Favorite

A tree grows in Little Rock 

click to enlarge BRIAN CHILSON
  • Brian Chilson

Over the Labor Day weekend, a tree quietly grew downtown.

Dizzy's Gypsy Bistro has long been a favorite restaurant of ours. The owner, Darla Huie, is good people. Wacky, but in a good way. Then again, you've got to be a little nuts to be in the restaurant business.

Her son, Lane, grew up in the restaurant. They propped him up on crates as a child so he could help pat out the biscuits. He mopped. He washed dishes. He worked can to can't. But as a young man, he wound up on the treadmill of addiction and relapse. Last year, when he was just 27, they lost him.

"He had gotten sober, gotten a prescription for Xanax, [and] decided he needed to get off that," Darla said. "He went cold turkey. I was out of town, and he told [a friend] he was having seizures. He told her, 'Don't tell Mom, I don't want to worry her.' He had a seizure while he was driving and hit a tree. He died getting sober."

Like a lot of young men, women had drifted in and out of Lane's life. One of them was Kim. She and Lane were together for four years, but addiction broke that, too. "He developed a drug problem and she was like, 'I don't know what to do,' " Darla said. "I told her, 'You're planning on moving to go to school, so move and he'll get his stuff together and then he'll come find you.' Well, he went to rehab and they never got back together."

Eventually, Kim married an artist and filmmaker from Lake Havasu, Ariz., named John Tuba. They've got a good life there. A few months ago, Kim came back to Arkansas to see Darla and try to pack up her feelings about Lane. She had John in tow. "She walked in the house and started crying," Darla said. "She looked at all the pictures and cried. She kept talking about Lane in front of him. He was real quiet ... I thought, 'I hope we're not making him uncomfortable or mad.' "

For two nights, Darla said, John sat and listened while his wife laughed and cried over her old love, a man John had never met. Darla worried over his silences. But when they got ready to leave, John told her that he would be back on Labor Day, because he wanted to do something for her son.

"He said, 'What do you want me to do?'And I said, 'I'm not going to tell you what to do. Do whatever you want, based on all the things you've heard.' "

While Darla said she expected that to be the end of it, come the Labor Day weekend, John and Kim showed back up at her house after a 1,400-mile drive. With Dizzy's closed for the long weekend, John borrowed Darla's car and a key to the restaurant that night. They rarely saw him for the next three days. By the time she woke up in the morning, he'd be gone. He'd slouch back to her sleeping house, covered in paint, at 2 a.m.

On Monday, when Darla and Kim were finally allowed back into Dizzy's, a tree had grown there, on a blank, gray wall near the window. It's a lovely thing: nine feet tall, with gnarled, spreading branches covered in delicate blue leaves; a Tree of Life, in the style of a mosaic Darla bought in Istanbul. It's got 40 sleepless, irreplaceable hours of John Tuba's life sunk into it. A single, thorny rose sprouts from a knot. Fruiting the branches are Day of the Dead skulls, a nod to how Darla's family sees death as turning the page of a bigger story, not an ending. A carefully wrought paper scroll, seemingly affixed to the trunk with a rusty nail, features a selection of lyrics from one of Lane's favorite songs, including the line "Goodbye, my love." And a heart. And his name.

So much love. So much loss. So many memories and dashed hopes and all tragedy, encapsulated there, improbably made by a man who couldn't have been faulted had he taken the low road instead, had believed that his wife's ex was better forgotten. Ain't that a man, then, who would make such a gesture? Not many would do that, The Observer contends. Not half by a long shot.

When Darla talks about the tree, she calls it "he" sometimes, blurring the seam between the tree and the memory of her son. Talking to her, hearing her do that, The Observer wondered if she realized it. We thought to ask, but we let it go, mostly because there was something heartbreakingly lovely about it. Her son, some part of him, is at the restaurant again.

