Bernard Page 8

celluloid a lifetime away, a sudden surge and wave of almost unbearable happiness ...
   He puts his head in his hands for a moment, despairing, rapturous.
    These are all the pictures of her.
    Then he suddenly pulls himself together and closes the top of the box roughly and moves on to the next.

    The BMW ads. The Marchese d'Alba ads. Perry Ellis. Donna Karam.
    Henry Weinhard. Ore-Ida. Chuck Valente Spaghetti Sauce. Paul Newman Salad Dressing.
    Boxes and boxes, and boxes. Never realized just how many of them there are. Hundreds. Thousands. Tens of thousands. I gave in, I gave up. It was too strong for me. They beat me in the end. I surrendered, and they welcomed me with open arms and bushels of money.

  Nothing disreputable, really. They paid their way. People liked them, people loved them. They made me a lot of friends, they built this house, they built this attic. He looks quizzically around the airless room that surrounds him, almost empty except for the boxes of negatives lined up unevenly along the wall.
    A few even won awards. But ...
    They aren't even lies.
    He goes over to the tripod with his old "kist" screwed onto it, looks through the view finder, adjusts the focus, the light meter, the timer. Then he pushes a button and moves back in front of the lens.
    The old, almost obsolete camera whirrs and ticks for a second, then stops.
    He goes back to it, tinkers, returns to the front and presents his profile, with a blank expression, like a mug shot. The camera whirrs, ticks, stops.