They stood in front of a large oil painting on a wooden easel. “You know, if this one had a good frame and proper lighting, it’d look terrific in our living room. It’s an old Oklahoma homestead, and the colors and depth of view are exquisite. Look at the artist’s signature. Phoebe Haha. Check it for me, would you? I can’t trust these glasses.”
Gert bent over and scrutinized the signature. “Yep. That’s it. Phoebe Haha. That’s what it says, all right.”
“Well, I’ve heard some unusual names before, but I’ve never heard of the name Haha. Lemme see if I can find someone who’s in charge here.”
“Cosmo, the man in the white linen suit and Panama hat looks as though he’s minding the store. Go ask him.”
Cosmo weaved his way between two easels and saw that the man also sported a bright yellow nametag clipped to his lapel.
“Good morning. I wonder if you could give me some information about your artist?”
“How do you do? I’m Gulliver, Bill Gulliver. Folks call me Wild Bill. And yes, thank you, my wrist is fine. It’s been nearly a month since I sprained it. Do I know you?”
Cosmo was confused for a moment and then noticed that Wild Bill wore a hearing aid in each ear. He smiled and motioned for Bill to follow him until they stood directly in front of the painting in question.
Cosmo pointed to the signature. “Is this the artist’s real name?”
Wild Bill frowned. “No, no frame. None of these paintings comes with a frame.”
Cosmo inhaled slowly and thought, “Oh boy.”
He stood directly in front of the Panama hat, which he now noticed had a rose-colored hatband, locked eyes with the wearer, and mouthed his words carefully.
“Is Haha the artist’s real name?”
Wild Bill looked at the canvas. “Uh-huh. That’s a real beauty. Phoebe painted it last fall; she’s my niece, you know. A college professor looked at it early this morning. I think he said he was going to get his wife. Or he was looking for a knife. You’d think an educator would enunciate more carefully. You want to buy it?”
“What’s your niece’s name?” Cosmo practically shouted.
“What?” You need to speak up a bit; sometimes the wind interferes with my hearing aids.”
“What’s the name of the artist, your niece?”
“Yes, my niece Phoebe painted it. Isn’t it lovely?”
Cosmo looked at Gert. She was snorting into a tissue. Cosmo’s face felt warm and was going pink.
“Is her last name Haha, Wild Bill?”
“What about her?”
“Is she Haha?”
Several people gawked at Cosmo and Wild Bill. Cosmo thought they were looking at the Panama with the rosy hatband until one of them began to chuckle.
The above is from my novel, Fiammetta’s Dream, available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble, click here for more information.