Freak Of Nature
A large, strong, black coffee
Alan couldn’t wait to get home. He quickly, although carefully, packed up his equipment and quietly left the hide, walking briskly back to his estate car. As he drove along the lanes and then the main road, he smiled. ‘Wow,’ he said aloud, ‘I reckon I’ve got some crackers.’
Twenty minutes later, he had loaded four films into a developing tank, heated a pot of coffee and with a packet of ginger nuts, was ensconced in the darkroom ready to begin. When excited, he always worked ultra carefully, not wishing to wreck everything with a basic error, so he spread out the sheet before him and ensured that he followed the instructions,
‘Measure out 50cc of Developer,’ he read, ‘and add 450 cc of water at 20 degrees Centigrade.’ He did this, checking with the thermometer three times before he poured in the clear liquid and pressed the timer. As he relaxed, he picked up his mug and after a sip, opened the packet of biscuits.
Forty minutes later he was examining a roll of negatives. The safe light was dim, but sufficient to generate a chuckle, and encourage him to operate the hair dryer and ready the enlarger. It was almost an hour later when having chosen a close up view of the feeding sparrow hawk; he placed a ten by twelve inch sheet of paper into the frame.
Assured that a twenty second exposure would secure the density of print that he desired, he rocked the dish for exactly sixty seconds; then using clean tongs, he turned the paper. Within another eight seconds the image began to appear and his mouth fell open as he recognized the portrait which increased in brightness before him.
Before the timer rang, he snatched the paper from the now straw-coloured liquid and held it towards the safe light. As the developer ran back into the dish, the mouth of the face began to move.
‘Young man,’ the voice strengthened, ‘I did not train you to be the best graduate of the London College of Printing so that you could play with nature photography. You should be out in the world capturing images that will open the eyes of those that matter; cause important people to make decisions to improve the life of their fellow citizens and help bring peace to the world.’
‘But Josef …’
‘Do not Josef me. You have proved to be a disappointment, and I am here to remind you of the promise you made when you accepted your scroll. When I declared that you were the best photographer to ever leave my class, you pledged to use your talents for the good of the world.’
‘Alright Josef, what must I do?’
‘Go to Africa, seek out the places where innocent people are being abused and ill treated. Use your talents to tell the world of their plight, to bring pressure on the USA, Britain and the other major powers to intercede and work to bring about improvements.’
‘Yes, Josef, I will, I promise, I will go as soon as I possibly can.’
As his speech ended, Alan watched as the image on the paper faded and from beneath it there came a striking vision of a raptor tearing apart the flesh of a small mammal.
Extract from the Daily Telegraph, 20 March 1978
Unconfirmed reports have been received from Tanzania, that Alan Marchant, one of the most highly respected nature photographers in the world today, has been killed. Apparently, Mr Marchant, the recipient of many awards for his images, was photographing a herd of elephants in Serengeti National Park, when a bull was spooked and charged the hide from which he was seeking to obtain close up pictures of their behaviour.
His fiancée, Helena Standish, a film producer with the BBC, told our reporter that while still unconfirmed, the initial information was from a reliable source. ‘He had gone there to cover the troubles on the border, and his trip to see the elephants was meant to be a break to enable him to recharge his batteries, before he returned to the War Zone, where he was reporting for UNESCO and Save the Children.’
About the Author
Having spent the best part of thirty-five years writing reports on such subjects as ‘Provision of Caravan Sites for Travellers’ and ’Aspects of Pest Control in the Urban Environment’, Roger Noons began even more creative writing in 2006, when he completed a screenplay for a friend who is an amateur film maker. After the film was made, he wrote further scripts and having become addicted, began to pen short stories and poems. He occasionally produces memoirs and other non-fiction. He has begun to perform his poems, and has just published ’An A to Z by RLN’, an anthology of 26 short stories. He intends by the end of the year to have followed that up with a novella.
He is a member of two Writers Groups and tries his hardest to write something every day. As well as CafeLit, he has had credits in West Midlands newspapers, The Daily Telegraph, Paragraph Planet, Raw Edge and a number of Anthologies.
Roger is a regular contributor to the CafeLit site and a couple of his stories have been selected for the Best of CafeLit 2012.