The Man Who Carries a Photograph

by Nicola Daly

He was all right. However, you’ve got to question the motives of a bloke who gets it out on a blind date and shows it to you. The girl in the picture was all teeth and cleavage.

“We were in Tokyo, it was the best night of my life,” he said, stroking her sulky face.

Her face tells another story. He reckoned she was a model but under scrutiny admits this was mainly promotional and catalogue work.

What, no vogue fashion shoots? I wanted to say but I didn’t. I got the impression he needed to say it. It was as if it had been like a tumour pressing down on his optic nerve and once he said “I used to date a model” he felt better somehow.

“She used to walk around naked, she would jump out of bed and answer the door and it would be my mum, embarrassing or what?” he explained with a grimace.

I focused my eyes on a kid stuffing chicken nuggets into his mouth because I swear there were tears in his eyes.

“Joy walked out about a day after this was taken,” he whined.

Never was a woman more inaccurately named I thought. Then it was as if he was struck by something that reminded him of the woman that was staring up at me from the snapshot because he started rambling again.

“Her friends called her Joy but she used another name when she was working,” he explained.

I tried to plug the gaps in the conversation but it didn’t work. He went on for over an hour and half about how he pleaded with her not to leave him. It was obvious he was still in love with Joy. For seconds if I am honest he made me angry. Why did he agree to all this if all as he wanted to do was dissect his relationship with Joy? I did consider saying something sarcastic but I didn’t which was worrying because it meant that I actually liked him with his floppy hair and clueless expression.

Feeling like a war criminal I bit my tongue and averted my eyes from the photograph. Once we had covered common ground – weebles, paperclips, pre-packed sandwiches and Elvis – There wasn`t really much more we could say.  I tried to start a conversation up about the bank holiday. In a fleeting moment of madness I had half an idea I might suggest we do something. After all at least he wasn’t like the other men I had met in the past fortnight. The ones that turn up just so they can spend another evening leaving their fungal nail infection untreated.

He didn’t pick up on my hint about the weekend even though I was about as subtle a brick. I left pretty quickly afterwards. Then I had this crazy notion while I was walking to the station. It was a weird feeling, like suddenly finding you are the main female protagonist in the middle of film written by Woody Allen.

I rushed into the pub, all ready to give him another chance. I wasn’t sure exactly what I was going to say. I knew he was still there because I heard his voice. Then when I put my head around the booth, there he was showing the photograph to a girl in Ugg boots who looked just like his ex-girlfriend Joy.

Nicola Daly‘s work has been published widely in UK magazines like Myslexia, Magma, and Southwords.

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