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January 15, 2005

Look at me

You may have come across Look at me, an archive of anonymous photographs. With now over 400 images they seem mysterious and yet candid - unknown to the viewer and yet intimate with the photographer in whose position we sit. Looking through I thought it an obvious opportunity to practice a little short fiction - no more, say, than 300 words.

So, I've written something to accompany no.44 (opens in new window)

Boy it was cold! Cold as the ice on the stream out back at Ma’s house. Jimmy and me are wearing gloves, see. And hats. But we all had hats then. Especially Jimmy – looking all grown up and ready for the world with his fedora and striped tie. He was going to Chicago to work in his uncle’s telegraph business. Or so he told us: me and Dick.

Dick was older than us. Smart but without Jimmy’s ambition for himself. Dick just liked taking things apart, seeing how they fit up and then fixing them right back up together. When some guy came into town with a camera and a pack of cards Dick went and won the camera playing blackjack with him. Sure he was good but no ambition.

Not Jimmy. He told us tale after tale about his uncle in Chicago. Did we believe him? Not really. Dick and I thought we’d all be together forever. Even when Dick took the photograph, it was as though Jimmy was putting it on. That’s why I am laughing and Jimmy looks so serious. His case was so light I joked there was nothing in it. He just scowled and said that according to his uncle all you need is a clean shirt and a quick mind.

Dick took the photo and we walked to the edge of town with Jimmy, expecting him at every moment to say he was just kidding. But he didn’t, he just kept on walking. We stopped, waved, and watched as he kept on walking, till he was gone around the light blue cold of the next hill.

January 15, 2005 in Fiction | Permalink


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