Confessions of a Shutterbug
Who was it who said, 'no good deed goes unpunished?' Someone who's fallen afoul of the likes of me, I expect! Certainly, Ray swears he's learned his lesson, and I'll own up. It's all my fault -- I cut down the figurative cherry tree.
Ray gave me a camera for Christmas, the Nikon FM of my fantasies, with an electronic light meter and everything. I've always liked cameras, but every time you get one in your hand there's an inescapable problem... You can never think of anything to take a picture of! I solved that the first day, Christmas afternoon; Ray was threatening to beat me to death with the nearest blunt instrument by the time the light failed, because I had him playing the part of my model all afternoon.
The photos were -- and are among the very best I've ever done, but looking at them continually gives me a nostalgic pang; he was so ill at the time, still getting over the shooting, and we'd been lovers for all of a few weeks. That Christmas was our first together, and I'm sure you can look at the photos of him, and looking at his lover at play, and there's a kind of smile you see so very rarely on anyone's face. He's so pale on them, so thin; there's almost a translucence about him; it can still move me, and scare me a little to pull out the album and look at them; but above all else he looks happy.
Playing with the new camera, with him in front of it, was pure delight for me, and I sent the snaps off to a speedy colour printers, to get them back the same day. Looking at the first set was all the incentive I needed to do more, and more after that -- and Ray was caught between giggling and complaining about it. He was pointing me at silly things like plants and dogs and trees, and telling me to take photos of something else. What -- waste film on that lot of nonsense, with him around? Not likely, I thought, and I told him so.
I had him 'pose,' if you can call it that, on the couch, and in the window, and in the kitchen; and I loved to experiment with the tricks you can play with light. Soft lighting, and that broken cheekbone of his vanishes. A bit of backlighting, fluff up his hair, and he looks like a shampoo commercial, about which I teased him a lot, until I found a barber's appointment card on the mantle, and had a fit. He was actually going to have it all cut off until I tore up the card and gave him fair warning. You go for a haircut, say I, and I'll sleep on the couch till it grows back! That fixed him; the randy little creature wouldn't last a week, let alone a couple of months. Well, to be honest, neither would rang up and cancelled the appointment.
Thereafter, I kept a rein on the teasing, and concentrated on taking pictures, which annoyed him nearly as much. After a while he got used to it and would go about his business, almost ignoring me. The best of the photos are candid shots, as a matter of fact; 'here's another great shot of Ray studying the crossword,' and such. And Ray pouring a cup of tea. And watching the telly... All very boring stuff, unless you're in love with someone, in which case you'll probably disgrace yourself with some bilious cooing over the photos, and be thrown out on your ear. I was having a whale of a time. I managed to get in some 'innocent erotic' stuff too, which I hoped the chemists wouldn't notice! Ray, dead to the world, curled up in bed; and standing at the window, bare chested, with a cup of coffee in his hand. What the bloke at the chemist didn't know wouldn't hurt me... Truth was, Ray was wandering around in the raw with his coffee.
Which brings me to the single part of this creative enterprise that was so frustrating I was getting to the screaming point.
I can't draw to save my life, and early in life learned not to even try (I've got my dignity), but with a camera I was getting pretty good. I know about back and side lighting, and filter effects, and had even gone far enough to get a filter package and a book that told you which ones to use to change the colour of your subject. I could turn him golden as he lay on the foot of the bed, reading, after I'd tousled his curls accidentally-on-purpose. Rumpled and sleepy and desirable, and such...
But when you send your photos to the chemist the one thing you can't send 'em is, well, anything the righteous souls at the lab would call lewd, or crude, or porno.
I'd pretty smart take offense, I can tell you, if anyone referred to a snapshot of Ray in those terms, especially if I'd taken the damned thing, but... I wanted to be able to do with him what he did with me -- not in bed, but in creative terms. I had a camera and filters, and fast films, and some lights, and a model who was just what the doctor ordered.
Sure, if Ray agreed I could snap the pictures, but --
What could I do with the film?
