Authors: Todd Strasser
My heart sinks with sad irony. Poor Rex. By the time he woke up and did the right thing, it was too late. What a story
would make. It would be huge. A modern-day version of
Romeo and Juliet.
“Any idea?” Carla asked.
I shook my head. “Not a clue.”
She nodded slowly, as if to let me know she didn't believe me but that she accepted I had the right not to tell her. “So, I'm just curious,” she said. “What
you do with those shots?”
I gazed up at the office wall, at the photos of all those famous people. Some famous for their talent. Some famous for their hard work and diligence. Some famous for outrageous acts and wanton flouting of the laws and conventions. Some famous merely for being famous. What was the one thing most of them now had in common? They'd been forgotten. Their moment had passed. They were no longer stars. You could call them has-beens, but to me that felt mean. Mostly they were part of an infinitesimal group of people who had, for a brief time and for whatever reason, experienced something rareâreal
fame. But now they were just everyday people again. Davy once asked me if I thought it was better to be a has-been than a never was, but maybe it doesn't make all that much of a difference. In the end, people are just people, and the only things that matter are whether they are good or bad, loving or unloving, loved or unloved.
I realized that Carla hadn't said a word. She was gazing at me with a strange expression. “The shots on your camera?” she repeated in case I'd forgotten.
But, of course, I hadn't forgotten. I would never forget the crooked, unfocused imagesâthe mirror lying face up on the table. The uneven lines of white powder. Willow's reflectionâher eyes squeezed shut, bent over the mirror with a rolled-up bill pressed to her nostril.
“Erased them,” I said.
There is a boy who is confined to a wheelchair. He cannot speak or make coherent gestures, but he is smart enough to make his feelings known. Most of the time it takes very little to make him happy. Just the attention of someone who cares about him, and perhaps a chance to go outside and feel the breeze on his skin and look at the clouds.
He has an older sister who is, in many ways, your typical, self-absorbed, uncertain and searching teenager. But maybe she's been lucky. She's learned something at an early age that many people may never learn.
It is an unusually crisp, clear afternoon in New York
City. The sky is blue except for some cottony white clouds here and there. Thanks to the bright sunlight and the clarity of the air, everything seems to be in extra-sharp focusâthe feathery white edges of the clouds against the blue sky, the individual green leaves on the trees, even the cables that support the George Washington Bridge.
The boy's sister pushes him along a path in Riverside Park beside the Hudson River. She stops beside an empty bench and positions the wheelchair so that they can sit beside each other. The breeze lifts his fine hair, and the sun warms his face. They look out at the river, where a red and white tugboat pushes a barge upstream, and a small sailboat with a white sail tacks this way and that. The boy raises and drops his head in a way that makes his sister think he is trying to feel the breeze on every part of his face. She leans forward and turns to look at him. There is a crooked smile on his lips. He is overjoyed to be there, and to be with her. She places her hand over his and squeezes.
She can frame the shot in her mind. The two of them, the bench, the green trees behind them, the river before them, the clear light, the blue sky, the puffy white clouds. A beautiful shot, a singled-out moment of value to no one but them, an event that no paparazzi would ever bother to cover, concerning a young man hardly anyone knows.
But there will be no story about this moment, no photographs. No one except the two of them will ever know.
It is the best thing she can do.