed her forehead and pulled her into my arms.

“Are you alright, Claire? Did I say something to upset you?”

“No, no, Timmy. I just had one of those; what did you call them? Rushes of new feelings.

Luckily I had brought a handkerchief. I handed it to her. She took it and wiped away the tears.

“Have I ‘messed’ up my face, Timmy?”

“Impossible, sweetheart.”

We sat quietly, her head on my shoulders. I leaned back and looked at the ceiling, knowing I was feeling new emotions I had had no experience with. It was very good and very bittersweet.

“Claire...?”

“Yes, Ti-mo-thee?”

“Nothing, I just wanted to say your name.” Marilee walked into the living room, “Forgive the interruption, ’smitten ones’, but Daniel and I are going to have a cocktail. Would you like to join us?”

Claire and I smiled at each other and said together, “The smitten ones!” We laughed at her teasing.

“What do you say, Mademoiselle? Shall we join we join the older smittens?”

“Oui, monsieur Sart. It would be a pleasure.”

We followed Marilee into the den where Daniel was mixing martinis for the ladies; I opted for bourbon. About this time we heard the parents drive up. Marilee went to the door to greet them.

They entered in high sprits, happy to be with all of us. Hugs and kisses all around. Claire was included as if she was a family member which made her obviously happy and at ease. Dad was a man who enjoyed dressing for a dinner outing. He was wearing a new suit from Titches and a tie that mom had actually painted for him. Mom was elegant in a flowing green dress she had made from a pattern from Paris. Standing together the familial likeness between Daniel and Dad was striking. Their light brown curly hair and roman noses were so different from mom and me. We both had almost pug noses and her hair had been black like mine before it grayed into a silver that appeared like a platinum blonde. We all sat and the parents brought us up on business family news. They both had gotten new commissions for furniture and portraits. Considering the way the economy was they were doing quite well for now. Daniel talked about going to Taos and Marilee mentioned her worry about conditions in Java and a possible pull out soon. Everyone assured me they would be there to help at the theatre for the next two weekends. Marilee promised food, treats, and doing any errands that were needed. Mother asked the question I didn’t want to hear, when was Claire leaving after the show opened. Claire didn’t want really to discuss it but sweetly said she would arrange it with her parent who expected shortly here after the date. She didn’t mention they weren’t aware of the production or her friendship with me. Marilee seized the moment to free Claire from any more questions and said it was time to go. She said she would pull the Chrysler around front. There wasn’t any tension because of the questions asked of Claire; there was too much love in the room for that. We climbed into the big Woody Station Wagon; which easily sat the six of us and we were off to the club. I had noticed that on the way to the car Mom was holding Claire’s hand. Two wonderful women.

The drive out to Harry Hines Blvd. And the club was enjoyable. Marilee turned to us in back and told stories about past parties at the club and her costume extravaganzas. I had gone to the last one in a circus lion tamer’s outfit. Marilee had fixed me up with the cute daughter of a club member who was more fun than I had expected. She had been in town from college. I never saw her again; which was all right. There was a table waiting for us and we got seated and ordered cocktails. The buffet line was incredible; leg of lamb, huge shrimp, roast beef, and roasted chicken. Claire and I both had the lamb. The conversation at the table was easy and Claire seemed to feel great about being with this almost complete family gathering. Uncle Willy and Rosie weren’t unable to join us because of the races at Diablo’s Hollow, a dirt track venue that they never missed when he had cars entered; but they were toasted. Claire talked about how much she had liked meeting Uncle Willy at his shop and hoped she could see him again before she left. I promised her I would do my best to make it happen, but she realized Blood Wedding would take precedence over almost everything for the next two weeks.

After dinner we all went out on to the terrace for brandy. Two board members of the theatre were at a table on the way , I stopped to chat for a minute. They seemed enthusiastic about the play asking how rehearsals were going. They knew two people in the cast who had told them it had been an exciting process so far. I turned to join my family, took a few steps and stopped in my tracks; Claire was standing at the stone work railing of the patio lighted by candles and the lanterns set for the evening. She was talking to my mother. The lights around her set her off in a gentle red glow; she turned slowly toward me with no expression; saw me and smiled. Her deep burgundy dress, auburn hair, and glowing skin gave her a new beauty I had not seen before. I remembered my comment about Rosetti’s Pre-Raphaelite paintings and for a brief moment she took on the countenance of one of those women. I knew she was beautiful in my eyes but now I saw her as the most striking woman I had ever seen, much less known. She saw that I had stopped and tilted her head in a question. I smiled and waved to her. When I reached her she held out both of her hands. We stood looking at each other for a few seconds.

“Well, you two.” My mother said, “You act as if you haven’t seen each other for days.” She laughed and hugged us both.

Claire leaned toward me, “What were you thinking when you stopped, Timmy?”

“Just how beautiful you are.”

“You looked wonderfully handsome yourself, Monsieur Sart.”

Dad brought out his package of Camels and offered them around. Claire, Dan, and I joined him. I rarely smoked but always enjoyed the taste, and I was surprised to see Claire join us but she said she also enjoyed the taste occasionally. The evening was a huge success.

At Marilee’s we saw Dad and Mom off with hugs and promises that Claire would visit them again before she left. Mom felt that working at the theatre was not enough visiting time because everyone would be so busy. Dan and Marilee went off to bed and Claire and I went out back to the pool patio and laid out on the recliner.

Claire snuggled into my arms and held on to me with an urgency and feeling of sadness. She whispered about not wanting to leave in two weeks. There was nothing I knew I could say in response except my own regrets and how I wanted to slow down time and make our days together like a short lifetime. She agreed and promised not to talk about, as did I. We kissed and grew closer in our intimacy. She pulled away a bit so I could touch her. Her dress was cut low enough that I could kiss and stroke the tops of her breasts. Their softness was like a down pillow. As I kissed her there she whispered my name, kissed my neck and rubbed my chest. I moved my hand down to her waist and over her thighs. She took my hand and moved it to the inside of her thighs.

“I want to be so close with you, Timmy. Touch me down there.” I slowly moved my hand down to her, it was like a soft little pillow. She opened her legs a bit and pulled her dress up to her knees. I reached up under and to her bare skin. She reached down and touched me. I hadn’t realized how aroused I was.

“Oh, Timmy...I truly do wish that...” She didn’t finish the sentence, but I knew what she meant.

“So do I, Claire.”

She was as aroused as I was because I could feel her wetness. She pulled me close to her again and we wrapped our arms around each other.

“We mustn’t go any further, Timmy. You know that don’t you?”

“Yes, if you don’t want us to, but I don’t think I could ever be too close with you. My feelings are...well, I don’t know if can even express it; this is something new for me. It’s as if all of a sudden, I mean sudden like in the last few weeks, You and I, it’s a lot more than just ‘smitten’, which I hope Marilee never says again.”

She laughed softly then whispered, “I was ‘smitten’ the first week we were together and now, yes, it is a lot more. This is new for me too, Timmy. And it’s wonderful and a little scary because I am...I’m not going to say it. But, yes, let’s do savor every minute. The next weeks are very important for you in your work and I hope I can help because it’s become very important for me, too. I want your play to be a great success, just like us. Do you think we’re a great success, Timmy?”

“If success means am I happy, am I literally thrilled every time I see you, and to hold you close is a lovely experience; yes, we’re a success already; and the show hasn’t even opened yet.”

“My word, as you say, if we are more of a success than now I may pop like a balloon. I already hurt from smiling so much.”

“Me too. I think I smile in my sleep, especially when you dance in my head.”

“You know, I’ve never dreamed of anyone else before you. You don’t really mean I dance around in your dreams? Do you?”

“Well, not like Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, but more like you’re here then there and we’re together. Once I was watching you comb your hair and you turned around and looked at me, then we were in the boat again for our first kiss.”

“I dreamed of that, too, but it was in a different place; France I think.” “France? I’ve dreamed several times that I wake up and you’re beside me. Do you remember when I fell asleep right here and I woke up and you were watching me? Kind of like that, but more so.”

“More so? Oh, you mean I was lying beside you.”

“Yes. It was so real it did actually wake me up.”

“Well, I will dream of you tonight, Timmy. And I’m sure they will be ‘sweet dreams’. I remember a woman in an English novel saying that to her child when she was putting it to bed. I think we are living a sweet dream, but it’s real.”

“Yes, Claire, it is sweet. It’s like being able to taste life.”

“When you kiss me I can surely taste life. Oh, Timmy, I...Humm, I will miss you tomorrow. Did you look at my drawings today? Were they a help?”

“I studied them for almost an hour. They will probably be even more important for the next two weeks. Hey, I have an idea; could you water color some of them? I think it would be great to hang them in the lobby as a kind of exhibit for the run of the play. It will be almost as if you’re still here.”

“I could do that if you think they’re good enough. I am better at watercolors than the other mediums. That’s very exciting; thank you. I’ll go tomorrow and get some paints. Marilee and I had planned to go shopping anyway. Timmy, I will still be here in spirit. Your play and your work are special to me. Perhaps with my drawings here you won’t forget about me too quickly.”

“Oh, Claire, there is absolutely no chance of me forgetting about you.” “Nor I you, sweet man.”

At this point I wanted to hold her all night and talk about a million things.

“It’s getting late. I don’t want to but I’ve got to go home and get at least some sleep.”

We got up and walked to my car.

“Claire, I forgot to give you something.” I reached behind the front seat and brought out a large envelope. She opened it and pulled out two of Jeordie’s photos; one of us together and a portrait photo he did of me this week.”

She squealed with joy and held them out, “These are the best gifts I could have. They are very good. I think Jeordie does have talent. They are going to go on the table beside my bed.”

“That’s where mine are going, except one of them is a picture of you.” She reached up, put her arms around me and kissed me gently, “Good night sweet, good man.”

I drove off thinking I was beginning to understand even more that conversation Dan and I had about love.

I did dream of Claire that night. She did dance in my head as the vision of her at the club returned in many variations.

At breakfast Mom asked about Claire and me, “Is this getting more serious between you than you bargained for or expected?”

“Yes, it is.

“Timmy, she is a glorious young woman and I can see that what has happened between you is something so good that it must be very confusing, of course love is glorious and...confusing. When I saw you two looking at each other last night I knew you’re in love.”

“We are in love I believe, though we haven’t said so to each other, and I don’t know that we will, perhaps because if we do it changes everything. Her leaving after we had said we were in love with each other would be...I...I refuse to get into those thoughts. Mom, directing Blood Wedding is the most difficult and exciting theatre experience I’ve had and meeting and being with Claire is the most exhilarating emotional experience of my life; and they have mixed together to make each better. As you well know Claire has become an important of my work life too. Her belief in and support of my work has been a revelation. I just didn’t know it could be like this. I mean love, I guess. And something really strange, everybody wants to talk with me about us; You, Dad, Uncle Willy and Dan. Not in any critical manner but kind of to give support in a way.”

“I believe one of the reasons for that is everyone likes Claire from the very first minute they meet her; and the change in you. You have been rather of a loner most of time with brief whirls.., but nothing like you and Claire, never even close.”

“That’s certainly true, never even close. Well, Mom, to be continued, I’m off to work...I probably won’t see you until tomorrow morning. Perhaps it would be better if it’s not continued. We can discuss colors for the set or what a nice day it is.”

“You’re right, too much talk about a life abstract can muddy the waters.”

“You’re getting too philosophical, dear old painter lady”

“Get yourself to work, young director man. I love you, Timmy.”

“I know Mom, thanks for caring.”

I hugged her and was off to the bookstore.

My boss brought me a new book he had found. It was about a Russian director named Meyerhold who had broken away from the Moscow Arts Theatre to try out new ideas. It was a light customer day so I was able to review my plans for the evening, study Claire’s drawings, read the play again making notes, and read Meyerhold. It seems he went through similar thoughts as I had been having; on a completely different scale and of an almost distant time but his work came out as a new approach to the stage. Everything seemed to inspire me now, even if it was only his trying to change the way he worked.

Claire called me in the early after noon to say she had gotten some water colors at the art supply store. She asked if I had had time to get lots of work done and to tell me she missed me and was fixing us some sandwiches. I told her I would pick her up at five thirty and that I missed her too. Just hearing her voice lifted me up for the next three hours. My diagrams for each scene were getting clearer and more precise. I knew that tonight I could set the blocking for the first act without any doubts especially with the help of Claire’s drawings. I spent the last hour on my journal and wrote a short note to Claire, it was more a note of thanks for her inspiration.

At Marilee’s we sat in the kitchen eating and discussing the rehearsal. She showed me a preliminary watercolor, which was more than I expected.

“I told you I could water color, Timmy.”

“I didn’t doubt you, but this is really fine stuff.”

“Fine stuff?” She laughed, “Your play is fine stuff too.”

“I’m much obliged for those words, these sandwiches are fine stuff, too, Mamm.”

“Merci, Monsieur Texas talking theatre man.”

At the theatre almost everyone had arrived early and was warming up, going over lines in groups, trying new music, practicing dance steps, and finding rehearsal outfits. I went into a conference with Ginger and read over her notes. Claire set herself up in the house. The choreographer came in to give some new combination instructions. The stage crew had done an amazing amount of work over the weekend so we had the beginnings of a set to work and practice set-up with. Eddy and I talked about where he would play during the play. I had decided I didn’t want him hidden from the audience so we set a platform on the far down left of the stage. From that viewpoint he could watch the play as it happened as well as be a part of it. I wanted him to walk into the wedding part scene as if he were a guest. I started having individual conferences with the actors giving notes and blocking advances. The costumer builder also was working at getting final measurements and we discussed and agreed on the color mixes changing as the show progressed from scene to scene. Everything was coming together in a successful process. At seven I called everyone together for the pre-rehearsal session.

“Tonight is the beginning of the final thrust toward production. I know it seems like we have three weeks, but we don’t. We open on Thursday of the third week. So, let’s say it’s two weeks then full run-throughs starting a week from Friday. I personally think we’re way ahead. I know everyone is off book and every scene is ready for the final shaping and the blocking will be set by the end of the week. Wednesday will be a complete dancing rehearsal for the wedding. Aurora will be here every night to work with you. Eddy feels he has the music for every scene and the segues. The technical rehearsals will be more difficult than the usual process because you will change the set to music and the lighting will enhance every transition. I’ve been assured that all of the costumes will be ready by the middle of next week and, of course, there are always changes to be made in fittings and color combination. Tonight we will try to use what we have of the set, actually to see if it works and I’m pretty sure it will...Well it did on paper.”

Several of the cast laughed and some held up their hands for questions.

“Tim, since the set folds up and out, will it stand the wear and tear?” “Well, that concerns me too, but my father has had some good ideas about how to solve that problem. He is using some double folding hinges that are also double strength. The extra bracing will be on the side that doesn’t have an entrance. They will clip at top and bottom, which you will do. It’s actually going to be a lot easier than it sounds. I think the technical rehearsals will solve any of those problems. One thing that could help would be for you to spend as much time as possible here on the weekends and try them out as they are built. The set wagons should be very easy to maneuver on and off stage. It doesn’t mean the whole two days but just some of the time. I know we all have another life, work, families, and all the other things that interfere with theatre. Your commitment and patience to this rather overwhelming process has been terrific. I have no doubts that the concept is working towards creating an interesting and exciting piece. I’m excited and your work and extraordinary growth in this process gives me the impression that you are excited also.”

“Tim?” a cast member named Liza Farquar, who was playing the wife, “This is my fourth show here, and what I’ve really liked about this experience is that it has been different beyond anything I’ve done before. I think that I’ve grown as an actress and I love the play more than I thought I would and I liked it before rehearsals started. But since we’re not doing as much intensive scene work do you believe we will find the passion and intensity the script demands?”

“Yes, and the main reason I believe that is because most of the work you’ve done before has been tightly blocked very close to the beginning of rehearsal with very specific character directions so there’s been a kind of security, but what I’m trying to do, as I said in the opening concept discussions, is reach for your own creative perspective starting from general ideas to more specific as we progress; and you have done it. Please believe me when I say I like what’s happening. I’m not going to be hesitant in my critique as I think you have noticed. One of major fears a director has is the casting of a play. I think I have won in that category; all of you, with no exceptions, have gone way beyond what I had hoped for.”

“El Audazito?” The old actor insisted on still calling me, “For the first two weeks I did feel that insecurity, but last week it came together for me. I started to understand why you were trying it this way. What I especially like was the run-through at the end of each week. I believe you justified it by saying it was for continuity, I had no idea what you were talking about until the second week. And, I think you mean understanding the play from beginning to end and knowing more each week. Last Friday we had a complete play without the...Como se dice? Especificades? Si?”

“Claro que si, mi amigo viejocito.”

He laughed and, “No tengo preguntas, maestro.”

Alina Gutierrez, one cast dancer-crew, “Tim, changing the set is going to be rather complicated. How is that going to be coordinated?”

“Ginger will give assignments for set-ups. Some of you will work from stage right the others, stage left. It’s going to be a traffic direction situation. As you know it will done to music and half lights, so I want it to be closely timed and semi-blocked; but things will happen. I don’t want you to worry about bumping into each other, but still have the time to carry it off. We will take the time for it to be worked out. That will be a part of the tech rehearsals. Is that enough of an answer, Alina?”

“I think so, but when you say music do you want us to dance around in the process?”

“Well, in a way. One of the reasons we’re having so many dance rehearsals is that I hope we can move as if you were a Flamenco troupe. Not so much dance steps, but an attitude of movement. Aurora, could you give a demonstration?”

Aurora stepped onto stage between the cast and me, and began to walk and circle the stage in beautiful swirls and almost prancing movements. She made several on and off stage entrances and exits and gestured for the crew-cast to join her. In five minutes they all were moving in the beginning of exactly what I wanted. Her practices with them had really paid off.

The cast members applauded them and we bowed towards her.

The actor playing Leonardo asked about the fight scene between The Bridegroom and himself, “You mentioned something about an eastern puppet show. How will that work?”

”There will be a painted drop up stage, the forest, a platform, and the scrim. You two will be on the platform entering from opposite sides. The backdrop will be low-lighted from above and high on the sides. You will be visible through the scrim, but hopefully almost shadow like, as there will be some red lighting from the front on the scrim. Aurora and I have discussed the fight as almost a dance, not the usual stage combat.”

“Could we get that as soon as possible?”

“Yes, Aurora, can you do that Wednesday?”

“I can start some of it tonight, Tim; during the break and tomorrow evening.”

“Great. The platform between the drop and scrim will be a hold over from the wedding scene. The Wife will run on stage from the right, up on the platform and stop the dance to tell us of Leonardo’s escape with the Bride.”

“Tim, I love that. I knew I would be upstage but I wasn’t sure how I could use my voice to make up for my size.” The diminutive actress playing the Wife asked, “How wide will the platform be?”

“Three feet. The platform is really a rather long ramp so your entrance can be more dramatic. The men will enter it in the black, before the drop is lighted. The ramp wasn’t on the drawing of the floor plan because it was a late idea. There won’t be any more major change late ideas, that was just something I hadn’t solved until this week. I liked your coming into the dancing party from upstage, but I realized it wasn’t enough for the moment. The ramp will be a foot and a half high so you will command the stage.”

“Thank you, Tim, That was a great late idea, don’t hold back.”

“I won’t. But don’t worry, folks, I’m not going to change the play to another one at the last minute. To a Noel Coward or something. I think I like Blood Wedding. Are we ready to start? No more question, which were all good, by the way.”

Everyone was ready to go and we did. The rehearsal was difficult and long but we set the first act and repeated it in a run without stop-start.

The week was the most important yet as my concept began to jell into a process. There were problems that I had to rethink and two of the cast-crew had to drop out. A couple of romances started up, as they always do in a large cast, but that turned out to help because it added an intimate flair to the dancing. Aurora and Eddy even started seeing each other away from rehearsals, but at this point there wasn’t much away from. Each evening after the theatre Claire and I drew closer though I was too exhausted to spend our long late evenings together. We explored each more, both intellectually and physically. We were as close to being lovers as we could be without actually making love. One night we fell asleep together on our lounge chair by the pool. At dawn we kissed ourselves awake.

Claire giggled and whispered, “Timmy, you’re the first man I’ve slept with and all we did was sleep, well almost.”

“Almost was beautiful.”

We walked to my car and kissed through the window. Then I started to drive off, stopped, turned to her and mouthed, “Love you.”

She suddenly had a surprised look, smiled and nodded, turned and ran to the door, and mouthed, “Me too.” And waved me off.

That moment sent wonderful chills up and down my spine. Driving home I laughed with tears pouring down my face.

Mom had breakfast waiting for me after I showered, shaved, and dressed. She didn’t say anything but just smiled and winked at me several times knowing I didn’t sleep at home.

Work was busy all week, but I had the chance to write in my journal and I wrote a letter to Claire that I knew I couldn’t give to her, at least not yet. I probably would have to send it to her someday. Clair’s drawings and my diagrams were finalizing my process.

Each day before rehearsal Claire and I ate together at Marilee’s and I told of my plans for the evening. I asked what she thought about some of the new ideas, and she knew the play so well by now that she was adding to my plans. Practically everything she added was a new step added on to mine. When we got to the run-through on Friday the cast was taking big steps in characterization and movement. With only a few problems everything worked. After the run-through and notes Marilee walked in and announced she had beer, wine, and pop for everyone in the lobby. I was our first real cast and crew party. You can read and write about ensemble, but until you really experience it, it’s a mystery.

Dan, Marilee, Claire, and I went swimming late into the evening. Claire was becoming less self conscious, and had taken off the little skirt from her bathing suit and she was magnificent. In the water her skin was luminescent in its pale glow. We laughed, played and drank Spanish Brandy. Alone we held each other and I kissed and touched all of her breasts. She shuddered as I gently suckled her nipples. I felt and caressed her wetness as she held me. We stopped and embraced just before we both reached a climax to our passion.

Claire nuzzled my neck and whispered, “What we are feeling is very difficult at times. Isn’t it Timmy?”

“Do you mean our stopping holding back? I don’t want you to ever feel that I’m rushing you into something you may not be ready for, Claire.”

“I know that. You are as gentle and tender as a man can be. We’ve done nothing that I didn’t want to happen with you. But that’s not what I meant. To be this intimate and know that...Well, I do want to make love with you so very much, Ti-mo-thee, but I...am so frightened…that you will hate me when I leave. Remember what you said about having a little life-time together? It is isn’t it? Our own little life-time together?”

“Yes, of course, I remember, I think I said it like that. If it’s all...I don’t mean it that way, but all has been and is, well here we are right now...Oh, Claire, I...”

She put her hand gently up to cover my mouth, “The other morning when you stopped and told me that you...well, I think you told me that you felt ...love for me; my heart stopped and I was so happy that I went upstairs and cried for a long time. Marilee heard me and came in and asked what happened. I told her and she hugged me so hard I lost my breath. Then she cried...”

“I don’t know why you believe I will hate you when you leave...I couldn’t ever. Sad, and lonely for you but never...”

I pulled her into my arms, and we just held on.

On my way home I thought about my present life and theatre. One of the ideas a director constantly talks to his casts about is staying in ‘the here and now’ and not anticipating the coming moments, as if everything was happening for the first time in existence. ‘Our little lifetime together.’

I slept late, had breakfast, and got to the theatre by ten thirty. It was a beehive of activity. Everything technical was in the process of being built, hung, or painted. I immediately went into several conferences; first with Ginger and her notes from the week. Eddy and Aurora were practicing in the lobby and Camila had come to help. She was working on the dancing and set changing movements. The costumer showed me her first set of costumes for the leads. She had completed all of their scenes and had the skirts for the rest of the actresses. Dad and Mom arrived with the supplies they needed. Dad even brought in some special new lumber pieces; plywood that he could bend and shape. Mom had ordered several gallons of custom mixed hues for the set pieces and the backdrop that she and Daniel were going to do. Yes, Daniel had decided to get involved. He said it was because that’s where everyone was. He arrived with drawings he had done for the backdrop for the third act and they were terrific. Mom had designed the drop for the first two acts. I had hoped that Claire would be with him, but she and Marilee had gone shopping fairly early.

The set pieces that folded up and down were beginning to work. The new hinges that Dad had used were the answer. For a while I thought my idea for a pop-up set was going to be changed because it wouldn’t work, but Dad had spent the time and designed a way for the floor of each new scene to be added as it was changed. They would clip on as the wall was brought up. Each new set wall also had a brace that folded out as it was brought to vertical and each one had a crown that was added to the top so they wouldn’t be square across the top. It seemed complicated but the cast-crew worked with each as it was completed; slowly as first but the problems were solved. The wagons were simple and much more quiet than I thought they would be. Dad had found some hard rubber wheels instead of metal ones that did the trick. He had gotten so excited about my idea that he had spent several nights at his shop drawing up the plans and devising ways to make it work.

Daniel and Mom were up on ladders drawing out the backdrop for the first two acts with charcoal attached to long sticks.

At one thirty Marilee and Claire arrived with food and drinks. Claire and I went out to the lobby and found a secluded place near the office and kissed our greetings. She said she had some surprises for the evening. Our social whirl of family gatherings had become rather overwhelming but delightful. This night we were going to my house and then go with my parents to Uncle Willy and Rose’s house for dinner. I felt like it had been one long celebration since I had met Claire and rehearsals had started.

The afternoon’s work went well and I felt we were way ahead of the tentative schedule I had set up. With the cast that was there we rehearsed the scene changes with all of the completed set and it worked. Dan and Mom finished the backdrop for the first two acts and mixed the paint for all of the set and backdrops. I had three final conferences and made plans for the stage work the next day. Dan took Claire back to their house and I went home to get ready for the evening. An hour later Marilee brought Claire to my house and came in for a visit. She and Dan had been invited but were unable to join us because of a long planned dinner with business associates, but she never missed a chance to visit my parents at the house. Dad mixed us pre-dinner martinis and we gathered in the living room. Claire had carried in several bags with her saying they were her surprise for the evening. Jeordie joined us and sat as close to Claire as he could without getting in her lap and he had his camera in hand trying to get close ups of her. Claire proceeded to open her bags and handed a package to Jeordie. He was a bit taken aback receiving a gift and it not being Christmas or his birthday. He looked at Claire in a combination of shock and adoration. He unwrapped the gift and found a box containing a new camera.

“Claire, this is a Leica.” He cried out. “It’s the best camera made in the world. I don’t believe it.”

Included in the box were ten rolls of film and two more lenses.

“I think a young man of your talent should have the best, and a family of artists should always have a good camera in the house.” Claire told him as she hugged him with a kiss on the cheek.

Jeordie turned red and laughed. He immediately pulled out the instructions and got to work looking like a professional on assignment.

Mom’s present was a Colombian Ruana, a kind of shawl with a split down the middle and worn over the shoulders. She loved it and especially it’s muted pastel colors. She paraded around the room and pulled Claire up into a tearful hug.

Dad opened his and found a broad brimmed Australian hat with a leather band and a cord that hung down below the chin. It fit him perfectly.

“It’s too perfect, Claire, and just in time for summer. Thank you, sweet girl.” She shyly handed me a package. I was hesitant but opened it to find a beautiful soft leather satchel. It was such an appropriate gift that I was shocked. My old canvas one was on its last legs. As I held it up and strapped it over my shoulder she clapped her hands and hugged me asking, “do you like it, Timmy?”

“Are you kidding, it’s beautiful?” I took both of her hands and just looked at her smile, then...”Thank you.” She hugged me and whispered, “For my most special man ever.” Marilee stood up saying, “Well, I wouldn’t have missed this for anything. She’s been planning this for two weeks with the help of Town and Country and National Geographic.” She gave her good byes and left wishing she and Daniel could have spent the rest of the evening with us. We were all in a kind of shock about the gifts Claire had given us. They were extravagant and beautiful; Jeordie’s camera was the big surprise. He was thrilled and taken aback by the generosity. He had already loaded it with film, put on the portrait lens and was at work taking pictures. He said he didn’t really need the instructions because he had been reading about using the best equipment, though he never expected to have a real Leica. I wanted to take my satchel out to my room before we left and asked Claire to join me. As soon as were in my apartment and the door was shut I turned and hugged her.

“How on earth were you able to get those gifts, I mean they are wonderful, but Claire...?”

“You mean because they were expensive?” “Yes.”

“Timmy, my father is very successful and I came with a letter of credit and a bank draft which Marilee helped me with. It was and is quite a lot of money and I’ve spent almost none of it since I’ve been here; why not share it with people I care about; besides it’s a tradition in my family to give gifts spontaneously just from happy feelings. Never have I felt more welcome and loved than I have before coming here. I know I will never be the same because of the happiness I feel now and have felt with you and your family. I knew that my gift for Jeordie would be a surprise, but I truly think he has talent. Don’t you think so too?”

“Yes I do and he is already seeing the limitations of his Brownie. I have no doubts about his potential, and now...You know I was about his age when I got into theatre, and people believing in me made a real difference. You’re an amazing woman, Mademoiselle Claire Levant.”

“Thank you, Mister Ti-mo-thee Sart. I think you’re an amazing man.” She reached up and kissed me softly and then said, “Shall we join your family before they go off and leave us, which wouldn’t be bad but I do so want to see your Uncle Willy and his Rose again.” The family was piling into Dad’s station wagon as we came out.

“I thought I was going to have honk for you, son,” laughed Dad as we joined them.

Jeordie shared the back seat with us as he had special weekend permission to join us and stay up later and if he got bored he knew he could listen to Uncle Willy’s radio. The drive to their house was almost a new sight seeing trip for Claire because it was new part of town for her. They lived on East Grand avenue up on a hill with a great view of the Sammuel forest area. As we pulled up the hill they came out to greet us with hugs and kisses as always. Uncle Willy was especially attentive to Claire, which she loved. We went through a gate to the backyard of his house, which he had turned into a Chinese garden like one he saw in his travels in the East. He had built a fishpond with an incredible collection of large gold fish. His large patio was made of pieces of thick slate with a large redwood table surrounded with cushioned chairs. He had set torches all around that would be lighted after dark. The environment instantly charmed Claire; she literally gasped and covered her mouth.

“My word, Uncle Willy, this is beautiful...Oh, may I call you Uncle Willy.”

“Yes, you certainly may Claire; and thank you. We wanted to create a sanctuary that was very different from the rest of our lives, I fell in love with the gardens I saw in the orient, but it did take me a while to convince Rosy, and now she loves it and works hard in her gardening efforts to make it even more so...Well, you saw my shop, it has a chaotic quality that demands a peaceful place away from it.”

“We’ve been very lucky in the last couple of years. Will’s shop has been a success with the racing and a precision parts contract from the Ford plant and my job, as a legal secretary downtown has been good. But a great deal of that is getting ready to change...”

“Rosy, what do you mean, change? My mother interrupted.

“Is it alright if I make the announcement, Will?”

“Now’s the time, sweetheart.”

“We thought it would never happen, and it’s on the edge of possibility, but we’re going to have a baby. About time, huh?”

“Oh, Rosy, that’s wonderful!” My mother almost screamed as she rushed to hug her.

My Dad bear hugged Uncle Willy and patted him on the back.

“It’s a big surprise for us, too. We thought we were too old for this to happen, but we’re thrilled.”

Claire looked at me and there were tears streaming down her cheeks. Jeordie was recording every emotional moment. Uncle Willy noticed Jeordie’s new camera and asked to see it.

“Lordy, Jeordie boy, where did you get this magnificent piece of machinery?”

“Claire gave it to me today.”

“It looks like you believe in this boy as much as I do, Miss Claire.”

”Yes, I do...Oh, I forgot...” Claire ran back out to the car and came back with the large bag she had brought. “I have some presents for you.”

She brought a large tube and handed it to Uncle Willy, and a wrapped package for Rose. The tube had several European racing posters. He furled them out with appreciative sounds.

“These are almost too good for my shop, but that’s where they’re going up, framed in my office. You sure know how to choose for folks, Claire. I’ve always wanted some of these, but could never find them, thank you, dear girl.” He smiled at her in a way I had never seen before from him. I think he was looking at the daughter he hoped to have this year.

Rose suddenly said, “Will, look at this!” As she opened her present and held up a bright burgundy Colombian Ruana “Oh, Claire, this is beautiful. Thank you so much.” She reached out and took Claire’s hand.

My mother nodded in approval and looked at Claire and then at me. I knew what she was thinking; that was a very special young woman. I nodded back in agreement. My Dad still had his arm around his brother watching all this; proud that he was the patriarch of this family.

Uncle Willy stepped out into the center of this gifting celebration and said, “I believe it’s time for a toast to our lovely French guest.”

“No, Uncle Willy, I’m on my way to becoming an American girl, but I will accept the toast If may make one myself.”

Uncle Willy turned to the bar he had set up for the evening, “Come make your choices.” He had mixed up a pitcher of Martinis and also included bourbon for Dad and me. He had one of those terrific spritzer bottles that made soda. “Jeordie, there are a couple cold Dr. Peppers for you.”

After we were all equipped with drink he proceeded, “Best of wishes and a good life to Claire and to my theatrical nephew, you are a joyful presence, Miss Levant.”

Claire blushed and then, “The joy is mine in the acceptance you have shown me and the love I feel in your presence. May the future hold wonderful things for the extraordinary Sart family. Thank you for everything.” She then turned to me, kissed her fingers and placed them on my lips.

I was startled and touched. A rush of happiness overtook me as looked at this beautiful good woman.

Dad and Uncle Willy proceeded to fire up the big grill built on the patio; the ladies went inside to prepare salads and vegetables. Claire wanted to watch the grill set-up.

“I’ve had more outdoor prepared dinners in the last few weeks than ever before. It sure is a Texas custom, isn’t it?”

“It comes from the old west customs; you know, around the campfire and all that. Would you agree with that Charles?”

“Could be, but I think we just enjoy being outdoors. We don’t do it much at all at our house, but that’s really because we don’t have a good grill like this one.”

“Whatever the reason is, I like it. We’ve done it every weekend at Marilee and Daniel’s.”

“Towards the end of March we start and go all through the summer, Rosy and I try to cook out at least twice a week. What about in France?” Uncle Willy asked.

“Well, never in the city, and rarely in the country. We quite often ate outdoors, but the food was prepared in the kitchen. We never had the beef steaks like here. We did a lot of picnics, just like in the impressionist’s paintings. I have no idea what it will be like in Los Angeles especially since my father travels so much. Perhaps I can take a Texas tradition there.”

“Be careful, it gets in your blood real quick, Texas that is.” My dad added.

“There are a lot of things about Texas that get in your blood rather quickly.” She said as she took my hand.

“Do you have to go to California? Why don’t you just stay here, you already seem like part of the family?”

“I...well, my parents are very serious about me being with them. This is the first time I’ve been away from them for any length of time. They are extremely anxious about my being away for so long. And several interviews have been arranged at the museums there. But I don’t want my time here to end...I...Oh! Timmy, I don’t...”

She unabashedly came into my arms holding me tightly and started sobbing openly. I nuzzled into her neck trying to comfort her feeling my own fears of her leaving rising up.

Uncle immediately said, “I’m sorry dear, I shouldn’t have asked.”

She turned to him, “That’s alright, I over reacted, I think because this is such a wonderful evening. Perhaps I should join the ladies inside.” She squeezed my hand and went inside.

My father and uncle looked at me saying nothing, but with expressions that spoke a thousand words.

We grilled the steaks and fish and the ladies brought out the other fixins. Claire came to Uncle Willy and hugged him and then my father.

My mother asked, “Gentlemen, I don’t know what you all were talking about, but we had a crying young lady in there.”

“It wasn’t sad things Elle, we just don’t want Claire to leave. “My Dad replied.

“Nor do any of us...but evidently she must. End of story.”

Claire laughed at this and, “Please let’s enjoy, I am so happy to be with you.” And we did. Uncle Willy lighted the torches and it gave a truly magical touch to the evening. As the cooking finished we all had another drink. The food was good and the conversation did take on a happy flair as Uncle told stories about his recent racing experiences and Rose talked of her excitement about the coming baby which she said was due sometime in December. After dinner Claire asked about our family’s history in Texas and Dallas. But before he could answer we heard a ‘hello’ from the side gate as Marilee and Daniel joined us. Their dinner had ended early and they knew we would be sitting on the patio. Everyone joined in welcoming them. My mother immediately told them about Rose being pregnant. Marilee squealed and hugged Rose as Dan shook Uncle Willy’s hand.

“Will, give us something to toast you’all with.” Laughed Marilee.

“We still have some Martinis mixed. How about that? Or your choice of anything else?”

Rose held up her hand saying, “Wait a minute, today I bought two bottles of good French red wine today and I would like to try it because no more hard liquor for me for a long time. If I drink another glass of Iced tea I’ll burst or be leaving this good gathering quite often.”

“Aunt Rose that would be perfect for me. Marilee?” “A French wine in honor of you, Rose, and our sweet guest from France. I would love it.” Marilee said as she took Claire’s hand.

Uncle Willy opened both bottles as Rose went in for some wine glasses.

After we toasted Rose and Claire, she blushed and took my hand then reminded Uncle Willy about her question on the family’s history.

“I’ll try to get it right, what I can’t remember, Charles will.” “Carry on brother.”

“I haven’t heard enough of it either.” Marilee said.

“Well, both sides, Elle’s and ours, are third generation Dallas folks.We go back to Tennessee, Kentucky and Virginia before that but the first here was Grand Daddy Perry Sart who came just before the Civil War. He was pulled into the conflict and became quite a hero and rose to the rank of colonel. I was told by buff that if he had been on the Union side he would have won the Medal of Honor twice. In two battles he captured the regimental union banner and was wounded both times. He was the youngest colonel in the whole Texas contribution. Early in the war he assisted General Lee as a liaison because he was well educated and he knew the west. He later came back to Texas and joined in many battles in Missouri and Mississippi. After the war he came back to Dallas got married to a Bowser and began a family. He started a business; I don’t remember what it was. Charles?”

“A small general store, I believe.” Dad added.

“After that failed he joined the sheriff’s department and quickly became the head deputy. His sad story ended when he was sent out to arrest a member of the Younger gang, John I think, at Scyenne just west of Dallas. He was killed in a gun battle there. The first Dallas law officer killed in the line of duty. That was in the middle eighteen-seventies. By that time our Grand mother had had three children. She had some real tough times but taught school here for almost forty years. Our Daddy tried making it as a writer of Western stories but later went into the land business with a friend of his named Lemmon. During the teens and twenties he did quite well but was ruined by the bust in twenty nine. I believe losing all of that broke his heart and will to live. At one time they owned almost all of Oaklawn. Lemmon went on to other things and daddy died in thirty-two. Momma finished her novel in thirty-six and died shortly afterward. The manuscript has disappeared, but someday it will be found, I hope. I read most of it several years ago and thought it was a great story though it went on for six hundred pages. That’s our story except that I went into the Navy in thirty-three for four years as a machinist on a gun boat in China and elsewhere in the far East.”

“Claire, don’t ever get Will going on his adventures over there. He can go for three or four hours straight. My story is that I fell in love with making things out of wood.”

“Charles, you do more than just make things. You’re one of the finest furniture designers in the country.” My Mom said, never losing a chance to brag on Dad. “I think it’s kind of funny that one brother chose metal, the other wood.”

“How about your family, Ell-ee?”

“They were mostly architects and builders who were also ruined by the bust in twenty-nine. I started drawing when I was three or four and have never stopped. Charles and I were introduced to each other by a friend of mine; who had been trying to get us together for months. I think we both resisted falling in love believing it was a distraction; well it certainly was, and it continues to be, but a nice one.”

“I wish my family had been more artistic; I thought I knew a lot about art until I met this family. Daniel never fails to amaze me in his depth of knowledge about it. Claire, I think you have gathered this is one creative bunch of folks.” Marilee said.

“When did your family come here, Rose?” Claire asked.

“Actually they didn’t get here until the twenties. My Daddy was a cotton trader from Louisiana. He’s still a great character, I know you would like him, Claire.”

“Our Daddy’s knew each other back in the cotton boom days. Rose and I met each other at some ball when I was in my early teens. I thought she would have been the ideal big sister, and now she kind of is; except more of an aunt. When Daniel introduced me to Will and Rose I couldn’t believe I was seeing her again, though I don’t think she remembered me.”

Rose laughed, “You’re right, I didn’t at first, but I sure remembered your Dad. He was one of the grand old men of the cotton days.”

“What wonderful stories of your families, I wish that someday I could tell you about mine.” Claire said putting her hand on my arm, “but I think we’re all going to be busy with Blood Wedding for the next week; and then...well, this has been one of the nicest evenings I’ve ever spent.”

My Dad stood up, “I think it’s about time to go. We are all thrilled to death about your news Rose. Elly and I sure will be happy to have a little niece or nephew.”

Mom went in the house to get Jeordie who had fallen asleep on the living room sofa. He must have taken three rolls of film during the evening but faded as we got into the family stories.

“Claire, it was so special we could have this night before you left, we think the world of you. I’ve never seen this boy so happy. I hope you can come back and visit some time.” Rose said as she hugged Claire.

Marilee asked Claire if she wanted a ride home, but I said I would take her. Claire agreed saying she wanted to spend a little more time with me. On the way home Jeordie slept with his head on Claire’s shoulder. When we got to my house we resisted going into my apartment knowing we would probably fall asleep and not wake up until morning.

On the way to Marilee’s Claire leaned on my shoulder telling about how much the evening meant to her, and she felt like she had a new family. I pulled up at the door and she came into my arms.

“Timmy, these next days are so important for you. Let’s not let any sadness into them. I’m happier than I’ve ever been and I’m so proud of you and what you are doing with the play. I want to share every moment I can with you and help in any way I can. I want what we feel for each other to be an inspiration and not a distraction.”

What she was saying could not have been better. I knew that the next week could the most important in my theatre life so far and she was a big part of it.

“I don’t believe I could have had half of my ideas without you. Oh, I could have gotten the show up, but not like I think it can be now. You’ve been like a...a muse. I told you before there’s never been anybody like you who really cared about how truly good my work could be. You do inspire me to be better than I thought I could be. I do want you to be proud of me. And you haven’t been exactly on the sidelines. Your drawings have been and are wonderful. They’ve made it possible for me to stay closer to the actors on stage, and I think you could also be a pretty good stage hand.”

Claire laughed softly, “Even with all my bruises.”

“Yes, even with all your bruises, beautiful Mademoiselle.”

“I love you, Ti-mo-thee.”

“I love you too, Claire.”

We held each other for a few minutes, kissed, and she went in.

I was too tired to read or study but laid in bed thinking of what Claire had said. She was right. Our encounter had been a whirlwind of emotions and very much tied to my directing. We had met just as rehearsals had begun, almost five weeks ago spending every available moment together, and very happily with extraordinary feelings of passion, and an unbelievable ability to communicate with each other. The play and Claire was a new life experience; and it’s not over yet. I fell asleep holding Claire close to me in my dreams with the colors of the play shading filmy visions of our love.

The next morning at breakfast my mother told me she would be glad when winter got here so she could wear the ruana Claire gave her and about the excitement over Rose’s being pregnant. Jeordie was going to set up his dark room now that Mom had given permission to use the extra little storing area. He was wearing his new Leica around his neck like a foreign correspondent going out on an assignment. Mom said she and Dad would be at the theatre as soon as they could. They knew this was the final Sunday for finishing the set and drops and were anxious to make it work and look as good as possible.

I got to the theatre at ten and started in with usual conferences. Barney showed me the proofs for the program. I had given him one of Claire’s drawings to use for the cover. Her simple style of capturing the essence of the scenes was perfect. It was of the wedding party and beautiful, it was also our first program cover in color. I told him he mustn’t let her see it because it was a surprise. It was my way of dedicating the show to her.

Ginger and I went down to the basement to see the costumes. To my surprise they were almost all finished. Usually they came in about two days before opening. The only changes I wanted were several variations of trim added to the women’s blouses and a couple of the skirts. Every male actor now had boots and hats to wear. I decided to go half costume on Tuesday and complete on Wednesday. Hopefully this would give them enough time to get used to them and still enough time for any last minute adjustments. The complete set of boots would help the dancing and the hat would give the look I needed to see. I then found the time alone in my little office to read my journal from last week’s rehearsals. Just as I finished Claire walked in.

“Hallo, Timmy.”

I turned to her, “Hello, sweetheart. I didn’t expect you this soon. I’m glad you’re here. Good morning to you.”

She was dressed in her dungarees and barn jacket with her satchel over her shoulder. Her hair was gathered in a long braid. Maybe because of my dreams or our last words the night before she seemed even more beautiful.

“When I went inside last night I almost ran back out to stop you and not let you leave me. I missed you terribly last night.”

“You danced in my head last night, dear heart. Come here, Mademoiselle.” I stood and reached out her. She put her arms around my neck and kissed me then just leaned her against my shoulder.

“Did I interrupt your work?”

“No, I just finished reading my journal and was thinking of tomorrow’s rehearsal. You came in at just the right time. Did Dan and Marilee come with you?”

“I came with Dan. Marilee is coming later with food and drinks. Your parents just arrived with a lot of supplies. Dan is helping them unload. Timmy, do you mind if I work in the lobby for a while coloring some of my drawings?”

“Claire, of course I don’t mind. That’s as important as anything else. I hope you can choose your favorites by Wednesday so we can get them matted to hang in the lobby.”

“Will you help me choose them? I want you to be pleased with the choices.”

“You could choose any one of them and I would be pleased. I Like them all. The complete show is there in sequence.”

“Do you think that if there’re in a sequence it will give the show away, I mean there won’t be any surprises?”

“Well...if the fight in the next to last scene is shown or the death of the bride in the last...yes, it possibly could. But all of the drawing stand on their own as art.”

“You’re right about the last two scenes, I won’t hang them.”

“I hope that you will let me have those to hang in my apartment.”

“Oh, Timmy, you can have them all, you did inspire them, and you gave me the opportunity to try the drawings as a help for you. I just wanted to sketch because the play was so beautiful and passionate.”

“Who knows what the audience will think, but they will see Lorca, or anyway my version of it.”

“Well, I think it’s good now, and you have a whole week left.” “Yeah...and what a week it will be. I’m actually excited about the rehearsals, usually it’s a desperate run get the show up as best you can. You know, sweetheart, it’s almost a miracle any piece of theatre gets to production, so many things could, or can go wrong. If you know any little magic spells that bring good luck, bring them out.”

“I do have my secret book that I brought with me, but only you may know about it. It must be kept a secret. Although it is in French and I don’t know if it will translate into an event that involves the English language. Perhaps if I first translate the spells into Spanish it will hold on to its European origins...it could be dangerous though. Are you willing to take the chance? You could be turned into a frog or even a monkey.”

“Yes, I’ll take the chance. Do we have to sit around a bunch of candles go into trances and chant in strange ancient tongues?”

“Well, you’re supposed to do exactly just that, but I think we can adapt it to martinis around the pool.”

“Thank goodness, the only trance I want to experience is the one I go into when you smile at me. Do you think we could arrange this tonight? “Yes, I think perhaps we can.”

“You’re on dear girl.”

“I’m on? Yes, I’m on.” Claire laughed and took my hand. “Are you ready to go up stairs?”

“Yes, on to the ramparts.”

Claire went on to the lobby to color her drawings. Barney told me later was he barely able to hide the programs in time. Most of the actors had come in to rehearse with the pop-up set pieces and help hang the remaining lights. Dan and Mom were painting separate drops and Dad was finishing up new designs on the wagons and pop-up features. I worked for two hours with the lighting designer on the focusing of the special effects for the last two scenes. The scrim was flown in and we rehearsed the fight scene on the ramp, which was a permanent set piece up stage. I blocked them coming together from opposite sides of the ramp. Fresnel lighting instruments were mounted just above the stage floor level with top of the ramp. The scrim was just down stage of the ramp and I had cut out gobos to project from the from house lighting position onto the scrim. As the actor came closer to each other the fresnels were dimmed up projecting their shadows on the rear of the scrim. This idea came from the designers mentioning the shadow puppet concept and it worked so far. Their fight to the death took about an hour to choreograph. They used prop knives that had blades, which collapsed into the handles. As they died lighting from above came up, which illuminated the back drop and the lights below kept the bodies of the Bridegroom and Armando in shadow barely visible. I had decided to play the last scene on the same set with the women encountering in the forest for the execution of the Bride.

For the tech through of the fight and execution everyone pulled back from the stage to watch. It didn’t have the complete effect without costumes and music but everyone actually cheered when it was over. I couldn’t believe it worked so well. We all took a break to eat.

“Timmy, that was very exciting and I know how much you were worried about it.” Claire said as she met me coming up the aisle.

“Camila came out to the lobby to get me. I almost missed it.”

As Marilee handed me a barbecue sandwich she said, “Well Timmy, if the rest of the play is as exciting as that was you’ve got a real success going.”

“It is as exciting, Marilee, I promise you. And I think I’m being objective, well maybe not completely. I’ve seen a lot plays in London and none I liked as much as this.”

I knew this last scene was extremely crucial for the play and had to be received well by the audience. Yes, it seemed to work, but I saw many potential problems; the segues between the scenes were very difficult and the acting needed to be raised up several levels. The passionate nature of the piece could turn it into a melodrama without a lot of intense directing reaching for those parts of the script that make it the great play I believed it is.

Part of the afternoon was spent testing Dad’s design for the rolling pop-ups. The big question was if they were sturdy enough to withstand the wear and tear of multiple use. We worked out all of the problems we could find and hoped that if any more appeared we would be able to solve them during the week. After the testing the set pieces were painted so they could dry by Monday night’s rehearsal. Mom had to re-mix only one batch for the first act. When the paint had hit the smooth plywood it seemed to change to a much darker hue. She and Daniel found the right mix quickly.

Aurora, Camila, and Eddy had arrived in time to eat earlier and worked on the choreography with the actors as they finished their set changes. The two leads, Leonardo and the Bride, worked on their encounter during the wedding party.

At six all of the actors in the wedding party arrived for a called run through of the completed choreography. We cleared the stage while Eddy and Aurora gave some quick notes and they proceeded through the scene. They finished in thirty minutes. I gave some acting notes and the day was done. After everyone else had left; Marilee, Daniel, Claire, and I joined Barney in the lobby for a glass of wine. Dad and Mom were so exhausted they couldn’t stay. Barney was in high spirits about the play and a rather generous gift Marilee had given him for the production.

As we all walked to the parking lot, I asked Claire if she wanted to go somewhere to eat before going home. We both wanted some time alone together though Marilee had extended her usual weekend Sunday night invitation. Claire said that would be fine except that she needed to be back at Marilee’s fairly early because she expected her parents to call about nine Dallas time. We weren’t dressed for any thing special so we went to the open all the time restaurant on Lemmon at Oaklawn. We got a booth in back and relaxed into a sweet discussion about the day. Claire was happy about how her painting had gone and promised to show them to me later in the evening. I told of my concerns about the acting in the first scene and the encounter between the Bride and the Wife. The actresses were both strong but it just wasn’t working yet. The older Mexican actor was still having some trouble remembering his lines. And I felt the general lighting of the show needed much tuning up. There were still some interpretation problems I wasn’t sure how to solve them yet.

I stopped and looked at Claire realizing this was the first time in my short theatre career I had someone to really discuss my concerns with. She listened and reacted with questions or suggestions. She didn’t try to be an expert on theatre but had a way of leading my thinking in a good direction. We didn’t talk about us, that was given at this point. We were happy just being together and with no need to analyze what was going on We were in love and enjoying our time. Nothing was said about her leaving. There was nothing to say about it.

We finished our sandwiches and drove to Marilee’s, arriving about eight thirty. Marilee asked us to join them on the patio saying there was a phone out there so she wouldn’t miss her call. Daniel served us both a Martini and we talked about the day and the show. Dan was pleased with how the colors turned out and wanted my opinion on the drops. I said I was truly thrilled by them and that they were much more than I had hoped for.

“The artistic depth that you and Mom have contributed is immeasurable. And Dad solved problems that were inherent in my crazy idea about the pop-ups. What all of you have done to help this production has been amazing. Claire’s drawings, now water colors, are a new way for me to approach directing. I hope that in the future that can be repeated in some way; perhaps Jeordie could photograph my rehearsals. Did I tell you that Claire’s work is going to be hanging in the lobby during the run of the show?”

“Claire told me’ said Marilee, ’she was almost jumping up and down with excitement. I think it’s a great idea because they are very good.”

“You darn right they’re good. Claire you have a real feel for water colors. It’s a difficult medium. I keep going back to them, it’s a constant learning process with them.”

“Thank you, Daniel. Coming from you, that’s a great compliment.” “Well, everybody’s art is in the show. This takes family collaboration to a new level. Yes, Claire you are like a part of the family. You know everyone feels that way.”

“Yes...I do know that Timmy. I feel the same way...if I...” Just then the phone rang. Marilee answered it and spoke for a few minutes to Claire’s parents. Claire then took the phone and talked for what seemed a long time. It was very private because she conversed with her father and mother in French. Afterwards she sat down and was sadly quiet.

“How was that, Claire?” asked Marilee.

“Of course they are glad that I’m alright and have enjoyed my visit. But they said there must not be any consideration of my staying longer. I must be on the train next Sunday. Things have been arranged...They... I told them I was going to a play this week that Daniel’s brother directed, but no more. They would not understand or accept what has happened here.”

She then looked at me.

“They are very strict and protective, Timmy. I believe more than you can imagine.”

“Evidently so.” I said, but without any anger or even resentment, just accepting.

“Timmy, European traditions and family connections are so different from what we know here.” Marilee said to console any bad feelings I might not be showing, ’I wish Claire could stay here, and have offered it, but I wouldn’t even try to convince her parents to let her stay. I care for them very much and hope that her father will eventually work with my company. Perhaps if that happens they will move to Dallas, and, well...I don’t know.

“When I came here to visit, I had no idea, as you well know, that I would meet Ti-mo-thee and...you understand what has happened between us, Marilee.”

“Yes, I do Claire, and it’s wonderful. Before you ever came to visit, I wanted you two to meet. I didn’t know you would care for each other so much so quickly.”

“Not to contradict, Marilee, but it doesn’t seem that quick to me. Does it to you Claire?” I asked.

“No. These five weeks seem like a year.” “And I believe we’ve gone beyond caring.” I looked at Claire.

“Yes, Timmy, I’ve cared about several people, but being in love with you is a different world all together. But...I”

“You have to leave. I accepted that a couple of weeks ago.” There was a kind of silence for a few minutes.

“Please don’t think I was belittling your feelings, but even Daniel and I have a hard time talking about love; but he knows I love him more than I ever thought I could possibly anyone, and I had a happy marriage with Grant, but as you said Claire, a different world.”

Dan stood up and announced, “It’s more than settled that we are folks in love, you two have another week, minus a few hours, so lets celebrate what time you have together. It’s still early; let’s have another drink and then go swimming.”

“Good idea, my dearest Daniel. Have I told you lately how much I do love you?”

“Not enough, and I you.”

“I believe a swim would be wonderful. Timmy?”

“Indeed, sweetheart. First the drinks...eh?”

“Coming up, little brother.”

Claire got up and kissed me on the top of my head and took my glass to Dan.

Marilee laughed and winked at me, “Little brother? After Blood Wedding nobody is going to think of you as anyone’s little brother.”

“Thank you, Marilee, but do you have influence with John Rosenfield?” “Even if I did, I don’t think I would need to use it.”

“John Rosenfield?” Claire asked.

“He’s the critic at the Morning News. His words are golden to the ‘theatre going’ public.” Marilee answered.

“Well, he never pans a show unless it’s really bad, and he’s always liked my work before. I’m not going to worry about that. I’m feeling pretty good about how it’s going. My plans for this week are more solid than anything I’ve done before. With all the help and collaboration from everyone...well it’s been great. Dan, those drops you and Mom did really are special. They’re like murals that should be preserved. I want Jeordie to get some colors shots.”

“I’ll get him some film this week.” Marilee volunteered.

“He’s getting pretty good in that darkroom he set up. Claire, he loves that camera.”

“I knew he would, Timmy. When you told me how much he likes machines, I had no doubts.”

“I do believe your Martinis are getting better or maybe it’s the company.”

“I tried a bit more of the olive juice, Daniel. And thank you. Are you ready to go up and change, Claire?”

“I am. Timmy, I’ll meet you in the water.”

“I’ll be awaitin’.”

She laughed, “My Texas boy.”

Dan and I went into the cabana to change. “Hold on tight, and be strong, Tim. None of us want her to leave.”

“I know; I just didn’t expect anything like this to happen.” “Nor did she.”

We eased into the pool, setting our glasses on the edge.

“Well, at least it’s a good thing for you to know what real love is like. Before Marilee I didn’t know if I ever would.”

“Yep. I now know.”

The girls appeared shortly. It was almost dark except for the candles Marilee had set out and Claire was beautiful. This week, to my surprise, she had gotten a two-piece bathing suit. She walked around to where I was standing in the water and sat down on the edge. I put my arms around her and kissed her bare stomach. I then lifted her into the water. We laughed and kissed.

“Do you like my new suit?”

“Yes, Mamm, I do.”

She pulled in close to me, “My goodness, Timmy, you are so..”

“Seeing you in your new suit and kissing your tummy kind of...” She laughed, “to use your words, ‘evidently so.’ I don’t think you should be climbing out of the pool anytime soon.” Dan and Marilee were sitting on the steps on the other side of the pool, talking quietly and laughing softly occasionally. The cool water calmed me down a bit and we swam over to them holding our glasses above the water. Dan reached over and kissed Claire on the cheek and Marilee kissed me lightly on the lips.

“I hope you two realize how much we love you, I mean as a couple.” Marilee said hugging Claire.

“I think so, I mean I’ve never been loved like that before, yes I do. You make me feel like I have a big sister.”

“Well, you do.”

We finished our drinks and Marilee said, “I think Daniel and I need to go up stairs, we seem to have fallen in love even more tonight, if that’s possible. Should I blow out the candles?”

“Yes, please.” I answered.

“Make yourselves at home in every way, dear hearts.”

“Good night, brother and Claire.” As they left, Dan put his arm around Marilee. She leaned into him and they were gone.

“I think they are very lucky. Don’t you Timmy?”

“Yes, but then so are we, Claire.”

“I know we are. Our having met and being together is the happiest thing that ever happened to me. My leaving doesn’t change any of the feelings I have for you...forever.”

“My word...forever?”

“Yes, I believe forever. I know our parting will be sad, but our weeks have changed me. You have said many times that Blood Wedding is play of passion. I feel a passion for you that was not a part of me before. Yes, of course, it’s you, but I didn’t expect to ever experience what I feel for you at this very moment and all the time. When we’re apart, I yearn for you. Is that the right word?”

“It is, I have the same feelings when we’re apart.” “Hold me, Ti-mo-thee. Be close to me now. I don’t think I can get enough of you.” We kissed with a new special passion. I felt like my tongue was making love to her and she returned the feeling with her tongue in my mouth. I kissed her neck and worked down to her breasts. I pulled the shoulder straps of her suit down her arms.

“Oh...Timmy. Kiss my breasts.”

I undid her suit in back and took it off of her. We had never been this close before standing. In the moonlight, she took on a new beauty for me. Her breasts seemed to start at her shoulders and fill her chest, full but as soft as a down pillow. Her nipples were a rosy color, not pink and grew as I kissed and suckled them. I put my hands around her small waist and pulled her to me.

“Timmy, I want to make love with you so much, but I’m still afraid. I don’t know why. I not afraid of you but because that it will be so wonderful that I won’t want to stop. Do you understand?”

“Yes, I do.”

“Can we get out of the water? I’m getting a little cold.” I climbed out and got her a towel. She wrapped her self in it as she walked up the steps.

“Let’s get robes from the cabana. I lighted a candle and walked into the changing room. I put the candle on a shelf and dried off then dried Claire. In the candlelight she was an apparition of beauty. Her full figure, small waist, and pale skin were an ideal of classic loveliness. I put the robe over her shoulders and warmed her. I reached down and felt her round bottom.

“Dear lord, you’re a magnificent woman. I want to be as close to you as possible right now.”

“Me too, Timmy.”

“May I take off the bottom part of your bathing suit?”

“Please do. I want you to touch me, and I want to hold you.” I knelt down and pulled her suit down and was startled. I mean that she had just a soft puff of auburn pubic hair. Every woman I had known before was hidden behind pubic hair. It was like a flower. As she stepped out of her suit, I pulled her close and kissed her .”

“I never thought of myself being pretty down there. I’ve always been embarrassed that I had so little hair there.” “Don’t ever have that feeling again because you are pretty.” I started to pull down my trunks.

“Let me do that, Timmy. May I?”

“Are you sure, sweetheart? Of course, you may.” Claire moved in closer and took my trunks by the waistband and began moving them down my legs. She knelt down as I stepped out of them. She took my erection in her hands and stood up.

“I think I am as wet as you are big and hard.” I touched her and she was wet. I opened her and rubbed her opening and little bud that was growing. She was moving her hand on me.

“That feels so good, Timmy. Can we make love a little bit?” Suddenly she shuddered and made little sobbing sounds, then kissed me softly then hard.

“Oh my, Timmy, don’t stop touching me yet. I haven’t felt anything like that before, just a little bit with you, but not like that.

“Claire, you are so beautiful to touch.”

“You touch me so beautifully, Timmy. Can we go lie down on the lounge outside? I’ve been standing on my toes so long my legs are getting sore?”

I laughed and took her hand and picked up the candle to light our way.

“Would you like some Spanish brandy? I think I would.”

“That sounds good, yes please.”

I went to the bar and poured out the two snifters. I opened the cabinet and got a small light blanket that Marilee had there for cool nights, as this one was getting to be. After arranging two tables beside us, I spread out the blanket over us and we snuggled together sitting up and drank our first sips of the brandy.

“I love this brandy. Timmy...I hope you don’t think I was been too forward. I am very shy about being as close as we are, I never thought I could be this uninhibited, but tonight I was so attracted to you. You were so handsome today at the theatre I just wanted to watch you every minute, but I never would have finished my watercolors and I didn’t want to embarrass you.”

“I thought I was the one being forward tonight. I didn’t want to rush you, but when you came out in that new bathing suit I was lost. And did you notice how many times I came out to the lobby today.”

“You promised that you wouldn’t let us distract you from your work.” “You didn’t and won’t. This play has become important for both of us, I think. I mean that I feel you beside me all the time. To direct the most important production of my career and fall in love with you at the same time being alive has taken, how can I say this without sounding pretentious, it’s taken my awareness of being alive to a new level. It seemed that before time just passed and I worked. But now every minute is special...I...” I don’t believe I could have said what you just said in English. I have thought the same emotions in French, yes, your play is very important to me. Your are...important to me...tonight is important to me. I am living with you in my heart and...soul.” I kissed her forehead and just held her. We said nothing for a few minutes.

“It feels so natural to be this close with you...with no underwear on,” She laughed softly, “We’re almost nude.”

“Do you mind if I take my robe off, the blanket and the robe together are too warm?”

“No, I will too.”

I stood up, “Lean forward, Claire.” I lowered the back of the lounge more so we could almost lie down. I snuggled down beside her and for the first time felt all of her close to me.

“This feels so good, Ti-mo-thee. I love you, and I love being this close with you.”

I ran my hand from her thighs up to her lower back, pulling her closer; and up to her neck and through her hair. We smothered each other with soft kisses. I whispered in her ear, “I love you, dear Claire.”