We get a couple of camera magazines on subscription, since both of us are interested in the subject, and it's always full of adverts for mysterious devices I only ever half understood. One afternoon I was killing time waiting for him, and I actually bothered to read one of these commercial pages. It was advertising the goods of a company called Paterson; just a bunch of red card boxes and funny looking black plastic tanks. So what?
So what indeed! Home colour developing, I read, and sat up at once. Do it yourself, at home? I'd heard about it, but always considered it too expensive or too difficult. But here was the ad telling me otherwise... Inexpensive and easy, it said. I was a bit skeptical and read on; it was a blow-by-blow description of how you go about whacking a roll of negatives into and out of the chemicals, and ending up with strips of 35mm celluloid with your treasured images upon them.
So far, so good. The next page showed something that was like a big, expensive, sophisticated version of your own b/w enlarger, with coloured panels on the front. Filters? Light dawned about how the system worked, and I skipped on down to the phone number of the local Paterson dealership.
I'd made the call before Ray got home; he was wondering why on earth I was wearing this cheesy, secretive grin, and why I kept chuckling and giggling to myself that evening. I drove him mad in bed that night; every time I looked at him, I could see him immortalised on a glossy 8x10 and chortled in anticipatory delight... If he'd only known...
If I'd only known...
One learns by one's own experience. I won't say mistakes, because it all worked out right in the end, but along the way there were times when I'd wondered what I'd got myself into.
The equipment was not cheap, and unless you have a liking for standing under a cold shower ripping up ten pound notes, I'd caution you about investing in it. But I was pretty well fixed, financially, so a few hundred quid was easy to get my hands on, and the prospects of being able to make free with my model (in a creative sense. Ray would attest to the other definition of that cute remark, I've no doubt) was more than enough to send me to the shop, and make me part with the cash.
There was the enlarger device, and a transformer to pull the line voltage down to eight or ten volts, or whatever; there was a small, squat drum with a sort of spiralling interior into which you were supposed to thread your film (simple and straight- forward, I thought... oh, blessed naivety); there was a foot-high drum with feet on the bottom, that you put your 8x10 glossy into to be developed; and a bunch of things like measuring cylinders and thermometers and such.
The bloke at the shop swore you didn't need anything else to get started, and I believed him. A few days later, I could have cheerfully committed murder. Beware of salesmen! And always, repeat ALWAYS read the tiny little print on the bag of paper... It never occurred to me that I'd have to keep the paper in the bottom of the fridge under the lettuce and tomatoes. If you don't do this, you'd better be a big fan of the colour purple, because that's what colour your prints are going to be!
Ray blinked in astonishment as I rolled into the carpark at work with a boot full of this stuff. "What in God's name have you been buying now, you loon?" He demanded, peeking in through the glass.
"Got the makings of a dark room there," I said proudly. "Enlarger and drums and things. Chemicals and thermometers... Going to develop my own photos. Of you," I added meaningfully.
He gave me a shrewd look, half expecting the soft of fiasco that I was determined to bring about. Ray had learned not to trust me when I got that secretive smile on my face.
Making the negatives was going to be easy, I was sure... All I had to do was convince him to take his ruddy clothes off and stand still in front of the camera. And now I'd bought the gear to do the technical side of it I was suddenly awfully aware of what I was asking him to do.
I saved it all up to the weekend, our first full weekend off in a month and a half. He was in bed, seven in the morning -- a gorgeous spring morning, with sunlight streaming into the room. He had a cup of tea in one hand and his electric razor in the other and was yawning over the sports page, when I showed up with the camera.
"Morning, sunshine... Ah, you're shaving. Good."
He looked up over the paper. "Buzz off with that thing, Bodie," he said crustily. "If you want to cuddle, come back to bed, but I'm not decent."
"I know," I said, grinning from ear to ear, and popped one frame of him scowling at me, half shaved and deliciously tousled, over the paper.
"Bodie," he said threateningly.
"Oh, come on, Ray. Nobody but us is going to see the snaps, are they? Let me play about a bit!"
