When I was a child there was an old man that has remained in my memory. His name was Jack and his hair was very white. He was quite tall, at least to me, and he was thin. He lived down the hall from us in one of those old beautiful buildings on Riverside Drive in New York City. Our apartment was large and had a terrace overlooking the park. Jack lived in one room. Jack had a couch in his room with a brown cover. I don’t remember much of anything else except the photograph, the one on the wall above a table. I think it was a replica of a famous photograph, a black and white print of two boys walking down a path with their backs to us. Jack knew the boys intimately and I think he named one of the boys Peter. I don’t’ remember the name of the other one. That was the one I liked best because he was tall and thin and appeared to have brown hair like my father. The other boy was just a bit shorter and his hair might have been lighter. They carried something in their hand, I don’t remember what it was but maybe it was a knapsack. Maybe they were running away.
My mother liked to take me to Jack’s apartment. She liked Jack. He did magic tricks. He put a button into Peter’s pocket and then made it reappear back in his hand. I was fascinated and made him do the trick over and over again. The two boys became very real to me, as I assume they were to Jack.
Oh, the memories we keep, a kind old man and his photograph. Jack gave me a love of mystery and he nurtured my imagination as we created the journey the boys were on. Maybe I was born with an imagination but storyteller, magical Jack gave it a push.
We sent those two boys all over the world and they had endless adventures. I wish I could remember those adventures. Maybe they ran into elephants or a dog along the way that followed them everywhere. I don’t remember our stories, just Jack’s kind eyes and his laugh.
Thank you Jack for your love of a good tale, for being that one older person in my life who became my first friend, my comrade in love with possibility. You were probably very much alone. I hope I brought something to your life to remember back on. Dear Jack, thank you for bringing so much to mine.
Vera Jane Cook
Riveting, Emotional, Unexpectedly Funny Award Winning Fiction
Author of Pleasant Day, Where the Wildflowers Grow, Dancing Backward in Paradise, The Story of Sassy Sweetwater, Lies a River Deep,
As Olivia Hardy Ray
Pharaoh’s Star, Annabel Horton, Lost Witch of Salem