“. . . not to be confused with field greens,” Caroline was saying, “which are an entirely different thing altogether.”
He was at the very end of the row, with a bunch of sculptures set up all around him, talking to a woman in a big floppy hat, who was holding her checkbook. Looking more closely, I saw one big piece, which was sporting a SOLD sign, as well as several smaller ones. They were all whirligigs, a part of each spinning in one direction or another in the breeze.
I took a sudden left, finding myself facing a table full of pound cakes and crocheted pot holders, as Caroline kept walking, still talking about various types of greens. It took her a second to realize I’d ditched her, and she doubled back looking annoyed.
“Macy,” she said, entirely too loudly, at least to my ears, “what are you doing?”
“Nothing.” I picked up one of the pot holders. “Look, aren’t these nice?”
She looked at the pot holder—which was orange and spangled and not nice at all—then at me. “Okay,” she said. “Tell me what’s going on.”
I glanced back down at Wes, hoping he’d gone to look for arugula too, or had maybe gone to help the woman get the sculpture to her car. But no. Now, in fact, he was looking our way.
My way, to be exact. The woman with the floppy hat was gone, and he was just standing there, watching me. He lifted his hand and waved, and I felt my face flush as I put the pot holder back with its hideous brethren.
“Macy, what on earth is wrong with you? Are you okay?” Caroline squinted at me from behind her entirely too expensive designer sunglasses, then turned her head to see what, exactly, had made me turn bright red. I watched her gaze move across the tables of fresh corn, goat cheese, and hammocks, until, finally: “Oh.”
I knew what she was thinking, could hear Kristy’s voice in my head: Sa-wooon.
“Do you know that guy?” she asked me, still staring.
“Sort of,” I said. Now that we’d all seen each other, there was no amount of pot holders, or hammocks, that could save me. Thinking this, I took Caroline by the elbow. “Come on.”
As we got closer, I looked at the sculptures and realized there were no heart in hands on display. Instead, I noticed another theme: angels and halos. The smaller pieces were all stick figures made of various bits of metal and steel, with gears for faces and tiny nails for fingers and toes. Above the heads of each was a sculpted circle, each decorated in a different way. One was dotted with squares of different colored glass, another had long framing nails twisting off in all directions, an angel Medusa. On the large sculpture with the SOLD sign, barbed wire was threaded around the halo, much the same as on the sculpture on Sweetbud Drive, and I thought of the Myers School again, the way the wire there had curved the same way around the fence, roped like ribbon.
“Hey,” Wes said as we came up. “I thought that was you.”
“Hi,” I said.
“These are amazing,” Caroline said, reaching out her hand to the large sculpture and running a finger along the edges of the gear that made up its midsection. “I just love this medium.”
“Thanks,” Wes said. “It’s all from the junkyard.”
“This is Wes,” I said, as she walked around the sculpture, still examining it. “Wes, this is my sister, Caroline.”
“Nice to meet you,” Caroline said in her socialite voice, extending her hand. They shook hands, and she went back to circling the sculpture, taking off her sunglasses and leaning in closer. “What’s great about this,” she said, as if we were in a museum and she was leading the tour, “is the contrast. It’s a real juxtaposition between subject matter and materials.”
Wes looked at me, raising his eyebrows, and I just shook my head, knowing better than to stop my sister when she was on a roll. Especially about art, which had been her major in college.
“See, it’s one thing to do angels,” she said to me, while Wes looked on, “but what’s crucial here is how the medium spells out the concept. Angels, by definition, are supposed to be perfect. So by building them out of rusty pieces, and discards and scraps, the artist is making a statement about the fallibility of even the most ideal creatures.”
“Wow,” I said to Wes, as she moved on to the smaller pieces, still murmuring to herself. “I’m impressed.”
“Me, too,” he replied. “I had no idea. I just couldn’t afford new materials when I started.”
I laughed, surprising myself, then was surprised even more—no, shocked—when he smiled at me, a heartbreaker’s smile, and for a second I was just in the moment: me and Wes, surrounded by all those angels, in the sunshine, on a Sunday.
“Oh, wow,” Caroline called out, shaking me back to attention, “is this sheet metal you used here? For the face?”
Wes looked over to where she was squatting in front of a figure with a halo studded with bottle caps. “That’s an old Coke sign,” he told her. “I found it at the dump.”
“A Coke sign!” she said, awed. “And the bottle caps . . . it’s the inevitable commingling of commerce and religion. I love that!”
Wes just nodded: a fast learner, he already knew to just go along with her. “Right,” he said. Then, in a lower voice to me he added, “Just liked the Coke sign, actually.”
“Of course you did,” I said.
A breeze blew over us then, and some of the halos on the smaller pieces began to spin again. A small one behind us was decorated with jingle bells, their ringing like a whistling in the air. As I bent down closer to it, the bells whizzing past, I saw the one behind it, which was turning more slowly. It was a smaller angel with a halo studded with flat stones. As I touched one as it turned, though, I realized it wasn’t a stone but something else that I couldn’t place at first.
“What is this?” I asked him.
“Sea glass,” Wes said, bending down beside me. “See the shapes? No rough edges.”
“Oh, right,” I said. “That’s so cool.”
“It’s hard to find,” he said. The breeze was dying down, and he reached out and spun the halo a bit with one finger, sending the light refracting through the glass again. He was so close to me, our knees were almost touching. “I bought that collection at a flea market, for, like, two bucks. I wasn’t sure what I was going to use it for, then, but it seemed too good a thing to pass up.”