It was like talking to the wall. No; worse than that. Walls don't make smart remarks about your libido. I lounged at the foot of the bed, fiddling disconsolately with the camera. "Don't know what you're being so rotten about," I grumbled. "You've got such a beautiful body --" maybe a bit of honey would do "-- all I want to do is glorify it in stills. Just for me."
For one lovely moment he wavered; there was a look of real pleasure on his face as he saw that I really did want to do what I'd said, and that I did find him so gorgeous... Well, it's true. I cannot tell a lie. Then his mouth tightened and he gave me a wry look and shook his head. "Why don't you go and take some snaps of Mrs. Coleman's three little kids?"
"What the bloody hell would I want pictures of Huey, Louie and Dewey for?" I demanded. "Oh, come one, Ray, be a sport. Be a mate, all I want is for you to sit still and fluff the pillows up, and let me lift the quilt out of the way. The light's just about perfect, and I've got a filter on the camera, and you're already in the raw under there, and..."
He laughed, almost spilling the last of his tea. "I'll say one thing for you, you're bloody persistent."
"Which means you'll play?"
"No," he said, not quite emphatically.
I heard the minute shift in his tone. "I'll have to work on you," I said silkily. "Bribe you?"
Now he frowned. "What with?"
"I get plenty of them anyway."
"Well, what about if I said you won't be getting any more unless you let me have my evil way?"
He responded with a snort of laughter. "Let's see how long you'd last, sunshine!"
I had to admit, he had a point. "Oh, all right. Um, I'll take you out for a Chinese?"
"I'm not that cheap," he said, nose in the air.
"I'll buy you a new shirt -- the silk one you've been on about since you saw it in the men's shop."
He frowned thoughtfully. "Okay. And...?"
"Wicked!" I gaped at him. "You want more?"
"Like Oliver Twist," he nodded. "Keep going, you're on the right track." He folded the paper and sat back, stretching and displaying his charms with an expression that swore he was out to get me in revenge.
"Um, I'll take you for a Chinese too?"
"Nice, thanks. And...?"
"There's that big art book you've been wanting. Leonardo prints, or whatever it is."
He frowned shrewdly. "Bodie, that book costs a fortune -- it means that much to you, to take pictures of me in the raw?"
I shrugged. "Call it art."
He guffawed. "I know what to call it, mate!"
"So will you play?" I asked, deliberately growling the words.
"Bodie, it costs a fortune!"
"And you told me to bribe you. I'm bribing."
He shook his head, disbelieving. "You're crazy!"
"I'm... An artiste." I struck a pose. "You want the book, it's yours. You wanted bribery, you're getting bribery." I shot a hard look at him; his expression was one of confusion -- I'd hit the spot, I knew, and he was going to give in. The little sod could be corrupted after all -- wave a Leonardo print portfolio under that chiselled hooter of his, and he's yours, to do with as you will... Well, almost.
"You're nuts," he told me at last, "and you're on. I want the book, I've wanted it for ages, and I'm bloody well not paying for it myself. All right, Lord Snowdon, what do you want?"
Now he came to put it like that, I hadn't a clue. I got up and lifted the drapes aside to make the most of the light, then tidied all the junk off the bedside table and brought the flowers in from the lounge; then I fetched a comb from the bathroom and combed through his hair till it was just right. I got rid of the empty cup and the paper, and his battery razor, and fluffed up the pillows. All the while he was watching with a bemused face, almost on the point of laughing, but not quite. Nervous? Damn!
I'll tell you, the photos I'd love to see are the candid ones the photographers take for fun about three minutes before the actual session starts. You know, the model's half dressed and reading a paperback, and the lightning bloke's having a beer in the background, and there's a litter of fag packets and chip papers all over the tiger skin, and the cleaning lady's mopping the floor, and -- it'd be worth money to see them. Not that the models would ever let you -- more than their careers were worth.
