Updated chapter1.txt

Ahelmic6 authored
revision ef170e7f973bd4ad25357f7f146764ce9589240e
chapter1
> “Photography takes an instant out of time, altering life by holding it still.” -Dorothea Lange


A distant pounding noise startled Nolen from his slumber. He jumped with a start, his mind still immersed in the dream he had awoken from. His eyes struggled to adjust to the sunlight that was pouring in from his studio window. Thoughts raced through his mind as his heartbeat began to slow. The pounding started again, this time louder, closer. Suddenly, he realized that someone was at the door.

“Just a minute!” He called out, fumbling out of bed as he tried to free himself from it’s warm fibers. He had lost his shirt in the night, and could not find it beneath the mound of wool and cotton.

His pulse began to quicken, as he feared the unknown visitor would leave before he reached the door. Giving up on the shirt, he reluctantly made his way across the studio, preparing himself to answer the door in a pair of sweatpants.

“Please... don’t be a client.” Nolen muttered under his breath, bracing himself for the worst as he unfastened the security chain and switched the deadbolt.

The door silently opened, allowing Nolen to peek outside into the hall. His eyes met a pair of deep blue eyes. The eyes belonged to a young woman, a few inches smaller than he was, with natural blonde hair. The woman was casually dressed, a light yellow dress with a white shrug. Over her shoulder was a purse decorated in a pattern he was familiar with, yet could not seem to place.

“Well it’s about time Nole....did you forget about our plans today?” The woman questioned as she stared back at him with a smirk on her face. It was clear that she was bothered by his tardiness, yet she appeared to be enjoying herself.

“Uh...sorry Em. What was it we were -“ He began to ask as she raised an eyebrow at him. He stepped aside so that she could enter the studio apartment.

“You forgot? We were supposed to meet me for coffee, so that you could show me the proofs and I could pick out the ones I liked.”Emily smiled as she spoke, her gaze falling upon his exposed chest. He was small for his height, his body was lean, but not chiseled with muscles. She then shifted her attention to the apartment.

The apartment she now stood in was small, a single open room, with the exception of the bathroom which was hidden behind a wall of frosted window panes. The rest of the dwelling melded together, while certain areas still maintained its own unique individuality.

The space itself was tidy, with the exception of the bed that remained unkempt, pillows and blankets strewn about the mattress, some of which escaped onto the hardwood floors. There were wires attached to the bed to allow for it to be stored in the wall once it was ready to be put away. Across from the bed was a desk on which two computers sat. The desktop computer, an iMac, was connected to various devices through a USB hub. One of the devices was a digital camera, the word 'NIKON' was embroidered on the strap of the camera. The rest of the apartment held various pieces of equipment, as well as a few storage containers.

“I didn’t forget. You haven’t even given me a chance to get there. It’s not even twelve yet!” Nolen stated, as he desperately fought to stifle a yawn.

“Nolen, that was two hours ago. It’s almost three o’clock in the afternoon.” She spoke, a look of concern suddenly appearing on her face. “Are you still having trouble sleeping?”

Nolen gave a sigh and turned to walk across the apartment. He gestured for her to sit down on a couch next to his computer desk. “Let me grab a quick shower. I probably smell like ass. We’ll get started once I’m done?” Nolen asked as he avoided her question and moved toward a wall with frosted glass panes. It was the only room in the entire apartment.

“Would you like some company?” Emily grinned, watching as Nolen smiled back at her.

“Not this time.” Nolen replied as he moved the glass-paned sliding door open, and then quickly shut it behind him.

The door to the bathroom slid open twenty minutes later. Nolen stepped out, a towel wrapped around his waist as steam billowed from the bathroom. His graying hair was still damp, drops of water hitting his exposed flesh as he moved across the apartment. Emily had moved to his desk, and was perusing its contents when she noticed drops of water hitting her arm.

“You’re dripping a little, dear.” Emily said, glancing up into his deep green eyes. Her hand made contact with his as she released the mouse to the iMac so that he could take over.

“Sorry about that. I tried to hurry. I believe these are what you were looking for snoopy?” He said, opening a folder on his desktop that was marked with a bunch of numbers. He smiled as he shifted his eyes from the screen to hers.

“How do you even know where everything is?! There’s so much junk on this thing!” She exclaimed, referring to the hundreds of icons and folders on the desktop.

“It’s not junk. It’s work.“

"Ever hear of organization? I hear it's bigger than sliced bread.” Emily teased, examining the contents of the newly opened folder. Hundreds of photographs were spread out before her, in each one a familiar pair of eyes peered back at her. The images were so sharp, she could have been looking into a mirror.

