A Cure for the Common Curse
by Steve Lazarowitz
One day I turned around and found Lisa sitting in life’s back seat. I don?t really know how she got there, but I can say she’s made it one helluva trip.
I rarely have use for trees or growing things but that night was an exception. This particular tree had everything I needed?a number of low branches making it easy to climb, an unimpeded view of the bedroom window, and enough distance from the street to make it unlikely anyone would spot me.
I clutched my Nikon SLR tightly, knowing if it dropped I couldn?t easily replace it. The telephoto lens made it front heavy and its safety was never far from my mind. My own safety, by contrast, was never of much concern to me. Sooner or later my occupation would be the death of me, so there was no use worrying about it.
I used the telephoto lens as a telescope and kept the camera pointed toward the bedroom. I didn?t look away much. That’s how you miss things, and this was one shot I didn?t want to miss.
I had wedged myself carefully between branches, so I didn?t need my hands to hold on. I needed them to steady the camera though, which was heavier than its digital counterparts, but for some uses you still can?t beat 35 mm. This was one of them.
Digital images are too easily tampered with, and thus not accepted by most judges. An actual photo could be altered too but not as easily. As I waited (and waited and waited), I reviewed everything I knew about the case.
Evan Snider had approached me a couple of weeks ago with suspicions his wife was cheating on him. After a look at her photo and another at him, I could see why. Snider’s face was red and round, and the perpetual sheen of sweat that suffused it made him look like a newly washed apple. His wife was fifteen years younger, thinner, and far more likely to be found on the cover of Cosmopolitan, or the centerfold of Playboy for that matter.
For all intents and purposes Snider was an idiot. What did he expect when he married a bombshell like that? I guess women make fools of us all.
Not that Mrs. Snider was a model but she could have been. I?d have paid quite a lot to see that luscious body unclothed. Hopefully, tonight would be my chance.
Movement from the bedroom window drew my attention. I tensed slightly, shifted, and almost fell. I cursed myself for becoming distracted, then forgave myself because I?m basically a nice guy. I had to be careful?I was being paid a lot of money for this surveillance and couldn?t afford to muck it up. So I pulled on my most professional demeanor, totally wasted on the tree but it made me feel better, and once again sought the window through the viewfinder.
As I adjusted the focus, her perfect body crystallized. It was as if she were standing only a few feet before me, talking to someone out of view.
"Son of a bitch!"
They must have entered together and I?d missed it. I kept one eye glued to her. I would have even if it hadn?t been my job, for Mrs. Snider was slowly, tantalizingly, removing her clothes. Instinctively, my finger moved on the shutter. I took two shots of each stage of her striptease, in case one didn?t come out. I felt a tad ignoble thinking about another man’s wife as something akin to a boxed lunch, but only for a moment. It wasn?t like they were going to be married much longer anyway.
While I clicked away, keeping in mind the number of shots I?d taken and how many were left, I kept hoping her partner would come into view. Otherwise, I wasn?t accomplishing anything. Pictures of a woman stripping by herself are not grounds for divorce. Snider was rich and I was overcharging him. He knew it too but would rather give the money to me than to her. That’s the theory at least. But it only worked ?cause I could deliver, another theory I would have to prove.
For another five agonizing minutes she kept up her dance. I stopped taking pictures, since further evidence would be redundant. Then her partner stepped into view and I almost fell again. The newcomer was just as naked, just as female and just as delicious. I clicked away while they rubbed, fondled and kissed. When they moved to the bed, which I unfortunately couldn?t make out from my vantage point, I packed the camera away and began my careful descent. I had enough film to prove her infidelity and publish my own porn magazine.
My client would not be happy but he would pay, which was all I was interested in.
"I?m sorry, Mr. Snider. I know this must be very hard for you."
I was again wearing my most professional face. I had to make a conscious effort not to gawk at the pictures on the desk and instead forced myself to look at him. It was a bad trade off. After he left I?d find someone more pleasant to look at. Perhaps someone who might get some pleasure looking at me.
This was, of course, pure male fantasy. I?m not that much to look at. At six-two, I?m too tall, too thin?almost gangly except for the beer gut, making me look like a snake that had only recently eaten?with a large nose, a receding hair line and eyes that have bags under them even when they aren?t bloodshot. The combination of my demeanor and appearance makes me look every bit the private investigator I am, though I?m no longer young or attractive enough to bring home the kind of women I am regularly called on to photograph. That hasn?t always been the case, but age comes for us all. So I did what any self-respecting man would do. I found an angle in the mirror that almost flattered me and only look at myself that way. Believe it or not, it helps.