Then I nodded, satisfied with the background, and got hold of the quilt to lift it off him. About half a second later my jaw dropped... Colour flushed up in his cheeks, a lovely, rosy blush. I didn't know whether to laugh or tease or smother him with love. He wouldn't look at me, and I had to sit on the side of the bed to get his proper attention.
"Hey, if it means this much," I said, a little awed, "it's not all that important, I suppose."
It was, or I wouldn't have spent money on the darkroom set up, and wouldn't have bribed him with the book, and he knew that. He forced a laugh at last. "Oh, don't mind me. I just never did anything like this before. Get on with it."
"Sure?" I asked quietly, and he nodded. I kissed him; it got a bit out of hand and I messed up his hair, and the next time I looked he was half turned on. I gave his erection a frown. "That is going to look nice on the photos, isn't it?"
"Well, don't blame me, you were the one who... Oh, hell," Ray sighed. "Gimme the comb, my hair's messed up."
"I'll do it," I chided, "you can't see yourself, can you?"
Then I lifted the quilt down to his feet and stood back to look critically at him. "Well, lift your knee and it won't show, till it's subsided," I suggested.
"You mean you want to shoot me -- all of me?" He demanded.
"Of course," I said, exasperated. "Otherwise what'd be the point? Christ, Ray, I bloody know what you look like! I've been sleeping with you since you got out of hospital, and making love with you almost that long! Why so coy with
"Not you I'm worried about," he muttered, "it's the photos. And what'll happen if they get into the wrong hands."
"Like some steamy women's magazine?" I chortled. "Then we will make a fortune, Raymond. That body of yours would sell copies to a nudist colony. Oh, lift your knee and make it arty, or I'll take the picture as you are!" He lifted his knee and gave me a glare... I took the picture fast, snapping that glare, and I treasure it.
I wanted to take photos of him in all conditions, to be honest, but I knew it'd be a mistake to say so at once; he would get over being so absurdly shy soon enough -- he's a natural born exhibitionist -- and then he'd relax and be himself. So I turned him over and shot rear views, then turned him on his side and did arty things with draped hands and propped up chins, and such -- the kind of thing the Old Masters used to like to do with plump girls. Slowly but surely he relaxed, and the photos I took then were... I don't think there is a word.
I ran out of film two rolls later, and he went back to sleep until lunch time... I could have done with his help, but after that little exploitation exercise I didn't dare ask for it. He's got more nimble fingers than I have (you've only got to look at his hands to see why), and I was having a great time with what they call a Daylight Loading Bag. You stick your film cassette and your developing tank inside, and then sip it up, and put your hands into these glove-like things, and feel about for the bits and pieces in there, and somehow get the film threaded into the spiral, and the spiral into the tank, and the top on, and...
He was yelling for his lunch while he showered, before I got the bloody thing all fixed up, and the fun was just starting. Now I had to figure out how to get a cylinder full of developers up to 38 degrees C, exactly, not a degree more, not a degree less. Oh boy. You just wouldn't believe how hard that is until you try, and if you don't get it right, the negatives will be all wrong. I tried everything short of pouring the bloody things into the kettle! At last, I boiled the kettle, stood the measuring cylinder in the milk pan, poured boiling water into the pan, till the cylinder was just about floating, stuck the thermometer in the chemicals, and wrapped the whole affair up in tea towels to come up to temperature itself while I went and had lunch.
Damn. It worked. Next, came a scramble you wouldn't believe, as everything had to be poured in and out at exactly the right time, and in sequence, and other fluids had to be got up to temp... Ray stood in the kitchen doorway, bursting a blood vessel.
But he was laughing on the other side of his face when I held the negatives up to the window, and there he was, bright green, in negative-color, acres and acres of him. Mine, all mine. The second film was easier to manage, and by the time I'd fought the third roll through I'd just about got the hang of it, and he was interested enough to desert the boring Arsenal-Hammers match and come and help measure and heat chemicals.
