Charlie struggled to get to his feet, but dropped to his knees. There was no strength left in his legs. Get up! He made an effort to rise. You’re going to make it to the trailer even if you have to crawl. You can do this. He struggled to get up like he had a million times before in therapy, falling and getting to his feet again and again. Finally, he stood and steadied himself. He looked at the semi-conscious man lying on the ground. “I’m sorry, buddy. You’re going to be fine now. Hang in there. Help is on the way.” He staggered towards the old highway and the trailer, putting one foot firmly in front of the other. His body ached and his leg dragged. Keep going, Charlie. “Point, push off, step.” He muttered the words repeatedly, moving one foot at a time towards the familiar dirt driveway. Every bit of his strength depleted, he kept going. He could hear the sirens behind him as the halo of light from the trailer came into view. Throwing his body against the side of the trailer in exhaustion, he unlocked the door and tumbled into the warm, well-lit room. Frantic, he glanced around. Betty was curled up in her favorite place on the living room cushions, fast asleep. She went there when she was afraid, when the memories failed. He let out a deep sigh of relief. Thank you, God. * * * Several weeks passed. Otis, their closest neighbor, usually brought over his newspaper after he’d read it, but he’d been on vacation when the car flipped, so Charlie never had a chance to check the newspaper to see if the man lived or died. By the time Otis returned and Charlie got a paper again, there had been no mention of the accident. Not a day went by that he didn’t wonder about the guy in the car. He’d felt so conflicted that night, leaving the man behind, but he’d heard the sirens coming and Betty needed him. His love for her outweighed the fate of a stranger. His only thought had been to get back to her. There was nothing further he could have done for the man, but Betty…. Charlie had run a million scenarios over in his mind on his way to the trailer that night. What if she found a way outside like she had in the past? In that nasty weather, she would have easily frozen to death. Or she might have tried to cook dinner and started a fire again or left the water running in the tub. Even though he’d child-proofed the house, there were a million other ways she could get hurt. He had thanked God he’d arrived to find her sleeping. Without a television or radio, the paper was Charlie’s only link to the outside world. His networking links exhausted, it was now his only chance for work. Charlie was the only bread winner and since the accident, there had been no money coming in at all. With the instability of contract work, he’d gambled that nothing would happen to him until he was in a position to afford insurance. Poor decision. It had taken six months for him to walk and another six to regain his strength. The hospitalization and recovery took every cent they had. He sold off things little by little. First to go was his truck. Then they lost the house they’d bought shortly after they were married. He took shortcuts in his care—coming home early from the hospital, practicing the steps he learned in rehabilitation at home rather than going back for therapy, no follow-up doctor visits. Still, the costs continued to mount. If it wasn’t required, they did without. Otis had kept them going. He never said anything, just dropped the paper and some cans of soup on the doorstep and left before there’d been time to thank him. Charlie tried to stretch the food they had, making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch and soup for dinner. Portions he could have normally easily eaten himself, he now shared with Betty. 14
His stomach growled. He’d given her the lion’s share of the soup tonight. He glanced over at her sleeping. She looked so peaceful. She slept quite a bit now, giving him the opportunity for some time to himself. Charlie propped his bad leg on the ottoman and stared at the front page, then hurriedly flipped through the paper. He always looked at the job section first. Please, God, let there be work. He scanned the print, searching each line. Nothing. His heart sank. Weeks and weeks of no leads. Charlie stared at the newspaper. He’d tried to keep up his confidence, but constant disappointment had now eaten away at his reserves. Not one job. For the first time, he felt truly beaten. A wave of overwhelming depression overcame him. He let the paper fall to his lap, dropped his head onto his hands and began to quietly weep. What am I going to do? We need groceries, but there’s no money left. There’s no one left to beg for a job. I’ve exhausted every lead in town. He squeezed his eyes shut to stop the tears, but desperation and despair racked his body. He strained to control any sounds that might wake Betty. All hope was gone. Every week it’s the same thing, he thought. No jobs, no leads, no money. What’s left for me? I’m a washed up old man no one wants. If only there was a light at the end of the tunnel. But Charlie couldn’t see any light. Right now he felt as though he was staring into an endless black pit. All the fight in him was gone. He lifted his head and stared at the figure sleeping on the cushions. Suddenly, he rose and went to the trailer door, stepped barefoot into the snow and strode to the center of the front yard. Free to let go of all the pent up emotion from the last several months, he raised his right arm in defiance and shook his fist at God. “This is me, God. Charlie Reardon. Do you hear me?” he screamed out into the frigid night air. “I’m done. If this is a test, I quit!” he cried with every ounce of anger and frustration that dwelled within him. “You win, God! I can’t do this anymore. Do you hear me? I’m done! You do with me whatever you want.” Charlie dropped to his knees, his body racked with sobs. He cried until there were no tears left. Then he curled into a fetal position, oblivious to the freezing cold night air. Emotionally exhausted, he lay there for several moments, hugging his body and rocking back and forth. “Charlie?” Betty stood in the doorway. Charlie leapt to his feet and hobbled across the icy snow to the trailer. “It’s okay, darlin’. I’m here.” “What are you doing out there, Charlie?” “Nothing, Betty. Nothing. Come on, let’s get you back inside.” He guided her back into the trailer, locking the door securely behind him. Then he curled up next to her on the cushions, pulling the bulky quilt over their bodies and wrapping his arms securely around her for protection. * * * The next morning, Charlie awoke to a knocking. He rose quickly and threw open the trailer door. “Charlie Reardon?” “Yes.” “Thank God! I’ve been searching for you.” Charlie’s eyebrow arched. “Do I know you?” The man laughed, extending his arm to grab Charlie’s. “John Martin,” he said, pumping Charlie’s hand up and down. “I am so glad to meet you. More than glad, I’m thrilled.” “I don’t understand.” “I’m sorry. I guess I’m forgetting my manners,” the man said. “It’s just that I’m so excited I’ve finally found you.”