Our breathing raised as we both began to have our passions rise again. She spread her legs for me a little as I touched her. I could sense her nipples harden against my chest. My erection touched her and she put her arms around me and thrust her self to me.

“Oh, Timmy, I want you inside me but I know it’s not safe.”

“Yes, I want to also, but you’re right, it’s not safe.” As much as I want to make love with Claire I didn’t want to frighten her or have her worry about being pregnant. “I’m almost glad I wasn’t prepared because there is an innocent sweetness about our being nude together and not making love.”

“I am, too. I don’t mind if we wait for the right moment. But I think I’ve wanted to make love with you since the first moment I saw you, though I wasn’t aware of it.”

“I must have felt the same way, but I wasn’t aware of it either. I’ve was such an innocent before we met, and every one of our days together has been a surprise of new feelings.”

“In our way, Claire, we’ve been making love since not long after we met, I guess I mean, making a love, or letting a love happen as if we had no choice. I’ve always been reticent to let feelings of closeness happen. Maybe I’ve never trusted anyone.” “I know. I thought I was sort of cold hearted. I’ve been courted but I resisted it. Yes...I never trusted. Being with you seems so natural and real. What you said before about every minute being different is true.” “Do you think it could be arranged for us to spend some of our last nights together?”

“I will try. I want that too. Do you mind if I ask Marilee for help on this?”

“No, I think she is the one who could help us. We know she believes in us.”

“Claire, I adore you. Do you remember us talking about Marilee and Daniel...the natural progression of things?”

“About her and Daniel getting married and having a baby?”

“Yes, but ours is different. Our almost making love is our natural progression.”

“It is. Isn’t it?”

“And as I said, that new bathing suit of yours enhanced the progression.”

“Goodness, and I just wanted to be more modern. Timmy, I adore you too.”

We dressed and she walked me to my car. I arranged to pick her up in the early afternoon after I did my show preparations. Our kisses were different now. I was in love with Claire Levant and she with me.

When I got home I felt wide awake. I wrote my journal working until three in the morning with new inspiration for the play. The last run through was very good but there were so many highs and lows yet to be realized. The technique needed to be extended. The poetry was not yet perfected. Some gestures must be broadened and others made subtler. The vocal work must have more variation and in places almost shocking for the audience. I wanted to hear sounds from the audience in reaction to the higher moments; I wanted to see them lean forward in concentration and hold on to the person next to them. I wanted to hear them say ‘Oh, no!’ when the bride runs away with Leonardo and cry when the mother kills the bride. I wanted more from the music but without any doubts Eddy wanted this too. I wanted the dance to rise to more of a crescendo with the wife’s dramatic run out on the ramp with the screaming announcement that they had left together on Leonardo’s horse. I wrote how I felt each of these concerns could be achieved and an introduction speech and critique list for the rehearsal tomorrow. I finished my writing and in the dark thought of Claire in my arms. As sleep came Claire’s drawings came alive in ‘my imaginary sight’

Chapter 10

I awoke on Monday morning late with Claire on my mind then the last week of rehearsal, the last week of Claire. I lay in bed, not in a confused state but very eager to slow down time. I thought of the night before with Claire and our new intimacy. I wanted her with me now, in my arms talking with me about the week of rehearsals, making love with me, telling me stories about growing up in France and going to school in London, listening to my fears of failure and reassuring me of success, me telling her family stories and what it’s like my growing up in a family of artists, revealing how difficult it is to escape Dallas and get to New Mexico or New York, looking at her startlingly beautiful face and skin, putting my arms around her again and pulling her to me again.

I wrote in my journal for an hour. It was becoming a book about directing this production. I had had no idea how long it would become; over a hundred pages now. I stopped and wrote a poem about Claire; a poem, a first for me; well for a long time and never about a girl or love.

A knock on my door; it was Mom wanting to know if I wanted a late breakfast and she brought me a cup of coffee. I told her I would be in after I showered and shaved. I sat quietly with the coffee for a few minutes thinking of nothing, just a clearing for the day and evening ahead.

I sat in the kitchen, in my robe, ate, and talked with Mom. She was interested in my plans for the week on stage. I told how I was going to light the backdrops she and Daniel had painted. She approved. She hesitantly asked of plans this week with Claire.

“Just being together as much as possible, Mom, just together.”

“It would be nice if we could see more of her this last week.”

“You will.”

Jeordie had left a note for me telling about his plans for photographing the play and Mom had given him special permission to stay up late and work at the theatre. After Mom and I talked for a while, Claire called.

“Timmy, when did you plan to go to the theatre? Would you like to come over here earlier? Marilee and Daniel are out for the day. I could fix us something to eat before we go to the theatre.”

“I think I’m really finished with any work I need to do alone. I could be over in less than an hour. How’s that?”

“I wish you were here now, Timmy; but that’s fine.” “I’ll be there soon. Bye.”

I hung up and smiled at Mom. She hugged me and sent her love to Claire. I rushed out to my apartment feeling very excited about being with Claire earlier than expected and alone. I wanted to hold her as much as I wanted to talk with her. I put on a bit of cologne, combed my hair, brushed my teeth again, and gathered up verything for the evening with a couple of extra books. I felt very classy carrying the new shoulder bag Claire had given me along with wearing my barn coat. On the way I made one of those embarrassing trips to the drug store to get some prophylactics, not that I expected anything to happen today, but I was never going to be unprepared again, and I certainly wanted to protect Claire from any fears if she decided we could make love.

As I drove up to Marilee and Daniel’s Claire came out to meet me. She hugged me and walked me in the house. We went into the den, sat down in the cushy couch, and just sat there for a minute. Claire looked at me, smiled, and said, “Hal-lo Timmy, I love you. Do you think you really do love me?”

“Yes, Claire, without any doubts, I do love you.” She snuggled over into my arms. Her hair was scented with roses or some beautiful essence. I just held her.

“What time do we have to be at the theatre?”

“I should get there within the next five hours.”

“That’s good. Do you have any more work to do before you go?”

“Well, there are some real problems to solve this week, so tonight must really be a good rehearsal...to kind of set up for the rest of the week.” “What are you most concerned about?”

“How the poetry lines sound. It just doesn’t work yet...or not the way I think I want it to sound. In the early rehearsals when I was asked the question about how to do them, all I said was that we just do them. I didn’t want them to be sung, unless the script actually calls for it, or chanted, but where necessary said together in perfect unison as if they were lines of dialogue. The cast is just about there with the perfect unison, but not quite sounding like dialogue or an overlay of emotional reaction using a different way of reacting to the action or the character’s situations. There are several sections where the poetry is behind the action or it’s announcing something like a new life.”

“Where in the play are you talking about?”

“In act two scene one where it’s described in the text as singing being heard at first, probable off stage but getting closer saying for the bride to awaken; and then several other characters coming on stage continue the refrain. It’s very complicated staging and Eddy has composed some music for it that works fairly well, but it’s not yet anywhere near what I think I want. Right now it has almost a Greek chorus sound to it, and I want it to be more lyrical. And act three scene one is almost dominated by the poetry, but I think it’s working better.”

“Watching you work with the cast on these parts, I knew you weren’t satisfied with it. But it sounds better than you probably think it does. Every time I watch it, it gets more beautiful; I mean the whole play together. You’ve told me several times that this last week was the most important.”

“It is. I’m pleased with almost everything, the set, the lighting plot, the costumes, and the acting in general; it’s just the poetry that troubles me the most. Of course, it’s not ready for production as it wouldn’t be a week, almost, from opening. I believe my directing has got raise up several levels for it to be as good as I want it to be, and that’s real scary.”

“Is there anything I can do to help? I mean as a friend who believes in you.”

“Well...just be Claire. I don’t think I could have gone as far as I have without you. I not sure you realize how important our being together has been for me, and I don’t just mean as a director, but as a man. As a director you’ve inspired me everyday, sometimes it’s as if you help to open new windows in my mind. I’ve never thought more clearly or with as much imagination. Well, there is something you could do occasionally, and that is to just hold me and say everything is going to be alright.”

“I would have done that without you asking. Timmy, you’ve changed me too. I don’t mean just in our closeness, our almost love making; but also in the way I think. It’s difficult to describe but I’m different. I was always frightened of the future. I’m not now because of you. We know I’m leaving to begin a life away from here. There are things that you wouldn’t understand. My parents are of the old country and old ways and I’m beholden to them. Perhaps...well, that may change someday, but I can’t desert them now. Tradition to them is everything and I’m a part of that. Do you understand me a little bit?”

“I do understand tradition, or I think I do. But I believe there can be new traditions brought about by new situations. Don’t you?”

“I don’t know. Some traditions are very difficult to change. This new life here in America is changing me, I just don’t know how much yet. But I do know I love you, and that will not change.”

“And I love you, Claire. Neither will it change in me.”

We talked for another hour about the play and the coming week and how much my parents wanted to see her again, and how much Jeordie was using his camera, and how much we wanted every day and evening to be special being together and with other friends and family members. We set a plan for one afternoon to visit Uncle Willy and Rose. Dick and Camila wanted to see us one evening after rehearsal. Camila had actually joined the cast in the wedding scene so we would just take her home and join Dick at their place.

And then, “Timmy, would you like to go upstairs to my bedroom for a while before I fix us some dinner?”

“Yes, more than you can possibly imagine. I was hoping you would suggest something of the sort.”

We went by the kitchen, got Dr. Peppers for both of us, and walked upstairs holding hands. All of a sudden we were shy about being together like this alone during the day. I suggested we pull the shades on the windows. Claire giggled and agreed. We left the light on by the bed. I went to her, wrapped my arm around her, and kissed her neck. She cooed and kissed me back.

“I’m a little scared Timmy. Well, maybe just nervous, but happy to be alone with you and I feel safe.”

“I want you to always to feel safe and secure with me. I don’t think I’ve ever had such protective feelings about anyone as I do with you, Claire.”

I took her hand and guided us to the bed. We lay down on our sides and looked at each other for a few minutes. I stroked her cheek, kissed her forehead and ran my hand through her hair. The softness of it still amazed me and I told her so. She told me she liked my strong arms and shoulders.”

“I’ve wondered how you got such strong arms, Timmy.” “Well, I was too small to play football, so I did gymnastics. I wasn’t a very good tumbler but I did the Parallel bars and flying rings. It kind of changed me real quickly. I only did it seriously for about three years then theatre took over. I thought I would shrink back down to skinny, but I didn’t. For a while I thought I looked a bit grotesque, but I’m not as big as I was, thank goodness.”

“I think you look great, Timmy.”

“Thank you. And I think you are the most beautiful woman in the western hemisphere.”

“Oh, you know that’s ridiculous, but I thank you. It’s how you looked at me when we first really saw each other here at Marilee’s. It was the first time a man looked at me like that. It was just sweet. It made me feel so good. And I thought you were so handsome. That was a good beginning, wasn’t it?”

“Yes, it was, but at that time I didn’t know all the other special things about you.”

“Our love for each other is the most wonderful surprise in my life.” “Viva sorpresas buenas. Si?″

“Si, mi amor!”

Claire kissed me and drew close. I pulled back and asked if she would like to undress and snuggle under the sheets.

“Would you undress me slowly, Timmy? I don’t won’t to rush making love.”

I kissed her and started to unbutton her blouse as she did the same to my shirt. I ran my hands over her bare back and undid her brassier. I pulled it up and kissed her breasts. She held my head to them as I gently suckled her nipples, and they rose erect.

“That feels so good, Timmy. May I hold you?”

I nodded as she unbuttoned my trousers and took me in hand. I reached under her skirt and into her panties. She spread her legs a bit for me as I touched her. She was already a little wet. I pulled down her panties and undid the buttons on her skirt. I raised up and took off my shirt. She then pulled my pants and underwear down. I pulled the sheets down as she turned off the bed lamp. We got under the covers and continued to explore each other slowly and gently. She kissed my chest as I ran my hands over her soft round bottom. We laid back very close. We were almost making love like this as we were both moving with each other.

“Ti-mo-thy, do you think it’s wrong if we make love?”

“I don’t think so. Do you?”

“I’m not sure that it matters at this point. I do so want to be as close to you as possible. It feels so very right with you. You make me feel like a complete woman. I didn’t know if I would feel like this and I don’t if I ever could with anyone else; I don’t mean just to make love, but to want someone so much. Yes, I want to make love with you. Please do. I want to feel you inside me.”

“Yes, sweet girl.”

We kissed and I touched her. She spread her legs more and I gently rubbed her. Claire reached down to me, pulling me to her. I stopped everything, sat up and reached over to my trousers and got the prophylactic; opened it and placed it one me. She moved under me and took me in hand guiding me to her. I felt what felt like little electric shocks as I entered her.”

“Oh my goodness, sweet Claire.”

“Yes, Ti-mo-thee. Please go slowly. I didn’t know I was so small.” Claire shivered and cried a little and laughed a little at the same time. I moved slowly as did she did holding me tightly.

“OH...oh..Kiss me, Ti-mo-thee.”

We kissed and made love noises. I bent down and kissed her breasts.

“Yes, yes, please suck on me a little.” We moved faster with each other and she wrapped her legs around me. I was shaking and trying to thrust gently.

“Please don’t stop, Timmy. It’s so very good; yes, yes.”

We both reached our climaxes together. I yelped and ooed. Claire was crying out loud with happiness as I collapsed on her.

“Don’t leave me, Ti-mo-thee.”

I didn’t and after a few minutes I started moving slowly again inside her. She held me tighter as we slowly both again reached another climax. I didn’t have any idea I could do that or that making love could be so completely a beautiful union. Being in love was such an extraordinary experience. Claire was so wonderful in now such a new undenying way. I rolled off and she held me as we were side by side and I stayed inside her. Suddenly she squeezed me. I reacted by kissing her neck and moaned in her ear.

“Did you feel that, Timmy?”

“I certainly did.”

I didn’t want you to leave me yet, so I just tried to hold on to you. I didn’t know I could. Is it always so beautiful the first time you make love with someone you truly love?”

“I don’t believe it’s that wonderful for anyone anytime.”

“I was so afraid that our first time to really make love would be kind of painful and clumsy. I was sure I would do something wrong or that I couldn’t do it at all; but it certainly wasn’t that way at all.”

“No, Claire, you were and are the most wonderful lover for me that I never imagined possible. Are you alright?”

“Yes, my magnificent man. I’m very alright. I don’t even feel any guilt or anything negative about our being together like this. I don’t even know if I should feel anything bad about us because I love you so much, Ti-mo-thee Sart.”

“And I love you, Claire Levant.”

We calmly wrapped our arms around each other and didn’t talk for a while. I kind of naturally came out of her and she moaned a soft oh sound. We were both almost soaking wet from the love making. Her hair around her forehead was dark with sweat. I looked at her and she was a new sort of beautiful; that was a shock. She looked at me with a total look of love. There was a new softness in her expression.

“At this moment I feel like a very lucky woman, not a girl, which I think I was before I met you, Timmy.”

“I wasn’t a boy when we met, but I’m certainly more of a man now. We both have read about love and seen films, but they can’t really touch the true experience of it.”

“Yes, I agree. I thought all of my reading and travel had made me rather worldly, but I guess it takes something like us.”

“I also always thought there would be a kind of a silence about love, but we seem to need to talk about it all the time, and I like it. It sometime feels as if we’re taking a boat ride down a beautiful river and we want to share our reactions to it. Around every bend there’s a new wonderful surprise.”

“Bien dicho, mi amorcito.”

We talked a while longer. We laughed and teased each other in sweet ways. Then we were quiet in each other’s arms.

“I must take a shower, Timmy, before I fix us some dinner and get ready.”

“Alright, I’ll read and then take my shower when you go down.”

She jumped out of bed and turned to me shyly knowing I was looking at her for the first time in the light. She gave me an almost scolding look then giggled and went into the bath room. I had brought my bag up with me and started going over Stanislavisky’s index again trying to tie every thing to tonights rehearsal. After a while Claire came out in a dressing gown and gathered her clothes for the evening, came over, kissed me and disappeared again. Claire went downstairs to fix our dinner while I showered and dressed. I joined her for lamb sandwiches and iced tea, which had become a favorite for her followed by Dr. Pepper. We laughed and talked about the coming evening and looked at each other in a new and wonderful way. We finished and she reached for my hand across the table.

“Thank you.” She whispered.

“For what?”

“Just for being.”

“Oh, well you’re welcome. And thank you for coming into my life at such an exciting time.”

“This is an exciting time. Isn’t it? I wonder what would have happened if you hadn’t been directing Blood Wedding

“Different, but with the same outcome.” “Do you truly think so?”

“Yes, if we had had the same opportunity to spend time together. Marilee would probably have arranged it.”

“I’m still amazed at her knowing we would have been attracted to each other. Well, I guess she...just knew something we didn’t, that is until we met.”

“Daniel has said many times that she sometimes has a kind of psychic ability; she certainly did with me about the play when I was having doubts in the beginning.”

“You had doubts? About doing it...or what?”

“Not really about doing it, I was committed to that, just about how I was going to do it. You’ve seen the way I’ve been working and I’ve told you it was a new way for me; well, Marilee got me started thinking in a new manner.”

“I knew she had been an influence for you, or an inspiration. And right from the beginning?”

“Yes, very much so. Especially in...uh...secondary visualization and a logic for art.”

“I remember our conversation about that and my own reaction to it in school. Anyway, thanks to Marilee...and Daniel for giving us this day.” “Yes many thanks. Let’s get going, sweetheart. I want to get there a little early. Are you ready?”

“Just let me clean the kitchen a bit and I’ll grab my drawing bag.”

We walked to my car with my arm around her and her’s around my waist. I had thoughts of getting to the theatre and also of going back upstairs and I told her so.

“Me too, Timmy, for hours and hours...but.”

“Yes, but.”

I opened the door for her and actually patted her bottom.

“Now, now, Monsieur Sart.” she laughed and smiled.

I got in and she reached over and hugged me. “Sweet day. Beautiful day, mon amour.”

When we arrived at the theatre everyone was there early and it was an hour before rehearsal was set to start. Ginger met us and hugged Claire, as they had become fast friends. The actors seemed concerned also about the poetry. They were practicing in their groups and trying new things with it, which was great. My encouraging them to constantly experiment with it had worked. On stage the set was complete and ready for us. Ginger’s crew evidently had worked all day to get it ready. The lighting designer found me for a conference. He showed me his latest work on a light plot and gave the signal to the booth to run through all of the cues. It was even better than I had hoped for. Eddy and Aurora showed me their new work added to the wedding scene. I thought it was a bit long and they edited it quickly. The cast broke from their various rehearsals and went downstairs to get into their costumes for the first time. I knew this would take some time so Ginger and I went over my notes and I explained my worry about the poetry. She reminded me of some earlier notes I had made. I had completely forgotten them, even in my discussion with Claire in the afternoon. They were very early in my notes, going back to the first week of rehearsal. The reason I didn’t remember them, I thought immediately, was that they were very simple in description, but exactly what I was struggling with. I think I had dismissed them as only a spare idea at the time. They had been a reaction to a question a cast member had asked me, ‘how will we deal with the poetry?’ My answer was that we would just do it. At the time it seemed like a director who didn’t know yet what he was going to do, but as I wrote in my notes it was to be treated as straight continuation of the script and not some complicated theatrical device. Of course, this wasn’t a complete answer but it drew me back to the simplicity of my idea. Where it was written as a chorus, it would be done so, but from different parts of the stage and spread out, not grouped as I imagined the Greeks may have done it. I felt I wanted the lines to bounce around the stage just beyond an echo and a bit overlapping. I heard it working in my mind. I hoped I could describe it well enough.

Barney interrupted our conference asking to have a word with me in the lobby. I said I would be there in a minute and finished the discussion with Ginger. We were ready for the evening. I joined Barney in his office. He said the advertising in the paper and a small article Rosenfield had done about the play and its history had given us the best presale of tickets we had ever had. We were sold out for the first two weeks. This was both exciting and scary. The fear that always haunts a director raged in my mind, ‘was the production going to be worth asking an audience to actually pay money and sit for two and a half hours and observe our or my work.’ ’Would they stand up and scream at they stage as the audiences did in France when Stravinsky first did “The Rite of Spring”? Those thoughts lasted about ten seconds. I had asked Barney if he could get a picture of the program cover enlarged and framed for Claire. He showed me the result. I stared at it for a minute realizing there were tears in my eyes.

“Do you like it, Tim?”

“Uh...I love it, Barney, and I’m sure she will.” We discussed theatre business for a few minutes but I refused to talk about the rest of the season, saying this production was too overwhelming to even think about the future. He accepted this and asked about rehearsals.

“It’s the last three days and it’s a difficult piece, so they have to go well.” “I’ve never seen you so concentrated, Tim.”

“Yeah, I know. This Production has been and is an extraordinary experience, Barney. I want to thank you for the opportunity. I feel very good about it, if only as a learning experience; but let’s hope its been more than that.”

“Well, I’ve never seen a cast so committed and what your family has done for it certainly gives it a beautiful professional touch. It surely looks like a piece of art.”

“Their help has been a revelation and inspiration. I just hope the stage work lives up to the design work.”

“It will. I’ve slipped into the back during several rehearsals. I’m very excited about it. This is a first for Dallas and the Civic Theatre, a US premiere. We’re not counting that university production in the East. Oh, by the way, a friend of mine at Yale called to say they postponed their production for two weeks, so we are going to be the first to open.” “Great! Now that is good news, I think.”

“It is, Tim. You’ve fallen in love with this play, haven’t you? And it appears not just the show. True?”

“Is it that obvious?”

“Yes. I’ve never seen you so happy and as I said so concentrated. I guess it’s true that love can be an inspiration.”

“Bien dicho.”

“What?”

“Well said, Barney. But she’s leaving at the end of the week.”

“Oh my! That’s not good. Why?”

“Her family in Los Angeles demands it. She doesn’t feel as if she has a choice it seems.”

“How does she feel about leaving?”

“The same way I do, but...well I don’t understand it and I may never.” “Well...I don’t know what to say except that she is very special lady. I’m sorry, Tim.”

“So am I, and yes she is a very special lady. Thank you for framing the picture. Well...I’d better get back to rehearsal. We’re getting ready to start the costume parade. Come join me if you’d like.

I went back to the theatre thinking that was possibly the most intimate conversation I’ve had with Barney and I wished I hadn’t had it. Knowing Barney’s attraction to me it was uncomfortable at best, but I did know he liked Claire and he seemed sincere. Everyone was being awfully sincere about Claire’s leaving, I could not let all of that interfere with our happiness no matter how short our time was.

When I got onstage the cast was assembling in their costumes and they looked great. I was taken aback how my original concept conferences with the costumer and approval of the renderings and color sketches had turned out so well in completion of the final results. This was really my first experience in a costume play with no precedents and I had been worried about my ideas and the collaboration with designer actually working. I had heard stories of directors coming to costume parade and seeing grotesque parodies of his original concept, but this wasn’t like that at all. Even the colors that were brighter than I had asked for were better ideas. Artistic collaboration was amazing when it worked to this extent, when a fellow artist takes your ideas and makes them even more so. I went halfway into the house and watched them go from scene to scene with the changes. I made a few notes on some small changes and the costumer agreed quickly. The lighting designer even gave me the lights to give the color contrasts. What I feared would be a difficult tech for three days didn’t need to exist. I seemed to gain needed hours of stage with the success of these elements. I told the cast to get into their first scene costumes and set up on stage for notes and critique.

Claire had been close to the stage doing drawings of the parade and some quick portraits of the cast. I came down and joined her.

“I’ll be sitting in the audience once we start the run through, would you like to sit with me?”

“Yes, if you don’t think it will distract you.”

“It won’t. I’m sure I’ll be taking notes furiously and occasionally stopping the action for changes or even let them continue with some close in side-coaching.”

“Will you mind if I continue to draw?”

“I hoped that you would and it would be good to have you close.”

“Did you notice the table Ginger set up for you was a little longer?

She said that if we did sit together there would be room for me to use it.”

“I hadn’t noticed and that’s great.” I squeezed her hand and went up on stage. The cast came on stage and gathered in a crescent for notes. All of them had their notebooks ready for individual critique and general changes and advancements. I asked them how they felt about their work so far and what they felt we should concentrate on tonight. The actress playing the wife, was concerned about her run in during the wedding scene carrying out to the audience the urgency of her message. I told her it wasn’t her projection, which was strong, but that everything had to stop; the music, the dancing, and any side atmospheric conversation. It had to be a precision moment; that everyone on stage had to freeze and be drawn to her. Her gestures were a signal in that she enters with both hands up then points off right very dramatically. The rest of the cast understood that it had to be a shocking moment with her announcement that Leonardo had run away with the bride. The difficulty was going from high gaity to a sudden stop with no slide or overlap. I said that if must needs be we would go through it several times. The next question was from Carolyn Carothers and it was what I expected.

“Was the poetry working?”

Everyone chimed in that that their main concern also. I said it was almost there but still had to sound more like dialogue as if the play suddenly changed from a dramatic piece to a poetry piece and still keep the same feeling of continuity. I didn’t want it to sound as if we stopped and went into another form of drama. The part being sung with the music at the wedding preparation scenes was working but the criss-cross work in the blocking was still not as interesting a picture. It had to have a weaving effect in a stylized manner, or a self choreographed blending from stage right to stage left.

“It may work better if you work in staggered line ups as you cross through the group advancing toward you. Now it seems too lined up with a one two three start effect. Don’t let the movement cue be visual but on the line. When you reach the opposite side of the stage blend into the scene then re-cross in a different formation. It really is just about there, just don’t anticipate, play the moment of excitement of the coming wedding and concern about the bride. The waking of the bride has several different interpretations which depend on your raising and lowering the lines and the beginnings of new poetry passages as we have rehearsed. Don’t let it seem too complicated; with what I just said the blending of line and movement should fall into place.”

Carolyn said that was what she needed to hear. We discussed all of the major poetic parts of the play, and what would take it to the theatrical effect needed at this point in rehearsal. I asked to not let it get static out of doubts or fears but to let grow or take another level each rehearsal. The two actors playing Leonardo and the bridegroom were still concerned about the fight scene played behind the scrim even though they had rehearsed it for many extra hours. I told them it was working so well that the only changes would probably be in the lighting. I took some time to discuss the two characters they played, the innocent qualities of the bridegroom and the foolhardiness of Leonardo that had to be so charmingly evil. The older actor, who called me El Audazito, asked if the passion of the people and the situation was evident. My answer was that it was just about there and that so much depended on the Bride and her disastrous desire for Leonardo. When they were onstage together they needed to burn with a desire that should scare the audience or make them worry about what’s going to happen to the bridegroom and the wedding or does he know what’s going on behind his back. I don’t want to telegraph the run away just rise up to it. We won’t see the bride and Leonardo sneaking off together. There were more questions and concerns which as the others did went back to the beginning concept and directing sessions but had the quality of ‘is it working and will we be ready and what do we need to do now?’.

I then gave my notes and critique especially reminding them to use the blocking, which I liked, and remember their stage technique. They had the freedom and my confidence to advance their movement and interpretation. Stanislavisky’s writings on communion and delving into the subconscious influenced part of my notes. Everything that happened on stage in the play must be as if it were the first time they experienced it. The intense rehearsal, the line perfection, the characters they had developed was the backbone and their truth for their bringing the play alive, not just an exercise of moment to moment rehearsed representation of the play.

All of the cast knew the scene changes with the wagons and pop-ups would go through changes up until the last rehearsal and they were ready for it with no questions. Our version of ‘Vachtangov’s zanies’ had been a good idea so far, and what made it work, other than the dancing set changing cast, was Eddy’s music.

My last words before the run through were, “An important thing to remember is no one in the audience, with the exception of my friend Dick Ayers who saw it in Spain in Spanish, will have seen this piece before. Everything will be new to them, and that’s to our advantage, I hope. We love the play and hope that they do. So we will play it to the hilt for them.” The cast cheered , clapped, and rose to begin and go to places.

I sat at my table taking notes furiously with only one stop through the first act. I went up on stage and congratuated the cast on their good work, but they knew the next two acts were the tough ones; and they were right but it went well and the wedding party only needed one stop to get the perfection of the wife’s entrance on the ramp. Eddy’s music and Aurora’s choreography was almost perfect and Camila added true beauty to her short solo in greeting the Bride. Claire looked at me and smiled at the act break letting me know she also thought it was going well. We took a long enough break for me to give some notes to the leads for the last act. They were excited and receptive.

When the lights went down at the end of the third act the curtains closed for the first time to Eddy’s new music with Aurora’s surprise addition singing in Spanish the waking of the Bride; I felt a relief and excitement that I had never felt before in the last week of rehearsal. The house lights came up. The cast was standing assembled on stage. The old actor cheered out.

“Viva el Audauzito!”

The cast joined him in the cheer. Claire leaned over and hugged me saying, “Si, mi Audauzito. Bien hecho.”

On stage we all gathered, the actors still in costume, in a circle and I gave ten pages of notes. They wrote everything down in their retrieved notebooks. I gave slight blocking changes and character advancements. I thanked Aurora for her idea. She said she had forgotten to tell me about it before the rehearsal started but decide to try it anyway hoping I would like it. I did. I talked about the poetry, and how it was just about there, all it needed was the next two nights of rehearsal.

“We have a show with two more times to perfect what we have. Use the notes I gave and your ideas with them to take the next steps. Let’s do the next two nights in full make-up along with any new costume additions. I think tomorrow we should run through the last act twice.”

I asked Aurora if she had any notes on the wedding party. She gave them and worked very quickly with several actors on the dance transitions. Eddy asked for a critique of the under scoring. My only reaction was for him not to hold back in any way because it couldn’t get anything but better.

“Please try to get some rest for the week ahead because I don’t want the opening to be an exhausted let down. I want you to be able to rise up for the new experience for Dallas and our audience.”

Liza Farquar said she was too excited to get exhausted. The cast laughed and agreed with her. Carolyn Carothers stood up and said this had been the most fulfilling rehearsal process she ever almost ever lived. She then did a fake faint collapse on the stage. Two male actors rushed to her doing an exagerated raising her up. The cast loved it.

I said in conclusion, “tomorrow night let’s meet again, because this was so much fun.”

We shook hands, hugged, saying our ‘good night’s’.

Camila hugged us both with the reminder that tomorrow after rehearsal we were joining them at Dick’s house.

When Claire and I drove up to Marilee’s, she came out meet us insisting we join her and Daniel out by the pool for drinks. They wanted hear how the rehearsal went.

Dan greeted me with a bourbon and soda and a shoulder pat. Marilee brought Claire a Martini.

We sat down and Claire started with, “It was a complete success. Timmy should be very proud.”

“Well, we’re not there yet, but thanks sweetheart.”

“If the next two rehearsals go as well, or even close, you have created…uh…well, ‘living art’.” I laughed and took her hand, “Wow, living art?” “Yes, ’living art!”

“That sounds like a giant compliment, brother , if Claire has the same ability as Marilee to be objective, and I think she does.” Dan said.

“Barney told me tonight what you, mom, and Dad have done has added a new professional look to design for the theatre. And it’s true. Thanks to you and them.”

“Daniel said it was fun to do it and hoped it wasn’t too wild for the show.” Marilee quickly added.

“Dan, you both showed me what you wanted to do.”

“Small rendering to big back drop sometimes doesn’t quite ring true, but good. I think your powers of visualization are even better than I thought.”

“Did you get some more drawings tonight, Claire?” Marilee asked.

“I tried to, but it was harder sitting so close to Timmy. He reacts so physically to everthing. He was as much fun to watch as the play. But, yes I did get some work done. I think my best in a different way.”

“How so?,” Daniel wanted to know.

“I think I’ve started concentrating on individual character work rather than an over all scene view.”

“She showed me one of me leaning into the action that is a me I’ve never seen. If she will allow it, I want to have it.”

“I want it too, but I’ll make a copy, is that alright?”

“Yes, of course.”

“May I see it,” Marilee asked.

Claire nodded and went to get her drawing bag.

“How are you holding up, Timmy? I mean about Claire?”

“Marilee, your belief in us has been a help and we both are living each moment we have together. No extrapolating the future.” Dan nodded his understanding of what I said as Claire returned.

Dan took Claire’s drawing, leaning into the light, “My word…damn…this is really good, Claire.”

Marilee took it and, “I think you had better make several copies, because we want one too.”

“Indeed. No wonder you like it brother.” Claire agreed. We talked more about the rehearsal then Marilee asked if we would like to stay together for some of her last nights.

Claire and I answered ‘yes’ in unison.

“I’ll do everything I can to help. Claire, we can solve this tomorrow. With Timmy’s approval, of course.”

“I trust you ladies, but there is always my place.”

“I believe she’s thinking of something special, brother.” Claire turned to me and smiled.

I found myself almost dozing off, so I said it was time to go. Claire walked me out to my car. We held each other for a few minutes.

I whispered to her, “A very special day , dear heart.”

“Yes, Timmy, a beautiful day…and… a glorious evening of work for you. I’m so proud of you.”

I kissed her and was off to an incredibly peaceful night of sleep. My dreams were filled with gentle images of Claire and of actors moving gracefully on stage. No jarring shocks or reality encounters.

I woke up late the next morning to Mom bringing me a cup of coffee. I wrote in my journal about the few disappoints in the rehearsal process, the actors who had to drop out, the difficulty of making the poetry work, and of course, needing more time. I tried to describe a process that would make the last two days very effective. I saw that the blocking and stage pictures were developing nicely and their projection was strong enough so I believed I could go back up on stage with them and side-direct during the places where it was most needed. If I could do this without interrupting their own creative process it would possibly bring to conclusion the rehearsals needs. No stops, if at all possible. Any major notes would be individual specific with an overview critique to finish. I knew that many things could go wrong now because everything seemed to be going too well and I was worried about the let down from so much intensity in the rehearsal. But I knew that we had a show of a different sort of presentation from anything done before and that, at the very least, was exciting. How the audience would receive it was not a concern now. I liked it and felt good about my work and growth as a director. Claire’s support and belief in me had made a major difference in my confidence. She had a sophisticated eye for what good art was. With those thoughts of her, I stopped trying to write and turned to her and what had happened between us. It was a wonderful mystery of an extraordinarily magnificent sort. I don’t know if it would have been different if I had not been directing. Her collaboration with the drawings had been an enormous help that just came from out of nowhere. It had added a new dimension to the process. I could step back out of rehearsal and see the show like a set of flip cards that gave the illusion of movement. And having her to talk to about my work and her reaction to it was a first time experience. I had always been rather resistant to discussing my work in progress before, but with her, our talks seemed to add new ideas constantly and open new windows in my mind that I’m sure I would not have been there or happened without her. I didn’t want to think of directing again without her, but I knew it

would have to happen. I broke away from this direction of thinking and went inside to eat a late breakfast. Mom insisted on talking about Claire and how I was taking it being this close to her leaving. She really wanted to help me not get depressed about it and I assured her that I was alright and accepted the coming inevitable. I tried explain to her that it was the best thing that had ever happened in my relationships with women and that of course I wished it wasn’t going to end, ever. And that yes, I was very much in love with her and hoped her leaving wasn’t truly the end. She assured me that her feelings for Claire were also very strong and that she also hoped it wasn’t the end. She tried to express how it was for her to accept someone so quickly into the family and how it had been so natural from the very beginning. At that point Mom starting crying, something I had rarely seen, and came to me with a comforting hug, “I know I’ve said it before, but just be strong and love her up to the last minute. Because I know she’s very sad about having to leave. There’s a family situation we don’t understand. She’s a European girl with customs and traditions that are very different from ours.

“Yes, I know all of this, and I appreciate your caring, but I don’t think there’s anything strange about Claire, not that you implied that, but she is a woman who has changed my life in many ways and my way of thinking so I accept this difference that I don’t understand. Perhaps I will someday, hopefully soon. Everyone has fallen in love with Claire…so…well.”

I left Mom still crying to go shower and dress. I went into my apartment and sat on my bed and cried for the first time about the thought of losing Claire. I wanted to be with her at that very moment and always.

After dressing I went into the house and called Claire to tell her that I would be by to get her later in the afternoon. She said she missed me and would be waiting and it would give some time to touch up some of her drawings and go on short shopping trip with Marilee.

I headed downtown to a jewelry store that Marilee and I had talked about. I wanted to get Claire something special and I thought of a ring that was different; a silver and turquoise one with small bits of coral on the sides. Marilee had seen one that I may like and figured out Claire’s size by having her try on her collection. I don’t know where the idea came from except that I wanted it to be different and something that she could wear almost all the time. And I didn’t want it to be something that would scare her, as in ‘what does this mean, Timmy?’ I just wanted it to be pretty and look good on her, and, of course, remind her of us. The store was close to Sangers and not far from the Court House. It was long, narrow, and specialized in western and Indian jewelry with cowboy and western art on the walls. But their jewelry was beautiful. The owner brought out a tray of rings and I found the one I wanted almost immediately. It was delicate with a spider web turquoise and very small pieces of coral on the sides with circle zig-zags around them. As he sized it I said it had to be about a six and a half and it was. It almost seemed like a quirk of fate that I found it so quickly and it was the right size. The owner said the reason it hadn’t sold was that it was so small. It was by far the most expensive gift, or anything, that I had ever bought, but that’s what savings were for. He gave me a pretty little ring gift box and then asked about Marilee. As it turned out she had called him telling him that I was coming. She had been a customer of his for years because she had a real love for western and Indian art and jewelry. I think since she has been with Daniel her tastes have changed some but she still watches for the best of Southwestern work.

On the way back to my place I dropped by Uncle Willy’s shop. He was busy with about ten things at once in the machine shop and went back and forth to his Auburn acquisition. His four workers were hard at work on a new contract and a new mechanic was dismantling the Auburn for a total restoration. He dropped everything and came out to greet me. We went into his office, first showing me how he had framed and mounted the racing posters Claire had given him, and they looked great. He asked how the show was going and then about Claire. Rose was doing fine but going through the getting sick a lot period of early pregnancy.

“It seems that life has changed for both of us, Tim-boy. You and Claire, and Rose and me having a baby. You know I’ve been a kind of independent spirit all my life. I didn’t even expect to ever get married, but then Rose happened. And that has been about ten times better than I could have imagined; and now a baby. You’ve only seen me get excited about cars, racing, and telling you about China, but now I’m so damn excited about being a father…well…I’m already thinking differently. Rose thinks I’m obsessive about being so protective of her and the…Yeah! It’s kind of strange for a guy who’s never been religious to sort of pray everyday that she and the baby are going to be alright.”

“It sounds like a good life change to me, Uncle Willy. You know if it were later in the afternoon and I didn’t have Claire to be with and no rather important rehearsal, we would be having a drink of that good bourbon you keep in your desk, but I don’t believe we’ll being doing much of that anymore. Right?”

“Probably not…well maybe occasionally, but I don’t think Rosy will be as tolerant about our man talks now.”

“Occasionally, or even rarely is good enough for me.”

“Something funny, I think my work is getting better, or my concentration anyway. Everything is more important.”

“I’ve been experiencing that too, and there’s no doubt it’s been Claire. Love is strange.”

“Yes it is, nephew, but ain’t it wonderful?”

“At the very least, Uncle.”

Because Uncle seemed to understand more than most about Claire’s leaving he didn’t try to talk about my thoughts on it. He hoped that we could all get together but there wasn’t really an evening free unless they came over to my parents for the early dinner on opening night. He said he would call Mom about it and see if it was possible, of course it would be. As I left he gave my car the once over saying it was time for him to redo it; engine, brakes, etc. I said soon as was off to my place to prepare for seeing Claire and the rehearsal.

I sat for a while going over my notes, writing down some new ideas, and putting a bit more into my journal. After a couple of hours I went inside the house and called Claire. She and Marilee had just gotten back, and could I give her another half hour to get ready. She asked if I wanted to eat there, or go out. I said I didn’t want to go out as Marilee was saying in the background she would fix us something almost special. I laughed and said I would be there in forty-five minutes. Claire said thirty-five.

Daniel met me at the door saying the girls were in the kitchen. Claire greeted me with a kiss making me feel like we had been together for months instead of weeks. We sat around the breakfast table and chatted about rehearsal and the weekend.

“Timmy, Claire, how about a suite at the Adolphus for Friday and Saturday nights?” Marilee asked.

Claire and I looked at each other and smiled.

“Uh…it sounds great, but what if Claire’s parents call?”

Daniel had the answer for that, “For those days I would answer the phone in case they called. If they did I would tell them that Caire and Marilee went fishing at a friends ranch for the weekend and there wasn’t a phone, that everything was alright, and she will be back in plenty of time to catch the train Sunday evening.”

“It’s almost like a sweet conspiracy, but I like it. Don’t you, Timmy?” “Yes, I do sweetheart. Thank you, Marilee, Daniel.”

“Well, brother, we have been plotting for a couple of days to figure something out for you. A bit of sanctuary for two special people can be a real impetus for an idea. If you didn’t have the theatre to go to Friday night it could have been something really nice like…Ft. Worth.” I laughed and Claire asked what was funny.

“Ft. Worth is not usually considered something really special for Dallas folks to go to.”

“Oh. Well I like it that we’ll be at the theatre Friday and Saturday night. But it would have been nice. To have the whole weekend alone …sanctuary.”

“We’ll eat in about forty-five minutes, folks. Claire you don’t need to help me, you two go off somewhere in the house.”

“I’m going to disappear into my studio, whistle for me.” Daniel gave Marilee a flirty pat on the bottom as he left.

“You rascal, I’ll get you later, perhaps.”

Marilee then whistled. “Come here Daniel.” With her arms open.

Daniel turned back to her with hug and kiss.

“You two are a bad influence on us.”

Claire took my hand and pulled me into the living room and the big fluffy sofa.

“Hallo, Timmy. I missed you this afternoon.”

“Me too, baby.”

“Baby?! You’ve never called me that before. I like it. You sound like a movie star talking.”

“I don’t believe I’ve called anyone ‘baby’ before, it just came out; perhaps because I love you, dear girl.”

“Good, baby.” She said and laughed. “Hold me a minute, please, Timmy. Just hold me.”

I did, we didn’t say a word, but then we both started shaking a little bit and realized we were both crying softly.

“Oh, my God, Claire.”

“Yes, I know. I’ve never so happy and so sad at the same time.” I kissed her gently and leaned back in the sofa with her head on my shoulder and my arm around her. She looked up at me and kissed my chin.

“Did you get some good work done today?”

“I think so. I’ve had some new ideas about my last critique sessions. I’m not really worried about the show…I guess I’m just kind of excited. Last night was a really good evening.”

“The afternoon was good, too.”

“Indeed it was.”

“So beautiful that I feel Iike I’m still there.”

“I think we both will be there, in those moments, forever.” “Yes, forever, Timmy.”

“Will you come home with me tonight, Claire?”

“Yes, I will, mon amour. And I believe I will go call my parents so they won’t think about calling me later. They’ve only done it once, but there’s no reason to take a chance about it.”

“A good idea, sweetheart.” And she was off to phone.

I went into the kitchen to see Marilee.

“Well, Timmy, where’s your lady?”

“She’s calling her parents.”

“What’s going on?”

“I’ve asked Claire to spend the night with me at my place. What do you think?”

“You certainly don’t really need my permission at this point. When it comes to you and Claire, I’ve become a free thinker of the first order, though I wasn’t very conservative before you two, considering me and Daniel not being married and all that.”

“Well, I wasn’t really asking permission…well, maybe an approval or something, I don’t know. I don’t want her to get into any kind of trouble with her parents.”

“It looks like she’s taking care of that, doesn’t it?”

“Yep, it does. Thank you, Marilee…for introducing us…uh…bringing us together.”

“You’re most welcome. Thinking back I don’t know why I felt so strongly about you two, just intuition I guess. It’s good to know I was so right. Timmy…are you alright about everything…you know what I mean?”

“Yes…in a way. At times I do…well…’look upon myself and curse my fate.”

“The old bard is speaking in the extreme there, Timmy. There is no curse, though bitter people may have described it, love, that way.”

“I don’t want to sound as if I’m feeling sorry for myself, and our falling in love is the best thing that could have happened, it’s just that…”

“We are all feeling it, though not in the same way you two are. Hey, you’re both still young and the future is not written in stone. Right?”

“I hope not. Marilee I’ve loved you like a sister from the very first of you and Dan, but now, Wow!”

“These past weeks have been fun for us, too, Timmy. And seeing you so happy…and so serious about your work. Sit down there, I’m going to whistle Daniel in. I think I want everybody around me right now or I’m going to start crying.”

“Well, get him in quick. Too much crying going on around here.” “What?”

“Yeah, me and Claire just went through a session of it.”

“Oh, my, Timmy.”

She went to the back door and did that fingers in her mouth incredibly loud whistle.

I sat down and within a couple of minutes Daniel came in.

“That was quick. Is the food ready so soon, honey?”

“No it’s not. I just wanted you in here with me, that’s all.”

“Is everything alright?”

“No it’s not.” Marilee went over and hugged Dan breaking down into loud crying.

“Oh, sweetheart. What’s happened?”

“Nothing. I don’t want Claire to leave either.” All I could do was sit there as Daniel comforted her. Soon Marilee pulled out a handkerchief and dried her eyes.

“I’d better get this food going since you do kind of need to get to the theatre.”

“I have another hour and a half for even an early arrival. I’m doing fine.”

Marilee talked about the production and how excited she was about it. She said she even put up posters at the country clubs, Dallas and Brook Hollow. She had been calling friends about it. Dan said he put up one at the museum. I told them what Barney said about being sold out for three weeks. In twenty minutes or so Claire came down and was carrying a small bag plus her drawing satchel.

“Hallo, all of you. Marilee, I just called my parents, well…because I’m going to…”

“Yes, I know, Timmy told me. That was a smart thing to call them.”

“Is that alright with you? I mean going home with Timmy tonight.”

“Of course, Hell, I’d buy you both tickets to South America if I thought we could get away with it. But for some strange reason I think it would harm the friendship I have with your parents and would kill the possibility of your father coming to work for me.”

“Yes, probably so, but the sentiment is a sweet one. They told me to say hello.”

“Anything else?”

“No, just that they’re excited about seeing me soon. They wanted to talk about the arrangements for the train, but I assured them it had all been taken care of a long ago. I did tell them how much I like Dallas and being with you and that I think of you like a sister now.”

“I guess this is my ‘sister’ day.”

I quickly added, “I told her the same thing a few minutes ago.”

“Hey, brother, I thought you’ve felt that way about Marilee for a long time.”

“I have, Daniel, but more so now.”

Daniel turned to Claire, “You have changed this family, dear Claire.” “And you’ve changed me. I vaguely remember the Claire Levant who came here five and a half weeks ago. To gain a new family is…well…a happy event. I didn’t know it could be except by a forced tradition…I mean…”

“I understand, Claire, you don’t need to say anything more.” Marilee said turning to me a subtly shaking her head which I knew immediately meant don’t persue a question.

Claire went to her drawing bag and pulled out a new piece.

“Look what I did this morning, Timmy.” It was an absolutely beautiful colored drawing of the marriage party dance scene.

“I did it from memory and my other drawings.”

Daniel took the drawing, “This is really good, Claire, may I buy from you?”

“No you may not, silly Daniel, you may have it. Is that alright with you, Timmy, if I give it to Daniel and Marilee?”

“Yes, I haven’t seen Daniel react to anyone else’s art like that ever. It is beautiful, sweetheart. I certainly will get to see it often if Marilee hangs it in the house here.”

“You bet I will. I like it as much as Daniel. Claire, you’ve really exploded in growth with your work. I liked it from the first, but this is…Wow!”

“I’ve been inspired by someone.” She took my hand and kissed it.

“And you me, my muse from France.”

Daniel put the drawing up on a low cabinet by the breakfast table so we could all see it.

“I believe we’re about ready to eat here.” Marilee said as she returned to the stove. “Salmon filets are the specialty of the house tonight with a salad. Good. No?”

After dinner Claire and I jumped in my car and headed to the theatre.

“Claire…?”

“Yes, Ti-mo-thee?”

“Your going with me to rehearsal makes everything very exciting. In the past I’ve always been rather anxious and worried, but now I look forward to really being a director with no doubts about my work and the coming night. It’s a great feeling.”

“I’m excited, too. What you do is so different from a painter, sculptor, or even a film maker. It is living art, and so ephemeral. It’s like being in a painting that starts, moves coming alive, and then is gone, but it’s not because it makes pictures in the mind that don’t go away.”

“Bien dicho, mi amor.”

“Gracias, mi vida.”

We walked in the back door of the theatre into a beehive of activity. There were greeting and hugs from all around. The old actor called from across the stage.

“Bienvenido, el Audazito!”

I laughed and waved. Eddy and Aurora were playing and dancing. The cast was going through the poetry and scenes. The two leading actors were rehearsing their fight scene. Liza Farquar was going through her run down the ramp and practicing her extended gestures. Camila waved and came over to remind us of our being with her and Dick later. I assured her we hadn’t forgotten. Claire went into the lobby to check on the hanging of her drawings and Ginger took me by the arm for our pre-rehearsal meeting. Never had I experienced this sort of excitement before rehearsal and with everyone here much earlier than required.

The lighting and costume designers came with us. We met in my little office downstairs and went over thing for the evenings work. The costumer said she was making some changes for the night, primarily in fittings that weren’t quite right yet and a few new colors for me to see. The lighting designer had some new ideas for me to see that were inspired by the last two rehearsals. I told them I was happy that they were still having ideas and they left to finish up their changes. Ginger and I went over the notes from the last night and I asked her how she thought the set change assignments were working. She they were the hardest part of the show concept and very much needed these last two nights for them work perfectly. I needed to know if the cast was comfortable backstage because there were so many of them that weren’t on stage a lot of the time. She said it was crowded but just fine. The Green Room had been cleared of a most of the unnecessary furniture and the sound system from stage to Green and dressing rooms was just the answer. No one had missed an entrance yet and the cast had worked out its own traffic problems for getting from off to on stage.

“Tim, I believe all of your innovations for this productions have created a really good enthusiasm. There’s an excitement I don’t think I’ve ever seen before. I feel it too.”

“Let’s hope it translates into good theatre, but one of the best things for me has been your setting me free to work as a director. Usually I would have to solve a million problems that you’ve handled for me.”

“Thank you, but I loved this play from the very beginning and my not having to work this month was a big factor. It has been fun watching you change every week and still keep the show going in the direction you wanted it to. I think your talks with cast have made the difference and they believed in your concept from the beginning. They feel like they’re involved in an exciting theatrical experiment that could be important, for Dallas anyway.”

“Well, I don’t know about that, but I knew Blood Wedding couldn’t be done in the way I had worked before. I not sure it’s some sort of new experiment. I guess it is an experiment for me but it had to be tied to a rehearsal process of a few weeks not the months that Brecht or the Russians take. But, here we are, do you feel ready for the next two nights? After that it’s your show.”

“I think I am, but I can’t imagine you pulling away completely. I don’t want you to and I’m sure cast feels the same way.”

“We’ll see. Lets go up and set up for the evening. I’m anxious to see the make-up.”

I decided to go into the dressing room which oddly enough I had not done before with this cast. They were all busy finishing up the make-up but were happy to see me. I went to each cast member giving encouragement and praise and looked at the rather extreme make-up I had asked for. Everyone looked good here but on stage is the real test. What was good to see was that there wasn’t any idle talk but line work and scene speed throughs. I went back up and met with Eddy and who had gotten ready early so we could meet. Eddy played a new piece he wanted to try for a transition between the second and third acts, which had concerned us both. It was much more intense and seemed to set up for the violence that was coming without telegraphing it or giving it away to the audience. It had to be split in two for the intermission but it was a terrific segue. I had written about my worries of going from the escape of the Bride and Leonardo in the second to three deaths in the third. Dancing the part of Death, a recent idea, went through her entrance and exit for me. Watching them work really let me know that everyone would be going through changes and new ideas through out the run of the show.

I left them to see Claire in the lobby. She was helping the hanging of her drawings using her obvious expertise and doing a good job making changes where she thought necessary. Barney accepted her rearranging without a word of advice. I had told him of her studies in London and he had been very impressed. When she saw me she came over and asked what I thought.

“The lobby has never looked better. We’ve never had pieces hanging that were so tied to a show. Most of the time there were just pictures of the cast.”

“I’ve saved that wall near the entrance to the theatre for those.” As if on cue Jeordie came in with his latest prints from last night. They were different from the usual head shots in that they were more like candid character shots that seemed to go perfectly with Claire’s drawings. He had worked back stage, in the Green Room, and the dressing rooms. Claire loved his work saying she would frame them during the rehearsal. We had a large collection photo frames from the store room that had been used in the past. Jeordie said he wasn’t through taking pictures so he helped her choose the shots he had with him that he thought were the best ones. He stepped back to look at Claire’s drawings.

“Mom told me about your pictures, but I didn’t know they were this good. Do you mind if I take some pictures of the lobby, Barney?”

“No, Jeordie, not at all. I would like a record of this exhibit, and that’s what it is. I’ve never thought of the lobby as an art gallery but it is now.”

Claire seemed taken aback by Barney’s statement.

“I really just started doing them for fun. I didn’t expect Timmy to like them as much as he did and didn’t know if he could be truly objective.”

“Claire, Jeordie and I have been close to art all of our lives, so we do have idea about what’s good. Don’t you think Daniel’s reaction today was a reassurance of the quality of your work? They were good enough to help me for three weeks.”

“Thank you, gentlemen. Well, I did think they would be interesting in the lobby after you liked them, but let’s not make too much of this.”

“You may get reviewed too, sweetheart.”

“Ti-mo-thee, please?”

I laughed and hugged her. “I’m going in to start the rehearsal. Are you going to draw tonight?”

“Yes but not yet. I’m going to do more work here, but I do want to get a better and more dramatic vista of Liza’s entrance on the ramp and the third act.”

Jeordie joined me into the auditorium.

“I sure do like her, big brother. Mom and Dad can’t stop talking about her. I didn’t know she was leaving until Mom told me yesterday; I wish she wasn’t.”

“Me too, Jeordie.”

He shrugged as if he didn’t know what to say, which was probably better. The cast was gathering on stage and Jeordie joined them to get some close-ups. I got my satchel retrieving my notes for the opening session. Chairs were pulled out into the crescent and we started. I realized that Jeordie was also taking pictures of me as I talked to the cast. It didn’t bother me but I suddeenly hoped there was one that Claire would want.

The notes session before, the run-through, and the critique afterwards went very well, even better than I hoped for. Claire joined me for the marriage party scene and drew for the rest of the time. The make-up looked fine needing only a few touch-ups. I talked to several of the cast members individually. Camila joined Claire and me and we left to meet Dick at his house.

Dick had gotten some very good Spanish wine and had prepared tapas for an evening snack. We sat out on his patio. Dick and Camila talked about missing Spain, and Claire reminisced about France and London. I was glad to not talk about the show and didn’t feel left out at all because I had so many questions. All three were deeply concerned about how things going in Europe and fearful of the future happenings there. My innocent questions on the situation over there brought out much information about Nazi Germany and Franco’s advances in Spain with the help of Germany and Italy. Camila told me of a letter she had gotten from a friend.

“Tim, she wrote that Lorca has disappeared and probably been murdered by Franco’s secret police.”

“What…!?” I was stunned. “How could they…to a national treasure?” “They’re doing a lot of that. My friend said that if Lorca had not been a homosexual it possibly wouldn’t have happened. But he did insist on staying in Granada and taunting the powers that be.”

I had been told that Lorca was homosexual but it didn’t seem to be a part of his writing so I had never given it a second thought. For a while that put a damper on the evening but Dick insisted on changing the subject.

“Well, we don’t know that for sure and we are here, thank goodness. Tim, Camila is enjoying being a small part of your play.”

“She’s not such a small part with what she adds to the dancing scene and the ensemble.”

“Working with Tim and Aurora is great. When Aurora asked me to join her I was afraid that Tim would think I was imposing myself into his play.”

“No, I was thrilled you wanted to be a part of it. And you are a powerful and beautiful presence on stage.”

Claire stepped in immediately, “Timmy’s right, Camila. I think some of my best drawings are of you and Aurora together.”

“Today at Marilee’s Claire showed Daniel and Marilee one of her new drawings in color of Camila and in the Marriage party scene and he wanted to buy it. Claire, of course, gave it to them, but anyway Daniel’s liking it so much was a true stamp of artistic approval, and you were a part of that Camila.”

“Dios mio, that’s wonderful for you, Claire.”

“Thank you, Camila, but this is a one time experience, I mean how often am I going to be asked to do drawings in rehearsals.”

“How about all of mine, forever, sweetheart.” Claire jumped up and came to me, “Is that an open invitation?”

She laughed and kissed my forehead making light of the portent. “Thank you, baby.” She turned to Dick and Camila giggling, “It’s a new love word he called me. I had heard it in movies but I never thought any one would call me ‘baby,’ I like it.”

Dick laughed turning to Camila, “I think it’s cute. Don’t you, baby?” “Claro que si, mi amorcito.”

That topped the evening as Claire and I knew it was time to leave. Camila and Claire hugged very emotionally as Dick and I put our arms over each other’s shoulders as we walked out to my car.

With Claire’s head on my shoulder on the way to my place, she said, “They are wonderful friends, I will miss them.”

We quietly went into my apartment and tuned on only the bedside lamp. When I came out of the bath room Claire said it was her turn. She splashed around for a few minutes then came out in a lacy night gown…’a glowing apparition’…I told her to stop as I stood up in my sleep shorts and went to her wrapping my arms around her.

“You are one powerfully good looking woman,” I said in an exaggerated Texas drawl.

“And you are my handsome Texas man.” We stood there for a minute as I kissed her neck then her lips. I then moved around behind her and stroked her breasts with one hand and moved the other down to her soft mons.

“Oh, Timmy, I love it when you touch me. Please take me to bed and make love with me. We made gentle love side by side and fell asleep in each other’s arms.

I woke before Claire and just looked at her for a few minutes then she opened her eyes and smiled.

“Good morning, Ti-mo-thee. Is it late?”

“Tenish.”

She pulled me to her and whispered, “I love you.”

“Me,too, baby. Would you like some coffee?”

“In a few minutes, just hold me a bit more.” We made love with out any foreplay.

I put on a robe and went into the house and made a pot of coffee. No one was at home which I was glad of. Claire had brought a robe with her so we sat on the bed, drank coffee and talked about the last evening at Dick and Camila’s. She was concerned, for no reason, about the way her drawings looked in the theatre lobby. I assured her they were fine. She asked about growing up with an artistic family saying she envied that experience since her parents were not at all artistic except as minor collectors, which in the last years she had helped with. I told about sitting in my mother’s studio and watching her and the game made up for me and Daniel. She layed out big pieces of drawing paper on the floor and while Dad played Bach on the piano she asked us draw what we heard. I had not been very good at it but Daniel created flowing drawings with the crayons while I struggled with angular trees and mountains, but it was sure good for the imagination. The hours spent in Dad’s shop helping him cut and sand wood for his furniture creations. And Uncle Willy’s instructions on mechanics which Daniel had no interest in what so ever. I told her of experiences in my high school with a pretty good Drama department had headed me to what dominated me now and how my job at the book store made it possible for me work at the theatre.

I was curious about her youth in Europe so Claire told me about growing up in paris and how beautiful Spring really was there. She wondered what it was like going to a school with both boys and girls because all of her schooling had been only in girl’s schools until she went to university at the Sorbonne then in London.

I had known generally about her youth but she added so much with a sweet nostalgia. She thought she would always be a French girl but the move to London had not been difficult except getting used to the academic life in English. She liked New York very much and was disappointed for me that I never been there. I assured her I would get there some day. At that we paused for a minute because my wish was to go there with her and she know what I was thinking.

As we finished the pot of coffee we started making plans for the day. She wanted for us to go to Marilee’s where she would make us a big breakfast. I agreed saying I would get ready now if she didn’t mind waiting.

“No, but hurry up because I’m a hungry girl.” I showered and shaved while Claire looked at my collection of theatre books. I heard her squeal and came out of the bathroom to see what brought on such a reaction. She had found my copy of Somerset Maugham’s Then and Now she had never read. I told her it was hers since I had read it twice. She started it immediately saying that Machiavelli had always been an interesting character to her since she had written a paper on The Prince in secondary school.

Claire was already dressed and curled up on my bed reading when I finished. Just as we started to leave Claire insisted on combing my hair saying nothing was wrong she just wanted to comb it. I sat down on the bed as she got behind me wrapping her legs around me. She stopped combing and put her arms around me, put her face into my neck and said softly.

“It was wonderful waking up and seeing you first thing this morning.” “I liked waking up before you and watching you sleep.” We said nothing more to each other. Soon she jumped up, got her bags as I got mine and we walked to my car holding hands.

Marilee was in her den working when we entered. She came to greet us and said, “Well, Home again, home again, jiggidy, jog. Hey there you two. Good…uh…early afternoon. I actually just made another pot of coffee.”

“I could do another. Claire?”

“No thanks, baby. I’ll squeeze some orange juice. Marilee, do you mind if I make us some breakfast?”

“Nope, I’ll help. I’ve been at it for four hours. I need a break. Dan’s been his studio all day saying he was going to paint for as long as he could stand. He even took a sandwich with him, so it’s just us.”

“Perfectly fine, I won’t even go out and bother him.”

“I don’t think you could bother him. He doesn’t mind family joining him as long as he can keep painting.”

Claire fixed a great omelet with ham, peppers, and tomatoes. Marilee asked about Dick and Camila hoping they could keep up a friendship. I assured her that should be no problem because they expressed similar sentiments about her and Daniel. Claire went upstairs saying she would be a while because she wanted to take a long shower and wash her hair. I told her I should probably go over to the theatre for a couple of hours but for her not to worry because I would be back soon.

“Timmy, that is your work and tonight is your dress rehearsal. If you need to work all afternoon perhaps Marilee could give me a ride to the theatre. Would that be too much trouble?”

“Claire, please, Of course not.”

When I got to the theatre I immediately met with Barney. We discussed the needs for the day and plans for the big opening night he had planned. Openings were usually very simple affairs but he wanted to make this one special because of the response to ticket sales. There would be wine and society writers for the party in the lobby after the show. Barney evidently had been calling people for weeks trying to get our biggest supporters there for the evening. He was concerned that we were on the edge of being overbooked with more people calling all the time to respond to his invitations. He just really wanted to be sure that Claire and I would be there for the lobby party. I assured him we would be. Because of the opening night lobby gathering the cast party was going to be Friday evening at Liza Farquar’s house co-sponsored by Marilee and Daniel. I told him I would be leaving after the show on Friday for the weekend so don’t plan anything.

The technical crew that didn’t have a day job were all working everywhere in the theatre; backstage, dressing, and costume shop. Ginger found me onstage checking the set piece wagons with my Dad who was a surprise worker. He felt responsible for the workings so he came in to check his design for the pop-ups. I hadn’t seen him all week. I told Ginger I would meet with her after I spent some time with Dad. We sat and talked about the pressure of this last week. He was surprised how calm I was about the coming dress rehearsal and opening.

“You’re usually fairly high strung about this time, son. You must feel pretty good about how things have been going.”

“I do. I’ve worked harder, studied more, and planned more artistically. And Claire and I have had a great time together. She comes every night to rehearsal with me, and works on her drawings. Last night she set up the lobby display of her work and Jeordie’s photographs. Once she was convinced that her drawings were good enough to be seen by the audience, she has put a lot of time into making them as good as possible. Yesterday Daniel offered to buy one of her best pieces.”