It was then that a terrible thought struck me, and I had to laugh. He was getting too interested in all of this. How long before I found myself stretched out on the couch, stark naked and wearing, oh, aftershave and a sultry smile for that bloody Nikon? Mind you, this was fun, and in the spirit of fair play I didn't see why he should be left out.
The strips of negatives dried off in the kitchen, and I cut them up and put them in a safe place. All I was waiting for now was darkness, because I hadn't got around to blacking the place out yet. We needed a place that got no direct light, and the corner of the bedroom, behind the wardrobe, would do to perfection. I'd put the card table in there, with the enlarger on it, flanked by the paper and the drum, and I couldn't wait.
George Cowley struck while the News was on, and Ray was called away to talk to an old affiliate from the Met who had some urgent data that would save the world, or at least East Cheam, and I was left to my own devices. To be honest, I was more than a little grateful, because as much as I'd appreciated his help I was looking forward to moments of some, well -- embarrassment is a word that leaps to mind, as the pictures came out of the drum, and we had to get over the shyness again.
Darkness. Great. I organized everything in the bedroom, negs where I could put my hands right on them, drum with the top off, paper bag where I could find it with the lights off. Right. Load the negative carrier with shot one. It was the photo of him with the knee obscuring the result of our kissing, and I knew before I saw the print that it was going to be gorgeous -- all rosy cheeks and a glare. I stood there for about five minutes, trying to get motes of dust off the negative, and in a torment of frustration resolved to go back to the shop for a blower-brush, which is a little thing that puffs DRY air onto the neg. I was blowing on it, and it was getting soggier by the second... I had hysterics, as I realised I was blowing on a very naked Ray. Talk about a blow job! Then it was in the negative carrier, and I was trying to figure out what the bloody hell you do with all these colour controls on the enlarger. The five minute rundown I'd got in the shop had gone in one ear and out the other, and then -- then! -- I consulted the bag the paper was packed in.
There was a bit of confusion until it dawned on me that the Red-Cyan-and-Yellow notes were in German, so they were reading Rote-Blaue-Gelbe, or whatever it is (reading German was never my forte, though I used to be able to rattle it off okay). Okay, trust the rating given on the bag, I thought. Can always fix it later. So I get the enlarger's filter controls, put out the light and had a look at my Raymond, in negative, upside down. Light on again; negative turned the other way up; light off again. I was going to do four 3 1/2x5 prints on each 8x10 -- not because I didn't want big enlargements but because I wanted to see all the pictures as soon as possible, and since I'd shot over a hundred and you can only get four on each 8x10 sheet, that was going to take quite a while.
Oh, great, so what was the exposure time going to be? Enlarger lamp on for four seconds? Or six? Or eight? And what about the bloody aperture? Couldn't leave it set wide open...
I dickered for about ten minutes, trying to remember all I knew about black and white work, and then came the joyous experience of getting the paper out of the bag and getting it into the bloody easle mask. Chinese puzzle isn't in it! Actually, it takes you three times longer to make the easle mask light-safe after making an exposure on one quarter of the paper than it does to make the damned exposure! Quick it ain't, but I guessed I'd get faster as I got the hang of it.
I did the first four negatives off the roll, and the sheet was filled. Getting it into the developing drum was ever such fun -- I wish they'd tell you how to keep your big fat thumb off the surface of it! But at last the top was on and I put the light on, flopping down on the bed to get my breath back.
Oh God, now I had to mix the chemicals and get them up to temperature. Back into the kitchen, boil the kettle, float the cylinder in the water until I saw the right temperature come up, which I had a couple of drinks.
What did the destruction book say? Presoak the paper. Okay, that was easy. Dump the developers in, waffle the drum around on the tea towel for a couple of minutes, rinse with warm water, pour in the fixer --
It's amazing stuff, is fixer. Smells like floor cleaner, goes in the colour of raspberry cordial and comes out looking like blood. Which isn't half the shock of the colour the presoak water comes out. It goes in as water and come out -- purple... Took me ages to discover why. The paper's purple before it gets wet. Oh, obviously, what else?
