The Obsession Page 78

“Mostly fiction, right? But you’ve got some nonfiction mixed in. Biographies, histories, books on cars—surprise—true crime.”

He could pull off casual, too. “Nonfiction, written well, is a story.”

“I tend to only read nonfiction that’s work related. How do you know if something based on true is written true?”

“I guess you don’t.”

“Sometimes it must be perception or personal agenda, or just enhancing or adjusting for creative effect. Like a photograph. I take an image that’s real, but I can manipulate it, change tones, enhance or soften or crop out to meet my own agenda.”

He brought the wine to her. Fifty-fifty, he’d thought. She’d done the work she’d come to do on the first fifty. Now, he could see, she’d tied herself up in the second half.

“I’d say the person in the original image knows what’s true and what’s manipulated.”

“That’s the thing about words and images.” She took a slow sip of wine. “Once the words are on the page, the image printed, it becomes what’s true.”

She turned away then, set her glass aside to break down her lighting. “They’re not so different, words and pictures. Both freeze moments, both stay with you long after the moment’s over.”


He didn’t have a clear idea what to say, how to say it, and decided it would be nothing as the sound of an old truck with a rusted-out muffler boomed outside.

“That’ll be Lelo and his muffler from hell.”

“If he had a friend who was a mechanic, he could get that fixed.”

“I’ll have to suggest that. For the millionth time. At least he can help us haul all this down.”

She liked Lelo—and it generally took her longer to like. And Tag loved him at first sight. Man and dog were all over each other in an instant, like long-lost friends (possibly brothers) thrilled with the reunion.

“That’s a good dog. That’s some good dog.” Crouched, Lelo rubbed Tag all over and got licked lovingly in the face with every stroke. “I heard you found him out of gas on the side of the road.”

“That’s right.”

“Not out of gas now, are you, boy? Not out of gas now.”

Tag rolled over, exposing his belly. His hind leg pumped like a piston in time with the rubbing.

Lelo had straggly hair halfway to his shoulders the color of a Kansas cornfield. He came in about an inch shorter than Naomi with a skinny build and ropey muscles set off in a tie-dyed T-shirt and jeans frayed at the knees and the hems. An emerald green fire-breathing dragon rode sinuously up his right forearm.

“How are you doing up there on the bluff?”

“I like it.” Naomi set up her lights as she considered ideas and options for the shoot.

“Needs help with the landscaping,” Xander said as he brought in—as ordered—his guitars, both his ax and his old acoustic.

“Oh yeah. They sure let that place go. Never did have much what you’d call creativity with the landscaping. And Dikes never gave a shit.”

“Loo’s ex,” Xander explained.

“Stayed stoned most of the time. I should know since I got stoned with him. I don’t do that so much anymore,” he said to Naomi. “I could take a look up there, if you want. Give you some ideas.”

“I could probably use the ideas.”

“No charge for thinking. Here comes Dave and Trilby.”

Dave the drummer, Naomi remembered. Broad shoulders, compact build, brown hair worn in a kind of modified Caesar. Jeans, a faded Aerosmith T-shirt, banged-up brown hiking boots. Trilby—keyboards—made a striking contrast. Smooth dark skin, wide dark eyes, a head full of dreads. Cargo pants and a red tee on a gym-ripped body.

They hauled in their equipment while Xander called out introductions. It helped that everyone had full hands and tasks. She always had a problem meeting so many people at once.

Of course the dog eased any awkwardness, happily roaming from one to another after he’d sniffed enough to reassure himself they were okay.

“I took a look at your website,” Dave said to Naomi as he set up his drums. “Slick. I’m in charge of the band’s. Not so slick. Techwise, it rocks—that’s what I do—but the look doesn’t hit it hard.”

Since she’d taken the time to view it herself, she couldn’t disagree. “It’s really thorough, and easy to navigate.”

He grinned. “Which is saying yeah, the look blows. I was wondering if we could get some shots today I could use there, juice it up.”

“I’ve got some ideas.”

“Good, because in that area I’m fresh out. My wife said maybe we should go more retro.”

“You’re married?”

“Eight years, two kids.”

She couldn’t say why she’d assumed he, and the rest of the band, would be single.

At the serious engine roar, Dave adjusted the angle of his snare. “That’ll be Ky. Lead guitar,” Dave added, as she watched the big, black, tricked-out Harley roar up.

Tall, dark, and dangerous, she thought. You couldn’t say handsome, not with the narrow face, the scruffy goatee, the hawkish nose and just overly generous mouth.

But he made you look.

He aimed eyes as dark as his hair at Naomi. “Hi there, Slugger.”

Xander glanced over from setting up the speakers. “Naomi, Ky.”

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