“These look amazing, have you finished editing them?” She asked, excitement filling her voice. Nolen smiled at her, pleased with her apparent joy.

“Not quite. I've saved the completed photos in a folder. It should be near the bottom. How many did you say you needed?” Nolen had made his way to a dresser next to the bed, and was now searching for something to wear. He finally settled on a pair of loose khaki cargo pants, and one of his many charcoal gray shirts.

Glancing back at Emily, who was now staring at him with bright eyes, he asked, “So...are you going to stare at me the whole time, or those photographs?”

“I'm fine right here.” She replied, her grin becoming even larger. Nolen realized that she would not be fully content with just looking at the images on her screen, and retreated to the bathroom to dress himself. With the door ajar, he asked her “Mind if we discuss business over breakfast? I'm famished”

“You mean lunch?” She asked, the disappointment in her voice was unmistakable to him.

“Business first Emmie, then we can do whatever you want. I promise.” Nolen said, as he emerged from the bathroom. Gathering up his sling bag, he moved toward Emily. Grasping the camera, he untethered the device from the USB hub. Checking the battery and memory card, he gently placed the device in his bag.

Holding a hand out to Emily he smiled and said, "Ready to go? Since you were patient enough to wait on me, I'm buying."

"Oh really?" The woman asked, grasping Nolen's hand as he helped her out of the chair.

"It's the least I could do, I mean after all, your theater is paying me a decent amount of money to photograph you."

***
Nolen and Emily left the studio apartment on the fifth floor, using the stairs to make their way to the ground level of the building. The lobby of the building was brightly light, the red and orange autumn colors creating a warm, inviting atmosphere. The room was decorated with plastic ferns and multiple cushioned chairs that matched the color scheme. A single employee sat at a desk to their left, greeting the pair as they passed. Exiting the building, Nolen steered his guest to the right, and pointed towards an intersection.

"There's a nice little cafe around the corner. The food is great, and the dessert is phenomenal." Nolen said.

"Dessert? I thought you were wanting actual food!" Emily replied, glancing at Nolen, who was now waiting for traffic to cease so that the pair could cross the street. Noticing the traffic had stopped, he gestured for her to go first.

"There's always room for dessert, Em." He said as they stepped onto the sidewalk. Quickening his pace, Nolen took the lead, turning left at the corner of a building. He stopped at the entrance to an alleyway, turning to face Emily.

"It's down this way!" Nolen ushered his guest to follow him as he entered the narrow street. Emily hesitantly followed him, unsure of what lay down the forlorn street. A single royal blue awning could be seen further up the path. Reaching the awning, Nolen grasped the handle to the door and pulled. The door did not budge. Puzzled, Nolen glanced at Emily, who was now peering through a window next to the doorway.

"Well, this is odd. They're usually open by now." Nolen said as he gave the handle another pull. The green door remained closed, despite his efforts.

"...when was the last time you visited this place?" She asked, struggling to see inside the dark interior.

"Hm, I think it was after that 'Wicked' performance your theater group did. When was that..." Nolen paused, struggling to recall the memory.

"That was almost a year ago! How often do you get out exactly?" Emily teased, giving up on the window. Returning to Nolen's side, she grasped his arm and began to steer him back to the main street, away from the now abandoned restaurant.

"Come on, we'll grab a cab and go to Maxwell's. The special today is your favorite soup!" Emily said, throwing a smile at Nolen in an attempt to lighten his mood. She could tell that he was bothered by the sudden closure of what appeared to be one of his favorite places.

****

The cab ride to Maxwell's was brief, despite the late afternoon traffic. The driver proved to be experienced as he effortlessly guided the yellow cab through side streets, completely avoiding the busy streets of Boston. Nolen stared aimlessly out the window, trying not to think of how long the two of them had spent in the vehicle. On a normal day, Nolen would have never made a trip like this, especially in the middle of the week. The only mode of transportation he possessed, let alone desired to use, was a Trek Transport bicycle. The Trek had cost him a hefty price, but Nolen gladly paid the price to have the ability to navigate through the town. Automobiles were expensive, especially with the maintenance and fuel costs, let alone the price to park in the underground garage of his apartment building. For ten percent of the cost he could store his bike in one of the secure racks in the parking garage.

The car came to a sudden stop, causing Nolen's body to lurch forward. Nolen managed to brace his arm against the glass divider before his head made contact with it. A sense of uneasiness overcame him as he frantically looked around the cab. Emily, who had been texting on her phone, was now bent over, trying to locate her mobile in the dark abyss of the cab floor. Upon retrieving it, she turned her attention to Nolen.

