The Wedding Job

 

The Wedding Job

“Eugene.” My friend said as he put down all his equipment to the chair next to me. The mamak stall echoes with Bollywood songs, some I recognized, some I got in my iPod, some are just plain boring. I looked over to him as he sat himself opposite me. The mamak approached and pointed his Kilometrico pen to his notepad. I asked for ais kosong and pointed my face to my friend. He went for Milo ais.

“I just got a job yesterday.” He said, taking out his test pad. He read out the content on the page. “5th of March 2011. That’s three days from now. Are you on?”

“Sure, man. What’s the pay?” I asked. Asking for the amount is important. Who knows in the end the job was merely a charity work? My time is money, that’s what.

“Don’t worry. It’s RM 1900 including the photo book. That’s RM1100 for us,” he said, holding his glimmering glass of Milo ais as he sipped on it. “We’ll split 50-50.”

“Sounds like business.”

“Now there’s something serious I’ve got to tell you.” He put down his glass. “It’s your ex-girlfriend’s wedding.”

Reality seems to have crushed my metaphorical bone. My eyes widened. I don’t even know about that. I thought of turning down the job.

“Now don’t you even think about turning it down,” My friend seemed to read my mind. “It’s perhaps time for you to face your fears.”

I sighed.

“You got to do what you got to do.”

“Just tell me you have shortage of photographers.”

“That’s pretty much true.”

And my friend has his own way of making things worse for me. I have to hold the wide-angle. Which usually means I’ve got to get close-up to her. While she hold her man’s waist. While they affectionately tongue each other in front of my lens. Why can’t I hold the telephoto?

For three nights, I rolled around my bed, spinning my mattresses into some kind of sick, romantic vortex. Whenever I close my eyes, I see her snuggling with a man figure that I don’t even recognize. The man’s face is not what I want to see. It is the image of her that broke my heart.

                                                                       ***

I found myself sitting on the chair, parting with my dish of roti canai – half uneaten. I wiped my lens with a clean cloth, eyes staring beyond the floor. My friend was sipping his morning teh tarik as he pulled down my cloth.

“You’ve been wiping that for 15 minutes now. Stop it.”

I put away all my kits into my bag. I palmed my face and prayed to call off this job.

“This is a walk away job. Just finish the job, and walk away. You don’t have to linger around, if that makes you feel alright.”

I unpalmed my face and said, “Shut up.”

                                                                       ***

Coming out of my friend’s green Viva, I saw her. Waiting there, standing in her wedding gown, stroking her man’s hair. First impression can be fatal. I walked over to her and pulled back my face to make it seem normal.

“Hi. Long time no see.” I said, flashing my teeth in just a split second.

“Hi.” She replied. Both of us can tell that this is one of the most awkward moments of our life. The way she looked at her feet whenever she feels awkward reminds me of the first date I had with her in the KLCC Coffee Bean. The moment before I opened my mouth to tell her how much I loved her.

She did that smile of satisfaction when she heard my confession, as if she waited for it ever since she was born.

That smile could only sink my heart now.

I took out my D5000 and mounted it with wide angle. My friend caught up with me, holding the prime 50 mm. Her groom shook hands with me. I released his grip reluctantly. My friend looked at me and the clients.

“Alright, let’s do it. We don’t have all day.”

We attempted our first shot of the day. The running shot. She and her future husband ran all the way through the grassy field while I buy the time and slid down between the two of them to go in for the shot. I looked at the LCD of my camera. It was beautiful. Like the time we ran through the rain back to the hostel to avoid our curfew violation.

She was sick that night and called me up at 10.30 pm to accompany her to the clinic. I was down at the hostel by 10.35. I saw her coughing, holding on to the sweater that she hadn’t return to me since the Economics class. I held her hands to warm her up while we walked to the clinic that was placed on ‘strategic’ location – nowhere near the hostel.

Lucky for us, no one else was sick that night, so she got into the doctor’s room the moment we entered the clinic. While we waited for the prescriptions, I did my very own medical checkup on her. I put my hands around her head while I looked straight in her eyes. I pecked her mouth, all the while praying that her sickness will be gone. She would giggle and say, “I don’t think I would need the prescriptions anymore.”

