Photographs James Garcia Jr Genre: Women’s Fiction Publisher: James Garcia Jr
Date of Publication: March 3, 2020
Number of pages: 390
Word Count: 84,798
Cover Artist: Maria Zannini
Tagline: One night, two exceptional women meet; one black, one white. Both carry broken hearts and one has been dead sixty years.
One night, two exceptional women meet; one black, one white. Both carry broken hearts and one has been dead for sixty years.
In 1956, film actress Allison Belle abandoned the glamour of Hollywood for Fresno, California, and an idyllic new life.
In 1959, she disappeared altogether.
Sixty years later, real estate agent Joanna Johnson steps unsuspectingly into the old Belle house and a story long forgotten.
A devastating personal event opens a hidden door into the actress’s world. The mystery behind what broke Allison’s heart and what ultimately happened to her is revealed slowly by a series of long lost photographs the agent uncovers; the relationship she builds with the actress’s ninety year old husband; and through a series of “dreams” she has where she relives the moments captured by each photograph - herself a participant in them.
The closer Joanna gets to the truth, the closer she gets to suffering the same fate.
“In these daydreams and dreams that I have glimpsed, I have seen the best of a woman who was so pleased to have left her past life.” She held out her hands and motioned around her. “She loved this place and everything about it. I have seen her happier doing yardwork than she appears in any red-carpet premiere photo on the Internet, and I’ve seen many of those. I have heard her laugh and shared sweet moments with her.”
“So, what happened to her?” John asked.
Joanna grew silent. “I wish I knew.” She sighed and thought it over. “I believe her last moments were spent in isolation. Richard appears in fewer and fewer of the memories toward the end. I’m not sure why. He’s in Hollywood now, so perhaps the pull of that life tugged him back. One of the last moments I spent with her, for lack of a better explanation, she was sitting by this window.” Joanna turned and pointed behind her.
“What was she doing?” John asked.
Joanna stared at the spot. “Nothing. Well, drinking. Drinking pretty heavily, actually. In the end, I think it was all she had.” She turned back around, and her gaze settled on the pool. She lifted a hand to her face.
“What is it?” Shelly asked.
“The first night I stayed here, I found an old bottle of Scotch in a cabinet that would not open to me. When it finally did, that’s when I found the first photo. It was her booze. I had entirely too much of it and ended up in the pool.”
“Why?” Shelly asked.
“I think I was trying to kill myself.”
“Oh, my God,” Shelly said. “Because of your engagement?”
Joanna shook her head. “No. I think it was Ally. I saw an outline of somebody standing on the ledge of the pool. When I came up for air, she was gone. But she had been there. I really don’t understand it myself.” Both faces were glued to hers. “I found the previous renter.”
“The zoo guy?” John asked.
“Director Eggars,” Shelly added.
Joanna nodded. She looked into Shelly’s eyes. “He really didn’t want to talk to me once I told him about the house. Know what he said to me?”
Shelly shook her head.
“He said, ‘Please don’t tell me you ended up in that pool.’” Joanna looked from one to the other and back at the pool. “His wife ended up in the pool, too. I get the feeling it had happened more than once. That last time, he got her and their kids out of here and never came back.”
“Is the pool haunted?” John asked, turning around to face it.
“I don’t think it’s the pool,” Joanna answered. “But I wonder if Ally tried to kill herself and every woman who stays here feels the same compulsion. Perhaps that’s what she was staring at when I sat with her. Maybe she was preparing herself…” She grew silent while she contemplated this.
“Maybe she didn’t try,” John said. “I know it sounds creepy, but maybe she succeeded.”
“John!” Shelly recoiled.
“I told you it was creepy,” he defended himself.
“It would explain much,” Joanna said. “Except what happened to the body.”
About the Author:
James Garcia Jr. was born in Hanford, California. He moved up the road to Kingsburg with his family as a child. After graduating KHS, he attended Reedley College where he met his wife. The family still makes its home in Kingsburg which is typically the setting of his fiction.
He was the 1994 winner of the Writers International Network/Writers Inter-Age Network writing contest in the horror category. He is the author of the Dance on Fire edgy vampire series and the stand-alone paranormal, Seeing Ghosts.
During the day, he is a manager at Sun-Maid Growers of California.