James LePore: Project 52/2015: The Man With The Camera

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14814_1883322lImage: Cafe Woman, © James LePore

When I sat down it was full sunshine. Then someone took my picture and started manipulating it in his head. A filter here, a lasso there. Posterize. Crop. Levels. Now I’m in the dark, my wine glass gone. Maybe he thinks I drink too much. I know he thinks I have an interesting face. He’s taken five or six pictures. I’ve been lost in thought. Pensive. My body language fascinates him, but not my body. That must be it. Do I like that? Do I want him to be attracted to my body? He’s not that kind of guy, though. He’s sitting there drinking sparkling water, watching the world go by, taking an occasional picture. I’m obviously the most interesting person in the place. That pleases me. It strikes me that he’s going to possess me in ways that no other men have—in his camera, in the darkroom in his head. That’s okay, pretty exciting actually.

I was sad there for a moment, more than a moment, but now I’m not. He saw my sadness but doesn’t know what it’s about. Or does he? It can be anything he wants it to be. He can look at my picture and write a story about me. He’ll say I’m stuck in a bad relationship. With someone I don’t love or even respect. How did I let that happen? Again. He’ll send me to Paris, where I’ll idle away the days in cafes, drinking wine, getting buzzed in the middle of the afternoon. My first trip overseas by myself. A man with a camera will sit a few tables away. He’ll take my picture, quietly, trying to not let me know he’s doing it. He’s very handsome, this quiet man with the camera—long dark hair, black-rimmed glasses.

He’ll have me pay my bill. I’ll pass the man with the camera as I’m leaving, and we’ll make eye contact.

What would I say? Nothing, I don’t talk to strange men in cafes.

He’ll smile a disarming smile, but say nothing. Fuck. I’ll have to talk.

Do you have my soul in there?

No, something of you though.

What?’

Sit, I’ll explain.

He’ll rise as he says this, which at first I don’t understand. He’ll be pulling out a chair. I’ll suddenly realize he’s being a gentleman, a man who stands and waits for a lady to be seated.

It’s a lightning bolt, that gesture.

james

About Project 52/2015: I like to take pictures and I like to write fiction. This Blog will combine the two in what I am calling Project 52/2015, one of my images mated with a piece of very short fiction each week in 2015. Enjoy.

James LePore is the national bestselling author of numerous novels, most recently, God’s Formula, which he wrote with Carlos Davis. Visit his website.

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