WHERE THE HEART IS
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An original oil painting on canvas 30 x 40 inches by June Pauline Zent
The attorney’s reaction to my news kept nagging at me.Why was he not excited and happy about something that could launch my art career to a wider audience? If his mission was to promote my artwork this should have seemed like a wonderful turn of events. And why in our meetings was he only interested in my previous and current relationship with Buddy?
The next morning I tuned into the Mike Douglas Show again.There was Tammy Wynette and Mike talking about their dinner at her beach house and her career as The First Lady of Country Music. It was a duplicate of the previous show except that there was no mention of the painting that he had glowingly complimented the day before. Gone was his invitation to have me on his show soon, even though they had spent at least five minutes praising the artwork.My name was not even mentioned. It was as if it had never happened;like a perfect duplicate otherwise.
It began to sink in.Was I just paranoid or was this show intended to replace the first one? Could it be that Buddy, Tammy, and Mike had given very expensive air time to someone unauthorized by the powerful network station and as a result were at risk of legal action? Could Buddy’s attorney friend have convinced them to air a cover up show? These thoughts ran through my mind like a slow-moving freight train but not because of lost opportunity. Buddy and Tammy were my friends and I would be horrified if they were at risk because of me!
I had Buddy’s private number at the Jupiter ranch but he was in California. His habit was to call me. I made the effort to get the number but with no success. All that I could do was wait. I wanted to explain that I understood and that nothing had changed to affect my feelings for him or Tammy. Day after day I waited becoming more anxious as time went on. Finally I had to face it. This mistake was so important that he was willing to ignore everything that we had together. Maybe Bobby Collins was the motivator but remember the promise that we swore to keep: he would not believe anything that was said about me until we talked and I would reciprocate. I hit bottom: now convinced that my suspicions about the show were true and that he would sacrifice everything for the sake of not being at risk. Maybe protecting Mike and Tammy was the impetus. It didn’t matter. He wouldn’t call and we could not talk.
Time didn’t take the pain away. I was heart-broken and felt used and tossed aside like a faded flower of no use to anyone. I needed to be alone so the children’s father came and took them to Virginia for several weeks. I convinced him that I needed to focus on the portrait of Tammy and her girls which was half-true. The huge canvas sat on an easel in the only big window waiting with only a rough sketch. But I had no intention of working on it . I needed to grieve. Contrary to popular belief artist do not create their best when they are emotionally distraught, at least the kind of work I strive to create.
I am a lightweight when it comes to booze. More than two beers results in dizziness,vomiting, and falling asleep. I do like beer however and regularly drink one in the evening after a long day. So because it put me to sleep, as soon as the kids were gone I stocked up, closed the blinds where the canvas sat and drank two beers. It worked! The pattern became two beers, falling asleep, waking up, and two beers again. As soon as I would wake everything would come screaming back. Sorry to say I was not courageous: I couldn’t take the anguish!
This continued for over a week but finally one day I woke up and said, “I miss my kids!” They were wonderful children. All were doing well in school except for Billy but I also missed the focus of dealing with his autism. I missed the smell of them when we hugged. I even missed washing their cloths in the bathtub and hanging them on the line outside to dry. Who knew I could miss that chore!
I opened the blinds, dragged out the paints from the closet and set to work on Tammy”s portrait. The kids came home and the work progressed. My mind turned away from the grief at least most of the time. Tammy called about the portrait which was near completion and then another call came in. It was Buddy’s attorney wanting me to come in for another appointment. He was the last one I wanted to see but I agreed thinking that I might get some answers to questions that haunted me like a ghost and were never completely off my mind.
I had a plan. Buddy’s address in California was something that I could still use. I sent him a mailgram with a return confirmation giving him my new phone number as promised. Then I told Mr. Collins that I was moving away and would no longer be available. He said, ” You mean that even Burt will not know where you are at?”
Mailgram sent to Burt Reynolds. My married name was then Watson. I later took my maiden name Zent
I replied,” Oh no, Buddy will always know where I am and I will keep the promise I made to never disappear again at least not from him. I assumed that he would relay this to Buddy but that is not the way it worked out as you will see in the next continued eleven. Hope to see you here!