I ran a sink full of nice warm water, and took the top off the drum. I was terrified to look into it -- was wondering if I'd maybe done the exposures on the wrong side of the paper, or turned them all mauve, or got them out of focus, or got dust all over the negatives to make white spots, or got the negs the wrong way around, Ray looks strange if you do that -- it's the broken cheekbone that does it, never looks right on the other side of his face, which is odd, since you have to remember that he sees himself the other way around every time he looks in a mirror, and so thinks of himself in reverse.
I looked into the drum, and all I saw was red pictures, and I'd already had the heart attack when I remembered that the bloody fixer is bright red. Palpitating energetically, I shoved the paper into the water and washed it off, and then stood out of the light and grinned from ear to ear.
Wasn't perfect. I'd over-exposed one, and under-exposed another, and the pictures weren't exactly square, but you'd have to know the exact conditions at the time of the session to know that I'd given 'A' six seconds under the enlarger lamp instead of the eight it needed, and so on.
But the pictures were... Ray would have a fit. He looked like something out of a glossy magazine, sultry and heavy eyed, and gloriously naked. Was worth the bother, worth the cost of the devices, and the bribery of shirt and book and dinner. I laughed gleefully, lifted the print out of the water and pasted it to the fridge door with its own wetness, washed out the drum and dived back into the bedroom to do another. And another.
And so on.
It was about two in the morning when he got home and I'd been asleep for about twenty minutes, pleasantly tired; I'd put it all away before I settled down, hardly expecting him to get home at all -- Cowley's errands can last a week. And I'd put the photos on the bedside table beside the clock, a little stack of richly coloured prints, all nicely trimmed with a razor knife and steel edge ruler. Pretty bloody good, even if I did say myself.
"Home, love," Ray called from the bedroom door, and I propped myself up on one elbow, yawning and smiling at him in the wash of light from the passage. He gave me a wink. "Won't be long, I'll just close up and brush my fangs."
He took ten minutes, and by the time he was ambling into the bedroom I'd woken up fully and sorted the pictures out. He undressed, ignoring me, because he'd seen me shuffling photos and knew what was coming, and maybe dreaded it; but as he slid into bed I dealt them out on the quilt in front of him.
"There. See? Happy? You're a photographer's dream."
"Oh, my God," he muttered.
"Was that a remark of criticism or content?"
"It -- well -- I --" He stopped, took a breath, cleared his throat and started again. "You made me look so..."
"Desirable? Pagan? Beautiful? Saucy? Randy?" I teased.
"Dunno," he admitted, "I'll have to think about it."
"But you do like them?" I'd started to wonder and was a little worried. He's not a prude, but he can be easy to bruise.
"Course I like them, stupid, I'm not blind!" He retorted and reached across to kiss me. "They're beautiful, even if they are a bit on the intimate side. And revealing."
"Yes, aren't they?" I agreed smugly. "And the best's yet to come. Haven't got around to the really good ones yet, have I?"
"Really -- good -- ones?" He asked, betraying cowardice.
"Mm. The good ones. On the second roll, and the third. When you started to ease up and relax, and pose. You know."
"Pose," I smiled. "Oh, Ray, don't be a clot, you were beautiful, you'll be thunderstruck when you see the prints, I know. You wait till you see yourself."
"I'm seeing quite enough right here," he said drily, looking at the couple of dozen prints I'd made earlier. The work of some happy hours, were those prints. "They are nice work, though."
"Glad you like 'em," I said complacently.
"Er, Bodie?" There was a little catch in his voice.
"Yeah?" I was nuzzling the back of his neck.
"Show me the negatives?"
I sat up. "What for?"
"Want to see what you're on about, on the second roll."
"Third's better," I smirked. "And the negatives are on the card table beside the enlarger, look. See?"
He slid out of bed and ambled over to fetch them, sitting cross legged on the foot of the bed to hold them to the lamp, face creased up in concentration. "I must have been drunk."
"Sober as a judge," I corrected happily.
"Bribed with material things," he said wryly. "Mad."
