Bernard Page 10

       Never could talk about anything with his father except basketball. Which he himself loathed. And wood carving, which bored him. All those gnomes on the rec room shelves the old man had carved over the years.
    Once, when he was very young, he saw his mother and father alone together, through a doorway, facing back to back. He watched them: when they got up, they carefully avoided each other's eyes, like two caged predators gingerly avoiding each other's claws.
    The woman's face. Its set glare. The resentment he was unaware of at the time. Except as an everyday form of menace. The quick slaps, the putdowns.
    Can't tell what she is really thinking. Not now. Not then.
    The shot reveals nothing. Of either of them.
    How they hated each other.

    He rummages some more: railway tracks receding to infinity, a lonely tree, reflections of
clouds in a mud puddle. Clichés, apprentice work. Flush with enthusiasm and faith.
    No. That was the only shot I ever took of them.
    Lousy picture.

    They stare past him into the rafters above his head.
    Nothing lies like a photograph.
He returns it to the box, closes the lid, and sits on it, gaping into a corner of the attic.
    Dead faces all look alike, he thinks again.
    He looks at the camera on the tripod and frowns. It seems to be staring at him.
    Go to hell!
    He wipes the wetness from his face, lifts one of the boxes, and carries it downstairs.