Mark is a friend of mine through necessity rather than bond of affinity. He's a mechanic for a contractor, and we live in the same area. I gave him a ride to work when his truck got damaged when a tree fell on it. The ride was a silent one. We don't have a lot to talk about, Mark and I, but we share a commonality because he like dogs, and he's a Hermit. Mark is one of those people you can accept as he is, or you can just leave him alone. I wouldn't take money for helping him out, but his wife made him invite me to dinner, and that I did accept.
Lisa and Mark were made for each other. They have a young daughter, Donna, who has Mark sitting on the floor playing Barbies. Massive Mark, on the floor with a doll in each hand, unashamed to be caught playing with his daughter, uncaring how it looks, and totally in love with her. You have to respect that sort of thing in a man raised in South Georgia. I sat down with them and Donna explained to me that one Barbie was a schoolteacher, and the others were students. They all knew their ABC's and I think that was the first time Mark has run through the alphabet in decades. Lisa does okay, she's runs the office for a lawyer in town, and together they managed to put together enough money for Mark to buy a wrecker and pick up some money, no pun intended, on the weekends. It's the wrecker, by the way, that brought you here.
Mark called me last night and asked me if I still carried the camera with me. He's totally anti-tech. He hates computers. I told him that I did, and I knew that he knew that. He asked me if I could look at pictures that came from one of those cameras. By that, Mark means a digital. I know his wife has one, so I know this is something weird.
Mark found what was left of a digital camera in the impound yard. A man was killed in that wreck, and the camera looked a mess, so Mark just stashed it in the floorboard of his wrecker and forgot about it. Mark was cleaning the truck out last night and found it. Rather than let Lisa open the photos for him, and risk whatever might be on the card, Mark called me.
Mark looks as at home in front of a computer as Bert, who is part Husky and part Chow, would. Honestly, I think he is afraid that if touches the keyboard the thing might burst into flames and sparks would fly. As I slipped the card into the card reader and he stared at it, as if it might strike.
It's a two gig card, and it's like a movie of a man's life, taken at random times, in random places, and for reasons only he would know. The first photo is of a desk, maybe at his office, and one that desk is a crystal dust collector that he won for being a good employee. There are photos of his truck, and his house, and the work being done on it. There is tile being laid in the kitchen, and the bathroom. A sweaty woman with grey dust on her face tries to avoid being photographed. There's a shot of her face, blurred and out of focus, her hand pushing the camera away, perhaps, but she's smiling.
There are photos of a little girl, the same age as Donna, smiling, holding an etch- a- sketch up as if it's a Rembrandt. The glare of the flash reflects the light so much the picture is lost, but the little girl is still triumphant. There's a photo of some sort of civic get together. The dusty woman is no longer dusty, and the little girl is all decked out in a frilly dress, too. There's a photo of the little girl's father, no mistake here, the cheekbones and the eyes and spot on for family, and he's shaking hands with a man, and being presented with a "Award For Community Excellence" by the Chamber of Commerce. We can read the name of the man, and the town.
We now know this man's name, we know his daughter and his wife, and we know where he works, and where he lives. There are photos much like the ones I take: trees, sunsets, flowers, a brown dog with big ears, his house, his truck, his friends, and a photo taken too close up of a bug. There is one photo of a cypress stump, all covered with moss, in some creek. Mark and I talk about the other photos but we both fall silent at the photo of his daughter sleeping on the sofa, a Barbie tucked under on arm. It hurts me to see it, and I don't look at Mark. I know what he's thinking.
"That's enough." Mark whispers. I take the card out and I hand it to him without looking. I don't see him out, and he sits in his truck for a full five minutes before he leaves. Mark is going to go home tonight, but tomorrow he and Lisa head north, to deliver the last brief images to a small town with a Chamber of Commerce who lost a member, to a wife who lost a husband, and to the little girl whose daddy didn't make it home.