"Mad?" I took umbrage at that. "Oi, you're maligning the man I love, mate! You wait till you see the prints."
"I'm looking at the negatives," he retorted, tossing several strips at me.
"Hey, watch it, they're delicate." I retrieved the negatives and held them up to the lamp. There he was, reduced to about a square inch, sprawled out on the bed, head propped on his left hand, left leg crooked, gloriously male and giving the camera a come-hither look that was absolutely wicked.
The kind of picture that's guaranteed to provoke a certain response... It worked. I looked away from the negatives, at him cross legged a few feet away, and coughed meaningfully to catch his attention. "Ray?"
Maybe I sounded breathless; maybe I was looking a bit glazed about the eyes. He gave me a rueful shake of the head, swept the precious negatives out of the way with careless abandon, and tumbled over, right on top of me, the bedclothes separating us. "You can go out and buy the art book and the shirt on Monday," he said sternly, nibbling on my nose. "And take me to dinner."
"Pleasure," I said, and meant it. I'd had my fun with the photos, so it was all fair by me. "Shoot some more photos when I've got through this lot, too."
He laughed fondly. "Idiot. Good thing I love you, isn't it?"
"Very good thing," I agreed. "Get into bed, Ray. I want you."
Ten minutes later I was on my knees and he was having his evil way with me, which was exactly what I'd wanted and been hoping for since morning, I'd expected him to be in a mood for a bit of vengeance, thought that maybe he'd be a little rough, but if anything he was even more gentle than usual. We finished almost together, and he mopped us up and held me, and I asked, slurred with sleep, "what's got you in this tender mood, then?"
"You," he yawned. "There's... A lot of love in those photos, Bodie. They remind me of the sketches I do of you."
Damn, he'd read me dead right. "So... you don't mind?"
"Nah. Take as many as you like," he said indulgently, and turned out the light. "Just so long as you keep 'em under lock and key! I'm not out after a career in the skin flicks!"
Now, there was a thought -- home movies --
I stretched awake on the Sunday morning, comfortable and at peace with the world, and reached for him, as I usually do, because I like to hold him, and because sometimes we wake up a bit randy and it's wonderful to make love before you have to start the day.
The bed was empty, all I found was cool sheet, and I forced open one eye, listening for the patter of bare feet in the bathroom, or plumbing, or the kettle, or something. What I heard was a sort of plastic snap, and then a soft, rasping sound, repeated a few times, and a grunt as only Ray Doyle can make them.
I knew what the sound was, and I gave a groan. The time of reckoning was upon me, and I couldn't say I hadn't deserved it. I sat up, wearing as grouchy a face as I could manage while I was trying not to laugh, and he appeared in the bedroom door, his red robe loose about him, the bloody Nikon in his hand. Freshly loaded up with what remained of my film.
"Buzz off with that thing, Ray," I protested.
In answer he threw the battery razor at me. "My turn."
"Not if you're getting the big art book and the shirt."
"Oh, I can do without those," he shrugged, smiling. "Think I'd rather have photos, to be honest. Of you." He winked and went to loop the curtains back. "Nice bit of daylight, shouldn't let it go to waste. Want a cuppa while we set up?"
"You set up, I'll make it," I said resignedly, and then had to admit that holding still for some family photos was better than shelling out megabucks for some mouldy old prints of ancient art. Not my kind of art at all; my style was more like -- I pinched his rear as I went by him -- that.
He gave an outraged yelp and I choked off laughter. "That any way to express your devotion to your dearly beloved?" He yelled after me.
"Yup," I sang back, heading for the kitchen. "What about some toast, or do you want Shreddies again?"
"You're not wriggling out of this," he said, unexpectedly close behind me, and I felt his arms slide about me. "If I could, you can. And you're ruddy well going to. So come on. Bring the tea and stop carryin' on like it's a trip to the dentist. I mean, who's going to see the photos but us?"
He had a point. I took two mugs of tea into the bedroom and dropped my robe with a flourish... Bodies never blush.
-- THE END --