“Jeordie sure has gotten a kick out of doing the photography thing. I don’t think there’s much doubt he has talent at it. That camera Claire gave him was really something. I spent some time in the lobby when I first got here. You were right about Claire’s drawings. They are good. She is leaving Sunday? Isn’t she?”

“Yes.”

“Well, there’s nothing say about it, except that we all wish that she wasn’t.”

“I know. Everyone she’s met here feels the same way, especially me. But I have to accept it.”

“You’re both young and who knows what will happen in the future. Oh, by the way, your Mom called Rose and Will asking them to join us for the early dinner tomorrow. Will told her he was just about to call and see if he could join us.”

“Great. I visited Uncle yesterday and he mentioned wanting to come. I’m glad Mom beat him to the punch.”

“Tim we’re excited about your show as you know, but most of all about how happy you’ve been in the last few weeks. Try not to let Claire’s leaving end that.”

“Well, there’s always my work; here and at the store.”

“Keep that attitude alive. Tim, I must get back to my shop but I’m glad we had a chance to talk. I’ll see you tomorrow, give our love to Claire.

“I will. See you then Dad.”

Ginger was back stage at her stage manager’s desk making out a list of things to be done or checked before tonight. I went over it with her adding some new items. She gave me a set of typed notes from the rehearsal and I went to my office to go over them and prepare for the evening. I read the notes and wrote out plans for the evening with critique and a section on stage technique for the cast to rely on if they found themselves getting flat on stage. I then wrote in my journal for two hours which was now up to a hundred and fifty pages.

As I closed my journal I had a sudden rush of anxiety feeling a strong to see Claire. I went upstairs checking with Ginger to see if she needed me. Everything was under control. I almost ran out to my car and headed to Marilee’s.

Claire was in the den reading. She jumped up when she saw me and came into my arms.

“I just wanted to see you, sweetheart. Every moment we can have together seems so important.”

“I was missing you so much, too. I came in from taking a walk before you got here. I couldn’t sit still for thinking of you, Timmy.”

“Do you feel like another walk? Wait, I’ve a better idea. Let’s go for a boat ride, that ought to bring back some memories.”

“let’s go. I couldn’t have thought of anything better.” We went down to the dock and set out down Turtle Creek. We laughed and talked about everything we saw and waved at people on the shore. Claire told me of her boat trips in France and parties on the Seine River. Her family had once rented a house boat in England going up the Thames, though locks, and stayed at country Inns. My boating experiences were limited to canoes at Summer camp and a fishing trip once down on the Texas coast. I told about fantasies I had about going up the Amazon and traveling the Nile to the first cataract. When we got back to the dock Marilee was sitting out by the pool going over business papers. She was surprised to see us thinking I was at the theatre.

“I couldn’t stay away from this French girl here.” Putting my arm around Claire.

“And I’m glad he couldn’t. I missed him terribly.”

“Do you have to get back to the theatre?” Marilee asked. “because if you don’t I got some Oaklawn barbecue that sure needs to be eaten.”

“I did everything I needed to and more. Everything is in ship shape there.”

“It’s supposed to be a very warm night, why don’t you two have a swim after rehearsal tonight. I hope to have a swimming surprise for us.” “Sounds good to me. Claire?”

“You know I would. We haven’t had a chance to in several days.” “Marilee, do you mind if Timmy comes up to my room while I get ready?”

“No I don’t, but don’t fall as you run up the stairs.” I grabbed my coat and satchel and we did run up the stairs . Claire pulled the curtains closed and we jumped into the bed, undressing each other as quickly as we could. I pulled Claire to me and kissed her all over the face, neck, and breasts. She responded by taking me in hand and guiding to and in her. I pulled back fairly quickly and prepared, but that feel of her without a prophylactic was heavenly and electric. We made love with a hunger for each other, not violent, but strong passion.

“I wanted you so much this afternoon when you came in the den I thought you had read my mind from afar.”

“I didn’t need to, baby, or maybe I did. When I finished my work I had an overwhelming urge to hold and love you. Our little boat trip was a sweet bit of foreplay.”

“Yes, I thought it was at the time.”

“Naughty girl.” I laughed.

“No, not naughty, but a girl in love. Would you like to take a quick shower with me.”

“Yes, I would, Madamoiselle.”

After dressing we joined Marilee and Daniel downstairs for a barbeque sandwich and promising to join them later for drinks and a swim. At the theatre Ginger was waiting even though we an hour early. She was putting up new variations of set changing groups which I had discussed with the cast last night. She handed me typed notes to go over and took me to the Green Room to all of the instructions for the cast she had put on the walls. Some of the actors were already getting ready with make-up and costumes. Some were doing repairs and changes. The two leading men came in and wanted me to see a new set of moves they had put into the knife fight scene done behind the scrim. I watched them work on stage and approved their ideas. The scene was already exciting and they had taken it to a new level. Barney wanted me to see the final work in the lobby. Jeordie had brought in his latest Photography of the cast. They were very different and very interesting. I liked them but was concerned that the cast may feel strongly about not using the usual publicity headshots. I went down to the dressing room and asked them to come look at the lobby before rehearsal started. Jeordie accepted that as he and Claire worked on getting the new ones framed and hung before rehearsal. Eddy and Aurora came in holding hands and laughing; they had come through the lobby and praised what Claire and Jeordie had done. They said it seemed to go with the show as something different like the show was. I wasn’t surprised at their reaction because some of Jeordie’s best work was of the dance scene. I thought the best thing about the photos was that they portrayed the cast in their characters. I joined Barney in his office for a quick cup of coffee as he gave me more information on the opening. He was the most excited I had ever seen him. At this point before he was a nervous wreck fretting over details, But I believe after he had seen some midway rehearsals he had started to work much sooner planning. The news about highly increased ticket sales had freed him up from the frantic fund raising before the usual opening. He said that because the play was an American premiere it only needed moderate critical success to do well for the theatre. That was heartening to some degree but I was hoping for more, even a bit more, than a moderate critical success. At this point, it was a go or no, I now believed completely in the process I had developed and used.

I walked on stage as the cast was setting up in the crescent. If they had not seen the photography in the lobby I told them to go now. Some had not so there was a slight delay, which I used for specific work with some of the players. Everything in this stage was mostly praise with some new ideas. I was pleased with all of the acting and character development. When the others got back from the lobby we joined in a discussion of the photography. Thankfully most like it very much saying it fit the show perfectly not to have glossy headshots for the audience. There was no real disagreement, just reactions to how new it was. We settled in the notes and critique. They all new the importance of a final dress. I reminded them of using technique when they were finding themselves going flat on stage; just adjust by raising their chin a bit, extending gestures, and pushing their reach for communion with the other actors and the situation. I described again how they must beware of where they were on stage in relationship to the other players and the audience; and to try not to get in the wrong place for their character. The blocking should hold them but this piece was so emotional and passionate that they could be pulled into a weak or too strong a position for their character. After forty-five minutes of concentrated work, I set the curtain call. Everyone went into the position they would be in for the end of act three. I wanted the main players to freeze on stage after the curtain closed. The company ensemble would form behind the curtain and when it opened they would bow and split left and right then the others would step in between according to their prominence in the play, bow. The four major leads would bow together, them the two couples and finally the bride and Leonardo with singles then together. The whole cast would then bow together. I didn’t rehearse anything more just to repeat it if the audience wanted more.

For the next five and a half hours we went through a dress rehearsal from Hell. Almost everything that could go wrong did. In the first set change an ensemble actress got her dress caught which she didn’t notice and it literally ripped her skirt off. During the dance sequence Camila and collided, knocking them both to the floor with their breath knocked out. It scared everybody to death but after a few minutes they were both up and at it again where we left off. When Liza made her run onto the ramp she fell and tumbled off the back and disappeared. Luckily it only resulted in a skinned knee. At the beginning of the third act the theatre went completely dark. Barney came out with a flashlight, went into the basement and replaced the fuses. Eddy broke a string on his guitar in the intro to the fight and the actor playing Leonardo broke the trick knife which led to the mother holding up a knife handle to cut the brides throat with. At the end there was total silence for a few minutes then nervous laughter and collapse on the stage. They didn’t even get their chairs they just sat on the floor. By the time I got on stage some of the girls were crying and Camila and Aurora were hugging each other saying they couldn’t figure out what went wrong or who was out of place. Liza had a bandage on her knee and was already getting sore from her tumble. Eddy held up his guitar with the string flying, shaking his head. Ginger got the knife saying she would get it fixed before opening with no problem.

My first words were, Well, I’ve heard it said, from afar mind you, that a bad dress guarantees a great opening.”

I gave the best after dress notes and critique session I had done up to this point. I clarified that only the accidents were bad, but what did happen was great after everyone started up again; they had taken the play to a higher level, which, I thought proved that if anything happened in performance they were able to continue as if nothing had happened, or that it was all a part of the performance. The actress playing the mother said she would have an extra wooden knife in her skirt pocket, Camila and Aurora had already countered their collision by adjusting another foot away from each other. Eddy said he would put on new strings every week. Liza said she had started her run onto the ramp a little too far back, which made her misjudge the steps. The actress with the torn skirt was repairing it while I talked. Barney had placed new fuses next to the box just in case. I said the curtain call looked great and for everyone to try to get some rest. It was an emotional parting for the evening. We all hugged each other leaving with a new heightened spirit.

As we drove back to Marilee’s Claire was concerned mostly about my reaction to the rehearsal.

“It could be the best thing that could have happened because everything had gone so well for five weeks that this had been a wake up call for the possibilities in live theatre. I had almost forgotten how fragile the whole physicality of it is. And no one was seriously hurt and the rehearsal was actually very good. I thought it would be a bit flat just from nervousness, but their work on stage was terrific.”

“Yes, I thought so too, it just scared me for you.”

“Don’t be. If anything, their concentration will be better and I think without anticipation. They were in the moment tonight. For a few minutes, I was worried about, Camila, and Liza; but they jumped right up and went on. This cast has been amazing in their commitment and belief in the show. I think they’re going to get better and better, and they’re already real good.”

“I believe they know they’re good, but because you are good. They could not have done it with anyone else. They love you and believe in you.”

“I love them and believe in them, too; and I hope the audience loves them too.”

“They will, mon amour.”

We drove up to Marilee’s, Claire’s head on my shoulder. Marilee greeted us in her bathing suit, put her arms around our shoulders, and headed us towards the pool where Daniel handed me a Bourbon and soda, Claire a Martini.

“You’re about and hour later than we thought you would be. How did it go?” Daniel asked.

Claire and I both laughed.

“If they weren’t so damn good, it would have been a disaster. It was a dress from Hell.”

They both laughed and said for us to change and get into the water. Claire went upstairs and I sat to finish the much needed drink. I described briefly what had happened. They gasped then also laughed when I said everyone was all right. I waited for Claire to come down just so I could see her in the two-piece. I felt the same thing I did the first time when she did come out. I stood up and toasted her and went into the cabana to change.

Everyone else was in the water when I came out. As I climbed down the ladder, I was shocked by the warmth of the water.

“How do you like it?” Marilee called across the pool.

“How did you do it?” I called out, “It’s great.” The water was just short of being as warm as a bath.

“Your Uncle Willy did it. When he came over once during the winter, he asked how long the water was cold in the Spring going into the Summer.”

“I told him too long.”

“He said maybe he could fix that. He started working on it in January and put it in this week. He devised a gas heater for the recirculating water. “

Claire said in reaction, “I wondered what was going out here in the morning, but I didn’t see Uncle Willy.”

“Some of his shop people did it. They said it wasn’t really complicated. Just the heater, some new pipes, and using the gas from the cabana heater. He said it was his secret project in case it didn’t work.” Daniel told us.

“It sure does work. No more shivers after being in too long.” I said going all the way under to come up beside Claire.

“Hallo, Timmy. She put her arms around me as we worked our way over to Marilee and Daniel.

“Would you like another drink, Timmy?”

“I’ll get it in a minute.”

“No. no, after the evening you’ve had we’ll take care of you. Daniel would you also get me another Martini, please, dear heart?”

“A sus ordenes, Madam Grant.” Daniel said as he climbed out.

Claire whispered in my ear, “May I take care of you, too, baby?”

“You already do, in a thousand different ways, Mademoiselle Levant.

We all sat together on the underwater ledge and laughed about the rehearsal and how lucky we were that nothing really bad happened especially to Camila, and Liza. Marilee went in the house and brought some snacks of cheese, bread, and ham slices. After a while Marilee and Danile went in. Claire and I went back into the pool and whispered to each other how nice it was to swim and be close in the pool again. Marilee had turned off the lights when they went saying we could frolic as much as we liked. And we did by taking off our suits and being close. It was very different and nice being in the warm water. After a while we wrapped up in towels we lounged in the patio chaise in each other’s arms and both dozed off for a bit. I realized how exhausted I was knowing I had better go home soon and rest. We dressed as I made our plans for the next day. I would go to the theatre early in the afternoon then come get Claire for the early dinner at my parents house. We kissed and parted wanting to stay together.

I didn’t even attempt to study or read. There was nothing more for me to do for the play. I slept in late and had breakfast with Mom, and went to the theatre where everything was on schedule and doing fine. I spent three hours working on all kinds of arrangements, checking the set, and had a long conference with Barney. Ginger and I spent an hour together talking about the past weeks. Both of us had good feelings about the coming evening. She was able to finally laugh about the dress. She said it had scared her to death, but I assured her we only go with what we have and think about the seeming disaster as a good omen. Before I left, I hugged her and said she was by far the best stage manager I had ever had and that she ought to think about New York though I didn’t want to lose her. She told me it was a great experience for her and that she had learned more about working with a good director than she could have ever hoped.

I decided to go home and get dressed before picking up Claire. I rarely got the chance to wear a coat and tie but Mom was ready for me with an ironed shirt and slacks. She had actually made me a new hand painted tie The jacket Uncle Willy gave me was perfect.

I decided that I would give Claire the turquiose ring when I picked her up. I wasn’t sure it was the right time but I wanted to see it on her for our opening night. It was hers too because of the lobby drawings exhibit.

Claire was waiting for me in Marilee’s den. She was wearing a new emerald green dress that was a knockout.

“My word, Claire, you’ll be the most striking lady at the show. That dress makes your eyes glow. Did you know that?”

“I don’t about glow, but it did kind of scare me when I looked in the mirror. You look very nice yourself. Are you excited?”

“I think anxious more than excited. I guess I’m nervous too. Opening nights are always nerve wracking. You just never know what the audience reaction will be and this is my first, as you know, ‘national premiere’…Hell! Baby, I’m scared to death.”

“Well, as you say, ‘hold on tight’, because I believe it’s going to turn out very well. And since I’ll be right beside you, you can hold on tight to me. I dreamed last night that people pointed at my drawings and laughed.”

“Between the two of us I think you’re the safest bet.”

“That’s ridiculous, Timmy. What I did just supports your work.”

“And you’ve certainly done from the beginning. Let’s sit down for a minute, we’ve got time.” We sat on the sofa and I brought out the ring box and gave it to her. She opened it, took out the ring, and looked at me in shock.

“Oh, Timmy, it’s beautiful…when did you…?...Oh…!”

“Try it on and see if it fits.” It did.

“I love it, it’s so different.”

“A New Mexico Indian artist made it. I thought something from the west would be appropriate.”

She turned and hugged me, “I’ll wear it always. And…I have something for you.” She got a small long box out of her purse and gave it to me.

I opened it to find a steel Rolex watch.

“Look on the back.”

I turned it over. Engraved was ’Love always, Claire.”

“Well, this is something beyond my…I mean it’s, my god, boy did I need this. My watch is on its last legs, but a Rolex.” “The best for the best. I hope you’re not disappointed because it’s not gold. Gold didn’t seem right for you.”

“No, no, I much prefer this. I’ve never been one to wear or want gold.” I took off my old hand me down Bulova and strapped on the Rolex.

“I think I’ll roll up my sleeve tonight so it will show.”

“And I’ll hold out my hand so everyone will see my ring.” We both laughed then kissed thank you’s. She wiped the lipstick off my mouth then re-did her’s. And we were off to the family dinner. The gathering was happy though all were a bit nervous for me. Mom had prepared a lightly spiced version of her curry. Jeordie insisted on taking photos of everyone constantly and Rose was wearing her first expectant mother dress. Claire showed off her ring, I my watch, and even Jeordie was dressed for the night in a tie and cardigan sweater.

“Jill’s parents are bringing her to the theatre. I guess it’s kinda like a date. I wanted her to see my lobby photos.” Beamed Jeordie.

Thankfully no one mentioned Claire’s leaving on Sunday. No sad things on an opening night. Claire and I left earlier than the others so I could spend time with the cast.

There were some early arrivals in the lobby admiring Claire’s drawings. She stayed and talked while I went back stage. The cast was busy, excited, and concentrated. Some were warming up with vocal exercises and sonnets. The greeted me with smiles and confidence. Liza Farquar came to me and whispered, “Thank you, Tim. Don’t worry about a thing. We’re ready to go. I handed out roses, that Ginger had gotten for me, to give all of the ladies. I shook hands with all of the men thanking them for the hard work. I left for the lobby which was now filled. Marilee and Daniel had found Claire. My family joined us, as did Dick Ayers. When the house was opened Barney rang a bell and the evening started. Eddy’s playing quieted the audience and the curtain to ooo’s and ah’s in reaction to the very different and colorful set. I was so nervous I couldn’t sit down so I stood in back with Claire seated in front of me, my hands were on her shoulders. The audience appauded strongly after the first act. Claire joined the family but I was headed to the office by Barney. He handed me a glass of wine smiling at what he already thought was a successful evening.

In the second act the dance sequence between Aurora and Camila stopped the show with applause. As if they expected it they froze in place and started up again perfectly as the applause subsided. Liza’s run down the ramp and scream of deception brought out sounded reactions of shock and the applause was greater after the second act. Claire stood up and hugged me across the seat. I went back stage but said nothing just going around touching and stroking the cast.

When the curtain closed at the end there was a sudden loud applause. When the curtain opened the audience stood and demanded three bows. Then of all things the cast called for me to come on stage. I had never made any sort of speech to an audience so I was very embarrassed. The audience quieted and I thanked them for their response and turned to the cast and thanked them for their hard work. I turned back to the audience and said, “There will be no more plays by Federico Garcia Lorca because evidently he has been murdered by the Franco forces is Spain. This is a major loss for modern literature. There is also some one else I want to thank, Miss Claire Levant for unequaled support and the wonderful drawings in the lobby.”

The cast and I stepped back and the curtain closed. They all started screaming and jumping up and down. I heard a yelled out, “viva el Audazito!”

I went to the lobby where Claire greeted me with tears and a hug. My family gathered around with smiles and congratulations. Marilee gave me a kiss on the lips.

Dick Ayers found me saying, “You out did the one I saw in Madrid.” An exuberant Barney grabbed my hand but couldn’t say a thing. Wine was served and the audience waited for the cast to appear, which they did after about thirty minutes and the celebration lasted for another hour and a half. Eddy set himself up in a corner and played his guitar with Aurora standing beside him. Claire was introduced around by Barney as the artist of the drawings. The critics from the two papers had left early but John Rosenfield stayed long enough to shake my hand and greet Barney. I hoped that was a good harbinger for the review.

Before Jordie was sent home early with Jill’s parents they came over to say goodbye. Jill said the play made her cry. His photos had also been a big hit.

Claire tried to stay beside me, but we were both pulled away several times to discuss her work or my direction. Once I saw across the room and she must have felt me watching her because she turned, beamed a broad smile at me and mouthed my name. The major patrons seemed thrilled by the show and its prospects for an extended run, which they felt would help the fund raising potential enormously. From the moment the curtain had gone down after my few words I had been in a daze and shocked by the audience’s response to the show. I’m not sure I carried on any intelligent conversation with anyone in the lobby. Finally the reception dwindled down to my family and cast.

Claire and I were able to sit down and just be with the family. The cast members came over to us alone or in small groups for a hand shake or hug and thanks for the opportunity. I let them know quickly that they had made the show with their dedication, commitment, and artistry. At last Barney brought out the framed blow-up of the program cover for Claire. She was taken aback and thrilled by the gesture. She held it up for the people left to see and they all applauded. My Mom was especially touched when Claire turned to her for a hug and a kiss telling her how much it meant to her that my mother liked her work. Claire had told me earlier in the evening Mom had asked her if she could have a drawing after the show closed. Claire had told her that they were all for me to keep and felt that she could probably choose as many as she liked.

Camila and Claire spent some minutes together wishing they could spend more time together but knew that Claire’s leaving would prevent that. They promised to write and keep up with each other’s careers. Daniel and Marilee left asking me and Claire to join them when I took Claire home. The evening ended with family goodbyes and Claire and I went to my car with each other’s arms around each other and holding the framed program cover.

In the car Claire leaned over and kissed me and dug her head into my neck, “I’m so very proud of you, Timmy. It could not have been a better end to all of your work. I knew Blood Wedding was very good but I couldn’t really express how much I believed it because I knew you would think I was just praising from my love for you. I wasn’t surprised by the success. It was almost overwhelming and I know you were really unable to understand how important it was for you. You were fun to watch at the reception because you couldn’t quite accept what was happening; you just smiled and nodded your head to the compliments. It made me love you even more.”

“Well…it was a pretty special evening for you too. Your drawings kind of topped off the night. When the audience looked at them they were seeing the play all over again. Thank you, sweetheart. You know when you reached back and took my hand during the wedding dance I felt rushes of excitement that I had never experienced before. I had a funny idea that I wanted us to be watching the play with you in my lap and your arm around me.”

She laughed out loud, “Oh, Timmy, I wish we could have.” We were both laughing as we pulled into Marilee’s driveway. Daniel greeted us and pointed to the den. Marilee handed us both snifters of Spanish brandy.

“What would be more proper than to toast with what we started with five weeks ago. To you Timothy Sart and you Claire Levant, may these weeks together last in your memories, they certainly shall for us. But this is for tonight and those days of work that have brought us here together this evening. I know that sounds a little formal, Timmy, but I believe it will change your life.”

Claire and I both raised our glasses and drank the Villalobos as an elixir. I had tasted it before I met Claire but it didn’t become the elixir until her.

“Thank you, Marilee and brother, yes, quite an evening. I have no idea how it could change my life beyond what it has already done.”

“Well, the change is that you are no longer a young director trying to do good theatre, you are now a very good and innovative director who can direct anywhere, even New York.” Marilee said.

“She’s right, Timmy. You’ve done something very special and it may be only the beginning for you.”

“I don’t know about that, a new beginning I mean. I’m slated to direct the next show, as yet un-named, but…”

“It was a terrific evening, brother. And I absolutely loved the play. It surprised me, even though I was sure I would enjoy it, I didn’t expect the emotional reaction I felt. Also, Claire, your drawings are a beautiful part of it. I don’t know what you plan to do with your art, but please don’t stop.”

“Thank you, Daniel. You and Marilee added a truly beautiful touch to the production. I don’t know if I plan to do anything with my drawing. I’m sure that it was watching Timmy that inspired me.”

“That inspiration thing goes both ways, Claire.” “I think the best way to describe the evening is a ‘triumph’. Marilee said as she poured us more brandy which was just at the point of making me feel almost calm.

“I don’t know how I feel yet about the reaction of the audience. Most of the people there were theatre supporters, so it could be just because it was something new, you know, a premiere and all that. But, of course, I’m just now beginning to take it all in. I guess the run will tell. Barney was certainly happy about it. I believe, right now, that everything went beyond what I had hoped for. It would have been a lot harder without you’all, I mean, your help and support. Marilee, that discussion we had in the parking lot of the ‘Art Fair’ got me started.”

“Brother, I told you she can be a real ‘muse’.” Well…in this case I had two.” I said and turned to Claire. “Dear Claire, thanks for a thousand reasons for coming to Dallas.”

“You’re most welcome, Monsieur Sart. Marilee, thank you for introducing me to this wonderful man. When you invited me to visit you, I was actually scared to really be on my own and away from my family and now…well…I’m not going to think about my leaving because I’m so happy for Timmy.”

“Yes, let’s not think about that. Oh, I’ve arranged a suite for you two at the Adolphus for Friday and Saturday with all the room service you want.”

“Great, what do you think about that Claire?” I asked.

“I like it, Timmy, but Marilee you don’t have to…”

“Claire, don’t even think about it. Didn’t you mention a ‘sanctuary’ several days ago. You know you would both be welcome here, but why not have it away from all of us just you two and no one else?”

“I wish I didn’t have to go to the show for the next two nights so it could be more like a little vacation with Claire, but, well, that may not be the right word for it.”

“That’s a good enough word for it, Timmy. I just want to be with you.” Marilee had an idea, “Timmy, why don’t you tell Barney you’re going out of town for a couple of days, exhaustion from working on the production. After the cast part tomorrow night go to the hotel and stay until you bring Claire back Sunday.”

“He won’t like it, but I’ll do it. Is that alright with you Claire?”

“If you think it’s alright, yes.”

“Well, I’m going to call it an evening, and a great one it has been. Marilee are you ready.”

“Yes, Daniel, I think it’s time to give these two the rest of the night…what there is left of it since it’s almost two. Timmy, you’re welcome to stay here.”

“Thanks, Marilee, but I’m not sure I could sleep anywhere. Is the water in the pool still heating up? I could use a swim.”

“It should be almost like a warm bath by now. I turned it on again before we went to the theatre. Have at it.”

“Does that sound good to you, Claire?”

“Yes it does, Monsieur Sart, it certainly does. I’ll run upstairs and change.” The three of them went up stairs. I poured another snifter of brandy and went out to the cabana and put on my bathing suit. The water was like a bath, which couldn’t have better for all of the pent up tensions I felt from the evening at the theatre. Claire came down shortly in her super cute two-piece suit. I pointed at the brandy and her glass on the table. She filled her snifter and joined me.

“Are you able to talk about the play yet, Timmy? We don’t have to, but it was a real success for you.”

“I don’t know what to say. I guess it was what all directors hope for, I mean an audience reaction like that. I don’t know yet what it means for me or the theatre. It may just mean that things will be the same except more so.”

“More so?”

Well, the expectations of me will be higher.”

“But isn’t that the way it is for any artist whether you’re a painter who sells out an exhibit or a writer who has a successful book. Perhaps you’ll get better with each play, it’s not like something that happens then goes away. I watched you work, you seemed to gain confidence with each rehearsal. Remember when we talked about the book on art logic. A part of that, as I remember, was being able to visualize the specific conclusion even though it may change as you work towards it. From the beginning, or when I first started going to rehearsals, you had a good vision of where you wanted it to go. I believe that’s what being a good artist is, of course, the artist must have an innate talent. You were a good director before Blood Wedding weren’t you? Marilee told me you are very talented.”

“My goodness, girl. That was really something. Yes, I guess I was a fairly good director before this production, but I never thought of it like that. I was trying to learn with each play with some success.” “I don’t think Barney would have let you direct as much as you have if he didn’t believe in you. We had plenty of chances to talk while I worked in the lobby so I know how he feels. And this show is way beyond some success.”

“Still, I don’t know what, if anything, it means for me. I hope to keep working at the ‘Dallas Little Theatre’, and probably the book store. I’m not sure there is an up from here or even that there needs to be. Are you saying that perhaps I have a chance as a professional director somewhere else?”

“Yes, Timmy, I am. You worked minor miracles here with your cast. What could you do with the best actors?”

“I must say it is great to have a lady who is very smart and believes in you. If there is a next step up from here I believe I’m ready for it. I have a good life here in Dallas, family is here, the work, the theatre, but these last weeks have changed a whole of things. Blood Wedding still rages in my head even though my part is done and you, Claire. You must know that you are not short on talent as an artist either. This should not be a one time artistic thrust, you must continue your drawing and your water colors are beautiful.”

“You’ve helped me fall in love with drawing again and I never enjoyed waters as much before. I knew I could do it but I guess it just took something like working with you to make it happen.”

“That goes both ways, sweetheart.”

“I don’t want you to think you need me to become a great director. No that doesn’t sound right, I mean you are very talented, the inspiration will come from within you.”

“I understand that, as well as I know how much you inspired me, or our love. I think it is I have been so happy with you and wanted you to be proud of me. But I do need you, because I love you.”

“I know, me too. Timmy we must agree not to be sad about my leaving. Yes, it is sad for me so very much that I don’t even comprehend it. I’ve never been so happy in my life and the wonderful things that have happened between us were beyond my imagination before we met. What is the word in English? …uh…’serendipitous’, yes that’s it.”

“At the very least, ‘serendipity’ is a good way to describe us. I agree not to be sad or wallow in unhappiness. I believe I want some more brandy with no qualms about getting a pinch drunk. Is that OK with you?” “Yes, our own celebration.”

During this whole conversation we were up to our necks in the warm water and very close, almost whispering, and with our arms Around each other. This intimacy between us was now an accepted part of our relationship. When we could be close, we were. Before Claire, I thought love would be sex and a new fun friendship; but this was more than any of that. The sex was a natural and magical union more than the thrills of passion but a completeness in our needs to be as close as possible in the sharing of our physical lives; the friendship a total trust in each other’s intellectual presence. We listened and shared our ideas about everything we discussed. I adored her beauty, often finding myself just looking at her amazed by the idea that she could possibly love me too. We laughed sometimes just in happiness. Her accent gave English a sound almost Latin in its softening of harsh consonants banging up against vowels; listening to how she spoke as well as what she spoke of. Her well-educated and continental sophistication carried no arrogance or feelings of superiority. Her coloring and figure were so different and striking that she seemed to almost be of another species from a place where humans had evolved into something new that incorporated all of traits of beauty and femininity. All of these thoughts raced through my mind as Claire insisted on getting out of the pool to bring the brandy bottle to us.

As I watched her she turned to me, smiled, winked, and said in an exaggerated accent, “Viva Villalobos, El Audauzito.”

I laughed with my head thrown back hoping I didn’t wake the distant neighbors, “Si claro, eso si, mi amorcita Francesa!”

We finished off the bottled and swam around the pool on our backs for awhile then went to the lounge chair and wrapped ourselves in the light pool blanket. We took off our suits and cuddled, whispered intimacies, kissed, and made long slow love facing each other side by side then dozed until dawn. We went up to her room and slept until noon. I awoke with her head on my shoulder and a knock on the door.

“How about breakfast in thirty minutes?” “That sounds good, Marilee.”

I hadn’t moved. Claire’s eyes were open and she smiled.

“Bon jour, Ti-mo-thee.”

“Good morning, Claire. You are a magnificent sight in the morning.” “I don’t believe you, but thank you. Don’t move yet, just hold me for a few moment more.” I agreeably did.

“Oh, Timmy, I love you so much and I love waking up with you.” “Strange coincidence, I was thinking the same thing with the emphasis on loving you.” She then jumped up grabbing a robe shyly covering herself in the bright noonday sun streaming in. I wished she hadn’t but the giggle and smile almost made up for not being able to see her in the light. As she entered the bathroom I told her to hurry and let me in there quickly. She came out in a minute and I went in. When I came out she had layed out her clothes for the day then returned to the bathroom for her shower.

In a few seconds she opened the door, “We could save time by taking our showers together. Do you think we could resist morning passions?” Her expression was sexy and cute.

“We could try, but I don’t think so.” She laughed and pulled me into the already running shower. We soaped each other and weren’t able to resist our morning passion completely. We only got out when there was almost no hot water left. I dressed in my crumpled clothes and she in a spiffy slacks outfit. Daniel and Marilee were waiting for us at the breakfast table.

“We haven’t been up long ourselves; we got into the celebration spirit also.” Marilee said as she poured coffee for us. Daniel smiled and nodded.

“Well, I suppose you should be the first to know…Daniel asked me this morning to marry him and I said yes then jumped up and down a bit. How about that?”

Claire squealed and hugged Marilee. I shook Daniel’s hand. Daniel was a bit subdued about the announcement, a quiet happiness. He smiled and then laughed looking at Marilee with complete adoration. He finally said, “I supposed it was about time to ask, I guess my fear was that she would ‘pooh-pooh’ the idea and say things were fine as they are.”

“Little did you know, my fine man. How many signals did I have to send out? I am one happy girl. We even talked about a family in the future. But…I certainly don’t want some semi-society wedding at the Higland Park Methodist Church with a reception at Dallas Country Club. There is no hurry, just this year sometime and probably away from Dallas.

Claire and I shared a look with the knowing that we would not be together at the wedding whenever it was, unless it happened in the next couple of days. We were too happy for them to let that knowledge effect us with any sort of sadness. Claire knew she would always be their friends if even from afar.

Marilee walked to behind Daniel and hugged him with a kiss on his cheek, “Why don’t we have a small celebration for the four of us; our ‘engagement’, Daniel’s two new paintings he finished this week which you two must see, Timmy’s triumph last night, and Claire’s exciting exhibit in the theatre lobby…but mostly for Me and Daniel…!”

We all joined in with clapping and laughter, which ,of course, meant we agreed to a ‘small’ celebration. Marilee held up her hand for attention.

“I’m going on a quick trip to the refrigerator in the garage.” She left and was back in two or three minutes holding up a cold bottle of Dom Perignon.

“We’ll have Spanish Omlettes after this French treat is all gone.” After Daniels did the honors of opening the Champagne, without a drop lost, Marilee brought out some crystal glasses. After the pouring we toasted them and they toasted us.

“Speaking of French treats; Claire did this other worthy Sart man let you get any sleep last night?”

“Yes he did. We fell asleep out by the pool under a blanket and woke up at dawn, then came upstairs.”

“Good, I’m glad you stayed over last night, Timmy. This announcement and ‘small’ celebration would not have been the same without you.”

“I am too, I just couldn’t face driving home after we finished off that bottle of Villalobos and we talked ourselves into oblivion before the sun ‘done come up’.

“Timmy always, ‘Mi casa, su casa’”.

We drank the Dom Perignon, all four of us getting a bit tipsy and laughing about everything. I talked about all of the things that could have wrong with Blood Wedding, Claire told of all the people who had noticed her new ring, Dan about his new paintings that were more figurative than usual, and Marilee about her business in the Far East and Oklahoma. Occasionally Marilee would go over to Daniel and hug him saying how happy she was. Both of them were aglow with their decision as if a weight had been lifted from what was already a happy life about to get better. Marilee told about when she had first seen Daniel and knew immediately that something good was going to happen between them.

“He was the first person I had ever met who actually had an aura. It shocked me at first but it wasn’t all the time. It isn’t bright but like a glow that happens when he’s very happy.”

“You’ve never told me that, honey.”

“I didn’t want scare you off thinking I was a babbling witch.”

“There was no danger of that happening. You were the most intriguing and beautiful woman I had ever seen. Claire, Tim knows this, when Marilee and I first met we talked non stop for ten hours, I mean all night long and into the next day. Most of the time sitting in my old Plymouth behind the art gallery where we met.”

“That night and morning sure changed our lives. It also had what started out as an embarrassment, after about three hours we both had to go the bathroom so badly we were were in pain. We didn’t think we could make it to a bathroom anywhere, so we both went behind the bushes near the alley. It didn’t seem to bother us though, we actually kind of stumbled into our first kiss right afterward and the rest is history.”

Claire laughed out loud at Marilee’s story, “I don’t believe Timmy and I have had any embarrassing moments, well almost this morning.”

“Yes. Similar situation but we were in civilized environment. It ended up pretty good too.” Claire blushed at this but smiled and winked at me. Her winks were a new happening and I liked it. I think it meant something good in her feeling about me. All of a sudden a rush of reality overcame me for a few seconds; the thought of not being with her much longer, but I pushed it out of my mind remembering our promise.

Marilee and Claire made the omelets, which were great.

“Timmy, did you know that Claire is a great cook, a really good one.” “No, I didn’t; she mentioned once that she liked to cook but with no hints as to her greatness.”

Claire reached over and poked me, “Did you expect a French girl to brag about her cooking skills. It just comes naturally, amorcito.”

“I guess my business skills came naturally, too. I mean with my father first then Grant.”

“Thank the sweet Lord for that.” Daniel said, “The Sart family is not known for great money knowledge just barely staying ahead with ‘the arts.’ Right, brother?”

“Oh, am I ahead?”

“You are now, director almost brother-in-law.” Marilee added to the mix.

“She’s right, Timmy. If you don’t know you’re a special artist, a lot of other people do.”

“And you are well ahead, Daniel. I think being accepted by the museum establishes that. Remember that at that gallery exhibit where we first met and every one since you’ve sold every painting you’ve put on the wall.”

“Well, I think…Viva Sart men!” Claire cheered giggling from the champagne.

“Indeed, Mademoiselle Lavant, viva all of us.” Marilee laughed out.

Daniel stood and, “Thank you for the support ladies. Right brother?” “Couldn’t ask for more, Daniel.”

We toasted across the table with our orange juice.

“Now for the rest of the day.” Marilee started, “Timmy, I hope you don’t mind if Claire helps. We have a lot of food to get ready for the cast party. Liza is coming over later to help and take stuff over to her house. I promise to get Claire to the theatre before the curtain.”

“That’s perfecty fine. I want to spend some time with Daniel in the studio seeing his new work and then go for a swim. I’ll go home to change and pack a bag for the weekend, which we thank you greatly for, Marilee.”

“My pleasure, Timmy, no one deserves it more than you two after the activity of the past weeks.”

“I’ll call my parents this afternoon and tell them about our fishing trip this weekend, Marilee. I’ve never lied to them before but must needs be. Timmy, I’ll try to join you for a few minutes in the pool if Marilee will release me.”

“I will, but it’s rare that I have a real French cook helping me, so not for long…just teasing, I may jump in myself for awhile. As a matter of fact now would would be good to wash away the champagne, or perhaps to enjoy it before it goes away. Let’s all go in, what do you say?”

We agreed and scattered to change. We all played in the pool like kids for half an hour then the ladies retreated to the kitchen and I joined Daniel in his studio. His new work was large and very different. He had worked figures of women into forest scenes almost hidden by foliage. His new coloring style was even more startling and dramatic using a pastoral scenic approach. There was no jungle look to it or a usual forest or woods look but a fantasy world that had places of reality or naturalism that would blend into the extraordinary colors. The women were nude but revealed more as spirit-like wood sprites just on the edge of misty. The paintings were the most powerful thing I had seen him do so far.

“My word, Dan, these are terrific. Where did they come from?”

“I don’t know. They just happened. Well, perhaps from a morning I was watching Marilee in our bedroom. She was, and is, so beautiful that I wanted to try some magical women that are just barely real. I hadn’t realized that as an inspiration until you asked.” “Did it also happen to inspire your proposal?”

“No, that, dear brother, happened on waking up and holding Marilee and all of a sudden we started laughing, I don’t know why, then she started crying softly and kissed me saying she loved me so much. I just couldn’t not ask her. Hell, I’ve been trying to get my nerve up for a year to ask her, and I didn’t even have to, it just happened.”

“That sounds like a pretty good way for it to happen.”

“I thought our getting engaged to get married wouldn’t change anything because it was so good anyway, but even though it’s been for only a few hours things are different in a very good way. I’m softly buzzing all over.”

“I think Marilee is too.”

“Yeah, love is good.”

“Yes, I agree. Claire is…well, she is love to me.”

“We have seen it in the both of you. Have you talked much about her leaving?”

“No, we haven’t and won’t.”

“I do understand, but you haven’t really lost. What you’ve had together for the past weeks…well…I guess there’s nothing to say.”

“Nope, there isn’t. But, my God, she’s a wonderful woman, more than I ever…”

“Yes, but what you have now, is more than you ever expected. And what was it like before Claire? Were you happier? No. Even when she leaves you will be more into your life and your work. She’s not leaving because of some terrible disagreement you’ve had or a bitter break up. She’s leaving because of a family obligation that existed before and is very strong. We’ve talked about traditions that we don’t quite understand, well…I think this a prime example of one, whatever it is. I know this may not help you at all and I’m speaking beyond my own experience.”

“Yeah, certainly beyond mine, too. You know, in the last six weeks I’ve talked more about love than in all of my life before. With you, Mom and Dad, Marilee, and even Uncle Willy. Of course, mostly with Claire being it’s new experience for us both. We’re not total innocents but what has happened between us has been a new world of caring…and friendship, and a physical love without, I think, a hint of lust, just us becoming closer. We haven’t tried to analyze it, we’re amazed by it as a wonderful surprise that has enveloped us with a happiness that neither of us knew was possible.

None of us want her to leave, she has become like family. And it’s not all because of what has happened between you; she is one special lady. That first day you came over it was pretty obvious that you two were drawn to each other, ‘smitten’ as Marilee said. Even if it were just a casual thing between you, we would feel very caring about her. But it’s not a casual thing for either of you, Marilee and I do know something about love, we saw it developing for you and Claire very soon. And it was so real, there was no appearance of two lonely people reaching out. She is a strong independent spirit and you were, and are, very much involved with directing.”

“Yes, I clearly wanted no distractions from Blood Wedding, but you’re right I was involved, and still am, but all of my work was better being with Claire.”

“For her, too, brother. Her drawings are exquisite, and they wouldn’t have happened without you and Blood Wedding. I believe my paintings would be good without Marilee, but with her I know I can be a better artist each time I face a blank canvas.”

“Claire and I had a conversation one night by the pool about how lucky you and Marilee are and then we realized how lucky we were. Speaking of lucky, has Uncle Willy ever told you about a lady he knew in Shanghai?”

“No, tell me.”

“Well, I don’t think I’m betraying a confidence so he told me about a White Russian lady he met while on shore leave that Claire reminded him of. They met and were together for a month or so for every minute. Because of all the diplomatic complications there was no way he could bring her back here, no matter hard he tried. And he had to leave. But he felt he was double lucky because of Rose.”

“Close to home.”

“There always seems to be a purpose behind every one of Uncle Willy’s stories. This has been good, Daniel, the talk and seeing your new canvases. The concept of a big brother has taken new steps.”

“We want you to be here with us as much as you can be. I think family is meaning more and more to us. Marilee is so proud of you and what you’ve done with Blood Wedding. Are you satisfied with how it turned out, I mean we all know it’s an absolutely terrific show, but how do you feel now a day removed?”

“I believe every director would always want a couple more weeks of rehearsal, but this particular process was so intense that it couldn’t have gone on any longer. I like the show and love the play, and the ensemble will grow enormously during the run, which is the first time I’ve been able to say that. Every show gets better, but this one; in three or four weeks, if things go well, opening night will look like an innocent run through. I’m beginning to actually believe that the way I shaped this production gives the cast more room to grow.”

“That’s exciting to hear, but I’m not really surprised after all of the work you put into it. I guess I’ve experienced a similar thing in painting this year. I feel a freedom now in my choice of subject matter for paintings. I guess there always was a struggle for what will I do next, but I don’t sense the inhibiting nature of that anymore. I face the canvas and it happens. Also the loneliness of the studio isn’t a part of my existence with Marilee always close. I sometimes envy the collaborative nature of your theatre work.”

“And I sometimes envy your being in the studio alone. At times, all of the different people working on a production create a sort of cacophony…but it didn’t with Blood Wedding. This was different, and a big part of that was Claire…But…well…what the hell. I damn sure better be able to transcend that. Perhaps her presence with me in the past weeks will continue to be an inspiration.”

“Hold on to that idea, brother, it could be the best one of many good ones you’ve had in the past weeks.”

“Think so?”

“Yep!”

“I think I’ll go give her a big kiss of thanks, then go to the house and get ready for the weekend.”

“I won’t see you at the theatre tonight but I will at the cast party, the drops Mom and I painted do get me an invite, don’t they?”

We both laughed then hugged, patting each other on the back, “You darn sure better be there, Daniel.”

Claire and Marilee were working in the kitchen. I came up behind Claire and took her hand. I guided her into the den and took her in my arms. She looked at me in a happily surprised manner and I kissed her, holding her tight. She looked at me with such love that I hugged her again, pulling back her hair, kissing her on the ear and neck.

“Oh my goodness, Timmy. What was…”

“Just thank you, sweetheart.”

I squeezed her hand, “I’ll see you at the theatre. Don’t be late.” She stood smiling and waved as I left the den and walked out the front door.

I went by the bank and took out a hundred dollars, which was more than I ever had before. I didn’t know what I would need it for but I wanted to be prepared for anything.

When I got to the house I went in to see Mom in her studio.

She turned to me and said, “Well, hello stranger. It looks like you slept in your clothes.”

I guess I kind of did. How are you, Mom?”

“I’m fine, but a bigger question is how are you after your wonderful success…and how is Claire?”

“I feel great and Claire is also fine, very fine.”

Mom laughed saying, “You know we’re proud of you and I expect she is, too.” “She certainly seems to be, and thank you. Are you and Dad going to come by the cast party?”

“We plan to, but it will be too late for Jeordie, it’s almost too late for us. Perhaps just an appearance.”

“That’s alright. Mom, Claire and I are going away for a couple of days then I plan to go with her to the train station on Sunday.”

“I’m not surprised you two want to get away and be alone before she goes. It’s been a rather hectic past few weeks, there’s been more socializing than we’ve seen in years. She sure made life different around here, different good, I mean; especially for you.”

“Yes, especially different good for me.”

“Try to hold on to the happiness you and Claire have had. I don’t want you to go into any sort of deep sadness when she leaves.”

“Of course I’ll be sad, but I’m not going to fall apart. It’s been too very good for that. We are very much in love, but some how destiny has overruled us. I don’t quite understand it and may never completely.” “That sounds like a healthy attitude. Believe me, no one, with the exception of you, wants her to stay more than I do.”

“I know, Mom. Well, I’m going to take a short nap and then pack and get ready for the evening.” She grabbed me up into one of her motherly hugs saying, “Your play is beautiful, Son.” I went out and fell on my bed, set my alarm for a couple of hours of sleep, which I did and dreamed of being with Claire for two days.

When I stepped out the shower, Mom came in with a sandwich and several hangers of freshly ironed clothes. She came back in a few minutes with clean underwear and socks.

“Sometimes it’s a mother’s duty to see that her boy looks good.” she said with a big smile and was gone.

I tried not to over pack but did go a bit overboard with shirts. I put on my one good suit with a solid color knit tie and was off to the theatre. I got there an hour before the doors opened and went immediately to meet with Ginger backstage. There was a flurry of activity and excitement. The cast was getting ready a little early at Ginger’s request so they could have a group warm-up. I found out there wasn’t much to say because she was on top of it all. I roamed around the dressing rooms wishing every one a good show. Eddy and Aurora were rehearsing in the hallway, and then stopped to chat and ask if I had any critique. I didn’t, saying what they had done in the show had been crucial to its success. Eddy waved his finger then pointed at me and smiled. Aurora nodded and took my hand giving a gentle squeeze. As I went into the Greenroom the old Hispanic actor greeted me with a hand shake and…

“Gracias, el Audazito.”

He was doing a terrific job in the play, much more than I had expected and I hoped a friend for life, but then this was the first show that I felt that way about everyone in the cast. I had no bad feelings or regrets of any sort; which was strange because usually there were a couple of actors I would rather not see for a while.

Liza Farquar came out to tell me everything was ready for the party and that she and Marilee had sent Claire up to take a nap. She said she barely had made the call but was ready and excited. She too was doing great as the wife. I had thought at first she was too attractive, but it worked.

I met Barney in the lobby and he was ecstatic about the response. He said the word of mouth was already filling up another week. I suddenly began to think of what John Rosenfield was going to say in his review. I didn’t think he would pan us, but I was concerned. A good review could give us an extension on the run. I looked up just as Claire entered looking glorious in her burgundy dress.

“Hallo, Timmy. Oh my, you do look handsome in your suit.” “You look pretty good too, Baby.” She laughed and kissed me on the cheek. She walked around the lobby straightening her drawings on the wall and looking back at me smiling. Shortly the audience started arriving. They were made up mostly of season tickets holders so I knew many of them. We talked about the rehearsal period and I introduced Claire as the artist of the drawings, which were much admired. Several said that they had received telephone calls about how powerful the production was. This was all fairly different from the usual because I didn’t like to greet the audience or talk before a show but I wanted Claire to have the chance to discuss her work. Barney was being his usual charming self, promoting the theatre and fund raising at the same time. He was very smooth at it and successful, able to keep the theatre out of debt during difficult economic times. It was always hard to keep up a high artistic quality with an all volunteer acting and technical force, but he had been able to by drawing on the best in the community as a civic pride involvement. I would have probably been involved without the pay I got except that I did quite more than direct. He depended on me as the artistic fund raiser and backstage organizer when I wasn’t directing, but now he was talking about my directing four or five shows a year. I mentioned a pay raise and he sounded fairly positive about it though I knew whatever it was would not permit me to give up my job at the book store.

The house was sold out so Barney brought out three chairs from the office for himself, me, and Claire which we placed in back of the audience. I thought now I could sit down and watch the show not quite like an audience member, but as a fairly calm director watching his creation and hopefully having some new ideas. The audience reaction was even more receptive than the opening. Everything was better, the cast was not nervous but very much into the play. Claire watched like an innocent to the piece and held on to me during the more emotional moments. I envied that ability of hers to separate from experience and see it anew. But I found myself falling into the story especially Eddy’s playing and Aurora’s dancing which stopped the show again. During both intermissions Claire and I retreated into the office and had a glass of wine. There was another standing ovation. As the cast took their bows I was in a state of shock, perhaps the show was really that good and I had developed a process of directing that truly worked for me, but I didn’t know if it would work for every play. Blood Wedding had become an ensemble piece rather than the usual cast in process of working through a stage story. There were very few plays that told their story with such a passionate surge of ideas. I thought of Brecht, which was different, but relied on the extremes of human emotions, or I thought he did anyway. What could I do next to even come close to what I had experienced with Lorca. And there was going to be no more Lorca. Well, at least I had weeks to even think about what to direct next because I decided wasn’t directing the next play in the season…thank goodness. An older director in the community was going to do a tried and true comedy. I wondered if Somerset Maugham’s plays would be finally be right for me, and could I do one in as a similar manner as Lorca. I guessed I could adapt the process…Claire startled me out of my thoughts by putting her arm around my waist.

“Do you believe it now, Ti-mo-thee?”

“Well, I’m beginning to. It appears this was the right play for me to do. I was just thinking, ’where do I go from here?”

“Dear Timmy, that is the least of any worries you have now, but where you do go right now is out to the lobby and meet the audience and then to the cast party. And after that, to our ‘sanctuary’ that Marilee has given us.”

“Yes, you’re right. I guess that was a quick case of negative anticipation. Thank you for pulling me out of it. Let’s go.” Claire took my hand and we joined the lobby crowd. There were a lot of congratulations and questions about how I did it. Claire was drawn away with questions about her drawings. There were even good comments about Jeordie’s photographs. Finally we were able to leave and go to Liza Farquar’s house for the gathering. Her house was an elegant modern Highland Park two story. The circular drive way was almost full and folks were pulling in behind us. I knew that Barney had invited several of the more prominent theatre patrons, which was unusual but he felt that this show warranted their presence. The house was as beautiful as a house gets in Dallas with the design being highly influenced by Frank Lloyd Wright. The party was primarily out on the large rear patio that led to a large swimming pool. There were tables laden with food and a bar with one of the bartenders from the Dallas Country Club doing the honors. Liza had set up tables that extended out into the yard. Mom and Dad had arrived just before us and joined us immediately. Mom hugged Claire and took her over to Marilee and Daniel who were waving and throwing kisses. Dad and I went to the bar and both got Bourbons and I got a Martini for Claire. We joined the other family members at a table. Liza joined us for a few minutes then returned to her hostess role. I had been to many cast parties but never one this happy and elegant. When Dad and Mom left early, Claire and I made the rounds. Eddy decide he would play his guitar which turned out to be a great idea and really set the mood. One of the patrons from Lakewood took me aside to tell me that I had taken the theatre to a new level artistically which he thought was very good for Dallas. He asked if I planned to stay in Dallas, which I thought was strange because I had no thoughts of going anywhere else. He believed that my horizons were broadened a great deal with my work on with Blood Wedding, but he hoped I was going to be staying longer. I didn’t know what to say about any plans because I had none. This sort of praise was becoming confusing as other patrons and even cast members asked me the same questions about leaving Dallas. I tried to express the idea that one ‘success’, if it was to be one, did not build a new career somewhere else. Barney and I walked out around the pool and talked about the last two nights. I told him I was totally unprepared for the reaction so far. It was more than just a surprise, but a shock that I didn’t know how to deal with right now. He told me to get used to it because it wasn’t going to stop. I then told him that I was leaving town for the weekend and wouldn’t be there for the Saturday performance. He didn’t like it but had to accept it.

“Tim, Blood Wedding will go a long way into supporting the rest of the season of plays. I hope you’ll be able to direct at least two more plays, later this Summer and one next Fall.”

“I don’t know, Barney, that’s more of a challenge than I may be ready to accept. Have you thought about the raise in pay?”

“Yes, and more. You know that in the last couple of years I’ve been trying to build an endowment for the theatre with some success. If it progresses as much as I hope will, I think I can with the help of several donors raise a salary for you to be a full member of the theatre staff. How does that sound?”

“Good and exciting, but let’s see how my next show does.”

“It would take that much time anyway, but I don’t have any real doubts about it being possible. And it would give you the chance to hone your rather exceptional skills even further before…well, before you decide to leave Dallas.”

“Why is every concerned about my leaving Dallas?” “Please, please, dear Tim, because everyone thinks you’re ready for real professional theatre. Most of those concerned have thought that way for a year or two and Blood Wedding proves it. Of course my motives are selfish, I want you to stay here, at least for a couple more years.”

“You’re talking about New York and that scares me to death. I don’t know if I’ll ever be ready for that.” “I want to give you the time to get ready, because if you continue the way you’re going New York will call you.”

“Thanks for your belief in me, but I’ve got some other things to think about now.” “You mean about Claire leaving?”

“Uh…yes, that’s a big part of it among other things.” I took a big breath and said, “If you believe in me that much, double my salary starting this week plus a directing fee for every show I direct until the full time salary comes through, if it does.”

“I believe Blood Wedding will finance that along with the fund raising it will bring about. I don’t think there’s any doubt we’ll have to extend the run for at least three weeks. It will change the season some with new dates for openings but that’s alright. Yes, it’s a deal and we’ll negotiate your directing fees.”

“Good, I’ll accept that.”

I had spoken with a confidence I didn’t know I had. We shook hands and went back to the party. Daniel saw I didn’t have a drink as I walked towards him. He guided me to the bar and ordered me a double Bourbon and Soda.

“Whoa, big brother, this is not a night for me to get even close to drunk.”

“ I know ,sip it and enjoy the evening. Besides that was a lot of barbeque you ate at the table. You’ll be alright. Revel in the success some.” Daniel smiled at me and slapped me on the back.

I roamed around talking to the cast and crew then joined Claire, who was sitting at a table talking to Liza. They were speaking French, which was a surprise to me. They looked at me and laughed at my surprise.

“Tim, my major in college was French and I studied at the Sorbonne for a year.”

I then remembered it from her resume.

“I rarely get the chance to speak it here, except at the French bakery in the Village. But for your sake we’ll switch to English. Don’t think that was a slight because I know how well you speak Spanish and I wish I did.”

“No slight taken, Liza. Claire hasn’t had much chance to speak it here either. It’s been more Spanish than French.”

“I was telling Claire what a great experience the play has been and what a first class director you have become and you always were good, but this time, Tim, you made us feel like a professional company.”

“And sadly enough without the pay, because you were a professional company. We couldn’t have brought in a stronger group from New York.”

“You’re going too far, but thank you for me and the other cast members. You’re the one who got us there.”

Liza left us with kisses and hugs. I looked at Claire and asked her, “Are you ready to leave?”

“Yes, I am. I think I said good bye to everyone. It was sad to say good bye to your parents. Your mother cried and your Dad kept hugging me. I love them very much. Yes, let’s leave. We’ll have to get my bag out of Marilee’s car.”

We waved our good byes. Marilee and Daniel walked out with us to leave. Marilee gave us last minute instructions about the hotel as I got Claire’s bag out of the trunk.

“We’ll see you Sunday afternoon. Claire, don’t worry about your parents calling, Daniel will handle it.”

I put her bag with mine, we jumped in and headed downtown.

We arrived at the Adolphus at close to one thirty and everything was ready for us. At the desk they addressed me by name as I signed us in as a couple. I asked that a paper be brought to our door in the morning, and that we would order a late breakfast from room service. They assured us that everything was in order and pre-paid. I was surprised at how luxurious our suite was, large bedroom, small living area, and a dinning room. It looked our over downtown Dallas and Main Street. We unpacked, sat down in the living area, laid back on the sofa, and looked at each other. Claire started giggling and I laughed both realizing that we too exhausted to even carry on a conversation. We marshaled our strengths and went into the bedroom. Claire went into the bath with a wrapped bundle and I changed into the bottoms of some new pajamas Mom had made for me. I pulled back the bedclothes and climbed in bed to wait for Claire. Soon she appeared, her hair was shining and her skin glowed and she was wearing a new night gown that was just this side of shear enough to see through. I think we were both a little nervous and excited about being together in a secure place with no coming interruptions. It seemed to affect her with a glowing countenance of anticipation. I could feel my heartbeat raising as I looked at her. She was a sylph like apparition of beauty.

She did a little dance in a circle and, “Do you like this, Timmy?”

“Boy, do I ever.” She filled out a loose fitting gown in the most sensual manner. “Please climb in this bed beside me?”

“Just a minute, I want to look out the window. Oh! Look, there,s a flying red horse on that building down the street...a Pegasus.?

“Yeah, that’s the first thing you see when you drive into Dallas at night. Come over here.” She did and snuggled close. We kissed slowly, gently, and in no hurry to go further. Our kisses had become a beautiful communion. As we kissed we explored, touched each other, and were almost out of our pajamas and gown. I kissed her breasts as she eased me into her. With almost no foreplay we were both needful and ready to make love. Claire wrapped her arms around me to hold me tight then I suddenly realized I hadn’t put on a prophylactic. I stopped moving into her and pulled back.

“What are you doing, Timmy?”

“We can’t go on without any protection.”

“Wait just a moment.” As she wrapped her legs around me.

Soon she let me move away. In a few seconds I came back to her but didn’t proceed with complete love making. I nuzzled and suckled her breasts then kissed her stomach. The scent of her was as a different sort of perfume. I moved down to, her kissing and tasting her.

“Oh, Timmy, what are you doing…I never thought…Timmy…” I lifted up, “Do mind me being this intimate with you?”

“No, I don’t think so…if you…”

“I kissed and made love to her with my tongue and lips.”

“Timmy…I…Oh…”

She was soft and sweet in a way I didn’t know was possible. I realized that I may have frightened her, but it was not a planned love making, it had happened before I even knew. This had nothing to do with any previous experience but a part of Claire and me that had grown so steadily to this being together as close as possible in intimacy. I became almost dizzy with the gentle passion I was feeling towards and with her. I reached and touched her with my fingers.

Claire started shaking and whimpering then reached down and held my head to her. As she seemed to reach a climax she squirted a little bit of warmth on me. When she stopped moving to me I raised up and kissed my way up her to her face as I slipped into her. Our love making was long and gentle with a sweet passionate ending. She moved into my arms breathing in a soft panting manner.

“Timmy, that was a surprise. I didn’t know people really did that. Did I wee-wee on you? I don’t what happened. I read about it in an Anaise Nin novel but I didn’t know if it was real or not, but it certainly was real for me. I guess I thought it was sort of nasty when I read it, but I was very young, eighteen I think. I didn’t know I could get that wet, I’m sure glad I cleaned myself a little bit when I changed. But for you…?”

“Claire, sweetheart, it was wonderful for me to be that close to you. And no, you didn’t wee-wee on me. I guess it was a passion surprise but it was beautiful. I remember you once said you couldn’t get enough of me; well I feel the same way. It seemed the natural thing to do because I felt so much love and desire for you.”

“I did think we were to tired to be close like that but once I got into your arms…well…I became so…uh…aroused. Oh, Timmy, I love you so much, I do. I don’t want to…I…just hold me.”

I couldn’t say anything because I thought I knew what she was thinking. We went to sleep, her head on my shoulder.

I awoke suddenly in the middle of the night dreaming that Claire wasn’t beside me. I sat up and Claire stirred reaching up to me.

“I’m here, sweetheart.” She murmured as if she knew what I had been dreaming. I finally went back asleep.

We woke up at the same time at eleven. I called for breakfast and coffee. Claire jumped to take a quick shower as I put on a robe and went to the door to see if the paper had been delivered. It had been. I sat up in bed and opened the paper with trepidation. I turned to the section with entertainment articles. There was John Rosenfield’s review of Blood Wedding. Surprising me was a photo of me above the review. I put the paper down and waited for Claire. Shortly she came out in her robe and sat beside me.

“Does it have the notes about your play?”

“Yes, but I waited for you before I read it.” “Well, read it to me. I can’t wait to hear.” It was as solid a rave as I had ever seen. He liked everything about the production saying it was a new standard for Dallas theatre and the Civic Theatre. He said the musical underscoring of the play was a revelation and the dancing magnificent. It was the best ensemble production he had ever seen equaling some of the best he had experienced in New York. The acting and directing were inspired with a passion rarely seen on any stage he went on to say. The last third of the review was about me and my family and coined a reference calling us the artistic ‘DallasSarts’, saying all of us gave artistic honor to the Dallas scene. His last statement was that he planned to see the play several more times just to see it grow and spend some time with the art in the lobby by a new artist who painted scenes from the rehearsals.

“Timmy, I don’t think it could be any better for you. This does mean the play will do well for you and the theatre doesn’t it?”

“Yes it does. When Mr. Rosenfield writes good things about a play or concert series it certainly does help. I had hoped he would like it, of course, but this review is beyond all of my expectations. I’ll bet old Barney is dancing around his house like a mad sailor. Yeah, this is good.”

“Do you think you should telephone someone?”

“No, not really. Right now I’m enjoying being away from it and being with you. There will be plenty of talk about it later and this new artist who painted during rehearsals. “

“I suppose I will have to be mystery. ’Who is this Miss Levant?”

“I wonder if your parents will find out about your new fame?”

“I don’t think so, and you’re the one with a new fame, not me. If they did see the paper my name isn’t mentioned.” Breakfast arrived and we settled down in our little dining room. We lingered over coffee and Claire read the review aloud again. It sounded better with her accent. We laughed and talked about the past weeks not mentioning tomorrow. I said we should tour downtown Dallas because Saturday is a big day for shopping. She liked that idea so I showered and shaved as she got dressed. We walked out into the late Spring day into the crowds. Claire wanted to walk through Neiman’s for one last time. She insisted I help her choose another nightgown to wear tonight. I was almost embarrassed at the idea but it ended up being fun because the one we chose was exquisite and I couldn’t wait to see her in it. She decided I should have some silk pajamas but I said that was too expensive added onto the night gown.

“Timmy, I told you I am able to buy some things and the money I brought with me has been barely used.”

I gave in but felt uneasy about her spending her parents money on me.

“This is not my parents money. I have some of my own and if I want to spend it on the man I love, I can.”

I accepted that with a hand squeeze and chose burgundy ones to almost match her nightgown. She wrote a check with an approved account number on it. She showed her passport for identification and we made arrangements to pick up the packages in several hours downstairs.

