The Photographer | By: Christopher Howells | | Category: Short Story - Adventure Bookmark and Share

The Photographer


Part One

"I can't believe thatís me." The woman looked at the large eye looking back at her. "Amazing."

Another woman standing next to her looked at the picture as well and slowly nodded, "Yes that's when I grabbed you the first time between the legs!"

Both women laughed and the whole gallery looked at them, paused for a moment and then realized who they were and smiled knowingly.

Both women were professional wrestlers and they were standing in the middle of a fashionable gallery, in the middle of a fashionable city and all the walls were full of incredibly detailed photographic blow ups of the last bout they had against each other.

The first woman was called Alice Mowlen and her professional name was "FlameĒ and her trademark costume was a skin tight leotard colorfully decorated with red flames. The other woman was called Jane Smith and her stage name was "Black WidowĒ and her costume was a one piece cat suit and yet to look at the photographs nobody would of known it was them except for the fact they were the guests of honor at the latest exhibition by the world famous photographer Lee Morris and as ever he was not present because not only was he probably the best photographer in the world he was also one of the most reclusive.

"So this is what he is famous for?" Jane asked.

Alice nodded and looked at a distorted close up of one of her thighs and it took her a few moments to remember it had been clamped around the neck of Jane the moment the picture was taken, her skin was scratched and bruised.

"You should wear tights," Jane commentated following Alice's gaze.

Alice shook her head, "He told me there was a beauty in a body battered and bruised and in action."

Both women then looked at a photograph next along and it showed the two of them grimacing as they were pulling each other's hair, they burst out laughing. Neither women knew the photographer was right behind them secretly enjoying their reaction, in fact the whole of the gallery had no idea he was there. He was heavily made up to look like an old man; he had stooped his six foot four frame and was finding the blue contact lens' disguising his eyes irritating.

"Oh my god!" Alice's hand went to her mouth as she looked at a close up of her buttocks squeezing out of her leotard. "Look at the size of my arse."

"To tell you the truth Al'," Jane looked quickly about her. "I don't know if this guy is a pervert or a clever bastard because he's made so much money out of this."

Alice tore her eyes away from her hideously magnified rear end. "I think he is a bit of both."

Jane nodded and then looked at a picture of Alice's foot connecting with her crotch; even though it had been staged she still winced at the memory.

"You were a bit close on that one," she said absently.

"Why hasn't he come today?" Alice asked and caught sight of huge photograph of her arm being twisted up around her back.

"He's known for being a funny bugger!" Jane said slowly as she looked at her red face filling the whole frame of yet another photograph, she could not remember at what point in the bout that had been taken.

"He calls himself the Man in Black." Alice remembered what she had read.

They saw themselves falling backwards with their hair flying as they had both decided to forearm smash the other simultaneously. It was an incredible moment captured in a clear and detailed photograph.

"Thatís part of his fame," Jane nodded and tried to understand a picture of her foot on the canvas. "He never gives interviews or explains his pictures."

Alice did the same to another picture that showed her elbow pad, "He was nice though, very friendly and funny."

The disguised man behind them smiled to himself.

"Yeah," Jane nodded. "He was really nice, I was a bit nervous when he contacted the promoter because I knew a little about him and apparently he has reinvented photography!"

They both moved to a huge photograph of their hands locked together, their veins were standing out and the strain could be vividly seen. Both slightly cringed at the uncompromising image.

"They are amazing mind!" Alice looked around again. "I never thought they would turn out like this."

Jane nodded and stared intently at a photograph of her toned stomach muscles clearly visible under her costume.

"Do you know they are about a Hundred Thousand a piece?"

Jane turned to her friend and ring rival, "Youíre joking?"

"Nope." Alice was looking away at a picture of her getting up off the canvas and clearly in the background is a little girl staring at her with open mouthed wonder.

"If I'd known that I would of charged him." Her attention was caught by a photograph of her trademark shiny black wrestling boots with Alice's cobra gloved hands gripping tightly around them.

"He did give us one each." Alice stated as she grimaced at a photograph of her crotch with Jane's trademark boot pressing into it. "That was close as well."

"Yeah," Jane looked at the same photograph. "Mine is a close up of me dripping sweat onto the top rope!"