Rain started to shower down on us as we walked back to our hostel. I looked at my watch, it was already 11.20 pm. The guards would ask questions if we return later than that. So I took her hand and ran all the way to our hostel.

My flashback slowly fades away, as the bride and the groom stood behind me to see what I’ve got on the back of my camera. I showed them my work, and they looked at each other and smiled. I turned off my camera and stood up.

My friend got something too. He took some candid shots and presented some of them to the clients. They showed their thumbs and smiled.

I stood on top of my friend’s Viva to capture the kissing scene from the top. I waited for the winds to blow the bride’s gown as I freeze the moment with my shutter. I jumped down and instructed them to lie down on the field as I captured another shot of them lying down, looking straight into each other’s eyes, smiling. Well, it reminded me of the time when both of us used to do it too. It was cheesy, but sweet.

We were having a picnic one day in the vast field somewhere in Putrajaya. I lied down as I stared into the sky, deciphering the clouds in the sky. I pointed at one of the clouds and said, “Look, it’s shaped like a heart.”

She would tilt her head and said, “No, that’s a kidney.”

She giggled. And she would look at me to see my response. And the flashback breaks again.

I proceed to snap some insignificant, nonsense and extremely abstract shots just to make them happy. I looked forward to end this job quickly.

So I happily suggested a final shot. A parting shot, to be exact. I wouldn’t want to see her face ever again. I imitated a shot from Louis Pang, in a lift in one of the buildings we found. I talked to the guard to let us borrow the lift for a few minutes. I set up one flash on top of the lift to let it illuminate my ex-girlfriend. I slid in the commander unit on my hot shoe.

My friend walked over to me and said, “Is it alright for the two of you to be alone in the lift?”

I looked at my friend and said,” Don’t worry, I won’t murder her.”

So I entered the lift with her and smiled to my friend and the groom. Minutes of silence. Awkward.

“I’m sorry that I left you two years ago -” She finally opened her mouth.

“No sweat about it. My life is already in shambles as it is.”

“And I’m sorry I left you on such a short notice.”

“You don’t have to explain, really,” I said, without even looking at her. I turned to her and asked her to pose under the flash.

“Now please. Act normal, be happy and get this over with.” I said, holding my D5000 to my face.

She forced an elegant look while she held her waist, exactly in Louis Pang’s work. Only, in my shot, my subject seemed a bit angry and were about to cry.

“Nice shot,” I said, and I pressed the lift button to go down to Ground Floor. I waited for another full minute of silence.

She held me back to the wall, pressing my arms and putting it on my back.

“One for the road,” She said, pressing her lips against mine, spending the full minute of silence in that lift. All the best memories of me and her rushed back to my head like never before. I can feel my head heating up.

As the door of the lift opens, she walked out cheerfully to greet her future husband. I slid my camera into the bag and shook hands with the groom to end my job for the day.

I walked out of the building with my friend and the clients. I looked at my friend as if to say, “Nothing happened.”

And he smiled.

We approached the green Viva; I looked at her for one final time and said, “Goodbye.”

This time I mean it.

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  • 1) as the story progress, i have to admit that i feel sad, as though i'm the photographer. this is very melancholic.

    anyways, i would suggest you to separate flashback scenes because it is pretty hard to differentiate. changing the font to italic might help or even put ***.

    but seriously, don't ever stop writing. love this!
  • 2) Dude,
    brilliant stuff!
    yeah, getting confused on the flashback thing.

  • (Author)
    3) i did this short story in a rush, so yeah, i forgot to arrange the flashbacks lol. it wont happen again. =P

    anyway, thx for your feedbacks, i will keep writing. =)
  • 4) this great dude, really.. keep it up!

  • (Author)
    5) thanks mosh. =)
  • 6) what I like about freddy's shorts is that they have the settings of such multicultural Malaysian elements ie the foods, Bollywood songs. I have always love reading this elements in an English piece. I'm amazed.

  • (Author)
    7) tenkiu2! =D

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