It was a fall Saturday morning. Signs of a colder winter to come were in the air. Beauford’s health and his mental state had been slowly failing. The question was how much longer could he continue to live on his own? I had signed him up for a local version of Meals on Wheels, which worked for a while. But he had started to drink again. Some of his friends said squatters were trying to move into his studio.
I approached his door with a certain apprehension. At my knock I heard Beauford’s shuffle. The door opened and Beauford led me into his studio. On the small table by the arm chair were a couple of partly filled glasses of red wine and an almost empty wine bottle. The bed, with its traditional top cover of a white sheet, was made up but as I looked harder it seemed there was something in it and at the head, sticking out from the top of the sheet, a mass of long red hair. I thought “Good God. Beauford has a redheaded women in his bed.”
Beauford said nothing, and as I surveyed the scene the head from which the hair came slowly worked its way out of the bed. It was not a woman but a younger man along in his 30s who introduced himself as "Michael" and immediately went into the kitchen and made us all a coffee. Apparently he’d moved in with Beauford a short time before. He prepared Beauford’s food and they were obviously drinking a lot of red wine.
This was certainly one of the “squatters” I had heard mentioned in a negative way, but I thought this was what Beauford needed considering the condition he was in. Apart from the wine, the “squatter” got the food, prepared it, kept Beauford company, etc.
For some time, each time I visited I would give Beauford some cash which was a part of a payment for a painting I had bought from him. I now started giving the cash directly to Michael to pay for the food etc. he bought for the two of them. I trusted him and it worked well as long as it lasted.
Some said squatters might be stealing Beauford’s work. I asked Michael what he saw and he said no one had been by the studio except a young woman who came in, picked up a painting and left. She and Beauford seemed to know each other as they kissed both on her coming and going. I couldn’t think of anyone that Beauford knew who was young enough to meet that young lady’s description. To me, who she was still remains a mystery.
After Michael’s departure some weeks later Beauford’s health continued to decline.