Both women looked at each other and smiled.

"Mine," Alice began. "Is another close up of my arse with your foot planted right in the bloody middle of it!"

They both giggled.

"He's single you know." Alice stopped giggling.

"Yeah I know," Jane looked at a photograph of her face being pushed into the buckle of a corner. "He's meant to be the most eligible bachelor in the world."

"I wouldn't mind spending a couple of nights with him." Another photograph of Jane's face came into her field of vision; she was red as Alice had pulled her head as far back as it could by her hair.

"A couple of nights!" Jane cut in. "One night would be enough for me."

They both nodded and looked at a photograph of Alice about to bring her foot down on Jane's back as she tried in vain to get up off the canvas.

Lee smiled to himself and almost let his ego take the better of him by revealing his identity, but he bit it back and continued to listen to the two women.

"I read that he never got over his first love." Alice turned back to Jane. "She died when she was sixteen and apparently he has never been in love since."

Jane shook her head, "Yeah I read that as well, it's terrible isn't it?"

"She was murdered!" Alice stated.

Jane looked at her, "I didn't know that."

"Yes he told the police that a man in black come out of the woods and killed her."

"What?" Jane was open mouthed. "For no reason."

Alice slowly shook her head, "Yes no reason at all!"

"Oh my god thatís terrible."

"In one of his rare interviews he said it was what drove him to become an artist!"

Alice looked at a photograph of both women backstage after the bout taking off their make up reflected in a mirror in a dingy dressing room.

"They reckon," She vaguely pointed around her. "Thatís why he is such a good photographer."

"Why?" Jane frowned.

"Because," Alice looked at a photograph of her costume discarded on the floor of the dressing room and she winced at the damp stains on it. "He is so alone he feels outside of the world and he sees things differently from the rest of us."

"All that fame and fortune," Alice began as she looked at a close up of her rubbing a sore breast. "And nobody to share it with."

Behind them Lee looked down at the floor, perhaps today he might be able to change that.

Part two.

He said one o clock.

Martin Thompson looked at his watch and did not see the irony of looking at a watch because time was his stock in trade and he had learnt how to control it, or more like manipulate it.

"What time is it?" A thick set man called Adam Fulton asked Martin.

He was the muscle of the partnership, although it was unfair to call him that even though he spent far too much time in a gym pumping himself up to look like a caricature of a man. Martin had hired Adam because of his ten years in the regular army and then another six in Special Forces. He was a tough but intelligent man and his experience was invaluable in checking the customers of their unique service, they had to be careful because if a customer could not deal with the emotional price of their journey then the company would be in trouble and it wouldn't be financial either. A lot of people thought what he offered was morally wrong and more importantly a lot of powerful people wanted it closed down and him thrown in prison for the knowledge he possessed.

"One," Martin sighed and looked out of the office window over looking the newly developed docklands.

"He's late." Adam commented and looked at the file on the table in front of him. Both men were seated at a large desk in a large office with a large office window with a large view.

"Well," Martin sighed. "He has got a new exhibition today of all days."

Adam nodded, he knew the client inside and out and at the moment Adam saw him as a low risk customer, he was a little strange although they had dealt with stranger customers than him. It was the "Man in Black" idea that made Adam smile; he supposed all artists had to have some sort of gimmick.

"What do you think of him Adam?" Asked Martin as if reading his mind.

He answered. "He'll be able to deal with what he'll see."

"Are you sure?" Martin looked at him.

"I'm never sure until afterwards" He looked down at the file once again. "But I think he will be able to cope and besides he is meant to be an outsider, an observer, so he should be able to deal with it."

Martin slowly shook his head, "You know who he wants to see don't you?"

"Yes," He picked the file up as if somehow he would be able to read it again only this time through his fingers. "He has dealt with it through his art and made a lot of money in the process."

Once again Martin was surprised by his college; he seemed to know things about human nature he had no idea about. When Lee had first contacted him Martin was going to turn him down, it was known the art came from the loss of his first love and the mysterious "Man In Black" and what he wanted could be the worst thing he could do and then where would that leave them? A famous artist broken!

"I charged him double for the journey."

"He can more than afford it."

