Many readers requested that various subplots in the Making of a Gigolo series be addressed at the conclusion of the series. To have included all the data requested would have made the last story much too long, so this epilogue is provided to address some of those issues.
My thanks go to Norm, for providing the idea for and the data concerning the PP of A. You'll understand when you get to that part.
If Bobby Dalton was a kind of earthquake in Granger, it should come as no surprise that the aftershocks would continue to shake things up, even after he got married.
The first thing he did to shake things up was buy Agatha Roberts' house, which had languished on the market for months. He didn't actually try to make a good deal, but got one anyway. There were obstacles, but only small ones. The bank refused to grant him a loan on the property, citing the lack of "a steady income." Agatha, who was now engaged to Jim and would be moving into his house when they were married, no longer needed the cash from the house up front, so she simply carried the loan herself.
This distressed the neighbors to no end, but there wasn't anything they could do about it. A lot of people actually thought about moving away, but the history of successful real estate transactions in the town disabused that notion fairly quickly.
What made it even worse was that the house quickly became the best looking property on the street, which also distressed the neighbors to no end.
Another fact that shook things up was that Constance became Bobby's business partner. She didn't sit at home and keep books. She went out and got her hands dirty right alongside her husband. People were constantly amazed that this pregnant woman could work up a storm and do it beautifully. She took special delight in showing other women how to do things by themselves, which distressed her husband to no end, since it cut into their business.
As it happened though, Dalton Repairs and Renovations had only satisfied customers. It was a small town and word spread. Within a year, they had more business than they could handle, particularly when Connie had to take a break to have a baby. There came a time when half a dozen teenagers, both boys and girls, worked part time for the company.
There were two aftershocks that Bobby wasn't directly responsible for, though the fault lines that slipped were connected to him.
Will and Christy wanted a small wedding, with little fuss, and only close friends at the ceremony. The guest list, in fact, only had thirty-six names on it. They didn't count on the impact Will had had on the community though.
The wedding was crashed by the entire VFW, consisting of forty men and three women who had begun celebrating long before they marched through the doors ... in formation ... with Master Sergeant (Retired) "Dub" Pritchett calling cadence. It was unfortunate that the only cadence call Dub could remember was one that involved two old ladies lying in bed, but the marchers voices were a little slurred by that point, so their thundering replies weren't all that clear. They even had the flags with them, like it was a parade.
That might have been manageable, in the Four Square Free Church of Granger, which had a total of ten pews in the sanctuary—a room about forty by thirty feet in size, including the alter and choir loft.
It was the sixty-four students from Granger High, who also crashed the wedding, that resulted in standing room only.
Then there were the hoots, applause, and "THAT'S what I'm talking about!" type calls, as the bewildered minister tried to conduct the ceremony with dignity and aplomb.
Even that might have ended in only a series of stories that might have been told for years, but when Christy was asked for the ring and produced a new prosthetic hand that neither Will nor anyone else had known about, and which had a custom made wedding ring welded onto it, there was bedlam. To put it on, he had to take his suit coat off, and then his shirt, which produced the first true silence of the day in the packed congregation, as the full extent of his scars was revealed.
A high school girl whistled and, within twenty seconds, there was jubilation that shook the windows of the little church.
THAT story became legend in the town and still is to this day.
The other aftershock was smaller in many ways, because fewer people took special notice of it. Those who DID take notice of it, however, were almost thrown from their feet by the shockwaves.
Mirriam Dalton got married.
Just that fact alone might have shaken things up in town. But the man who married her left a full professor's position, to establish a nonprofit foundation to repopulate two hundred thousand acres of tall grass prairie with buffalo, of all things.
They already had the land, thanks to land donations by several Indian tribes in Oklahoma, and the purchase of land that connected those areas, by Chester and Felicity Chumley. The word on the street was that a herd of four hundred bison would be released into the preserve within a year. It was bringing a lot of attention to little Granger, even though the town was two hundred miles away from the preserve itself.
The next year, 1979, Will and Christy were again the talk of the town. Though it made less of a splash, either regionally or nationally, it brought great prestige to the little town, because Christy Bradford entered a photograph in a national contest and it made the news.
The Professional Photographers of America, commonly referred to as the PP of A, is the largest group of professional photographers in America and has affiliate groups all over the world. Its purpose is to educate and train its members, extending their craft. Christy had joined the Wichita chapter when her business took off and had been a member for three years. She got together with her cohorts occasionally and, at a seminar on portraiture, she happened to show one of them the picture she'd taken of Will wrapped in the American flag.
The PP of A holds print competitions every year, where local winners' prints are forwarded to regional events and then to the national competition. Christy's peer lobbied her heavily to prepare a print for that year's competition.
Making such a print might sound easy. It is anything but. The print must be sixteen by twenty inches. It will be judged for artistic ability, impact, and technical details. The judges, usually five to seven masters grade photographers, sit in a darkened room. The print is displayed on a vertical turn-table, angled so that the lighting won't glare off the surface. Each judge may view the print for as long as he likes. Once each judge has scored the print, the scores are averaged and they move on.
Scores range from fifty to a hundred. For our purposes, scores of eighty to ninety are considered as "deserving merit" and ninety to a hundred is classed "exceptional." Very few prints get a score above ninety.
Points may be awarded on the basis of subjective and intangible points of interest, such as color saturation and tone, placement of shadow in the print, and whether that shadow adds to or detracts from the subject matter. Even the title of the print may affect score.
It was into that intimidating and highly respected competition that Christy entered the print of the man who was now her husband, titled "All gave some..."—a reference to the well known phrase, in those days, of "All gave some, and some gave all." On the advice of her peers, Christy "burned" the corners and edges of the print—making them dark and driving the viewer's attention to the center—then covered the final product with a coat of clear gloss finish that made the colors jump out at the viewer. She had to make fifteen prints before she was satisfied that the colors in the flag were true representations of the official emblem.
She waited, in the gallery, along with dozens of other observers. By the luck of the draw, Will's portrait was one of the last five prints judged.
It had what is commonly called the "wow factor."
"All gave some," said the announcer, and Will's portrait was turned to face the judges.
There was an audible collective indrawn breath, followed by a stunned silence that lasted perhaps six or seven seconds. Then all that indrawn breath was expelled in a sussurating whisper that filled the entire room.
"Quiet please!" said the announcer.
Had an observer been watching Monica Truebridge's eyes, that observer would have seen them narrow slightly as the judge viewed the portrait. Her eyes flicked to various things in the print: the ravaged skin; the stripes in the flag that were a deep, rich authentically blood red; the end of the stump that held that flag to the chest ... and the hair, that looked perfectly natural. It was the juxtaposition of normal versus abnormal, all in one person, that gripped her. She tensed and then relaxed. THIS was what she'd been waiting to see. She keyed in her score and signaled the turntable attendant to move the portrait so that it faced Harold, the judge next to her.
For Harold Bluestem, who had served three years in the Army and never experienced anything more exciting than driving a deuce and a half through mud that was three feet deep, he saw what could have happened to him, had he been sent to war. It shook him and it made him realize how incredibly lucky he'd been. This photograph spoke to him on a very personal level. This young man, and this photograph, espoused the apex of bravery and sacrifice. He stared at it so long that the turntable attendant spoke.
"Yes," sighed Harold. "Go on."
.... There is more of this story ...