Sam’s Secret Love of Art

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How often do people hide the truest parts of themselves from the world?

Samuel Sadlowski, a  retired homicide detective of the Bethberg, PA Police Force, is one of the three central characters in my horror novel Maledicus: Investigative Paranormal Society Book I. In many ways he projects a carefully cultivated image of a guy who doesn’t care about his appearance or what others think of him. He dresses in beat up old clothes, eats very fatty foods, and is overweight. He also has a reputation, also carefully developed, as being a tough guy—after having served in active combat as a Marine in the Vietnam War and a police officer, the people in the area know that he is able to handle himself in physical confrontations.

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This self-created image is what he uses to hide his deep sorrow about his son’s suicide, and it serves to keep others at a very long distance, except for a very few people.  Included among those to whom he shows his true feelings and identity are the other two men of the Investigative Paranormal Society.

While he shows one image to the outside world, one part of himself that few know of in his little city is that he is a lover of art. He has no desire to share his appreciation of art with anyone other than his friends.  He loves to travel to the museums in New York City and Philadelphia. He has a small collection of original paintings of mainly little known artists from the area and an array of prints of famous artists.

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He once confided to Roosevelt and Jeremy, the other two members of the IPS, that he almost decided to be an Art History major and go to college instead of enlisting in the Marines, but he was too afraid of what his father would have said. He told them that he was more afraid of his father’s disapproval than of the war.  But now, he spends much of his free time reading and looking at paintings and sculptures.

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Sam’s favorite art, like Roosevelt is the Impressionist and Post-Impressionist movement.  But very few people in Bethberg know this side of Sam. And his favorite museum is the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, a short two hour drive from Bethberg, PA.

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Samuel Sadlowski—Hidden Grief

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In Maledicus Investigative Paranormal Society Book I, my horror novel, the protagonist Roosevelt Franklin, along with two very close friends formed a ghost hunting group. In a previous post, I gave some background information on Roosevelt, and I will give more in the future, but I want to turn my attention in this and future posts to his friends.

In today’s post, I will speak about Samuel Sadlowski, a retired homicide detective. Sam, as he prefers to be called, is a short, stout, balding man. In his youth, he kept in excellent physical shape, but in his older years, he has let his physical well-being deteriorate. He eats as much junk food as he can, and loves to drink beer. His seeming self-destructive physical choices are, in some ways, a reflection of his inner turmoil.

Like the other two men in the ghost-hunting group, he has had someone very close to him die, and it has had huge impact on his life. Sam’s son, Josh committed suicide when he was 16, and Sam never found a reason why the boy did it. Despite being an experienced homicide detective, Sam never discovered anything, any kind of clue, which pointed to a rational for this terrible action.

Of course, like others who had been friends or family of a suicide, Sam blames himself for his son’s death. He thinks that there must have been some indicator of a problem that he should have seen. So, Sam carries this grief and blame deep in his soul, and it drives him to try to find answers to the question: is there life after death?

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Roosevelt’s and Sam’s friendship originated in the cauldron of the Vietnam War, when Roosevelt served as a 2nd Lieutenant and Sam was a Sergeant in his unit. The central experience of the war for them was the Tet Offensive, a massive attack launched by the North Vietnamese on the South, in an attempt to take the country. The two men fought together and saved each others’ lives several times.

Even though they came from vastly different backgrounds, Roosevelt from old upper-class and Sam from the working-class, their friendship was bonded in an unbreakable forge of life’s greatest perils. And they maintained that friendship over the course of many decades.

In another post about Sam, I will write about his hidden love of art.

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(Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh 1889)