Both men nodded to themselves.

Martin Thompson had invented a time machine.

It had been an incredible breakthrough and for the first six months the scientific community just laughed and told him it was a very funny joke and besides it was impossible. It had not been impossible and he had travelled through time, however there were natural phenomenon that limited the journey. He went back fifteen years with a camera to his brother's wedding because there had been no record of it, the photographs had been destroyed in the lab and the old VHS recording had somehow wiped itself clean. At the time his brother had commented that it was cursed and perhaps he should not have got married. He choose the wedding because so many of his close relatives had died and there would have been no way to use actors and of course there would have been so many witnesses to the authenticity of the footage. He knew he would have to go in disguise and keep his distance as far as was possible to capture the images and not interfere. He disguised himself as an old man and wore a thick coat with a hole cut out in the pocket, then he drove 200 miles across the country to the church where the marriage took place, even though he was sure he could travel through time, he was also sure he could not travel through space.

When he arrived he took out the machine, it was a small device that fitted in the palm of his hand, and he knew he had to create it like this for commercial reasons. With a deep breath he switched it on and in a blink of an eye he had travelled 15 years back. It was as simple as that, it took him a few moments to orientate himself and then he stayed in the background and watched the photographs that would not developed being taken outside of the church. It was more emotional than he thought it would be, both his parents were alive and he almost ran to them, but he managed to control himself. Four years latter his father would die from a brain hemorrhage and ten years latter his mother would die from a heart attack. His aunty and uncle were there, both were to die five years latter in a plane crash, his grandmother was there and she would die peacefully in her sleep a year latter and then there had been his younger brother Ian, plump because he had just come back from college and drank to much, the weight was to come off within two years but a year after that lung cancer took him even though he had never smoked in his life. He had to fight back tears and hollowness in his stomach to concentrate on taking the film and just being a witness.

He was concentrating so much he did not notice that a little girl was coming towards him and before he realized she had walked straight through him to pick a flower on the stone wall directly behind him. He felt nothing and she saw nothing. And that was when he realized there was another natural phenomenon, the time traveler was a ghost. He reached out to touch the wall and his hand went straight through, the traveler was to be a witness only, it was impossible to interact with the past directly. And then there was another natural phenomenon and he experienced it without realizing until he found himself back in the present as quickly as he had travelled back. He looked at his watch and saw that he had spent exactly Thirty minutes in the past and that had been the case for all of his customers after that.

Only a few believed he had actually travelled in time and one of his first customers, even though he did not charge him, was Adam and the big man had come back form his childhood of twenty two years earlier with tears in his eyes and a sad expression on his face. Through Adam's contacts with his ex special forces colleges who were now in the business of protecting rich and famous people, he managed to persuade Kevin Morrison a huge movie star to travel back to his childhood, so far all of his customers had gone back to their childhoods and when he came back he told the world it was true and from that moment on Martin had literally not looked back.

There was another natural phenomenon, nobody could travel in time more than once, he had tried to go back to the wedding again but nothing happened and the same went for Adam.

"He's here." Both men looked as Lee opened the large door to the large office and smiled at them, sixty minutes latter they were all standing in small woods on the edge of a tiny village.

"You understand you only have thirty minutes and cannot interact with the past." Adam spoke deliberately to John.

"Yes," he responded very quietly.

Martin always let Adam deal directly with the customers just before their journey, his authorativeness was reassuring.

"You can take pictures if you want," both men noticed that the great artistic photographer did not have a camera on him.

Lee smiled and just slowly shook his head. "No, I won't be taking pictures."

Adam handed over the time machine, it was one of two Martin had made, the plans were a closely guarded secret and the customers could not run off with it because they could not go very far and besides the final restriction nature put on time travel was the individual always ended up exactly where they started the time journey from, so in thirty minutes Lee would be standing exactly where he was standing now.

"Ok," Adam said. "Good luck."

Martin was about to add the same when Lee disappeared.

Part Three.

He felt the breeze on his face and he knew he Twenty three years had passed in a blink of an eye. He had been told he would be a ghost and yet he could feel the breeze, smell the air and sense everything around him.

"Strange feelings for a ghost." he said aloud and heard his voice, he held his breath not sure what for. "I shouldn't be able to hear myself."

