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Hand Book of a Hidden Man, Part 5: The Hideout

02-11-2022 | By Dan Zimmerman | Issue 119

Dan Zimmerman:  a portrait of an artist and musician. Happy Valley, 2019. (Photograph and image processing by David W. Robinson)

Why was it so easy to stare at the tube? Maybe it's because normal life felt like it was too much, felt like it kept adding something to the mix before you could adapt to what was there already. You needed a place to go where you could hideout, stop and think about what was going on…

One afternoon in that little dim room with the glowing tube I saw a gang of cowboys enter a hideout under some large roots in the side of an embankment. When the door closed behind them it merged with the surrounding hill, and was barely noticeable as a door.

I was transfixed. Why does this remain such a deep- seated memory? Maybe because of what my mother did when she saw how fascinated I was.

For while my father the charismatic public figure grappled with pithy theological ideas and sweeping, pivotal societal issues, my mother remained quietly behind the scenes a very different story.

Having been raised on a Colorado sugar beet farm, where the dirt came away in your hands and remained on your fingers, she was earthly wise, and very attuned to her senses.

That day she went to a closet and got out some drawing materials she had procured for us. I was in the tv room with Dad, but when I saw what she was doing, I quickly transferred my position to the dining room table. Mom showed me there how I could draw things forth and make them visible on paper.

I found I could break through surface reality and excavate wonders. A surface of paper was something that could be dug into, turned inside out and drawn from. It could be cultivated like the ground, turned over, unearthing something new. I was never the same.

I grabbed a crayon and began to draw a horizontal line across the paper. Then I left a break in it, with vertical lines going down. This became a hole, with a ladder descending to a cutaway view of a small room, in which I drew a few things that I might need.

A hideout might be one of the first things I ever drew. After that I got into making stairs, and passageways winding down and around, leading further and further underground.

All drawings by Dan Zimmerman