While making notes for a newspaper story about our town’s annual summer music festival, I spied my colleague Wayne. He was working on a different newspaper story for our town’s newspaper, The Mattawa Recorder. He still uses a camera that takes film while mine is digital. My photos prove that my hands shake and the camera lens needs a bar of soap.
“Would you like a real nice brand new camera,” says I, trying to hide my lust to offload that Christmas gift from my brother. I tried to be cool and confident knowing the demand for such contraptions is lower than a snake’s belly. And snakes are not known for buying cameras.
“Tell me about it,” said the harried Wayne while trying to make a hung-over violinist look perky and lively. The two were sitting at a picnic table and suddenly a glass of beer tipped into the violin’s resonating box. The musician’s command of English would have silenced a quarrel in hell.
“That masterpiece has all the things a photographer needs to make any photo a prize winner,” I said with determination and confidence. I even had the nerve to make fun of things when I suggested the camera had a bird bath. My self assurance took a sudden turn when the angry musician growled and began jerking beer from his soggy instrument. The more he shook the faster moms and dads hustled their kids away.
“OK,” said a relieved Wayne while someone mopped out the innards of the violin. “Put the camera inside my house,” and I ran to my car and soon deposited the camera in his kitchen as he suggested.
The next evening I saw Wayne sitting at the same table and this time he was interviewing a local twelve year old girl who had just sung “Rock Of Ages.” Because of her red pig tails and Ginger Ale I knew there would be no beer disasters.
“So, how do you like the camera,” said I.
“It wasn’t in my house,” he said.
I was stunned.
“Describe my house,” he asked and I named the trees and bushes and flowers in his front yard. I never realised I was such an informed botanist. And as an afterthought I included the number and street name.
“Well you got the number right and that’s about all,” he said while adding the name of his street.
A paleness glum spread over my semi consciousness. I haven’t felt so stupid since I was a real estate agent and tried to sell a house to some buyers and the house was not even on the market. The shocked owner, dressed in her pyjamas, called me a goofball in three Slavic languages. The numbed purchasers fled away in a taxi and never returned my phone calls.
I drove to the wrong house intent on getting the camera back. There was no answer after I pressed the doorbell. I left several business cards at the front door. I went home hoping the house owner would phone me rather than the newspaper. The editor reminds me often of me writing a wedding story exactly seven days before the actual ceremony. She has never stopped laughing about my observation that I was at least in the right church for the wrong wedding.
At home I waited for the telephone to ring. At ten PM it thundered. I picked it up.
“Yes,” I drawled in sheepish unease.
I heard a load of heavy breathing and then all floodgates of disquietedness opened. Wide.
“What you doink in my (deleted deleted) house,” screamed an unhappy man.
“Speak,” he said and knew I had some fast skating or else I’d be absent more than a camera.
Searching for an answer in my distraught head, I thought of deflecting his rage to someone else. “Wayne told me,” I blurted, “to drop the camera into his house.”
There was a pause, then a small laugh titter, followed by big laughter. A nervous yuk fell off my tongue.
“Ist thut Wayne the noospaper guy,” said the mellowing voice.
‘Y– yess,” I stammered. A laugh was followed by a crescendo of hilarity.
“Him goot fren. Git over here now. I give you back your camera. Goot thing you’s didn’t leave camera on pillow beside wife.”