Saturday, October 6, 2007

::just the other day::

a couple of days ago i was assigned to photograph a running club. they meet in the evening in the parking lot of a church and run from there. i got to the parking lot a little early and looked for the woman who was listed as my contact with the running club. didn't see her yet.

long story a little less long, there was a wooded trail off to the side of the church parking lot and i thought that perhaps the group met there and ran on the trail. walked to the edge of the parking lot. looked down the trail, around the bend, and into the woods. there was a little altar there (a prayer circle, they call it). the altar was tucked back in the woods and there were two rustic benches facing the altar.

a man was sitting on one of the benches. he was facing the altar. though i was still a good distance away from him, he noticed me almost instantly. he turned around.
"you can come back here and check it out," he said.
"i was actually just looking for someone," i replied.
"come on back," he said.
it looks cool and there might be a picture there, i thought, so i wandered back.

the man, dressed in all black, had backed his car in beside the altar. couldn't see that from the trail head. he introduced himself and shook my hand. told me that he sometimes comes back here to pray.

"are you a member of the church here?" i asked him. he told me that he wasn't...he wanted to join a religious community but found that many of them didn't want outsiders. he was very strict and stiff in his movements and his voice was tense. struck me as if he was playing a role or something.

"i guess it is strange that i drove my car back here," he said and looked at me for conformation.

"i don't know, i've never been back here," i replied.

"i guess most people don't drink beer while they are praying," he said, motioning towards the big fosters oil beer can propped next to him on the bench. "i do magic," he said, "i am a magician. want me to show you a magic trick?"

"actually, i work for the newspaper and i have to go meet people for an assignment," i said.

"it'll only take a minute," he said. so i agreed. god forbid i be rude, right? he walked over to his car and opened the driverside door and the back door behind that. pulled out a handkerchief that was tied around some stuff. put the package on the roof of the car and asked me to come see the magic trick.

"i'm good right here," i said, feeling silly about the fact that i winced every time he turned his back to me to get something from the car because i was afraid of what he'd turn around with. he pulled out a small jar with a black dice with white dots in it. he unscrewed the top of the jar and pointed it at me me. i winced.

"normal top?," he asked. i nodded.

he pointed the jar at me. i winced.

"normal jar?" i nodded.

"watch the dice," he said, twirling the dice in front of me between his fingers. i pretended to watch the dice, but watched the man instead. "you are actually being hypnotized by the dice." kept asking me to come closer.

"i'm fine," i assured him.

after the dice twirling was finished, he put it in the jar, closed the top, did something to the jar and the dice broke into tons of smaller die, this time white with black dots.

"cool, i gotta go meet these people," i said.

"this is just for children," he said, "if i showed you my real tricks you'd be really scared," he said. i began to walk away. "you seem like a nice girl," he said, "now that i've showed you my magic trick, don't tell the pastor that i am back here." this was the second time he'd said for me not to tell the pastor he was there. the first time, i thought he was kidding. this time, i wasn't sure. i left. i met the running club, shot my assignment, and went back to the office to file. told a fellow photog about the incident and was advised to call the church. i called them. they called the police.

in almost a year of working in this county i'd never been to this church before that day. then i indirectly called the police on a man who might have been harmless. might have been a serial killer. might just have been a normal guy on a crappy day. who knows?

that was thursday. my assignment two days later was to photograph the blessing of the animals ceremony in that same prayer circle. this is a pic from that shoot.

normally, i am very trusting. i think that makes me better at my job. but still, we go into people's homes, into buildings, fields, the woods, whereever, armed with nothing but an assignment, camera equipment, our gut instincts, and a cell phone. just something to think about...

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