We walked over to Elm Street to see the movie houses. We stopped in front of the Melba to see a poster about a Tarzan serial that was playing in its entirety, all thirteen episodes. The name of it was “Tarzan and the Green Goddess” staring an actor named Herman Brix who had been an Olympic hero several years ago. I had read all of the Tarzan books and seen all of the previous movies but this one sounded like something completely new because Edgar Rice Burroughs was listed as the producer.

“Oh, Timmy, I love Tarzan movies, let’s see it.” I had always been disappointed in the movies compared to the books, but I was interested in seeing this one. We got seated just as the serial was starting and it was terrific. The story was strange and disjointed but it was the first time the actor playing Tarzan was just like in the books. He was articulate and classy then a sort of super person in the jungle. It began in Africa and then went to Central America on an obscure quest and ended at a costume party in what looked like England where everyone was dressed as Gypsies, including Tarzan. We both loved it. Claire squealed at all the daring-do and cliff hanger endings of each episode. It even had a comic character who was genuinely funny. We walked out laughing and almost skipped down the street to barely make to Neiman’s before they closed and picked up our packages. I told her there was something I wanted her to see. The Baker Hotel was across the street from the Adolphus and it was the bar there I wanted to show her. It supposedly was more like a New York bar than any other place In Dallas. We sat at the bar and I pointed at the mural behind the bar. It was Daniel’s first big commission a couple years ago. It was a mysterious woods scene with wild panthers and a hunter. Claire was thrilled to see it. We ordered Martinis and toasted the day and our review in the paper. We each had two then strolled back to our hotel. I made reservations for dinner and we went upstairs to dress. The dining room was one of the classiest in Dallas so we dressed for the occasion went down to a very good meal with wine and brandy afterwards. There was a small band playing so we danced three nice slow dances. When we got back upstairs we were both slightly tipsy. Claire went to her bag and brought out a candle in glass holder and a bottle.

“Marilee had an idea for a romantic evening activity which I thought I would be too shy to even consider, but I’m feeling a little brave. In this bottle is some very special bubble bath. Would you like to take a bubble bath with me by candle light?”

“Indeed, without any qualms whatsoever, because I’m feeling a little brave myself.”

“Well, you wait right here while I prepare things.” She went into the bathroom but came right back out to bring me a towel telling me to get undressed. I heard the water running and after a while she called me to come in. The candle was burning beside the lavatory and Claire was in the bathtub covered with bubbles up to her neck. She had piled her hair on top of her head. Against the white bubbles and porcelain, she glowed in the soft light of the candle.

“Timmy, get in with me, please.”

“Yes, mamm, I’m on my way.”

I dropped the towel and eased into the hot water at the opposite end of the tub. Nervousness and any tensions were immediately gone. Claire smiled and tickled me with her feet. We both just layed back and enjoyed the warmth saying nothing.

Claire sat up and turned around, “Wash my back, Timmy.” She handed me a washcloth and I rubbed her back then her neck. I dropped the cloth and reached around to her breasts. She cooed, turned her head around to kiss me as I moved my hand down over her tummy to the softness between her legs.

“That feels so good when you touch me. I think the warm water makes it even better. Let me hold you.”

“Please do, sweetheart.”

She turned around to face me. The bubbles on her breasts were a startling vision of loveliness. She took me with her hands as I touched her. We kissed and I put her legs up and around me getting as close as we could. We rubbed our chests together both rising to a warm passion. We kissed each other all over our faces and necks. I pulled her up onto me and entered her. We stayed very still feeling the new sensation of the warm water. She began to move very gently and put her arms around me saying, “Timmy, Timmy, hold me, don’t leave me, don’t stop being inside me. I don’t want to ever forget this moment.”

“Are you sure, Claire?”

“Yes, I know it’s dangerous, but at this moment I want to feel you inside me this way.”

“Oh, Claire, I don’t want to stop either. Oh my God, did you know you’re squeezing me so good when you move.”

“Am I? I just feel like I’m kind of quivering with little electric shocks.” I reached down a touched her as she moved on me.

“Ti-mo-thee, I’m…yes, touch me more, please…Oh…” She kissed me then threw her head back making soft sounds and sighs then a long, “Oh…” then “Timmy…I’m going to…yes…!” I felt like I was going to scream out, but remembered where we were. We both reached a climax at the same time holding each other tightly.

“Oh my, my wonderful man, how nice, how sweet.” And we untangled and laid back in the water letting the bubbles cover us up to our necks. We were very quiet for a few minutes as the water cooled down. We sat up and soaped each other. Claire pulled the stopper and we stood up and turned on the shower to rinse off. We toweled each other and I went into the bedroom and put on my new pajamas. Claire came out in a few minutes in her new nightgown holding the candle which was still burning.

I turned off the bed lamp and Claire placed the candle on the dresser across from the bed.

“I don’t believe the hotel people would like it if they knew we had a lighted candle in here, but ’tis our secret and it’s extremely romantic. Don’t you think?”

“Indeed I do, as you would say, Monsieur Ti-mo-thee Sart.”

“Come over here and lay yourself down beside me, Madamoiselle Claire Levant.”

“In two shakes of a lambies tail, I heard Marilee say that once and I thought it was a cute expression.”

S“I never thought of as being cute until you just said it.” She took a minute to put on some perfume. “Coco Chanel will join us tonight.” She came to me and leaned over close, “Do you like it?”

I took in the scent, “Very much.”

She laid her head down on my arm, “This has been a special day and night in my life, Timmy. It was so much fun this afternoon and the last hour; I believe we discovered a new togetherness, don’t you?”

“Yes, I didn’t know making love could be like that. I do hope that you’re not scared of getting pregnant.”

“Perhaps I am a little bit, but it was so beautiful I’m not going to think about it, and I did try to clean myself before I put on my nightgown. Oh, do you like my new gown?”

You look like some extraordinary ancient princess in it. How about my pajamas? They feel great.”

“Yes, I like them on you. In the candle light you are extremely handsome. Timmy, I don’t want to go to sleep tonight. I want to be beside you and look at you and kiss you and talk with you.”

“Me too. I want to stretch out this night as long as possible.”

“What are you going to do now…now that the play is going? What are you going to do next?”

“Well, Monday morning I go back to work at the bookstore. My boss, has been holding off inventory until I got back so I will be very busy there. And I’ll go to the theatre after work for a few hours. When the play is running I’ll be there for the performances. I’m not directing the next play so there will be a lot more time off unless what Barney has proposed works out.” I told her about Barney’s idea of me being at the theatre full time and about the new raise that started this week.

“That’s wonderful, Timmy. When did this happen?”

“At the cast party. I haven’t had a chance to tell you until now.”

“Do you believe it will really happen, and when? You said it was an idea.”

“I don’t know. It depends a lot on fund raising. I got the idea that Barney is afraid that I’ll leave the theatre and go elsewhere. But the only other else where is New York, and I know I’m not ready for that yet, or maybe I’ll never be.”

“I believe you can do anything you want. You just proved yourself to be an excellent director.” “I don’t think one good show puts me in that category yet.”

“From what Marilee told me, you have many good shows, yes I know Blood Wedding was and is something very special, but it does prove how good you are. I don’t think you should have any doubts.”

“I guess doubts are the thing, and self confidence.”

“That’s one of the very nice parts about you, you’re not conceited or arrogant. Most that I’ve met are.”

“Claire you’ve made me feel more self confidence than I’ve ever felt before.”

“Oh, Timmy, don’t say that. You don’t need me for that.”

“No, I need you because I love you.”

“And you know I love you, too.”

Our conversation stopped for a few minutes. A painful moment for both of us.

“Uh…What are you going to do now, I mean when you get to Los Angeles?”

“I suppose that first I will get used to being there. I’m sure that it’s very different from here in Texas.”

“There is now doubt about that, very different.”

“My parents have bought a large house up in the hills over looking the city, and my mother says you can see the ocean in the distance and even the mountains to the west. My father has arranged several interviews for me. The one I’m most interested in is at the Los Angeles Art Museum. He said they were impressed by my studies in London and at the Sorbonne in Paris. But beyond that, I don’t know. Oh, Timmy I don’t want to…Well, I guess it will be a new life of some sort.”

We talked for several hours. She told me about London and the museums and theatre there. And about the Comedie in Paris and how beautiful Spain is. I told her about a trip I took last year to the deep woods of East Texas and the West Texas plains. I told her how much I enjoyed working with Uncle Willy in his shop learning about cars and hearing his stories about China and going up the Yangze River. About the places I would like to go and see. I talked about theatre and how much I liked the collaboration and seeing it come alive on stage. I tried to describe how impossible every play production was, that it was a miracle with so many people involved that it ever happened at all. And how exciting it was when a real acting break through happened and one of my ideas really worked. We talked about the weeks of rehearsal we shared and the new friends made. She wished she had had more time to learn how to drive better but that her father would be surprised by how much she already knew. She told me about her favorite artists and that it was a surprised we both like the Pre-Raphaelites, especially Rosetti. We realized that we had brought a bottle of Villa-Lobos Brandy Marilee had given us. We sat up and toasted the evening and us. We laughed about having gone swimming so much, she said more than she had ever before. We toasted Marilee and Daniel and talked of how much we loved them. Daniel’s paintings dominated our talk for a while. Claire thought he was an exceptionally talented painter and would be recognized soon beyond Dallas.

We laid in each other arms and kissed, crawled under the covers, and made gentle love for a long time. We both dozed off though trying not to.

I awoke before she did and went into the bathroom taking the bottoms of my new pajamas. When I came out she was stirring then jumped up going to the bathroom dragging her nightgown. I ordered coffee to be sent up. I was sitting up in the bed when she came out in her gown brushing her hair to a shine. The coffee arrived and we sat up in bed drinking it and not saying a word. We knew we had about five hours before we needed to leave to get to Marilee’s. We looked at each other as if trying to remember every thing about how we each looked.

Suddenly tears started coming out of my eyes and then also hers.

“Claire, I don’t want you to leave.”

“Timmy, I must.”

“I don’t mean your staying with Marilee and Daniel but with me…I want you…to…”

“Do you mean marry you?”

“Yes, will you marry me?”

“Oh, Timmy, don’t ask that of me.”

“Why not. We love each other. I don’t want to be without you.”

“Yes, I do love you, I do love you, Timmy. But…I…I can’t marry you.” “What are you saying, you can’t marry me? Can’t? Why? Please tell me.”

“Timmy, there is something you don’t know about me. Marilee and Daniel know, but I swore them to keep it a secret until after I had gone.”
“What is it? Now you have got to tell me, now.”

“I’m Jewish, a Jew.”

“A Jew? What difference does that make? Why would I care if you’re Jewish.?!”

“I’m an Orthodox Jew and my parents are very religious. I would be disowned by them if I married a Gentile. I would shame them and they would never speak to me or see me again.”

“A Gentile? Am I a Gentile?”

“Yes, you’re a Christian. Aren’t you?”

“We’ve always gone to the Unitarian meetings, or I haven’t for a long time.”

“Unitarian? What is…?

“It’s kind of like being a Christian, I guess, but without the supernatural stuff. Jesus is more like a teacher, a guide to a way of living.”

“Oh.”

“Do you think if your parents got to know me?”

“No, that wouldn’t make any difference, even if you were willing to convert.”

“I don’t think I understand. There was always something about your leaving, as if you would disappear, like this was all a dream. But it hasn’t been. You’ve made me happier than I’ve ever been in my life. I want to spend my life with you. Do you understand that?”

“Yes, I do, and if things were different I would. Before we left London my parents had found a matchmaker. Do know what they do?”

“Other than the obvious, no.”

“They search for a suitable match for orthodox women. It has nothing to do with love. If a match is found to the approval of the parents a marriage is arranged with very little contact between the couple.”

“But that was in London and it didn’t happen.”

“No, we left London to come here. Terrible things are happening to Jews in Europe, in Germany and Poland. We didn’t know what Americans felt about Jews. Marilee assured my father it was different here. But is it?”

“As far as my family is concerned it is. We’ve always had Jewish friends. Barney told me his parents were Jewish. Is orthodox so different?”

“Yes. Timmy, everything that has happened between us is considered a major sin. And it is also very important that I must be a virgin before marrying. I don’t know how I will get through that, not being a virgin. I suppose I will just lie. But things happened that I didn’t expect. Meeting and falling in love with you altered my perception of existence. This has not been a flirtation for me. I have fallen deeply in love with you but I have to go back to my life as a Jew. I have no choice, it’s...’my destiny’. My father told me last week he has contacted a famous matchmaker in Los Angeles. The process will start up again. I eventually will be ‘forced’ into a loveless marriage to someone I don’t really know. I will be required to be subservient and produce children. Do you hear what I’m saying…forced into a loveless marriage!”

“Yes, I hear you, sweetheart and I don’t like it.”

“Please, dear Timmy, don’t think I do. I can feel my heart breaking. I didn’t want to have to tell you all of this. I knew how hurt you would be as I would be and am by this destiny thing. I don’t know how I can face going there. But my parents are…”

“My family loves you and would welcome you as my wife. There’s the difference.”

“Yes, and I love them. I’ve told you that I’ve never felt such warmth from people. I already feel as if they are family because of our love. Your Uncle Willy and Rose are wonderful. I want to see their baby, I want to watch your mother paint, I want to see Jeordie become a fine photographer, I want your father to make furniture for us…Timmy, many nights I’ve cried myself to sleep over the sadness of leaving you. You know my feelings for you scared me at first because I didn’t believe you could feel the same way about me, but you did…Of course I would marry you and know that we would be happy…but…”

“I don’t know what to say because I’m very confused by the religious part of this. I don’t know, evidently, about Judaism and how restricting it is on you. To me it seems un-natural to keep to people apart who love each other…”

“Yes, it must seem that way, but we, or I can say now they, we, have a different view of marriage. My parents came together through a matchmaker and my father says that love is something that grows from the union not before it. I guess that I always accepted that because it seemed so far in the future. I was horrified when my parents told me in London that a matchmaker had been contacted. When they made the decision to come to America I hoped that the freedom here would change their minds, but it didn’t. I suppose I’m not a very good Jew to even question it. I had many talks with my father and mother about this but they didn’t understand my questioning it or even discussing it with a negative attitude. I know it frightened them. It took Marilee a month to convince them to let me come here for a visit. If they knew about what has happened between us they would blame her for not protecting me. I’m sure they would consider me weak and vulnerable and exploited. And I’m just referring to our seeing each other, certainly not any of the intimacy we’ve shared. That would shame them to the point that I don’t know how they would deal with it. Perhaps there is a ritual cleansing that I don’t know about, but I doubt it.”

“This is beginning to sound slightly primitive, I can’t imagine marrying someone I didn’t know or love hoping that love would grow.”

“Yes, it’s sounding that way to me also but to lose my family…Timmy, I don’t want you to believe I feel any guilt about us or anything that has happened. I was not innocent, well in some ways, or vulnerable, everything that we have shared I was a part of and it was and is the most beautiful experience in my life. In London, I had a freedom my parents didn’t know about. When my father traveled, I went to parties, even went on secret dates, danced, and drank beer and whiskey in artist’s flats. I kissed boys that I was sort of attracted to. I almost made love but knew it wasn’t the right person so I didn’t. This has been so very different, the time, the weeks, we’ve spent together seem like a year. I feel as if I truly know you.”

“Will I be able to write or call you?”

“Not to my house, perhaps I can arrange something, when I get work, or a postal box. Of course, I don’t want to lose contact with you as painful as it may be because I will miss you very much, every minute of

every day. This so hard to talk about...but perhaps it’s better that we have. Oh Timmy, let’s not talk anymore, just hold me a little bit. I’m beginning to be frightened of not being able to be with you.”

I moved towards her, then suddenly dropped down on my knees and put my head in her lap. I was shaking and put my arms around her waist. I began to cry, then sobbed out loud, soaking her with my tears. She pulled me up as her crying also turned to sobbing. We held each other tightly. We kissed each other’s faces, still shaking and crying. Finally we calmed.

“Timmy, oh, Timmy, I hurt in my heart for us. We must...”

“I know, I just...I’ve never in my life known such a sadness, such a feeling of despair...loss. The thought of you being forced into being with another man...when there’s us...I...can’t…”

“Hold me, I’m frightened of what we are feeling.” And I did; there was no more crying just being close. And there was really no more to be said by me. I only understood from all that was said and felt, we were not going to be together, possibly never again, but I refused to believe that but said nothing.

“Claire, are you hungry?” I asked after a while of quietness, closeness.

“I think so. Are you?”

“Yes, let’s have something special. I saw that they have Eggs Benedict. Does that sound good to you?”

“It does. You call to order and I’ll take a shower.” She jumped up looking back with a smile. I called asking how long it would be; When they said there was a backup on breakfast so it would be about twenty five minutes. I went to the bathroom door and waited to hear the shower. As it started I opened the curtain and asked if I could join her in the shower.”

“Please do.”

We scrubbed each other’s backs and I washed her breasts from behind. When I moved down she said that wasn’t fair and for me to turn around. I did and we washed and laughed for the first time in the day. She was so lovely to touch it was hard to stop especially since she had rather aroused me with her attentions.

“After we eat will you make love to me like you did before, Timmy.”

I nodded and kissed her.

“Now you get out of here and let me finish.” “Yes, mamm.”

I dried off and got into my silk pajamas and robe. The food came just as she came out in her robe. We ate the terrific eggs and had more coffee. We finished and she went in the bathroom to brush her teeth. I finished my coffee and did the same. When I came out she was looking out the window. She turned and came to me. I undid our robes and moved close to her. As her robe dropped I moved around behind her and reached around to touch her beautiful breasts with one hand and the other down to her soft downy area. She turned her head and kissed me.

“Touch me inside, Timmy.”

She was getting wetter and it was easy to touch inside her and stroke her. Feeling her breasts respond to me and touch her at the same time with her kisses was like a new way of closeness.

“Timmy, I want to hold you, come around in front of me.” I did and she undid my pajamas and took me in her hand as I touched her wetness and began to put my finger inside her.

“Claire, that’s too good when you hold me like that. I won’t be able to hold back much longer.”

“For me too.”

She took my hand away from her and started kissing me down my chest going lower. She put me in her mouth very innocently.

“Claire, you don’t have to do that and it will be too good for me to hold back.”

She looked up at me moved away and said, “Timmy, I want to taste you like you did me.”

She put her hand on me again moving up and down my erection. I was shivering with the new sensation.

“Wait, sweetheart, I want to taste you at the same time.”

She pulled back, breathing heavily, “How...can...?”

I lifted her up still shaking from her touch and guided her to the bed. I laid down beside her with my head close to between her legs and kissed her wet soft pillow mound and reached to touch inside her and moved my tongue on her rising bud. She then put me in her mouth again moving up and down on me. I shifted up on top of her to get closer to her. I could feel her beginning to have a climax as I couldn’t hold back any longer. We both had rising climaxes, shaking with the electricity of it. She squirted a little bit on me as I pulled away. She didn’t want to take me out of her mouth so she could get ever last bit of me. I couldn’t take any more of the feeling as I pulled out of her. I kissed up her stomach to her breasts and suckled her nipples then to her lips and tasted both of us. She pulled me on to her and guided me into her. I raised up on my hands to look at her as I moved inside her. She reached up and held onto my arms moving with me, looking at me.

“Timmy, I’m going to again...”

“Me too, Baby.”

Afterwards we laid in each other’s arms under the sheet almost unable to speak, still both breathing heavily and shaking from the passion of our lovemaking.

Finally, “Claire, I’m sorry I didn’t protect you, I just couldn’t stop or even think being that...that...much loving you.”

“I didn’t want you to stop...it was so...Oh, Timmy, if that was our last time to make love...it was so beautiful. I thought we couldn’t be closer than before...but we were like a complete part of each other, or...Do you understand what I mean?”

“Yes, I was unaware of anything except you. My, God, Claire, I don’t know about being without you...I...how I can...”

“I don’t know either, perhaps our not being careful will solve that, but I don’t want us to be forced together, but then...well we, I think we will always be together in one way, even if apart. Do you think so?”

“I do, but I would prefer the really together thing.”

“Timmy, you must, as I have, accept that I’m leaving without being so sad that you can’t go on. We must go on...I love you so much and I must know you are alright.”

“I will be, I’ll have to be.”

“Do you think the passion between us has been a bad thing for and will make it harder for us to part?”

“I don’t think in any way it’s been a bad thing except for any feelings you may have about betraying your beliefs, maybe betraying is the wrong word. You said it is considered a major sin, but I don’t how it could have been any different unless we had resisted it completely, but I believe we both tried, I know I did. It was all so natural, or it happened without us being able to not being as close as we have been in our lovemaking. We I began to realize how much I felt for you, I didn’t want to frighten you or have any feelings later about my taking advantage of you.”

“When we talked about our feelings before my leaving seemed so far away, I tried then to express that I had some of the same thoughts about my taking advantage of you...I mean I didn’t want you to think I wanted to use you to experience something I never could anywhere else. Oh, I don’t how to say anymore. I believe now, right this moment, that our meeting was as much a destiny for us as my having to leave and return to a life that is almost foreign to me after us. I told you it was difficult for me at times in London, but now, after us...I ...”

Claire started crying very hard and leaned into my arms.

Then through crying and sniffling, “Let’s not talk about it anymore, dear Timmy. How much time do we have?”

“I guess about two or three hours.” “Oh. What time is it?”

I reached for the watch she had given me, “One thirty.”

“We need to leave about three thirty to go to Marilee’s then to the train station.”

“I just realized, Timmy, we’ve never had a disagreement about anything, well except for my religious obligations.”

“That’s your disagreement, not mine. I don’t care about your religion. But you’re right. The important part of us is that you’re the best friend I’ve ever had and you were that first as the love happened.”

“I know. At first I wanted to talk to you about everything and all at once our first kiss happened. That was so, well we were in that boat talking then leaned towards each other and it was my first kiss that just happened. I wasn’t thinking about kissing you...it...”

“Yes, it...I was so intimidated by your beauty and intelligence that I knew I would be too shy to try to kiss you.”

“I’ve always been shy about kissing. Well, how about you kissing me right now, then let’s take a shower get dressed, go downstairs have an afternoon Martini, and eat something before leaving. If we’re a little late it will be alright.” I laughed and brought her into my arms for the sweetest long kiss in my life.

We drove up to Marilee’s house and sat in my car for a few minutes holding each other. Marilee came out to greet us and say that she had done the rest of Claire’s packing leaving out a choice of traveling clothes. We went in and Claire went upstairs to change and finish her preparations. Dan, Marilee, and I sat in the den to wait. Marilee asked how our weekend was.

“It was very nice, much fun, and sad. And thank you for the room and everything else.”

“How are you holding up, brother?”

“It’s one of those times you hoped would never get here. I don’t know yet. This is hitting both of us harder than we thought. I asked her to stay and she told me why she couldn’t.”

“I promised her I wouldn’t tell you, I know it seems wrong now but none of us knew what would happen between you two. Claire and I talked several times in the last couple of weeks about her decision not to tell you now but later in a letter or phone call. You didn’t know that several Saturdays I took her to temple. But you were spending so much time together she gave it up to be with you in the last weeks. It’s been very hard for her not to tell you the truth. Uh...you asked her to stay?” “Yes, I mean not just stay, like with you, but with me.”

Marilee leaned into the question, “You mean marry you?”

“Yes.”

“Oh my.”

“Yeah, Oh my!”

“What was her response to that?” Daniel asked.

“That she loved me, and that she would if she could, but...”

“She can’t, right?” Marilee was starting to almost break down with this development. “I don’t know why I should be surprised you would ask her.” Claire came downstairs at this point seeing we were in serious conversation and what Marilee’s reaction was. She was bent over with her head in her hands.

“Timmy, you’ve told them you know and what you asked?”

“Yes, sweetheart.” I stood up and went to her. She leaned on me and put her head on my shoulder crying softly. “I thought we would talk about it after you left but...well it just came out after Daniel asked how I was holding up, which is not well, but I’m alright, Claire.”

“That’s alright, Timmy. I guess neither one of us is doing too well.” Marilee stood up, “I suppose we should start for the station.” Claire went to Marilee and hugged her, “Oh, Marilee, I don’t want to go. I want to be with Timmy, but my parents...”

“Yes, I know and I think Timmy understands more than we think he does.”

“I don’t like it but I do understand the consequences. I can’t ask her to give up her parents, which is evidently what would happen.” We loaded Claire’s luggage into the back of Marilee’s station wagon and drove to Union Station. On the platform Claire said her goodbyes and thanks to Marilee and Daniel and then to me.

“Timmy, I do love you so. Please don’t forget me but go on with your life. I wish I could see Blood Wedding one more time. I don’t know how I’m going to explain the framed poster. You’re such a fine director and a wonderful man, thank you, my Timmy.”

“Yes, I am your Timmy and I won’t forget you sweetheart, ever...” She kissed me long and sweetly then got on the train and in a matter of minutes was gone.

Chapter 11

When we got back to Marilee and Daniel’s we went out back to the patio.

“Could you use a Bourbon and Soda, brother?”

“Indeed I could, Dan. The first of several.” Dan went to the bar, mixed a Martini for Marilee and our bourbons.

“That was a little hard to watch, you two in your last kiss, Timmy. I thought any moment I would start bawling out loud.”

“At that point I was beyond any crying. Claire was leaving and that was that. We have talked about it so much that the reality of was a sort of swish in time. So sudden. And she has that long train trip to L.A. all alone...I feel like I’ve experienced a death in the family.

“No, Timmy, don’t let that sort of emotion take you over. It’s not a death. No one has died, especially not Claire.”

“I know, but my life now just doesn’t feel...well it’s as if something has been ripped away from me. It ran through my mind that I should get on the train with her. I knew she needed me to be with her, but I think Daniel would have put a stop to that.”

“Yes, I would have, even though I would have understood the sentiment. I believe she’s strong enough to deal with it. Hell, I didn’t like her leaving either; and not just because of you, Tim. It seemed a natural situation, her living here with us.”

“It was the first time I had the feelings of almost having a younger sister. I don’t believe I’ve ever been that close to another woman.”

“When I first met her that night at the theatre, in near darkness, she seemed to glow in a way. I had never seen anything like her, I mean I thought I could see her aura. I know that seems ridiculous but I’m serious. She was beautiful in such a different fashion and as we grew closer she became more beautiful to me every day. An apparition that stepped into my life and changed me and is now gone.”

“Timmy, there’s no doubt that you changed her too. I watched it happen.”

“We both did, Tim. You know, I think the love you two felt rubbed off on Marilee and me. We know we were very much in love, but seeing you and Claire fall in love right in front of us kind of helped us to realize how much we really had. It made me believe even stronger how I never wanted to lose Marilee. And do remember me saying that Marilee has been, quite often, my muse; well, I think Claire was and is for you also.” “Yep, there’s no doubting that. I didn’t completely understand the passion of it. The passion that Claire and I developed gave me new perspective on it. Have I told you how much I’ve written about directing. Well it’s gotten to the point that it’s a short book on how I did it. Every night when I left Claire I could write for hours and I know I couldn’t have done that before.”

“That little book could be something, Timmy. Do you think you’ve finished it?”

“No, but I’m going to. Hey, brother, I rushed through this drink. Do you mind if I fix another?”

“Yes, I do mind. Give me your glass. Marilee?”

“Just a half, Daniel.”

“I thought at first I wanted to get a little drunk, but now I plan to write some tonight.”

“That’s going to be after the dinner I’m going to fix fairly soon.”

“Why thank you, soon to be sister-in-law.” Daniel laughed, “Not to soon for me, Tim. Eh, mi amor?” Marilee went to Daniel as he was bringing our drinks and kissed him on the cheek, “I wish it had been yesterday, so Claire could have been with us.”

“She’s still going to be with us in many ways, I know for Tim, but have you seen the drawing framed she gave us? It’s going up in the den where it can be seen all the time.”

“Jeordie did some really good portraits of her, some while she was drawing and coloring in the lobby. I think Jeordie fell in love with her too. When I told him she was leaving he didn’t believe me saying he would have to talk to her about that. I put a quick stop to that idea.”

We talked a little longer. Daniel and I stayed outside for a little long but soon joined Marilee in the kitchen. I got home before ten, had a tot of the Spanish Brandy, and started writing. I wanted to make it as clear as possible how I worked up close with actors on stage using intimate directing ideas shaping the character development and smoothing the blocking. An important process I used was helping the stage pictures flow instead of becoming static going from freeze to freeze. I had used Claire’s drawings almost like flip cards in my mind creating a cinema effect. In the last weeks of rehearsal for warm-ups I had asked Aurora to lead the acting company in flowing dance-like moves as they recited the sonnets they had memorized. The actors had loved it saying it helped them get focused. I thought at the time other directors could use a variation of it to start rehearsals. But this was my journal, not a book on directing, more a story of a play in the process of happening. I knew it would never go any further than me. But I couldn’t stop writing it because it was going to be my escape from the loneliness for Claire. I quit at midnight and tried to read Maugham, but couldn’t concentrate. I finally slept softly crying with Claire’s image and touch in my mind. My dreams were filled with erotic visions of our lovemaking.

The next morning I woke up early knowing I started back at the book store ready for a long inventory. I went in the house for breakfast with the family. It was both happy and sad because all wanted to reminisce about her. Jeordie showed me some of latest developed prints, about half of which were of Claire. They were terrific but hard to look at so soon after her leaving. Jeordie was upset that he didn’t get to see her again before she left.

Mom gave a pep talk on being strong, which I didn’t need. I went back out to my apartment with a cup of coffee to sit and prepare for being strong. Work was the answer but I wasn’t directing the next play so writing had to be the answer with fund raising for the theatre and a permanent position.

I arrived at the book store on time with major congratulations from the owner. He had seen the play on Saturday and was disappointed I wasn’t there to talk to afterward. He surprised me by asking if any of the drawings in the lobby would be for sale because he wanted to hang one in the store. We started into inventory with no customers allowed in until we were finished later in the week. I spent my lunch alone eating the sandwich Mom had prepared for me and reading a new book on Brecht the owner had found for me. After work I went to the theatre to see Barney , find out about reservations, and check the set.

Barney was very excited about the past weekend and wished I had been there Saturday for the audience, because there was a great amount of excitement. He said Ginger was back stage working on the set and cleaning up the dressing rooms. I went back and joined her. She was arranging the make up and cleaning the mirrors. She stopped working to talk. There had been another gathering after the play Saturday, and I had been sorely missed, but most of them knew Claire and I had gone off to be together before she left. A big question had been what had Claire said about all of the drawings in the lobby because several actors wanted to buy one. Claire told me they were all mine and do whatever I wanted to do with them and that I would consider selling some of them but that I would choose the ones I wanted to keep first. The set seemed to be in fine working order. Dad’s design was holding up well. Barney came backstage to get me for a conference in his office. The first thing he told me was that both papers wanted to interview me for the next weekend edition. This was a big surprise, and a first for me. Barney was thrilled about it because of the box office and fund raising potential. I suddenly had a surge of shyness and hesitancy thinking of the interviews. Barney said they both would be here tomorrow afternoon; the Morning News at one and the Herald at four. I immediately thought of dealing with my boss at the bookstore but knew he would be supportive as always. It would probably mean keeping the store closed for another day. Ginger soon joined us and Barney poured us glasses of wine. We sat around his office and discussed the coming weeks and possible changes in schedules. Ginger agreed with all of the changes, but said as I had that the actors had to agree to added days and show extension. We ended with Ginger asking me to join her and her boyfriend for dinner. They were meeting at a steak restaurant on Greenville Ave. It had been a family favorite for years so I quickly agreed. The meeting time would be in an hour so I took the time to go home, take a shower, and change. I was thankful for the invitation because it would have been my first evening without Claire in weeks and spending it alone wasn’t a pleasant prospect.

I went in to see the family and tell them about the interviews. To my surprise they already knew about it because John Rosenfield had called them to say he also wanted to interview them because his article was going to include the whole Sart family which was a relief to me. Thankfully neither parent mentioned Claire. Both parents had gotten new commissions in the past week so things were pretty busy around the house. They wanted a family dinner but I gave regrets and went to my apartment to shower and dress. I arrived at the restaurant just after Ginger and her boyfriend did. He was an attorney in a large firm downtown so we were able to have cocktails in the private club part of the restaurant. I had met him several times but this would be our first chance to really have a conversation. I had liked him from the first meeting because he seemed so perfect for Ginger. A smart country boy from East Texas who had gone to Yale and loved the arts. We talked about the play and Ginger’s commitment to it. He didn’t seem to resent the time she spent at the theatre as long as they had weekends after the shows and Sundays and Mondays. Ginger told me the evening had been tentatively planned because she knew I would be alone and her friend wanted the opportunity to spend some time with me after seeing the play and liking it so much. I mentioned that I was a bit taken aback by all of the reaction to it. He laughed and said he wasn’t at all surprised because it was by far the best work he had seen in Dallas. That was, of course, great to hear because I knew he had seen a lot plays in New York. The conversation then went to Ginger’s concern about my staying in Dallas. I told them about Barney’s potential offer of a full time position at the theatre in what I supposed would be a sort of Artistic Director situation. She was thrilled at the prospect hoping we could work together many times in the future. I promised that would always be the case and that I would try to pay her for each show she did as stage manager, a by the play contract knowing I would never find a better back stage leader. We left the club area and went into the dinning room for great steaks and talk about Lorca. We finally got around to Claire’s leaving. I said I was still in a slight state of shock about it but hadn’t had time to really think about it and would try to stay busy enough to not to let it bring me down. Her friend said I shouldn’t spend too much time alone and that I surely didn’t need to with my new found fame. I hadn’t even thought of that prospect, of dating or seeing anyone new. I thought it would be a long time before I could even consider it or be interested. Being alone seemed to be the right choice as it was before Claire.

When I got home I sat up in my room had a couple of snifters of Villa-Lobos and looked at the portrait of Claire that Jeordie had taken. I eventually got to bed and tried to read, no writing tonight. I dreamed of her in passionate ways that dreams had never taken me to before.

One week from Claire’s leaving I received the first letter from her. It was long, sweet, and sad. She had started having interviews and felt that her best chance was with the Los Angeles Museum of Art as an assistant curator of European Art. They seemed to be very much interested in her training and European background. Her parents had contracted a well-known matchmaker totally against her wishes, but they said it must be. She missed me terribly every minute of the day and I filled her dreams. Her family’s house was a beautiful place in the hills overlooking Los Angeles and even had a swimming pool. Her brother had started school and wasn’t very happy with it because it was a religious school and he wanted to go to a regular school. But the parents insisted that it was the best thing for him to be there. Her father was ‘teaching’ her to drive and said it was surprising how quickly she took to it. She asked about the family and how the play was doing. There was a separate two pages, it must have been written later, about her feelings for me and how what we had made her think in a completely way about her life. She was trying very hard to adjust to this new life but it was extremely difficult. It was her home but Dallas was in her heart. As soon as she found a job she would arrange a way for me write to her. The letter ended with a pledge of her undying love.

I read the letter several times.

The next weeks were a blur of store work and the theatre. The news paper articles had been very good. Rosenfield’s had included pictures of the whole family; Daniel and Mom in their studios, Dad in his shop, and me on the front page standing on the theatre stage. He titled his story The DallasSarts. The Herald’s article concentrated on me and the play. And there were constant invitations to social gatherings in Highland Part and Lakewood. I also started spending more time with Dick and Camila Ayers. Several things happened in the next week that caused big changes, one almost alienated me from the theatre.

One evening after a weekend show Barney held a cast party at his little house in Oaklawn. It was the first time since the first week that I had a chance to spend relaxed time with the cast. We drank and laughed into the late evening. At one point Liza Farquar sat down beside me with a new bourbon and soda for me. She had proved to be one of the finest actors in the play and got better with each performance. She was a strikingly beautiful woman and had always seemed extremely happy but something was wrong but she couldn’t talk about it.

“Tim, I understand more than you know about your feelings on Claire’s leaving. I think I was the first one in the cast to see that you had fallen in love, and how happy it had made you. Besides everyone loved Claire but didn’t know she would be leaving. I well…I”

I knew that her husband was working in Java as an engineer on an oil-drilling project.

“What are you saying you understand more about…?”

“The loneliness, Tim, and the what do I do about it. Being in the play has been a life saver for me. I want to thank you for that. This is a great bunch of people. I doubt if there’s been a cast in any show at the theatre that has gotten along so well and works so hard. I don’t think we’ll ever get tired of doing it. I’m glad we’re going to extend the run and do an extra performance each week. Do you think the show has grown?” “Without any doubts. Actually much more than I had hoped.”

“The sessions of critique you have had with us each week has helped. I’ve never seen a director do that before. Usually they feel they’re finished after the show opens.”

“I didn’t know how receptive you all would be if I stayed with the show.”

“I hope those doubts are gone because we look forward to your new ideas and refinements. Every thing you’ve said has helped us to be even stronger and it was a good show from the beginning, but now…” “That’s good to hear, Liza, but how about you? There’s something going on with you that has nothing to do with Blood Wedding, right?”

“Yes, but it’s not something I want to get into yet. I’ll get through it…somehow.” As she said that, the actors playing the bride and Leonardo came over and joined us sitting on the floor. They had also fallen in love during the rehearsals and seemed to be even more so now. It certainly helped the passion they needed to express on stage. We talked about the past week and the continued audience response. Slowly the party began to wind down. Liza left me with a kiss on the cheek and telling me to stay strong.

As the last folks left Barney asked if I wanted to try something special. I agreed with a bit a trepidation. He went into his kitchen and came back with a bottle of a clear liquid.

“What the Hell is that?”

“It’s a rare drink that a friend from New York sent me. It’s Russian Pepper Vodka. I keep it in a block of ice.”

It sounded a little dangerous but I agreed to try it. He brought out a couple of small glasses and poured us each a full glass. He tossed his back like a Cossack. I took a sip and was shocked at the hot taste and strength.

“Take it all in one quick drink, It will do you good. I’ve seen how sad you’ve looked all evening. Missing Claire, huh?”

“Yep, in a big way”

I drank it down quickly and he poured me another. We talked about the evening and what a good group it is, suddenly I realized that I was very drunk, slurring words and feeling numb.

“How strong is this stuff”

“Quite. One hundred and ninety proof.”

“It sure has hit me hard.” I said as I leaned back on the sofa.

“I don’t think it mixes too well with the bourbon I had.”

“You’ll be alright, just lay back and relax. I’ll go and try to clean up the kitchen.”

I felt myself drifting off, passing out slowly. It was, in a way, a very peaceful release. I tried to keep my eyes open. Barney had put on some more records so I drifted off to the music. I started to half dream of the play and the people who had been at the party. As I began to sleep deeper I began to dream of Claire. We were on the boat again behind Marilee’s, then in the swimming pool, in the museum together looking at Daniel’s painting, in Uncle Willy’s back yard laughing with my family. We were alone in the dark and back at the hotel slowly beginning to make love. We kissed and touched getting more intimate whispering our love words of commitment saying ‘forever’ many times to each other. Claire pulled me to her asking me to be inside her. I touched her soft wetness then we were making love. It began to feel very real as our passion grew. I could feel myself rising to a climax as she held me inside her. I tried to force myself awake as the feeling increased. Then I was having a climax.

“My, God, what’s…?”

I woke up enough to look down and see that Barney was sucking on me. It shocked me awake as I pushed him off of me.

“I’m sorry, Tim, I couldn’t stop when I saw you were having a dream. You were moving like you were making love. I’ve always wanted to…”

I tried to speak clearly through the liquor, “Don’t say anything else, Barney.” I struggled up and staggered to the door.

“Don’t leave, Tim. I guess I was too drunk to know what I was doing.” “You knew exactly what you were doing. I said don’t say anything else.” I got through the door and made my way to my car slowly and carefully. I was able to get the door open and get in. I knew I couldn’t drive so I locked the door and laid back. I slept until just before dawn then drove home still feeling the effect of the strong vodka but sober enough to drive and thankfully there was no traffic.

I slept late into the morning very glad it was Sunday with no work and no show. I woke up suddenly remembering what had happened the night before. I was furious with Barney knowing he had taken advantage of me in the worst way. I didn’t feel any shame or embarrassment just anger. I had always known that Barney was attracted to me and thought I had made it very clear that I wasn’t interested. I knew that our next words together would be very serious. I immediately began to have doubts about wanting to be at the theatre any more. But there was a need to get that reaction out of my head because the theatre was my future, I just needed to set Barney straight and never get really drunk around him.

I didn’t go back to the theatre until Tuesday after work. I went in the office to encounter Barney. He was very ill at ease on seeing me.

“Please don’t hate me, Tim, I’m very sorry for my actions. I…”

“I don’t hate you, Barney, but I do resent the Hell out of what you did. Did you give me that Vodka hoping something like that would happen?” “No, I don’t think so, but when I saw you having that passionate dream I couldn’t resist doing what I did. You must be aware how I’ve felt about you for a long time. Don’t you?”

“Well, I didn’t know it was that strong. But I’m telling you now, get it out of your head. I’ll take it as a compliment but from afar. Do you understand? If you have any thoughts of me staying with the theatre, forget about it. Alright?”

“Yes, I understand. Are you going to stay for the show tonight?”

“I’m not sure yet. Is Ginger here?”

“Yes, she came in right before you did. She must be in the dressing room. Again, Tim, please forgive me, I don’t want this to ruin our working together.”

“That will take some time, Barney, but we should be able to work together if you control any thoughts about me in that manner.”

I went to the dressing room to join Ginger. We went over notes that I wanted her to give to the cast since I felt it was her show now. I would come in for critique only if I had some big ideas. I was beginning to believe that the way I directed the play had given the cast the freedom and incentive to grow on their own creative drive.

We talked about the cast party at Barney’s and the evening we had dinner together. I left to go home, shower, and dress for the performance. Mom called me in as soon as arrived. She handed me a package that had arrived in the afternoon. It was from New York. I opened it to find a beautiful tan suede sport coat from Brooks Brothers and it was from Claire. It fitted me perfectly.

“How did she get this so right?”

“Well, Tim, I gave her your measurements. Do you remember when I measured your for that shirt I made you. She asked for you size before she got you that Barn Coat and I gave her your sleeve lengths too. It is a gorgeous jacket.”

“Yes, it is. Claire’s presence does go on.” Before I went out to my place, Marilee called to ask if I wanted to come over for steaks from the grill. I accepted, cleaned up, and got there in thirty minutes wearing my new jacket.

Marilee’s first words were, “It looks even better than in the picture. I’m glad it arrived. She found it in my catalogue and couldn’t resist it. Come here, Tim, let me hug you. We haven’t seen you in a couple of weeks.”

Daniel called from out back, “Get out here, brother, and have a drink with me.”

Marilee and I joined him, she with her arm around me.

“We’ve missed you, Tim. When I’ve finished getting the coals ready here I want to show you my latest painting. I walked away from it only an hour ago.”

Marilee mixed me a Bourbon and soda and poured her self a Martini.

“How are you holding up, Timmy? I’m sure that jacket brings it all back.”

“I didn’t need this great jacket to bring it all back. That happens every morning and in a very nice manner. I miss her. It was and is too good to suffer over. She’s written me and I hope soon I’ll be able to write her. She’s going to arrange a post office box or something. You know this jacket, Jeordie’s camera and all the other gifts are all rather extravagant. How is she able to do that?”

“Don’t give it a thought. Believe me, she’s able to do it.”

“Uh…alright, I’ll accept that, but…”

“But nothing. Don’t worry about it, Timmy.”

“Nuff said, almost sister-in-law.”

“Let’s go out to the studio folks.” Daniel gestured for us to follow him.

His new painting was large and both pastoral and figurative, using the brilliant colors of Flood Zone and the other recent works. It was much more sensual than any other of his figurative pieces because the women were nude seemed to be wood nymphs. I thought it was absolutely magnificent. I couldn’t say anything for the first few Minutes.

Finally, “You know, Daniel, I’ve always liked every thing you’ve done but this one is…well, exciting. I can’t think of any other words, of course, it’s beautiful but much more. Watching it, the figures seem to come alive. It’s almost scary…in a good way.”

“I think so, too, Timmy. If you’ve wondered where I’ve been for the last couple of weeks, it’s been out here posing. The women are not quite me, but they are. Do you recognize the faces other than me?”

I looked closer and, “My God, that’s Claire in a way, and…a younger version of Mom. I hope you don’t plan to sell this one.”

“I don’t believe Marilee would let me. She wants it right here in the house, but I don’t know where yet.”

“No, he’s not going to sell it. I’m thinking it could go in the library over the fireplace. It would mean taking down another favorite of mine of his from a couple of years ago, but it can go in the bedroom on the same wall as that fresco portrait he did of me.”

“I think the fresco should come downstairs to the den, sweetheart.”

“I agree Daniel. Marilee, that portrait makes you look like a renaissance princess in the style of Botticelli.”

“Mom hasn’t seen this one yet, but I think she will like being young again.”

“No doubt. Daniel, this is a truly a big time painting. What next?” “Well, I’m going to try a variation of this one that’s not so personal.” “It seems that the way your work is going now, a variation will be another big step, big brother.”

“Does this mean I’ll need to pose some more, Daniel?”

“I hope so. Looking at you is one of the great joys of existence.”

“My word. Do you think He likes me, Timmy”

“He’s kind of given me that impression over the last few years.”

“Have I? It must have been an unconscious intention.”

“You Sart men are getting silly, let’s go back out, have another drink and…eventually eat. What say?” I had a hard time pulling away from the painting. I requested a lighter drink knowing I would get to the theatre some time this evening. I didn’t need to be there for the curtain but wanted to see the dance sequence.

As Daniel was serving the steaks Marilee said, “I’ve receive a couple of letters from Claire. She told me she had written you and about what was going on with her family’s plans for her. She isn’t happy at all about the prospects; and I don’t blame her. I understand tradition and all, but a forced marriage is more than I can accept, especially for someone I care for as much as I do her.”

“Well, there appears there’s nothing that can be done about it. Oh, Hell, the thought of it literally tears my soul apart, but I…can’t think about it too much. It’s bad enough missing her the way I do with no hope.”

“There’s always hope, Timmy.”

“A pretty damn slim bit of hope. It sounds like her family is moving rather quickly towards ‘selling’ her off.”

“Yes, it does. I know her parents very well and this is a side of them that surprises me, but then I’m not orthodox Jewish.”

“It looks like she got that job at the L. A. museum. The letter I got this week was a sad one concerning the family situation and also happy about the job. She believes that may give her some independence.”

“Well, we all miss and love her. There’s not much more that can be said about it. Timmy, I thought the articles in the paper were terrific, didn’t you?”

“They sure have helped the show and I’m glad Rosenfield made his about the family. Mom and Dad were thrilled. That was a neat picture of you and Mom, Daniel.”

“I was surprised at how well it turned out, but you were the star.”

“I’m not sure star is the right word. I’m a bit embarrassed by the attention.”

“No one deserves it than you, Timmy. Oh, by the way, Daniel and I are going to Taos in a month or so, and after that New York. We need someone to take care of the house. Could you stay here for several weeks?”

“You bet. That would be a nice step up in life style. Thank you, of course, I will.”

“I’ll leave a substantial house budget and you can use the Packard anytime you wish, we’re driving the Station Wagon out there. I didn’t believe you wouldn’t and we’ll feel much more secure about the house with you here.”

“Your life style needs a step up, brother. I would think your little room is getting a bit cramped.”

“Yes, it is, and thank you both for the trust.”

“Timmy, please, you are family. There’s room for you here even after we come back. What’s happening with the full time situation at the theatre?”

“It looks like it’s going to happen, but I don’t know for sure yet. I wish there was another option, that is not staying in Dallas, …forever.” Daniel was stirred by this, “What did you have in mind? Aren’t things going well there?”

“I don’t have anything in mind really and everything’s alright at the theatre. I shouldn’t have said that.”

“I don’t believe you will stay in Dallas forever, Timmy. Blood Wedding will probably give you opportunities you can’t envision yet.

“I think it’s going to take more than this play.”

“Are you still writing your journal about the directing experience?” Daniel asked.

“Yes, I try to every night. It was hard for the first week after Claire left but I’ve been back at it for two weeks. It’s actually more than a journal now, it’s turning into a book about the way I directed the play and other new ideas on the process. I’m well over two hundred and fifty pages now. I don’t know what could be done with it but it has been a good discipline exercise.”

“It sounds you may be a writer and a director, Brother.”

“Could be, I sure like doing it. Well, I think it’s time for me to make an appearance at the theatre. Thanks for the evening and everything else. Dan the painting is a fine piece of art; I hope it’s up when I stay here. Marilee, I promise to take good care of the house.”

“You’re most welcome, almost brother-in-law. But we certainly plan to see you many times before we leave.”

“Tim, we’re coming to the play this weekend and bringing some people. We’ll see you then, and if we go somewhere afterwards we insist that you join us.”

“Agreed. Good night, dear folks.”

I arrived at the theatre for intermission. The lobby and recently opened upstairs patio were filled. Several patrons I knew and introduced around to potential new subscribers greeted me. It was an overwhelming whirlwind of attention. Barney came with intention of hugging me. I held up my left hand as a signal to stop and held out my right hand for him to shake. There was a hurt look on his face but he accepted the new distance between us. He also introduced me to new audience members. All made some glowing comment about the show and some wanted to talk about the future of the theatre. One of the volunteer ushers soon came around ringing the bell for the second act to begin. As I went in Barney gestured for me to speak with him for a minute.

“Tim, we’ve raised almost the complete amount for your salary as a permanent director, with the run extended there’s no doubt it can be done and more. I want it to run for a three-year contract. How does that sound?”

“That sounds good as long we understand each other.”

“Yes, Tim, I understand what you’re saying. I agree, please trust me.”

“I do on theatre matters but beyond that I’m not sure.”

“I’ll prove that trust and more.”

“If you feel that sure about the position what will my title be?”

“Does that matter?”

“Yes, I want it to be Artistic Director. You handle the business and I’ll handle the art.”

“I can accept that but there are a lot of things that we will need to collaborate on.”

“Of course. If there’s nothing else I want to see the second act.”

“No, that’s it.”

I enjoyed watching more than usual. The marriage party and dance sequences had gotten even better. Aurora had come up with some variations that made it even more exciting. I was glad I had given her the freedom to do it; she hadn’t varied from the style I had set, just enhanced it. The audience applauded the solos by Camila and Aurora and vocalized “Oh, No’s’ when the wife ran out on the ramp telling of the runaways. When the second act ended I ducked back stage and joined the cast. The dressing room was bustling with act change rush. There were waves and greetings from everyone. Liza kissed me on the cheek. In the ‘Green Room’ the first thing I heard was a call

“El Audaz, bienvenuto.”

The old actor smiled and bowed laughing.”

“Hey, old pal, it’s good to hear you’ve dropped the diminutive.”

“Tim, my friend, that ended half way through rehearsal. We all have grown doing the play. I believe the show get’s better every performance. Don’t you?”

“Sin dudo, amigo.”

He laughed and went off to touch up his make up. Aurora passed by. I touched her arm because she hadn’t seen me.

“Oh,Tim, there you are. Eddy told me you were here somewhere. What did you think of the new movements? I wanted to show them to you before the curtain but you weren’t here.”

“I liked them very much. I wasn’t concerned about seeing them before you put them in. And it was better to see them as a part of the scene.”

“This play and the way you directed it seems have given all of us an imagination boost.”

“Thank you, all of you effected me the same way. The perfect cast. A director’s dream.”

“I think so, too. Have you talked to Eddy?”

“No. I saw him as he went out to set up for the last act. We waved but haven’t had a chance to talk. Did he need to?”

“Oh, no, not at all. We’re having a great time working together and the other part of our life is great, too. Are you going to stay for the third act?”

“Yes, and looking forward to it.”

“Good, we’ll see you then. I think the cast really likes your idea of joining the audience after the show.”

I spoke to a very busy Ginger for a minute and went out to lobby for the last few minutes before curtain. After the performance, I joined the audience again. They all seemed excited about meeting the cast. Barney had worked out a situation for us to serve wine after the play if we didn’t charge any thing, just took donations. The cast came out shortly charged up by the standing ovation, which had become a part of every performance. Dick Ayers was there to pick up Camila and he joined me juggling three glasses of wine. Camila soon came up to claim hers and he handed me the other.

“Great idea Barney had about the wine. I’m sure he’s bringing in more than enough to pay for. How have you been these last weeks?”

“Pretty good, sorry we haven’t a chance to spend any time together.” “Do you have come to every performance, if not, why don’t we go out for dinner tomorrow night? I have to make it back by the end of the show, so you could too.”

“I’d like that.”

“I’ll call you at the bookstore for final plans. I hope all of this success hasn’t gone to your head. Although I think some of it should, no need to be the humble shy director anymore.”

“I’ll try to keep it in control.”

“Camila is loving doing it, and it makes Sunday and Monday nights more special than usual.”

Camila had walked off to join Liza but they soon came back.

Liza surprisingly put her arm in mine and, “Gentlemen, it’s ‘Tuesday’ night, let’s go up to the patio with more wine.”

“Better still, I’ll donate enough for a couple of bottles.” Dick said as he headed for the wine table.

We laughed and talked for another hour. Liza seemed less distracted but occasionally would stare off for a few seconds. Evidently she wasn’t ready to get into it yet.

I got home after midnight, didn’t write, didn’t read, went to sleep with an ‘apparition’ in my arms.

The next night I joined Dick at the Lakewood Country Club for dinner. His leg was getting better but still painful at times. He and Camila were trying to find a school where he could do law and she could finish her medical degree. He thought they would have to go east though he wanted to stay in Texas. It was a great evening with an old friend who probably would be gone soon, as all of the special people in my life were doing. Dick had asked about Claire but I found it harder to talk about than usual, perhaps because all of the couples I knew were so happy.

I decided not to go to the theatre but go home and write. Seeing the show the night before had given me an impetus for new ideas. I went to sleep reading my Russians.

I went to every show for the rest of the week. Saturday night I got there early because I wanted to spend some time alone looking at Claire’s drawings. I stopped at her dance sequence group and realized I was crying. The first time since she had left. It was an ongoing shock how much I missed her. The drawings were more beautiful to me than ever. The memory of her and her work must continue to be an inspiration. I was suddenly sorry I had promised Marilee I would be here tonight, but I knew it was for the best, with this surge of emotion I shouldn’t be alone.

After the performance Marilee introduced me to the people she had brought to the play, all of them prominent Dallasites. She had arranged for a late evening at the Mexican Restaurant where we had had a family gathering. She asked if I would mind if Liza was included. I certainly didn’t, it would be good to have a friend to escort. During the evening, Marilee and Daniel became primary fundraisers. She talked about setting up an endowment for ongoing expenses and my salary. It was handled in the most persuasive and discreet manner I could have imagined. All of the guests had loved the play and seemed happy to have a cast member and the director with them for the evening, though Liza knew most of them from the Dallas Country Club. After a very successful dinner, Daniel and Marilee drove Liza and me back to our cars at the theatre.

Standing at Liza’s car I asked, “Are you ready to get into it yet?”

“No, not yet, but soon perhaps. Do you really care?”

“Of course, I do. To see that look of total sadness come over your face at times is…well, we are friends. You don’t have to really tell me anything, I’m just saying if you ever need to talk with some one. God knows, I surely do. I had an encounter with loneliness in the lobby tonight looking at Claire’s drawings before the show. I thought I had gotten fairly strong but it hit me like a ton of bricks.

“It only hits me like that occasionally, mostly it’s little flashes of it.” “Yeah, well, I get that ,too. I enjoyed the evening, it made it better you being there, remember anytime, perhaps it would be good for both of us.” She smiled, got into her car, and drove off. When I got home and prepared to write I thought about how strange the evening was. Marilee worked very subtly to help the theatre and my future. I must have answered a thousand questions about the play, the theatre, and my being a full time ‘Artistic Director’, which they all appeared to support. And Liza. She was sure going through something extremely difficult but holding on tight. Even with all of that going on, she was still a charming companion.

I was able to write for an hour but it was a letter to Claire. I tried not to whine about the loneliness and how much I missed her, but I did write as romantically as I could about the theatre and how her drawings had re-inspired me in my writing. I tried to describe Daniel’s new painting and how she was a part of it, albeit naked, and quite nicely too. I related about the growth in the play, the added night, and the extended run. My coming

Life-style change of moving into Marilee’s was almost fun to write about. I ended with a clumsy attempt at writing a poem, quit that and wrote out Shakespeare’s Sonnet 40. It seemed to say the right thing. When I finished I put the letter with the four other long letters I had written waiting for an address. I went asleep with her on my mind.

Mom knocking on my door with a cup of coffee awakened me the next morning late. She they would be eating in about thirty minutes and for to come join them. I sat up in bed looking at Claire’s drawing hung across the room from my bed. Jeordie had given me several prints of photos of her I hadn’t seen before and they brought back all of the feelings from the lobby experience. I then slowly got up, showered, and shaved. The family was seated around the breakfast table. We talked about my full time position at the theatre and my staying at Marilee’s house. Jeordie immediately said he wanted to move into my apartment; but he was disappointed when I assured him it wasn’t a permanent situation, and that I would surely be coming back home when they returned. Dad asked if I had heard from Claire again and how she was doing. Mom thought the museum job would be great for her and Jeordie, of course, asked when she was coming back. He couldn’t believe it when I related her situation and I left out the religious ramifications, fearing the confusion he would experience. Dad said he had talked to Uncle Willy this morning. There weren’t any races this afternoon and that he would like to see me at the shop. Rose was spending the afternoon with her sister in Sherman. She had taken the Interurban train at nine this morning and wouldn’t be back until six. I couldn’t think of any better way to spend a Sunday than with my favorite uncle.

When I arrived at Uncle’s shop he was working on his Auburn deep in the shop. He hugged me saying it had been too long since we had spent an afternoon together. We went into his office and settled in for good conversation and his stories. The expected reminiscences didn’t come. He wanted to know how the show was going and had I heard from Claire. I hadn’t had a chance to tell him her situation. His reaction to the matchmaker was almost violent, he stood up and walked around his office cursing. My marriage proposal almost brought him to tears.

“This calls for a drink, don’t you think?”

“It’s little early for me, but it sounds good to me.”

“I didn’t say let’s get drunk, just have a drink. Rose would kill me if I overdid it.” I laughed at that. He reached into the big drawer in his desk and brought out a bottle of fine bourbon and a couple of glasses.
“This is a good eighty proof, so it won’t hit us hard at all especially with a good dollop of water.” He had a water dispenser with a big bottle upside down on top of it. The bourbon was good and immediately relaxed his anger over Claire’s dilemma.

“I know she said she was leaving but I hoped she would change her mind or at least return after a while. Her family must really be old country Jews. I know her father is one of the best petroleum engineers and had studied at A&M so this tradition they follow is a surprise. What does Claire think about it?”

“She doesn’t like it but feels she has no choice.”

“Of course she does, just not do it.”

“She says it would shame her parents, and that if she had stayed here or came back to me they would disown her. They’re a close family with a lot of love and support. I don’t believe she could stand their total rejection. Yes, it’s hard to believe, but it’s true, and she’s gone. I miss her and she misses me. Everyone says there’s hope, but I don’t think so. It was so good being with her that it’s difficult to comprehend her not being here.”

“It must be. It was pretty obvious that night at the house that she loved you. She must be having a hard time, too.”

“She is. Her letters are evidence of that.”

“Are you able to write her?”

“Not yet. But she should have a post office box this next week.”

“Well, that’s good, don’t you think?”

“Yep.”

“When you write her send our love.”

“Of course I will. You and Rosie are very special to her, but then the whole family is.”

“I think there is hope, there always is. You remember my telling you about the Russian girl in China, well that was a no hope thing, but yours is not. Go on with your life but don’t give up.”

“I’m not going to, at least not for a long time anyway. I guess if she was in an arranged marriage that would be the end.”

“Probably, but it hasn’t happened, maybe it won’t. Tell me what else is happening with you? I saw in the paper that your play added extra nights and the run of it has been extended. That’s certainly a big approval of you work. Oh, I thought the articles in the paper were terrific. It was funny to be mentioned as a part of a family of artists.?” “It seems to be the beginning of acceptance into artistic circles here. I liked the family one best the other one was too much me.”

“No it wasn’t too much you, I didn’t think it was enough. That play of yours was the best, by far, of anything you’ve done. Rosie even says she wants to see again. Do you think you could get us tickets in three or four weeks?”

“Done, and they’ll be complimentary. It looks like I’ll soon have a full time job at the theatre with a big salary jump.”

“Now that’s good news, Tim. It doesn’t make up for Claire but it’s a start.”

“I suppose. How is your work on the Auburn going?”

“Slow but steady. It’s not a money making project so it has low priority. Come on, I’ll show what’s going on with it.” We went out to the shop where he worked on the project. The Auburn was a beautiful convertible coupe in need of some body work and a paint job. The engine had been taken out and was up on a work bench.

“I’m not sure yet about the engine yet. I think I’ll forget about overhauling it and put something else in it. It’s going to take something big and strong to power it, I’m leaning towards a Cadillac V8 that I could modify. But it is a beauty, isn’t it?”

“It sure is. Is it going to be Rosie’s or yours?”

“Hers, she loves it. For me my next project is that sports roadster in the European fashion but all American. But I think my in-between project will be your car. When can I have it for at least two weeks?”

“I’m going to be staying at Marilee’s house while they go to Taos then New York and I’ll have the use of her Packard. It’ll be in a of month or less from now. Would that be a good time, by the way what are going to do to my car?”

“The Packard, huh? After that you may not want to go back to your Ford no matter what I do.”

“I don’t think so, I’m sure I’ll feel pretty pretentious driving her car, and besides I love my car.”

“I’ll do a whole bunch of stuff, brakes, suspension, and a new engine that’ll be more powerful and dependable. And I’d like to do some body work I want to try. You’ll like it. Consider it a present for your good work at the theatre.”

“Whatever you think, Uncle. It sounds great.”

“Good, lets go back in the office.”

We had another light bourbon and talked about his coming fatherhood and how excited he was about it.

“Rosie gets more beautiful every day, which I didn’t think was possible. And she feels pretty good, too, no real sickness now, but growing fast. She’s going to keep working right up to the time for the baby. I’m trying to change her mind about that.”

I left late in the afternoon with plenty of time for him to get to the Interurban station. I got home to Mom’s announcement that she had fixed Lamb Curry. She knew that would cheer me up, and it did. After dinner Mom asked I would like to go to a movie with them. She wanted to see the new Fred Astaire at the Majestic. Jeordie wasn’t disappointed he couldn’t because he wanted to work in his dark room and then do homework. Then film turned out to be more fun than I expected and we went for ice cream afterwards. I settled in for the night and started writing having a glass of the Spanish Brandy. Just before midnight there was a gentle knock at my door.

“Hi, Tim, have I come too late. I feel a great need to talk to someone?” Said Liza Farquar.

“No it’s not too late, and never would be. Please come in. This is a surprise but a good one.”

She had a bag with her. She opened it taking out a bottle of Bourbon, a spritzer bottle, and some chopped ice wrapped in wax paper.

“At home I had decided to have a drink, but thought it wouldn’t be good to drink alone. Will you join me?”

“Yes, I will. I just had a little brandy, but a bourbon would be good. I couldn’t have slept anyway. You too?”