Favorite

Speaking of Darla Huie, John Tuba

  • Dining at Dizzy's

    April 13, 2012
    Dizzy's works for nontraditional diets — and we've never been disappointed. /more/
  • Dizzy's owner fires back at tax collectors UPDATE

    August 30, 2011
    We've written a couple of times — here and also here — about a publicity stunt by Pulaski and Saline County tax collectors — Debra Buckner and Joy Ballard, respectively — to stage a media event over collection of $900 in business personal property taxes said to be owed in Saline county by Dizzy's, a Little Rock restaurant that moved in late 2009 from Benton. /more/
  • More »

Comments (2)

Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

People who saved…

Readers also liked…

  • I'm sorry

    I'm sorry we stood by while your generation's hope was smothered by $1.3 trillion in student loan debt, just because you were trying to educate yourselves enough to avoid falling for the snake oil and big talk of a fascist.
    • Nov 17, 2016
  • Snake stories

    The Observer's boss, Uncle Alan, is something of a gentleman farmer on his spread up in Cabot, growing heirloom tomatoes and watermelons and crops of chiggers on property that looks like the perfect farmstead Lenny and George often fantasized about in "Of Mice and Men."
    • Aug 27, 2015
  • Show and tell

    The Observer is an advocate of the A+ method of integrating the arts and using creativity to teach across the curriculum, an approach that the Thea Foundation, with help from the Windgate Charitable Foundation, is offering to schools across the state.
    • Feb 25, 2016

Most Shared

  • Sarah Huckabee Sanders to be deputy White House press secretary

    Donald Trump announced additional White House staff today, notably including Sarah Huckabee Sanders, deputy assistant to the president and principal deputy press secretary.
  • Legislation filed for $10 million school voucher program

    The legislation to vastly expand transfer of state tax dollars to private schools came before the school choice day event I mentioned earlier.
  • Pork and more

    Some notes on disparate topics before I take a vacation break.
  • Trumpeting

    When President-elect Trump announced he would, in a few days, force Congress to enact comprehensive health insurance for everyone, poor or rich, that would provide better and cheaper care than they've ever gotten, you had to wonder whether this guy is a miracle worker or a fool.
  • Putin and Trump

    Here's a thought exercise: What do you suppose would happen if Russian strongman Vladimir Putin decided to clarify remarks he reportedly made about Donald Trump during the election campaign?

Latest in The Observer

  • Memories of Townsend

    Vernon Tucker, musician and former Arkansas Times writer, asked for The Observer space this week to remember Townsend Wolfe. Why not? What follows is memory of early days at the Arts Center.
    • Jan 19, 2017
  • Weird trivia

    When completed, the Ten Commandments monument on the state Capitol lawn will be the exact size, shape and weight of the vaguely humming black monolith that appeared at the foot of Conway Sen. Jason Rapert's bed in June 2010 and later elevated his consciousness from apelike semi-sentience to incrementally less apelike semi-sentience.
    • Jan 12, 2017
  • Resolutions

    No more clinging to material things, unless those material things are life preservers tossed as I go down for the third and final time, the few remaining strands of my once-majestic locks, or the skids of the last helicopter out before the fall of Little Rock.
    • Jan 5, 2017
  • More »

Visit Arkansas

1.73-carat diamond found at Crater of Diamonds State Park

1.73-carat diamond found at Crater of Diamonds State Park

Jack Pearadin and Doug Nelsen found a 1.73-carat diamond after nearly a year of searching the park's field.

Event Calendar

« »

January

S M T W T F S
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19 20 21
22 23 24 25 26 27 28
29 30 31  

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Inconsequential News Quiz: Trumpocalypse Now Edition

    • PLEASE READ!!! Celebrate this season with joy and gladness in your heart, Do you know…

    • on January 20, 2017
  • Re: Profile of a plant

    • I have been diagnosed with COPD for over 7 years. A couple of months ago…

    • on January 19, 2017
  • Re: Profile of a plant

    • There is plenty of studies out there, which fill in the holes in this story…

    • on January 19, 2017
 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation