Bernard Page 12

   He's closing the phone when he pauses, considering.
    The reporter kneels close to the dead photographer's face and aims the phone's camera. The eyes are half open under a narrow square forehead. The cheeks are pale, there is a sign of grizzling on his chin. The lips show a foam of saliva. They are turned in a little smile, as though they know something they're not telling. The nose displays an ancient break. Wonder what caused that, the reporter thinks. The face, half hidden in the grass, leans into the ground. As though turning, at last, retreating, into the earth. The grass, recently cut, is fragrant.
    The reporter clicks. Then he pushes a few buttons and waits.
    A bird starts singing in a nearby tree.
    At last the phone's display flashes, the reporter pushes a button, and a text message

appears from his editor: "CGRATS. YR PIC WM LAMB ONLY PIC KNOWN."
The reporter contemplates the face of William Lamb, comparing it with the small image on the phone's video screen.
   "He almost looks like he knows something." he says. "What does it say, anyway? But he took his secret to the grave. Dead faces all look alike."
    He flips the phone shut and sticks it into his pocket.


Christopher Bernard is a founding editor of
Caveat Lector and author of the novel A Spy in the Ruins. His blog, "The Bog of St. Philinte,"