Beyond Beyond; Episode 65
Dennis slept until near sundown.
“Dennis,” Rich said knocking on the forward quarter’s door, “Shake a leg. I’m hungry and I’m not cooking for anyone today. Let’s find a restaurant.”
Dennis staggered from the forward quarters and splashed his face with water at the galley sink. “Let’s go,” he said. “I didn’t order much at the restaurant yesterday and all I had was toast scrambled eggs for breakfast on the flight down here.”
“I guess the closer the better,” Rich said. “Let’s go.”
Rich and Dennis located a restaurant not far from the marina. Steaks and roasted potatoes dominated the table. Rich had not had steak in months and Dennis never had steak so tender and tasty. Besides the talk about how good the meal tasted, it was accompanied with small talk.
Back at the Beyond sleep came quickly. In the morning sounds of an engine from the boat next to them woke Zeke. In turn he let out a single high pitched bark and the squawking gulls kept Rich and Dennis from returning to sleep.
Accustomed to preparing breakfast, Rich did so as if expected. Rich prepared omelets with toast and coffee.
They sat down at the table in the cabin to eat.
“So, how did things end for you and Peggy,” Rich said.
“Quickly,” Dennis said. “She actually called from San Francisco. She said she met somebody who was willing to support her career, ambitions, and someone who had a more attuned social and moral conscience. Funny, I don’t remember that even being a part of our conversation before we were married. It seems as if the house in Maine was my idea. I don’t quite remember it that way, but she does. She always said she wanted a place out of the way where she could create and enjoy a simple life. We met in New York while in college. I already had a job lined up writing for my uncle’s public relations firm. I also had a part time job as a script editor. New York was the only place to be for writers. She convinced me to move to Maine. She had a little inheritance from her grandmother and we bought the house in Port Clyde. She said I could pursue my goals full time there. It sounded good. She sold enough from her studio that we could get by.”
“What happened?” Rich said.
“We met Sam and Katie,” Dennis said. “Sam gave me a job. It seemed like a perfect fit and it helped out. I could write, but I wasn’t a journalist. My interest in Sam’s political and social persuasion was more academic. Peggy devoured it. It soon became clear the only interest Sam had in me was Peggy. At times I was even a bit jealous of the attention he gave to Peggy. It was as if they were having an intellectual affair, if there is such a thing. I went along just as I went along to Maine. I don’t create waves, I sort ride them. That’s just who I am. Waves soon blend into the calm or end quietly on the shore, but they end.”
“Sam fire you or did you quit?” Rich said.
“I quit,” Dennis said. “He appeared disappointed, but he already had in mind younger and more ambitious writers. My chair was filled the next day. Peggy told me that his ambition was to have a syndicate of newspapers in the northeast from which he could prepare journalists to go into larger markets. Did you know he owned a radio station?”
“No,” Rich said.
“Burlington, Vermont,” Dennis said. “He wanted to buy a couple of them and eventually move in on the New Hampshire market. Sam had visions of being like William Randolph Hurst. Amazing isn’t it?”
“What do you mean?” Rich said.
“He’s so unnoticeable and uninspiring in presence,” Rich said, “but underneath is burning ambition.”
“How did Peggy fit?” Rich said.
“She was an artist with a social, moral, and political conscience,” Dennis said. “At least that’s what she said. Sam convinced her that all artist have a voice that should be heard. Art would give her the springboard to be noticed and heard. Sam told her there are many painters better that Dali, Rivera, and Picasso. What made them noticeable; they had something to say beyond art. Van Gogh died poor because he had no politics, he only had art. And she bought it.”
“It’s strange how we didn’t buy into all this,” Rich said.
“Not really,” Dennis said. “They call themselves freethinkers without ever thinking what that means. Their thinking is just unconventional and once their thinking becomes the conventional—so you see where this is going. A monkey looks through the bars of a zoo and thanks the humans are the ones behind the bars.”
“Yeah,” Rich said, “monkeys think they run the zoo.”
“We had something for just a little while,” Dennis said. “I knew it was over and accepted it. One day I had to drive to New York and talk with my agent and publisher. All the way down I was thinking about the future. I met with my agent and publisher, met some new people, and saw nothing but good in front of me. I drove back feeling so good. I even thought of two more concepts that could be written into books. The creativity poured out my brain. I got back to the house and Peggy’s studio was cleared out. All her personal things were gone. All photos of her were gone. I went to my desk where I kept a picture of her, it was gone. She bought a set of matching cufflinks and tie clasp for me. I kept it in a special place. It was kept in the watch pocket of my suit. They were gone. It was as if she never existed.”
“I’m sorry,” Rich said. “It must have been painful.”
“At first,” Dennis said. “I cried like a fourteen year old girl after a breakup. And suddenly it came to me, she did me a favor by taking it all. And I truly think she did so because in some bizarre way she still loved me and knew that any reminder would torture me.”
“So what’s next for you?” Rich said.
“It was strange you called when you did,” Dennis said. “It seemed there was little time to talk. Part of the divorce was to sell the house and split the money. I sold the house and sent her everything. She bought the place with her inheritance and if I didn’t send it, she’d probably hound me for the money and take me to court. I mean she had it all anyway. Anyway, when you called I was waiting for the phone company to come and disconnect the phone and take it. The place was empty.”
“Where were you headed when I interrupted your plans?” Rich said.
“Well,”Dennis said. “The whole thing with the CIA really spooked me. I did nothing wrong, so I had nothing to worry about, but I figure get as far away from the situation as possible, within reason, of course. I was going to spend a week with my parents and head to Australia.”
“Australia!” Rich said. “What a splendid idea. What were you going to do there work on a sheep ranch?”
“Remember, my uncle in the PR business?” Dennis said. “They took on a client that had interest in Canberra and I was offered the job; let me restate, I begged for the job. It’s not much, but it requires somebody from my uncle’s firm to be there. I’ll have plenty of time to write.”
“So you’re not making it as a fiction writer?” Rich said.
“I’m doing fine,” Dennis said. “I got more money in a savings account than I thought I’d ever have. I’m helping my uncle and it’s a way to get out of the country for a while. Sometimes you have to deal with the real possibility that your last book may be your last book. I’ve published two books, that doesn’t exactly make me a career writer.”
Rich got up and gathered the plates. “I’m going to wash these and we got a town to see.”
It was good day. It rained late morning so they spent much of the day in the cabin of the Beyond. The rain cleared. They drove to an old style shopping district where everyone pretended not to understand English when it came to bartering.
They did more of the same the next two days and sailed early morning for Montevideo.