SNAPSHOT It mattered little to Justin that the others might think he looked out of place wearing thick prescription sunglasses and a long scarf even with swim-wear. They had become his trademark, his badge of celebrity. Those who knew about such things would understand. "So whose idea was it to have the reunion beside the lake?" Justin's tone had grown in self importance in the ten years since school. Warm under the midday sun, he opened another beer and stuck the ring pull down into the sand. He looked around the dozen or so old classmates spread out on towels and rugs. The passing of the years had been kind to some. Others looked overweight, uncomfortable and out of place in swimwear. Not yet thirty, they had joined the ranks of those who should keep their clothes on. Mary, one of the few still well-proportioned girls answered. "It was my idea. We used to have such good times here when we slipped away from classes. I thought it was time to take our clothes off and just have some fun again." She started to sing 'Just in Time.' The words didn't come out quite right. Justin thought back to when clever little organizer Mary had just laughed when he suggested they might get to know each other better. About to say something unkind about the empty beer cans spread around her, he remembered how much he had drunk himself and said nothing. Patrick moved over to put an arm round Justin's shoulder. "Don't give up the day job Mary. We can't all be stars like my old buddy." Eyebrows were raised by those who remembered how Justin used to treat Patrick. But that was then and this was now. Patrick had put on weight and not all fat either. He no longer looked like he could be pushed around and certainly not by Justin, not anymore. Mary saw a photo opportunity. "Our Celebrity Designer and our Celebrity Photographer. I've got to get that," she said, taking out her camera. She took snapshots of the others too. "Okay, you can stop holding your tummies in now," said Mary, for most really had been holding them in. Everyone settled down to exchanging stories in the small groups and cliques so easily remembered from their school days. Patrick stuck close to Justin and pressed him about his new celebrity status. Some of the others overheard and started chanting, "Tell us Justin." Justin was happy to tell. "Celebrity has a currency of its own. Once you can get enough TV exposure, people recognize you. They tell their friends they've met you. You get paid to open things and endorse products. Folks like to see a well known face in the advert or on the packaging, someone they can trust. Celebrity is a profession just like being a lawyer or a doctor. I've got to work hard at my image. I don't ever go out without the long scarf and the dark glasses. My image is my trademark. But didn't I hear Mary say your a celebrity now too Patrick?" Patrick didn't answer. He just pointed towards Mary who was now deep in conversation with one of the other girls and gestured with his beer can to suggest it was only the drink that had been talking. It was then that someone shouted, "The old cafe's still over there and it's time for beef burgers and Pepsi." They all made a move except Justin who drew some loud and unkind comments when he asked to be excused claiming he was now a vegetarian. "That's okay," said Patrick. "I'll stay with Justin and talk about the good old days and we can keep an eye on the things." They watched the others make their noisy way along the path beside the water. Then they were alone in the quiet of the lakeside After some old stories and a few more beers, Patrick sat up straight and pointed. "There's Mary's camera. It's a real one, with film. Not a digital. Her father has a camera shop and does the prints for her. Sees every picture she ever takes." Checking no one else was near, he went over, made a few adjustments and passed the camera to Justin indicating that he should take a picture. "What will her father make of this one?" he said with a wicked grin as he turned his back to the camera, slipped his pants off, bent over and grinned at the lens now seen upside down between his legs. "Now you, Justin," he said. "Hurry, before anyone sees us." The drink had taken its toll. Giggling like a schoolgirl, Justin fell over in the warm sand several times while trying to bend over for the pose. Thinking of how Mary had once treated him, he persevered until Patrick said he had a good picture. Patrick carefully put Mary's camera back exactly where it had been. They were still laughing when the others returned, but refused to say why. After a while everyone ran out of stories, the conversation started to fade. It was time to get dressed and go. Remembering how much beer they had put away, Justin and most of the others waited for taxis. Patrick and Mary roared away on a shiny new Harley Davidson, shouting and laughing. "Patrick and Mary?" said Justin. "Oh, you have been away a long time Justin," said one of the others. "Nice bike," said Justin. "But he shouldn't be driving." "It's okay. It was the low alcohol stuff they were on. "Sure looks like he's doing well. Someone said Patrick was a Celebrity Photographer," said Justin. "Well that's a nice way of putting it. Everyone around here just calls him Paparazzi Pat." end Snapshot was First Place in the Adult Creative Writing Club, Competition No. 76, 2007.
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Copyright  Colin W Campbell A Sarawak based writer. from a sarawak based writer