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“Happy New Year! It’s 1947!!!” The announcer’s boom drowned out the swinging orchestra.
Couples danced wildly on the dance floor; George and his girlfriend pushed through the crowd.
“Where’s everyone else?” he asked David, who was sitting at a table.
“Robert went after a beauty he spied a while ago, and Henri went off looking for good wine,” he answered, interrupting his conversation with a blonde sitting with him.
“Does he think that there is any good wine to be found these days in Paris?” George laughed.
“And at this hour,” David finished. “Whatever good wine there was has been drunk long ago.”
“Voilà!” Henri cried triumphantly.
“I am impressed,” chimed in Robert, appearing suddenly. He grabbed the dusty bottle from him, reached for a bottle opener, and with a swift movement pulled out the cork.
“Let’s drink, quick, let’s drink!” He began pouring wine into outstretched glasses.
“May this year bring us many new things and may it not be worse than the last!” He finished the toast by drinking in the lips of a red-haired blonde standing next to him.
“Do you all know Kiki?” he asked. “Kiki isn’t from here, but she’s a lady.”
“Fantastic,” answered Henri.
The music went quiet. They sat at the table immersed in conversation. It was their first meeting since the war started, so there was a lot to tell.
“And I see how it’s flying straight at me. I saw his furious face in that midget-sized cabin. I lean out, I pull the trigger, and shit. Camera doesn’t work. And it was so beautifully composed between destroyed towers. Ach…”
“Bum luck.” George shook his head. “Have you fixed it yet?”
“I’ll fix it,” Robert said. “I’ll fix it as soon as I pick it up from the pawn shop,” he finished with a wide grin.
“Anyway,” he continued, “the photos wouldn’t have come out. I have the distinct impression that I didn’t manage to focus.”
“Someday cameras will focus themselves,” Kiki cut in.
“Really, honey? They’ll have a child’s hand that will turn the lens?”
“No. A motor will turn it,” she continued undaunted, “and it won’t be necessary to set anything at all. You’ll just put the camera to your eye and it will do everything itself.”
“That would be convenient,” said David dreamily.
“That’s what my dad’s Kodak is like,” cut in David’s girlfriend.
“And we won’t have to use film.”
“And what will we use?”
“Cameras will have a little plate of glass that captures the pictures.”
“Fantastic, honey,” Robert whispered into her hear, kissing her neck. “We’re going to use little magic glass plates, then go back to wizard towers, where bearded alchemists are going to develop them in magic cauldrons.”
“We’re not going to develop anything.” She turned her head away. We’re going to look at the pictures right away on the back of the camera, and send the ones we want by telephone.”
“By telephone?” He winked at Henri, who was listening attentively. “And what if I’m somewhere where there’s no telephone? Isn’t it easier to roll the film and put it in your pocket?”
“You’re not going to look for a phone, because you’ll always have one as small as a pack of cigarettes with you.”
“And where will I connect it? I will have to have an awfully long wire.”
“Nowhere. It’s going to be wireless. You’ll connect the camera to it, dial the number of your editor, and the photos will be there in a few minutes. Even halfway around the world. No barriers.”
“Yes, of course dear, of course,” Robert reached for Kiki’s lips. A moment later they were under the table, kissing passionately.
“Mon Dieu!” Henri murmured longingly, lost in thought. “Those will be the greatest times for photo reporting.”