Saturday, 31 December 2011


Everyone had taken their places and it was time to begin; I took the first photo. I knew we had a limited amount of time to get it right, and impinging on His time would inevitably be deemed disrespectful. Never unnecessarily annoy the subject; I had learnt that the hard way. The room had been all hustle and bustle but, now that we had officially begun, the noise and commotion of my colleagues had suddenly gone. Refocusing the lens and rearranging a disciple or two, I took another photo. And another. Shooting the dinner took a comparatively short time and, having dismissed my crew and cleared up the equipment, I bade goodbye to the men in front of me.

Outside in the cool night air, my co-workers shuffled off into the darkness as I called my editor. Barely a second passed before Evonne answered.
"Lucian! I've been waiting to hear from you all evening. How did it go? Did you manage to get what we discussed? Have we got exclusivity..?"
"Calm it Evonne, I'm in control here. Firstly, it went well, thank you for your concern. Secondly, yes we got all that we needed. Finally, I managed to get exclusivity but mainly because no other bugger seems to have picked up this story."
"That" she declared triumphantly "is because I am a fucking genius. Meet me in twenty minutes at the usual place." and promptly hung up.

After twenty-five minutes, I was waiting for Evonne to arrive. Ten minutes later, she careered into sight across the horizon, a whirlwind of cigarette smoke and coffee fumes.
"Darling" she called across the hillside "you're an absolute saviour." Collapsing beside me she asked "Does anyone know you're here? If Hanna knows, her team her going to have a field day. I bet they think I'm insane."
"No-one knows. Still." I replied, thoughts racing, taking a drag on her cigarette.
"I was pretty sceptical about it at first, I must admit." she said, as though she wasn't really listening to me. "But if you got what we agreed to, there's a story in it. That trouble at the temple the other day was such a good lead. Hanna should have been in on it. She's too busy with global affairs now to realise that some of the locals think the Messiah is on their sodding doorstep."
"It's going to get bigger; huge, if tonight was anything to go by." I took a deep breath. "I'm going to lay my offer out, and you can take it or leave it but we haven't got much time. All I ask is that you remember that your job is on the line here. All the big stories since you became editor in chief have been absolute flops, and working with you could be professional suicide for me." She stopped examining the bottom of her conglomerate coffee shop latte and started scrutinising my face.
"I know exactly what you're going to say, but I'm listening." she said reluctantly.
"After tonight's shoot and before coming here, I waited outside for a while and had a listen to what was actually going on at this dinner." She raised an eyebrow, but I continued. "He'd been so bloody secretive during the shoot; I'm surprised we managed to convince Him to even agree to it in the first place. Anyway, to cut a long story short, He predicted that one of His followers is going to betray Him. You remember that He requested delayed publication, that he didn't want the photos to come out til next week?"
 "Yes.." she replied, hesitantly.
 "That," now it was my turn to be triumphant "is because He knows that He'll be dead by then." Evonne's eyes widened and the remainder of her coffee disappeared down the hill. I was well aware of her stance on investigative journalism, that she deemed it uncivil and unprofessional. But I also knew that she was in the shit, that her job was hanging in the balance, and that she needed a ground-breaking story to keep her head above water. This was different. He wouldn't give us what we were after, but I knew I could get it anyway. She had finally relinquished; she'd been led into temptation.

Leaving Evonne on the hillside, I made my way to the garden. Judy and the Elders arrived shortly after, and I got my photo. Kiss, click. The next twenty four hours were the most intensive hours I had ever spent on the job; the trials lasted through the night and into the early morning. I suppose I shouldn't complain, but the hill was steeper than I'd imagined, and carrying all my equipment up there after a sleepless night was no mean feat. 

By four o'clock, I was in Evonne's office. Her initial enthusiasm, which had been even more colourful than her usual monologues, had died abruptly. Her coffee was left to go cold, her cigarette had burnt itself out. After flicking through all of the photos, she sighed and leant back in her chair.
"Some of these photos are absolutely beautiful, Lucian." she said slowly, her eyes staying focused on the screen. "Really, quite astonishing. And sad. Very sad."
"Can you make a story out of it, that's the question?" I said, attempting to make eye contact. After quite a long pause, she looked at me and said "This is not a story. This is The Story."

The task for this piece was to start with a photograph. My dad came up with the idea of writing a story involving photographs that had never been - of a famous event that had occurred before photography. Not everyone gets what this is about, and I'd be interested to see who does; let me know if you do! Have a good new year ladies and gents.

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