The Very Moment When The Camera Left Me

Dr. John Dolan
Dept of English
University of Otago
Dunedin, New Zealand

Deep South v.2. n.3. (Spring 1996)

Copyright (c) 1996 by Dr. John Dolan

I can tell you the precise moment the camera stopped following me. Absolutely. I believe in the camera. There is an actual camera. There's no God; there are no guardian angels; but there are cameras. And the camera's decide, as God used to. And they've decided I'm dust walking, and have simply moved on to somebody who still has a chance in this five-billionth running of the Helen Keller Triathlon.

I was waiting for the editor to call. Sitting on the floor... an unfurnished apartment in Berkeley.. and my pal the Senior Editor called just when he'd promised. Not, as it transpired, to convey his congratulations, but to inform me they weren't printing my book on Sade after all. Because the Editorial Board -- which was supposedly a rubber stamp -- had decided I was "dismissive of other scholars".

I sat down on the wooden floor to grieve and howl...and did a few howls. Tried blinking up some tears. But right away, I knew something was wrong. My grieving didn't have that usual hint of pride -- you know, that quiet chorus from the Ride of the Valkyries you get when you are still the hero? There wasn't any warm centre to it. It wan't an epic sorrow, the way it had been. I could feel something over my shoulder, or rather I could feel the presence of something that had always been there: the warm feeling of an infrared camera on my shoulder, like a guardian angel, pirate's parrot, hand of God.

It had taken wing. It had decided that my life was not a Cinderella story after all. It had decided I was just what I seemed: a fat ugly failure, a sheep in sheep's clothing. A full-grown, handsome-as-he'll-ever-be ugly duck. And then some!

So, sometime during my phone converstaion with the Senior Editor, it had lifted off from my cosy shoulder like a sarcastic macaw, electric blue Hyacinth Macaw. And I hadn't noticed til I twisted around to get that infra-heatlamp-effect on my cheek, caressing and comforting me. Just a fat man trying to look tragic.

And that was that. What could I do, write a letter to the editor? These are not metaphysical matters. The Bill of Rights does not apply. The camera is not "democratic"; there is no appeal. It was gone for good and that was that.

Write a letter to The Editor.