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  • Craig Messenger

Five Photographs


I


It’s an ensemble staircase shot full of juvenile mustaches, soft chins, and several index fingers raised in some apparent triumph. There’s one unavoidable, rogue middle finger. Everyone is casually but not poorly dressed, staircase included. The banister is some darkly stained oak and has a pleasing curve to it, but no one hangs on.


Staged at dead center, perhaps in a satirical sort of manner, is a chunky, rounded young man. Blonde. Red cheeks. Red forehead. Red ears. Brown eyes. Shorts. Fairly tall and with incredibly developed calves. His feet point out away from each other in a ski-long-jump type of way (that Olympic event where the flyers look like they have just the longest toenails), but the rest of him is not easily mistaken for a model of aerodynamics. Would look at ease in overalls.


Next to him is a colleague with brown hair, blue eyes. He’s on that portion of the skin color continuum where it would be impossible for him to have even the beginnings of a farmer’s tan yet he also doesn’t quite look sickly or translucent. Solidly opaque. Sharp cheekbones. Lengthy without looking dangly. Nearly perfect ears. He’s wearing more of a smirk than a smile. Not quite center stage but he could probably fit in there if he wanted to – so he probably doesn’t. Want to.


Our next character is on the stair above Chunky Country Red but he still doesn’t make it up to his eyebrows. It looks like if you were to toss this guy haphazardly in the air – which seems surprisingly doable – he would find a way to land on his feet most times. His fingers are several standard deviations longer than his frame would call for. If certain human beings had tails, he would have one. He sports the most styled hair of the group and seems destined to grow into a man that wears a medium-rise pompadour, occasional leather jacket, and well lifted shoes.


On the lower stair appears to be Chunky Country’s slimmer, athletic cousin. Same rosie cheeks but blue eyes. White hair. His mouth kind of hangs open a bit, but not too much. But a little bit. He’s never taken a sabbatical from eating apples – a stranger to orthodontics. Average height. I mean it really is like white hair. I’d recommend SPF 30 on the entire scalp as soon as the UV gets into the 4 range. Toothy smile. He’s standing askew to the camera so as to only betray one dimple. I have it on good authority that he was a simply beautiful baby.



II



The camera is at knee level, pointing down to reveal some gray carpet, medium shag. Groovy, but only just. In the foreground is some feminine landing gear – one leg dressed in an off white knee sock scrunched down to liberate the tibia, and another naked limb fully emancipated.


In the background there’s a corner double mirror multiplier effect going on, with a brass-framed closet slider abutted and orthogonalled by one of the free standing and flimsy portable types, which itself is leaning slightly, dabbling in the horizontal.


The legs are just barely apart, ankles and feet aligned in parallel excellence. The first five toes are in deep cover. The other five are unremarkable but ambushed on the backside by a lone achilles forming friends by replicating into the infinite.



III



Upfront and well lit is a short-sleeved button down hanging below neatly parted hair. The flash is on so the background is wearing the mysterious cloak of low lumens and the gleam didn’t do his denials of having albino locks any favors.


His elbows are up and out to the sides, and projecting straight towards the viewer are forearms in full vascular bloom. Both thumbs are level and pointing in at their master. The rest of the fingers are oriented as when hanging onto the edge of a swimming pool.


He’s sticking his tongue out to seal the chops, thus ballooning his cheeks to erase any dimple evidence. His eyes are wide and innocent but the flicker has turned the blue to red and if you stare into his irises for too long they start looking like there is a stuck out tongue in each of them too and that pretty much kills the purity of it all.



IV



Most of the scene is a copilot navigator in the shotgun seat with a visibly sour attitude. She’s wearing a Badlands shirt – and some collar-hung sunglasses and gravity are conspiring to make the T almost libertine.


Out the car window in zigzaggy lines slither the green streaks of fresh vegetation falling down roadside hills, in those same confused paths where the snow melted and drop by drop streamed to the bottom of a craggy descent. It’s like the Edenic version of when a girl’s face gets its own spooky, streaky lines falling down it when she gets all made up for a really nice night but the night gets sort of bent out of shape and she’s pissed and upset and can’t really help it but her mascara starts coming down, drop by drop, slowly and then faster and faster and then slowly again, and maybe even her nose is running a little bit, until the whole cosmetic scene kind of looks like those green streaks clinging to the crevices of roadside spring mountains.


But our copilot has dry eyes here, in between streakless olive skin and a sharp jawline, even while she’s pouting. At this angle the side mirror reveals only empty asphalt and maybe the roofline of a rusted old shed in tow. She has this puffy, poofing, curly, big, blonde hair absolutely everywhere – like it would take some serious maneuvering for her to get a hat on. One foot is out of sight but the other is brashly planted on the dashboard, toes still garden-variety.



V



It’s another camera flash situation, this time close up into a mirror. The background is dark and doesn’t exist. The operator is masked with a pretty Nikon, held up by confident hands, but just jutting out from the side of the film body is a cheek with the beginnings of a fine stubble and an ear that has never known a flaw.