Henry and Wendy Throckmorton had been married a week when Henry
took Wendy to his garret 100 miles south of their estate in posh Kenilworth, a
suburb of Chicago. Wendy thought she was going on a delayed honeymoon. Henry
had never told her that he was a painter by avocation. She knew only that he
was a successful patent attorney and had a large, profitable practice.
There was a heavy snowfall that evening and it made the trip for
Wendy, looking out the window of the car, all the more beautiful. They arrived
at the garret around midnight and walked up three flights of stairs in the
dark. It was good that Henry had brought his flashlight. He used three keys on
a long silver chain to open three locks on the steel door. Once inside the
garret, Henry turned on the light with triumph.
"Voila!" he said as he turned slowly in a circle with arms
Wendy was certainly surprised. There were paintings all over the
walls. Other paintings, half completed, sat on their easels waiting for Henry.
He explained to Wendy that she was the first person to see his work - his work
of a lifetime. He had never shown his work to anyone before but now that they
were married, he felt she had a right to see it.
"Wendy, you are the one person I know who is qualified to see my
work and I am very happy about that."
Wendy had been curator of several art collections at prestigious
museums in a number of cities. As soon as she was settled in her new home, she
planned to seek similar employment in Chicago, perhaps at a small private
gallery so she would have less pressure and more time to make a nice home for
Henry who had been a bachelor for a long time.
Wendy was an expert in watercolors, Henry's medium of choice.
With his encouragement, she walked around the garret slowly, looking at every
painting on the walls and even those on the easels before she said anything.
Finally, choosing her words carefully, she told Henry his work
was "interesting." She did not praise or condemn any particular painting. She
spoke quietly, trying her best to say something nice when her professional
assessment told her just the opposite - the work was mediocre, mundane at best.
Later on, Henry thought to himself that Wendy had looked bemused after
reviewing his life's work.
Henry Throckmorton earned his living as an attorney but that was
simply to buy the time necessary to paint. Before marrying Wendy he had spent
weekends, holidays and vacations at his garret, painting night and day for many
years. He had done well as an attorney but painting was his passion. He knew
now, however, that the canvases he thought so highly of had failed to impress
his young wife.
Henry drove home alone that night and told everyone at work the
next day that Wendy had left him without notice. He called her parents and
cried on the telephone about her sudden departure. He begged them to ask Wendy
to call him if they heard from her and he said he would call them if she called
him. He asked her mother if Wendy had ever gone off on her own before and she
assured him that Wendy had not.
No one ever saw Wendy Throckmorton again. Over the years, her
parents had died, still worried about Wendy. Since she had been an only child,
there were no siblings to ask about her. It was obvious to the staff in Henry's
office that he was in no mood to discuss her. They felt the man was
Once again, Henry was spending weekends, holidays and vacations
at his garret painting in watercolors. No one since Wendy had seen his work nor
had anyone else visited his garret. Paintings were still everywhere, their
number increasing as a result of Henry's ever-increasing frenzy for painting.
A wonderful cook, Henry still stored a few steaks in a small
refrigerator in the kitchen but he no longer hung big cuts of beef from hooks
in the walk-in freezer at the back of the garret. That freezer had been a
selling point when Henry bought the place from a retired butcher many years
ago. But now Henry never went into the freezer. In fact, he didn't know where
he had put the keys to the locks he himself had installed on the freezer door
after Wendy had disappeared.
In addition to being good at the law and enjoying painting,
Henry Throckmorton had always been handy with tools. He had hoped some day to
try his hand at ice sculpture but he would have to do that outside now and not
in the freezer as he had once planned.