DEATH IS A SEVENTEEN YEAR OLD GIRL

By Pamela E. Apkarian-Russell

September 14th 1996, a few months after his partner Malcolm Bloodstone was killed by a speeding, cell phone wielding seventeen year old,  Jefferson K Wilder walked into the antique group shop he owned and operated, went into his office,  pulled out an antique Smith & Wesson and blew his brains out.

Mareka Brenner heard the devastating noise while she was waiting on a customer who wanted the Pennsilvania coffin clock he was purchasing, to be packed in a certain manner as it was being shipped to Allentown. She immediately ran to the office, where Jefferson, a well known hunter and as accurate a shot as ever stepped foot in the New England woods, sagged over, bespattering the Belter partners desk.  The sight of Jefferson’s head scattered all over the office was sickening. It took Mareka awhile to gain any form of composure so that she was capable of calling the police.

There was no question about it being suicide. Everyone knew that Jefferson was extremely depressed over Malcolm’s demise and that the anger building up in him like a tornado sucking in all the horrible negative energy that had accumulated since the fiasco of trying to get the Congressman’s daughter to turn herself in and then the devil make care attitude she and her father had that it was no big deal as motorcyclists were all crack heads and dangerous and should not be allowed on the road or anywhere else. It drove Malcolm into such a fury that that he ceased to eat and had lost thirty pounds in an amazing short time.

Mareka had grown up with Jefferson and worked for him for over eight years. They were not just employer and employee but they were more like sister and brother which had been a comfort to the two of them as they had both been “an only child”. She followed him to NH and had found it an easy transition to leave work in the garment industry and specialize in vintage textiles.  Mareka still has a booth at the shop which reopened under another name, Tatty Old Lace, which she now owns and runs.   It is still a group shop and a darned good one as you probably already know, but it just isn’t the same as when Jefferson and Malcolm were alive.

Someone started a cairn on the property so that every biker that came in town stops to add  a rock or a plant or leaves a note or prayer. It grows larger each time I see it and the climbing roses seem to think that it is their reason for being, to climb all over and blanket the memorial with a remembered beauty of two wonderful men. Being so close to Loudon the amount of bikers who stop is incredible.

After all these years Marijka has not gotten over how Jefferson died or the blood and brain scattered over the large Daum Nancy vase that was sitting on his desk waiting for him to appraise. The piece of ear stuck to the primitive painting of a pensive looking woman in her thirties was as gruesome as it could get and haunts her still.

We had first met Malcolm at a Loring Caspersen Center Chimney show in the early 80s where his booth was always artistically set up with the likes of Jade, Wedgwood, Sandwich, Lalique, Kew Blas, Galle, and objects de arte. Every now and then you would find a very ornate piece of early American silver hollowware which would make you gasp with pleasure. Malcolm enjoyed the Rococo period and would jokingly call it rocko because another dealer who knew little or nothing and loved to swag his knowledge would call it that.  It was an in joke everyone joined in on.

For many years Malcolm displayed an Imperial Galle vase made for the Tsar of Russia. The massive piece was of an owl in shades of yellowy orange molasses. It was beautiful beyond words and the best cameo work I have ever seen. It was after all made for the Tsar.  I often wondered where it resides today.

About four years after we met Malcolm we introduced him to our friend Jefferson and instantly these two bonded.  Jefferson  had been a chef at a very exclusive NY restaurant for years as well as part owner, when he quit one day saying, “ if I can’t get fresh asparagus when I wanted it, it is time to throw my hands up in the air and quit. “ Having eaten his asparagus, mushrooms and veal in wine sauce both the Englishman and I can assure you it was nirvana of the palate.

Jefferson was a collector of motorcycle memorabilia and vintage motorcycles and when he passed on he had 14 bikes in the barn including one of the first Indians ever made. He drove a Ninja and said Harleys were for guys who didn’t know any better, but the truth is he loved Harleys.  The Ninja specials made by Kawasaki are very limited and you needed to have your name on a list and then know someone to pull the strings so you could buy one. Allocation to the USA is fifty.  Jefferson would take Malcolm up to the Loudon Races, or down to Daytona, and the other Bikers would crowd around his bike in admiration and awe, as he had modified it and it was an incredible racer.

