My tangent (Can I have a tangent immediately?) deepens as I get too interested in backstory again and just keep putting one word after another telling the past of my lead character. Who gets a name this time.
4,042 / 50,000
Things went as pretty much anyone would expect. The pay did indeed suck, I did well in college and again found a nice spot in the library to live when I wasn't in my dorm room or at my parents'. Discovering the internet opened up another whole level of information gathering for me, as well.
After four years, I graduated with a degree in English, with a minor in art history, focusing on photography, since that was the closest I could manage at Kraftsbury State.
I'd made it up from an intern to a slightly better pay grade as a junior photographer for the paper. And by a junior photographer, I should say the junior photographer. They made up the position for me after a year of proving myself. By then, I was taking more than photographs of college life and basketball games, and was covering a wider array of local subjects, including the yearly Halloween parade in Rutland.
It was still a part time job, and the people hired as full time were called in more often than I was, but I still happened to be in the right place at the right time on occasion, and got photos no one else at the paper did, until long after the fact.
Most notable amongst those accomplishments, that really put my name on the radar at the paper, was when I was walking through town to the comic store I frequented at the time, Eastway Comics, just in time to see the start of thick plumes of smoke billowing out of the second story windows.
Having my trusty camera ever at the ready, I pulled it out and snapped off almost an entire roll of film. Don't worry, as I was getting rid of my lens cap, someone came up behind me and I had them call the fire department on their cellphone while I got to work.
After developing the photos back at my parents', I grabbed a handful and drove into the paper and handed them over to Moore's replacement, Cami McKenzie, who still runs the photograph department at the paper to this day.
She picked out a few of the burning building, and another from the basketball game from the day before that was with some other photos I'd grabbed to see if they were interested. You know what they say about two birds and one stone.
Cami took a closer look at the photos, and one of the first ones I'd taken had a dark blur in the background between Eastway and the building beside it, that almost looked like a person, but it was too out of focus and small to tell from that batch of pictures.
We looked through the rest of the photos and only found the shape in a few other pictures, all the ones that were taken just after I'd arrived, and if we had the order correct, and it was indeed a person, it appeared that they ducked down the small alleyway between the two buildings.
While I ran back home to try and make some bigger pictures from the negatives of just that spot, to see if any more detail could be brought out of it, Cami contacted the police with what she had, keeping all the photos to show them, even if they were pretty unclear. They were definitely interested in what she had to show them, still.
The blur remained stubborn, though, and while blowing it up did indeed show it was a person and not some fleck or smudge on my lens, or something floating through the air, no substantial details could be obtained, aside from that the person fleeing appeared to be wearing a sweatshirt from the college I went to.
While I was developing, I got a call back from Cami and found out that the owner of the store who had been working there at the time, as he did almost every day it was open. Dwayne - sad to say I've completely forgotten his last name, despite being a frequent customer - hadn't survived the fire, so now the cops were thinking it was arson and suicide. When the story hit in the morning papers, it was going to be huge, if that was the way things were going.
I quickly returned to my photos once I'd hung up the phone, never having left the darkroom the entire time, having long ago installed a phone without any lights on the buttons so I could take any calls from the paper or friends while I was working down there.
Taking what little improvement I had made to the photographs with me back into the city, to deliver to the police, Cami met me outside the police station. With winter already starting to creep up on the city, she was wrapped up tight in a long, light brown trenchcoat which may have been fine a week ago, but the winds were already picking up and making its edges whip around and flap against her short legs.
Her thick, curly hair didn't fare much better, and it covered her face more often than not if she wasn't holding it out of the way. Her breath escaped her lips in flashes of white clouds, just like mine. The sun had already set in just the short time since I'd taken the photos, and the streets remained busy, but the crowds were thinning along the sidewalks, as everyone but us it seemed, were making their way to get out of the cold.
"If I hadn't seen your car pull up when I did," she said as I hurried up, my hands shoved deeply in the pockets of my own black trenchcoat, "I was on my way home. Figured if yould be better for both of us to go in. Did you end up with any good results?"
