A tiny brass bell jingled as Jimmy walked through the door of the pawn shop alerting a small man bent over a glass display case that a new customer had just arrived. "Can I help ya?" croaked the gravelly voice through whiskey and cigarette cured vocal chords.
"I'm looking for a camera," said the young man whose bright eyes broadcast the excitement he felt as he closed in on making a life long dream come to reality. Without looking up from the case, the old man pointed a crooked, bony finger toward a shelf in a far corner. "Thanks," came a cheerful reply.
As he neared the shelf Jimmy's head swam with confusion at the choices that lay before him. Cameras of every size and shape. Simple point and shoot types. Polaroids. Complex digitals with so many buttons and dials, he wouldn't know where to start.
Then he saw it. Old and dusty but gleaming of chrome and black. It beckoned him. He knew this was the one. As he picked it up a light shock jolted him like the strong tingle of anticipation. There was a connection he had never felt before. He was suddenly empowered, but didn't know why.
"How much for this one?" he asked the bent figure of a man.
"Oh, that one I'll sell for cheap, just to get it out of here," he coughed out. "Even throw in a roll of film. Just be careful."
Satisfied with his new purchase but wondering what the old man had meant about being careful, Jimmy set off to play with his new toy and test his eye as a photographer.
Jimmy chose random subjects: a young girl in a brightly colored dress, happily swinging on a park's swing set; a teenage boy living his LeBron James fantasy on the basketball court; a couple kissing under the glow of a street lamp; a cherry orchard in full blossom; and a puppy playfully chasing its tail. As he took the shots he felt excitement, he couldn't wait to see the results of his photo excursion. Jimmy immediately took the camera and his film to a photo processor and anxiously waited like a child on Christmas morning.
When he went to pick up his photos, the clerk didn't said a word to Jimmy. She just gave him the photos, took his money and rushed away. Jimmy thought nothing of it and ran off to view his work.
Once home, Jimmy carefully removed the photos from the envelope to unveil his masterpieces. One by one he began to review his work. His smile quickly faded. The images he remembered were no where to be found. The people had aged. It was the girl on the swing but she was naked and swinging from a pole in a darkly lit room. His basketball player was on the court - with a needle in his arm. The couple was no longer in love as evidenced by her beaten and swollen face and his drunken, open mouth scream. The beautiful trees now only a desolate parking lot. Even the playful puppy was a lonely dog waiting for death behind the bars of a local pound.
Jimmy recognized his subjects, but not what the camera had seen. He was disturbed beyond belief. Crushed. He grabbed his camera and headed back to the pawn shop where he handed the camera back to the gnarled hands of the shop's owner and said, "It was just more than I could handle".
The shop owner cocked his head, looked at Jimmy and spat, "That's what the last guy said."