A Story – The Visit

The hackneyed idiom, “a picture paints a thousand words” comes not from the mystical East as I had suspected but from a rather more modern source, having appeared in a newspaper article quoting editor Tess Flanders discussing journalism and publicity. At least that’s what Wikipedia tells me today.

It is also said that a great photograph evokes a story to the mind of the person who looks upon it.

This was certainly the case when I was on a trip to Nassau last year and took this shot of the derelict Coral World glass bottomed restaurant. In fact, it inspired me to generate a short story to accompany it, albeit under 500 words in length, not the requisite 1000…

160111_CoralWorldRedux

The Visit

Had it really been 40 years ago that it all happened? The old man looked across at the dilapidated building sitting in Nassau Harbour. It seems like only yesterday, he thought to himself. The other passengers boarding the boat to Balmoral Island chattered idly and pointed at the huge cruise liners docked opposite the Straw Market. They were more like floating cities than ships, disgorging excited tourists onto the quayside. The powerboat gently pulled away and soon slid out past the container ships unloading their steel boxes of goods at the port. It was amazing to see how the huge cranes picked up these heavy containers like a child playing with Lego blocks. So much had changed.

The tower was clearly visible now. Surprisingly few people seemed to even recall what it had been. But he remembered. It was strange to think that that so much violence could have emanated from such a serene location. He recalled running across the narrow bridge from the island to the hub, looking up at the tower, the noise of gunfire behind him. How he wasn’t hit truly amazed him. He certainly thought that dashing along a straight line was a long shot but it was the only way he could see to stop the madness in time. His partner hadn’t been so lucky. Just as they had made the door, she had taken a hit. Still, we all knew the risks, he thought. Once in the hub it had been remarkably easy to find him sitting in his chair like a Roman Emperor. Who on earth did he think he was? He had looked almost serene as if he expected to be disturbed yet it appeared for all his insanity he hadn’t expected the sheer brutality of what happened next. Perhaps he thought that an Englishman would play by some arcane Public School rules. But times had changed, even way back then. All the training had paid off. No need for those silly gadgets, just highly-controlled violence. It was all over in a few seconds, although it seemed much longer. Another job done.

Strange how time plays tricks on you like that, he thought.

He was returned from his memories by one of the other passengers. “Would you mind taking a photo of us with that derelict tower in the background, please?” He willingly obliged, feigning ignorance of the simple camera phone’s capabilities. “Thank you, are you staying at the Hotel?” she enquired. “No,” he replied, “just passing through. Reliving dangerously.”

© Richard Reeve

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