He held up his hand in front of him and then reached out to a tree and he knew before it happened his hand would go through.

"Take it easy Lee," He let out a breath.

He heard her as he knew he would just a few yards away. He walked slowly, his mouth was dry and his heart was hammering in his chest. How would he react when he saw her? He was beginning to tremble and had to pause for a few moments. What was he going to see? And would he be able to deal with it? There was movement under a tree and knew before he saw that it was his younger self and Lynette clumsily fumbling with each other. He remembered her soft skin and the taste of soap on his lips as he kissed her neck and pushed his face further down into her chest. He looked away embarrassed and then looked back to them.

"The man in black!" He whispered aloud and the movement stopped, he frowned and moved forward a few steps.

"What's wrong?" His younger self asked.

"I don't know." she answered and his older self felt a chill go down his spine, he looked around again and expected to see the "Man in Black."

Her voice in his memory had been soft and lyrical and here it was now in reality strained and high. He stepped closer and closer and both of them sat up adjusting their clothes, he didnít remember this.

"No it was good, we were happy," He began aloud again. "I'm sure we were."

"Want to go somewhere else?" His younger self asked staring at her chest.

She was looking towards his older self and for a moment he thought she could see him, "No I don't feel like it now, its spoilt."

Her face creased up as if she had a bad smell under her nose.

"Come on Lyn," His younger self whined

She looked at him with that withering glance of hers and his younger self looked away and his older self did the same, he had forgotten about that look. Both of them sat in silence for a few moments and then she got up off the ground, she glanced at him again, he was sure she could see him.

"I'm going home." She spoke sharply.

"Oh come on Lynette," His younger self was on his feet and he could see the erection bulging under his trousers. He definitely remembered that.

She quickly moved out into the open and paused, she was looking directly at his older self; she frowned and leant forward a little as if trying to focus on something

"She sees me." He spoke aloud again.

"What was that?" She turned back to his younger self.

"What was what?" His younger self stood behind her adjusting his crotch and trying to hide his erection

She looked around, "I thought I heard something."

His younger self followed her look and his older self felt sick as his eyes met across all those years, for a moment he was sure he had been seen, but his younger self continued a sweep around him.

"There's nothing there."

Why didn't he remember this?

She kept on looking for a little bit longer and then turned back to his younger self, "I'm going."

His younger self reached out to stop her.

He definitely did not remember this.

She flinched at his touch and shrugged him off, "Let me go...."
His younger face went red and his older self saw a strange look come into his eyes.

"What's going on?" He said to himself.

She whirled around and almost spat at his younger self, "Look fuck off will you!"

His younger self looked down at the hand she had shrugged off.

"I never really fancied you," She taunted. "I was told you were good shag, but your not, your crap!"

She turned to go.

"God you were horrible." His older self thought.

His younger self grabbed her hand and she whirled around, she spat at him, actually spat!††† His older self could not believe what he was seeing, he did not remember this. She cursed loudly, but his younger self would not let go of her.

"Get off me!" She slapped him hard in the face.

His older self was stunned; it was as if he had felt the slap.

What was going on? He asked himself. This didn't happen.

"Lynette..!" His younger self began as she pulled away from him and fell backwards.

It all happened in slow motion and his older self reached out hopelessly to catch Lynette, she fell right through his arms and he heard a loud crunch. And then there was silence.

His younger self looked down at the still Lynette and in that look his older self remembered everything after all those years, all that time he had buried this deep, deep down in his mind, but now he remembered the panic, the fear, the terror. As he remembered he saw his younger self look up from Lynette and straight into his eyes.

"I didn't mean to.."Both spoke at the same time.

"I didn't do nothing," His younger self looked down at Lynette, "I didn't do nothing."

His older self knew what was coming.

His younger self looked up, "It was you....the Man in killed her...!"

And in that moment he knew he had been a child, a child that had killed and the only way he could deal with the guilt was to blame someone else, across time he had blamed himself.

"I was the Man in Black" He shouted and then he was back in the present.

Martin stepped forward, "Are you ok?"

Lee looked at him and slowly shook his head, "No."

Click Here for more stories by Christopher Howells