A Novel



In the time of your life, live - so that in that wondrous time you shall not add to the misery and sorrow of the world, but shall smile to the infinite delight and mystery of it.

~ The Time of Your Life, William Saroyan

It is a bridge, life. Once you step onto it, get on with the crossing. Just don't forget to enjoy the view.

~ Coyote Winslow


She liked the spot on his shoulder, the spot where her head rested, where it perfectly fit, as if it had been created solely to cradle her.

As a young girl she would stand before her bedroom mirror, stretch her arms high above her head, relax her shoulders, then slowly lower her arms to the point where they would begin to bend at the elbow. It was there she would stop. She could feel the soft under flesh of her forearms resting on his shoulders, her hands placed behind his neck. She told herself that the man of her dreams, the other half of this life's pairing, would fit here, like this. She studied her reflection in the mirror. She looked silly, she thought, her arms suspended in mid-air. It made her grin, but it did not embarrass her because she knew, she did not know how she knew but she knew, the great love of her life would fit this position.

The first time she put her arms on his shoulders and her hands came to rest on the back of his neck, she was instantly eleven years old, her arms outstretched. Only now there was no mirror, there was only the flesh of her inner forearms draped along his bare shoulders. She lowered her arms, her fingers traced his arms, brushed his hands and then slid around his waist. Her cheek, brushed, nuzzled and came to rest against his shoulder. It was then she discovered the spot. The puzzle of her life's dream suddenly seemed so simple, so complete. She had found the man who had, until that moment, dwelt only in her dreams, the man whose love and body would entwine with hers until the end of their days. It was a romance not controllable or avoidable, a romance of destiny, a love that must be served.

The bell above the door of her photographic studio sang out its greeting. A tall handsome man in his late thirties hurried in and quickly closed the door against the January cold. He removed his hat, revealing a wild shock of golden brown hair.

"Hello, can I get a photograph here?"

"Yes." She stretched the word into one long questioning syllable before continuing. "Just what sort of photograph did you have in mind?"

"Oh." He pulled himself up abruptly, realizing that in his hurry he had been anything but clear. "A photograph, a portrait, of me as the subject. Is it possible for you to make one?"

He had moved close now, the oak framed glass counter, containing cameras, lenses and an assortment of photographic supplies, between them. He had been walking a good distance, she thought. His cheeks and nose glowed bright red.

"Might I suggest you remove your coat and warm yourself here by the stove." She gestured toward a pot-bellied wood stove that stood in the portrait taking area of the studio.

The studio area was a separate back room with a high ceiling, allowing her to hang backdrops for her portraits. The darkroom, where she processed her photographs, was located at the far end of the room.

"The portrait will look much better if your face becomes accustomed to the room's temperature."

"My cheeks must be bright red." The soft boyish tone in his voice and manner pleased her. She smiled a tiny smile.

"Yes, and your nose, too."

"My nose is always the first to go." He confided, then removed his coat and went directly to the stove.

While she prepared the studio, he explained that he was a writer and the photograph was for the back flap on the dust cover of his newest book, the part that says, "About the Author" he said. He also told her that he hated having his photograph taken because no one ever made him look like himself. She silently stored this clue and continued to adjust the lighting. She did not understand his complaint; he possessed a fine boned, beautifully angular face. She would take a portrait he would be proud of.

"Would you care to comb your hair?" She asked the question casually, throwing it away, but indeed hoped he would do something to tame his wild hair. He studied himself in the mirror she held up before him, twisted his mouth into several disapproving postures, then instead of pulling a comb from his pocket, he took his fingers and quickly dashed them through his hair. He did this twice then said, "That will be fine. Thank you."

She seated him in a Victorian armchair. He wore a navy blue wool turtleneck sweater and a chocolate brown houndstooth tweed jacket. She liked his choice of wardrobe; he understood color and texture. She thought it likely he knew more about photography than he let on. She also wondered if his passion and spirit matched his unruly hair. She was not attracted to him in a sexual manner that first day, but she liked him.

She pulled the finely chiseled bridge of his nose into focus. She followed his facial features outward to the top of his high forehead and back to his chin, then from ear to ear. His skin absorbed light beautifully, was taut, smooth and to her eye, very soft. Then there were his eyes, calm pools of intensity. "Still waters", she thought to herself.

Peering at his inverted image in the viewfinder of her eight by ten Deardorff View Camera, she said. "What sort of writer are you?"

His eyes twinkled ever so slightly at her interest and he said simply, "Fiction."

She snapped the shutter. "Okay, finished." she pronounced, then slid the protective metal slide into the film holder, sealing the exposed film from external light. She removed the film holder from the camera and placed it on a nearby table.

"That's it?" He was clearly puzzled. "You're taking only one photograph?"


"But most photographers take nearly a dozen."

"I am not most photographers, Mister..." She held out her hand.

He brought his eyes up to meet hers. His eyes were filled with surprise and great warmth. The grin that tightened his lips and twisted at their corners was born of respect.

"Winslow, Coyote Winslow." The soft palm of his hand kissed hers and his fingers embraced the back of her hand, as one protectively cradles an infant's head.

"Tess McDonald." She said, "Pleased to meet you."


"Coyote is a rather unusual first name."

"Actually, it's my middle name. Howard C. Winslow is my given name. The 'C' was my father's little joke." He allowed a light chuckle to skip through the word father's. "When I was a kid I hated being teased with the name Howie. So following my father's lead, I chose to use the name Coyote. Kids don't pick on other kids named Coyote." A smile washed over his face; the twinkle in his eyes was that of a mischievous and rather mysterious eight year old boy. Tess smiled. "Are you sure one photograph will be sufficient?" He offered.

"You did say need only one good portrait, is that not what you said?"

"Yes, I did."

Tess chose not to break the momentary silence, but allowed a small grin to knead at her lips.

"When shall I expect it to be ready?" He asked.

"Will tomorrow afternoon be soon enough?"


"Good. It will be ready tomorrow afternoon then."

He tossed his scarf around his neck, slipped on his hat cocking it slightly to the right side, flashed a broad smile, turned and was gone.

Note: All material contained on this web site is ©Copyright Daniel Region 2003 and may not be used or reprinted in any form without the express permission of Mr. Region.

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