Florida Heatwave

Florida Heatwave by Michael Lister Read Free Book Online

Book: Florida Heatwave by Michael Lister Read Free Book Online
Authors: Michael Lister
Tags: Fiction, General, Mystery & Detective, Electronic Books
    “And why is it that you called me?”
    Something awkward in that phrasing. An accent? Was she Spanish? Her voice had an aristocratic flair. Not quite haughty, but bold. The same pride he’d seen in her jut of jaw.
    “Were you a model?” Johnny said. “A photographer’s model?”
    “Long ago, yes, I was.”
    “I searched you out,” Johnny said.
    “I suspected this was true.” Her voice was dreamy and knowing.
    “It’s crazy, I understand that. But I fell in love with your photograph. 1955,
Modern Photography,
Ernest L. James.”
    She was quiet but he could hear her puttering. The whisking of sheets? Were they silk? Or perhaps she was she slipping into her robe? No, it wouldn’t be a robe, but a kimono. The kimono would be black as her hair was black with the same deep luster. Dragons were embroidered on its back. Their red eyes, their long curved claws.
    “Arnold, your father, is he well?”
    Johnny felt a skewer slide deep into his bowels.
    “Your father, Johnny. How is he? Does he know you’re calling me?”
    “You know my father?”
    The walls of his study were bleeding light. His dizzy eyes, his spiraling gut. The woman on the phone, Lila Calderon, she’d spoken his father’s name with a familiarity that was unmistakable. And Johnny saw again the bent corner of the magazine page. That dog-ear.
    “He died,” Johnny said. “Two years ago. Cancer.”
    “I see,” she said with a faraway tranquility as if she might have suspected this. “I’m sorry for your loss, Johnny. I’m deeply sorry.”
    Johnny lost it. He began to jabber into the phone, demanding to be told how she knew his dad, but getting no response, then pleading with her to reveal what the nature of the relationship had been, bullying, beseeching, his words rushed out messily for minutes, then he halted.
    “Are you there?”
    She was not.
    She had gone away, left the line to hum with miles of emptiness.
    He could picture her in Santa Monica. She had set the phone back in its cradle, walked to her bathroom, stood before the deep tub, let her kimono fall to the tile, ran the water warm, dusted it with herbal soap, let the faucet flow until the water reached the brim, then slipped beneath the foam to linger away the California morning, to sip green tea, to recall the ancient smoky nights, the long lather of love with a man who no longer existed.
    Candace was flummoxed.
    “You’re going to California?”
    “Just for a day or two.”
    “What’s going on, Johnny? You’re in some kind of trouble, aren’t you?”
    “No, no, it’s not any kind of trouble.”
    “What then?”
    “The woman,” he said. “Myra.”
    Candace said nothing, but she wasn’t pleased by this turn.
    Johnny felt the air dying in his lungs. A vice closing against his sternum.
    “I need to go,” he said.
    “Why, for godsakes?”
    “To see her, to speak with her. For my book.”
    “For your book?”
    The television was running. It was always running. The cable news, the blather of the world. Their dinner plates were on their laps. Chicken with rice and mushrooms. He’d taken a bite and felt it turn to lead in his gut. And then he’d set off on this exercise in insanity.
    “The woman I had a crush on. I spoke with her. I tracked her down and called her on the phone. And somehow it came out that my dad and her, my dad and her had some kind of affair, or relationship, or something, I don’t know. She hung up.”
    “Where have you gone, Johnny?”
    “Where have you gone off to? What’s happened to you?”
    “Nothing’s happened. I was writing the story and this came up and I started thinking about Myra and trying to imagine her, where she was today, and I don’t know, I just reached for the phone.”
    “You called a woman in California. A stranger from fifty years ago.”
    “I’m nuts.”
    “I’d say so. I’d call that a little nuts.”
    “I want to interview her.”
    “You’re not a reporter, Johnny.

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