I shook my head and grabbed the brass handle on the old, wodden door to the police station and yanked it open. The heavy door swung outwards sluggishly, the hinges long in need of repair, and the weight not helping matters any. The metal plate of the latch scraped against the matching plate in the frame with a loud screech that made us both wince. It was nowhere near as bad as nails on a chalkboard, and I've gotten used to it over the years, but it was still a jarring noise.
We were both glad to get out of the plummeting temperatures outside, and as I gathered my photos and thoughts together, Cami went up to the desk sargeant on duty, and explained why we were there. He recognised her right away, having forged a close relationship with the police in her short time as my direct superior.
A detective came out to see us, and took us back to his desk, leading us through a minor maze of halls, and sat us down. Sitting on his desk atop the keyboard for his computer, were the first batch of photos I'd taken, already delivered by Cami.
"So, Mister Stuart, did you see this possible person running away from the scene of the crime?" His voice was deep, but soothing. A calmness about him set me at ease, considering what I'd witnessed, and the loss of an aquaintance.
I shook my head, and explained that I had not seen anyone except the people gathering to watch, and was too focused at the time on just getting the photographs. "It all happened too quick, I'd snapped the first half dozen or so of photos before I'd even realised it, just dove right into what I was doing. And please, call me Martin."
The detective, who's name was Don Meyer as I could see from the nameplate sitting on his desk, nodded and listened to my story of arriving and getting the photos, and then took a look at the blown up shots of the possible suspect.
With the group of us looking at the photos out of the darkroom, and using better lights than the few I'd installed down there for the occasions when they're needed, a few more details came to light.
The figure was definitely a person, and wearing a KSU sweatshirt. I could easily identify the familiar logo on the back, having seen it everywhere for the past two years. Cami was from upstate, near Burlington, and Meyer wasn't a native of the state, and while he'd seen it in his years serving the police here, he wasn't as familiar with it as a student like myself was.
Also, the suspect was almost certainly male, or a tall woman, judging by the building he was next to. Unfortunately, he was running away, and not looking towards me except for in the very first shot. Even then, whoever it was, they were turning away at the time and the face was too blurred by the motion and distance to be of much help.
However, it was a start for the investigation, and more than they had earlier in the evening.
With a few more questions asked and answered, Detective Meyer let us leave, keeping a few of the photos for the investigation.
On the way out, Cami and I bumped into another face from the paper, a reporter I recognised from the office, and one I'd worked with a few times, providing photographs for his stories. Meyer saw him and waved a hand in the air, motioning him over to the desk we just left. It looked like the story was getting more serious.
Before we went our seperate ways, Cami asked if I wanted to join her for a coffee to get something nice and hot in us against the cold. The idea had definite appeal to me, and spending a little time with the new boss was never a bad idea.
Of all things, we talked about comicbooks. She was nowhere near as big a fan as I was, but she read a few books, and had Dwayne set aside a small handfull of books for her each month. Eventually the conversation shifted away from the tragedy, and our personal connections to it, and more towards work, which wasn't so much drifting as a natural progression of things, considering.
Cami told me she was quite impressed with what little work I'd done so far, and the paper was fortunate to have someone so dedicated to the job, even with college and everything else in the way. And not just because of what I'd managed to catch that afternoon. The work wasn't anything spectacular by any means, she told me, but with definite talent, and she hoped I'd be staying with the paper for some time, even after college, if I kept up the work I'd done so far. Hearing those words coming from your boss is a great boost to morale, and filled me with as much warmth as the coffee I'd finished did, before the two of us got in our cars and drove off in opposite directions, her deeper into the city to her apartment, and me off into the more rural areas, and farmland in the small town I called home.
Considering the events of the day before, when I got the paper out of the blue delivery box - or as I called it come wintertime and the snowfall, the snowplow magnet - I was pleasantly surprised to see a picture I had taken right there on the front page.
They had decided to use one of the photos without the susepct's blurry self, as Cami explained it to me later, to keep that they had an idea of someone who committed the crime under wraps, and just what they knew, as little as that information was. I also felt it was a better photo to use anyways, compositionally, and quality wise. Those first few pictures were taken so quick, I hadn't quite dialed in the best settings yet.