How often time seems to stand still - a moment in our lives that becomes a permanent picture, haunting us.
Nora and Tom were the realists; Jack forever the optimist…the dreamer.
The three were best of friends since early college days; a friendship that would last for nearly two decades, until the day that life became the haunting picture.
“Hey, buddies. So where do we go from here?” Jack posed the question often asked on graduation days.
With a tilt of her head, Nora replied, “I’m ready to exchange the cold of the East for the sunny shores of the West. Any takers?”
“You’re a plotter, Nora. You’ve been tempting us with your tales of the California Coast for the past four years. And since I’ve no ties here, I’d gladly make the move.” Jack immediately replied.
Tom, being a bit less enthused, asked, “How would we make it there…I mean other than driving out in Nora’s auto, how would we make a living?”
“Aw, c’mon, Tom. You have your degree in Journalism, with a minor in Art History; these could open many doors for you, and wouldn’t do Jack and me any harm either.” Nora laughed with a spirited glee that endeared her to both young men.
“Do you two really think…” Tom hesitated, “Ok, let’s do it, then,” he agreed.
Thus began the adventure of the three friends, at a time – just after WWII - when Southern California was beginning its maturing.
As predicted, Tom did become a fledgling writer for the L.A. Times. He realized this move was the onset of a great career. He accepted every assignment given him, as he knew these were the rungs to his ladder of success. In a few years he was given his own column: to write about The Arts.
Nora eventually wheedled her way into the Screen Writers Guild. Although she had acquired a minor in Drama at college, her major was English Lit. She knew she was pretty, but not the beauty it would take to catch the eye of a director or producer, so she, too, went with her talent in writing. Besides, she would never cotton to the couch-system of the movie industry.
With a major in Drama, and having participated in all the university productions, Jack was in the best location he could be: L.A./Hollywood.
He not only was very talented, he had that extra that was needed for succeeding, being tall, dark, and handsome. If only he could control his much-too-carefree attitude.
Settling in Venice Beach, they were fortunate to lease-to-buy and share a three-bedroom home on the Canal, and just blocks from the beach: an ideal haven and heaven for all. Until…
Within six years both Tom and Nora had excelled in their careers, while Jack had reached near-stardom, only to lose his status due to his lack of dependability. It was at this time that Nora and Jack had married. Although Tom was not surprised by this event, he was, nonetheless disappointed; Nora deserved better than what Jack would give her, he thought.
Tom moved out and, with his part of the house-investment – paid by Nora – he moved three houses down the canal. Their friendship would continue as close as before.
Not long after their twelfth anniversary, Nora had asked for a divorce.
“Jack, your commitment to our marriage is non existent. You won’t ever change your ways of womanizing, nor will you take your career – what’s left of it – serious,” Nora tried to be calm.
“You can’t mean that, Nora. Why would you do this to me?” Jack fumed.
“Please, Jack, I’d like to see us settle this problem without animosity and remain friends,” Nora interjected.
“Well, let’s at least put this decision off ‘til after our Christmas party next week; can’t we?” Jack asked. And Nora agreed, adding: “The party will not change our situation, you know.”
Tom did not have to be told of their problems, he saw, all too often, the rift in his friend’s marriage. He often discussed it with the two. So he was not surprised when Jack had told him “I’m not giving her up, Tom. I’ve got too good a thing working for me with this marriage. Nora has forgiven me before for my wanderings, and she’ll do it again. I’ll not agree to a divorce.”
As Nora and Jack walked from their Christmas party toward the beach, Tom watched with wariness. He wasn’t aware of Jack ever being abusive to Nora, but he also knew of Jack’s depressive moods.
Tom walked to his home, and once there decided to go look for his friends.
As he approached them, he could hear their arguing, and was shocked to see Jack strike Nora; she had fallen on one knee to the sand.
Tom ran to them and tried to talk Jack away from Nora. He lit a cigarette, then quickly turned back to the two.
Jack had bent over Nora, continuing his verbal attack. That was enough to cause Tom to take his hand from his pocket, with the gun he had gotten from his house, walk to Jack and fired into the back of his head.
Time often stands still - a moment in our lives that becomes a haunting, permanent picture.
© Jackie (Micke) Jinks, October 2006