At six foot one Jefferson was as lean and mean a machine as his bike. He would deliberately pick on guys, especially those bigger than himself, about not wearing a helmet or obeying proper riding rules. Always the serious biker he didn’t consider it a sport but an extension of his body, heart, soul and mind.  Everyone respected and loved him but then that was probably because he did so much to help so many people.  He volunteered time in the local soup kitchens, and at Thanksgiving he would have a tent put up in the parking lot of the antique shop and feed hundreds of people. We went and helped a few times and I often suspected some of those who came could have afforded more than the donations they left to go to charity, but they were the minority. One year he did up three big deer which had been donated by two local guys with the proviso they could bring their families and join in. The meal was open to everyone and you could see many a Harley and Honda parked in the parking lot as well as cars and pickups and vans where there was more than a tad of wheeling and dealing of tools and primitives and the like going on.  It was Thanksgiving, truly Thanksgiving, and bikers and auctioneers, firemen and  retired people,  people who were alone or didn’t have anywhere to go, and those who knew what the cuisine would melt the heart of a  politician came. I remember one state representative who never missed the event.

Jefferson gave me the venison recipe he used but somehow it isn’t anywhere as good as when he made it. Perhaps, it was the cornucopia of thankfulness and good will that made it taste so good.

Jefferson was also, the collector of thousands of cook books which he loved to read and sometimes recreate. He was particularly enamored of Dill and Basil dishes and his kitchen was decorated with French made peasant pottery plates showing those herbs. He never took down his Christmas tree which was decorated with motorcycle figurines given him by friends.

I think it important for everyone to know how loved Jefferson was. Those of you who didn’t know him missed knowing a truly Renaissance human being.

His funeral was so large that people poured outside the cathedral onto the sidewalks because there wasn’t enough room inside. There were so many flowers that afterward Marijka ran out of hospitals and homes for the aged etc., in the area, to donate them to. Outside the church, two of his favorite motorcycles sat and his coffin was born between them up the stairs into the Cathedral.  There must have been over two hundred bikes in the funeral procession and most of them were Harleys. I never saw so many big bandanaed men cry.

Malcolm was inconsolable. Jefferson had changed his life, opened up vistas that he never believed existed and all of a sudden the daughter of the local Judge, a spoiled brat had deprived him of his reason for existing.  Malcolm’s farewell was an apology to his friends and how his faith, his life, and his soul had died with Jefferson. He asked that his grave stone be beside Jefferson’s and that his date of death be put on as the same day as Jefferson died. He also, wanted a marble bench be placed between them with the words of the Poetess Ella Wheeler Wilcox “So many Gods, So many Creeds, So many ways that wind and wind While just the Art of being kind Is all this sad world needs” The marble came from a Vermont Quarry and it had ivy, holly, mountain ash branches, mistletoe, and  acorns carved in relief.  In the center was a laurel crown with both Malcolm and Jefferson’s names carved.  This bench was not only a work of art but a work of love and respect by John Gilmore who knew them and owed his commercial success as an artist to Malcolm. Three days after the tomb stone and bench were placed in the graveyard the bench went missing. It was a massive piece and it would have taken heavy equipment to lift it, let alone move it, just as it did for it to be installed. As per usual the police were not very helpful, took the report and shelved it.

On the day Jefferson died a bouquet of black flowers was delivered to the home of Ms Sarrah Montique. Again on the day Malcolm ended his life a bouquet arrived at her college dormitory as she had already left home for Dartmouth. Judge Montique thought this was done by a “disgusting pervert” and complained to the mayor and chief of police. Unlike with the theft of the bench this was investigated thoroughly as was every subsequent floral delivery but to no avail.

For three years no matter where in the world Sarrah went on June 2nd or September 27th black flowers would turn up all over her room. The last time it happened was the day she died. She was checked in at a prestigious hotel in Paris, under an assumed name, with her paramour of the hour. He went out to buy cigarettes and when he got back twenty minuets later he could not get access to the room although he had a key. The hotel management came up and they broke the door of the expensive suite down.  Sarrah Montague was sitting upright on a Louis XV chair with the same cell phone in her hand she had been speaking on when she crossed three lanes of traffic after failing to stop at a red light. Her eyes were wide open with terror and she was frozen in position as if she were a statue warding off something or someone. The entire room was strewn with black flowers and one was in her hand. The girl who bragged about beating the system and that Daddy would keep her out of jail was dead. After all motorcyclists didn’t have the right to be on the same road as her Alpha Romeo.

The French coroner declared she had died of fright and allowed the family to ship the body back to New Hampshire. Shortly after her burial black lilies and tulips began growing on her grave regardless of how often the grounds keeper attempted to remove them. Shortly thereafter, the bench was found back where it belonged between the graves of Jefferson and Malcolm.

Mareka says she often goes to the grave site of her two friends and sits on the bench and it gives her such a feeling of tranquility and well being. She has invited me to go and meditate with her but some how I don’t think It is time for me to do so just yet.. I didn’t know Sarrah Montague but everything I’ve heard about her being a nasty personage who was selfish and mean spirited, just like her father, makes me wonder if she is resting in peace or being allowed to rest in peace. I don’t want to go to her grave site either.  Sometimes it is best to leave questions unanswered but just the same I can’t help wondering.