“You two have to be the most beautiful couple I’ve ever seen.” I burst out, she grins tight lipped, while tweed jacket sticks out his hand.
“Thank you so much. Is that your camera?” He asks, looking at the old Olympus dangling from my neck. I’ve never been the type to enjoy film pictures but at this point it’s more a social crutch.
“Yeah, and it works.” I answer, “do you mind if I take a picture of you two?” She looks over coy and then smiles into the lens. Since the autofocus broke a few years ago I’m left standing there adjusting the manual focus.
“I’m thinking of getting one myself. Not really sure which one will suit me.”
“Well, why don’t you two borrow mine? Plus, I’ve never seen the top of the tower, so any pictures will be better than nothing.” She nods to tweed jacket as I hand over my camera.
“Why thank you! and I’ll pay for the development and a second set”
“Great and when you’re done I’ll be in the cafe.” I point it out.
“Honey, we should join the line if we want to be it in the next group.” She says, gripping his bicep.
“Okay then, we’ll see you in a few hours.” He says while putting the camera around his neck. They join the line with the rest of the couples, acting as if they intended to bring a camera.
A few hours later, I don’t hear from the man. A couple more and I realize that I never even got his name. Another 30 minutes and I realize they might be tourists and have left with my priceless fixture. I really don’t know why I would trust a pair of attractive strangers. As I’m burying my head in my hands I feel a tap on my shoulder.
“Hey! sorry we took so long,” says tweed jacket as he hands me the camera and a business card, “please, call me after you drop off the film and I will pay for my set and your doubles. I can’t tell you how much we appreciate this.”
“Of course, and I will.”
“I have to go, my wife wants to grab a nightcap.” I nod and lift his card high until he’s out of the cafe.
The next morning, I go to the photography shop close to his work. I call him and tell him in an hour they’ll be ready for pick up. A couple hours later, the cashier calls me and says they’ve been paid and my set is ready for pickup. After I pick up my set, I head to a nearby pub in a hotel. I find a seat at the bar, as the tables seem to be filling up during the lunch hour. I order a pint and start to peel open the cardboard cover.
The first few pictures are the ones I took of them at the bottom of the tower. The next are them walking around, with her standing next to the title of the tower. They must have handed the camera back and forth because there are many candid ones of him and a couple more posed of her.
“Beautiful couple.” A woman remarks over my shoulder, making me aware of how close we were sitting at the bar.
“Yeah.” I sigh, “never met them until yesterday, very photogenic.”
“She seems like a natural in those poses too.”
“Yeah, she does.” I look over and see she’s done her wine, I wave to her glass and she nods, “bartender, another for the lady.”
After a couple glasses of wine we had went over the set twice and picked out our favorites.
“Who doesn’t want that kind of love?” She says as if reading my mind, “I have an idea, why don’t we go to the towers?”
“I would but after the wine, well I could…”
“My treat! Because if you didn’t lend out your camera, we wouldn’t know what we’re missing.” I smile, pay for the tab and take her hand as we walk out of the bar hand-in-hand.
We are blending in as a couple, a woman I just met with a last name I have yet to learn. She walks up to the ticket counter with her wine crusted teeth and order a pair of tickets. When we reach the top, we run out of the elevator, both eager to walk the same path as the couple.
“Oh, it’s so much more beautiful in person.” She says, “we really should go outside and feel the air.”
“Okay but let me get adjusted, I want to walk along the glass floor before I head outside.” She agrees as we continue hand-in-hand.
Later we start heading over to the doors that led to the outside roof. She stops in her tracks and point to the women’s bathroom.
“I should go and freshen up, last thing I want to do is embarrass myself.” I let go of her hand and wait for her in the hallway. Moments later she comes out wearing a dark purple lipstick, not a shade lighter than the glasses of wine.
“You look beautiful.” I lift up my camera to take a picture.
“Wait, not yet.” She says, placing her hand on my bicep.
We walk outside and feel the crisp breeze on both of our necks. We pull at our jacket collars and get guided by the crowd to the ledge. There is a steel bar fence with some concrete pillars, where the seagulls stand to scavenge for food.
“Here?” I ask, lifting back up my camera.
“Sure.” She walks over to the ledge and looks up at the bars stacked like a ladder. She takes off her shoes and puts her foot on the first rung. I watch, trying not to draw any attention. She continues to climb, 2nd to the 3rd and then the 4th, till she’s seen over the crowd. A guard watches and is walking over. I take a picture of his face. Snap. I look back to the crowd watching her climb. I try to stop her shoe being blown over the edge from the wind but is unsuccessful. The guard calls out as she’s on the 8th rung. I see her face tilt down in his direction. Snap. She waves to me from 10th bar. She gracefully lifts her thigh over the top bar like a ballerina. Snap. I wave back. She is sitting with her back to the crowd. I watch her as she casually lifts one of her hands from the bar to push away her hair from her face. Snap. She wants to see but it’s too windy. Snap. She stands up and leaps forward. She falls quickly. I run to the ledge looking down. I do the only thing I know to do. Snap. Her arms flaying. Snap. Her hair moving as a V. Snap. Her legs bent at the knee. Snap. Her body on the hood of a car. Snap.