Is There Room on that Bench for Me?

Years ago I had a captivating and eerie dream.  I reluctantly left the scene in my mind as dawn aroused me from sleep. The particulars, however, stayed with me.

A black vehicle had rolled to a stop under gnarled live oaks growing along a centuries-old iron fence. A girl with long, sandy blonde hair who was in her late teens or early twenties sat in the back of the upscale sedan with disinterested parents at the helm. Were they eager to drop her off and move on? She was apathetic. Alone with her suitcases, she had entered the distinct New Orleans house.

Inside, the girl encountered an intruder. A young man about her age who brandished a gun. In my dream, it was clear he meant no harm, despite being up to no good. He was as intriguing as she.

This girl became Faith and the boy, Patrick. Unable to forget them and always wondering what happened, these characters ultimately shared their story with me in what became A Gathering of Appearances. 

Faith and Patrick had made a pact to meet on the bench by the cannons overlooking St. Louis Cathedral. Years after I finished the novel, I was in New Orleans once more and made a point to visit that bench where Faith and Patrick sat side by side. Revisiting this spirited city post-A Gathering of Appearances was utterly haunting; a blurred line betwixt reality and what had become real to me.  Fitting for a ghostly city that is the perfect backdrop for a dash of noir fiction.

Sitting on that bench with them was nice, but sharing at Pimm’s Cup at Napolean House with Faith was even better. I had to leave them all in The Big Easy.  I can’t wait to return.





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