This has been a popular image that frequently brings a smile to people’s faces. This is a cow moose (above) shaking pond water from her massive head. They are often thought of as rather goofy looking creatures and catching her in mid-shake only accentuated her silliness. This large mammal is a resident of Baxter State Park. I like to visit the park for hiking and photography and have summited its tallest peak, Katahdin, numerous times. This image as well as the Munjoy Moon image often elicit the question, “How long did it take you to get that shot?” I’ve probably been asked that question 85 times, and it always strikes me as a funny question to ask ,and in fact, the wrong question. I say that because it exposes a misconception about my process. I don’t typically preconcieve a shot and then wait for it to occur. The shot and I meet each other halfway spontaneously. And so my answer could be that it took 1/250 of a second (the shutter speed) or that it took 40 some years.
play guitar and bass. I often draw parallels between music and photography. Particularly, recording music. I was born in New York City and lived in New York state, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, before my family moved to Maine in 1980. I attended the University of Maine in Orono studying mechanical engineering. While I did earn a four year degree, I never really entered the field. I preferred to play in a band, and I held a series of odd jobs to pay the bills throughout my 20s and 30s. An injury pushed me out of the working world for a few years but bought me some time to go deeper into photography. I’m now selling primarily the images I created in those years, and this has been my reemergence into the working world and ultimately self sustainability. People often tell me that I have a good eye. I think my sense of composition is perhaps one of my gifts. I don’t really use any formula or thought process to compose an image. It’s really just a very naturally flowing process that happens almost without thought. I captured this image (below) of a lobsterman on his boat in Southwest Harbor, Maine in August 2007. It’s one of the few 35mm film shots that I currently sell. Most of my other work is digital. I was on a dock with my camera shortly after sunrise when a kind stranger happened by and offered to take me out around the harbor in his little skiff. My internal reaction was resistance, but I found myself saying, “Sure.” This picture has a magic to it, and I’m grateful that he was kind enough to reach out to me and I was open enough to say yes. The sunlight through the fog was just enough to create a strong reflection but not so much to bring on strong colors and contrast. The misty backdrop was perfect.
I do a fair amount of still life fruits and vegetables. I don’t know why other than the fact that I find them beautiful. Some shots I get at farmers’ markets others are just at my home with some diffused light source. This image of blueberries (above) seems to really catch people’s attention, and I get a lot of comments about it. I’ve done photography since childhood. I always liked to draw pictures long before I picked up a camera. I think I’m just an extremely visual person, and I’m always noticing how amazing things look. If photography were not an option, I’m sure I’d be a painter, and perhaps I will pick up the brush someday. Sometimes I feel that it would be better to merely observe and not concern myself with capturing. Perhaps that’s a topic for another time. In addition to being a visual artist I am also a musician. I primarily 18
through the kitchen toward the patio. She stood before the door, enjoying a brief summer breeze as it sifted through the screen. She saw her husband floating in the pool but no sign of Connor. “Connor?” she tried, but the only response she received was a number by Beethoven. She glanced at the radio and frowned. Only a pansy could stand that crap, she thought. “Whatever,” she said. “Hey Richard. Did Connor come out here?” Richard didn’t bother waking to answer her. “Yoo hoo! Hey, useless! You see our son anywhere?” He remained unresponsive. “Humph,” Kim grunted. Agitated, she stormed back into the house to search for Connor. * * * The CD inside the radio switched to another song. The sound of Beethoven’s Grave—Allegro Ma Non Troppo poured from the speakers, and as the music began, a large cloud drifted in front of the sun, causing a dreary shadow to envelope the entire back yard. Connor was getting hot underneath the table and welcomed the shade. He felt lucky that his mother hadn’t seen him and was relieved to see her disappear back into the house, but he knew he had only a few minutes before she came back looking for him. Happy to have a moment to himself, he continued eating. The song on the radio sounded beautiful to young Connor’s ears, and soon he forgot all about his mother and all his attention wondered toward the radio. It was the small portable one that his father usually kept in the garage. Connor wasn’t sure why his dad brought it out here, but he was glad he did. When Richard tinkered around in the garage, he liked to listen to Country Western music. The upbeat melodies kept him feeling good and eager to get more work done. Connor didn’t like that kind of music. It was boring, and each song sounded the same as the last. But this music, whatever it was, captivated his young mind. Connor dropped the bag of chips and crawled out from under the table. He