Friday, 27 April 2018

The Picture by Roger Bray

A warehouse in Japan used as an emergency shelter in the aftermath of the 2011 Tsunami. A distraught, young Japanese woman in dishevelled clothes sits on a box, holding her infant daughter. Ben, a US rescue volunteer, kneels in front of her offering comfort. They hug, the baby between them. The moment turns into an hour as the woman sobs into his shoulder; mourning the loss of her husband, her home, the life she knew. A picture is taken, capturing the moment. It becomes a symbol; of help freely given and of the hope of the survivors. The faces in the picture cannot be recognised, and that is how Ben likes it. No celebrity, thanks not required.

But others believe that being identified as the person in the picture is their path to fame and fortune. Ben stands, unknowingly, in their way, but nothing a contract killing cannot fix.


Context: Vince Brown is a key protagonist in the story, he hits on the idea of a reality TV show focusing on natural disasters. He thought of the idea after seeing how much money was donated after the Japanese Tsunami. In a chance meeting in a bar with a TV producer he lets the other man think that Vince is the key figure in an iconic picture taken during the Tsunami relief effort, which he is not. As a throwaway line he thought it unimportant but it takes on primary importance when the idea of a reality TV show is closer. This part is when Vince is just starting with his idea, as his celebrity begins to grow. But even now he realises that his connection to the picture could be his undoing if the truth were to come out.

         Vince wasn’t stupid, he knew that it wasn’t him, he was the only one in the room that did, but he was arrogant as well, and that had been his undoing more than once, letting his overwhelming belief in himself get ahead of the truth. This time, he decided, he needed to cool the bragging on this as soon as he could. He could still buy off the photographer, buy the copyright. Jeez, he was paparazzi wasn’t he, what did they take pictures for if it wasn’t to make money?
         Although he didn’t yet know it or understand the ramifications of his lack of knowledge he had badly underestimated Joe at this point and completely misunderstood Joe’s relationship with his work and the subjects of his pictures. And offering money for a lie would be like trying to fight a wildfire with gasoline.
         Vince decided to start downplaying the picture almost straight away, he mostly wished he had never seen the damn thing, but he couldn’t deny that it was the catalyst that had got his foot in the door to start with, so it was a Catch-22, no picture, no idea, but the picture had the real ability to bite him on the ass, and he needed to build up defenses around that. At least he had sense enough to realize the damage it might cause if it were to blow up in his face.
         Years ago, it probably wouldn’t have mattered so much. But in these times with all the social media outlets around and all the twenty-four-hour news channels, all desperate to fill the gaps between the adverts with something resembling news, a little story like this would be magnified and explode across the world. It would be a quick and bright story, as most of them were, the big bang in the first thirty-six hours before fading away and taking Vince’s cash dreams with it. So, damage control had to start before the damage was realized.
         “But we want to move on from there as well, build it into something more than only that—” he started.
         “That’s fine, Vince and you can. If you want to get past that then that’s fine, give yourself a bit more depth than one photo. But, you have to start somewhere, man, and this, for you, is it.”
         Fleeton looked Vince straight in the eyes.
         Vince held his look for a moment before he felt himself flush slightly. He grinned quickly and went back to the bottle and poured himself another without asking. Drinking half of it quickly he turned back to the other two who were looking at him a little more intensely than he would have liked, or was it his paranoia and fear coming through?
         He knew that reality TV shows were popping up all over the place, from fat trailer trash with fat kids who had pretensions of worth, to some cheerleader from some hick town with a young and slim body but a face only a mother could love, a grating accent and a slutty dress sense trying to be the next top model. Model for what, Vince had no idea, tractor parts probably, but she’d get her fifteen minutes of fame and likely progress from a few bikini shots through lingerie in some crappy magazine to finish up doing a few low budget pornos before disappearing back into whatever insignificant life was left to her.
         Used, abused, and spat out by a system looking for new fodder, week in week out.
         And as the shows multiplied the only way they could rise above the herd was to either stand out as something truly different, which was getting more difficult as ideas, initially rubbish anyway, were cloned and incestuously multiplied. The trick was to be different and profess some worth above some mere titillation or be obnoxious and the more obnoxious the better. It seemed the mind numbed audiences for this crap seemed to like their reality more and more real.

Author Bio:

I have always loved writing; putting words onto a page and bringing characters to life. I can almost feel myself becoming immersed into their lives, living with their fears and triumphs. Thus, my writing process becomes an endless series of questions. What would she or he do, how would they react, is this in keeping with their character? Strange as it sounds, I don’t like leaving characters in cliffhanging situations without giving them an ending, whichever way it develops.
My life to date is what compels me to seek a just outcome, the good will overcome and the bad will be punished. More though, I tend to see my characters as everyday people in extraordinary circumstances, but in which we may all find our selves if the planets align wrongly or for whatever reason you might consider.

Of course, most novels are autobiographical in some way. You must draw on your own experiences of life and from events you have experienced to get the inspiration. My life has been an endless adventure. Serving in the Navy, fighting in wars, serving as a Police officer and the experiences each one of those have brought have all drawn me to this point, but it was a downside to my police service that was the catalyst for my writing.

Medically retired after being seriously injured while protecting a woman in a domestic violence situation I then experienced the other side of life. Depression and rejection. Giving truth to the oft said saying that when one door closes another opens I pulled myself up and enrolled in college gaining bachelor and master degrees, for my own development rather than any professional need. The process of learning, of getting words down onto the page again relit my passion for writing in a way that I hadn’t felt since high school.

So here we are, two books published and another on track.

Where it will take me I have no idea but I am going to enjoy getting there and if my writing can bring some small pleasure into people’s lives along the way, then I consider that I will have succeeded in life.


  1. Thank you so much Rainne for taking part in the tour for "The Picture" it is very much appreciated :)