Five Shots


The woman I love was snatched from me the day Janice Stobblemeyer’s parrot escaped and I became a world renowned authority on the paranormal.

My girlfriend, Patrice, and I were out and about that day taking in what the world had to offer the way hummingbirds take in a flower garden; flitting from store to sight to shop.

Patrice wore a simple summer skirt and a pair of sling backs. She had just had her hair done very short and her green eyes reflected the day’s sun in prismatic iridescent splendor. We had been dating for nearly a year and were already finishing each other’s sentences and coming up with meal ideas that were uncannily alike.

On that fateful day, we were cruising coastal towns and had stopped in Plymouth to see the Mayflower and the Rock. Up in Plymouth center, we perused a few antique shops and stepped into the Kiskadee Coffee Shop before moving on.

Out in the sunshine, Patrice declared she would like to drive. Palm up, she waggled her fingers and I dangled the keys into her waiting hand while stealing a kiss. She fobbed the car door, opened it and before she could get in I told her to wait.

“I want a shot for insurance purposes,” I said.

She tipped her head to one side, smirked and said, “You shit,” with a seductive quality all her own.

I set the camera for a five shot burst, centered her in the viewfinder, and press the button. She looked directly into the camera. It captured her left hand holding the door open, right arm on the roofline. Her smile genuine, teeth gleaming white from the sun overhead. Across the street I could see two parking spots taken up by a Cadillac Escalade and a two door RAV 4 from the nineties. Someone was reaching for the door of the real estate office from inside; you could just make out the arm.

In the second shot, Patrice’s lips are peeled back more, making her smile a little bigger. The door of the real estate office across the street is opened slightly and the angle of the glass in the door makes it impossible to see the person on the other side at all. A couple with a black and white Pug on a purple leash are entering the frame from the left. The nose of a yellow Mini Cooper has entered from the right.

In the third shot, Patrice has tipped her head back. You can’t tell in the shot, but she has taken to shaking her head slightly—as if her hair were longer and she was trying to move it off her shoulders. The sun is shining fully on her face and her eyes are closed. There is a white vehicle entering the shot from the left, proximity muddled by its whiteness.

In the fourth shot, I can see enough of the white vehicle to know it is a Ford Excursion. The passenger window is part way down, and a blur of color can be seen exiting through it. That is Janice Stobblemeyer’s parrot escaping. It turns out she had accidently hit the window button and was busy trying to catch her bird rather than drive the land yacht she was in. The parrot didn’t get far, landing on a parking meter for later retrieval.

This brings me to the next point in the fourth shot. The nose of the Excursion has actually made contact with Patrice and her smile has been replaced with a mouth tipped back ready to catch what looks like a recently tossed piece of popcorn.

In the fifth shot, I can make out Janice Stobblemeyer who is still looking out the window of her white monstrosity. The driver’s door of our Toyota Highlander is folded neatly against its own front fender. My precious Patrice is bent back against the oncoming vehicle like a ragdoll, arms askew.

The most intriguing aspect of shot five is that you can make out Patrice in wispy detail with the Excursion as a backdrop. Her corporeal self is being thrust forward by that rolling zip code and her spiritual self has already made the break. In that moment, before her spiritualness has realized its fate and moved on, shot five has recorded the eventful split of the spirit and the corporeal.

Shot five gives me some notoriety as a paranormal expert and I ride that wave knowing Patrice would have pushed me on. ‘Take success where you find it,’ she would always tell me. The spiritual split was so well defined in shot five that everyone forgets about the other four shots until—.

Until I was to talk at a symposium in Boston two years later and it was suggested I bring blowups of all five shots. I was to line them up so a sequence of events could be viewed, bringing to life the moments leading up to THE moment.

They were all enlarged to something like three foot by five, and I placed them in a row on easels. Soon, a crowd formed around shot four which surprised me. It was shot five that depicted the separation of body and spirit. So I joined them and discovered what looked like a piece of popcorn tossed in the air above Patrice in a smaller format, was something else entirely.

It looked like a little pixie, but I knew it was an angel. It was as ethereal as Patrice in shot five. But it had wings and appeared to be darting in like a super hero, arms outstretched and reaching for my darling.

My eye sockets suddenly felt too small, my eyeballs—rubbed in salt. A tear raced for my jawline. I had hope in that moment. In all the goodness that was our relationship in the past, my memories flashing stop-motion quick as though as one last glimpse before my own demise, I saw hope for a future both bright and fulfilling. I felt the eternal flame of love.


I hope you enjoyed that.

Thank you for your kind support.


12 thoughts on “Five Shots

  1. John Wiswell

    That’s one of the most ridiculous opening lines I’ve read in a while, Donald. It’s a good toss, forcing you to chase it down and justify it with a narrative. In terms of the conceit, probably one of the best executions on the outlandish opener I’ve read in a while, too.

    1. donaldconrad Post author

      Ridiculous opener? Moi? I had fun with it, and I’m my own slushie here so I can get away with it.

      Thanks for stopping by John. Yours are some of my favorite comments.

  2. Mary Walcott Conrad

    Loved this story Don. It kept me glued to your words. Loved the little twist at the end where the “4th shot” showed the angel. You have such an imagination…I don’t know how you come up with this stuff…amazing!!

    1. donaldconrad Post author

      Well, I can’t always do horror or the occaisional gross out because you’d never read my stuff. As for imagination, I’m inspired by the angel I have at home. 😉

  3. Kat Del Rio

    That was interesting, different. A life loved and lost in a series of pictures. There’s something compelling about that idea.

    Personally, I thought the opening sentence was great. It made me curious and determined to read all the way through to see how and why and what happened. I guess the hook worked. 😉

  4. Stephen

    A cool idea here, Donald, using the five-shot camera setting to capture the split, but also something else. The descriptions of her face were spot-on and, in their own way, lend to the horror of the piece as the reader understands what just happened. A well-executed piece of writing.


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