A large vertical oil framed in mahagony between the entertainment center and a square black pedestal with a bronze abstraction on it, the top half of the painting featured broad vertical strokes in sepia on a white field, the bottom half narrower horizontal strokes in the same sepia, heavy in the center and revealing more white as they tapered down to the lower edge, across the center of the field in darker brown that faded toward the left side spanned a rickety wooden pedestrian bridgeon which stood the figure of a forlorn androgyne in the same brown as the bridge leaning forward, elbow on a rail and hand cupping its chin, in the background merging into the broad stroked slight shadowy figures. In the bottom left corner floated a series of letters, Martin gazed at those letters, put them together. M-Ma-jor he said. Major. Major . . . YES. His son, yes yes. He looked to the floor. He paints he said. Major my son he paints. His face furrowed, his upper body rocked, his hands clenched and unclenched repeatedly, his name his name, what’s his name he said aloud. Major, Major. Yes but what’s his name. He glanced at the painting, at the name, he turned abruptly and rushed to the long hallway that passed the bathroom and den to the kitchen eating area.
One wall of the hallway from chestheight to the ceiling was covered with framed photos, sticky notes attached to most of them formal scenes portraits urban and natural landscapes action shots, photos of family friends close relatives colleagues, everyone and everything that had once mattered to him in his pursuit of the life worth living, the flourishing life. Like a panning camera his eyes roamed, searched, for what he wasn’t quite certain, but he was vaguely sure that he’d know when he saw it, and then it it struck him, slapped him, he shook it off — there it was, a portrait, the face of his son, next to it a shot of him brush in hand before an easel. In the frame of the portrait the name Terrance was etched. Terrence. Martin nodded, Terrence, yes yes. He almost smiled. A good boy, a fine fine boy. Tall boy. Studying the portrait he lingered at the blue eyes, the blond hair, the thick sensuous lips. Let’s see, where is now Martin thought, he looked away, his mind rewound, fasforwarded through nothing, he grimaced with effort eyes tightly closed, at nothing, there was simply nothing there, grimacing, Damn he said. Damn. He opened his eyes and they roamed again and he found the same name printed on a postit note attached to the photo of a small child, ah there he is he thought. The child Terrence is in his third year his face is smiling beneath large darkblue eyes and brows quite thick for such a small tot, hair black back then like a rough sea. Martin Major stands transfixed, stationary as the photo, he hears a radio as he, prone, plays on a carpeted floor with Terrence, he hears a song on the radio that animates him, he jumps to all fours looks Terrence in the eyes says I love this song, says Wanna dance? Terrence’s face beams laughs he nods scrambles to his feet, Martin swoops him up and they dance. It’s a lovely little ditty called “A Never Ending Love for You,” Martin loves this song, it’s as gentle as its title and the singers’s voices, he whispers the lyrics as Terrence hums along, he holds the child quite firmly dancing a slow polka concentrating on the joy of the words the gentle acoustic strumming, the closeness of their bodies. They glide and whirl and he gazes at his little boy’s face and laughs as Terrence’s head twirls, openmouthed smile stretching his face, dark eyes wide and glistening, effusing glee. And then Terrence is four and they’re playing with little cars and trucks on the floor, Terrence rapt in wonder holds up a car and stares at the spinning wheels as he swipes them over and over with his thick dimpled fingers, an LP by The Who playing on the stereo. A song ends and during the interval before the next one Martin suddenly looks at Terrence who’s already gazing at him smiling, setting his toy aside, Martin returns the smile lifts his brows, lowers his head a bit, raises his eyes to an upper corner, hunches and draws in his shoulders, all in the gesture of a naughty secret shared, Terrence imitates him, they both leap to their feet Martin swoops up the little boy just as the song “Baba O’Riley” begins, and they dance.