Past Imperfect

Past Imperfect – #341

Velma was troubled.

It was bad enough that this was the anniversary of the day her beloved was cruelly ripped from her life, the result of a tragic plumbing accident that no one saw coming. It was even worse that Velma, on a simple quest to procure a sloe gin fizz, had made a wrong turn and found herself in the very room where she had learned that methane gas was a silent killer.

Velma paused to reflect at the fireplace, the provider of those warm, cheery flames that had been the focus of so many beautiful evenings, until that horrid night when the peaceful glow had rudely ignited gasses that shouldn’t have been wafting nearby. She studied the matching chairs, once occupied by her and her lover as they giggled mischievously and made the servants run fetch things that neither of them really wanted. She even contemplated the early prototype of a paper shredder, placed lovingly next to the erstwhile throne of her departed.  (It was really just an art-deco marble box wherein they tossed incriminating papers, which were then retrieved by the tormented staff so they could cut the documents up with scissors. Progress sometimes takes tiny steps.)

Yes, Velma had suffered many losses. But since she was currently unable to locate any alcohol to numb her grief, she suddenly had an epiphany of clarity, and she decided it was time to retake control of her life. She took a deep breath, held her head high, and approached the photographer who was sitting just out of view, tapping away on his laptop.

Velma: “Picture Man?”

Photographer, all snooty: “I am Girard. I do not merely take pictures, I capture the essence of life. Praise me.”

Velma: “How interesting. But before we get to the praising part that will most likely not happen, I do have a question for you.”

Girard: “You are doubting my transcendent skills?”

Velma: “I don’t think doubt is the right word. I’m leaning more toward the word conviction that you are a twat. What’s up with the weird little photo effect you used to mock my grief?”

Girard: “It is not of the mocking. I am trying to represent your shattered existence.”

Velma: “Well, it looks like you are trying to send a braille message to Helen Keller. “

Girard: “This Helen of Keller. Does she write for the newspapers? Will she make me more famous than I already am?”

Velma: “I highly doubt it, but dream away if you must. Before you do, though, let’s take another photo. One that is less arty and doesn’t imply that I’m a heroin addict trying to claw my way into Valentino’s tomb. Can you manage that?”

Girard: “Managing that, as you say, requires my fee to increase. I am Girard.”

Velma: “No, you are Felix from Hoboken who happened to trend on social media during an otherwise boring Tuesday through no merit of your own. I can snuff out your career with one single post to my 4 billion followers. Would you like to see that play out?”

Felix: “No madam. That is not something I relish. Perhaps we could start afresh?”

Velma: “Oh, we’ve already started. Now, turn off all those filters and let’s take a picture that actually captures what I am instead of what people think I should be.”

Previously published. Slight changes made. Yes, I know that last line veers off unexpectedly and doesn’t quite gel with the preceding bit, but I like the food for thought in this age of social media…

Special shout-out to Angie and Lynette, with whom I had a conversation on the previous post that triggered my memory of other photos in my archived stories that have this same Helen-Keller braille overlaying the images…

19 replies »

    • Hackensack? Did I know this? Probably. (My brain cells have not been cooperating lately. And by lately, I mean the last several years.) Anyway, this revelation (or reminder) has me envisioning a story series: “The Adventures of Leggy Peggy at the Hackensack Snack Shack”. You’re the most popular of the roller-skating waitresses, and one day a mysterious blue car pulls into one of the slots….

      Liked by 2 people

  1. I am assuming you mean the moire pattern that makes it look like things are covered in a sheer plaid. Especially in tour last post. Douglas and Mary looked like they were dressing alike. Often caused by the reproducing of previously printed photos that have already been broken into dots. That’s the graphic designer in me talking. The layman in me would probably blame it on substance abuse.

    Liked by 4 people

    • I had no idea about the moire pattern being a possible result of reproducing. I have quite a few of these photos in my “inspiration” folder, but I use them sparingly because that effect often throws people off and the clever banter (at least in my mind) in the story is completely ignored. 😉

      I briefly considered a career in graphic design, even taking a few non-credit classes here and there as exploration, but I kept getting hung up on the type and not the image. It was the same way when I worked on yearbooks during my high school and college years. We could come up with stunning layouts, but I would whine about the wording in the captions. Many conversations often ended with someone saying, “Look, you just sit over there and write the copy and we’ll take care of the rest, okay?”….

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Someone (not you dear writer) forgot to put a white layer UNDER the pixelated (fancy word for Braille or dot infested appearing background) photo before they flattened the image is all. I could show off what I mean IF WP weren’t so damned mean and didn’t bar a girl from flying her ‘artistic’ skills high. Or maybe Velma was right and Girard (spelling faux pas mon ami – isn’t it Gerard with one of those weird little accent marks on the “e”? I call that snooty indeed!) Girard had been illicitly dipping into substances that ought to be used in the privacy of one’s own home. Especially if someone is acutely aware of their status on certain social media sites. Bravo!

    Liked by 3 people

    • I think everyone has been dipping, in a number of ways. That’s why this country is burning down as we speak.

      Whoops, that sounded a bit apocalyptic rather then the intended jocularity. Oh well.

      As for Girard, I purposely used that “i” instead of “e”, as self-proclaimed artistes often do such with their monikers, assuming that it gives them a special flair. It does not. It just looks like they don’t own a dictionary.

      Random note triggered by self-proclaimed monikers: Did I ever mention that, back in my budding days as a I writer, I wanted to go by the pen name of Gregory Bryan? It’s a flip and twist on my own two given names. This is not important at all, but I feel that you will appreciate the revelation in some way… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

    • You know, I now rue the fact that I didn’t explore the fireplace further with my story. I was originally content with the vague “Valentino tomb” reference, but it no longer satisfies me. I’ll have to come up with something for the eventual revision, because we all know there will be one… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh dear… with all the shiny unidentifiable objects and the dots swirling around that barren room, I’m feeling a bit woozy. Might there be some other gas floating around the room?

    I recall from my Turbulent Teens a little vial of liquid that one inhaled the fumes for a “Rush”, but it just made one’s face red, heart beat fast, and gave one a headache.

    Be a dear and have someone fetch a Fainting Couch for me. I feel the need to artfully drape my limbs in a reclining position.
    Oh, and Do send Velma and her PictureMan away… they’re tediously dotty.😘

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Ah yes, I remember those days of amyl nitrate. And the brief euphoria it triggered, especially on the dance floor in a gay bar. (I can’t tell you how many times I raced out and bought a record the next day, convinced that it was the greatest song, ever, only to discover that I didn’t really like it all that much without the Rush.)

    But if I tried that mess today? I would have an anxiety attack and be flat-lining on the floor. Geez. We were stupid, then. But we had fun!

    Still and all, I’ll make room for you here on the Fainting Couch. We’ll get comfortable and watch something cheesy but satisfying on Netflix…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yep, that’s the Hoboken I was referencing. I’ve never been there, either, although I’ve been close. I used to travel there a lot when I worked for Verizon, for conferences and such. (They have a major corporate office in Basking Ridge.)


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