approached the radio as though he might actually be able to capture a glimpse of what the music looked like if he got close enough to its source. He could see the stereo had two speakers, one on either side, a cassette deck in the middle, and a CD player on top. A long extension cord ran from the back of the radio to an outlet on the side of the house. Words were written on the face of the radio, but Connor couldn’t read them. Curious to learn more, he reached up and grabbed the radio. The CD inside skipped when he pulled it down, and it bounced to another track. Instantly unsatisfied with the new song spitting from the speakers, Connor shook the radio hoping to make it play the last song again, but the CD inside rattled out of place and the music stopped. With little patience left, little Connor began to cry. Under normal circumstances, Connor’s tears brought Mom and Dad to his aid, ready to kiss his wounds and answer his tiny questions, but not today. Connor forgot that his father was asleep in the pool and that his mother was somewhere in the house looking for him. He stopped crying the second he remembered how angry his mother would be once she found him. He knew he couldn’t search for her, not unless he wanted to deal with a scolding. So he decided he needed to wake his father. Maybe good old dad could fix the radio. The gentle current pulled Richard along in his tube, circling him around the pool’s edge. Connor carried the radio over to the water’s edge and waited for his father to drift over. “Daddy,” cried Connor as he waved the radio out in front of him. “Daddy!” Unconscious from exhaustion, Richard didn’t hear Connor’s cries. Connor tried again, this time a little louder. “Daddy!” He shook the VOL 7, ISSUE 8
radio harder, hoping the commotion would wake Richard, but his small hands were no match for the radio’s girth, and the machine slipped from his grip and splashed into the water. Richard yelped like a scared dog just before it gets smeared into the road by a tractor trailer. His eyelids shot wide open and his teeth clenched together, cracking one of the molars hard enough to be heard from where Connor stood. “Daddy?” Rigid and shaking, Richards arms shot out to his sides. His legs jutted out of the water with the toes of his feet contorted inward at an insane angle. Connor stuck his finger in his nose and watched as Richard’s body twisted and lurched like a worm on the end of a hook. After a moment, the breaker in the basement popped, blowing the fuse for the outlet on the side of the house. Richard’s feet kicked a few more times, working out the last of the electricity left within his nerves. He slumped down inside his float, his head hanging backward, dangling into the water. His eyelids drooped down, half covering the vacant look in his eyes. Confused, Connor called out to his father again. “Daddy?” But Richard drifted along, saying nothing. The current pulled Richard, bringing him closer to the patio. Hoping to wake his father, Connor reached out to grab the float so he could shake it. He placed one hand on the slippery surface of the float and used the other hand to steady himself on the patio. He pushed down making the float bounce in the water. “Silly Daddy. Wake up sleepyhead.” It was no use. Agitated, Connor shook the float as hard as he could. “Wake up wake up wake up.” Nothing. He rocked the float harder. “Wake up, wake up, wake up.” The man wouldn’t open his eyes. Connor pulled the float to the pool’s edge and placed both hands on the slippery surface. “Daddy,” he wailed as his movements grew more agitated. Connor’s weight pushed the float further into the pool, drawing it farther from the patio’s edge, and Connor soon found himself using the tips of his toes to try and pull the float toward him again, but to no avail. The momentum had taken over. His feet slipped off the patio and the lower half of his body fell into the water. He kicked and screamed, holding onto the float with all his might, wondering why his dad wouldn’t wake up to help him. The tiny muscles in his hands writhed in pain as he searched for something—anything to grab a hold of—but there was nothing solid to grab, and little Connor Stevens slipped into the water. He stared up in shock as he sunk farther and farther from the float. There are many peaceful ways for the living to leave this world, and Death carries with it an arsenal of tools necessary to get the job done: a brain aneurism, old age, a car crash, or a fall from a very high place. Even a bottle of pills can carry someone off into the next world while the victim lies unconscious and unaware. Unfortunately for little Connor Stevens, water was one of Death’s more cruel mistresses. Drowning victims suffer for several horrible seconds, knowing full well that the end result is their ultimate demise. Instinctively, Connor inhaled to try to fill the void his lungs. The intake of the water was painful, making his chest feel as though it would explode. Even at the age of three he knows he wouldn’t make it, and his mind lurched at the thought. Flickering lights shimmered within his darkening reality. They were the most beautiful thing he had ever seen. The lights calmed him and cradled his mind in their delicate glow. A brief anxiety hit him. He knew the lights were the last thing he would ever see, but before the madness swept away the beauty of the moment, the moment ended. * * * Dozens of toys cluttered the floor of Connor’s room. A half-eaten