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Hunter continues recruiting for his team.
Did it really all happen before Christmas?
And then one day I asked Henry the same old question I always asked, and he gave me a different answer.
"Been writing new stuff."
It was the night after the leak in his room. I was sorting through his belongings, filling a basket with clothing that could go in the tumble-dryer, going through a box of damp papers and laying them out on a towel. Most of it was salvageable. His birth certificate, some letters from Maisy.
"Yeah, jus' for fun." He chuckled. "Ain't gonna trouble the charts, but I still got a song or two inside me."
"Feel like playing one for me?"
But he shook his head. "Fella used to say to me, song's like a baby, there's no sense in trying to show it to the public before it's finished."
"Uh-huh." There was a scrapbook, old photos and clippings from his glory days. It looked to have escaped the water, but I flipped through it to make sure. And then I found a page that stopped me in my tracks.
I had to look twice, three times, before I was sure of what I was seeing.
"Y' okay? Look like a landed fish," Henry said, and I realized my mouth was flapping silently.
"Uh. Yeah. Henry, is it okay if I take this one away just to make sure it's dry? I promise I'll bring it back."
"Sure, you do that."
I wrapped the scrapbook in a towel to conceal it until I had a chance to slip it into my bag. I didn't look at it again until I was home.
* * * * *
That was Friday night-Saturday morning. I had the weekend off, and I spent much of it looking through the scrapbook and trying to make sense of it all.
The thing that had caught my attention was just a yellowed newspaper article from 1961, reporting on a county fair. In amongst the cattle-breeding trophies and the baking contest there were a couple of lines about the performance of a group named the Six Strings-that had been Mr. Winstone's first band-and above the article was a photo.
Six young men, each one cradling a guitar, grinning at the camera with all the confidence of a kid who knows himself to be immortal. I recognized Henry, front and center. He'd been handsome in his time. I didn't know the other band members, or the fellow in fancy clothes who was applauding them-some country-fair personage, I guess.
But I recognized the woman standing behind Henry. The photo was grainy, and when I blew it up her face dissolved into formless blobs, but when I half-closed my eyes I was sure. Like I told you before, I can't describe that face, but I'd recognize it anywhere. The face, and that black and gray pattern.
* * * * *
She wasn't anywhere else in the scrapbook, just that one picture. There was no clue as to why she was there. She might just have been some hanger-on for the band, if I disregarded the fact that she looked just the same now as she had when Kennedy was still president.
What do you do with that?
I turned it over in my mind for hours before admitting that I couldn't make sense of it without calling in help. I knew who to ask: one of my high-school buddies had ended up as assistant editor for a certain well-known music magazine, so I took a good scan of the clipping and emailed it to him.
Hi Kerry, I know this is a long shot, but I'm trying to identify the woman in this photo, just behind Henry Winstone in the black and gray checks. She looks familiar and I'm trying to figure out who she might be. Do you know anybody who'd know?
Five minutes after sending that email, I figured it out for myself, and felt pretty stupid. There was a simple enough explanation.
* * * * *
Monday night, Mel had a new book: "HeLa and Mrs Lacks: A Study in Medical Ethics". I knew a little of the case from my nursing training, but as I discussed the book with Mel I learned a lot more.
Henrietta Lacks was a black woman who died in 1951 of cervical cancer, caused by infection with human papillomavirus.