Saturday again and first, an apology: I missed last Saturday’s instalment of The Photograph. My life is, apparently, a lot more complicated than I already thought it was!
Last time, our main man, BIFF KELLER, was recounting the moment the true power of the photograph was explained to him by his missing friend, THORLEY LANGDON.
“‘That picture was taken thirty years ago. Why are you only just finding this out now?’
“‘I only just found it again. George took it into school, but when he didn’t come back, I didn’t think about it. It wasn’t my main concern.
“‘I understand. Please come home with me. Sparrow’s worried.’
“‘You need to go now.’ He moved over to the door and turned the handle, keeping the photo facing his chest. The door opened, and I left.”
“So, is that the last time you spoke with Mr Langdon?” Detective Curtis had removed his notepad and was flipping through the pages.
“No, no it wasn’t. That’s how we come to be here, really.” Biff shifted in his seat. Curtis prompted him to elaborate. “Against my better judgement, I did as Thorley asked: I didn’t go to Sparrow, not even to let her know that he was okay. It made me sick to my stomach, keeping that from her. She’s been like a sister to me, just as Thorley is like a brother. But I’d given my word, and that meant saying nothing, so I went home and tried to rest. Of course, I couldn’t do that, and the following morning, as soon as was respectable, I returned to the hotel and went to Thorley’s room and knocked on the door. I didn’t expect him to still be there, but a moment after I knocked, I heard his voice.
“‘Hello?’ It was a tired voice.
“‘Thorley, it’s me. Let me in.’
“For several moments, there was silence, and I thought he had moved away.
“‘No, Biff, I don’t think so. Go home.’
“‘Thorley, open the door.’ This time I spoke more firmly and looked up and down the corridor to see if I had been noticed, but it was empty, not even any housekeeping. ‘You’re being a fool. Open the door.’
“‘Go home.’ Thorley’s voice sounded distant.
“‘Have you slept, man?’ I asked. ‘You’re not making any sense.’
“‘Sleep?’ I heard him chuckle. ‘No, I haven’t slept. I’ve been thinking about George.’
“‘We all have, Thorley, but he’s gone now. He’s been gone for thirty years.’
“‘No, Biff. No he hasn’t.’ His voice was sharp and alert again. ‘He’s in here with me.’
“‘His picture is, you mean?’
“‘Yes, but it’s more than that. I feelhim, Biff.’
“‘Listen to yourself, man. Let’s go home so we can talk about this, now let me in.’ I banged on the door this time; three short thuds with the side of my fist.
“‘I’ve been looking at the picture all night, Biff. I don’t understand.’ He had lowered his voice again, and I had to press my ear to the door to hear. ‘Why doesn’t it want me?’
“‘I don’t know, Thorley. It’s just a picture. You doknow that right?’ I listened for a response, but when I heard none, I asked again. ‘It’s a picture, right?’ There was no reply.”
“So that’s when you called us?” Curtis asked.
“Not straight away. I banged on the door and called for Thorley a few times before I went down to the reception. I told them I was worried about my friend. I told them he might have had a heart attack. They came up and opened the room.”
“What did you find inside?”
“Thorley was gone. We looked in all the rooms, but he just wasn’t there. The hotel staff told me he must have left and that I had made a mistake, but I hadn’t. Behind the open door on the floor, I saw the picture, the photograph. I picked it up, apologised for the misunderstanding, and returned home.”
“And that’s when you looked at the picture?”
“Yes. Thorley was there, right next to his son.”
“Is this the photo?” Curtis opened a brown folder that lay on the table in front of him and slid out a photograph, with a number of people on it, staring at the camera. Biff turned his head quickly.
“You know it is. Please put it away.” Curtis placed the photo back into the folder and closed it.
“Do you have anything else to add Mr Keller?” Biff shook his head. “Okay. Interview concluded at four twenty three.” He pressed a button on the recording device on the table, and its light went out. “Detective Daly will see you out.”
“Thank you,” said Biff. “Please put that photo away somewhere safe.”
“Thank you for your time Mr Keller.”
Detective Daly opened the door and helped Biff put on his coat, before leading him out of the room. When the door clicked shut, Detective Curtis removed the photo once more, placing it on the table in front of him. The faces of the people seemed to be staring at him. He saw Thorley Langdon standing alongside George Langdon. He was sure the old man would turn up at some point.
When Detective Daly returned to the room minutes later, he was surprised to find that his colleague had already left the room. He asked around the building, but no one had seen Curtis. Returning to the interview room, Daly picked up the photograph that sat on the table. Standing on the far right of the group of people, was Detective Curtis, staring straight ahead. He looked surprised.
That’s all, folks! I’m hopeful of being in a better place at some point in the next few weeks, so I’ll say, until then…