Ash Fork Madness©️
Nana Cook and Charlotte Madison
copyright 2019 Nana Cook and Charlotte Madison
Carl was one of two men with whom G.B. forbade me to speak. His orders were not difficult to obey with one of the men, whose towering size, vacant expression, forbidding demeanor and wild insane laughter warded me off the first time he meandered into the station. But Carl?
The first time I walked to town from my northern campsite I came upon an old man herding a party of fat little puppies to Ash Fork. The charming old man told me about his exploration of Anasazi ruins, roaming the hills finding skulls, arrowheads and even intact ancient pots. He told me that he took the relics home to “protect them from thieves, pot-hunters and —Forest Rangers.” His reasoning was ironic but well intentioned as he did not sell them, he just accumulated them in his shack. Then he added that the next time he had to kill a rattlesnake, he would dry the skin and bring it to me to paint. I thanked him and said that was not necessary, and then passed on by, leaving him alone to herd his puppies into town.
When I arrived in town I found G.B. and told him about my encounter with the old man on the road. It was then I discovered that I had met Carl.
G.B’s reprimands and reasons why I must avoid the man at all cost were loud and plentiful. Carl was a dangerous individual!
“Charle, he ain’t right, y’all can’t believe any thang he tells to ye. He’s like that ol’ quarry guard; he’d as soon shoot or stab y’all, as say howdy.”
But I was not really convinced because Carl had been so nice to me — and he loved dogs.
That evening, after I arrived back at my trailer, I sat at the table gazing out the door at a wild pink sunset that was tinting everything as though God had poured strawberry juice over the world. A cottontail rabbit hurried past, and I noticed a movement between the trees below my trailer. It was Carl, and he was slowly creeping toward my campsite along the animal run — with a shotgun slung over his shoulder. An armed madman heading in my direction!
I was terrified, but I had the sense and time to drag London inside and lock the door. We peeked out a window and watched as the man slowly made his way up the hill. There was no place for us to hide, so when he reached the trailer I crouched on the floor clutched London closely to me and hoped Carl would not look through the windows and see us.
There was a knock on my trailer door. The door handle turned. My heart stopped and London went berserk attacking the flimsy inner screen barrier as Carl began to hammer on the door.
Did I want this madman angrier by not letting him in? Silently I called, Help me G.B.. Please come.
From outside a strained voice pleaded, “Ma’am — I’m sick. Can I come in? I have a bad heart and I don’t feel well. P lease Ma’am — I’m sick.”
I debated whether or not to obey G.B.’s warning or listen to my instinct. I could not let an old man die, begging for help on my doorstep, so I leashed London and together we opened the door to face Carl. I found him leaning against the trailer, ashen faced and in obvious physical distress.
No one on earth who knew me would choose me to nurse their ailments. The idea of anyone, including myself, having anything inside the skin revolts me, and the whole area of external and internal ailments totally panics me.
“I need a ride to my car. I need my heart pill.” He choked out.
I was relieved that the man was in fact on the verge of succumbing to heart failure, rather than planning to shoot me or needing me to nurse a wound. I helped him to my van and got him to his car and medication in time.
For years I continued to hear wild stories about Carl from everyone, but in all that time he was always gallant, polite and courteous to me and respectful to G.B. — at least in my presence. He was like the old desert rat in Sierra Madre, filled with wise words and amazing tales. I had to suppose all his wonderful stories were true, because somehow they always seemed to prove out
Carl dropped by the station and stone yard most weeks but it was several years after the first encounter with him that he arrived at our house.
“Charle!” G.B. called to me from the verandah, “Come on out Hon, Carl’s got somethin’ fer ye.”
There stood Carl, smiling radiantly. He greeted me with something hanging over one shoulder, the skin of a beautiful diamondback rattlesnake! I felt a shiver of horror while I thought, oh what a painting this will be!
In time G.B. came to trust Carl, and we even entrusted both of my daughters into his care for wondrous explorations out into the hills beyond town. But Carl was never trusted by others in our community. His last act of ferocity in Arizona occurred while he was in residence at a Williams nursing home. He shot up the place while in hot pursuit of another doddering old resident rock doodler who had “borrowed” one of Carl’s beloved pots
Posted by Charlotte Madison at 07:45
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|For over forty years, painting related totally to the American Southwest. It was people of the dry hot desert, solid mesas, cacti, stone and canyons that made my heart leap.
When I realized I would never see the desert again, I began a search for something to paint. Nana suggested, B.C, vineyards and took me to Penticton where I did one painting. Nana and Gary then began to take me on Mystery tours of the island and always included a vineyard. But they all were so green! So many leaves so many trees - I don't do trees and I rarely use green - dont really like looking at green, but I got started on a duty series not an inspired series.
I guess it was July or early August when we were driving home from a winery visit. I was grousing about painting the Festive Flying Grape series
when Gary said "Start another series, you can work on more than one at a time."
For some reason those words triggered the words "I could paint the Island artists!" Nana and Gary agreed and it was the topic of conversation all the way home
For a while I was afraid I wouldn't get volunteers to pose but it is rolling and each one offers something special to inspire me. And it is lovely to feel all I am doing was sparked by Gary and like all I do, supported by Nana.
April Update 2012
Sixteen fine artists, many of national repute, have posed for Artists of Vancouver Island and many are booked or promised. There will be no poses after June 30,2012. When I have painted all twenty-five I will turn my thought to . . . what next?