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TO THE FINISH
“How are you feeling today?”
Floyd looked at the nurse. He tried to stand up, but the wide belts tying him to the bed held him down.
“You went a little crazy yesterday, didn’t you? But that’s ok. The doctor has given you something to calm you down,” and holding a large syringe in her hand, she leaned over Floyd.
“Get away!” he growled, attempting to hit her with his head.
“Don’t struggle, honey, or I’ll call Victor. You know that Victor has no trouble dealing with your moods.”
“Leeeeave!” His growl became a whimper.
She drove in the needle with a swift movement. Floyd lurched with all his might and opened his eyes. Woken up from the nightmare, he looked around, verifying where he was.
“Fuck!” he cursed, “sleeping over at the psycho ward was a great idea.”
He sat up and looked around the room.
“I’m never sleeping in such a shitty place again. It can make you crazy.”
He glanced at the bed next to him, on which was sitting a big, grey rat.
“What are you looking at? Let’s go, we’re leaving immediately.” He reached for the bag sitting beside him. The rat jumped onto his arm, and shimmied efficiently up to his shoulder. Floyd opened the door, and without being stopped by anyone, moved through the empty corridors to the street.
“You know, Elliot,” he whispered, “the worst shit that could happen to me now would be to go nuts.”
At a big, multi-lane intersection, lines of motionless cars piled up exactly at its center. The demolished cars looked as if they had tried to rush and hide themselves in a nonexistent hole, which was the only path leading out of this world. Floyd took out his camera and took a photograph of the unmoving scene. Giving up, he sat on the curb and wound the negatives. He helped the rat jump to the ground, opened the bag and looked inside.
“The film is almost used up, Elliot. We have to find a store.”
He buried his face in his arms.
“I never expected the end of the world to be like this. I imagined there would be bombs, fire, earthquakes, asteroids, or other cataclysms, but I never thought that one sunny day all the people would disappear, leaving behind their apartments, cars, and piles of clothing laying on the ground. Totally without regard for their possessions, they went away, leaving me completely alone. They escaped somewhere, and I stayed behind.”
Elliot finished sniffing out the area and bumped the toe of Floyd’s shoe with his nose.
“Yes, I know. You’re still here too. And that’s strange, because all the animals disappeared with the people.”
“Whoa!” he yelled, admiring the interior, “This is probably the biggest photography shop I’ve seen in my life.”
On the shelves there were large-format Ebonies, Linhofs, Horsemans, Sinars; medium-format Hasselblads, Rolleiflexes, Mamiyas, Bronicas; small-format Nikons, Canons, Pentaxes, Olympuses; digital and analog. An entire large display case was occupied by Leicas, with normal cameras and anniversary editions. In non-functioning coolers laid film and photo-developing chemical reagents.
Floyd opened one of them and took out several packages of black-and-white negatives. He laid them on the table next to the bag.
“Elliot, are you sleeping?” he shook the rat in his pocket. “You’re kind of listless.”
“Take a look at these treasures.” He laid him delicately on a bit of black canvas lying on the counter.
He opened the bag and began taking out rolls of exposed film. He went to the darkroom section and soon left with the developed material.
“One, two, three…” He laid the negatives at the edge of the table.
“It’s funny. I’ve been taking pictures practically forever. I had figured that it was completely unnecessary for anyone, but now I’m one hundred percent positive. What a luxurious way to not delude oneself!"
“Oh! These are from when we went boating. Remember? You fell into the water and I had to fish you out with a net? Water, mountains, the city, this one’s from the swamp, this one’s from the beach, I think, an amusement park, old train wagons, a car factory…Ha! Do you remember when we took a brand-new Lamborghini and you wanted to drive, but I explained to you that you wouldn’t be able to reach the peddles? And these are from the airport, with the planes. No one cared that we were taking pictures."
“Really, if we made a print from this, it could be hung in the Louvre. Fantastic, right? There’s never been any photography there. Who will stop us now? We can hang our stuff in any place that comes into our heads now. What do you think about that, Elliot? Would you like to see our exhibit in the Louvre?” Floyd glanced at the napping rat.
“Elliot?” He stroked him delicately behind the ears.
“Elliot?” The rat lay motionless.
“Elliot. Don’t mess with me. I’m begging you.” He picked up the tiny body and brought it to his cheek. He held it close for a while, then delicately put it down again.
He reached for the rolls of developed film lying at the edge of the table and threw them into a nearby trash can. He put the fresh rolls into his bag, hung it on his shoulder, and left the shop.