Monday, July 31, 2006

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# 12

Berg had to admit the negative Sarah showed him looked flawless. He was ready to see a print of it.

“Sarah, do you have to take it home to your darkroom to print it?”

“Actually no Berg, that’s where the old methods stop and new technology takes over.” With that said Sarah pulled a backpack from the wagon and told Berg to follow her.

They were headed towards the park’s ranger station.

“I want to borrow a desk and some electricity. Then I can show you what I’ve been talking about”

“ Well Miss Sarah Lee, I can hardly wait to see this.

Inside the station Sarah and Berg saw Mary. Mary was a junior ranger who served as Peter’s assistant.

“Mary, Peter said I could borrow a desk and some juice for this thing.”

“Peter isn’t here; he’ll be gone for an hour or so but he’ll be back for the evening battle and fireworks. Why don’t you use his office?”

“Works for me, Mary”

“Oh, Mr. Sandberg I heard about what you did at the Waffle House and I wanted to tell you that was so brave”

“Or stupid” Sarah remarked as she went into Peter’s office.

“It’s something like what our government trained me to do. It really wasn’t that much.”

“Still that took balls. I’ll bet you’ve got a real set on you!”

Berg blushed. It was so unexpected coming from Mary who looked so young but apparently was more experienced than Berg first thought.

“Berg, You coming?”

Berg walked into Peter’s office and saw Sarah already had her laptop out and a small flatbed scanner connected. As berg sat down in front of the desk, Sarah produced a bright hand-held light.

“What are you gonna do with that?”
“Watch Berg and learn. I’m going to scan the negative into my computer with this light. Done, now I can open it in my Photo Shop program and do any necessary work it might need.”

“Isn’t that kinda cheating.”

“Oh berg, it’s the negative made the old way that makes the picture. I’d be in the darkroom for a solid week if I did it that way and I’d never mare any money at it.”

“Look for yourself.”

Berg walked around the desk to view the image. Sarah had added a sepia-tone effect and what Berg saw was an photograph that looked like it was taken a almost hundred and fifty years ago and perfectly preserved.

“Damn, that’s good!” Sarah smiled.

“Of course it is. You were expecting anything less? I’ll develop the rest and print them when I get back home”

“I guess that ole wooden shoe box camera is pretty good after all.”

“As good or better than those plastic toys hanging around your neck.”

“Hey, there not plastic! They’ve got titanium bodies and are top of the line.”

“That one maybe but not this battered one here. Hell, I only saw you take one shot with it” Sarah was pointing to the old beat -up digital Canon Rebel.

“That shot was for Billy. The Rebel belonged to him. He was a friend of mine who was killed by an IED in Iran. I had borrowed the week before and he was coming to pick it up.”

“You mean an improvised explosive device – a roadside bomb.”

“Yes, it became our worst fear over there. They’re hard to detect and those bastards plant them by the hundreds.” Berg took the camera from around his neck and closed his eyes and could see Billy’s torn and twisted body lying beside the burning humvee knowing his friend died coming to see him.

“It was Billy who got me interested in photography and all the digital stuff. Sarah, you might say that camera is the reason I am where I’m at today.”

“So that’s why you’re here today as a photographer.”

“Why I’m now a photographer, yes. Why I’m here now, No. That’s of my own doing.”

Berg thought I’ve gong this far I might as well tell her the rest of the story about the camera and how it played into his retirement from the Army.

William Roberts III - Billy was from Arkansas. His family owned a farm there and he loved that place but he wasn’t a farmer. He dreamed of being a pilot and flying a jet fighter. Billy’s lanky six foot four inch frame changed his plans. To big for fighters or other warbirds he became a supply pilot.

“I met Billy on an R and R in Germany and we became friends. That’s when he showed me about how to use this camera. A few months after that Billy came to visit while his cargo was being off loaded and showed me some photos he took while he was home. It was the usual stuff but the one of his dad standing in a hog pen on the family farm caught my eye.

I had used his camera to take some shots of a safe house that had been hit by a 500 lb. LGM. One of the bad guys had been decapitated and his head was photographed for an ID.

I told Billy what I wanted to do and he said it’d be a snap. He put the head of the terrorist on his dad’s body. Now I had a photo of a dead high level terrorist standing there in the middle of a pigpen surrounded by about fifty pigs.

All I had to do is show this picture to those who weren’t showing the right amount of cooperation and threaten them with the same fate. I always got my answers after that.

Some Bozo news guy caught wind about it and concluded my torture of POW’s needed to be investigated. The Army didn’t give a shit how I got my Information but with other mounting scandals retired me.

So Sarah, that’s how I come to be here”.

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