Being so near to Halloween I’ve had scary thoughts floating around in my head. So when Brandon Ide contacted me about doing a photo story together I couldn’t resist. You can check out The Ides Photography Blog and see his amazing photos for yourself.
Brandon’s photo of The Auction House Cafe inspired the following tale.
The Last Photo
– Photo by Brandon Ide – Story By H.S. Deurloo – Edited by Andrew Newton –
Bill sipped his coffee, sitting on the same bar stool he frequented every morning since he was seventeen. He’d been the auction assistant back then, back when his hands were unwrinkled and his eyes could see more than his own reflection. He frowned into his mug. The Auction House Cafe’s dynamics had changed over the fifty years but not the appearance. The same pistachio green block walls, flickering fluorescent lights, open bar and thirteen stools still provided the place with its own eclectic ambiance. Bill stared at the corner-mounted TV, watching the colors dance, unable to see the images through his hazy eyes. Bill heard the jingle of the door announcing a new customer.
“Auction tonight, Bill,” the cook said from behind the horseshoe shaped counter. The cook had taken ownership of the auction house and cafe eight months ago, and things had gotten sloppy. The cook had moved slaughtering operations into the tiny kitchen space, and Bill often saw the floor mopped poorly before auction nights.
Bill nodded. “I’ll be there. 8pm again?” He asked.
The cook looked at the new patron, a young man carrying a fancy camera, and said, “Yes, that’ll do.”
“Do?” Bill asked.
The cook only chuckled, and Bill wished he could see the expression on his face better. Bill rubbed his eyes. If only he could afford cataract surgery. He couldn’t even see the beef cuts he was auctioning laying on the table in the back of the hall anymore. Thankfully, he could still see the hands that went up during the bidding.
“Thanks for the coffee,” Bill said, heading toward the door. He looked for the young man to say a friendly country hello, but he was gone, with his omelette half-eaten and his camera still on the counter. Turning, Bill asked, “Where’d he–” but only saw an empty room. Shrugging, he blamed his bad eyes and let himself out the front door, making the familiar walk back to his farmhouse just up the dirt road.
Bill returned at eight and could see about a dozen people sitting around the auction stand, ready to begin.
“What’re the cuts tonight?” Bill asked the cook.
“Two legs, a chest, two arms, and the odds,” the cook said. “Oh, and a camera too.”
“I won’t sell your personal stuff,” Bill scowled. “And when’re you gonna learn how to make real cuts of beef, like ribs, loins, and roasts?”
The cook chuckled, patting Bill on the back and leading him to the auction stand, away from the cuts on the back table. “Just do your job, Bill, that’s all I need. Wouldn’t want to find yourself unemployed now, would ya?”
Bill nodded, feeling the cooks meaning like a slice to the chest. Bill cleared his throat, his voice was the only thing time had not taken from him, and began the auction.
“Nice pair of legs for ya tonight. Who’ll givemea bid? Start at ten, thank you, now twenty, fifty sir that’s you. Fifty five to the lady in the back. Who’ll do sixty? The lady needs those legs gents, who’ll gimme sixty? Going once, twice… pair of legs sold to the lady in red. Next up, one fancy camera.” Bill held the camera up by the strap.
“Does it work?” a gruff voice from the front asked.
Bill fumbled with the buttons, seeing the screen flip on and display a photo of the outside of the Auction House Cafe. Holding the camera up to show the crowd, Bill said, “Last shot taken, works like a dream.”