This is an excerpt from the Kenton Lewis novel, The Id and The Odyssey.
A week later I saw Peggy at the lighthouse near Rockland Harbor. She was painting the lighthouse. I walked along the breakwater to where she and the easel were. She saw me approaching her.
“What do you think?” Peggy said.
“It’s a lighthouse,” I said.
“I know it has little artistic appeal, but plenty of local appeal. It will sell,” Peggy said. “Sometimes you have to paint things with little artistic value, but only designed to sell. Sort of like those street artist who do quick sketches of people for a couple dollars.” She continued to dab the canvass.
“I got your moonlight painting figured out,” I said.
“Why so glum?” Peggy asked still dabbing. “You look as though you lost your best friend.”
“I sort of did,” I said.
“How so?” Peggy said.
“The painting,” I said.
She stopped dabbing and moved closer. “Go on,” Peggy urged with a look and tone of suspicion.
“In your painting, there are two lights in the trees across the bay, but they’re not lights,” I said. “They’re eyes – sad eyes.”
“Whose eyes are they?” Peggy asked.
“Dennis’s,” I said.
“How did you find out?” Peggy said. “Is it the chatter of the newsroom or some bar talk?”
“Neither,” I said. “I sailed out on the bay a few nights ago. I was on the other side of the island.”
“Did you get a good show, you pervert?” Peggy said indignantly.
“Don’t worry I spared you and myself the vulgarity and left before the real show started,” I said and looking away toward the bay. “I don’t want to see that. What I saw was enough to make me sad and ill for both of you. It‘s a terrible thing to carry that with you. You two are my friends.”
“I’m sorry for lashing out,” Peggy said. “After all you did nothing wrong.”
“I wished I had never gone out there that night,” I said.
“Why did you?” Peggy said.
“I was hoping to find you alone to put my suspicion to rest, but halfway out I was determined not to find you,” I said. “Friendships looks for others’ feelings.”
“Are you going to tell Dennis?” Peggy asked.
“No,” I said.
“Then why are you telling me? Is this supposed to make me stop seeing that man?” Peggy said.
“I won’t be coming by anymore,” I said. “If you can live the lie that’s ok, but I can’t. It will be gradual. I’ll just find some folks my age and with your help, you can help Dennis to appreciate that I really need friends my own age. Does that sound fair?”
“More than fair,” Peggy said. “But you are still a friend.”
“Peggy,” I said and grasp her hand. “So are you.”
“How did you know?” Peggy said.
“It was your painting,” I said. “It was romantic and you never went there with Dennis.”
A tear rolled from her eye.
“There’s one more thing,” I said.
“What’s that?” Peggy said.
“It’s an empty lonely loveless painting,” I said. “You should destroy it. It will only leave whoever buys it sad and lonely.”
I walked back the breakwater to my jeep. I jumped in and looked once again at Peggy. She gracefully stroked and dabbed colors on the canvass. Her hair waved loosely in the bay breeze. There must have been a thousand thoughts running through her mind either that or they were being colored over just as easy as she covered the canvas with an image designed to do nothing more than sell.