“No, I haven’t been able to sleep much at all for a couple of weeks.”

“It sure hasn’t shown in your work on stage.”

“I know, I’m able to forget about, or not think about...well, things.” “What things?”

“Are you sure you want to know?”

“Do you want to tell me what’s going on? Didn’t you come because you know you can trust me?”

“Yes, but let’s have drink first. Alright?” I nodded and she fixed us two rather stiff drinks. I really only had one comfortable chair so I told her to sit up on the bed and I’d take the chair. We sat quietly for a few minutes.”

“Tim, are you missing Claire?”

“More than I ever thought possible to miss someone. She is with me every waking moment and then I dream about her.”

“Do you believe you’ll see her again?”

“I don’t know.”

“Why did she leave when she was so obviously in love with you?”

I told her the whole story. She listened with an almost tearful expression.

“I almost understand. My mother was Jewish and it evidently caused a lot of trouble for her when she married my father. But my grand parents weren’t orthodox, and when my parents had my older sister then me all was forgiven. They were wonderful grandparents. I didn’t even know they were Jewish until my mother told me when I was about ten or twelve and it didn’t mean much to me. My parents had joined the Highland Park Presbyterian and I was much into Sunday school.”

“It’s good your mother didn’t have to go through what Claire is. Now you tell me.”

“This will be hard, but here goes. You know that my husband is in Java working a drilling operation and has been for a year and a half, well two weeks ago I got a telegram from saying he was staying for another year. A week and a half later I got a letter from him. He told me his staying would give him enough money to start his own business when he gets back. He’s gotten very interested in something called sysmagraphology and wants to eventually move to Tulsa. This, of course, was all new to me. He had promised he would stay no longer than the first year, first the six month extension, now another year. Two years ago I wanted to start a family, well here I am waiting for him, and waiting. It was just a shock, not a surprise, but a shock. At times I think he’ll never come back. Maybe he’s fallen in love with living in the Far East. I don’t know what to think. He says I can’t go there because it’s too rough. Hell, I was a Girl Scout, I went to camp, all that stuff; and it’s too rough for me there. Well, it’s getting pretty rough here. Maybe he has a beautiful native girl who wears a sarong around all day and takes care of him...in every way. That’s why I’ve seemed a ‘bit’ distracted.”

“Damn, no wonder you’ve been...well, I didn’t know what you were feeling; sadness, some family tragedy, serious loneliness or...I guess it’s kind of all of that. Boy, aren’t we a pair. Have you heard the stories of the ‘Penatentes’ in Mexico. They parade through the streets covered in robes and whip themselves until their backs are bloody. Maybe we should do that.”

Liza through her head back and laughed.

“Tim, I thought it would be good to talk with you, but I didn’t know you would make me laugh.”

“Laugh, hell, I’m serious.” Then I was able to laugh for the first time in several weeks. “Let me fix us a drink.” And I did.

“You know, I think I felt I could talk with you because I knew, or thought I knew, that you were ‘suffering’ about Claire. And I didn’t want any comforting words, just talk. My lady friends would ‘oo and ah’ saying poor baby, poor girl. My Minister at the church would tell me to pray and be strong.”

“I know what you mean, everyone tells me to be strong, no one has told me to pray yet, but I guess we all do though, even if unconsciously that we wish that everything will be alright; you know ‘please let them come back to us now or please let me stop being so sad’.”

She laughed again, “Yeah, exactly.” We talked another hour about everything, the play, her acting, my writing, my job at the theatre.

As we both begin to fade, Liza asked, “Tim, I don’t think I’m in any shape to drive home. Can I stay here with you, I don’t mean any intimate, just sleep next to someone.”

I wasn’t taken aback at all, “Of course you may. I would much prefer that to a whipping.”

She got up and hugged me, “Me too.” We turned out the lights, pulled down the covers, stripped down to our underwear, and got in bed. She put her head on my shoulder.

“Thank you, Tim.”

You’re most welcome, and thank you, Liza.” There was nothing really erotic or sexy about it just two lonely folks needing to be with someone. Liza and I became very close friends. I became her escort and she my casual date when we both needed it. Almost once and sometimes twice a week she would come to my place and we would spend the night talking then in each other’s arms.

The week after that night, I received a letter from Claire. She gave me a Post Office box number. It was close to her new job at the museum. Her letter was loving, sad, and sweet. She was evidently going through similar experiences as I. There had been a scare for her in that she had been two and a half weeks late. That last weekend together had almost changed everything and I’m not sure for the better, except that it would have perhaps brought her to me. Her new job was challenging and exciting but she missed me terribly pledging undying love. I finished the letter I had been working on placing it with others I had written plus copies of the newspaper articles. It was an enormous relief to be able to write to her, but in a way it was like writing to a ghost.

At the Saturday performance after the show a man introduced himself to me as Dr. John Miller the Chairman of the Speech and Drama Department at the University of New Mexico. A friend of his in Dallas had seen the show and sent him the reviews and articles. Out of professional curiosity he had come to Dallas to see for himself. He asked if we could sit down and talk. The production had impressed him a great deal and would I be interested in coming this Summer to Albuquerque then Santa Fe to direct a production of Lorca’s Yerma. Evidently, the person scheduled to direct it had gotten very ill and had to pull out. I was stunned by the offer but explained that I didn’t have a college degree and had never directed outside of Dallas. That didn’t seem to bother him saying my production was an exceptional rendition and interpretation. He had only heard of the play and only recently gotten the rights to produce Yerma. I asked if there was a chance to be payed as I had nothing to fall back on except a rather small savings account.

“Yes, there will be a nominal weekly salary and room and board provided. Have you done any writing about the process you used?”

I described my journal and how it had reached almost two hundred and seventy five pages.

“Would you consider pulling it together into a book form and see if it’s appropriate for publication by the University Press?”

“Yes.”

“If you would like to consider getting a degree, I’m pretty sure I could get you a full scholarship. Mr. Sart...”

“Tim, please.”

“Tim, I don’t think there’s any doubt that you are a special talent, I would be very happy for you to join us at New Mexico.”

“This is rather sudden. I’m...well, complimented. Do you need a commitment right now?”

“Only a tentative agreement to come out and direct. If you could come out in the latter part of July and work through August. The production date is set for the first week in September. That would give you a chance to consider the other things, publication and a scholarship.”

“More than a tentative yes, I would be most happy to come out and do another Lorca. How soon could you get me a script?”

“Within two weeks and I’ll send a contract for the direction fee.” “Excellent, this couldn’t have happened at a better time. Thank you, Dr. Miller.”

“John, please. Tim, I must rush to catch my ride to the hotel, and I have an early train in the morning. Will you be coming alone?”

“Yes, I’m certainly alone. And I’ll get to work on my journal immediately.” He nodded, smiled, and was gone. I stood there almost unable to move then looked for Liza. I didn’t have to look because she found me.

“Tim, what’s happened? You’re grinning from ear to ear.”

“I’m going over to Marilee’s for a late drink. Will you join me? I will tell you there.”

“Yes, I’m dying to know what it is. I’ll meet you there.” Over the past weeks, Marilee and Daniel’s house had become a second home. I had spent some of the most important hours of my recent life there, especially with Claire. Their support for me and Claire and their belief in my work had given me a closer relationship with them. Daniel and I had taken our being brothers to a new level and Marilee was more a sister than his lady. And they just kept giving. Their message for me at the theatre was not a surprise but a welcome release from loneliness.

Liza drove up behind me and we went to the door together. Marilee greeted us welcoming Liza as a happy addition to the evening. They had been friends for several years, having met in high school at Hockaday.

“Daniel, two of the loneliest people in town are here. Yes, Timmy, Liza finally broke down this week and told me about her situation. I even told her I most heartily approved of you two being friends after she confessed about your evening together. Nothing wrong with a good platonic relationship to get you through hard times.

Daniel joined us, “Hello brother, and Liza, you’re a pleasant surprise. It’s a beautiful night, let’s go outside.”

“Great, it’s good to see you two, thanks for the welcome. Tim found me after the show grinning like a fool. He said he would tell me what that was about if I joined him over here.”

“My goodness, Tim; only something very special would make you smile like that. Come on, let’s have an evening toddy and hear whatever good news you have.” Daniel said as he put his arm around my shoulder.

Liza and I sat at the table by the pool as Marilee lighted candles and Daniel asked what our pleasure would be.

“I know Tim wants a Bourbon. Liza?”

“The same with soda.”

“Well, Timmy, there’s something in common.” When we all settled in, I told them about the meeting with Dr. Miller and my acceptance of the directing job and the possible scholarship along with a potential book publishing offer.

“Timmy, Timmy, Timmy, this is wonderful, I knew Blood Wedding would change your life,” cheered Marilee.

Daniel reached across the table to shake my hand in congratulations. “A directing job and book! Do you think you’ll take the scholarship if offered?”

“I don’t know, I guess it depends on how well the play turns out and if I want to stay there since it’s pretty much for sure I have a permanent job at the theatre.”

“Tim, you can always come back to the theatre. This may be too good to turn down. I couldn’t be happier for you.” Liza added in support.

“What play is it, Timmy?”

“A Lorca named Yerma, Dr. Miller seems to believe I have a way with him.”

“When would you go out, brother?”

“The last week in July. The opening would be during the first week in September.”

“That gives you almost two months at our place in Taos. You could study and write.”

“I hadn’t thought of that, Marilee. Won’t you two be there at the same time?”

“Perhaps, but only for part of the first month; I’ve been painting up a storm. I should have enough canvases for New York before long. I think ten or twelve should be fine.”

“I still have a small place in Santa Fe. I’d thought I would try to get away from Dallas...’Dallas, Dallas’ this Summer. All of a sudden it sounds like an even better idea. Liza turned to me, “would that that be too much of a crowd, Tim?”

“It sounds good to me. I certainly don’t plan to be a hermit.”

“Oh, we’re leaving next week, can you move in here then?”

“No problem, I’m looking forward to it. Uncle Willy said he wanted to work on my car for a couple of weeks, do you mind if I use the Packard that much, Marilee?”

“No I don’t, use it, and I want you to charge the gas to me at the station in Snyder Plaza.”

“Not necessary, but thank you.”

“Do what she says, brother, and enjoy the car, it’s a dream to drive.” I laughed, holding up my hands in surrender. We all had one more drink. Liza seemed to be especially happy for me knowing it would help to bring me out of the doldrums. When I walked her out to her car she hugged me, kissed me on the cheek.

“Tim, everyone in the cast knew something very good would happen for you. You were amazing, we all adore you.”

“That’s a little much, but thank you. She drove off and I went home to write a letter to Claire telling her about New Mexico.

The next two nights’ auditions went very well. Rehearsals started three days later. Most of the cast had spent time familiarizing themselves with the script, but almost all of them voiced doubts about learning their lines before they were blocked. I assured them it was possible because I had used this method before. One actor asked how long my rehearsal period had been when I had used this process before.

“Almost six weeks.” I told them.

One University actor questioned it working in the four weeks we had to put up Yerma.

“With lot of concentration and good rehearsals, I believe it can be done with very strong results,” I said, trying to reassure them.

Hoping to quash any more doubts, I handed out copies of the sonnets I wanted them to memorize for warm-ups and demonstrated examples of the Tai-Chi we would do together while reciting the sonnets. They first reacted with laughter, and then

seemed almost resentful that I was asking them to memorize more than their lines. I calmed them down and asked the stage manager to set up a crescent of chairs for a read-through. As we read through the play, I attempted to describe how we improvised with the script. The evening ended with a great deal of grumbling and no questions.

Later, at my apartment, I reread the script, but was discouraged by the reaction of the cast. I wondered if it could be done in four weeks after hearing their doubts, but I was committed to it.

The next morning I had a meeting with John Miller to discuss the cast’s reaction to the way I wanted to direct the play. He had already heard about it, but he had confidence in what I wanted to do. I mentioned the four-week rehearsal period as one of their main concerns.

“Tim, I also was worried about that, but felt it could be handled with your leadership.”

“It’s going to take more than my leadership; they’re going to need to want to try something new and experimental.”

“Yes, I certainly agree with you on that, but this cast may not be as sophisticated as the one you worked with in Dallas. Don’t give up on it.”

“I wasn’t even contemplating giving up, I just wanted to discuss it with you, I guess as my mentor here at the University.”

I left to spend most of the day working in the theatre shop, then back to my apartment for more script study.

That evening, only two of the cast had tried to memorize the sonnets, and all of them quit half way through trying to follow me in a tai-chi warm-up. I summoned all the confidence I could and tried a simple walk-through of the first scenes. They didn’t

understand my side directing, so they would stop, no matter how many times I urged them to continue. The concept of general directions being spoken almost constantly was so new to them they couldn’t grasp it. They insisted on stopping to listen to my words and ask questions. I knew I was attempting to concentrate the process because of the time restrictions, but it obviously wasn’t working. After a break, I spent more time in a simple lecture using the ideas I had expressed in my writings. It was received with little enthusiasm. We attempted more scene work, but it was even less successful than the first part of the rehearsal. We ended the evening in a sort of stalemate.

In my past experiences, especially in beginning work, I had left rehearsals a bit scared but never as discouraged about one like this. I decided to go to the bar John and Carmen had introduced me to several nights ago. There was a large University crowd, but I found a stool at the bar. Luckily, there was no one there from the cast. I worked my way through two Bourbons and pondered about the last two evenings. I ended the evening at my apartment with a glass of brandy, wishing Claire were with me for encouragement. I spent the next day going over my writings to see if I could simplify my description of the way I directed Blood Wedding. I wrote several pages of notes, hoping they would convince the cast it would work. When I arrived at the theatre early for rehearsal the stage manager met me in the lobby to tell me the cast was having a meeting with John Miller and for me to wait for him in his office. Dr.

Miller arrived after I waited very anxiously for an hour.

He sat behind his desk. After a few minutes of silence, he said, “Tim, the cast had no idea they were stepping into what they considered an extremely experimental rehearsal process to be done in a short period for a complicated play. I know you tried to explain your approach during auditions, but they don’t believe they can adapt to it in this short amount of time.”

“And, what does this mean? I hope it doesn’t imply we should cancel the production.”

“No, it doesn’t. Tim, how many plays have you directed?”

“Uh...I guess about twenty-five, not all of them full length shows. Some were

touring pieces, or specialty things like Commedia dell’ Arte. Probably twenty full­length ones.”

“And only one of those was done using your new method, right?” “Yes.” “I assume most of them were successful.” “Yes. Luckily I haven’t had a real failure. Not all were raging successes, but all were well received.”

“I explained to them that you were a successful director from a very good theatre and had directed many plays in a way they could work with. They want early blocking and extensive scene work and wouldn’t mind run-throughs of the work at the end of the week.”

“Well, this is a major disappointment, but...”

“Tim, I want you to know I believe in your work, and that what I saw in Dallas was extraordinary. Also, I’m not giving up on doing a production here using your ideas. This cast does like you personally and wants to continue if you will go back to the usual way of directing

“John, I like this play and this cast very much. They look great and all had good auditions. Of course, I’ll do it, if that’s the way you want it done.”

“It’s not the way I want it done, and I know it may seem like blackmail, but don’t think of it like that, please. Don’t consider it a setback, just an artistic adjustment.

“How does this affect my status here at the University?” “In no way what-so-ever.

“Well, that’s a relief. I have a serious day of work tomorrow.” “I know, several weeks crammed into one day, well, perhaps not that bad

knowing how well you know the play. I had a strong feeling you would agree, so the cast is waiting in the theatre.”

The cast was sitting in the crescent formation and obviously anxious for my decision. I took my chair in the center, smiled at them and said, “Well, let’s get to work.”

They already had their scripts in hand, pencils ready. Evidently, Dr. Miller had convinced them I would step right into a more conventional approach. I proceeded to describe a timetable and concept as I had many times before. There was a completely different atmosphere at the end of rehearsal. My last words were to ask them to carry their scripts and a pencil throughout the rest of the week’s rehearsals. I wanted all of their blocking written down, but also said to have a good eraser ready for any changes. I promised I would have the play completely blocked for tomorrow’s meeting. Before leaving the theatre, I asked my stage manager, who was in much better spirits than he had been earlier, if he could find me a chalkboard for the next rehearsal. He said it wouldn’t be a problem and shook my hand.

John Miller was waiting for me in the lobby.

“That seemed to be a happy cast. They thanked me for changing your mind.”

“It was not much of an adaption, I just reverted back to what I’ve used many times before. I have lost two days of rehearsal, though, so tomorrow will be quite busy. I promised to have the entire play blocked.”

“I have a feeling you’ll be using more of your new method without the cast even realizing it.”

“Probably without me even realizing it.” “Do you feel good about all of the technical aspects?”

“Very much so. Your designers are terrific; that’s one part of the production

that is ahead of schedule.”

“Tim, Jane and I want to take you out to dinner Saturday night.” “That sounds good. What’s the occasion?”

“Well, I may have some good news about your book. I recommended it to the University press and the editor told me today they liked it very much and would let me know something by the end of the week.”

“That’s great; I certainly didn’t expect a reaction this soon.” “You may have a second career as a writer, Tim.” “I’m not sure I have a first career.”

“Yes you do. Oh, do you mind if we invite Angelica? You rather charmed her.”

“Not in the least. She rather charmed me too.”

“Good, come at seven for drinks. Do you think you can find your way?” “Of course, I’ll see you then, if not before.”

I spent the rest of the evening building a prompt book from a drawing tablet

had bought on a whim in Taos. I cut the centers out of the pages and pasted in the pages of the script. It gave me plenty of room to write and draw in blocking patterns for each page to the sides. After finishing, I had a glass of brandy and thought about

the coming Saturday, my book, and Angelica. I didn’t know what I did to charm her, but she had entered my thoughts several times since meeting her. A slight distraction with a new friend could be a good thing after my past weeks of being alone, though I didn’t expect any sort of relationship to develop because she seemed much too serious about her work for that to happen.

I went to sleep with Claire’s last letter in my hands.

The next day was spent in blocking the entire play, a labor that had taken me weeks in the past. The work with Blood Wedding was more valuable than I had thought it would be, I just improvised in my mind and applied it to paper. After my previous work on Yerma, it was a true secondary visualization.

That evening I used the chalkboard the stage manager had found to describe and draw the movement for each character in every scene. We finished up with a walk­through of the first scene and I asked them to try to learn their lines for that scene. By

Friday night, we had completed the blocking for the whole play. I requested an early Saturday afternoon run-through, which went very well. The cast was showing real excitement for the production, to my great relief.

I left the theatre at five and headed back to the apartment. It was cool enough

to wear my boots and light suede jacket, I wanted to look a bit spiffy for the evening; perhaps this Anjelica lady was already slight distraction in my mind.

I was the first to arrive at John’s house. Jane greeted me with a surprising hug

and took me to their back porch, where John was setting up a bar for the drinks.

“Welcome, Tim. What’s your pleasure?” “Bourbon and soda, if possible.”

“I don’t have a soda bottle, but will good branch water do?” “Indeed it will.”

“Bourbon is my drink, too, Jane prefers gin with tonic. How was your day at the theatre?”

“Very productive. We had a good run-through, and the designers and I settled on the colors for both scenery and costumes. They have the advantage of being able to work all day as opposed to what I’m used to in community theatre.”

“Don’t downplay the professional qualities of what you did with your show there. It was as good as any I’ve seen anywhere.”

“Thank you. I noticed your art as I came through. It’s a great collection of western paintings. My mother and brother are both painters. As a matter of fact, Daniel has a show opening this week in New York.”

“I saw that in the Blood Wedding program notes. We lean towards the Indian painters here in New Mexico. We’ve been here for twenty-five years now and fell in

love long ago with the regional subjects. We’ll be going up to Santa Fe for the Indian market later this month to look for some more art; Jane has gotten into native blankets, the older the better.”

As John handed me a drink, Anjelica walked in. I had almost forgotten how eye-catching she was. She was wearing classy New Mexico garb in earth tones-a long skirt with a white peasant blouse. She looked almost like a character in Blood Wedding. Her hair was braided in two long pigtails down her back. She offered her hand, smiling.

“Good evening, Tim, or do you prefer Timothy? I think I do.” “Which ever you prefer, but it’s good to hear Timothy.” “Then Timothy it is. How have your weeks here been so far?” “Every moment a joy.”

She laughed, enjoying the word-play. When she laughed, she looked straight in my eyes as if she was on the same wavelength as I humor wise.

“I’ve had to completely change my approach to directing the play, but it’s going fairly well now.”

Chapter 12

After the run of the show had gotten underway several weeks I thought life would settle down into a slow passing of the days but it didn’t turn out that way. I worked more hours at the bookstore for extra money, spent the evenings at the theatre, wrote as much as I possibly could trying to finish the journal and decide how to turn it into a book about directing. I wasn’t seeing Marilee and Daniel as often but at least two or three times a week. I wasn’t looking forward to them leaving but did happily anticipate staying at their house. Seeing Liza was turning into a real pleasure. She was charming and fun to spend the time with that we could grab away from the theatre. She had me over to her house every week for dinner, drinks, and good conversation. We tried to stay away from discussing Claire and her husband. It was easy Developing a friendship with her that was innocent but close. After the intensity of my weeks with Claire I had no desire to even attempt anything more with Liza and I knew she felt the same way about me. Not to say I didn’t think of Claire every minute of every day and waited for her letters yearning for a phone call. I wanted to hear her voice saying to me what she wrote in the letters.

Claire’s letters were a godsend though in many ways; they seemed to ease the loneliness, and keep a continuity going in potential hopes for our being together again, even though they didn’t imply any thing of the sort. She loved her new job and was, in a way getting used to Los Angeles. She missed the intimacy of Dallas and my family, especially Marilee and Daniel. There didn’t appear to be any new women friends to replace the closeness of her relationship with Marilee. They had been writing each other but she longed for the real conversations they had had every day. I felt no distancing in her words because of the expressed passion for us. We didn’t need to write of sensual delights but caring words of emotional needs that had been so completely satisfied between us. I felt that she was even lonelier than I was because I had the theatre and all of my family. She did write of her meetings with the matchmaker, and how disorienting it was to discuss finding other men

because she was so much in love with me. Some of the letters were long descriptions of her day’s activities from morning to night and others were short notes of love written just before she went asleep. I was writing her three times a week; staying up late into the night filling pages with my love for her. Her reaction to the New Mexico directing job was that she wasn’t surprised by my ‘success’ at all because she expected something good to happen for me, but that she wished she could share it with me. My writing was what she wanted me to continue the most. She believed the education possibilities were a deserved ‘lanniappe’.

One morning my mother presented me with a notice about a package waiting for me at the post office. On my lunch break at work I picked it up. It was fairly large, heavy, and from Claire. I opened it in my car to find a very good Smith-Corona typewriter. In one of my discussions with her about my high school experience, I had mentioned taking typing in a class filled with girls. I was thrilled by the machine and surprised she had remembered it. That night I put it to work transcribing my journal and trying to change it into a book. The extravagance of this gift was I knew beyond the salary potential of her museum salary. I guessed her father’s success was a satisfactory explanation but I was sure he didn’t know what she was spending her ‘allowance’ on. My fear was that he would find out about her ‘boyfriend’ in Texas and the complications and the problems it could cause for her.

Some how Barney had gotten wind of my New Mexico offer. He called me at work wanting a meeting with me to talk about it. I sensed a fear in him that I was going to desert the theatre and not take the Artistic Director’s position. I had held off telling him until I was sure about my going to New Mexico. We met in his office and he was very nervous about my reaction to having any important conversation with him after the episode at his apartment especially since I had steered clear of any closed-door meetings. He started off with a hope that we could still collaborate closely and he again apologized for his actions that night. I assured him that everything was fine and that I had almost forgotten about it equating it to a drunken error in judgment on his part. He said the money should be available for my position at the end of the Summer or early Fall and what were my plans concerning New Mexico. I minced no words in stating my planned commitment to direct Yerma in Albuquerque and that it would be completed in September. He seemed relieved by my being available when the money was there. I didn’t mention the scholarship or book because one wasn’t offered yet and the other could be done no matter where I was. He thought it would be important for me to sign a letter of intent about the position because the patrons pledging the endowment needed to feel secure about my willingness to stay at the theatre. My answer was they should trust my future decisions and no matter what happened, the endowment would be good for the theatre and I wouldn’t sign any thing until the money was there. I knew Those potential grantors were aware my family was here and that I felt a deep commitment to the success of the theatre. I thought I would return to Dallas even if the New Mexico experience lasted several years. The idea of coming back a couple times a year to direct was certainly a possibility though I didn’t believe Barney needed to hear that. The meeting ended with Barney being fairly secure with me, but disappointed he would have to find a director for the second Summer production. There was no doubt it would take awhile for our relationship to get back to where it was before.

As the regular run of Blood Wedding ended and the extended run started I moved to Marilee’s house borrowing Dad’s station wagon to carry my things. I had spent the evening before with Daniel and Marilee getting all of the house and swimming pool instructions, keys, fuse box location, and having a fine dinner with them. We discussed their Taos and New York plans and Marilee told she had received a long sad letter from Claire. It seemed the matchmaker situation was getting more serious in that she was having to meet men to see if they approved of each other. She hadn’t told me about this, I was sure she didn’t want to hurt me. It was not something I wanted to hear but Marilee wanted me to know what Claire was going through. Actually I wasn’t too surprised because I knew it was coming, but that didn’t ease my pain for her. Marilee insisted this wasn’t the end and to not give up hope.

“I shan’t do that, but it’s getting difficult to keep it up.”

“Tim, old pal and brother, you know the stay here and New Mexico will hopefully give you a new outlook and possibly some opportunities ‘lady-wise.’”

“I’m not sure I’m ready for those kinds of opportunities yet.”

“That’s right now, and you will be ready eventually, I ‘gar-ran-tee’.”

“If you’re that sure, you may be right, Dan.”

“He is right, Timmy. And Claire is not married to anyone yet. Actually your life is rather exciting now. Don’t you think?”

“Yes, it is, there’s a big minus, but it’s really pretty good. Having a friend like Liza helps.”

“I know, for a fact, she feels the same way. You two have helped each other when the need was high.” Marilee added.

I left them knowing I would see them in the morning before they left.

When I drove up they were finishing the loading of their Chrysler wood flanked wagon. Dan stopped to help me as Marilee finished her part of the work.

“How far are you planning to go today?” I asked Daniel.

“We’re in no real hurry. Since we’re taking the highway to Sweetwater then Abilene and Lubbock, I think we’ll be lucky to get to Sweetwater.”

“Are you going through Clovis or up to Amarillo?”

“Clovis, we both think it’s a prettier drive from there up to Santa Fe. We’ve agreed on skipping Albuquerque.”

“Well, I’m right behind you, in a few weeks.”

“You better be, Brother, it’ll be good to have at least a week together in Taos.”

“I’m taking my car over to Uncle Willy’s later this afternoon then dinner at their house. I have no idea what he’s going to do to it, but he wants to change it into something more so, as he says.”

“We saw them a couple of nights ago. Rose looks great and is starting to show. Uncle is already beginning to act like a proud father. You know, I don’t believe we could have asked for a sweeter family.”

“Did you have a chance to see Mom and Dad.?”

“Yes, last weekend. We spent Sunday afternoon with them. Mom is painting some fine canvases. Dad being a finalist in that New York chair design contest has really lifted his spirits.”

“It sure has, he kind of floats around the house on a cloud.”

When Daniel and I finished with my heavy stuff, which was just four boxes, they were ready to leave. We hugged, kissed and Marilee handed me an envelope.

“Open this after we leave, Timmy. It should help now and then get you to Taos.”

As they drove out the gate, I waved and then opened the envelope. It contained fifteen hundred dollars. I had never held that much money in my hands before. There was a note in it that said she had hit a new well in Oklahoma last week and she wanted to share the profits with the family. This was the first payment of hopefully many. Marilee’s giving never seemed to stop. Later that day Uncle Willy told me about his gift from Marilee. His was twice what mine was, as it should be.

Not long after Uncle drove me back home in the early evening Liza knocked at the door.

I had forgotten that I had invited her over for an evening swim. She hadn’t said that she would so it was a happy surprise. We went out to the pool patio and I mixed us drinks. I wasn’t worried about the lateness because I had Monday off to get settled into the new living arrangements. We talked for a while then she went into the cabana to change into the bathing suit she had brought with her. When she came out shortly in a two piece, I was astonished by her beauty. She had a figure like one of the paintings of women in Esquire magazine.

Liza laughed, “You’re staring, Tim.”

“Sorry, didn’t realize you were so...well statuesque.”

“Thank you, I think.”

I went to change still taken aback by Liza. I wasn’t having erotic thoughts about her, they were admiration of feminine beauty. She was in the water as I walked out.

“Well, look at you, handsome man. You’re pretty statuesque yourself.” “I think ‘squatty’ would be a better description.” She laughed her uninhibited laughter, which was always an unexpected surprise from such a classy lady.

I fixed us another drink and set them beside the pool. I eased into the delightfully warm water. It was a cool Spring evening so a light steam was rising from the water.

“Marilee told me about the pool heater and I’ve wanted to try it ever since. I love it.”

“I do too, but when the real summer hits it goes off. Now it’s as relaxing as one could hope for after a long day and the drinks aren’t bad either.”

“Did you get moved in completely?”

“I think so, I’m sure I forgot something, but nothing essential. How was your day? I was surprised you decided to come over.”

“It was terrible. I got a letter today that didn’t help. My husband says he’s working hard but enjoying the life there. He goes into town twice a week and says the nightlife there is great. Exotic, different, but exciting. That was good to hear. Another year of exotic, different, and exciting.” “Try not to make too much out of it. He’s probably leading a very pure life.”

“Perhaps, but...Humm. I don’t know. My life here certainly isn’t exotic, different, and exciting. Well that’s not completely true; our friendship is different and sometimes kind of exciting; and of course the play.”

“Tim Sart, different and sometimes kind of exciting. I was hoping to be a bit exotic, but then this is Dallas.” I said in an almost silly way.

“Tim, don’t be silly. You’re an exciting man all the time. I meant that I’m not used to having a good close relationship with a man that I’m not...uh...involved with.”

“I’ll accept that. My involvements have been limited. Claire is by far the most involved I’ve ever been.”

“Before Blood Wedding you were thought of as kind of a loner except for that fiery actress last year.”

“That experience turned me into a loner.”

“I know you miss Claire desperately, but you can’t let that keep you from enjoying all of the good things that are happening for you. You’re a very special man who shouldn’t be alone or without a loving relationship. Don’t get bitter or resentful over the loss of Claire. The letters you’re exchanging cannot replace real life. So, how is she doing? “She seems to be handling it fairly well. She does love me, but knows there’s little hope for us with the plans her family has made for her. The matchmaker situation is getting more serious and it’s hard for her, but has accepted that it is to be her life. I certainly don’t beg her to come back because I know it would make it harder on her. I do assure her of my feelings and that they will continue, but the whole thing about the Jewish tradition is incomprehensible. At this point, I think it’s cruel and almost primitive in the modern world. But I guess there are worse traditions though they haven’t affected me like this one has. One would hope that her parents could accept our love, but that is evidently not to be.”

“Well, that sure does answer my question. I’ve been experiencing a year and a half of letter love, so I know it’s hard. In no way does it replace the real thing. I miss my husband but in a different way than I did for the first year. He’s far away and the letters are few. I’m more than lonely...I want...well, I think you understand.”

“Uh...yes, I do.”

“Tim, it’s time for me to go home. Will you walk me to my car?” I nodded and we both climbed out. She came to me.

“I’m sorry, Tim. I don’t want to spook you, this is such a sweet thing between us.”

I laughed and said, “Come here, girl, you don’t spook me.” I hugged her and kissed her forehead. Barefooted we were exactly the same height, a different encounter. I walked her to the car.

“Thank you, Tim, for being...you.” And she was gone.

I went up stairs to my new quarters. I had decided not to sleep in the main bedroom but the one that Claire had slept in and the first place we had made love. I yearned for Claire as if she had left yesterday. Before sleeping I wondered about the evening with Liza. Now I wasn’t quite sure what she had meant about wanting. She was an extremely attractive woman, but only a friend...a pal. I didn’t believe she was attracted to me in any sort of sexual way, but there was...well, in another life.

I spent Monday arranging the room and getting used to the house. I hung Claire’s drawings in my bedroom and put out the pictures of her. I cooked and wrote. The new typewriter had proved to be a great help. I could also make carbon copies of everything I did. I went swimming in the afternoon and grilled a steak for dinner. I called home to see if there was any mail for me, there was. I drove the Packard for the first time to pick up the letter. Mom and Dad said they missed me and Jeordie had moved into my apartment. After I knew I was going to New Mexico he persuaded me to let him use it. When I got back to Marilee’s I went to the den and opened the letter. It was tear soaked with loneliness for me. The matchmaker had found several men who the family had approved of. It was moving too fast for me and Claire to deal with. I couldn’t believe they were so desperate for her to get married, perhaps they were afraid of the openness of America and it was a way of protecting her from it. It sure appeared to be making her miserable, but maybe she wasn’t revealing that to them, just being the dutiful daughter. The image came to me that it was like watching someone you love being sold into slavery. Also it could be that it wasn’t going to be so bad for her. The man who would be chosen could turn out to be a good person and loving enough to help her forget about me. It would take someone awfully powerful to get me to forget about her.

The run of the show had been extended for three weeks and it looked like three more could be added. This meant I needed to be at the theatre for almost every performance. I was amazed at how many of the ticket holders wanted to talk to me after wards. Having the cast come out to join the audience after curtain had become very popular; every evening became a celebration. Barney even made a profit on the ‘free’ wine. Eddy enjoyed it so much that he played in the lobby or out on the second floor patio. People started coming who hadn’t seen the play that night. They wanted to enjoy it’s success and be with the cast again. Word of mouth had given us the most successful production in the theatre’s history. I had slowly become acclimated to being a favorite of the patrons and each evening’s audience. My shyness was being worn away. The most asked question; ’was I going to stay with the theatre and what had I come up with to follow Blood Wedding?’. There was no real answer to either one so I got very good at just talking about the continuity of the theatre with donations and that there were many plays I was interested in, especially musicals like The Three Penny Opera. Several patrons had heard about my desire to do a Somerset Maugham play and they were excited about the prospect of a stage adaptation of Rain, which was one of my favorite stories of his, but a stage version would be difficult. I still leaned toward The Constant Wife. All of this was more just theatre talk than a reality of my future, which was very much up in the air.

After receiving the copy of Yerma I started to work on it immediately. It was a terrific Lorca and with the right cast it could be an exciting directing project. Dr. Miller had written saying he thought I could cast the play to my complete satisfaction, but that really didn’t make much difference because I was going to do it and try out the methods I had used with Blood Wedding.

One of the most difficult encounters was with my boss at the book store but he was very supportive and thought the New Mexico adventure would be the start of a good theatre career. He was disappointed I was leaving the store but he knew it was coming because I had hinted at the possibility of a permanent position at the theatre. He surprised me with the offer of two weeks pay without working before I went to Taos. That was a month away so I would have two weeks free before leaving. Other than loneliness, things were going great and fast.

I decided to use the house every weekend as a cast party location. The actors and crew brought their own drinks and the ladies prepared a big buffet on two Sunday afternoons. Actually Marilee had suggested it before she left and though I had doubts but it turned into an ongoing reward for the cast. The neighbors didn’t even complain about two late night swimming parties.

In the third week of June I received a letter from Claire saying the matchmaker had found a potential husband for her that the parents approved of. It was more than a sad letter; it was desperate and fearful. He was a very wealthy man in his thirties in the film industry. Tall, dark, and he gave her that look that Claire had mentioned; ‘what a strange young woman look’. She did not approve but felt it could have been worse and there was going to be a six to nine month get acquainted period. The letter was a shock and all hope seemed to disappear but Claire insisted that we stay in touch because anything could happen. Of course, I wanted to keep writing her and hearing from her, but the idea of hearing descriptions of the developing relationship was not something I wanted to get into. If anything, the new event helped her to realize how good it was between us, but to no avail. My sadness at her leaving was nothing to what I felt after reading the letter. I had believed that her family would change their minds and let us be together, but now that hope was smashed and I spent two days alone. I wasn’t able to write and didn’t go to the theatre. I sat around the pool, sometimes crying, sometimes drinking too much. I was leaving for Taos in a week and a half so my work at the bookstore was finished.

Friday afternoon the week before the show was to close Liza called me to ask where I had been and what was going on. I told her I had received a letter from Claire that closed off all of my hope for us to reunite. I didn’t give any real details but Liza understood without my telling. She said she also had received a letter also that had deeply disturbed her. A strange quirk of fate for both of us. Liza insisted that I come to the show and afterwards go to a Blues joint in Deep Ellum. Some people were playing that she had heard before and that it would be good for both of us. I told her I would pick her up before the show in time for make-up and pre-show preparations. Uncle Willy hadn’t finished my car so I was still driving the Packard. It was a small consolation for how I felt. I decided to put the top down which, always pleased Liza. Her mood was obviously down from the usual open attempt to enjoy life even though it had become more difficult for her to accept her husband’s contract decision.

The show was very good having improved enormously since it’s opening. The audience was receptive during and afterwards. We finally got away and headed downtown. On the weekends Deep Ellum was lively and a bit scary though exciting. The joint was small and crowded but the music was terrific. It was a happy mixed group of whites and Negroes. Before we left Liza talked to the musicians and we left for Marilee’s because Liza didn’t want to go home yet, which was certainly alright with me. I didn’t look forward to another evening alone. We went outside and decided on brandy.

“So, tell me Tim about your letter and I’ll tell you about mine.” I related the whole matchmaker thing and the found match, and Claire’s sadness but acceptance of her fate. Then Liza started her story.

“I think he must have written the letter while he was drunk or he wouldn’t say what he did. It was more of a confession than a communication. He admitted to not being innocent or faithful, that the temptations were more than he could resist, but that he still loved me and would be home in a year. He also said he would understand if I wasn’t completely innocent, but don’t forget about him. That was it. It was short and a mess. It was probably written a month ago. I wasn’t necessarily surprised but I sure didn’t want to hear it. Well, Tim, it looks like we’re both in love limbo.”

“Damn,...yeah, ’love limbo.”

“Strange coincidence, no?”

“Would like some more brandy?’

“Yes, I think so. But wait. When I went up to talk to the musicians tonight. The guitarist handed me something in secret. He said to try it, it would make me smile.”

She opened up her purse and pulled out what looked like a cowboy rolled cigarette.

“What’s that?’

“Marijuana. It scares me but maybe it would make both of us smile. Do you want to try it?”

“Isn’t it addictive...and illegal? It scares me too.”

“I don’t really know anything about it, but I doubt if one cigarette is addictive, and it’s safe here.”

“Well, what the hell. It’s that kind of evening, let’s make it a long one. First I’ll go in and put one some music and have a bit more Villa Lobos.” Marilee had installed speakers that worked off of the record player in the den. I put on a stack of jazz records and set the volume. And got some matches for candles and the coming smoking experience.

Our next snifter got our nerve up enough to light the marijuana. We got close and lighted it. I started coughing but it stopped quickly as if my lungs were getting used to the smoke. Before we finished it, I began to feel light-headed. We finished it and laid back to listen to the music and enjoy the brandy. All of a sudden, I sat up and began to laugh uncontrollably at nothing, and then Liza also began laughing even louder. The laughing passed, we looked at each and giggled for several minutes, the music seemed to be all around us and the brandy tasted better than it ever had.

“Making us smile is kind of an understatement. My face hurts from laughing and smiling.”

“Me, too, Tim. My God, the music, it’s beautiful.” We both laid back and my mind raced. Every love making experience in my life came back to me, especially with Claire. Then the play...and the music at the joint mixed with the records playing. It was not at all like being drunk, no dulling of the mind but a brightening of sensations. Some of the dreamlike thoughts were almost frightening in their clarity of emotion. Liza stood up and began to dance to the jazz. Her movements were the most overtly sensual I had ever seen. I was sure she had never moved like that before. Watching her was hypnotic and arousing. She had let her hair down and was swaying with her arms out and up. I had the vision of taking her down on the patio and making strong passionate love to her right there.

“Come here, Tim, and dance with me.” I did And then we were kissing and moving slowly.

“Tim, take me up stairs, right this minute and make love with me...no wait a minute; let’s take a quick cleansing dip in the pool. I want to feel the warm water all over me.”

I didn’t know if I could wait until we got upstairs. Liza took off her clothes, dropping them where she stood. She looked at me and smiled.

“You are one powerfully good looking woman, Miss Liza.” She laughed and jumped in the water. I couldn’t get my clothes off quickly enough to go in the water. She rolled around, splashed, and went under to come up in front of me. I put my arms around her as she gathered in close. We kissed as her breasts rubbed my chest. She reached down to take my erection in her hand.

“You are one ready man. Touch me, Tim.” I gently rubbed her breasts and went down to her soft abundant hair and moved my finger slowly into her.

“Dear God, that feels good, rub me more, yes there.” She stroked me to almost a climax but then stopped, “let’s go up, now.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes, the water is nice, but I want to lie down with you.”

“Fine, I’ll get us some towels.”

She waited for me then rose up the steps into the towel. I had wrapped one around me because of rather astoundingly aroused condition. We grabbed up our clothes and the bottle of brandy stopping only to put on more music. In my room I pulled down the covers, turned out the lights, and lighted two candles. She dropped her towel and came to me, we were eye to eye. The music overtook us as we moved to it. We danced onto the bed wrapped in our arms. She reached up behind my head pulling me into a writhing kiss. My erection was between her legs and she moved back and forth. I ran my hand to the small of her back and to her bottom as we moved together.

“Make love to me, Tim. Be inside me.” She laid out ready for me as I raised above her on my hands and arms. I looked at Liza, she was smiling with an extraordinary expression of sensuality. In the candlelight she was a handsome mature woman. She took me in hand guiding me into her. I stopped looking down at her then lowered and kissed her as I entered her completely. She wrapped her legs around me, moving with growing passion.

“Oh, that’s so good, please don’t stop?” But I did realizing that I taken no protection and pulled out of her.

“No, Tim, no, please...!”

“Just a moment, Liza.” As I rolled over to get a prophylactic.

“Oh, yes. I hadn’t even realized, hurry. Here, let me put it on you.” Before she did though she bent down and put me in her mouth.

“Liza, that’s too good.”

“Oh, my, yes it is.” She laid back after pulling down the prophylactic on me. This time I moved to kiss her breasts and worked down to her wetness. I kissed her lower lips and spread them moving my tongue into and up her there.

“That’s amazing, Tim I’m going to cum if you don’t stop. I want you inside me.” I had never heard a woman say that before.

“I will be.” I put my finger inside her and sucked on her rising little nub. She started laughing and moving her hips then shaking and pulling my head to her.

“Now, Tim, be inside me.” As she pulled my head up to her face to kiss me and put me inside her, her climax didn’t stop and I had my first of three that night.

I awoke the next morning very late to see Liza still sleeping beside me. My dreams had been wild with both women of the last weeks mixed in. Claire was laughing taking my hand to walk me down to the boat. We paddled onto Turtle Creek which became a lake. She leaned to me for a kiss then said she loved me and always would. The lake turned into the river with jungle on both sides from the Tarzan movie. Claire started crying and we were in our hotel room. In sobs she said she didn’t want to ever leave me. She guided my hand down to her bulging stomach from pregnancy. The music from the play by Eddy was in my head as she disappeared and I was sitting in the theatre watching the play as the only person in the audience. The wife ran out to tell of Leonardo’s leaving with the Bride. Liza walked off the stage in performance to come sit down beside me. She handed me a snifter of Spanish brandy and said, “What now, Tim?” I wasn’t able to speak, to form words, no sound. The play was happening but in silence as a dance interpretation in Flamenco style. Liza was only partially covered and I hazily admired her form. Her long Chestnut brown hair was spread out around her. She was smiling as from a dream. I thought of my teen years of innocent encounters with girls. Kissing after the senior dance fearing to try anything else. I remembered touching one girl’s breast and she never spoke to me again. Clumsy and confusing sexual adventures after high school and two lengthy relationships that held no love or real commitment. Falling so deeply in love with Claire, and loving her still though she was gone...gone. Two very different women. Liza stirred beginning to awaken. Last night had been something I had never expected or yearned for, but it happened in a raging passion overtaking both of us. I realized I loved Liza but wasn’t in love with her. A friendship had changed into something that I was sure neither one of us understood.

Liza’s eyes opened and looked at me, “Tim.” It wasn’t a question, more like a recognition that she was here beside me after a night of something very new for both of us.

“Good very late morning, Liza.”

“What time is it?”

“Almost noon.”

“I think I could sleep several more hours. How are you?

“I’m fine...I think.

“Have you been awake long?”

“No...maybe twenty minutes or so, lying here thinking and looking at you.”

“Were you thinking about last night?”

“Some, but I don’t really know what to think about it except that it was...uh...a vivid evening of...”

“Yes, it surely was a vivid evening. I didn’t expect anything like that to happen.”

“Nor did I...but...It...”

“Did happen. Boy, it sure did happen. Do you believe the drug made it happen?”

“Probably about ninety percent of the reason. And we both felt a real sense of rejection by people we love, and we needed love.”

“Sounds like a thirty, thirty, thirty to me; all true.”

“All true.”

“Tim, I don’t want to stop talking but I really need to go to the bathroom and take a quick shower. I feel sticky, good sticky, but sticky. What are the chances of you making us some coffee and bringing it up? I’ll make it up to you by cooking a great breakfast.”

“That’s a deal. I don’t want to stop talking either. Our friendship has taken a new turn that certainly needs discussion.”

She got up without the shyness of Claire. She turned to me and said, “Do I look alright in the light of day?”

“Rather! Real alright.” She looked like a movie star.

I asked her to hand me my robe and I went downstairs to make a pot of coffee. After my own urgent bathroom use, I found the special Colombian beans Marilee kept in the refrigerator.

Liza was sitting up in bed covered by the sheet. I poured us each a cup and joined her in bed dropping my robe.

“My God, this is good coffee. Thank you.”

“You’re most welcome. Have you been thinking about last night?”

“Yes, but not in any negative manner. I think I’m still tingling a bit from the experience. I didn’t think I was capable of being that uninhibited with anyone else beside my husband, or perhaps anyone. We really made love, my whole body was shaking when I went to sleep.”

“When I fell asleep it felt like we were still making love. That drug was too much. Out on the patio when you were dancing I wanted you with a disorienting desire or lust. It was exciting but not real until we were actually making love. And, my word that was real.”

“It had been a very long time for me; I had an awful lot of need stored up. After my husband’s admission of infidelity, whether serious or not, it hit very hard. Now, the only guilt I may feel has to do with your feelings about Claire. I know it was a serious and loving relationship, but she should have told you that she wasn’t just leaving but about her family and the traditions involved when she realized she was in love with you and that it was to end no matter how strong the love between you.” “Strangely enough I haven’t thought of it in that way. I don’t feel any bitterness towards her or that a betrayal happened. Our love was and is real, but it took us by surprise, especially her. I’ve thought several times that I should go out there and bring her back, but I don’t have the means or the surety that she would leave with me. If it was to happen that we ever got together again, it must be her move, a break away. I’ll not give up complete hope until she’s married. I don’t believe I feel guilt about last night, I’m not going to live like a monk who suffers. I believe you and I love each other, but we’re not in love.

I understand how you feel, even though I don’t agree completely with your reaction to Claire’s leaving. But it doesn’t really matter, and yes we do love each other.”

“What now? Or is that a proper question?”

“Well, I know I don’t want to stop being close to you. But without the drug.”

“That’s for sure. There were things about it that were fun or exciting but if we have to have it to feel passion it’s not worth it.”

“Quite honestly I’m looking forward to making love with you again without it. It was overwhelming and too much, I almost thought I was going to have a heart attack having so many climaxes.” I laughed and poured us some more coffee.

“Do you think you will ever want me again, Tim?”

“Do you have plans after the show tonight?” Liza laughed her head thrown back big laugh, “No, I didn’t, but I do now.”

“People around the theatre accept us being pals, but discretion is important for your sake.”

“I don’t believe it will be any problem at all. If my husband didn’t come back at all and Claire got married, well who knows what could happen. Tim, I’ve had a crush on you for several weeks, you must have known it.”

“You have? I thought it just me on you. Wow, what a relief, a mutual crush. How about that breakfast you promised?”

Liza fixed two Spanish omelets, bacon, and even biscuits. We laughed about having crushes on each other knowing they were innocent until last night. The hardest subject we discussed was how honest we needed to be, knowing what ever our relationship was it must remain a friendship primarily. It was hard to rationalize two lonely people enjoying an semi-illicit union that would end if there were any possibility of our getting back with the people we were truly in love with, but we decided that no matter what happened we would remain friends, and no one needed to know about us especially Claire or her husband. They had made their choices an we ours; albeit influenced by what we had smoked. We knew it wouldn’t have happened if we hadn’t been attracted to each other, it just erased whatever inhibitions we had about making love. It was a new situation for both of us, without any deep discussion of the morals involved.

We went for an afternoon swim and sat on the patio and talked about the show and the cast. I said the closeness they had achieved made me envious of pulling back and not being there with them all the time, but I knew that a director had to separate himself and let them play the piece without my constant presence. Liza said it wouldn’t have mattered if I had been there all the time because they loved my being close and never felt I was interfering but a member of the ensemble. She suggested that I spend the last week back stage with them and watch from the wings. I liked the idea and agreed. We also laughed about being together after the show and we both felt almost shy about it.

I took her to her house with plenty of time for her get ready and arrive at the theatre early. I went by the house to visit the parents and have dinner. They were glad to see me in a much better mood, but I didn’t tell them why or about Claire’s last letter. I explained it as becoming more accepting of her having left and looking forward to Taos and directing in Albuquerque. I didn’t and wouldn’t mention Liza because their progressive tolerance would be strained if they knew I was having a relationship with a married woman, no matter what the situation. They had gotten a letter from Daniel telling them he was painting up a storm and almost ready for New York. Jeordie showed me his latest photography and Dad his drawings for some new furniture designs. Mom was attempting a style of painting, for her, called ‘Triompe L`Oeil’, which was hyper realistic. She explained it meant ‘to fool the eye.’ Her first one had been a collection of objects that became a portrait of her without the human image. I liked it very much and encouraged her to continue it in all kinds of ways.

“I’m going to if my eyes hold up, Timmy.” Hearing ‘Timmy’ was a sudden flash back to Claire.

Mom fixed me a meatloaf sandwich, I ate it out in her studio and watched her paint. Dad came out asking about my trip to Taos. He had talked to Uncle Willy who said my car would be ready this weekend. It had taken him two weeks longer to fix than he thought it would. Dad was as anxious to see the results as I was. He asked the rare question of did I need any money which I refused. My savings plus the gift from Marilee should last me for six months; and I was being paid for the directing job in Albuquerque.

The theatre was buzzing backstage when I arrived. Ginger hugged me and said, “Welcome home stranger!”

“Do you mind if I stay backstage during the performance?”

“Now that’s the silliest question I’ve ever heard, I believe the cast would be thrilled to have you with them. This has been quite an experience for all of us, Tim; and it’s all because of you. “

“Thank you, but it’s been your show for several weeks.”

“Anything I’ve said had been from your notes, or our discussions. How is your journal to book coming?”

“Slowly but surely; it’s a hard transition but it’s beginning to come together. I don’t know how long it’s going to take, several months at least. I certainly want you to see the first draft if possible.”

“I hope I can because I feel I was there when it happened. I really believe you developed a style that can be an influence on other directors. If you do get published there’s no doubt in my mind that variations of your work will be used.” I went into the dressing and their were greetings all around, welcoming ones.

“Are you going to be with us tonight? Please do.” Asked the actress playing the Bride, backed up by ‘Leonardo.’

“Yes, I’ll be here tonight and the rest of the performances, if you don’t mind.”

“El Audaz, where have you been?” the old actor quested from across the room at his mirror.

“Not here, sadly enough. How are ya’ll doin’?”

Several cheered our, “We don’t want it to end, Tim. Let’s go on the road.

I laughed at that and found Liza. She stood up and hugged me with a kiss on each cheek. “Hey there, Tim Sart, you made it.”

I had almost forgotten how exciting being in the dressing room of a successful show could be. I waved and left them to go up on stage. It was an hour before curtain and the house was closed. The stage hands were getting the set ready and making any repairs needed to Dad’s pop-up set. It had worked better than we both had hoped and still looked good in the colors Daniel and Mom had come up with. I took a chair from the Bridegroom’s home platform and sat down looking out into the house. A thousand memories began to rush through my mind. I remembered the first play I had directed here five years ago and how innocent I had been. It had gone fairly well but many times in that instance and some to follow, I had no idea how to solve many of the scenic problems. When blocking was obviously wrong I didn’t know what to say to the cast or how to fix it. At night I would move the toy soldiers around on a floor plan until there seemed to be an answer. After one long night of struggling with stage movement, at breakfast Mom had said that theatre was a sequence of living pictures and the problem was making a play flow smoothly from picture to picture. That was a painter’s viewpoint and I had to create the flow. Sometimes after a rehearsal I would stay late and walk through the play by myself, and I began to understand blocking a play. As I began to tackle more serious theatre, characterization interpretation became the new challenge, but constant study helped me garner some expertise. Some evenings after rehearsal I was almost too scared to come back the next night for fear of failure, but I did, over and over. For those first years I deeply regretted not having the opportunity to go to a fine school and work with quality directors and teachers. And I still felt like an innocent in many ways, but Blood Wedding was a turning point in my thinking; now I wanted to take on the biggest challenges and write about it. My God, Blood Wedding and my life. The first meeting with Eddy had changed so many possibilities for success; and Aurora’s joining the company in collaboration with him had turned the dance and music into a driving force. Looking out into the house I remembered looking out from my work on stage and seeing Claire drawing, looking at me, and smiling with love. The evenings spent with her going over her drawings and gaining new insights into the play. I wanted to relive every moment and yet I also wanted to be right where I was. I put the chair back on the platform and walked out into the lobby to look at Claire’s art work. They were beautiful and touching, they were the play. Barney came out of his office to join me.

“I look at them every night, Tim. We all miss her. In a way she was a spirit of the play; an ephemeral presence like the play itself.”

“Too ephemeral, Barney.”

“Come have a glass of wine with me before the audience arrives. Did you know that we’ve had a waiting list every night for the last two weeks. We’re now setting up chairs behind the back row.”

’My word, I hadn’t heard that. A hard act to follow.”

“I have complete confidence that you could.”

“Well, it’s not to be, for now anyway. I’ll be back, Barney. Dallas is still my home.”

“Me and the patrons are counting on it.” We sat in his office for the glass of wine.

“I have a surprise for you; the board of supporters has arranged a generous bonus for you. I’ll present it to you on stage after the last performance. A real celebration is being planned, are you alright with that?”

“Yes, I suppose so. I do plan to be here every night this week.”

“Tim, this production has been an incredibly good experience, and you are the reason for it. You have proved that you are a fine theatre artist. I’m aware there were some bad moments...”

I held up my hand as gesture not to get into it. “It’s all been good for me, except for things we will not discuss, ever.”

“You’re right, forgive me.”

“I do, within reason.”

He laughed at that and we stood to go out and face the evening.

Watching the play from the wings proved to be a new feeling of closeness with the cast. As they came off stage they would touch me or pat me on the back. Liza came off once right into my arms with a big kiss. So much for being discreet. When the curtain was raised for their bows, the old actor came over and pulled me onstage. The audience was standing. I bowed with them as tears began to flow out of my eyes. Never had I ever experienced that emotion before, that the audience was applauding the play, the cast, and me. When the curtain closed after two curtain calls the cast gathered around me with their own tears and demands that I be with them for the rest of the performances. I smiled, laughed, and nodded my agreement to be with them.

The audience and cast spent an hour together in the lobby and overflowed onto the patio upstairs. I stepped into my duties as fundraiser very successfully with some very good pledges of financial support. There was a photographers there from the society pages of both papers. I must have shaken a hundred hands and was almost blinded by the flashes of the cameras. Before leaving I signaled Liza, she mouthed, ‘I’m right behind you.’

I was standing at the door when she drove up. We went into the den and I mixed us two healthy bourbons with soda. We eased back on the big soft sofa and talked about the evening.

Liza leaned over and put her head on my shoulder.

“Tim, tonight was the best show we’ve done and I believe the cast did it for you.”

“No, you did it for the audience.”

“Of course that, but your being there made it more of a special evening. Having you in the wings was an inspiration.”

“It was for me, too. It’s still hard to believe how well the show has been received. I really felt a part of it tonight, not that usual separation being out in the house watching. That whole curtain call thing was a bit more emotional than I was ready for, but it was great. The after show gathering was a strange encounter, and it helped the theatre. I wonder if the papers are going to make a big to-do out of it; they took enough photos for a whole edition.”

“I hope it will be real big, with you splattered all over it.” We laughed at that and had another drink.

“Tim, let’s go upstairs. I want to hold you in a more intimate way than this.” Liza took a quick shower as I pulled the bed covers back and lighted candles and turned off all the lights. She came out drying her hair with a towel. She sat down in front of me on the bed and leaned in to kiss me. I ran my hands through her wet hair pulling her closer and stroked her breasts. Her clean smell was incredibly arousing and her kissing was gently passionate. I reached down between her spread legs and she took my erection in her hand squeezing me softly as I explored her welcoming wetness.

She scooted closer so we were almost touching. The intensity of the kisses grew as we both were close to having climaxes together. It was a new way of making love for me and perhaps her.

“Liza, I’m going to climax any second now, perhaps we should...”

She put her hand over my mouth and moved down to put me in her mouth. The sensation so good that I held her head as she moved up and down on me. I suddenly was climaxing and she didn’t stop. I was moaning loudly as my orgasm seemed to not end. I leaned back as she came off of me and moved up my body rubbing her mouth off on my stomach, then straddled me, guiding me into her. I touched her and pushed up into her.

“Tim, don’t stop touching me...Yes, there,...Oh! I’m cumming.” She leaned back taking my hands and putting them on her breasts, holding them to her.

“I don’t want to stop, Tim.”

Nor did I. I put my hands on her hip and pulled her body up over mine and buried my mouth and tongue into her. She had her hands up leaning on the wall behind the bed as I was able to get my arm under her and move my finger into her.

“Oh, my God, Tim...I’m cumming again...OH! Please...” She moved onto my mouth closer and began shaking and crying out in passion. As she eased down I kissed her stomach suckling her breasts.

“Bite my nipples a little bit.”

Soon she was laying beside me cooing with her head on my shoulder.

“This was better than last night and I hope we haven’t finished.”

“I don’t even remember last night, Liza, after tonight.”

“I thought I was an experienced married lady but he never kissed me down there. I didn’t even think about it ever happening, making regular love was always good, but the way you do that to me...well it has taking love making to another level. When did you learn to do that?”

“Actually not very long ago; a special lady taught me. I had always been shy about making love at all. She decided that I needed to learn how to please a woman and not be reticent about being the most intimate with someone I cared for. She knew I wouldn’t make love to anyone unless I cared for them so I should be as close as possible when I did make love.” Well, I thank who ever she is. Were you in love with her?”

“No, I don’t think so, but it was a strong mutual attraction.”

“Kind of like us?”

“Yes, but different. At the very least we have a strong mutual attraction. I think it’s much more for us. Don’t you agree?”

“I most certainly do. I feel we love each other but know we can’t fall in love. There’s almost a sadness in it but I like what we have and I want it to grow without the pressure of an entangling commitment. Do you feel that way?”

“Yes, I do, Liza. I like it and I damned sure don’t want it to stop. I believe we are very good for each other, without any qualms or doubts.”

“You said that very nicely, sir; you make a lady feel wanted and secure.” “Hey, I know it’s late, but how would you like to grab a couple of towels go downstairs and go skinny-dipping with a snifter of Spanish brandy?” “Indeed I would. I’m not sleepy at all. Let’s go.” We both jumped up, got the towels; I also took a prophylactic not knowing what would occur when the warm water did its work on us.

I went to the cabana cabinet to pour the brandy. Liza almost pranced over to me reaching for her glass. Her bouncing movement was sensual and cute. She was beginning to be happy again in a way that was endearing and sweet.

We eased into the water sinking down to our necks.

“Ooo...yes, this what I needed.

We let the water relax us as we talked softly about the evening and past week. Her appearance in the moonlight made me extremely glad she had stepped into my life after the lonely weeks. I turned to face her just looking at her leonine features in the dark. We kissed as she wrapped her legs around me.

“Make love to me like this, Tim, please.” I reached up for the protection and rolled it on me. She put me inside her as we moved slowly. I stopped and told her to sit on the side of the pool. She climbed up and faced me with her legs spread as I tasted her surprisingly sweet wetness, Leaning back on her hands with legs wrapped around my head she had a soft climax then slipped back into the pool. We made love in the water for a few minutes before I climbed out and helped her out over to the lounge. We loved holding close then rolled over on our sides and dozed a bit before going upstairs and falling asleep, my arm around her, her head on my shoulder.

The next morning we woke up smiling and took a shower where I discovered that because of her height we could make love standing up. She fixed another spectacular breakfast with eggs, Canadian bacon, and a hollandaise sauce. She left at noon with a kiss saying she would call me Monday.

At one o’clock Uncle Willy called saying he would be by to get me in my car at four. I was having dinner at their house. I went up to the study next to my bedroom where I had set up my typewriter and worked on directing notes for two hours. I took a walk down to the creek and sat in the boat thinking of Claire and all the things that had transpired since she had left. I wondered how she was dealing with the match her family had approved of. Did she enjoy her job at the museum and had she made any friends? Even with the semi-involvement with Liza I missed her. I wanted to talk to her about New Mexico and staying in Taos with Marilee and Daniel. I wished she could have seen the play again to see how it has grown. Our sensual relationship was not as important to me now as her presence. I needed her counsel and sophisticated viewpoint. My desire for her would always be there, but her leaving made realize there was so much more to what we had. We deserved at least a year, not the weeks we had. I believed that it would have cemented the relationship into an unbreakable union that no tradition would have undone.

I went back into the house and started a letter to Claire. I wanted desperately for her to understand that I loved her and had hope for our being reunited again. I knew this letter would take several days to write.

At four Uncle Willy arrived on the dot. I went out to greet him and see my car. It looked like a different car because he had done something to the top. He jumped out and did a presentational stance, “Ta...Da!”

“What do you think, Tim boy?”

“It’s terrific. No wonder it took longer than you thought it would.” “I put the Auburn on the back burner and did some major changes.” “You sure did. What did you do to the roof?”

“I cut it and the doors down three inches to give it a ‘zoomier’ profile.” “It definitely is ‘zoomier’. The wheels? Wow!?”

“I got rid of the wires and nickel plated larger solid ones. The other changes you don’t see from the outside except for the new paint, and the exhausts.”

“That’s the most brilliant burgundy I’ve ever seen. Is a new kind of paint?”

“Sort of. I mixed some metal flakes in the paint and used a darker red with more brown and blue.”

“The exhausts?”

“I made some new mufflers that sound a lot better because I brought out two exhaust pipes, one from each bank of cylinders.”

“What don’t I see?”

“I redid the whole braking system and used hydraulics instead of the old mechanicals. Now it stops like a race car. I put in a much more powerful engine with two carburetors, the second one doesn’t come on until you really press on the foot-feet; plus a stronger transmission and a larger radiator. I also put in some new seats, two instead of the bench seat.”