"Are you alright?" She asked, concerned about the sudden change in his complexion. The color had drained from his face, but was slowly returning. He was obviously not a fan of vehicles. Emily could not recall a single moment where she had seen her friend in a vehicle, let alone in one.

"Yeah, I'm fine. Is this place much farther?" Nolen asked, failing to conceal the anxiousness in his voice.

"It's actually just a block over. Excuse me, sir, could you let us out here?" Emily addressed the cab driver, who obliged her request and turned into an empty parking spot on the side of the street.

Nolen exited the cab through the passenger door on the driver's side, feeling more at ease now that he had his feet on the pavement. He retrieved his wallet from his back pocket and was preparing to pay the fare when Emily placed her hand over his wallet. Handing the cab driver a handful of bills, she took Nolen by the arm and directed him down the street.

"Are you sure you're ok? You looked awfully pale back there." Emily hesitantly asked, afraid to offend her guest.

"I promise, I'm ok. Just not a big fan of cars I guess. You should have let me pay the fare." Nolen said as Emily pulled him towards a building. Maxwell's was a brown bricked building with a red canopy and large front windows. Peering inside, Nolen could see an assortment of maroon booths and tables. In the back of the building was a bar of some kind, but Nolen doubted it served any type of alcohol.

"What kind of place is this again?" Nolen asked as Emily pulled him inside.

Nolen struggled to make out the interior of the restaurant as his eyes adjusted to the change in lighting. A few moments later, he could see that the restaurant provided a friendly atmosphere. The bar he had noticed from the window contained a variety of machines, one of which he could see was an industrial juicer of some kind.

His thoughts were interrupted by the appearance of a waitress, who was dressed in a simple black uniform with 'Maxwell's' embroidered on the breast in red cursive letters. A silver name tag was pinned below the restaurant name read 'Jessica'. The waitress brought the pair to a booth next to one of the windows overlooking the sidewalk they had just come from. Nolen thanked her, as she placed two menus on the table, then retreated to the bar at the back of the restaurant. She returned a moment later with two glasses of water.

"Do you two need a couple of minutes to look over the menu?" She asked, placing the glasses of water in front of the guests.

Nolen flipped the cover open, revealing the contents of the menu. He noticed that while there was a variety of items listed, the meals were all vegetarian. Noticing his confusion, Emily began to order.

"Actually, we're ready now. I'll have the house salad with basalmic vinairgrette, and he'll have the tomato basil soup." Emily closed the menu, glancing at Nolen, whose head was still buried in the menu.

The waitress quickly jotted down the order, pausing to see if they wanted to add anything additional to the order. Emily declined and handed her menu to the waitress. Nolen however, was still examining the strange menu. Placing his finger on the page, he lifted his head so that he could look at the waitress.

"Excuse me, miss? How does this taste? I've never had hummus before.." He asked, his eyes returning to the menu as he spoke. The waitress glanced at Emily, who was now stretching as far as she could across the table in an effort to see what had caught Nolen's attention.

"Hummus is kind of like a dip. It's made from chickpeas. Right now we have a new pumpkin hummus, it's delicious. but we also have garlic and roasted red pepper kinds too. It comes with warm pita bread or vegetables. You can do both for a little extra." The waitress replied, clicking the stopper on her pen as she spoke. She was quickly becoming impatient.

"Can we get an order of that as well, with just the chips?" Nolen said as he closed the menu. He held it out for the waitress, who quickly grabbed it and hurried off.

An awkward silence fell upon the table following the server's departure. Emily was staring aimlessly out the window and onto the street, nothing particular catching her interest. Nolen continued to shift his eyes around the room, noticing the various details of the small establishment.

A few minutes passed before the silence was broken by Nolen, who had grown bored with the aesthetics around him. He turned to look at the girl who sat across the table from him. Her blonde hair falling from behind her eye, shielding her bright blue eyes from Nolen's view. Her right hand fiddled with a single golden chain that was draped around her neck, disappearing into the folds of her dress. It was impossible for Nolen to make out what the golden thread held, he could not recall ever seeing it before.

"Is it new?" He asked, his soft voice breaking the silence, as well as the girl's daydreaming. She stared at him with wide eyes, unable to comprehend what he had said. He touched the base of his neckline, snapping Emily back to conciousness.

"OH! This? Not really, no. I've had it for ages. I thought I had lost it when I moved up here." She said as she unconciously began to caress the chain again.