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The car was broken down, and while Jennie and I were sulking, Doris and Roy were sitting on a log chuckling to themselves, having a little picnic with the brown bag of goodies Doris had bought at the five and dime. She ate half the apple and then handed it over to Roy.
“I have another one if you want,” she said to me, and I just shook my head. I couldn’t understand how they were so calm. Roy’s car was busted and we hadn’t seen a car in the whole two hours since it broke down.
“Aren’t you guys worried we’re stuck here?” Jennie asked her.
“Nope,” Doris said with confidence. “Someone will come along soon, I’m sure.”
“That’s my girl!” Roy responded. “Always the optimist! Isn’t it beautiful here? I don’t miss the hustle and bustle of the city.”
I can’t believe I just heard Roy actually say that. In the fifteen years I’d known him he’d never been this relaxed. Or this happy.
“What will we do come nightfall?”
Doris smiled as she rooted through the bag to the bottom and pulled out a few pieces of penny candy and offered them around. Jennie took one and listening to her unwrap it was wearing on my nerves. “We could sleep in the car! Roy, you have blankets in the trunk, right? The ones we keep for emergency picnics?” He nodded as he pulled a toy pipe out of his pocket and started pouring bubbles into it. “Wait, you bought it?” she asked him.
“Yup.” At that he put it to his mouth and bubbles started to explode out of the plastic piece of junk.
“But it won’t come to that,” Doris added. “Someone will come.”
I couldn’t take this much longer. What would we do, huddle up in the car under a tiny blanket, shared by each couple? Doris and Roy were bananas if they thought I would get a good night of sleep in that jalopy that couldn’t even handle a simple drive to Cape May. Doris and Roy started whispering and giggling to each other in that loving way. The way they always do it.
Jennie came over and sat next to me. It wasn’t long before she started whispering to me, copying off of them.
“Aren’t they so cute?”
“Sure, sure. They’re cute, and they don’t seem to mind we might die out here.”
“Oh come on. Why don’t we whisper like that anymore?”
“Yes! We were just like them when we met.”
I thought back and had to agree, we probably were. But not as annoying. Just to shut her up and reached up and held the back of her hair a bit, pulling her in for a kiss. She smiled. I rose.
“Should I start foraging? Maybe there’s an apple tree or something nearby.”
Doris looked in my direction. “Everything will be fine, Raymond. You’ll see.”
At that I heard the backfire of a truck in the distance, and a tow truck came into view around the bend. Doris stood up and brushed some dirt and leaves off the back of her skirt and smiled at me.
He was uncomfortable in front of the camera, which was probably a major factor behind becoming a photographer in the first place. His shyness always clamped his mouth shut whenever someone told him to “say cheese.” For that reason, he hadn’t been captured on film in years. Besides that time he was fiddling with a camera that had a stuck shutter and he accidentally took one of himself, which he burned immediately upon developing the rest of the roll in his small water closet-turned-darkroom.
And now he was dating a fellow photographer. For the first time.
He always found himself with artists or models. Confident women who not only wanted to pose for him, demanded it. And, of course, as per his demeanor, he always complied. Whether he wanted to or not.
His timidity led to a cabinet full of photographs of all kinds of women. Most he’d never seen again, but some he’d come to recognize on the big screen in theaters, in advertisements and posters, even in the press. He sometimes wondered if they remembered him taking the photographs, many of which were nudes. Although taking off her clothing was never his idea. The more confidence a woman had, the sooner she would ask him to take nudes. And his work, well, it spoke for itself. Numerous shows in some of the biggest galleries in London, full page photographs in famous magazines, he had become rather well known for his work.
But now, this girl, all she wanted was a photograph of him. He didn’t know how to avoid it much longer. She adored him from the start; he could see it in her eyes after five minutes of conversation in which he’d probably said a total of fifteen words.
The two of them were loading film before heading out into Paris, ready to photograph La Ville-Lumière, the city of lights, on their first visit to the beautiful and historical city. They were dressed to kill, her in a beautiful black dress and the beret she bought along the Seine that morning, him in a button-down shirt and his favorite brown tie with little green and orange designs. He sat on the uncomfortable hotel room couch with ugly floral print and pulled back the heavy curtain to let in more light.
Something was wrong with his Pentax and the shutter was sticking (again) so he fiddled with it as she loaded film into her Anscoflex II. She giggled and curiosity got the better of him as he looked up and heard the click.
She smiled. “I knew I’d get you eventually. Quite a candid I just captured.” She flashed him her winning smile.
He didn’t know what to say. He wasn’t angry. And after a while, he had to admit he was anxious to see how it turned out.