“Let me just lock the door and I’m ready to go. I want to drive this beautiful thing.”

“I know you do, but if you can wait a few minutes I want to check out that pool heating system I did.”

“You go ahead; I’ll do several walk arounds of this ‘new’ machine.” And it did look great. The lower roof really changed its appearance, especially with the bigger wheels. I stepped back and noticed that it seemed lower to the ground. Getting into the Ford was like stepping into a completely different machine. The Dash board was more luxurious with a polished wooden face and new instruments and the seats were out of some obviously expensive car.

Uncle came around from the back and climbed in, “Everything seems alright with the heater. Do you like that warm water swimming?”

“At night it’s great, well, I guess I like it all the time. I’ll turn it off when I leave for Taos next week.”

“I promised Marilee I’d come over a couple times a month and check everything out. Have you liked staying here?”

“Are you kidding, Uncle? My little apartment has been very fine for the last years, but this is luxury, and having all the room is a major difference. The car looks like it’s lower to the ground. Is It?”

“I wondered how long it would take you to see that. Yeah, I changed the springs and put some blocks on the rear drive shafts. It should improve the ride with a lower center of gravity.”

I pushed the starter and it roared to life and then settled into a mellow burble. I unintentionally spun the wheels sensing immediately the new power. When I got to the street I almost threw us both through the windshield because of the new brakes. On the street, it handled with a new sureness. The power felt unlimited and it came on with a surge that was un-nerving at first; but as I got used to it, I liked the whole new feel of it.

“Is it ready for my drive to New Mexico, Uncle?”

“You could drive it to China and back without a hitch. All you need is gas and occasionally check the oil, which shouldn’t be a problem for a long time, several thousand miles at least. Change the oil out there in a couple of months.”

The evening with Uncle and Rose was a pleasure. The barbecued ribs were outstanding and Rose glowed in her early pregnancy. They were both excited about my coming adventure in New Mexico. They asked about Claire and I told them about her job but not about the matchmaker thing.

“Well, Tim, how do you like your ‘new’ car?” Rose asked.

“I like it better than Marilee’s Packard, it’s certainly more me.”

“I’m glad he has finished it so he can get back to my Auburn.” She said and laughed giving me a hug. “After your success, you deserved something special. We’re going to miss you. When do you think you’ll be back?”

“I don’t know. I may have some opportunities out there that I can’t refuse. If I don’t go to school in Albuquerque, I’ll be back in a year at most. It looks the job at the theatre is going to happen, but getting a degree may change that for a while or forever.”

“I know I can speak for both of us in hoping that you come back to Dallas.” Uncle said.

I left them with hugs and good wishes for my trip, directing, and writing.” I thanked Uncle for the car saying it was too much of a gift, but shrugged that off saying he wished could have done more. I didn’t want to go home so I took a chance by stopping at a pay phone to call Liza to see if she would like to go for a ride in my ‘new’ car. She was excited that I had called her saying she would be waiting at her door.

She squealed when she saw the car, “It looks like a racing car, Tim. It’s beautiful.”

“Get in this machine, girl. A spin is called for.”

We drove around White Rock Lake and way out Preston Road for a speed run. It ran and sounded like a demon but was also as smooth as the Packard.

Liza asked if I wanted to come for a drink when we got back to her house. I did and we went out to her sun room. She mixed us two bourbons and we sat back still stirred by the drive. We had a couple more drinks and I loosened up enough to tell her about the evening at Barney’s house after the cast party. I tried to tell it in a humorous way but she got mad quickly.

“That son-of-a bitch! Didn’t you want to kill him?”

“Even if I did, I was still too drunk to do anything, just barely able to get out of there. But I wasn’t truly viciously angry, just mad that he had taken advantage of me. I was having a dream of making love with Claire and evidently he noticed and couldn’t resist. He has always had this thing for me which I’ve made clear didn’t interest me.”

Liza started laughing and said, “I’ll forget being mad at him, mainly because I couldn’t resist either. Your charisma is a powerful force, Tim.” “Will you teach me how to control it, Liza. I don’t want to be considered a dangerous magnetic force.” We both laughed hysterically and I decided it was time to leave. We made plans for the following evening and I was off.

The next week was spent getting ready for the trip, spending time with the family, some good evenings with Liza, and the theatre. It took three days to finish the letter to Claire. I tried to let her know that I was here and I loved her and, of course, I wanted to stay in constant touch with her, and that Sart men don’t give up easily. Her quote about the look she got from this new guy gave me a humorous opening for a reference to the first time we met, ‘it was in the dark,’. so our first looks at each other were secrets. The coming trip was a big part of the letter, wishing she could make the drive with me. The new address was included and I finished up with ten pages.

Liza surprised me on Friday by asking if she could ride out to New Mexico with me. We were sitting on the pool patio late and she said wanted to go to her house in Santa Fe for the rest of the summer. I hadn’t known they had a house there.

“We’ve had the place for about four years, actually I inherited from my parents. It’s not very large but it’s a beautiful two bed room adobe stucco with a terrific mountain view. I spent more time there when I was much younger and Frank and I went out about once a year and, of course, not at all for the last three years. I’ve been paying to keep it up and I want to go there, get away from Dallas. I think being alone in Santa Fe would be easier than here...perhaps. Well, I want to try it. If you let me travel with you, I’ll pay for the gas and for my own lodging. You could drop me off and continue up to Taos.”

“Are you kidding? I would love to have company on the drive. When can you leave?”

“Is next Wednesday too late?”

“No, I was planning to leave on Monday, but Hell! I’d wait another week for your company.”

“Great.”

Later that evening in bed together we talked about the trip; what route to take, more or less planned stops, and what we would take. My car didn’t have much luggage space so the packing plans were important. I would take more bags because my stay would be longer. Liza said she could buy whatever she needed out there. We then got into a discussion about us and what it meant.

“Tim, how do you really feel about having a relationship with a married woman, or I think I’m a married woman. I don’t know what’s really going on in the Far East.”

“I haven’t thought much about you being married. Obviously, there are the discretion complications, but we’re both such private people that I don’t think anyone has suspected anything, and everyone knew we were becoming close friends. Even if someone did think we were having an affair they knew our situations and would probably accept it or at least be tolerant of it. And we’re both ‘committed’ to other people, even if from afar. My family doesn’t know, nor will they. I believe the real question is how do you feel about it?”

“Well, I didn’t think anything like this would ever happen before we became close. Of course, sometimes I feel some guilt, but what we enjoy in each other transcends that almost completely. I love being with you and our being lovers has been a surprisingly wonderful experience. We haven’t had any serious talks about us, and perhaps we don’t have to. I do believe we have to be totally honest with each other, I mean about this, our being lovers.”

“I agree and I believe we have been, don’t you?”

“Yes. I’m not concerned about us getting tired of each other, it has more to do with you possibly meeting someone more eligible than I am...Uh...not married. I would understand...I think.” She laughed and reached over to pull me to her for a kiss.

After kissing her back, “Since I’m not in the market for someone more eligible, it’s not something that should concern you, at all.”

“I don’t want you to worry about me feeling rejected if it does happen. Our commitment is to the present and our enjoying it. Right?”

“Liza, let me get this straight with you; if there were no Claire or Frank, I would be doing everything I could to win your heart.”

“And Timothy Sart, let me get this straight with you, I know now that it is possible to be in love with two people at the same time. If there were no Claire or Frank you would have already won my heart, even more than you have now.”

“Ah, affirmation is good. Yes, there’s no doubt we’ve gone beyond a ‘mutual crush.’”

We slept a little closer that night.

The next morning Liza woke before I did. She was holding me and when she saw I was awake she moved over on top of me, and put me inside her and bent down to kiss me. Her hair was loose, hanging down, long Chestnut, and curly almost hiding her face. She rubbed her breasts on my chest as I squeezed her nipples. We licked each other’s mouths as our passions rose.

“Tell me right before you are about to have a climax, Tim.” I did and she pulled away than turned down to put me in her mouth. She squeezed me to make me last longer.

“Liza, bring yourself around, I want to taste you as you do that. She spread her legs around my head and lowered to me. I sucked and kissed on her growing nub She was very wet and ready to have an orgasm. Then I did as did she.

“Oh...Tim...that was...Oh, my...!” She coughed out and sputtered.

“Come up here and kiss me, you magnificent woman.” She giggled and said, “I couldn’t resist.”

“I’m glad you couldn’t. A nice way to wake up.” After we both did our toilettes we went down for breakfast in robes. We took orange juice out to the pool and swam for an hour then sat in the sun and giggled about the morning lovemaking.

Liza went home in the early afternoon and I wrote for several hour then prepared for the evening at the theatre; the last performance of Blood wedding.

I stayed most of the time back stage except for the wedding dance. The cast played the show with a fervor that was intoxicating. At the curtain the audience rose up from their seats with yells and applause. At the third curtain call the cast and Barney called me out on stage. Barney talked about the run and asked me to say a few words.

“Thank you, for the response to what we have done here together. It couldn’t have happened at all without an amazing amount of collaboration; the cast and crew, my family, Eddy and Aurora, and you the audience, who appears to have been ready for something new and different. I fell in love with Lorca’s words only hoping we could do any justice to them. You make me feel we have.”

Barney then stepped forward and said, “As many of you know, Tim, is going to New Mexico to direct another play by Mr. Lorca and to write a book about this experience. We just hope he comes back to us. Because of the success of the production the board of sponsors and I have decided, most gratefully, to give Mr. Timothy Sart a special bonus for his work in behalf of the Dallas Civic Theatre and the arts in general for Dallas. Tim, please accept this check for twenty-five hundred dollars as gift to you.”

I was stunned by the amount. I took the check, shook hands with Barney, and bowed to the audience. The curtain closed and the cast was screaming and applauding. There were hugs, kisses, back slapping, and thanks. The cast hurried to change for the party in the lobby and patio. Liza came over and whispered ‘thank you and good morning’; I kissed her on the cheek, took a few moments alone, then went out to see the patrons.

On the patio, Barney held an auction for a framed poster and two of Claire’s drawings, with my permission and choice. They raised almost two thousand dollars. That left me with ten of her works, one of which I planned to give to my boss at the bookstore.

After the theater gathering; Eddy and Aurora, Dick and Camila, and Liza came over to Marilee’s for a night cap. During the rehearsal and production all three women had become close friends, so they knew the situation with Liza’s husband. And , of course, they all knew Claire and that she was gone, probably for good, so there was an acceptance of the friendship between me and Liza; though the intimacy between us was still our secret. All were sad about the show ending though Eddy was glad to get back his students. Aurora was going to dance in the summer series at the Fair Park band shell. Dick and Camila were going East, they were both accepted at Harvard. Liza told them she was riding out to New Mexico with me.

Dick stepped in with, “That will sure take the burn off of a long lonely drive, Tim.”

“Yeah, I’ve never driven that far by myself, so it is great. I’m dropping Liza off at her place in Santa Fe, then up to Taos.”

“Liza, try to talk Tim into staying a couple of days in Santa Fe. It’s a great town. I toured there with a Flamenco dance troupe two years ago and I loved it.” Eddy said.

“Good idea, Eddy. What do you say, Tim?” Liza smiled and took my hand in persuasion.

“No, no, don’t twist my arm, I’ll do it. Daniel and Marilee have always raved about Santa Fe, so why not. I’m not under any time constraints and they expect me in Taos sometime during the week, so that’s not a problem.”

“I wish we could join you, but I don’t think we all could fit into that Sports Coupe your Uncle Willy has created. That is some automobile, Tim. It doesn’t look it came from your Ford. Is it as fast as it looks?”

“Faster, it almost scared me at first. He turned that old ’34 into a completely new machine. I like driving it more than Marilee’s Packard.”

“I love the color.” Aurora added, “It looks like Blood Wedding.” I laughed at that and Eddy applauded her.

Camila wanted to talk more about New Mexico, “When Dick was going through his convalescence in Spain he told me about going fishing in New Mexico with his father and how much he liked it. I didn’t know there was that much Spanish influence in America. I want to see it. Is Taos different from Santa Fe, I mean I know it’s smaller, but what else?”

“There’s an Indian Pueblo just outside of the town, so it has more of an Indian culture, but it’s been an artist’s colony for years.” Eddy explained. “I believe it’s like going to a foreign country and still being in the U.S. I was there for only two days, but long enough to see that it is beautiful; it’s surrounded by the mountains and the nights are clear with the stars looking like their so close you can touch them.”

“Would you really like to see it, Camila?” Asked Dick.

“Could we, Amor?”

“If Tim could put us up, I’d be willing to drive out if it doesn’t conflict with the start of school.”

“You bet, Marilee and Daniel are leaving for New York in a couple of weeks; I’m sure they wouldn’t mind at all. That would be great.”

“I could come up from Santa Fe while they’re there, if you don’t mind Tim?”

“I do not. I’ll be alone there, so company would very welcome.”

“I wish we could join you all, but mine and Aurora’s schedule won’t permit it. Another time?

“I’ll be there off and on for several months, so think about seriously.”

“I believe we’ll be even more together by then.” Aurora said.

“What? Does that mean...?” I asked.

“Yes.” Eddy announced proudly. “I asked her, and strangely enough she said yes. It may seem like a rush but we have no doubts about it.”

Congratulations came from all around. I mixed new drinks for a toast.

“It could be an after honey moon trip. I’m already thinking about it seriously. Thank you, Tim. Could we, Eddy?”

“We could sure try. We’ll stay in touch with you out there, Tim.” Eddy answered.

I looked around at the most solid friends I had in my life. Being with them now and in the future gave me a feeling of belonging that has changed drastically in the past two months. Those years of being an unwilling loner hopefully have passed. These friends and the two wonderful women I’ve known have certainly made my life a better place to be.

We talked of the coming changes for Dick and Camila with their acceptance to the best school in the country. They stated very clearly that they planned to come back to Dallas. Dick to join his Dad’s firm, and Camila to join the staff at Parkland. Since she had fewer years to finish because of her time in medical at the University of London, they would get their degrees at about the same time.

We ended the evening with excitement for our futures. Liza stayed for a swim in the nude and snuggling in the night.

Chapter 13

I realized that there wasn’t going to be enough luggage space for two, so I called Uncle Willy on Monday and asked if he had any ideas. He thought he could solve the problem in a day. I rushed the car over to him and he got to work on it. Liza came and picked me up and she had the chance to meet Uncle. They liked each other immediately.

He pulled me aside for a moment saying, “Tim, it looks like your luck continues in finding very fine ladies.” He remembered her from the show. “I thought she was quite a looker when I saw her on stage.”

“Just a good friend, Uncle, she’s riding with me out to New Mexico. I’m dropping her off in Santa Fe.”

“That’s why you needed the extra space, huh?”

“Yep.”

“I’d say it’s worth the trouble. It’ll make the car more usable anyway. I’ll have it ready tomorrow afternoon; one of my best men will take care of it; I’ve already drawn up the design.”

“Thanks Uncle, this may have reached the too much factor in your helping me.”

“Now, Tim, that’s impossible to reach. I’m not a father yet and you’re the closest thing I’ve ever had to a son, and Rosy feels the same way.”

Liza and I did some last minute shopping on the way home. Later that afternoon I went by the bookstore to give my boss the drawing I had saved for him. He found a place for it and had it hanging on the wall before I left. Afterwards I went by the parents house to spend a last evening with my parents. They almost treated me like a son going off to Europe or a far off adventure. They listed all of the precautions I needed to take and Mom gave me packing instructions. Dad brought out his maps and suggested the best route through Sweetwater and on to Lubbock. I had thought I would just follow the signs, but that was unacceptable to him. He gave me a good map with a red pencil line on the roads to take. Jeordie thanked me for giving him my room, saying it had improved his life because he had never had any real privacy before. He showed me his latest photography which was getting better and more like art. He had moved from portraits to nature and architectural. He assured me that the camera Claire had given him made the difference. He hit me with a surprise gift, a sepia-like print portrait of Claire I hadn’t seen before. It was framed in carved wood crafted by Dad. It stopped me for a moment of remembrance of her, it was a beautiful photo-portrait that brought all of my feelings for her back. I felt haunted by her image. Jeordie had evidently taken the photo while she was looking at me. The smile was the one she always gave to assure me of her love. I left them later than I had expected and knew I needed an evening alone.

I didn’t call Liza. I went out side to sit in the dark with a glass of brandy and remember everything I could about Claire. They weren’t really sad thoughts, more like how lucky I was to have known her. I was looking forward to the trip with Liza but knew it should be Claire beside me in the car, but it wasn’t to be now and maybe never.

The next morning I finished all of the arrangements for the caretaker at Marilee’s house. I decide to wait until the next morning to turn off the pool heater hoping Liza and I could enjoy it one more time. Liza came by in the late afternoon to give me a ride to Uncle Willy’s shop. She brought her bags because we had planned for her to spend the night so we could start early the next morning. The solution Uncle Willy had devised was a classy nickel-plated rack mounted on the trunk of my car. He even supplied me with rope to tie the luggage down with. We parted with a hand shake.

“You take care, Tim, and get back here safe.”

I followed Liza home and she did the last lock down of her house and put her car in the garage. We got to Marilee’s for the last evening in Dallas for me for a long time. I was anxious and excited. Liza fixed us good dinner of lamb chops and squash. Afterwards we eased into the pool with bourbon and easy talk about our coming adventure. We turned in early with no love making just a kiss and quick sleep.

The next morning we got up early for trip preparations. I packed the trunk with things we would try not to take out on the trip and bags we would use for overnights on the new rack. The rack gave us room for four more bags than we had planned to take. Liza prepared breakfast and a big picnic basket for the road. We ate and did last minute toilettes and packed ice in a metal cooler for evening cocktails. I put the Packard under a tarp and locked the house. We went out Maple to Inwood, across the Trinity and headed West on Ft. Worth Avenue. It was nine when we started passing the big casino castles and the horse race track. Fort Worth passed quickly and the West had begun. The car was a dream on the highway even with the slightly booming exhaust.

Liza held the conversation with stories of growing up in Highland Park and going to Hockaday and off East to school at Sarah Lawrence. Her father had been in cotton then real estate development. He experienced almost a total bust in the late twenties but came back big in oil by drilling in East Texas and Burkburnnet. She had met Frank in New York but they didn’t marry for two years. She knew he had a wanderlust but hadn’t expected it take him off to the Far East. When they first moved to Dallas, she thought there would be a family coming but it wasn’t to be. Frank had first gone to Canada where she had joined him, but the oil field life and the winters were more than she could take. So she started the solitary life of waiting for the rare homecomings, then none after Java had lured him away. She had had no romantic liaisons in all that time and hadn’t expected to. Being in the play, her husband’s confessional letter, and our friendship had rearranged her priorities in personal need and solving the intense loneliness. She told stories about happenings in the cast of Blood Wedding that I had never heard. The old actor who had dubbed me ‘El Audaz’ wanted to leave home and go to New York for one last attempt in a theatre adventure, but his rather large family had decided he wouldn’t be doing that. There had been a homosexual affair between two of cast-crew members and both were married women with families. It didn’t last long but was a surprise to them and the cast. It had ended in a friendship with no bitterness. The couple playing the Bride and Leonardo were seen one night actually making love backstage between scenes. Ginger had to ask them to control their ardor during the performances. Camila and Aurora had a screaming fight in Spanish one evening before a performance but realized after a few minutes that it was a complete misunderstanding. They ended it by crying in each other’s arms and adding two new steps to their duet in the marriage party. A fuse had blown one night in the dressing room and it took Ginger twenty minutes to get it all back on again. Barney thought he had saved the day by bringing in candles but everyone looked a mess with only ten minutes to correct it. Ginger got sick half way through a performance one night and the assistant couldn’t find her cue sheets; the only effect were slightly slower scene changes and mild panic. There had been a shock for the cast when Claire left and everyone became worried about me and how I would take it; they had formed a Tim watch to see if I was okay. When it was discovered I was wasn’t going to fall apart they ended it. Not long after that Liza and I got together. And nobody suspected our intimacy she thought but wasn’t sure. She kept me laughing for a hundred miles but the changing terrain soon took over our conversation. I had thought Liza would be a good travel companion but it was getting better as we progressed. Out side of Sweetwater we stopped for a picnic and decided to take some side trips. I wanted to spend some time exploring the Caprock., she wanted to see Las Vegas, New Mexico and the Montezuma Castle,

I looked over at her laid out on the seat with her shoes off, knees up, and wondered what I was doing with such a beautiful classy and slightly older woman; well only by three and a half years. The age difference certainly didn’t seem to concern her at all. She had her window down, and her hair was blowing back over the seat. She turned to me and smiled then reached up and put her hand on the back of my neck.

“This is nice, Tim. I like how Texas changes to this wild western look. You forget how many hills and mesas are really so close to Dallas, well a couple hundred miles. How does your car feel? Is it very different?”

“It feels much more solid. I guess the bigger wheels and engine give it a completely new feeling of power. I believe we could cruise at eighty or ninety if there wasn’t any traffic. I want to drive it a little longer before I try something like that; besides there’s too much precious cargo to take any wild chances.”

My word, it’s been a long time since someone considered me precious.” She laughed.

“You’re at the very least precious.”

“Why, thank you sir. Well, I must say your car sure sounds powerful. I like it, it makes me feel like we’re on a motor boat crossing a lake. Right after Frank and I got married we went over to France and toured around. He insisted that we go to the big Gran Prix race there. That’s what your car really sounds like, one of those wild powerful European racing cars.”

“I think that’s the effect Uncle Willy wanted for the car. He builds racing cars and he says his next project, after Rose’s Auburn, will be a European type sports roadster.”

“He’s really a special guy. It’s easy to tell how much he loves you.”

“It goes both ways. We’ve always been very close, much more than uncle to nephew, right on the edge of father and son. But I’m also very close to my father. Daniel and I have spent many good times with the both of them. Dan and I have talked a lot about how one brother chose wood to work in, the other metal. They’re both great artisans in their different mediums. What they create is much more tangible and useful than what Daniel, Mom, now Jeordie with his photography, and I bring about.”

“Don’t you dare short change what you do. There’s functional art that has its own beauty and art that changes peoples lives like painting and theatre.”

“Do you really believe art changes people’s lives? I mean I do to a certain extent or I wouldn’t do it...but...”

Liza laughed, throwing her head back, “Well, it surely changed mine. No seriously, yes I do. People will remember Blood Wedding for a long time, and I believe you changed the process of directing. And think of your writing that has come out of it. Daniel’s paintings have affected me deeply. I can close my eyes and see his paintings with his new uses of color and subject. Also, Jeordie’s more candid photos of the cast made an artistic statement. He’ll probably be asked to photograph many more shows and casts. His work will perhaps hang in the lobby just like Claire’s drawings did.”

“Support, support, I knew there was another reason I liked you besides your incredible...”

“My incredible what? Don’t get too intimately personal here, Mister Sart.”

“Well, that too, but I was referring to your presence.”

She poked me in the side, “I’ll accept that.” She giggled and said, “Only because you have a pretty incredible, .... uh, ...presence too.”

“We spent the night in Sweetwater and the next day drove up to the Caprock and took some side roads for a little different view than from the highway. We stayed the next night in Clovis then went straight north to Las Vegas.

We both fell in love with Las Vegas because it’s so different from what you expect in New Mexico. It’s a Victorian town with old large houses and big trees. It had been the end of the Santa Fe rail road in the eighteen hundreds so the barons tried to make it like the East. It also had the hot springs and the castle. We got rooms at the Plaza Hotel on the old town square then drove out Montezuma road north. When we came around a bend the castle appeared like something from Austria. It was huge with a commanding turret on the South side. It had been closed and out of use for years but still an amazing sight. We pulled up to the hot springs across a creek from the castle. There were about ten different springs, each having a different temperature, from real hot to just warm. We decided to join the people already in the water. We got bathing suits out of luggage in the trunk, we had unloaded essentials at the hotel, and changed in the car. We chose a medium hot spring and luxuriated for an hour in the relaxing water. After a while, a couple from Colorado joined us. They were on their way to New Orleans. They were also staying at the Plaza, so we planned to have dinner together at the dinning room. The husband was a mining engineer and the wife was a nature photographer who had spent the earlier part of the day photographing the castle. They were delightful company and the evening was filled with good conversation. We ended it in the bar with many good laughs and talk about the arts. As it turned out, they were theatre buffs and were fascinated by my coming adventures. Blood Wedding dominated the talk because they had read earlier Lorca poem collections but had not heard of my play. Liza proved to be a fine raconteur on the play but embarrassed me by talking about my brilliance as a director.

We both got in the overly large tub that night talking about how much fun the trip had been so far. We were almost too tired to make love but when she cuddled next to me, it happened in a sweet and gentle way that took us to a restful sleep.

We had breakfast the next morning with our Colorado friends then checked out of the hotel and drove around Las Vegas admiring the houses. On one street, we were surprised by a beautiful modern house that was almost Bauhaus in design. We didn’t see one adobe house in the whole town. We headed west after a couple of hours on to Santa Fe.

Liza’s house in Santa Fe was a surprise. I didn’t expect it to be so large and elegant. It was in the New Mexico stucco style with a big terrace off the large bedroom up stairs giving a great view of the mountains in the distance and the town square three blocks away. There was a garden in back that had been kept up very nicely by a caretaker family who lived in quarters behind the garage. The kitchen had been stocked ready for her arrival, so Liza cooked a terrific dinner of arroz con pollo, after which we retired to the upstairs terrace and looked at the stars. I had never seen the sky from such a high altitude and clear atmosphere before. It was an awesome visual experience for me.

Liza laughed at my amazement, “It’s kind of a shock when you see it for the first time, isn’t it?”

“It sure is. You think you’ve seen the night sky until this happens. I didn’t know there were this many stars. It goes from horizon to horizon. Star light takes on a new meaning.”

I gazed trying to remember all the constellations I learned as a boy scout, but there was so much sky that I couldn’t find a place to start except for the obvious ones. I decided to get a star chart while I was out here.

The next morning we went out into Santa Fe. We walked the two blocks to the Loretto Chapel and then to the square. There was Indian art everywhere and two very good art galleries. We wandered through the silver and antique shops. We had lunch at the La Fonda Hotel where I had my introduction to New Mexican style food, we then sat on the terrace of an upstairs bar watching the Santa Fe life below us. People from all over the country were sitting around the square as we headed back to Liza’s house. We spent a leisurely evening with dinner and conversation on the terrace. On the backyard patio in the morning the Humming Birds were swarming around a feeder Liza had set up before breakfast. We used the afternoon driving around the town and in to the country. The high desert was beautiful as it eased up to the mountains and forests of pine. The smell of piňon burning was overwhelmingly sweet and intoxicating as it wafted from cooking fires in the scattered adobe houses as we drove the back roads. Later Liza guided us to a restaurant on the Taos road that was up on a bluff overlooking the highway. It was my second encounter with New Mexican style food and I loved it. I now knew I preferred the stacked enchiladas more than the rolled ones back home. The red sauce was much spicier and the cheese had a sharper pleasant taste. I even liked the beer more; it was from a German family brewery in Albuquerque. We ended the evening by going to a small bar a block off the square. In a corner a very good guitarist was set up to play for the evening patrons. Liza suggested I try the gourmet Tequila the bar offered. She had a bottle brought to the table. It was dark brown and a cross between brandy and fine whiskey but with the tequila taste; it was as smooth as the Spanish brandy Marilee had introduced to me back home. We drank half the bottle and took the remainder with us for another drink at her house. It seemed to affect us like an aphrodisiac for we raged in very passionate love making before falling asleep exhausted. We awoke the next morning still feeling the effects of the massive amount of tequila consumed the night before. We laughed about the night before, snuggled, and kissed ourselves into making love realizing afterwards we hadn’t taken precautions. Liza was worried at first then decided ‘se la vie.’ She had tried to get pregnant the years before with Frank, so her reaction was ’if not then, why now.’ I took it a bit more seriously but figured it was to late to do anything other than what she had done in the bathroom. We drank two pots of very strong coffee sitting in bed talking about my leaving that afternoon or the next morning. She decided it would be the next morning.

“Since that’s settled, how would like to have some really good Juevos Rancheros for breakfast?”

“Do we have to get up to do it? This may be a good day to stay in bed.” “We don’t have to get up completely, that is dress for the day. Would robes and undies be fine with you?” “Only if you’ll take a shower with me first.”

“I will do, sir. Right this very minute.” We giggled and rushed to the bathroom. Everything we did together was fun. Claire and I had never had the chance to relax into this manner of relationship. I knew we could have, but the time we were together was so intense that every minute was precious. Liza and I had now spent more time together by many weeks than Claire and I had; and it was different, there was no future other than enjoying each other’s company and affection. There were no deep discussions about our love, yet we knew we loved, but not with a tying commitment of love vows. It was a new experience for both of us because neither of us knew whether we would ever be with the people again who truly held our hearts. I believe we both knew our being lovers was a release from her feelings of being betrayed and mine of being rejected, but it wouldn’t have happened if we hadn’t been extraordinarily attracted to each other.

Our showers were always much more than just getting clean; we enjoyed the physical contact. We would take turns standing behind each other and scrubbing. It was always a sensual experience; I rubbed her breasts and lower areas and she my chest and...well, needless to say it was arousing. Our same heights and the very special way she was built always led to our making love facing each other. We would wrap our arms around the others necks and slowly enjoy.

When we were toweling off, Liza commented, “Tim, until we became close, I didn’t know or imagine people could make love like this. Frank is so tall it would never work, but we’re perfectly matched for it. I know I am a little different down there, but this has been a whole new way to make love.”

“Liza, my answer to that is ‘viva la differencia’, It’s certainly new for me two.”

“Do you think we make love too much? It had been so long for me that I’ve felt almost innocent and it’s been a revelation, or perhaps more a reawakening.”

“Uh...no, I think it’s been amazing how much we enjoy that part of us. It has seemed very natural to me. Is it bothering you?”

“No, Tim, not at all, it’s great and gets better all the time, so much so that I wish you weren’t leaving in the morning.”

“Well, I’m not going far, just up the road. After Marilee and Daniel have left you can come up. Oh! Hell, you can come up before they leave. I don’t believe they would mind or disapprove at all. She was your friend long before Daniel and I knew her. I think they would be quite pleased about us, especially since Marilee knows about your situation with Frank. And they are experts in being discreet.”

“Tim, I didn’t come out here just to get my house going again, I didn’t want to be away from you. I had been lonely too damn long to go right back to it. You did suspect, didn’t you?”

“Of course, I was hoping that was a part of it. I didn’t want to leave you either. Having you with me on the trip was great and it wouldn’t have been anyways near as much fun alone. And the last two days have been very nice indeed. Now I know something about Santa Fe...and the shower we just took was I hope a preamble for the afternoon, and the evening, and in the morning. And as a matter of fact I’m very much against this ‘undies’ thing you mentioned.”

Liza through her head back in one of her great laughs then hugged me tightly and finished with a kiss.

“Well, if you insist, Mr. Sart. Sometimes you’re so demanding that I can’t help giving in, but I do want to wear undies to cook in and after that I suppose I could go along with your rather sensual wishes. I do hope this means you like the way I look...Uh...I mean without clothes.”

“I would like the way you look if you were wearing a ‘gunny sack’.

“I would rather not test that idea, if you don’t mind.”

“Perfectly fine, I was just raging in a pinch of hyperbole. Liza, you’re a gorgeous woman anytime.”

“Even in the morning?”

“Especially in the morning. Did you mention juevos rancheros earlier?” “Gee whizzie bing-bang, I had almost forgotten.” We sat outside, in our robes, on the patio and ate this breakfast that now I believed I could have every morning. Liza also cooked up some great sausage called chorizo. Afterwards she brought out some English cigarettes that tasted like no other in my limited smoking experience. They were almost too good, not enough to start the habit, but they were a treat. We cleaned up the kitchen and went back up stairs. Liza opened all the windows to get a good breeze and we sat up on the bed and talked, laughed, and kissed occasionally. We faced each other and began to touch and explore in a new way. I caressed her breasts and leaned close to kiss and suckle her nipples as she aroused me. I reached in between her legs as she put her legs up over mine.

“Tim, touch me inside, yes there. Oh, my God, that’s so nice.” I leaned back to reach the night stand to get some protection.

“Be in me a little bit before you put that on, please.” I pulled her up on me and entered her slowly. She wrapped her arms around me and whimpered as she moved down on me. I had a sudden strong desire to be more intimate with her, to taste her. I rolled us over and kissed my way down to her. I kissed, suckled and put my finger in her as she a she began to have a sweet giggling climax. I rubbed my face on her tummy as I kissed my way up to her breasts and face. She wrapped her legs around me, pulling me in to her. She was having little climaxes when I realized I hadn’t put on the prophylactic. Just as I started to climax I pulled out. Liza reached down and stroked me as I ejaculated on her tummy.

“Damn, Liza, that feels so good, but what a delightful mess.” “My goodness, Tim, it’s so warm, and...uh...so much. Can I put you in my mouth a little bit, please?” There was no need to answer; I straddled her and she tilted up to take me in. I felt like I was having another climax it was so good. As I began to soften I moved down beside her. We lay together tummy to tummy and dozed off.

I woke up three hours later and heard Liza in the shower. I lay back thinking of the past few days and felt a great need to get back to work on my directing book. I didn’t regret the time with Liza but it had been a distraction, though a pleasant one. I knew also I didn’t want it to get any more serious with her because no matter how it was with us, she was still married and probably would remain so. I hoped her stated desire to be with me didn’t become an obsession to relieve the loneliness she felt. Of course, I was lonely for Claire, and wished to be with her and yet knew that I couldn’t be, but I could deal with it, or I had to. I didn’t feel the betrayal Liza did, just a kind of rejection by Claire that was really a quirk of fate not of her making. Perhaps this ‘distraction’ of lovemaking and friendship with a wonderful woman had been good for me beyond the obvious pleasure of it. I felt recharged for the next level of commitment to my writing. I wasn’t terribly concerned by the guilt of us having an adulterous affair because her husband was admittedly doing the same thing far away. There were no fears of him coming to get me some day. The sexual passion Liza and I felt for each other was exciting and extremely satisfying, but it wasn’t the emotion union I experienced with Claire, and I didn’t know if it could ever be. But Claire was gone and I wanted a letter from her, a phone call, or the ability to slowly forget about the possibility of a reunion.

Liza came out of the shower nude and magnificent. She smiled and winked at me. The sight of her rekindled my desire and my recent thoughts disappeared as she came to sit beside me on the bed. She ran her fingers through my hair and leaned down to kiss me.

She giggled and said, “I woke an hour after we started dozing to go to the bathroom and we were stuck together. It was a funny feeling, but nice in a way. I didn’t have any trouble going back to sleep though I did look at you for a while. You’re quite a striking man, Tim. I would have awakened you for the shower, but I didn’t know if I could have handled another one of our rather active bathing experiences.”

“That’s alright, I don’t if I could have either, but the sight of you does inspire the thought.”

“How about if I get dressed and go down to make us a late afternoon drink. I advise you to take a quick shower before the scent of you overwhelms me and causes a great need to snuggle. I’ll be strong and resist. Uh...well...what would you like to drink?”

“Definitely not tequila, that was as powerful as that stuff we smoked, don’t think I’m regretting the results at all because they were extremely nice but too frantic. Both times, I felt like we should have been screaming at the top of lungs with passion.”

“I hadn’t thought of that, but you’re right; I certainly had the urge to scream, uh...in a good way. Now up with you, and when you come down stairs I’ll put a drink of what in your hand?”

“Bourbon and soda, please mamm.”

“Excellent, I have some very good seven year old eighty proof.”

“Ah, mi mas favorito.”

When I got out of the shower, I didn’t have to go downstairs; Liza had brought a tray with the makings and set things up on the balcony. We didn’t talk for a while, just sat and enjoyed the view. The bourbon was very good and relaxing. Liza had put on a light blue sleeveless sundress; her hair was still a little wet and gathered in back. I noticed as it dried it started to curl slowly. After a few minutes, she reached back to unclip her hair and shook it out and ran her fingers through it. It was like watching a flower unfold. She hadn’t put on a bra so with every movement her breasts shook freely.

She caught me looking at her, “Oh, you noticed, Tim, I didn’t do it on purpose, I was just in a hurry.”

“I don’t believe that for a moment, and forgive me for staring.”

“You may be partly right and your stares are welcome. A woman likes to be admired by a man she cares about. Another subject; where would you like to eat tonight? I can fix something here or we can go to a place that I know on the edge of town.” “Let’s go out. You did that great breakfast this morning.” We had another drink and prepared for the evening. The restaurant was a charming European style place with an extensive menu. Liza had a chicken mole and I had lamb. Over brandy we discussed the past weeks and us.

“Tim, the past weeks have been the best I’ve had in years, but I don’t want you to fear that I’ll become some sort of ‘hanging on’ obsessed woman. Yes, I do feel an enormous amount of love for you, but I know you have serious work to do. Of course, I want to see more of you. How could I not? Remember ‘love limbo’, we’re both in it with no resolution in sight. Even if it was resolved in ‘our’ favor, I don’t know if you would want to be permanently with a slightly older woman.”

“I think they’ve been pretty good weeks, too. I certainly didn’t expect all of this to happen to us, or better said, for us. And quite honestly I wouldn’t let you become an obsessed woman, if it did happen I would say stop, it’s killing us, and if I had thought that, it would be underestimating you. I don’t do that with you. Yes, I do remember ‘love limbo’; I live with it everyday, as do you. Nothing is going to stop my work, but I do need to get away from it some time; why can’t that be with you? Slightly older? What? Three or four years? That’s about the same difference between Daniel and Marilee.”

“I don’t know why I even brought this up, I’m married to Frank and want it to stay that way, I think. ‘Love limbo’! Wow! It sure sounds trivial when we talk seriously. We care for each other and we’re also in love with other people, I would never have guessed it was possible. We know we wouldn’t be together right this minute if Frank and Claire were close.”

“Of course, we wouldn’t Liza. But they’re not here and may never be. Listen, you’re great company and a whole lot more. As you said, why would I not want to be with you? Enough said, huh?”

“Yes, enough said. I guess since this our last evening together for a while I needed to let some things out, or at least, know how you feel about us. I suppose it’s just a woman’s insecurity that comes up occasionally.”

“I understand that, and no, you don’t need to feel insecure. No matter what happens we have a lot of time to see how things turn out. I don’t expect our rather healthy passion to cool off either. One thing that makes a big difference is that we were very close friends before we became intimate, and I believe we’re even closer friends now. Don’t you think?

“Yes, Tim, and boy, I hope our ‘healthy’ passion doesn’t cool off. Which reminds me, let’s go to the house and have a bourbon on the terrace and look at the stars.”

“Oki-doki, which reminds me, I’m glad we took that nap this afternoon.” We spent a sweet and gently loving long evening in a happy goodbye knowing we would see each other soon. The next morning I called Marilee to tell her I was on my way. She and Daniel were excited about my finally getting there. When I told Marilee where I was calling from she insisted I tell Liza to come up before they leave. Liza fixed something for breakfast called Migas and a small steak. We sat on the patio and talked about when she could come up. She thought she could make it in a week but needed to do something about a car. “I have some friends here who could loan me one, but I believe I’ll buy one.” “Buy one? I could come...”

“Tim, please, I am a fairly well-to-do Highland Park lady. I have some money of my own, and every month there’s a rather substantial deposit from the oil company Frank works for. Don’t worry about me on that account and I will get something very practical for New Mexico.”

“Alright, but if you decide not to, let me know. And thank goodness for you Highland Park ladies.”

We stood up and I gathered my bag. At my car Liza took me in her arms, holding me tight, and cried softly.

“Thank you, Tim. You’ve made me whole again. You’re one of the good ones. I’ll see you in a week or so. I’ll call.”

“Okay. Let me know what the car situation is.

I kissed her and was gone. In a way it was good to be alone again. I headed north on the road beside the Rio Grande River and it was a beautiful winding drive that went up and down beside the mountains. My car was a dream on the hills; I could pass other cars with a roar of speed. As I got close to Taos I saw the old church on the right that I thought was in a village called Ranchos. I was tempted to stop but knew I was going to be around long enough to come back and explore the whole area. I pulled into the town square, stopped and referred to my directions. Marilee’s house was on Don Fernando; one block from the plaza. I got out to stretch my legs and looked around. The plaza was small and quaint compared to Santa Fe and Indians were in evidence everywhere. There were trading post type stores, small restaurants, and bars. Several stores seemed to sell tourist items but they had beautiful rugs hanging in the windows. Some Indians and jewelry craftsmen had their wares out on blankets under an overhanging government looking building. I immediately wanted to walk around but decided to get to Marilee’s as quickly as possible. I followed the map and found it within a few minutes. All of the buildings and houses were in the Southwestern style and of adobe or stucco. Their house was a dark red, had three stories, and a large turquoise front door. I drove into their driveway and they both came out to greet me. Marilee hugged me; Daniel shook my hand with a big pat on the back. We unloaded the car and carried all of it to my bedroom downstairs.

“Don’t unpack now, Timmy, I’ve fixed us lunch. I finished about ten minutes before you drove up.”

“That sounds great, Marilee. Damn, it’s good to see you two.”

“You too, brother. How was the drive up?”

“It was easy and beautiful.”

“Is that your old car with a super Uncle Willy touch to it?”

“Yep, and it’s great. It feels like it’s twice as powerful and it has the new type brakes.”

“It sounds it, too. We heard you coming from a block away.” Marilee teased with a quick laugh.” Daniel showed me the way out to the patio off the kitchen. The little backyard was an amazing garden with a large oak shade tree. Marilee brought the food as we set the table. After the tasty light lunch we sat around and tried to cover everything that had happened since I last saw them. I told them how well the show had gone and the surprise bonus I had gotten closing night. They wanted to know what was going on with Claire in California even though Marilee had gotten a couple of letters from her in answer to her own letters. She was really asking for my reaction to the matchmaker situation. I tried to be as honest as possible without going into a long diatribe about feeling rejected. Then the inevitable question came up about Liza.

“Well, there’s really not much to say except that she’s a super lady and we have enjoyed each other’s company for several weeks.”

“That ‘not much to say’ sure says a lot. Would you like for her to come up?”

“Yes, I would, if you don’t mind.”

Marilee asked, “What has happened with her husband, I kind of got the idea that things were bad?”

“I’m not sure she would want me to tell, but since you’ve been friends for years, I guess it’s alright. Uh...Frank wrote her a letter she’s convinced he wrote when he was drunk, in which he confessed he not been faithful; no details. That’s it.”

“Damn, Timmy, after she had been waiting for two years or so, probably faithfully, for him to come home. I knew about his signing up for another year.”

“Yeah, with that and Claire’s matchmaker situation, it changed our relationship rather quickly. But there was a strong mutual attraction before.”

“Yes, brother, that was rather obvious when she joined us that evening.” “Timmy, has this changed any of your feelings for Claire?”

“Absolutely not, and Liza is still, with questions, in love with Frank.” “Ah, the ‘lonely quotient’ for two close friends is a powerful thing, brother. Well, Liza is a terrific lady and one of the great beauties of the western world.”

“No doubt about both of those things, Daniel.”

“Timmy, I must say, this has been quite a Spring for you; Blood Wedding, Claire, and now, Liza. My goodness, what will the Summer bring?”

“I would like for it to be Claire, but there’s not much hope for that.” Oh, I almost forgot, there’s a package here for you from Claire. I’ll get it.” When Marilee left, I asked Daniel how his painting was going.

“I have five new canvases, and I like all of them; Marilee believes they’re better than the last ones I did in Dallas. We’ll go see them after you get unpacked and situated.”

Marilee came back with a largish box. I opened it to find a pair of boots. They were jodhpurs with straps across the front instead of the wrap-around type. I had never seen such beautiful boots, they were a dark rich brown with gold buckles. A thick letter was sticking out of one of the boots. I immediately left the table and retreated to my room almost in tears. I tried on the boots and they fit perfectly. The letter started off with a confession that she had looked in a couple pairs of my shoes for the size. She then told of her undying love for me and no matter what the situation was there, she missed me more everyday. She hoped that her parents would eventually relent and give in to her resistance to an arranged marriage. There was no relationship with the chosen suitor, just an occasional chaperoned meeting, which of course, he didn’t like, but she insisted on. She was not attracted to the man in any way and was sure it was strictly a financial opportunity for him. For the first time Claire wrote of her deep physical desire for me. The letter was the longest she had written so far. It offered only a vague hope of our getting back together, but it was there with time being the element. She also made it clear that I must go on living as a free man without any fear of resentment from her. There was no doubt of my love for her, but I shouldn’t wait in loneliness for the possibility of our reunion. She hoped I liked the boots and would think of her when I wore them. The letter was exactly what I needed and it brought her closer to me than any previous ones had. Strangely enough, I felt no guilt for what had happened between Liza and me. It made me realize even more that I loved two women, but in very different ways. I re-read the letter then unpacked.

“Well, Claire is, isn’t she, Timmy?”

“Yes, Claire ‘is’, but she’s there. Her letter is an incredible testament to our love, and it even offers a slight hope for the future, which I hope isn’t the distant future. She’s doing fairly well though; she loves her job, but not the chosen suitor thing. Damn, what a ridiculous situation.”

“I haven’t heard from her for a couple of weeks, but that’s about right; I get a letter every three weeks. Does this affect your relationship with Liza?”

“No. Marilee, it doesn’t. Claire even said I should not let our love keep me from those kinds of things; so I’m not.”

“Good, Timmy, you can’t delve into being a bitter celibate. Claire, I believe, wants you to enjoy life even if it’s without her.” Daniel had gone out to his studio in back when I had gone to my room.

“Great lunch, almost sister; I’m going out to see Daniel’s latest.”

“I think you’ll like them as much as I do. He actually does get better with each new series, and I wasn’t sure that was possible after that last group of incredible pieces.”

“You know, love and happiness may have something to do with it.” “Could be, but enormous talent is the dominant force.” I nodded in agreement and joined Daniel. The new works were powerful, colorful, and a new blend of figurative and non-realistic.

“Your paintings are getting to be more like dreams, Daniel, except more colorful. They seem to be moving as I look at them. There’s no doubt you need to show in New York, soon. Have you got enough yet to take?”

“Almost, perhaps five or six more. Before we leave here I want to do another portrait of Marilee, in a different mode. I’m thinking of color planes in a background that blend into a semi-realistic vision of her.”

“Oh...um...I believe I need to see it; your words sound good...but.” Daniel laughed, “But we’re brothers, can’t you see into my mind?” “Wait a minute, as I close my eyes it’s starting to come into focus...yes...yes. Hell no, I can’t see into ‘yo haid’, but it sounds, yes I can here it, it’s like those funny radio sounds when you’re searching for a station.”

“Stop, brother, I get the idea. I need to paint it. I’ve been painting since early morning, it’s time for a break and celebrate your arrival. What say?”

“That sounds good, I would like that before I start to work myself tomorrow. This last week has not been very productive, pleasant, but not productive. I promised to finish the book before I go down to Albuquerque to do Yerma.”

“No place is better than Taos for the artistic spirit.” We found Marilee working in the garden off the patio.

“I believe I’ve found my artistic nature in this garden. What do you think, Timmy?”

“A virtual garden of Eden, Marilee. I meant to say something before, but I didn’t know you had done it.”

“It’s been good to pull away from the business for a while. I talk to my managers every day, but thank goodness, it’s not like in Dallas. They’re doing fine and so am I; no crises yet and none on the horizon.”

“Mi amor, the afternoon has been taken off in celebration of Tim’s arrival.”

“Yes, let’s do that, my Sart men. I’ll wash my hands, Daniel, you do the honors.”

“Of course, Tim, what is your pleasure?”

“I don’t care. What were you thinking of?”

“How about Martinis?”

“Fine, as long as it’s not tequila. Liza and I did a serious tequila evening night before last. It will be a while before I do that again, it requires a passionate companion.”

Daniel laughed, “I know what you mean, Marilee and I tried the shot, lime, and salt approach a couple of weeks ago. We made a lot of noise later in the evening and the next morning. I lost a whole day of painting, but we did a great deal of smiling and giggling.”

We sat around the table for another hour remembering our last weeks in Dallas together in their back yard. The one thing they missed was the pool but nothing else except family. Dad had told me to tell them he was saving one of his folding chairs for them; his design and a model had reached the finals in the New York contest. The two hundred and fifty dollars prize was great but the thousand would have been better, he said. Rosie had sent her love and wished they could be home for the birth. She and Uncle Willy had gone over to check on the pool and tried out his warm water system, they liked it. They hadn’t heard that Dick and Camila were both accepted to Harvard. I hadn’t realized how much I had missed Marilee and Daniel and our talks about art, the family, how much love there was in the family and friends. After our second drink, Marilee said we should go out for dinner at an Inn just off the plaza that had the only real dinning room in town. I agreed if I could take a nap. Daniel liked the idea of a nap and Marilee said she would join him after she planted two more plants she had bought that morning.

The nap turned out to be good thing because the whiskey had relaxed me so much I fell on the bed and into a most needed rest from the drive, and the lunch. I didn’t dream at all which was rare; usually Claire and Liza danced in my head. I woke up after three hours of good rest. I rolled over and read Claire’s letter again trying to read anything between the lines. It was all there plain and simple; she loved me, she was only mildly happy, most of that had to do with her job, and the man chosen for her was not to her taste, as if anyone would be with us being such a force in both our lives. I took out the pictures of her Jeordie had taken, and looked the one where she was facing me with that look of total giving of herself. It was astounding how Jeordie had found that shot from behind me. Her mouth was slightly open almost saying come and kiss me, Timmy. I tried to remember the moment, but couldn’t. It was either at my parent’s house or in the lobby of the theatre; he had blurred the background, so I couldn’t identify where it was. It didn’t make any difference. I went through the other photos and thought about calling Jeordie to thank him for concentrating so much on Claire. I wondered if Claire might have suspected that when she gave him the Leica he would record our falling in love. I laid out the shots in what I thought was a progression of time and the change in her was startling. She seemed to soften and her smiled changed. The last one was of us in the lobby holding hands and looking at each other before we left to go to the hotel. Would I ever see her again?

Marilee and Daniel asked if I would mind walking to the Inn. I was wearing my new boots and thought it would be good to get used to them, they fit like gloves with a softness that was an assurance of their high quality. Claire had done it again. The walk immediately impressed me as to how small Taos was and I liked it. The air was fresh with a kind of green scent. People were sitting around the plaza and the craftsmen still had their wares out on blankets. I saw several pieces I would like to have gotten for both Claire and Liza. Flowers were planted everywhere, in pots in the windows, in the square, and on the roofs of the stores and other buildings. I knew Taos was a dusty little town but it didn’t seem so with all the flowers around the plaza. We passed a small bar that Marilee pointed out as a favorite of theirs. As we walked out of the square, we turned toward the little Inn on the street that was also the state road through the area, but there wasn’t any traffic other than locals. As we entered the Inn, Daniel and Marilee were greeted by the staff as regulars, and we were shown through the dining room to the patio in back. It was getting close to dark so lanterns and candles were lighted all around us on the patio. The other patrons were of a world very different from Dallas, they all appeared as if they had found a sanctuary away from the other parts of the country, which was, of course, why I was here too. The meal was excellent, as was the wine and drinks. When we walked back to the house the square was quiet, almost deserted except the music coming from the bar we had passed earlier. At the house we had a nightcap on the patio with easy conversation about the evening and the walk. I felt the softening atmosphere of the environment begin to inspire me for the weeks ahead.

The next morning I slept late and had my breakfast alone. Daniel was in his small studio in back and Marilee was working in the garden. I joined her outside for a cup of coffee and watched her putter about in one of her flowerbeds. We talked for a few minutes then I went into my room to set up my little desk with typewriter and paper. My window was open with a view of the backyard and Daniel’s studio. I wrote for six hours with only a short break for a snack with them. We spent our evening together, and this became our custom for the weeks before they left for New York. The next weekend Liza came up on Saturday and we spent the two days touring around Taos. We went to the Pueblo, which was like going back in time seeing the Indians living as they had for several hundred years. The church in Ranchos was a second destination and an affirmation of the old culture in Northern New Mexico. We sat beside the Rio Grande and went skinny dipping in the hot springs with Daniel and Marilee. Liza and I spent our evenings in sweet passionate love making with little talk of past or future.

The weekdays were concentrated work time for Daniel and me. He turned out one fine painting after another, and all of them took him to new levels of enhancing his new found style of vibrant colors and unrealistic figures. My writing was also finding a style of how I wanted to describe my directing process with new ideas happening every week that I wished I had thought of during Blood Wedding. Marilee spent an hour every day on the phone with her business managers in Texas and Oklahoma. Her Far Eastern operations she did by mail. She appeared to be happier than I had ever seen her. Occasionally they talked about their coming marriage with an innocent anticipation. They didn’t expect big changes in their lives just more confirmation of their love. At times I envied their happiness, but mostly I enjoyed the way they shared it with me as a brother and sister.

Four weeks after arriving Liza joined us for a weekend camping trip up to the Twining Valley. We cooked on the campfire, hiked into the mountains, and shared brandy under the stars. Liza and I found we could make very quiet love under the blankets lying side by side. After five weeks, Daniel and Marilee packed up his paintings in a trailer attached to the back of the station wagon. They were driving back to Dallas and then take a train to New York. Our parting was bittersweet because I didn’t know when I would see them again. Marilee insisted on leaving a substantial amount of money in the bank for me; I protested but she said it was an investment in my future.

Two days later I moved into the bedroom upstairs knowing Taos would be my home for a long time and that I would return here from Albuquerque and Santa Fe. I was now getting close to finishing my directing book so I set aside two days every week to study Yerma. I was also falling in love with this new project and looking forward to beginning it.

Chapter 14

Three weeks before I was to leave for Albuquerque Liza called me to invite me down to Santa Fe. I agreed and left on Friday afternoon. We went out for the evening and came home to drinks outside. Liza seemed distracted but not distant, almost as if there was something she needed to tell me. I asked but she replied that she just excited about my being there with her and had anticipated it all week. In bed that night Liza was more passionate than I ever seen her. We made love several times and she insisted I not use a prophylactic because she wanted to feel my inside her. I was hesitant but the whiskey she had continued to mix for me overwhelmed my being careful. In the morning when I awoke she climbed on top of me and eased down with me inside her. She leaned down and kissed me rubbing her breasts on my chest. Just before my climax she rolled over and wrapped her legs around me to pull me deeper into her. I stayed with her until she climaxed. She pulled me so tightly to her I could barely breathe. She whimpered, shook, and kept saying, “Oh, Tim, so good, so good, stay inside me.”

We laid in each other’s arms after being beside her and in her.

“Tim, I’ve missed loving you so much. When you drove up I wanted to take you right to bed.”

“My word, Liza, I’m glad you didn’t or we never would have eaten, but then I probably would have let you lead me.”

She giggled and snuggled next to me. We dozed a little more. Late in the morning Liza took me with to the shower where we soaped each other. I stood behind her, kissing her neck, caressing her breasts, and gently moving my finger inside her. She soaped her hand and reached behind her to arouse me. The soap made it feel like being inside her. She was beginning to quiver in the start of a long climax. I started to jerk with the feeling of her moving back and forth on me. She took my hand away from her and turned around to rinse me then guided me inside her. I could feel her squeezing me immediately as she moved and pulled me closer and deeper into her. Her arms were around my neck and she was kissing my ears and the side of my face, breathing heavily. I began to pull away as I was close to ejaculating.

“No, Tim, don’t leave me, please.” It was so good I didn’t want to as began to feel my orgasm coming. She reached down with one hand to the small of my back to hold me. I tried to get deeper into her as I climaxed in a rush of thrusts. Suddenly she started shaking and crying out little yelps of pleasure as I sucked on her nipples; she moved back and forth in rapid strokes until she just stopped. We were both panting heavily. She stood up and whispered, “I wanted every bit of you inside me.” We rinsed off just as the hot water ended. I felt like crawling back to the bed but made it and collapsed spread out and exhausted. Liza sat beside me with her beautiful breasts bare, her nipples were aroused and red from my attention earlier. She took my head to her breasts.

“Please suckle me a little bit more.” I moved from breast to breast. She began to make sounds of happy reaction and ran her hands through my hair.

“Liza, I can’t make love again now. Lay back and let me hold you.”

She laid down spread out, “You’re right, I don’t think I could either...but” She laughed and turned toward me, “Would you, my powerful man, like some coffee?”

“Yes, I would, incredible lady, more than , well almost, anything, in the world.”

“I will attend to that ‘almost anything’ later.” She looked at me for a minute with a focus I hadn’t seen before. “Tim, at this moment you are very important to me. Do you understand?”

“I’m not sure. How so?”

“I...uh...I’m not able to really explain it, you just are.” With that she put on a robe and went down to make the coffee. When she came up with the pot and cups, we got into a discussion about my writing. I told her the new ideas that had come up in the process of trying to describe my work; and about the problems I was attempting to solve. The one I was having the most difficulty with was warm-ups. She remembered how Aurora had led them with some simple movements as they recited the sonnets. I wouldn’t always have an Aurora, so what was the answer? She asked if I could lead the warm-ups with some sort of physical thing.

“I could, but I’m not a dancer. Wait! Are there any good book stores here in Santa Fe? Possibly one that leans more towards the esoteric, or has arts and exercise books.”

“Yes, I’ve seen one just north of the plaza; it’s small but it has interesting things in the window. Several times I’ve thought about going in to snoop around. Do you want to try it?”

“Yes, I don’t know what I’m looking for, but ready to look in all kinds of different directions. After we eat let’s go.”

“Sounds good to me; do you want to go out for lunch or have, say, sandwiches here?”

“Either or. Your choice.”

“Well...let’s have sandwiches here and spend the afternoon and evening out.” We had another cup of coffee. I shaved and dressed then sat on the bed and watched Liza dress and put on her limited make-up. Occasionally she would turn to me and smile sending a kiss across the room.

She had made a meatloaf earlier in the week remembering I had mentioned my mother’s with a little age on it. Liza had put a Santa Fe touch on hers. The sounds I made while eating it assured her she had made a good choice. We drove to the Plaza in my car, parked a block north, and walked to the bookstore.

I found about twenty books I wanted to buy but it took a while before I discovered something. In a small collection of oriental volumes a book called Tai Chi caught my eye. It was bound sown together in the oriental fashion with thread and thick paper covers. The script was limited but it was filled with simple drawings of movements that appeared to be smooth and flowing; but the most interesting thing about it was there were four way flip drawings of the process. You could flip the pages and stick drawings would move. They were on the top and bottom then you could turn the book over and go back the other way. The movements were listed in a 1, 2, 3, and 4 fashion. After reading and flipping for thirty minutes I knew I had found the answer; it would take some study and practice but I felt it would enhance a cast’s concentration even more than what Aurora had used. I bought it and a couple more books on theatre, one of which was a rare Brecht in Rehearsal. I mentioned to the proprietor that I had worked in the bookstore in Dallas and he laughed saying he knew my boss very well through correspondence. I told him what I was doing in New Mexico. He said send him a copy of my book if it is published. He gave me his card and we were off into a pleasant rest of the afternoon and evening in Santa Fe. We visited art galleries and curio shops, finally eating at the La Fonda.

Back at Liza’s house we sat on the patio and drank some very good Spanish Brandy she had purchased the week before. It wasn’t Villa-Lobos but was close enough. After our first brandy Liza took my hand, led me upstairs to the bedroom, and proceeded to undress me. She lighted several candles, turned off the lights, and undressed herself in the dim light. There was a glow about her that I had not seen before, almost as if she turned on her aura; but I quickly realized it was the light gold of her skin in the flickering candles. Sitting down beside me on the bed she stroked my chest and leaned down to kiss me moving her breasts across me back and forth. She reached down to hold and arouse me, then put my new hardness in her mouth. Suddenly she moved on top of me and slowly lowered herself until I was deep inside her.

“Love me slowly, Tim, please. Oh, my God, that’s so good. I can feel you growing bigger inside me.”

I didn’t know how that was possible, but I was getting bigger as she arched her back and moved in a circle motion. She was making little girl sounds in a voice that was new to our lovemaking.

“Liza, I can’t hold back any longer...you are...Damn, girl you’re a magnificent lover tonight. Yes, this is...Oh, dear lord, I’m..”

She rolled over, pulling me on top of her and wrapped her legs around me.

“Tim...I...want you deeper in me...Oh, yes now...” Her hips were moving with a feel of desperation and desire. Just as I began to ejaculate, I got dizzy and felt like I was going to pass out with the incredible passion we were sharing. Her orgasm started half way through mine and she whooped out in joy.

“Jesus God, Tim, oh...don’t stop...I’m cumming more, ...again...yes. Don’t leave me, stay inside me.”

I didn’t have any intention of pulling out of her because I felt like I was building up to another climax; and I did as we moved like wild animals with her arms tightly around me, and her kissing my ear, panting, saying for me to love her more and moaning loudly as she had at least three or four more orgasms. I collapsed on top of her. We were both wet from the intensity of it. Sweat was dripping from my face down on to her and my hair was soaked. I tried to move off and beside her.

“No, Tim, stay on me” She whispered.

“I don’t want to crush you, Liza. Can you breathe?”

“Yes. I want you on top of me, close. I want to feel all of you on me.” Her legs were still wrapped tightly around me as were her arms and we were still panting for breath.

“That’s why I chose you, Tim; oh my God...I hope it...”

“You hope it what, Liza?”

“I...uh...happens like this again. Don’t you?” I didn’t answer her. I wasn’t sure I could give an answer that she wanted to hear. I kissed her in response and licked the sweat from her eyes.

I didn’t know if I fell asleep on top of her or not, but I awakened feeling rested but sore all through my lower back and loins. Liza was still sleeping. I put on a robe and went downstairs to make coffee. I had one cup standing outside in the patio trying to figure out the night before. It wasn’t real love that happened but an almost frighteningly desperate coupling. It was an exciting rage of passion, but... Why did she insist on not using any protection? Her explanation of wanting to feel my ejaculation and its warmth, and that she had tried to get pregnant before many times but wasn’t able to didn’t seem quite right in the light of day. I knew she cared for me, but the intensity wasn’t something I wanted to experience often. I remembered the gentleness of my love with Claire and missed her deeply. I couldn’t imagine that sort of rage happening between us nor would I have ever wanted it to happen. But Claire was gone and here I was with this powerfully passionate woman. The mystery of women increased in my thoughts and I knew I would never understand many of the things that are so much a part of them.

I took a pot of the coffee and cups upstairs. Liza was still sleeping, nude, and spread out on the bed. All of her was exposed, and even with my previous thoughts she was an arousing presence. She still looked wet from the night before. As she slowly began to awaken she reached down and touched herself and began to move toward an orgasm. I sat down beside her and she opened her eyes.

She smiled saying, “I had a little dream that you were still inside me. Coffee?

Good man, Tim, I’m glad you didn’t wait for me to make it.”

“I can do more than direct plays and you do look especially beautiful this morning.” I laughed, “All of you.”

“Before I have a cup, touch me a little bit, please?” I did something I didn’t expect, but suddenly couldn’t resist. I took off my robe and crawled up to her from the end of the bed and put my tongue inside her tasting sweat, her tart wetness, and remnants of my semen. With my finger inside her I kissed and licked her clitoris. She told me to turn around so she could have me in her mouth. She had a climax very quickly. She squeezed me and guided me around to be on top of her. Her legs were together as I straddled and entered her. With her legs held close together she was so tight I could barely move inside her as her hands on my rear pulling strongly she moved for me as I began shuddering, my heart pounding.

“Oh, Tim, I can feel the heat of you filling me up!” I was holding myself up with my arms with no thoughts except for her holding me and the little time out of mind surge of orgasm that I thought would never stop, but it did finally. I was shaking from the overwhelming rush of my climax. Liza was shaking too. I bent down and kissed her nipples, suckling both before rising to kiss her. I rolled to the side and she stayed with me, not letting me come out of her. She was vibrating all over, whimpering, then crying softly, and kissing my face.

In a few minutes, “Tim?”

“Yes, Liza?”

“That was really a rather strong way to start the day.”

“Is it still day?” I said with my eyes closed.

She laughed saying, “Do you think the coffee is still warm?” The coffee was not warm but hot, what had seemed like hours had evidently on lasted for a few moments. Liza was still lying down then she rolled back and held her knees to her chest. I watched puzzled. She just looked at me with a soft smile. I poured her a cup but she didn’t move for several more minutes. She slowly sat up and took the cup.

“Strong. Good, I needed it to be. Thank you, sir.” I sat up beside her wanting to ask for an explanation for what she just did. But I didn’t ask because I wasn’t sure I wanted to know. We sat in silence for a while savoring the coffee.

Liza jumped up. “If I don’t get in the bathroom right this second I’ll embarrass myself. I can’t wait any longer.”

She closed the bathroom door and I wondered why she had to wait at all. The mystery deepens. She came out shortly in her robe and poured another cup.

“When are you going to drive back?”

“I guess early afternoon, if I can walk to my car.” She threw her head back in that full laughter of hers.

We finished the coffee and Liza took her shower without me as I laid back and tried to doze a bit more with little success. I was grateful she didn’t insist on a lovemaking bathing experience. I eventually got downstairs for breakfast. Our conversation centered around the previous evenings sensual encounter which didn’t help me to understand it any better except that she was thankful for my loving her so completely. She expressed it in terms of my giving her a gift of fulfillment. My reaction was to smile. I felt pretty fulfilled myself or perhaps sated was a more honest feeling. She me asked to stay another night as if to promise more of the same intensity. I begged off saying I needed to get back to work early Monday. When she walked me out to my car she hugged me in what seemed like a good-bye. She began to cry and thanked me through the sobs. I promised to call her.

On the drive back up to Taos I had a thousand thoughts about the weekend and Liza. I wondered if it was the last time I would see her for a while, or even ever. I wasn’t sure how I felt about it. If we did see more of each other I hoped it would be softer encounters. I didn’t know why there seemed to be such a desperation in her lovemaking. She had always been extremely passionate, but this had been different. It had been a new extreme for me and was almost scary. Being with Liza was like having a lengthy encounter with a movie star who needed as much satisfactions as she could get before heading off on another project. This didn’t mean it was an unpleasant encounter at all just highly concentrated. But she was such a delightful companion that I knew I would gladly spend more time with her. I was as lonely as she. As lonely as she, but I was lonely for Claire, but I wasn’t sure Liza was lonely for her husband. Claire seemed more than ever the perfect woman for me. Both were and are two of the finest women in the Western Hemisphere, but Claire was and is the perfect, albeit unattainable, woman for me. Thinking about her wasn’t depressing, but instilled in me a not giving up attitude and I hoped there was a letter from her waiting for me.

There was no letter but it had been the weekend. I didn’t want to start work until Monday so I just read for pleasure. When dusk happened I mixed a Bourbon and soda and went up on the upstairs balcony and watched the sun go down. It was actually good to be alone and think about what I had to do in the coming week. Yerma needed much more study; it was in a way more complicated than Blood Wedding and almost as passionate, but more the desperation for passion. Desperation for passion; oh my God, isn’t that what I had thought about Liza’s intense lovemaking. No, not passion because that was there, but not love as in being in love, the kind that Claire and I felt for each other. Well perhaps it was a partial emotional memory I could use as a director. I wished then I hadn’t had those thoughts in relation to Liza. I decided that when I saw Liza again I would try to get her to explain, if possible, what had brought about such intensity. When making love with Liza my thoughts about her as a woman were different from any I had felt before, there seemed to be a need to perform to whatever her expectations or needs were; that is, don’t disappoint her. It was a bit disturbing, as if I was being used. Hopefully it was an anomaly that had just taken hold of her, I didn’t think it a was a strong attraction to me that made it happen, but the way she had been talking in a sort of mysterious code; ‘choosing me’ and all that, opened up the possibility that she was. Liza made me feel innocent in the ways of physical love and I wasn’t sure I wanted to lose that. There was both an innocence and completeness in my experiences with Claire.

After the sun went down I fixed some dinner, walked to the plaza, and had a drink at the small bar Marilee and Daniel had introduced me to. In bed that night I set out Jeordie’s photos of Claire. She entered my dreams as I eased into sleep. At coffee the next morning I started reading the book on Tai-Chi. The text was limited but from it I realized there was more to it than just exercise or movement. I studied the drawings and then the flip pages, then I stood and walked to small lawn part of the back yard and began to try the movements. I went back several times to the book and slowly was able to do some simple exercises. I not only liked it as a potential warm-up but felt it was a good way to start the day. After a couple of hours I fixed breakfast and looked at the book more on how to connect the movements. I wanted more, so I called my old boss at the book store in Dallas. He said he would contact a friend in San Francisco to try find more books for me. And if that didn’t work he would call New York, but he was sure he could get me several books by next the week. We talked about my writing and the life in Taos. He wished me luck and to call him anytime I needed something. A good voice from the recent past. I spent the rest of the day writing and afterwards going over Yerma.

On the afternoon of the next day the mailman brought me a letter and a package from Claire. I opened the package first to find two framed watercolors from her. They were both from her memories of Dallas. One was of Marilee’s back yard looking out on Turtle Creek with two people in a boat kissing. I immediately remembered it as our first kiss. The other was of me up on stage turned to look at someone in the audience. They were breathtakingly beautiful and brought out all of the emotions that raged through me when the powerful images of her danced in my head. The letter was a recounting of her train trip to Los Angeles almost moment by moment. She had only mentioned it briefly in her past letters. She was very clear in her expression about how difficult the separation from me was and how bleak her future looked to her then. The writing was deeply personal and more intimate than she had written before. She described a physical withdrawal from my touch that caused her to cry and shiver almost uncontrollably. She hid these, what she called little seizures, by pulling a blanket around her. I knew exactly what she mean because for our last weeks together we were always touching, holding hands, kissing, loving, and our arms around each other. For the first weeks of separation I could feel her touch even though she wasn’t there. I didn’t have seizures but short periods of blankness that were trance like. She said they eased as she started her life in Los Angeles, but returned several times a week, mostly at night. The letter was long with descriptions of the scenery from the train and how lonely it was to see it without me. She ended with some information about her job and how it was developing, and closed with hoping I liked the paintings. She did a tiny colored calligraphy of I love you.

I wrote all the rest of the afternoon on my directing book and in the evening I wrote Claire a long letter telling her I had the same feelings of withdrawal from her touch and it was still happening; and I assured her I was beside her on the trip. It was at first hard to describe how much I loved the paintings without going over all of the emotions they brought back. The Turtle Creek scene was like us looking at us and I hoped she shared the same thoughts of how we started our love on that late afternoon and the teasing from Marilee. I praised the portrait she did of me on stage that truly captured the look of love I was giving her in the audience.

Every morning I did more Tai-Chi exercises and began to feel the difference they made in my concentration and physical feeling. My writing continued through the week. Each day I got better at self editing and could see the end. On Saturday afternoon I called Liza to say I couldn’t make it down to Santa Fe, but there was no answer at her house. I tried later in the day with the same result. Sunday was the same. It was probably better that she wasn’t available because I didn’t believe I could do another lovemaking marathon for a while, if ever.

Slowly I got to know some people in the community and was invited out to dinner several times. Everyone seemed to have an artistic reason for being in Taos even if it was to recharge in this sanctuary. Except for the loneliness I knew it would be hard to leave, but I was ready to get back to directing. I tried steadily to reach Liza but she had disappeared. Four weeks later I got a letter from her.

Liza had gone back to Dallas to prepare for a trip to Hawaii to see her husband. He had written saying he would meet her there for a couple of weeks. She was already on her way to Los Angeles to catch a Clipper or cruise liner and would try to write me when she got back. I doubted I would hear from her.

My old boss had come through on the Tai-Chi books. I got two from San Francisco and three from New York. By the time I had finished my book and getting ready to leave for Albuquerque I was becoming expert enough to lead new exercises for every rehearsal. During my last week in Taos I got a long letter from Marilee and Daniel and they included a really fancy brochure on Daniel’s coming gallery opening. They hadn’t stayed the whole time in the city, but took a house and studio out in East Hampton on Long Island. Daniel said it was just as inspirational as Taos in a wonderfully different way. The brochure had a color picture of one of Dan’s new paintings. A photo of a large painting is hard to read but I could see he was getting even more adventurous with color and subject. I was deeply sorry I couldn’t be there for the opening. Marilee did say she had sent Claire one of the brochures. I was sure she felt the same I did about going to the show.

After a pleasant drive down, I met Dr. John Miller at his university office in Albuquerque. He showed me the campus theatre and the facilities around them. I was introduced to the rest of the faculty who had stayed for the Summer. I immediately liked the technical director and the scene designer. My stage manager was a senior student who had just come back from the East doing an internship at a summer theatre in Connecticut. The theatre plant was not that different from The Civic in Dallas except that it had more wing space, larger dressing rooms, and a big scene shop behind the stage.

My living quarters turned out better than I had hoped. It was a nice small apartment behind the house of an English Professor who was in England for the summer. That first evening I had dinner at Dr. Miller’s house. His wife was a striking teacher of history. She had specialized in the history of Spain so there was a lot of discussion about Lorca.

The next day was spent at the theatre working with the designers. The costume designer was an Hispanic woman, named Carmen Durango, who looked like a Mexican movie star. She could have been thirty or fifty years old. Her beginning drawings for the play were very good. We talked about advancing the colors with more differentiation between the men using hats and boots. Because they were shepherds I wanted to see sheep skins over their shoulders. Carmen seemed to like everything I said which was a good start.

The designers and I went out to dinner together for some excellent New Mexico style cuisine. That evening in the theatre we had a general cast call for the University and community actors, it was going to be, thank goodness, an open call not limited to the school population. The meeting was really an introduction for me where I could talk about the play and describe my directing process including the warm-ups. I talked for an hour and a half with an hour of questions afterwards. They were all a little surprised about my using the whole evening for auditions moving them in and out of a semi-run through and scene repetition. They were all used to reading and leaving but there was an excitement about this new way. I assured them the play could be cast in two nights with call backs on the second. To end the evening I had drinks with Carmen and John Miller at a great bar two blocks from the campus. There was music and dancing. I found out Carmen was a widow. Her husband had been killed in Spain in the beginning of the Civil War. I told her about my friend Dick Ayers and his wife. John’s wife, Jane, joined us bringing a friend who evidently was a companion for me. She was a raven-haired young Hispanic woman who worked in the archeological department as a researcher. She had a doctorate from the University of Arizona and specialized in studying ancient Indian sites, primarily the Anazazi ruins. Her name was Anjelica Burana-Lobos. She had an outdoorsy look and was extremely attractive; copper skin, black eyes, and a trim figure. We had no trouble talking and going through the getting to know you routine. Her first questions were about why was a young Anglo director from Dallas chosen to direct a classic modern Spanish play. It wasn’t antagonistic just curiosity . I told of my success with another Lorca play and my mild fluency in Spanish. That satisfied her and we went on to the book I was writing; Jane Miller had informed her of my project. I explained it was no more than a project now even though it was finished from my side and now had to be approved by the University Press. The evening didn’t go very late and Anjelica gave me a ride back to my apartment. Her parting was an offer to show me around Albuquerque which I accepted. Before sleeping, I wondered about Anjelica and thinking that I couldn’t let anything distract me from this important task of making Yerma an even stronger production than Blood Wedding. Well, perhaps she wasn’t interested in distracting or even seeing me again and it was just a polite gesture on her part to offer a tour of the town. I looked at the picture of Claire beside my bed and went asleep.

The auditions for the next two nights went very well.

Rehearsals were begun three days later hoping the cast would heed my desire for them to become very familiar with the script and to begin memorizing their character’s lines. I spent the days in the theatre working with the designers and tech staff helping with everything I could. After the two weeks John Miller called me into his office to tell me he was recommending that the University Press publish my directing book. One of their staff editors was already preparing it for a galley proof. I was so shocked I couldn’t speak, I had thought it would take months for something to happen. He said there wasn’t an advance but that I would get eighty percent of any sales profits after the costs of first publishing were met. He was optimistic about some success, and felt it could possibly be accepted as part of the study for beginning directors, especially since it offered a new approach.

The next two nights’ auditions went very well. Rehearsals started three days later. Most of the cast had spent time familiarizing themselves with the script, but almost all of them voiced doubts about learning their lines before they were blocked. I assured them it was possible because I had used this method before. One actor asked how long my rehearsal period had been when I had used this process before.

“Almost six weeks.” I told them.

One University actor questioned it working in the four weeks we had to put up Yerma.

“With lot of concentration and good rehearsals, I believe it can be done with very strong results,” I said, trying to reassure them.

Hoping to quash any more doubts, I handed out copies of the sonnets I wanted them to memorize for warm-ups and demonstrated examples of the Tai-Chi we would do together while reciting the sonnets. They first reacted with laughter, and then seemed almost resentful that I was asking them to memorize more than their lines. I calmed them down and asked the stage manager to set up a crescent of chairs for a read-through. As we read through the play, I attempted to describe how we improvised with the script. The evening ended with a great deal of grumbling and no questions.

Later, at my apartment, I reread the script, but was discouraged by the reaction of the cast. I wondered if it could be done in four weeks after hearing their doubts, but I was committed to it.

The next morning I had a meeting with John Miller to discuss the cast’s reaction to the way I wanted to direct the play. He had already heard about it, but he had confidence in what I wanted to do. I mentioned the four-week rehearsal period as one of their main concerns.

“Tim, I also was worried about that, but felt it could be handled with your leadership.”

“It’s going to take more than my leadership; they’re going to need to want to try something new and experimental.”

“Yes, I certainly agree with you on that, but this cast may not be as sophisticated as the one you worked with in Dallas. Don’t give up on it.”

“I wasn’t even contemplating giving up, I just wanted to discuss it with you, I guess as my mentor here at the University.”

I left to spend most of the day working in the theatre shop, then back to my apartment for more script study.

That evening, only two of the cast had tried to memorize the sonnets, and all of them quit half way through trying to follow me in a tai-chi warm-up. I summoned all the confidence I could and tried a simple walk-through of the first scenes. They didn’t understand my side directing, so they would stop, no matter how many times I urged them to continue. The concept of general directions being spoken almost constantly was so new to them they couldn’t grasp it. They insisted on stopping to listen to my words and ask questions. I knew I was attempting to concentrate the process because of the time restrictions, but it obviously wasn’t working. After a break, I spent more time in a simple lecture using the ideas I had expressed in my writings. It was received with little enthusiasm. We attempted more scene work, but it was even less successful than the first part of the rehearsal. We ended the evening in a sort of stalemate.

In my past experiences, especially in beginning work, I had left rehearsals a bit scared but never as discouraged about one like this. I decided to go to the bar John and Carmen had introduced me to several nights ago. There was a large University crowd, but I found a stool at the bar. Luckily, there was no one there from the cast. I worked my way through two Bourbons and pondered about the last two evenings. I ended the evening at my apartment with a glass of brandy, wishing Claire were with me for encouragement. I spent the next day going over my writings to see if I could simplify my description of the way I directed Blood Wedding. I wrote several pages of notes, hoping they would convince the cast it would work. When I arrived at the theatre early for rehearsal the stage manager met me in the lobby to tell me the cast was having a meeting with John Miller and for me to wait for him in his office. Dr. Miller arrived after I waited very anxiously for an hour. He sat behind his desk. After a few minutes of silence, he said, “Tim, the cast had no idea they were stepping into what they considered an extremely experimental rehearsal process to be done in a short period for a complicated play. I know you tried to explain your approach during auditions, but they don’t believe they can adapt to it in this short amount of time.”

“And, what does this mean? I hope it doesn’t imply we should cancel the production.”

“No, it doesn’t. Tim, how many plays have you directed?”

“Uh...I guess about twenty-five, not all of them full length shows. Some were touring pieces, or specialty things like Commedia dell’ Arte. Probably twenty full length ones.”

“And only one of those was done using your new method, right?”

“Yes.”

“I assume most of them were successful.”

“Yes. Luckily I haven’t had a real failure. Not all were raging successes, but all were well received.”

“I explained to them that you were a successful director from a very good theatre and had directed many plays in a way they could work with. They want early blocking and extensive scene work and wouldn’t mind run-troughs of the work at the end of the week.”

“Well, this is a major disappointment, but...”

“Tim, you know I believe in your work, and that what I saw in Dallas was extraordinary. Also, I’m not giving up on doing a production here using your ideas. This cast does like you personally and wants to continue if you will go back to the usual way of directing

“John I like this play and this cast very much. They look great and all had good auditions. Of course, I’ll do it, if that’s the way you want it done.”

“It’s not the way I want it done, and I know it may seem like blackmail, but don’t think of it like that, please. Don’t consider it a setback, just an artistic adjustment.

“How does this affect my status here at the University?”

“In no way what-so-ever.”

“Well, that’s a relief. I have a serious day of work tomorrow.”

I know, several weeks crammed into one day, well, perhaps not that bad knowing how well you know the play. I had a strong feeling you would agree, so the cast is waiting in the theatre.”

The cast was sitting in the crescent formation and obviously anxious for my decision. I took my chair in the center, smiled at them and said, “Well, let’s get to work.”

They already had their scripts in hand, pencils ready. Evidently, Dr. Miller had convinced them I would step right into a more conventional approach. I proceeded to describe a timetable and concept as I had many times before. There was a completely different atmosphere at the end of rehearsal. My last words were to ask them to carry their scripts and a pencil throughout the rest of the week’s rehearsals. I wanted all of their blocking written down, but also said to have a good eraser ready for any changes. I promised I would have the play completely blocked for tomorrow’s meeting. Before leaving the theatre, I asked my stage manager, who was in much better spirits than he had been earlier, if he could find me a chalkboard for the next rehearsal. He said it wouldn’t be a problem and shook my hand.

John Miller was waiting for me in the lobby.

“That seemed to be a happy cast. They thanked me for changing your mind.”

“It was not much of an adaption, I just reverted back to what I’ve used many times before. I have lost two days of rehearsal, though, so tomorrow will be quite busy. I promised to have the entire play blocked.”

“I have a feeling you’ll be using more of your new method without the cast even realizing it.”

“Probably without me even realizing it.”

“Do you feel good about all of the technical aspects?”

“Very much so. Your designers are terrific; that’s one part of the production that is ahead of schedule.”

“Tim, Jane and I want to take you out to dinner Saturday night.”

“That sounds good. What’s the occasion?”

“Well, I may have some good news about your book. I recommended it to the University press and the editor told me today they liked it very much and would let me know something by the end of the week.”

“That’s great; I certainly didn’t expect a reaction this soon.”

“You may have a second career as a writer, Tim.”

“I’m not sure I have a first career.”

“Yes you do. Oh, do you mind if we invite Angelica? You rather charmed her.”

“Not in the least. She rather charmed me too.”

“Good, come at seven for drinks. Do you think you can find your way?”

“Of course, I’ll see you then, if not before.”

I spent the rest of the evening building a prompt book from a drawing tablet I had bought on a whim in Taos. I cut the centers out of the pages and pasted in the pages of the script. It gave me plenty of room to write and draw in blocking patterns for each page to the sides. After finishing, I had a glass of brandy and thought about the coming Saturday, my book, and Angelica. I didn’t know what I did to charm her, but she had entered my thoughts several times since meeting her. A slight distraction with a new friend could be a good thing after my past weeks of being alone, though I didn’t expect any sort of relationship to develop because she seemed much too serious about her work for that to happen.

I went to sleep with Claire’s last letter in my hands.

The next day was spent in blocking the entire play, a labor that had taken me weeks in the past. The work with Blood Wedding was more valuable than I had thought it would be, I just improvised in my mind and applied it to paper. After my previous work on Yerma, it was a true secondary visualization.

That evening I used the chalkboard the stage manager had found to describe and draw the movement for each character in every scene. We finished up with a walk through of the first scene and I asked them to try to learn their lines for that scene. By Friday night, we had completed the blocking for the whole play. I requested an early Saturday afternoon run-through, which went very well. The cast was showing real excitement for the production, to my great relief.

I left the theatre at five and headed back to the apartment. It was cool enough to wear my boots and light suede jacket, I wanted to look a bit spiffy for the evening; perhaps this Anjelica lady was already slight distraction in my mind.

I was the first to arrive at John’s house. Jane greeted me with a surprising hug and took me to their back porch, where John was setting up a bar for the drinks.

“Welcome, Tim. What’s your pleasure?” “Bourbon and soda, if possible.”

“I don’t have a soda bottle, but will good branch water do?”

“Indeed it will.”

“Bourbon is my drink, too, Jane prefers gin with tonic.”

“I noticed your art as I came through. It’s a great collection of western paintings. My mother and brother are both painters. As a matter of fact, Daniel has a show opening this week in New York.”

“We lean towards the Indian painters here in New Mexico. We’ve been here for twenty-five years now and fell in love long ago with the regional subjects. We’ll be going up to Santa Fe for the Indian market later this month to look for some more art; Jane has gotten into native blankets, the older the better.”

As John handed me a drink, Anjelica walked in. I had almost forgotten how eye-catching she was. She was wearing classy New Mexico garb in earth tones-a long skirt with a white peasant blouse. She looked almost like a character in Blood Wedding. Her hair was braided in two long pigtails down her back. She offered her hand, smiling.

“Good evening, Tim, or do you prefer Timothy? I think I do.”

“Which ever you prefer, but it’s good to hear Timothy.”

“Then Timothy it is. How have your weeks here been so far?”

“Every moment a joy.”

She laughed, enjoying the word-play. When she laughed, she looked straight in my eyes as if she was on the same wavelength as I humor wise.

“I’ve had to completely change my approach to directing the play, but it’s going fairly well now. I believe very productive.

“I’m not worried in the least. They have the advantage of being able to work all day as opposed to what I’m used to in community theatre.” “Don’t downplay the professional qualities of what you did with your show there. It was as good as any I’ve seen anywhere.”

Jane asked her smiling at our quick banter, “Will you join me in a Gin, Anjelica?”

“I don’t know, yet. What are you having, Timothy”

“Bourbon and water, mighty fine.”

“I haven’t had any of that Kentucky juice in a while, so make mine Bourbon also, please, Jane.”

“That Ford of yours is quite a machine, Timothy. I’ll bet you’ve gotten a lot of looks; Albuquerque is a real car town. There are a couple of shops here that do similar work, but I’ve never seen a paint job like that, and the lowered top is great. What else is different about it?”

“A whole bunch of stuff; bigger engine, hydraulic brakes, new seats, bigger radiator, and a special exhaust system. You must like cars.”

“I do very much, but right now I’m doing with my Chevy Suburban; It’s good for all the rough travel I do. I may try very hard to talk you into letting me drive that ‘whamo’ of yours.”

“’Whamo’, hey that’s a good name for it. I haven’t driven it to it’s full potential yet, but it is strong in the mountains. And as for your driving it, you’ll have get in it first. Which could be anytime.”

The Millers were enjoying what was going on between me and Anjelica. So was I, and surprised.

We talked about art and theatre for an hour and left in an hour for a wonderful dinner. We returned to the Miller’s for brandy and liqueur. When the evening was ending Anjelica asked me if I was free tomorrow for a tour of Albuquerque. I said I was and she said would come to come to my apartment at ten the next morning so we could have breakfast at a favorite place of hers.

The pleasant evening and the alcohol eased me into sleep.

I was up a little after nine the morning and was just ready as Anjelica knocked at my door. I asked her in for a cup of coffee before we left. She immediately noticed Claire’s watercolors and Daniel’s oils I had put on the walls as soon as I had arrived. She also noticed the pictures of Claire which I explained as someone from the past, but not forgotten. She accepted that and we discussed the past evening and the plans for the day. She asked if we could take my car and maybe even drive it later. I agreed and we were off.

“Wow! What a great sound, don’t hold back, I want to hear it with more RPM.”

I stayed in each gear longer and pulled back in third. She laughed and clapped her hands with excitement. She guided me to her restaurant. There was a variation on eggs Benedict and juevos rancheros with a red sauce; and it turned out to be the best breakfast of my New Mexico experience so far. She asked if she could drive for the tour which I quickly agreed to. There was no doubt Anjelica understood how to drive sporty cars, she took it just to the edge of legal for the whole afternoon. I think we saw everything there was to see, but she assured me we were just beginning because there was so much more in the surrounding areas. As the day headed into dusk she asked if I would join her at her house for a fixed dinner. I nodded with a smile and we stopped at a grocery store for the ‘fixins.’ We agreed on steak and three kinds of squash and the most luscious bread I’d ever seen.

Anjelica’s house was a small, adobe-stucco, dark yellow, and delightful place in the older part of town. Her living room was covered with artifacts and Indian art. It was an amazing collection. The office and den was stacked with more and had maps covering the walls. When she showed me her kitchen I noticed a bottle of my favorite Spanish brandy, Villa-Lobos Gran Especial.

“My word, you have Villa-Lobos.”

“I’m surprised you know of it. A branch of my family in Spain makes it. They send me a case every year. Very few people I know have ever heard of it.”

“What a wonderful coincidence, I was introduced to it just this past Spring and I love it. I have a bottle at the apartment. My soon to be sister-in-law, Marilee, will love this story.”

“I’ll mix you a drink I invented using it.” She half filled an Old Fashion glass with the brandy over ice, then added currant liqueur, and topped it with soda; she did have a spritzer bottle. It suddenly became my favorite drink after good Bourbon.

“Let’s go out side a sit for a while before I start dinner.” She had a small patio and a luxurious garden that was on the edge of being wildly over grown.

“I’ve been traveling so much lately that it’s gotten out of hand back here.”

“I like it, the over manicured look is not my sort of garden.”

“Well, you’re in the right place then.” She laughed.

We spent an hour telling each other about our lives. I discovered we were the same age. She had graduated early and then gone right for her masters and P.H.D. New Mexico had hired her right after she had gotten her doctorate and she had been working in the field for two years. Her family was from the Southern part of the state where they had an a very large and successful ranching business raising cattle and farming. Her family had wanted her to go East for school but they didn’t have the Southwestern Archaeological studies there and this is where her heart was and will be. She was surprised I hadn’t gone to college but impressed by my theatre experience in the last nine years. All of my family being in the arts was not unexpected when she had noticed my familiarity with and interest in the Miller’s collection. I joined her in the kitchen and did what I could to help. During the excellent dinner she revealed she wasn’t attached or dating anyone because of her constant field work; and that she hadn’t found anyone interesting enough to make the time for. Her family was insistent or had been that she only date Hispanic men, but she had let them know she would never limit her friendships to a racial qualification. They weren’t alienated but now only expressed mild disapproval of her rare choices in men, most of whom had been Anglo. After dinner we had a pure snifter of Villa-Lobos and I finally stood to leave, she came to me with a soft hug and a promise we would get together again in the next weeks.

We walked out my car and she stroked the roof line and fenders, “I really like your ‘Whamo’ Ford, Timothy, but then it seems to fit you, you’re kind of a ‘whamo’ also.”

“Is that good, being a ‘whamo’?”

“It most certainly is, Timothy. I’m leaving tomorrow to go back out, would you like to get together again when I return?”

“You beat me to the request, Anjelica, but I’ll say it, would you like for us to see each other again?”

“I don’t know, I’m a little leery of Texans, especially artsy ones.” She laughed and reached up to kiss me. Not a passionate one, but an unqualified yes.

I got a bit lost on the way home but that was probably because of the sweet kiss. I hoped she would return to town soon.

The next three weeks were as exciting as Blood Wedding had been but with more confidence. A photographer John Miller found for me proved cooperative and very competent.

One week before opening, Anjelica returned. She knocked on my door after rehearsal. I had just stepped out of the shower, so I only had time to put on my robe.

“Hi, Timothy. I know it’s late but I got in early this afternoon and my nap lasted longer than I had planned. I went by the theater

and they said you had just left, so I got up my nerve and came by...” She said nervously and quickly.

“Well, hello, Anjelica. That’s alright; we ended sooner than expected. We got a lot of work done; a run-through, they were all exhausted so I...”

“I know a nice bar that stays open fairly late, so would you like to go out for a drink.”

“That sounds good; come in and let me get dressed.”

“Do you want me to wait here?”

“No, no, come on in. We’re both grown-ups.” She sat down in my small living room, in the dark. I turned on the one lamp and went into the bedroom, put on my dungarees, a short sleeved cotton jersey, my boots, and grabbed my barn coat.

“This is a most pleasant surprise, I don’t think I could have slept anyway. How was your ‘expedition?’”

She smiled, “My ‘expedition’ was better than the last one at the same digs. I found some nice things; two good pots, and some bones. How have your rehearsals been going?”

“Very well, I believe it will be a good show.” We walked out side and I suggested we go in my Ford.

“I would much prefer that, my truck is almost a chore in the city and I love your car, as you know. You drive and I’ll give directions.”

The bar was a classy up scale Hispanic place that was almost dark except for the candles set on the tables. We chose one in the back and the owner came over greeting Anjelica by name and she introduced me in Spanish and I responded in kind. He took our orders and asked if we want something light to eat. She ordered us a plate of toasted tortillas with chicken and a mixed red tomato sauce.

“Well, Timothy, you do speak Spanish.”

“Not as well as I would like to, but I can get along.”

“It sounds as if...”

“I’ve thought of you and wondered how it was going out there.”

“And I’ve thought of you, which is a new experience for me, I have rarely thought of anyone when I was working.”

We talked for two hours over several drinks and then drove back to my place. I pulled up next to her big Chevy. I turned off the engine and we sat in the dark. After a few minutes of silence I reached my arm around to the back of her head. She was wearing her hair down. I ran my hand through her hair and she turned to me. I leaned to her and she towards me. She was nervous and stiff as I kissed her. I kissed her face and eyes and she put her arm around me and kissed me. We slowly learned to kiss each other. I put my other arm around her and she moved closer, not nervous, or stiff now. She moved back and laid back in the seat.

“That was sweet, Timothy. I didn’t know if anything like that would happen.”

“I certainly didn’t either, but then I didn’t expect to see you at all, but yes it was and is very sweet.”

“Please kiss me again, Timothy.”

I did and moved close to her. She reached around and pulled me closer. After a long gently passionate kiss she whispered my name several times in my ear. Claire was the only woman who had ever done that before.

She sat up, “I should be getting home. When do you finish your play?” “We open next Friday and run for three weeks then after a week’s break we move the show to Santa Fe for two weeks.”

“During that week off, if it is off, would you like to go camping with me. I know a place way up in the mountains that is really beautiful and there are some hot springs. It’s very secluded and there are some old trails leading up to the snow line. Does that interest you at all?”

“You bet it does. I could be off for five days if we leave Sunday and I could get to Santa Fe on Friday before the Saturday opening. I’ll check with John Miller, but I’m sure it will be fine. Do I need anything special for this adventure?”

“Just some hiking boots; I’ve got two good sleeping bags and everything else.”

“Will you be here for my opening? It would be great if you could be because it will be an exciting but lonely night if you’re not.”

“Next week end? I think so. Can I join you at the theatre?”

“Of course.”

“I don’t see how it could be lonely with all the people swarming around you.”

“That will only happen if the production is very good, and I think it will be, but at that point I will have lost all objectivity. But it’s always a real let-down because my job will be finished.”

“Timothy, This a new experience for me; that is, wanting to spend time with someone. I’m so used to being alone but not lonely, but not lately. I don’t want to impose myself on you,...I...”

Are you kidding? If I had the chance I would have tried to impose myself on you, at the very least try to see you more. I’ve been alone for several months, or almost alone, some family and an old friend, but for the last weeks no one. Did you just hear me saying I want you to come the opening and be with me? I expected to be alone for a long time, You are an exciting, beautiful, and interesting lady, so how could I not be happy about meeting you?”

“Dios mio, that’s re-assuring to hear.”

“Claro que si, siento lo mismo, Anjelica.”

“Well, I’ll join you at the theatre Friday night. I’ll be in the lab all week and working late, come over one night after rehearsal, any night.”

“I will.”

I walked to her truck. She gave me a light good-bye kiss.

The rehearsals the last week were very strenuous and productive. I did go over one night to Anjelica’s lab. We went out for a late drink and to her house for some Villa-Lobos. We stayed up almost all night talking with occasional slightly passionate kisses. We both seemed in no hurry to rush whatever may happen.

The tech and dress rehearsals all went exceptionally well. On late Saturday morning we had a last rehearsal with me on stage guiding and side coaching. I went through all of my notes working scenes that I thought could be stronger. We finished on stage and I spent an hour with the stage manager and the people running the lights and sound. I sure did miss Eddy, he would have added so much. I went back to the apartment for a shower and a short nap. I had not gotten a letter from Claire for several weeks What was happening with her? Thank goodness Anjelica was taking away some of the burn from my missing her.

I got to the theatre an hour early and every thing was fine and ready to go. In the lobby I greeted the audience with John Miller. Ten minutes before curtain Anjelica arrived. John was happily surprised to see us greet with a kiss and hug. We sat in the back and watched a true success. The audience stood for an ovation to greet the cast on their curtain call. I couldn’t believe it had happened again, but extremely relieved and thrilled. Anjelica and I went to the Miller’s for a cast party. John pulled me aside to ask if I wanted to take up his offer of studying at the University with a fellowship guaranteed. He said it would be a fast process to a diploma. And he asked if I would want to direct later in the Fall or early Winter. I tentatively agreed to both. I knew the job would be waiting for me in Dallas even if I waited a couple of years or so.

After the cast party Anjelica invited me to her house. We kind of collapsed into each other’s arms on her couch. We mostly kissed and talked softly, during one long kiss Anjelica started breathing in low pants.

“Timothy, I can’t...breath” she said pulling back, but this is very nice you holding me. I’ve never kissed this much. It’s always been a couple of kiss and then right to the chase.”

“Anjelica”, I took her face in my hands and gently kissed her.

“You evidently have discovered a softness in me I didn’t know existed. Everybody thinks I’m so tough and rugged, well I did too, until you kissed me that first time. When we first met I was a bit put off by your overtly confident personality, but then I saw your smile, and I melted a bit, and then you taught me what a kiss could be like. A theatre man, wow; that’s something new. I’m so used to outdoor guys who are proud of their rugged ways; a softness towards women is not usually one of their characteristics; I don’t mean they don’t like women. Maybe they’re not sure gentleness goes with strength. Does that sound right?”

“Uh...I don’t have much experience with rugged-outdoorsy guys, so I can’t...”

Anjelica laughed and punched me softly, “Yeah...a silly question. Maybe I’ve just met the wrong rugged guys. And you know what, I don’t know if I’m especially attracted to outdoors types; they’re the ones I’m around all the time. Well, archeological types who are out in the field for months sometimes.”

“I guess people mostly have a strange opinion of folks in the theatre, and they’re partly right, I’ve known some rather strange ones in my work. But for the most part they’re the strongest people I know. It’s a ridiculously demanding process, most of characters are strong men and it takes strong men to play them. I was an athlete before I took up theatre, and I had some of those same opinions, but I found it to be the way I could express my artistic drive. Being from a family, that is totally dominated by the arts is sometimes like a curse; it’s almost as if I had no choice; all of my life the arts were the primary drive, but I didn’t paint or draw, design, or sculpt, so I was drawn into the high collaboration of theatre. The loneliness of the studio didn’t attract me at all, although my writing has certainly headed me somewhat in that direction.”

“Did you ever act?”

“Yes, in high school, but I felt a stronger affinity for directing very early.”

“I found my interest in archeology in high school, too. And since I’m a New Mexico girl, this part of the world interested me the most. I don’t really want to go to Egypt or the Gobi desert because there’s so much to study here, well perhaps South America someday.”

“I guess like I want to go to New York someday, but I’m not in a hurry.”

“It’s funny with all the talk we’ve done that we didn’t get into this before, it was probably the wonderful kissing that did it.”

“If I kiss you again will you give me one more snifter of Villa-Lobos before I go?”

“Do you want the brandy first? ‘I like the taste of brandy on a man’s lips.’” She said in a funny dramatic tone.

“How about an un-brandy kiss first, then a brandy one a bit later?” “Well, let me think...uh...OK.” She came into my arms smiling with a new giggle.

I did get that brandy kiss later with only the beginning of petting. There was a shyness between us that seemed to be right. We were still new kinds of people to each other.

I went asleep that night thinking about the camping trip, hoping that it would happen. Claire looked at me from the photograph, telling me she loved me, but from afar.

There was a great deal of excitement on the campus about the production. I was asked to lecture at a summer workshop of drama teachers who had seen the play. I worked with the editor of the University publishing department to finalize the galley draft. They added more performances during the week and John Miller asked for me to be there as much as possible which turned out to a good experience because he used it as a recruiting program. I got to talk to a lot of young people who were thinking of coming to the University and study drama. Some of them asked if I would be teaching any classes, John stepped into one of these questions sessions to say he hoped I would agree to teach some beginning classes. He turned to me with a questioning look. I nodded a yes though a feeling of inadequacy ran through me. Teaching at a University, boy my Dad and Mom will love that.

Anjelica and I went out to eat one night during the run but she was so tired from Work that it was an early evening. She did tell me she would pick me up for trip the next Sunday at ten in the morning.

She came in for coffee before we started. I wanted to see if she approved of the hiking boots I had gotten. She did saying they were the best. She looked like someone out of National Geographic except she was more beautiful than anyone I had seen in those pages. Her hair was in the double braids and no make-up, which she didn’t need anyway. As we headed out of Albuquerque I wished I had a camera. I had only been on the main roads with some exceptions on the outskirts of Taos and up to Twinning Canyon. It was much more wide open, not like West Texas, more like Western movies with mesas and snow capped mountains in the distance. She described the terrain and all of it’s history and archaeological information. Her mood was the happiest and most at ease I had seen in her so far; she even gave me a starting the trip kiss, which was said to be for our good luck. A good tradition to start. We passed through some interesting little hamlets on the way, some were Hispanic, some Indian, and some Anglo. I could feel myself falling more in love with New Mexico. The only thing I missed about Texas was my family and the Civic a little bit. I knew that from now on New Mexico was at least my second home and I wasn’t sure which town I liked the best.

“Do you know Taos well?” I asked.

“Yeah, I think in a way it’s my favorite town in the state. I don’t get the chance to go up there as often as I would like.”

“I have a house there, or the use of a house that belongs to my soon to be sister-in-law. It’s right in town a block from the plaza. Would you like to go up there sometime?”

“I think I would, yes, I would like that.” She turned and smiled with a nod.

The roads got rougher as we got higher. I knew now why she had the truck. The last was no more than a trail. We had gotten high enough to be in Pine and Aspen forests. Our last approach was a natural cut between trees. It didn’t look like anyone had been through here in years. We pulled into a clearing with a creek running through it that was more like a small river. On one side trees led up the mountain side, on another there was a rocky abutment with levels like balconies and from each level steam was rising. Anjelica brought out our tent first, it was more like an open lean to, and we quickly raised it. I was sent gathering rocks to set up a campfire as Anjelica unloaded the rest of our gear. I began to feel helpless at this point and I believe she noticed this, so she took my arm and guided me to the edge of the trees and put a hatchet and small saw in my hands. She brought limbs for me to cut and chop. In a hour we had a respectable amount of firewood. By that time we were both hungry. so Aljelica got the fire going and I watched closely enough to be help in the future. We feasted on steaks and squash we brought in an ice cooler. After eating we walked the short distance to the stream and laid out in the grass to rest before the hike I was looking forward to. We laughed and kissed a bit, she teased me about feeling helpless. In the late afternoon we headed up the side of the trail. In an hour we were at the snow line and sat for awhile to admire the incredible view. We could see the high plains through the mountains in the distance and the higher peaks up the line of rising peaks. We drank some water from a snow melt and headed back down to our camp. On arriving Anjelica suggested we go up the short way to the hot springs. We both changed into bathing outfits took towels and walked the fifty yards to the rock balconies. There were three of the hot pools; one was obviously too hot so we settled on the third one down. The water coming from the upper pools formed a little water fall mixing with a cold spring that filled the pool we had chosen. We eased in and laid back against the rock sides. The pool was about fifteen feet across and deep enough in the middle to swim across. It was the most relaxing hot bath I had ever taken. I told Anjelica about the heated pool at Marilee’s in Dallas, and how I thought it was warm but not like this one. Because it overflowed we could use soap which She had brought in a little bag I hadn’t noticed. We soaped and swam under to the other side where there was a little shelf we could sit on and be up to our necks in the water. Anjelica went over to the waterfall and washed her hair. Watching her was a new vision of a woman. Her black hair shined in the late afternoon sun and she swam back to me it streamed out behind her. She settled in beside me turning to smile.

“It would be nice to bathe like this every day. Do you like it, Timothy?” “Very much, except that I would be so relaxed I don’t think I could do anything afterwards.”

“Yes, that’s true, therefore you do it just before you go to bed. We could do that while we’re here and bring lanterns.”

“What about in the morning? Over the years I’ve gotten used to my almost cold showers.”

“I have an answer for that, too. I’ll show you later.” The sun went down as we talked laid back. I think I babbled a bit about how beautiful it was up on the trail. She promised to show me even more spectacular vistas in other parts of the state. In the dark I pulled her to me and in my arms. She put her arms around my neck. She kissed me with a startling abandon and beginning of passion.

“Hold me, Timothy. Close.”

I put my arm around her lower back, pulling her to me. I put my tongue in her mouth and she moaned softly then returned the same. I reached down to her tight little bottom and she quivered a bit. I knew she must be aware of my getting aroused. She moved around with her back to me, but to the side enough so I could continue to kiss her. I was very glad she was wearing a two piece suit as I ran my hand across her soft but still muscular tummy. My other hand was caressing her shoulder. She took my hand and moved it to her breasts. I pulled the top of her suit up to expose her breasts. When I rubbed her nipples she kissed me harder.

“I’m so small, Timothy. My little titties, I mean.”

“You are not and you’re beautiful to touch. Don’t you ever think you have to be large there to be attractive sensually.”

“As long as it pleases you to touch me...oh...it sure pleases me.” I moved my hand down her tummy and started lower.” “May I?”

“Yes, do.”

I touched her and slowly began to rub through her bathing suit. She kissed my face and my neck.

“Touch me slow, Timothy. This is kind of new for me...I’ve never been treated this gently before.”

“I want to go slowly with you, it’s better for me, too.” I pulled her up out of the water a bit so I could kiss her breasts. I started suckling her nipples. They grew out as I went from one to the other.

She touched her nipple, “They’ve never been like that before. I didn’t know they would grow out that much, they have stuck out but not...Timothy; Timothy, let’s get out of the water and go back to our tent. Do you want to?”

“Yes, I think this hot water is working against us.” Anjelica had set up a lantern by the tent so we could find our way home if it was after dark.

“Are you hungry?” Anjelica asked with a tone that I knew she wasn’t in any hurry to eat either.

We opened up our sleeping bags, spread them out then undressed in the dark, climbed in, and snuggled in the cold night air. Feeling her close to me shivering was a new excitement for us.

“Timothy, if we make love, will you be especially gentle with me? I’ve almost had sex before but it was always before I was ready...physically.”

“How so?”

“The men I’ve known, not more than three, were always in such a hurry, they could never really be inside me. The last man rushed so much he hurt me. I never saw him again, and I’ve been celibate ever since; more than a year. I didn’t expect...well, here we are, Timothy.”

“Yes, if we make love I’ll be gentle, and it’s your decision whether we do or not.”

Her answer was to make sweet little sounds and kiss me. She squirmed closer well aware of my hardness.

“Timothy, I’ve never had an orgasm, I don’t even know if I can or would know it if I did.”

I touched her and she wasn’t wet. I messaged her slowly and she spread her legs more. I kissed her and moved down to her breasts again. Her nipples raised up again. She was small but soft and high on her chest. My gentle rubbing was beginning to affect her, she opened up more and I was able to touch her more intimately. She was not wet yet but just a little moist. She was no where near ready for me to put my finger inside her. But the whole scent of her was growing, it was intoxicating, and different from any woman I had known. The only thing I equate it to was roses, a thousand of them. With this reaction I couldn’t not taste her if she permitted it. I began to kiss down her slim, taught ness, and as I reached her soft, almost hairless mound she touched my head.

“Timothy, are you sure you want to kiss me there, no one ever has...I’m..oh...yes if you want to.”

I opened her up with my tongue and kissed her little partly hidden bud of clitoris. As I licked and sucked softly she began to move and make little moaning noises. She began to get wet just a little bit, and in a minute wet enough that I could put my finger in her, but only the tip. She was so small and tight; no wonder that it had hurt her in the past.”

“That doesn’t hurt, Timothy; it feels good. Please be slow.” There was such a salty sweetness in her taste that I wanted more of her wetness and it was happening as I began to move the tip of my finger in and out of her. She began to move her hips as I kissed her and licked.

Suddenly she started shaking all over as she moved, “Oh, Timothy, something is happening, don’t stop kissing me, be more in me.” But I couldn’t. “Oh my, yes, si ya vengo, yo creo. Oh, Timothy, it’s...”

She pulled my head away from her, “Oh, too much, Timothy, come up and kiss me.”

I rubbed my face on her tummy as I moved up to kiss her. She held me tightly still shaking, and breathing heavily. As I kissed her she reached and took me in her hand.

“I believe I’m ready for you to be inside me, do you think I am?” “I don’t know, if you want me to.”

“I do, so much. Can we be very careful.” I reached into my bag next to our sleeping bags hoping I didn’t take out the prophylactics I had taken to Liza’s. I found one, opened it, and put it on. She pulled me over between her legs. I tried to enter her but couldn’t.

“Oh, Timothy, what is wrong?”

“You’re just very small.”

She reached down to guide me.

“I didn’t know I was that little. Is that why it hurt me before?” “Probably so.”

“Is it going to happen?”

She guided me and I was able to enter her just with the tip of me.

“Yes, Timothy. Don’t push hard. Am I wet enough?”

“You’re fine, Anjelica. How does that feel inside you?”

“So very good. Move just a little bit.” She tried to open up more for me but I was only able to go in another inch or so, but it was a wonderful feeling to be that intimate with her know it was new for her to enjoy making love for the first time. I lowered myself down to her and kissed her moving slowly and gently.

“Anjelica, here let’s turn over with you on top so you can ease down on me.” We changed positions without me leaving her. She tried to take me deeper into her but she was just too small. But it was evidently very good for her as she was moving and taking as much of as she could. I rubbed her breasts and reached down to touch her. As I gently caressed her she began to have another climax. Her reaction was to laugh and giggle, then bend down and kiss me holding my hand to her. There was enough of me out of her that she could stroke me. It was a new sensation to be in her and have her hold and squeeze me moving her hand up and down me. As I started to climax I tried to go deeper but could only a little bit. My reaction was to laugh also and pull her to me. She collapsed in my arms still laughing softly. We rolled over and held each other still softly making happy sounds. She cooed and I laughed.

“Timothy, Do you believe we will be able to make love completely...I mean with you in me all the way?”

“I hope so, but that was very nice the way it was. Well, it was for me.” “Me, too, but I feel like a little girl in a way. Is that silly?”

“No because you are in a way, I mean physically down there, but believe me that’s the only little girl part about you, and that will change.” “What do you mean? That will change?”

“Uh...well, every time we make love, I think it will be more so.” “Goodness, I hope so. Are you hungry?”

“Ravenous.”

“Let’s stoke up the fire; I’ll make us some chopped beef and potatoes. How does that sound?”

“I’ll get the fire going and you get the food.” We cooked and sat by the fire on the ground. In the firelight when she turned and smiled at me I remembered a picture in a travel magazine I saw at Marilee’s house in Dallas; it was of beautiful women in Bombay, India. She looked like an East Indian princess, with her gleaming white teeth, glossy black hair, and finely chiseled features, but without the make up. A startling vision across the fire. I slept that night with her head on my shoulder. When I woke up in the morning she was gone. She left a note on her pillow, ‘gone fishing.’ I put on some shorts and walked down to the stream. I could see her about a hundred yards downstream fly fishing. I knew she wouldn’t be back for a while so I did my Tai Chi exercises. After that I went to the stream, took off my shorts and waded in. The water was very close to ice cold. In the deepest part I went under and scrubbed myself with my hands. I came out shaking myself dry like a dog. As I finished dressing, Anjelica walked up with four large trout.

“If you’ll get the fire going I’ll clean these and we’ll have the best mountain breakfast there is. But first, come here to me for a minute.”

She laid her pole down and put an arm around me, “Good morning, Timothy. Did you sleep well?”

“Like a baby. Did you?”

“Like a little girl,” she laughed and kissed me.

We ate the best breakfast there is and got ready for another hike, but his time down the stream into the next little valley. We found a spectacular clear pond a mile or so from camp. Rested dangling our feet in the water. She brought out a couple of apples from her back satchel.

“Would you like to go swimming, Timothy?”

“I hope it’s not as cold as the stream, but yes.”
“It shouldn’t be as cold because it’s still and in the sun.” We stripped down and waded in and it got deep rather quickly. There was rock cliff that over hung the pool. I swam under to see how deep the water was under it. It was deep enough and clear of any rocks that stuck up. Up along side the cliff there were natural steps leading up to the top.

“What are you doing, Timothy?” She called from the middle of the pond.

“I’ll show you.” I called out.

The cliff that over hung the pool was about fifteen high, just a little over a three meter diving board. I went to the edge and looked down. It was clear all the way to the bottom. I took a few steps back then hopped to the edge and took off over the pool, and achieved a fairly good one and a half flip with a full twist cutting into the water almost vertical. When I came up, Anjelica swam over to me.

“That was terrific, Timothy.”

“Thank you, mamm, but it doesn’t quite equal your fishing skills.”

“It was pretty good. Did you do that in competition?”

“No, just for fun, I was never really that good, what you just saw was my best dive. I want to try one more thing; it’s not that precise but I’ve wanted to do it for a while.” I climbed back up and did more of a run to the edge to get more height. At the highest part of my leap I did a pike and turned half way back and dove in straight in. Anjelica was clapping her hands and smiling.

“What was that?”

“Several months ago I saw a Tarzan movie where the actor swung out over a river on a vine and did that move in the air. It was fun to do it, though I wish I had a vine.”

“You are my Tarzan.”

We paddled in the water and put our arms around each other to kiss.

“That would make you my Jane, and you surely fit the bill, super-girl.” We swam to the edge of the pond, got out, dressed, and headed back to camp holding hands. I was late afternoon when we got back. We ate a sandwich snack and sat by the stream and talked.

“How do you see your future, Anjelica?” Do you think you’ll stay in New Mexico?”

“I think so. There’s so much to do and search for here, it’s actually endless.”

“Marriage? Children?”

“No, neither one. I don’t think it would be fair to a husband or child with me gone so much out into the field. I didn’t believe I would ever meet anyone who would interest me enough for that, and then you came along.”

“Yeah, I came along. I have no idea where my life is going to take me. I have, as you know, the opportunity to study at the University and a good position waiting for me in Dallas whenever I finish here. But you’ve made me think there might not be a finish to here. No matter what ever happens, I want to see you as much as possible.”

“Timothy, when I came home from that last dig, it was the first time I was anxious to get back, and it was that I wanted to see you; and now...well.” She looked at me for a moment, lowered her head, and said, “Things have gotten real special, haven’t they, Timothy?”

“Yes they have.” And I pulled her into my arms.

“Do you want to go up to the hot springs?” I nodded and we got up to go, this time taking a flashlight and two blankets. We relaxed, bathed in the hot spring, and loved some. Anjelica was becoming more uninhibited in her affections towards me as if she could trust. That evening our love making was more successful. And became more so each evening. Our next to last night at the camp I was able to slowly be fully inside her and it was a revelation for both of us.

“Timothy, I can feel you all the way. Yes, it’s the first time to really make love. Touch me again to help me have....”

“Anjelica, arch your back and I’ll pull you to me.” She did, almost like a contortionist. She was getting more wet as we moved together, making it easier.

“Oh, it’s working, you’re rubbing me on the right place...yes,...yes...that’s it. Pull me closer, oh, Timothy, kiss me, suck on my nipples, please.”

I couldn’t reach down to her breasts, so I kissed her, and caressed her nipples with my hand. We were learning how to move with each other now that we were really completely making love. She was so tight that if she hadn’t been able to get so wet I don’t know if I could have moved at all. We were both rising to climax. She twisted her slim strong legs in mine to pull me into her.

She started laughing and kissing me and then one long cooing sound. And I blurted out, “Oh, my word, Anjelica, hold me. Yes, your are so good, so good. It feels so good. MY God, girl...so good!”

I held myself up away from her on my arms to look at her in the moon light. Her eyes were closed and she was smiling. I started to pull out and away from her.

“No, Timothy, don’t. She started moving again under me and arching her back again. I moved slowly with her and she quickly climaxed. We rested for a minute and she once again began moving, it was so arousing that this time I too came with her. We were both breathing heavily and I felt like I was going to black out from the sweet exertion. She let me slowly lie down beside her.

“You were so patient with me, I thought the first night you would think, ‘well, she’s just to small to ever make love’, but you didn’t. You know it wouldn’t have happened if I didn’t care so much for you, and trusted you to be gentle with me. I got a little scared that first night that even though you helped me have my first real climax and that it would be just that and not what happened tonight.”

“I hope you realize that my caring for you made me know we could make love as completely as we did tonight. I knew it would take some time if you trusted me and if you wanted me.”

“I didn’t know that I wanted you that much, I just didn’t know, I wanted to please you so much that I didn’t want to give up trying. I had begun to think that something was wrong with me and that I never would be able to. Do you mind me caring for you that much, Timothy?”

“No I don’t mind, I’m thrilled by it because I feel the same way about you.”

“Even though I don’t want to ever get married or have children.”

“Do you believe you will always feel that way?”

“Well, not as strongly as I used to, you’ve put me in a spin about those thoughts. But I know not for a long time, as I said it wouldn’t be fair.” “I understand completely, I believe I feel the same way. Whatever time we can spend together will be a joy. Who knows how long I’ll be in New Mexico, I do love it but this is not the center of the theatre world. Remember I said I may not finish here, but that’s not being realistic for the long run. Coming back as much as possible is realistic.”

“Well, what is going on right now is pretty good, Timothy. Don’t you think?”

”Yes, I certainly do. And I want us to enjoy each other’s company when we can in our very different busy lives.”

“I’m all for that, Mr. Sart. As a matter of fact I’m not going to be as busy for the next few weeks, I’ll be in the lab a bunch and out on short digs, but not another big one for a while. I have applied for a major expedition in the late Fall, but I may not even get that.”

“Would it be a good one if it happens?”

“Yeah, a big career opportunity; South America for a few months, and it’s something I’ve hoped for.”

“I remember you mentioned South America; well I would miss you but I hope it happens for you.” “I thought you would say that. After we had been together a few times I didn’t think you would be the possessive type, and I liked that. But that was before this little trip and you still aren’t. I believe you could be protective but not possessive.”

“My daddy always told me the best way to ruin a good thing is to be possessive and jealous. I failed at that a couple of times but I was younger then. And you’re damn right I can be protective.”

She snuggled in closer, kissed me, and pulled a blanket over us, “Hold me a little bit before we decide to eat the treat I hope is ready. Before we had gone to the hot springs Anjelica had put a small pot roast over the coals in a clay pot. It was ready and delicious, she had included in the pot some potatoes, and onions. We built up the fire and laid out on a blanket covered up and looked at the stars. We talked about our future careers and laughed about the silly dives I had done to impress her. We finally snuggled into one sleeping bag and made love again. It was sweet, slow, and gently complete.

Our last day was more of the same and it was even nicer than the day before. We had trout in the morning after my Tai-Chi and our cold freshener in the stream. We hiked back to the swimming pond and ended up eating then going to the hot springs. We slept snuggled together and woke up early for the drive back.

Chapter 15

Before I left for Santa Fe I asked Anjelica to join me at the La Fonda during one of the weeks I would be there with the plan of driving up to Taos. She agreed. We had an evening and full afternoon of rehearsal before opening at their community center theatre. It was big success and became something not to be missed. I actually enjoyed my first two weeks alone in Santa Fe and the luxury of staying at the La Fonda. The University paid for my room but I upped it to a small suite and paid the difference. I entertained the cast lightly in my room, roamed the town, and worked on the re-writes of my book which I completed in the second week. Dr. John Miller and Jane joined me on the weekends and one night we were eating at the hotel restaurant and I saw Carolyn Caruthers, from the cast of Blood Wedding , across the room with a table of people, one of whom I recognizes as her husband. I asked John and Jane if they would mind if I went over to see some old friends. We had finished eating so they agreed to meet me in the bar in a while. Carolyn jumped up when she saw me.

“Tim, what are you doing here?”

“Carolyn, hello, I’m doing a show here.”

“A play? Where?”

“At the community center theatre, it’s another Lorca piece, Yerma.” “We’re going to be here a few days, we must see it. Tim, you remember my Husband, James?”

“Of course.” He stood up to shake hands.

Tim, we’re still talking about Blood Wedding. If you’ve got a show playing here, we’re going to see it. Tim, these are the Hughes, Jim and Sally, old friends of ours from Dallas.” Jim Hughes stood up.

“We saw your play in Dallas, and it was great, as a matter of fact, we saw it twice.”

“I’ll arrange comps for all of you for tomorrow night.”

James replied quickly, “No comps, we’ll support anything you do. Are you coming back to run the Civic?”

“Yes, I think so, but I’ve got some things to do out here first, and if I did come back, I wouldn’t really be running the theatre.”

“Well, that’s what the patrons hope will happen, You do the artistic side and Barney does the business.”

Carolyn stepped in, “I went to the last board meeting and the consensus was to offer you the title of Artistic Director. How does that sound?” “Pretty good. Carolyn have you talked to any of the cast members?” “Often, we’ve become kind of a club. There have been several cast parties, you really started something.”

“Did Liza come back to Dallas? I gave her a ride out here to Santa Fe on my way up to Taos.”

“Oh, you don’t know then?”

“Know what?”

“Jimmy, do you mind if I have a talk with Tim over at the bar.”

“No sweetheart, not at all. If he hasn’t heard the Liza story, he needs to.”

We walked into the bar and I introduced Carolyn to the Millers and told them I was going to have a conversation with her at the bar.

We took the most isolated bar stools we could find and I ordered a drink.

“Tim, Liza moved to San Francisco.”

“My word, that’s a big change. What happened? She sent me a note saying she was going to Hawaii to meet her husband.”

“She did go to Hawaii.”

“And?”

“Since you two were good friends, I’ll tell you the story, but it’s not for public consumption. Ok?”

“Sure.”

“Her husband, Frank, wasn’t in Hawaii and hadn’t planned to be.” “Well, why did she go.”

“It was a ruse, a cover up.”

“What do you mean? A cover-up? For what?”

“She was pregnant, and if anyone asked, she could tell them that she got pregnant when she and Frank were together in Hawaii.”

“Pregnant? Are you sure?”

“Yes, I’m positive. I went with her.”

“You went with her?”

“She didn’t want to go alone, and Jimmy had to go to New York for several weeks and felt it was alright for me to join her.”

“Pregnant? Did she say who the father was?”

“No, and she wouldn’t except that it was someone she had known in Santa Fe. She said she chose him.”

“She said those exact words?”

“Yes. She said the man didn’t need to take on that responsibility and she didn’t want him to. Tim, she had always wanted a child and knew she would never have one with Frank, and she didn’t want a divorce. This was to be her secret forever.”

“My God. I’m...well, taken aback. On the way out here, I asked her why she and Frank had never had children, she said they had tried for years but it never happened.”

“That’s not true. Frank didn’t want children, evidently not with her, and did everything he could to prevent it.”

“What do you mean, ‘evidently not with her’?”

“When Liza married Frank, she knew he was a rake, but she thought she could tame him, or make him happy. One of Jimmie’s friends had worked for the same company as Frank in Java. When he came back he told us the truth about Frank. He had had a child by a native girl, a girl, not a woman, and had met a Dutch woman in Batavia and had a child by her also. Frank had quit the company and moved in with the Dutch woman. The last he heard was that Frank was moving to Holland with the woman.”

“San Francisco?” Does she plan to stay there.?”

“She has cut all of her ties with Dallas, her house is up for sale. Her sister lives in San Francisco and was very happy to have her move there. She was recently divorced and lives in a big house there with her children. Liza has her own money and wants to start a new life with her child. Frank will be listed as the father.”

“Uh...that’s quite a story.”

“Did you see much of her while she was here?”

I thought for a moment, “Uh...no, she did come up one weekend while Marilee and Daniel were still here. We planned to get together...but...well, I got her note about going to Hawaii to meet Frank.”

No matter how I felt about this revelation I wouldn’t add to any speculation to Liza’s activities here. Her secret, my secret.

“Yes, it’s quite a story, but I hope for her sake a forgotten one. No one really knows about Frank and his activities over there except for us and Jimmie’s friend and we have no intention of going any further with it. I only told you, Tim, because...well, you were close friends and I don’t think she would mind you knowing what happened to her. When I last saw her, she was extremely happy, she had gotten her wish and by someone she had chosen. End of story.

I was a state of shock, or something similar. A child I would never see or know...that is if the child is mine. Of course it is, that explains her intense love making. Well, that’s a secret I’ll have no trouble keeping.

I believe I understand why Liza never told me. Perhaps she thought I would demand or try to be with her. If I am the father she did the right thing because she knew I would continue to hope to for a reconciliation with Claire. I thanked Carolyn for telling me, she went back to her table, I hoped to see them at the play and it was good to know the cast was still close, because I hoped to work with them again in the future. I joined John and Jane explaining it was just what was going on in Dallas that we talked about and that it was good to hear stories from home. We talked about the success of Yerma for a few minutes and John brought up the subject of my studying at the University. It was too late for the Fall semester but plenty of time for Spring. He said I could give some lectures to directing students and I did have a play to direct in early winter. I was to stunned by the news of Liza to add much to the conversation, but I did say it all sounded good to me. After they went to their room I stayed at the bar to be alone and have at least another drink. I knew there would be no easy sleeping tonight.

Liza’s story made a lot things about what happened between us much more clear. Her activities that last weekend were now clear; she was trying to get pregnant. I didn’t know why what was so obvious now was such a mystery then. I didn’t want to believe it was my innocence, but just something I wouldn’t let enter my mind. She was using me, but I didn’t feel resentment, but rather in a way complemented by being the ‘chosen one’. If it was me, of course it was me. My God! A child I will never see or know. She was surely right about my not being able to tackle the responsibility of a child by her or anyone except for Claire, but I suppose I would have. A child by Anjelica would change a career she was totally devoted to, and I suspect it could destroy our relationship. It made me very glad that the love Anjelica and I felt for each other was not demanding, and she was right about my being protective of her and I would continue to be as long we spent our rare time together. I was sure right when I told Anjelica that Liza wasn’t around anymore.

The last weekend of the production in Santa Fe Anjelica came up to stay with me at the La Fonda and she followed me up to Taos on Monday. She loved Marilee’s house and it became our home for a week. She took me to places I would never have seen without her, the edge of the sacred Indian lands up near the lake, ruins north east of Taos, and a secluded Inn in Arroyo Hondo. Our love making became an even sweeter experience for her. This new awareness of herself gave her a glow of happiness; she laughed easier and often, she became very uninhibited about me seeing her in the light when we made love, and she began to dress more in a feminine manner. That started just before we left Santa Fe when she found a dress shop that specialized in very attractive southwestern styles, and she continued to shop in Taos. She also had an amazing collection of turquoise and silver jewelry that she had never worn, she had just collected it as artifacts, but now felt strongly enough as a woman to wear it. From the striking archeologist in pants and epaulet shirts to a stylish New Mexican beauty. We talked for hours and read together in the late mornings. She read the galley proof of my book that was now named Shaping the Play, and was impressed by how interesting she found it. I told her about the directing experience of Blood Wedding and how it started my New Mexico adventure. Claire’s drawings attracted her attention because they were of the play. I told her a limited version about me and Claire and she reacted with a sorrow that I had lost her. We drank Villa-Lobos on the balcony and she introduced me to Piňon flavored coffee.

On our next to last evening together we discussed the future. We knew we would be lucky if we could spend two or three weeks a year like this if our relationship grew. There was no doubt we were in love, but we had to accept the extraordinary differences in our careers. I knew I would return to Dallas eventually and there was no place for her there, no matter how strongly our love grew. But we were happy with what we had and would enjoy it when we could.

Anjelica drove back to Albuquerque on a Monday morning. On Tuesday I received a letter and package from Claire. The package was a Rollieflex camera. Her explanation for it was to record the beauty of New Mexico in a larger format. I had written her so many pages about how astonishing the state was. The incredible gifts she kept sending were an expensive way for her to express the idea she was thinking of me. In one the letters to her I said she didn’t have to send me anything. The reply to that was she could and would. Her letter was sad and I got the impression she was having an even more difficult time with the matchmaker’s choice though I had to read between the lines to discover it. Her strongest statement was she felt it was affecting her health; but she revealed not much more than that except the continuing request that her parents revoke the promise went unheeded. The work at the museum was interesting but because of her lack of seniority, it had become rather routine. She was drawing as much as she could and it all centered around us in Dallas, and if a good one came out of it, I could have it. She went beyond the colorful calligraphy in the last letter to actually illustrating her thoughts with little drawings of us and her memories of Dallas. The most touching part was she wanted me to be happy and to not hold back my potential to love someone else. The letter ended with her promise to love me always no matter what happened.

I spent the afternoon in thought about the last eight months. I had known three very different women in a very short time, all very endearing in different ways. Liza as the mature desperate lover, Claire as the perfection, and now Anjelica the strong adventurer with a loving gentle side. I remembered several years ago a rather egotistical actor telling me all women were the same, I thought that was stupid then and now I knew how wrong he was. Although none of these women were to be my life partners probably, knowing them has changed my life in more ways that I could begin to understand, they helped me realized I adored women and their difference from men; certainly sexually, but also in their sensitivity to feelings I had difficulty expressing, and a way looking at problems with a new vision I hadn’t seen.. Each has given me a change of perception; a different outlook on existence and each has helped me to think more clearly about sharing the experience of living. I don’t believe I was especially selfish or boringly macho before them, but I was sure a lot better person, partner, and even a better artist because of them. I can’t remember having an argument or strong disagreement with one of them, well with Liza on unprotected sex which had it’s own answer. Claire was in my mind, but so was Anjelica now. I think I believed because I would never have or find another Claire, what Anjelica and I had was the best thing that could have happened. There was really no doubt in the future we would go our separate ways. I knew she loved me and we would love each other more in time and this was possibly the kind of love she wanted, knowing she couldn’t give herself completely to me, she knew I was there to come home to as long as our time lasted.

I spent the rest of the afternoon studying the information on the fantastic new camera. It was fairly complicated and different from Jordie’s Leica, but I had it figured out in several hours. I did my Tai-Chi then went to the plaza to buy some rolls of film and eat. The evening was spent writing a long letter to Claire. I wrote about the success of Yerma and an edited description of the camping trip. I didn’t name Anjelica or our situation, there was no need to add to her sadness no matter what she said about me finding love. I separated from my feelings towards Anjelica and let Claire know how much I missed her and wished she could be with me, and I wanted to know how she felt about me studying at the University or going back to Dallas to work at the theatre. I mentioned the conversation with Carolyn and her husband and what they said the theatre board wanted me to do, the artistic directors position. Her advice had been always so solid and she never hesitated to give a different viewpoint. In this asking for her thoughts I knew I faced a coming choice and I had doubts about both of them, the educational opportunity was good and I could continue with Anjelica in our limited relationship, or going home to a possibly challenging job. I mentioned my verbal commitment to John Miller, and that I knew if I reneged there was no coming back. I believe Claire knew from afar that I would probably choose New Mexico but I wasn’t totally confidant in the decision. I admitted I missed my family and the familiarity of Dallas and that most of all I missed her. I ended with the open statement of how my proposal to her in the Hotel on our last day was still my wish and would continue to be. In a P.S. I said she could call me if she ever felt the need, here in Taos or as soon as I got a phone in Albuquerque.

Anjelica called me the following Sunday to ask when I was coming back. She was leaving for a dig but would be back in two weeks and hoped to see me. I had made several calls home and even New York to ask what the family thought of the University offer and they all said for me to try it. With Anjelica’s call that was enough, I made the decision and left to set up residency in Albuquerque. I packed up and left on Tuesday. I found a very nice apartment close to the University and moved out of the borrowed one. I contacted John and made an appointment for a conference. He was very happy about my decision and even offered me a job in the department. I would be called a studio assistant and it would entail running the two theatres and working with box office staff. My experience in Dallas had prompted his offer and he said the whole business side of the department needed an overhaul. I accepted with the agreement I got the weekends off and started to work the next day. I also started to furnish my new dwelling but decided to wait for Anjelica and get her help for buying major things because I admired what she had done with her place. I hung paintings and Blood Wedding drawings on the walls of an empty living room. For the first time I had a real garage for my car. One of the interesting things about Albuquerque was that it was a car town, modified ones, and many times people wanted to talk about it and ask who did the work on it. One day while at a grocery store I found a note on my wind shield that was an invitation to exhibit the car at a show the coming weekend. There was a phone number attached so I made the call and said I would attend. Uncle Willy would get a letter soon about this recognition of his work. On Friday morning Anjelica called me, I had posted the new number on her door, and asked if I wanted to spend the weekend at her house. I quickly agreed but that I was exhibiting at a car show on Sunday and would she join me. She laughed saying it sounded like fun especially she since was also a car person and loved my car. When I arrived at her house she pulled me through the door to greet me with a hug and a kiss.

“Hi, Timothy, wow...I don’t believe I’ve ever welcomed anyone like that before. It’s good to see you.”

“It’s really good to see you, too, ‘super girl’.” And she did look super dressed in her new approach to style. I took both of her hands and stood back to take her in. She was wearing a turquoise peasant blouse with coral beads sown into the neck band and at ends of the puffy sleeves, and an almost pleated shorter than usual black skirt with a mountain outline in grey tones. It was a spectacular outfit, and even more unusual, light make-up.

“You’re embarrassing me, silly man. It’s just me. You look pretty good, too.”

“Yes, thank goodness, it’s just you. How was the dig?”

“A good one, but blah, blah, blah, I want to know about you. You decided to be at the University, haven’t you?”

“Yes, I’m going to give it a try.”

“Well, I’m certainly glad, Dallas is a bit inconvenient.” She replied with a laugh and another hug.

“Let’s have a drink and sit on the patio. I want to know everything.” I tried to describe the studio assistant job and what changes I would try to make.

“I’ve been working on a mailing list of past and potential supporters of the department and redoing the ticket office. I took a concept to the art department for a season ticket brochure, which should go out in a month. I also got John to agree that I got weekends off except when there’s a production up. He’s really bending over backwards to make it good for me here.”

“It sounds like it. Are you going to direct a play soon?”

“Yeah, I’ve convinced him that a Berthold Brecht piece would work, I think ’A Mans a Man’.”

“Brecht? Do you like him as much as Lorca?”

“At least equally. Brecht is wild and always political. It’s the most modern, I think, of European theatre. Lorca is more the Spanish culture of Folk Tales, but Brecht is more universal. But when it gets down to it, as a director I should be able to direct anything, within reason.”

“Well, I believe you could do anything.” “Support, support, don’t stop; but opera is beyond me or even children’s theatre.”

She smiled and leaned over for a kiss, “You asked about my dig. We’ve discovered a new burial ground at an Anazazi site. It really is exciting and could take years to fully excavate. I don’t think there’s any doubt I’ll get a major publishing effort out of it. And it’s about time. The university isn’t a publish or die school but I need to get something of high caliber in the journals.”

“I understand completely, my book, if things go well, should be able to get me directing jobs.”

“ You’re ahead of me, the closest I’ve come to writing a book was my dissertation, well it was a book, but not of the published sort.”

“You read mine. Could I read yours?”

“You might find it rather esoteric, but sure. Tell me when you’re ready to eat, I’ve made a leg of lamb.”

“Let’s wait a bit longer and have another bourbon. It sure it good to see you, Anjelica.”

“Siento lo mismo, Senor Sart. I’ve missed you, I mean really missed you.”

“And I you. You dressed out for an evening at home.”

“I wanted to look special for you.”

“You surely did that, special is sort of limiting for how you look.” “Thank you, Timothy. You’ve made me want to look special. I like the way I feel about choosing my clothes now. You’ve changed me for the better, I think. I never thought of trying to look good for someone before, well except at least clean,” she laughed at that.

And I laughed realizing I had tried to dress more spiffy for her. “I also feel the change you made in me. But I don’t want you to change too much.”

We stopped talking about each other and discussed our trip and when hoped we make another, perhaps in the winter. I commented on what good snuggling that would be. We finally ate the terrific lamb and had Villa-Lobos on the patio and eventually couldn’t resist being close. Our love making seemed to be better and better with our getting to know the most intimate things between us.

Later that night in the as we were laid side by side. “Timothy, I think I will grow to love you as much as I do my work. I don’t want that sound as if I don’t love you now, because you know I do, but you also know how much my work means to me and probably always will. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I never thought I would find a man who could mean as much to me as you do. When I work I’m totally consumed by it, but at night you enter my mind as no one ever has. And I don’t mean just sexually, that of course, but I just think of you and how good it is when I’m with you. Do you understand what I’m trying to say?”

“Yes. I don’t believe you could have said it any better. I feel the same way about my work, which has changed in the past weeks and in a way is even more consuming than before. And, naturally you are in my mind at night also when we’re apart, which is most of the time. Sometimes I wish you weren’t away so much, but then perhaps it’s better that way. Each time we come together we’re both a little different, and I believe closer for it. Our different work demands that we both learn, constantly think, and grow and it brings something new into what we already have. Uh...does that make sense?”

“That we won’t get tired of each other...that we’ll be the same except...uh...more so, or that there’s more to us than before. Did that come out right?”

I smiled in the dark and pulled her to me closer, “bien dicho, Anjelica.” We eased into sleep. The next morning we greeted the morning very sweetly.

We went into town and I started taking picture with the Rollie. I explained it was sent as a gift from a friend and she asked nothing else. The camera had come with a portrait lens attachment so I also took several shots of her. We ate in town and headed out into the country side so I could get some good pictures of the mountains in the distance. Back in town we dropped by the Miller’s and ended up going out with them for dinner. When the women left the table for a few minutes John commented about the change in Anjelica.

“Tim, I can see her change in dress, but there’s also a look of real happiness I’ve not seen before, and we’ve known her for three years. Whatever is happening between you two has sure been good for her.”

“Well, we’re having a good time and I think we’ve both changed because of it.”

“I see that in you, there was a kind of sadness about you that’s not there now.”

“Perhaps you’re right, I certainly don’t feel sad now.”

“You do know how important her work is to her, don’t you?”

“Oh yes, we have discussed that in great detail. There’s no real danger of us making any un reasonable demands on each other. And she’s also aware that someday I’ll be going back to Dallas, not soon, but someday. But for now, it’s very good between us and will continue to be.”

“She is one strong young lady, but it’s this new softness about her that I approve of greatly, and I’m sure Jane does too.” Later that evening I told Anjelica about the conversation.

She laughed and said, “Jane also said something very similar to me. I took it as a great compliment.”

We had set up candles in her bedroom and poured snifters of brandy. As we undressed each other slowly I then stood back to admire her. I kissed her forehead, cheeks, and lips moving down to her nipples and they grew from my attentions. I stood and moved around behind her kissing her neck as I moved. My left hand caressed her breasts and I touched her beginning wetness with my right hand. She turned her head to me and kissed with a new rising of passion. I moved around to her and slowly kissed down her slim beauty until I was kissing her wetness and opening her with my fingers then touching with my tongue.

“Stand up, Timothy, that’s too good and I want to touch and hold you.” I licked her tummy as I came up to her. She reached down to hold me then she kissed down me and put me in her mouth for the first time and I moaned from the new experience with her. I knew I couldn’t last long the way she was sucking and moving on me. I tried to pull her up but she took my hands away and continued until I could hold back no more. I thrusted gently into her mouth as she tasted and swallowed.

“Oh my God, Anjelica. Stop, I can’t stand anymore.” I pulled her up to me and held her. I was shaking from incredible intimacy she had given me.

“I need a sip of our brandy.”

I handed her a snifter from the bed table. She drank it down in one gulp.

“I believe I had a little orgasm when you had your rather magnificent one. I didn’t know it would be so much of you, but when you kissed and touched down there I wanted so much to put you in my mouth and feel your orgasm where I could taste it. Like you do with me.”

“Well, you certainly did it. And it was...oh my...”

“You don’t need to say anything, I liked doing it, though I never thought I would.” She whispered as we laid out beside one another on the bed.

I lifted her up on top of me, spread her legs over me, and asked her come closer to my face. I put my hands on her bottom as she leaned against the wall. I pushed my mouth onto her and put my hand up underneath and put my finger slowly into her as I licked her little growing bud of sensitivity. She moved on me and gently came to a climax laughing sitting more on me until she stopped quivering then rolled off and kissed me and guided me on top of her and into her.”

“Timothy, wait a minute before you put on a thing. I want to feel you inside me like this for a little bit.

Later she said it was wonderful lovemaking and we fell asleep cuddled and close. Her head on my shoulder.

We got up early the next morning and prepared the car for the show. We washed, polished, and rubbed every surface clean, especially the wheels. When we arrived they gave us an assigned parking on the exhibition row. The Uncle Willy special was a real hit and we took turns standing by the car while the other walked around to see the other cars. I could only answer about half of the questions I was asked, but it was great fun. We joined some of the other car folks for a beer after wards and got home at dusk to eat and spend the evening together. I left around ten to go back to my place and prepare for the week ahead.

Chapter 16

On Saturday night while sitting on the patio.

“Timothy, there’s something I’ve got to tell you. Do remember my saying that I had applied to go on a big expedition to South America?”

“Yes. Did you get it?”

“I did and I leave in a week and a half.” “Oh. Tell me about it.”

“It’s to Peru, up around Macchu Picchu. One of the reason I got it was because of my special interest in burial grounds and I speak Spanish.”

“You really want this, don’t you?

“Very much. It’s the chance of a lifetime to get chosen as young as I am and on such a prestigious exhibition. I’ll be working with some of the best in the world.”

“What about your digs here? Will you be able to come back to them?” “Oh yes, that’s a many year project.”

“How long will you be gone?”

“Uh...that’s the hard part. No less than six months, perhaps much longer, even a year.”

“My gosh! Well, it’s what you wanted. Damn, that’s a long time, but as you should know, I would never try to talk you out of it.”

“I know, Timothy. I’ve dreaded this moment because of the happiness we’ve shared. Oh, Timothy, this is so hard, I’m going to miss you, so much. Please don’t forget about me. I will be back...”

“And I’ll be here. I’ll be here, you know, a couple of years at least. Anjelica, how could I forget you?”

“Well, you could meet someone else, which would be alright, but if you do, they had better be really something.” She hugged me laughing.

“Well, I would say that’s the least of your worries. Damn, I knew we would have separations, but this is a big one. Tell me about it. Is it dangerous?”

“When you go that far upcountry there’s always some danger. But this isn’t into the depths of Africa where there are real serious dangers.”

“How will you go?”

“By boat to the coast, then by train to Lima and train again as far as it will go to Cuzco; and from there hopefully more train, but there will be lots of horse riding, or mules, and walking for weeks. And once we’re there, there’s no coming back into town, there aren’t any up there, and I mean up there. The Andes are really high up around Macchu Picchu. I’m sure I’ll carry a sidearm most of the time because there could be bandits or upset Indians.”

“Bandits? Upset Indians? Is that better than Lions, Tigers, and Bears?” “Yes. I’ve never been to such a secluded site before, but I am excited and looking forward to it. And that doesn’t have anything to do with my feeling for you. I’ll write you from Lima and Cuzco; and try to get letters out when someone goes for supplies. Hopefully I’ll have some sort of address in a couple of months. Will you write me?” “Are you kidding? They’ll have to get an extra donkey just carry my letters. Well...I...uh...hope we can be together as much as possible before you leave.” And we were, almost every other night and the next weekend. We did a lot of just holding each other. When she did leave, I had the feeling that I had been there before; it seemed I was saying goodbye too much to people I cared for.

In three weeks I got a letter from Lima. She said the boat trip was rough and mostly miserable, but Lima was great and she liked the other members of the expedition. The men, she said, made her realize how much she missed me. They were all very smart and experienced, but I was her man for any sort of romantic thoughts. She had no address except the expedition name, so I wrote letters that couldn’t be sent. I was now writing letters to two women, neither of whom were a part of my long range future. To feel love for two women at the same time was not something I had ever expected to go through. But there was a good chance I would see Anjelica again, but not Claire. I was worried about her well being, this wasn’t working out for her at all it seemed, but she was sadly reconciled to her fate. It wasn’t very pleasant at all to imagine her being that unhappy. And there was nothing I could do to help her, even if I were there in California. Claire was the kind of lady Anjelica meant when she said it had better be someone very special. Even in Claire’s sadness her letter was filled with descriptions of her museum work, which had gotten a little better, and the painting she was now doing. One of her little drawings was just on the edge of erotic; it was of us in Marilee’s pool. Below her signature she had done a thumbnail portrait of me, an amazing likeness.

A Mans a Man was well received and the new list I had made up boosted the usual attendance. The newspaper reviewed the play, which wasn’t their usual practice, and it was a rave. Thank goodness. The play was extremely hard to get up with a fairly innocent cast and difficult sets. I worked much harder on it than Yerma, but it ended up working rather well. John Miller was very happy about my work and the response. I was asked to lecture for a week to the directing classes, actually invited by the professor teaching the class, which was a great compliment.

When the show closed the third week in December. I got a letter from Cuzco. Anjelica was having an exciting time and it was going to get better as they headed into the high country. She thought of me every night and on waking in the morning missing me very much. The next day John came to my apartment in the morning looking very serious.

“Tim, sit down, I’ve got some really bad news; Anjelica was killed in an accident.

I jumped up in shock, “No, John, are you sure?

“Yes, Tim, I’m sure.”

“This can’t be. How did it happen?”

“Evidently the mule she was riding lost its footing and fell down the mountain side. Her department received the telegram early today. They called me, knowing we were close friends. We don’t know anymore other than they were able to retrieve her body. Her family has been notified and they will be shipped her remains for burial at her family’s plot on the ranch.”

“Oh, dear God, No. Not wonderful Anjelica.” I fell back down sitting. I was unable to say anything. Her image ran through my mind; Anjelica gone. There were questions to ask, but John had told me everything there was to know. I had had no foreboding of anything like this; she was so strong and able in the wild and frightened of nothing. Only an accident of this nature could have killed her. John told me he would call when the memorial service would be held her and that I should be a part of it. I didn’t know what I could say without breaking down. When John left I called the theatre to say I wouldn’t be in for several days. The school was closing down in a week for the semester break so there was no need for me to be there at all. I walked around the apartment confused about what to think of this new loss. Liza, and Claire gone but still alive, and now Anjelica lost forever. Marvelous shining Anjelica. She was a true part of New Mexico. She was more than a loss for me; I thought of the family I never met, but knew I would have in time. I searched for the photos I had taken. They almost captured her presence, thank God I had them. Her sensual awakening we had experienced together flashed in remembrance and the joy she had in that new part of her. I felt no guilt about those memories because she been a more complete woman and it was something she wanted to experience.

I went out to my car and drove out into the countryside driving like a maniac, crying, and screaming her name. I eventually stopped at a bar in a little town about thirty miles west of Albuquerque. I drank about six bourbons trying to think of nothing. There was nothing now, just work. No Anjelica, no Claire. Later back at my apartment, I sat in the dark all night. I slept all the next day, not wanting to eat or see anyone.

I needed to get to Taos; I thought of Dallas but didn’t want to take that long lonely drive now. Mom and Dad had wanted me to come home for the holidays but I believed they would understand. I needed to be alone without a homecoming.

The memorial was held three days later. Her colleagues spoke in glowing terms of her knowledge and commitment to the archeology of New Mexico. John and Jane Miller both lauded her glowing personality and it was a loss of a friend for whom there could be no forgetting. I did speak without breaking down. First I recited Shakespeare’s Sonnets 27 and 40. remembering her as an intimate friend who would forever be in my mind. Trying to express how her inner beauty far surpassed the startling outward loveliness I had to stop because I suddenly remembered her laugh and smile in candle light. I did finish. I went afterward with John and Jane to their house. I showed them the pictures I had taken of Anjelica promising to make copies for them. We ate quietly and toasted her into the evening. I told John I would see him in a month and left for my apartment.

Chapter 17

I packed everything I could into my car for the stay in Taos. There was rain and light snow on the drive up so it was a slow trip. As heavy as I felt with sadness of Anjelica’s death, the drive was a release. She was truly gone and the dwelling on it must not be a constant part of me. As the road gathered in front I tried to remember the most wonderful parts of knowing the three women in my life the last year. Even with their loss I felt lucky to have know them and would be in no rush to attempt to replace them because I knew it was impossible at least for a while. My thoughts went to Claire and wondered how she was faring in Los Angeles. She had sounded distraught enough for me to worry about her well being. In my last letter I had asked for her telephone number at the museum hoping she would let me to call her there. That was really too much to ask for and maybe it would be better if we didn’t talk; I didn’t know if it would help, perhaps it would make things worse for both of us. Worse, dear God, how could it get worse.

When I drove up to the house it was snowing heavily. I unloaded and tried to settle in. There was a stack of mail in the box and on top was a telegram. It was from Daniel and Marilee, it opened it to discover they had gotten married at the city hall in New York this week. I called home in Dallas and talked to Mom and Dad about everything that had happened even the death of Anjelica. They were thrilled about Marilee and Daniel. Rosie’s baby was due in several days and she would be in Florence Nightingale at Baylor. And they asked, of course, about how Claire was doing if I knew. She had sent a big box of presents for Christmas. I tried to soften her experience for them. They were terribly disappointed I wasn’t coming home for the holidays but seemed to understand I needed and wanted to be alone for a while. I talked to Jeordie and we discussed cameras; he was impressed by my having a Rollie. He promised to send me some of his new shots including some from Blood Wedding that he had found in his dark room. I ended missing them very much and almost wished I was making the drive, almost.

I walked to the plaza to have a drink around people and tried to plan for the next weeks. I decided to write more on the directing ideas and try to incorporate the new things from working on Yerma and A Mans a Man. I ate an early dinner and got back to the house and sat down at the typewriter.

The usual question asked by inexperienced actors and even old stage folk was what do I do and where do I go on stage. If I could devise a way to help them incorporate a natural feeling for basic technique it would give a release to their own imaginations. After some hours I came up with the name ‘Scenic Positioning’ which I had actually used before, but a stronger explanation was needed. I went back to Stanislavski’s concentric circles. The inner one being the actor himself being aware of his individual character on stage and a natural placement. How much focus should they hold in an artistic balance. The second circle would be the actor in relationship to the other characters on stage. With solid character study and possibly a written character analysis a much more natural positioning and movement could spring from the awareness of the other actors needs to fulfill their own beginning interpretations. The third circle was the actor’s awareness of his relationship to the audience. Was the audience able to see and hear what they needed, to understand the actor’s character and was it in an artistic balance with the play as a whole. Of course none of this negated the importance of the director and his shaping the physical concept of the piece, but it may help the actors step into rehearsals with more confidence. To make this work from the beginning the director must be able to clearly define his concept of the play and how he sees the basic emotions needed and the visual style to accomplish it. Talking in colors may mean almost nothing to an actor; that is if the director says he thinks of red or blue for a scene how is the actor going to play it? A much more solid and simple telling was better. All of the conflict and passions come from basic human needs and reactions, and if the audience doesn’t grasp them from what they see and hear on stage the play never should have been mounted. In the beginning work or even through out the rehearsal process music could be used as more of an emotional thrust. I remembered how much Eddy playing the guitar helped the cast understand the passion in Blood Wedding and it surely helped the audience. Music is not always the answer so the director must really be able to dance and sing, not as performance, but in clear passionate up close directing. One thing I tried in Yerma and A Mans a Man was working from the grotesque. I would push the cast in an early rehearsal to play in an extreme manner almost to the point of high melodrama, extending the interpretations far beyond what would ever go on stage in front of an audience. The idea was for them to feel what was too much and from that a range of interpretation could be found in between what was too little and the extreme or grotesque. Next I thought I would attempt to build an easy outline for beginning directors to use in devising a concept for a cast. It could be general enough to apply to most projects. I wrote until three in the morning finally stopping for a brandy on the balcony and thoughts of Claire and memories of Anjelica. No real memories of Liza except wondering if I would ever see...No I wasn’t going to ever, if possible think about that because perhaps I wasn’t the ‘chosen one’.

I wrote every day and worked on getting better at Tai-Chi. I spent Christmas alone as planned. The parents had sent me a package of gifts with Jeordies’ photos. Uncle Willy sent me a coat of his he had worn in the North Atlantic before he went to China. Claire sent a mailer tube with a beautiful painting of us in Marilee’s backyard sitting by the pool; and a small package with a ring. In a little note she said it was a copy of the old Roman citizen’s ring except it was in silver with a small diamond. It fit perfectly. I had sent out a few gifts, an Indian blanket for Mom and vest for Dad with turquoise and coral sewed into mountain patterns. For Jeordie a few of my first Rollie shots including one of Anjelica. For Uncle Willy a framed color photo of the Ford taken at the car show in Albuquerque. For Claire I had found an incredible shawl from the Taos Pueblo, but it was more in memory of her than something she would ever have, but on an impulse I had sent it to her P.O. box number.

I was invited to a Christmas evening party by an artist couple I had met at the bar. It turned out to be a good gathering and I met some folks that would open up more of a social experience for me in Taos. I went to a New Year’s party at a restaurant which turned into more of a

drinking fest than I needed, but a striking painter seemed to be interested in my work. She insisted we get together but I wasn’t ready for that. I continued to write as an addendum to my directing book and every morning did Tai-Chi which helped my state of mind. On the third day, I wrote a long letter to Claire. I tried as softly as possible to ask about her health and family situation. I tried to express how much she needed to be candid with me. After finishing the letter, I reread it, tore it up, and started again. At eight o’clock, I stopped the third rewrite, fixed some dinner, and took a short walk up the path to the pond. When I got back to the house, the phone was ringing. It was Claire, barely able to talk through her intense sobbing. When she calmed down, she was able to tell me things had gotten worse in her conflict with her father. The man the matchmaker found had become very aggressive sexually with her after a Hollywood party for a film he had helped produce. Claire said he was all but staggering drunk. Her father said it was probably a misunderstanding on her part, but that he would talk to him.

She quoted him as saying he is a good Jewish boy who would make her a fine husband. “Timmy, I told him I don’t know what kind of Jew he is, but he’s not a good boy, and I won’t marry him. My father slapped me, telling me to pull myself together and go back to my job at the museum.”

“My, God, Claire, you can’t live in that kind of situation.”“I don’t know what to do, Timmy. I am scared. My father has always been so gentle. He has changed so much since moving to America. Ever since I told him weeks ago I didn’t want to marry this man he’s gotten more and more furious with me.”

“Can you leave and come to me here?”

“You know I want to, but I’m frightened of his reaction. He would do everything in his power to stop me. He doesn’t know about us, of course, and if I did tell him, I don’t believe my mother could even protect me from him. He has already told me once that I could be sent to a hospital for awhile until I came to my senses about this marriage.”

“Claire, I will come and get you, which may be the only solution. There is no doubt about our love for each other, and perhaps your parents would eventually accept us.”

“I think my mother would, but I know my father never would.”

“He wouldn’t have a choice when we get married.”

“Do you truly love me that much, Timmy? Without any doubts?”

“Yes, I do love you that much, my dearest heart.” Oh! Timmy, I’ve got to go! My father just drove up. I love you.” And she was gone. I mixed a stiff bourbon and soda and went out to sit on the patio in the dark. Claire seemed on the edge of a nervous breakdown. I felt unable to comfort or help her from afar, especially on the telephone or even in letters. I needed to talk to someone, even Angelica. I then had an idea. Marilee and Daniel had returned to Dallas two weeks ago, so I tried them there.

Even though it was very late there, they hadn’t gone to bed yet. Daniel answered the phone.

“Well, hello there brother, what are doing callin’ us so late? Is something wrong?

“Yes, I got a very troubling call from Claire, and felt the need to talk to Marilee.”

“She’s right here. Are you in Albuquerque?”

“No, I’m in Taos. I needed to get away from the University, It’s good but still a new life to me. Also, I wanted to be alone.”

“I thought you had had enough of living alone.”

“I thought so to, but...”

“Is something wrong, Tim? You sound bad, brother.”

“Yes, but...”

Dan called away from the phone, “Marilee, Tim is on the phone and wants to talk with you. She’s coming. I hope she can help. I’ve never heard you this upset. Here she is.”

“Timmy, what’s wrong? Are you alright?”

“Hello, Marilee, and no, I’m not alright. I talked to Claire this evening, and something is very wrong out there. She was so upset, she could barely talk. It seems the thing with her father has gotten worse. She sounds on the edge of a breakdown. I think she has been sick and hasn’t been going to her job at the museum?”

“No, I didn’t know. I haven’t talked to her in quite a while, but she did write me a couple of weeks ago and I could tell she was having a hard time out there. Is it about the man the matchmaker found?”

“Yes. Her father even hit her when she said she wouldn’t marry him, but I suspect there’s more to it.”

“Listen, Tim, I’ll call her in the morning and get back to you tomorrow. Are you in Albuquerque?”

“No, I’m in Taos.”

“Good. You’ll hear from me tomorrow, for sure.”

“Thank you, Marilee.”

“Do you want to talk to Daniel again?”

“No. I don’t have anything more to say right now.”

“Good night, Timmy, and try not to get too down about this.” “I’ll try. Good bye.”

It was a difficult night after my talk with Marilee. I got very little sleep. The next morning I did not leave the house in anticipation of a call from Marilee. She finally called just before noon.

“Tim, I called Claire, and you were right. I am very worried about her state. She feels as if she’s in a hopeless situation. She even said she wished she never had left you in Dallas.”

“So do I.”

“I asked her if there was any way she could leave and her only answer was to cry and say she didn’t know how, but I’m not sure she’s strong enough to do that on her own, anyway.”

“I don’t think so, either. I offered to go get her, but I think she’s too frightened of her father and of an encounter between us. My God, Marilee, I feel so helpless and mad about what she’s going through.”

“I know you are, and so am I. Tim, do you truthfully feel your love for her is strong enough to help her through this and be with her, marry her?”

“Yes, without any doubts.”

“No, if they ever met, I think they would become friends.”

“I talked to her mother, too, and she’s as worried about Claire as much as we are. I’m not sure, but I think she knows about you two. Claire may have confessed-no that’s not right. She does not need to confess anything. There was nothing wrong about your falling in love. It is a beautiful thing for you both; it’s just very complicated.”

“At the very least complicated. Do you think I should just go out there and try to bring her back?”

“I don’t think you should do that now. Perhaps the situation will calm down and she can come to you, or...hell, I don’t know. Maybe I could go out there and get her. Her father would be angry, but I don’t think he would get violent with me.”

“Whatever happens, I must be the one responsible for getting her.” “Tim, I’m also responsible. Remember I introduced you.”

“Yes, well, you may be able help somewhere along the line, but not going to get her. If that’s a possibility, I’ll do it.”

“I’ll try to accept that. I understand how you feel, especially the helplessness, but who knows right now what’s going to happen? I’ll attempt to talk to her again tomorrow, and I’ll stay in touch.”

Thank you, Marilee. How are you and Daniel doing?”

“Fine, we’re glad to be back in Dallas, Daniel didn’t want to spend the winter in New York. He misses Taos, and so do I.”

“You can solve that by coming back here, and I wish it could be soon.” “Daniel and I are going to discuss it this evening.”

“Good, please let me know if you have any news tomorrow.”

“I will, Timmy. Be strong.”

“Don’t worry about me. It’s Claire who needs to be in our thoughts.” “And she is. Goodbye, dear Timmy.”

“I miss you both very much. Give my love to Daniel Goodbye.

I spent two days in a limbo of confusion, wishing Claire or Marilee would call. I did not dare leave the house and stayed close to the telephone.

On the morning of the third day, Claire called.

Her first words were, “Timmy, will you come get me?”

“Oh, my dearest Claire, of course I will. How will we arrange it? I mean, where will I come to, your house or somewhere else? Will your father be a problem?”

“He has gone to Canada to solve some sort of oil well problem. He will be gone at least a week. His last words were that I needed to go to a hospital for awhile. What I need is to be with you.”

“Yes, you do, sweetheart, and I with you. Don’t you have any doubts about my love.”

“I don’t Timmy. I have changed, but I’m still not very strong. I hope you still find me attractive.”

“That’s the least of any worries you may have.”

“My mother knows about us and has been surprisingly supportive. She doesn’t really approve, but she accepts my being in love with you. She is deeply concerned about my father ’s reaction, but I will be gone. I don’t know if he’ll ever accept us, but I don’t care anymore about what he thinks.”

“Tell me your plan.”

“My mother wants you to come to the house so she can meet you, but it may be hard for you to find. How long will it take you to get here?”

“If I leave early in the morning and drive straight through, I think I could get there by the next afternoon.”

“That’s Wednesday. The museum is open late. I think it will easier for you to find it and it’s close to downtown with signs pointing the way. I’ll go there at noon and wait for you; afterwards we can go to my house and get my bags. I won’t bring much with me.”

“That shouldn’t be problem. Uncle Willy made a luggage rack for the back of the car so you can bring several bags.”

“Oh, Timmy! There is something I need to tell you, but it can wait now. Please be careful on the drive, I want you to get here safely. Is your car alright?”

“The car is fine. You won’t recognize it.”

“Timmy, I love you.”

“And I love you, Claire.”

“Goodbye. Au revoir.”

As I hung up the telephone, I realized I was breathless and had to sit down. My world and life had changed in a matter of minutes and I had to plan quickly for the longest journey in my life. I jumped up and called Marilee and Daniel.

Marilee answered on the second ring.

“Timmy, I was hoping that was you. I talked to Claire this morning. She told me she was going to ask you to come get her. I told her I thought it was the right thing to do. You have talked to her, haven’t you?” She asked anxiously.

“Yes, I’m leaving early in the morning.”

“Daniel and I have talked, and we want to come to Taos as soon as we can. If everything goes well we can be there in four or five days. Daniel and I both think Claire will need me as a friend. I guess I should ask if you mind if we do come so quickly, we don’t want to intrude on the time you and Claire have together.”

“I want you to come. I know Claire will need you. You’ve been very much a part of this.”

“Good. Timmy, please be careful. Here, Daniel wants to talk to you.” “Hello, brother. I agree with Marilee that this is the right thing to do, though we all hoped it could have been less dramatic.”

“Yes, me, too, but I’m just glad it’s happening”

“Is your Uncle Willy special up to it?”

“He said I could drive it to China and back with no problem, so California and back should be easy.”

“Well, we miss both of you, so it will be good to get back to Taos. Please be careful. If you get too tired, stop and take a nap.”

“I think I’ll be too excited to get tired. I’ll see you soon. Thanks for the support, brother.”

I spent the afternoon packing and getting the car ready. I got the oil changed and checked everything on it. After a very restful night’s sleep, I left Taos just after dawn.

The drive was beautiful sand easy. I pulled over just beyond the

California border and slept for an hour. My hours of driving were spent in reminiscence-the vision of Claire across the room at the

country club, our work together on Blood Wedding, waking up with her on our last weekend, and our tearful goodbye at the train station. I did not think of the future, just the immediate present and getting to her safely.

I arrived in Los Angeles and found my way to the museum just after three. I parked and went into the lobby. I saw her sitting on a bench. She lifted her head and saw me, jumped up, and ran to me and into my arms.

“Oh, Timmy, you’re really here.”

was holding a different young woman in my arms. Her face was much thinner, as was her body, and she was pale without the rosiness I remembered, but no less beautiful, perhaps even more so.

She started crying and holding me tight, “I never thought I would see you again.”

“I was afraid of that too, sweetheart.”

We stood there for what seemed like a long time, not saying anything else. The other people in the lobby were staring and smiling. We must have looked like something out of a tearjerker movie.

“Let’s go, Timmy. My mother is waiting and I want us to leave as soon as possible.”

When we got to my car, she was surprised, “Timmy, is this the same car?”

“Yes, but with much work by Uncle Willy.”

“I like it. It looks more like you.”

Her mother was waiting on the front steps of their rather magnificent house.

She was a striking woman with almost the same coloring as Claire. Claire took me by the hand and introduced me. I apologized for looking so ragged. She was reticent but appeared to almost accept me. She insisted I come in and freshen up. The only thing she said was to take good care of her daughter. I promised I would. We gathered up Claire’s bags and packed them in and on the car and were on our way in less than an hour. I regretted not being able to get some rest, and also that I hadn’t met Claire’s brother.

Almost immediately, Claire sighed, put her head on my shoulder, and went to sleep. It was as if a great weight had been lifted from her.

It took awhile to get out of Los Angeles, and I began to fade from the lack of sleep. I found a roadside hotel in San Bernadino and woke Claire up, registered, unloaded the car, and went to a restaurant across the street. We both ate voraciously and didn’t talk much, but looked at each other, smiling. At the hotel, we both showered and fell into each other ’s arms. She had put on the nightgown she had worn at the Adolphus our last night together in Dallas.

With her head on my chest Claire began to cry, “Timmy, there is something I must tell you.”

“Tell me, baby.”

“Two months after I got to Los Angeles, I realized I was pregnant.” “What?! Claire, why didn’t you call me?! I would have come to get you then. Oh my God, sweetheart...what?

“I was so scared, and my father was getting very insistent about...well. I couldn’t eat or sleep and was getting weaker every day. I started losing weight and having a hard time at my job...I mean just being there, even though it was a good place. One day at work, I started bleeding and a friend at work took me to the hospital. Timmy, I had a miscarriage...I lost our baby.”

“Oh, Claire, dear God. I should never have let you leave Dallas.”

“I thought I had to leave, you know that. If I had known about the baby, I wouldn’t have, but it must have happened during our last weekend. There was no way to have known.”

“Are you alright now? I mean can you...?”

“Can I have another baby? The doctors said I should be fine, in time.” “Did your parents know what happened?”

“My mother did because she came to the hospital. Luckily my father was so busy and in and out of town. She was shocked and furious, even threatening to tell my father, but she quickly changed her mind, knowing that would be more of as disaster than it already was. In the days that followed, I told her about us. She tried to convince me it was over now between you and me and that I must give in to my father ’s wishes. There was constant tension in the house and I just couldn’t get well. I was so lonely for you. When my father started getting violent, she began to change her mind. She also accepted the depth and sincerity of our love.”

“We’re together now. You’re going to be fine. Claire, will you marry me, very soon?”

“Of course I will, Timmy.”

“We’ll do it in New Mexico. Oh, Marilee and Daniel are coming to Taos in a few days. They can be a part of our wedding.”

“That’s wonderful. It will be so good to see them. Marilee helped me through my fear of asking you to come get me; I think I was afraid you wouldn’t come.

“I tried to assure you in all of my letters that my love for you was solid and true. You should never have doubted me. If you had told me you were pregnant, I would have been there for you, no matter how difficult the family situation was, but that’s all in the past. We’re together now.”

“Oh, Timmy, I’ll be the finest wife for you.”

She snuggled into my arms and we both fell asleep.

I slept for eight hours. Claire was still sleeping peacefully. I let her sleep for another hour. She awakened with a start, sat up, and saw me reading beside her.

“I didn’t know where I was for a minute.”

“You slept for nine hours; I didn’t dare wake you up. I knew how much you needed the rest.”

“I haven’t slept that long since I was in Dallas. Did you sleep well?” “Yes, I did. It was very sweet waking up to see you beside me.” Claire cooed and eased into my arms.

“Did what I told you last night upset you? I had to tell you.”

“Of course, it upset me, but only because of what you had to go through. It’s sad, but we have all our lives ahead of us.”

“Yes, we do. Uh?...I’m a little hazy from all that sleep, but did you ask me to marry you last night?”

“I certainly did, for the second time, only this time you said yes.”

“I didn’t say no the first time as I remember. I was hoping it wasn’t a dream.

How soon do we need to start traveling again?”

“Well...we’re not in any hurry now, but we have a long way to go.”

“I want to take another shower, really just to wake me up. Is that alright?”

“How about me joining you?”

“Oo...that sounds good, Timmy. Give me a few minutes and I’ll call you in.”

“A sus ordenes, mi amorcita,” I bowed.

“You know, I think I need to teach you French, mon amour. I’m a bit shy about you seeing me; my figure has changed so much. You may think I’m too, is it ‘skinny’?”

“You may be thinner, but you’re far from skinny.”

She laughed, reached over for a quick kiss, and literally pranced into the bathroom. I smiled thinking how good it was to hear Claire’s familiar laugh. In fifteen minutes, I heard the shower and then her call.

“Ti-mo-thee!”

When I stepped into the shower, I saw a new and even more beautiful Claire. Yes, she was thinner, but had not lost the fullness of her figure. She seemed to have matured into a trimly svelte young woman.

“I guess I’ve lost my baby-fat.”

“You look great, Claire.”

“My breasts haven’t gotten much smaller, but my bottom...”

“Is even rounder...and cuter.”

We proceeded to soap each other.

“I want you to touch me, Timmy, but be very gentle.”

The shower was long and sweetly passionate. When I was toweling off her back, she started giggling, then turned to kiss me, and then pulled back and said, looking into my eyes...

“Timmy, I hope we can be good lovers again soon, but I want us to be careful. It would not be good for me to get pregnant for awhile.”

“Of course, I’ll be careful. You let me know when you think you’re ready. Remember, we were not careful only once before, I think.”

“Yes, know. Perhaps that means I can have babies with you easily. In my mind I’m ready because want I you so much, but I’m not sure the rest of me is ready.”

“Claire, dearest, it’s good just being with you. We have lots of time to be lovers again, and it will be even better than before.”

“Better? My goodness! If my memory is right, we were pretty special before.”

“It filled my dreams, both asleep and awake.”

“Me, too.”

“How are you feeling, Claire? Do you feel stronger? You’re already getting your color back from the paleness I noticed when I first saw you at the museum.”

“I do feel stronger, perhaps because I slept so well last night. Oh, Timmy, the last months have been terrible, and it wasn’t all about us. The idea of having to marry someone I didn’t love, and then finding out I was pregnant...everything just fell apart.

I knew if I stayed in Los Angeles, everyone would know. I was so scared and unable to do anything. The only good thing, other than having our child in me, was when that man noticed my condition, he would reject me. But my father would have...well, don’t know what he would have done, but sit would have been bad. I probably should have called Marilee. Several times, I thought you may reject me.”

“Now, that is ridiculous, sweetheart. I would have been thrilled. Knowing Marilee, she probably would have come out here to get you herself.”

“I’m still frightened of what my father may do when he gets back to Los Angeles.”

“Claire, you’re with me now, for good.”

“I know, thank goodness. Timmy, can we get something to eat? I’m starving, and it’s a good feeling. I haven’t wanted to eat in weeks.”

We went to the same restaurant as we had gone to the night before, then packed up the car, and started our long drive back to New Mexico. Claire snuggled up with the pillows her mother had given her and went to sleep. She woke when we crossed over into Arizona and began marveling at the sights.

“When I was on the train, I was too sad to really be interested in looking out the window. This part of the country is beautiful and open. I’ve never really seen desert before. Some parts of Spain are similar, but not this big. Where are we going to spend the night?”

“I think we can make it to Flagstaff.”

“That’s a funny name. Is it pretty there?”

“Everything is pretty and very dramatic all the way back to Taos.” We talked about almost everything that had happened to us since we were last together. I told her how well Blood Wedding had gone and that everyone wanted one of her paintings. She told me about her job at the and the newness of Los Angeles. She did like the beach but thought it was too cold for swimming, much preferring Marilee’s pool. She missed my family and the friends from the theatre. I tried to compare the three towns I knew in New Mexico and to tell her about seeing the castle in Las Vegas. She wanted to see everything and John and Jane Miller in Albuquerque. We made several good stops to rest, had lunch in Blythe. Claire slept most the way to Flagstaff, though she tried not to. We got into Flagstaff late but found a real hotel that had a restaurant that was still open. We slept in each other ’s arms until the middle of the next morning. At breakfast, I had an idea.”

“Sweetheart, since we’re not in any real hurry, would you like to go on a side trip?”

“Oh, Timmy, I would love it.”

“Let’s go up to the Grand Canyon, I’ve never seen it and have always wanted to.”

“There were pictures of it in the books I read about the West. They didn’t appear to show it as I imagined it to be. Is it far? Not it matters, because you are right about not being in a hurry now. The farther away from Los Angeles we get, the safer I feel. This is beginning to feel more like a vacation than an escape.”

“I felt the same way when we woke up this morning. Almost all the way here, I imagined we were being chased. Several times, I realized I was driving too fast for such precious cargo.”

Claire threw her head back laughing out loud for the first time on the trip, “Timmy, are you referring to me as ‘cargo’?”

“Yes, I am, very valuable cargo, very precious cargo.”

“Well, I’ll accept that definition.”

We started north to the canyon, both feeling refreshed and very happy to be together. The drive up brought a constant string of delightful squeals from Claire.

“This is even more beautiful than I imagined. Is New Mexico this nice?” “Very much so, but different.”

“America does seem to go on forever and changes all the time.”

“This is the longest trip I’ve taken, and I think you’re right. You know, Claire, on the way out to get you, I didn’t think about the trip coming back. My only thought was to get there. This is so good and exciting being with you that I wish we could keep on going and see everything, but I’m afraid we would run out of money before long.”

“No, we wouldn’t.”

“Dear heart, we’re not going to use any of your father ’s money.”

“I’ve never used, well, not for a long time, any of his money. I’ve known I would have to tell you about the money as soon as you said you would come get me. So...my uncle, his brother, was a very successful engineer and inventor with many, many patents. When he died several years ago, he left me a sizable monthly stipend. I will inherit the rest of the estate when I’m twenty-five. I never used much of it, and I brought some of it with me plus a letter of credit.“

“Uh...I don’t believe I want to know how much until after we’re married. Is that alright with you?”

“Of course, I never thought it would make a difference to us, I just didn’t want to talk about it, especially before when I thought I was leaving you forever. But, Timmy, deep down I had hope that we would together again. It just seemed so wrong for us to be apart.”

“I always had hope, too, but I was so discouraged when you told me the matchmaker had found someone. At times, it was like a fantasy, my hope, that is. Many times I wished I had had the power to keep you from leaving, the power of persuasion, I mean. My God, it was terrible when you got on that train.”

“It was for me, too, All the way to Los Angeles I wished I had had the strength not to leave. I believed could convince my parents to set me free from the matchmaking and then tell about us, but...well...here we are, Timmy, I’m so happy now and I hope you are.”

“Claire, let’s get this straight, I love you and will love you more day by day. Yes, I’m happy.well.more than happy. Do you remember talking about your fatewhen we were at the hotel in Dallas?”

“Yes, but that fate has been dissolved, gracias adios.”

“Indeed, gracias adios. It is our fate to be together. I believe it was our fate not long after we met, even though we didn’t know it at the time.”

“Maybe we did know it.”

“Could be. Claire, I think I should tell you about some things that happened while we were apart, I guess sort of a confession.”

“Timmy, you don’t have to confess anything to me. I set you free. I thought you were lost to me. I didn’t want you to be a celibate dreaming of us being together again. Don’t worry, I’ll never be jealous or upset about anything that happened.”

I had nothing to say, I looked at her and smiled. She leaned over and kissed me on the cheek.

“Anyway, you’re my man now.”

“That I am. Now and forever.”

The scenery got so dramatic that we stopped talking. In another hour, we pulled up to the first lookout at the Canyon. It must be a shock for everyone who sees it for the first time. Nothing prepares you for the grandeur of it. We stopped at every viewing station until we finally got to the big lodge. We unloaded our bags, locked them in the car, and went in to the restaurant. We decided during the meal that we would try to get a room. There was a big crowd, but they did have a very expensive suite available. I looked at Claire.

“Maybe we can find something cheaper down the road.”

“Ti-mo-thee Sart, have you forgotten our discussion on the road?”

She opened her shoulder bag, pulled out a large zippered case, and handed me several hundred-dollar bills.

“If possible, can we stay for two nights?”

I asked, and it was possible. A porter was sent to carry all the bags up to our suite. It was western rustic but very classy, with a big bathroom and a balcony looking out to the canyon. We both showered, dressed, and went downstairs for our first drink together on the trip. We found a small table with a window looking out on to the lodge courtyard. Even in the late afternoon light, it was a beautiful vista of the far side of the Canyon, gathering the red rays of the sun on the rock faces. I ordered a Bourbon and Claire a Martini.

“This is a special place, Timmy, I had no idea it would be as dramatic and beautiful. It was a wonderful idea to come here. There’s a peace about it that I think we needed.”

“We sure needed that. The last two days have been sort of frenzied. I’m still shaking a bit, even with the rest last night,” I said.

“Me too. I think I’m still scared a little bit of what may happen.”

“What could happen now, except us being together, getting married, and starting a new life?”

“All of that is not what I’m frightened about. It’s what may happen in California.”

“What can your father do now...now that you’ve left? Claire, we are old enough to make our own decisions.”

“I know that, but it doesn’t mean he will accept it. I am afraid of what he may do about my mother and the support she gave us. I just hope he’s not violent toward her.”

“Do you believe he would take out his anger on her?”

“I hope not, but he’s changed so much since moving here. I don’t know what’s caused it, perhaps the situation in Europe and having to leave France and his not being happy in England. I know he didn’t want to move to America, but this evidently is where the work is for him.”

“Well, all we can hope for is that, even if slowly, he accepts our being in love and getting married. No matter what comes about, you know I’m going to protect you, and there’s no way he could take you back there, I promise you that. You are my lady, now. We waited long enough for this and it’s not going to be taken away.”

“Yes, we have waited long enough. I know you will protect me...and us. I’ll try not to think about it. We don’t need any more problems. It’s almost hard for me to believe we’re really together, I don’t mean like it’s a dream, but I had all but given up.”

“I don’t believe I ever gave up completely. At times I thought it would be better if I did. But I couldn’t. I always believed in what we had, our falling in love, was too important, that somehow...”

Our drinks arrived before I could finish. Claire, lifted her glass, and looked at me smiling, “My fine Timmy, here’s to our ‘somehow’.”

“I love you, my Claire.”

We had one more round of drinks and went outside for a walk, hand in hand. I think we realized there were subjects we didn’t need to talk about any more because they were resolved. No more yearning for each other ’s presence, no more fear of loss and disapproval. We sat at the edge of the Canyon and watched the rest of the afternoon pass. Before dark, we went back to the lodge and ate in the dining room. I

remembered I had packed a bottle of Villa-Lobos brandy, hoping we would have a peaceful evening on the way back to drink it. We sat on our balcony and enjoyed it.

When we entered our room, Claire came into my arms.

“Hold me, Timmy. I want to feel you all up and down me.”

We kissed with a passion we had experienced months ago. I pulled back and began to undress her, as she did me.

“I want to make love with you, my Claire. Can we?”

“Yes, I don’t think I can wait any longer. Do you have...?”

“Yes.” “Give me a few moments.”

went quickly to my bag that had my shaving gear, found what I needed, got under the covers, and sat up waiting for her. When she came out, she paused and looked at me shyly. I froze the image of her in my mind. I was startled once again by the changes in her. The new slimness gave her a maturity that only enhanced her beauty. Her thinner face accented her eyes and mouth. I wondered at my good fortune at having such a woman as Claire. Yes, intelligent, witty and funny, but what a beauty.

“Timmy, my goodness, what an expression!”

“Come here, baby.”

She slipped under the covers and folded into my arms. We kissed and writhed in a rising rush of desire. I kissed her breasts and touched the soft and wet lips between her legs as she opened up for me.”

“Let’s go slow, Timmy. I want to savor every moment before we make love.”

I tasted her sweet essence and she whimpered to a shivering orgasm. “Now, Timmy, be inside me, slowly.”

We made love until we both were panting with sensual exhaustion.

She whispered in my ear, “I don’t think we need to worry about being good lovers again.”

“I was never worried, sweetheart.”

She sighed and fell asleep, her head on my chest. As I stared into the darkness, I felt tears of happiness going down my cheeks. I kissed the top of her head and drifted off.

We spent our next day talking about a thousand things. We laughed and got used to being together in our new freedom. Before, in Dallas, there was always that cloud of the coming separation, but not now. I told her about the University in Albuquerque and the problems with directing Yerma, and how much I had missed her help. She described her new fondness for painting and drawing that had been awakened in Dallas. My family was a major interest for her, that is how were my parents, Uncle Willy, Rosie and their coming baby, and Jeordie’s photography? I let her know how pleased they all would be about us. We decided to get married in New Mexico as soon as we could after Marilee and Daniel got there. Claire wanted to go to Dallas some time soon after the wedding. A two-week honeymoon at the Finca in Taos would be enough time before the trip home. We toured the lookouts to the Canyon we hadn’t visited the day before and spent the evening with a gathering sweetness between us.

We drove into Santa Fe late the next afternoon booked a room at the La Fonda, and planned to get our marriage license in the morning before driving up to the Finca. Claire was charmed immediately by Santa Fe. She insisted on touring the Plaza and side streets, finding several shops she wanted to investigate in the morning. The evening introduced Claire to New Mexico-style food.

“Timmy, one of the first things I want to do in Taos is set up a good French kitchen and then learn to cook in this style. I think I prefer it to the Mexican food we had in Dallas. You’ve never experienced my cooking. I’m very good.”

“As I remember, you made some great sandwiches.”

“Please, Timmy, sandwiches are a small part of my culinary skills. Marilee and I collaborated on some fine meals.”

“Let’s see, an art historian, painter, and now, great cook; is there anything else?”

“Hmm...well, I can sew and make clothes.” She laughed, “All of those skills are expected of a good French girl.”

“My dearest, you are, at the very least, a good French girl.”

“Thank you, my good Texas man.”

The night in our room was sweet and restful. In the morning, Claire gathered her various papers, British and French passports, along with her U.S. resident visa. I hoped all I needed was my drivers license and birth certificate, which I had brought

on a whim, not knowing what I would face on the trip. We breezed through getting our license except for a few moment of confusion over Claire’s many papers. We had thirty days to get married anywhere in New Mexico. We spent the late morning and early afternoon shopping. Claire insisted on getting a beginning New Mexico wardrobe. Watching her getting excited about almost everything was great after her first couple days of anxiety and exhaustion. She thrilled with each purchase and pulled me from shop to shop. I was starting to wonder where we going to put everything in my overloaded coupe. Luckily, I found some extra rope in the trunk.

light was falling on our drive up to Taos. It gave the trip an unexpected lyrical quality. Claire was wide-eyed and smiling all the way up through Taos and out to the Finca.

Claire broke her silence as we drove in the gate, “Oh my, I thought it would be nice, but this is idyllic. It’s like a painting from the old west.”

Before we unloaded the car, Claire took a tour of the house. “Where is our bedroom?”

“Upstairs to the left.”

After unloading and unpacking, we took a walk down to the pond. When Claire saw the chicken house, she began to plan and tell me all of the amazing things she could do with chicken. Back in the house, she asked about the rifles racked over the fireplace.

“Are they real guns?”

“Yes, one is for varmints, the other for deer in

season.”

“Varmints? What are they?”

“Pesky animals, like coyotes and foxes, that occasionally come after the chickens.”

“Have you shot the guns?”

“No, not yet.”

“Good, and I hope you don’t have to.”

Getting used to living together was easy. We shopped in Taos for groceries and kitchen equipment, even though I had thought it was a good kitchen before, but Claire had other ideas.

On our fourth day at the Finca, Marilee and Daniel arrived. It was a happy family reunion. Marilee and Claire spent two hours on a walk, hand in hand. Their time together gave Daniel and me a chance to catch up. New York had been very good for him as an artist. They had even considered getting a place out at the Hamptons, but He decided he would rather paint in Taos or Dallas. I told Daniel about Anjelica and my feelings for her, but that she knew I was committed to Claire if we could get together. A big question when the women get back from their walk was whether Claire should call California, but Marilee advised against doing it until after we were married.

Two days later, we all went into town and arranged for the wedding that afternoon by the resident judge, who happened to be a good friend of Marilee’s. We lunched at La Fonda and then walked back for the ceremony.

Claire cried, and my knees shook.

Our honeymoon was a happy period of days with Daniel and Marilee and intimate nights as a new married couple.

A week and a half after our wedding, I was working at my desk in our bedroom, Claire was downstairs working in the kitchen, preparing a fabulous meal for the celebration Marilee had planned for the evening with her friends. She came up to join me, coming up behind me and putting her arms around me.

“Hello there, husband.”

“Hi, baby. How’s it going down there?”

“I think all will be pleased. I’m trying the chile rellenos you like, but I believe mine will be an improvement. I’m putting a French touch to it with pecans and two types of meat.”

“Hmmm. When are Marilee and Daniel getting back from town?”

“I don’t think they’ll be too long. Daniel needed some wood for frames and Marilee some vegetables from the market for tonight.”

“Come lie down with me for a bit, Timmy.”

I stood up and stretched, “I could use that, maybe even a short nap, which is new for me. Before I never could nap, but now with you...”

“Does that mean I’m a good influence?”

“In every way.”

I sat up on the bed. Claire leaned into my arms, “I think I’m about ready to call California. I should have done it before now, but I just hadn’t gotten my nerve up yet.”

I thought I heard a car drive up. Thinking it was Marilee and Daniel, I paid no attention. Suddenly, after a few minutes I heard someone running up the stairs, the other bedroom door was slammed. I sat up as a man stormed into the room.”

“Who...?”

“Papa, what are you...?”

“Your father?”

“Yes, I’m her father. I’ve come to take her home with me.”

“No, you can’t Papa. We are married.”

“Yes, Mister Levant. She’s my wife now, and she’s not leaving. Please try to...”

“Yes, she is leaving with me; I’ll do everything in my power to get it annulled. You have no choice. Claire, gather your things.”

“I’m not leaving, Papa.”

“You will, even if I have to...”

He started speaking to Claire in French. She began crying. “Non...non.” He reached into his pants pocket and pulled out a pistol. Claire started screaming, “Non...non, Papa, don’t do this. We are in love, and have been for...”

“Yes, your mother told me. This man seduced you, and only wants your money...”

“He didn’t know about my money.”

“I do not believe that. Do what I say, now!”

“She’s not leaving with you. She is my wife.”

He pointed the pistol at me, “Young man, if I have to kill you, I will. The old laws will forgive me.”

“Papa, the old laws don’t...”

I stood up, “Mr. Levant, leave us alone. Please go...” He pointed the gun at me and fired twice. His first shot missed and the second

glazed my arm.

Claire was now screaming at her father to stop. More

noises outside and rushing up the stairs. Daniel burst into the room holding his deer rifle. Levant fired at Daniel, hitting him in the shoulder. Daniel fired and Levant was thrown back against the wall and fell to the floor.

Marilee ran in, “Oh, dear lord, Daniel.” She bent over Daniel, “Daniel, are you...?”

“I think, I’m alright, but...call an ambulance and the police.

Claire went to her father, “Papa, why...did you come, why...?” Daniel’s shot had killed him instantly.

I then lifted Claire up and led her out of the room. Daniel was able to walk with Marilee’s help. The police and ambulance arrived soon.

It was crowded in the back of the ambulance with both Claire andMarilee comforting Daniel and me.

The death of Claire’s father was a terrifying shock for her, but eased by her concern for me. I was bandaged but Daniels’s wound required more care. He had to get some stitches, pain medicine, and an arm sling. The bullet had gone right through the flesh high in his left shoulder, which luckily wouldn’t affect his ability to paint. By the time we got back to the Finca, the medical examiner and coroner had removed the body of Mr. Levant.

Marilee called Claire’s mother in Los Angeles. Mrs. Lavant had been terribly afraid of what might happen when he left in such a state of anger with a gun. He had reacted violently when she had tried to stop him. Marilee immediately talked to her about moving to Dallas because she was now family. Claire had a long tearful conversation with her. Claire was in shock for a couple of days, but came out of it fine though she was terribly sad about the horror of the event and the loss of her father in such a terrible way. Marilee told me Levant was able to find the ‘Finca’ by asking people in town. A memorial for Anjelica was held, which I attended, at the University. While in Albuquerque, I met with Dr. Miller. I tried to explain how the terrible event had happened in Taos and that Anjelica was an innocent in the shooting. I told him Claire and I were going back to Dallas for a couple of weeks, and he insisted that we stop in Albuquerque on the way to Dallas so he could meet Claire. I knew he also wanted the opportunity to try to talk her into coming to Albuquerque.

One week later Marilee, Daniel, Claire and I were sitting in the Finca living room in front of the fireplace on a cold evening. We had just received the good news that Uncle Willy and Rosie had had a redheaded little girl. Marilee had served Villa­Lobos all around. Claire was snuggled in my arms when she suddenly sat up.

“Timmy, I remembered a dream I had this week; it had been troubling me for two days. I think it scared me so much I refused to remember it. I dreamed we were the characters in Blood Wedding, and what happened here became a part of the play, with all kinds of gruesome things happening. It’s still not very clear.”

Marilee reacted quickly. “Perhaps it would be better if it never is.”

pulled Claire back into my arms. “Sweetheart, don’t try to bring it back.”

“No Timmy, Marilee, it isn’t that. My thought on remembering part of the dream was that I’m glad it wasn’t prophetic, the play that is...”

Dan leaned toward us, “What do you mean, prophetic?” “In Blood Wedding, the bride and the husband both died.”

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