Wednesday, May 9, 2018

What Pictures?

Sheriff Quitman made a rare trip to the station Sunday morning to look at Baldwin's memory cards. Not only was he curious as to what was on the cards, he felt Baldwin deserved them back that afternoon. He had respect for a journalist. Also the photographer, no doubt, had no idea of the family issues he had been assigned to cover.

When he put the first card into his PC, he wasn't surprised at the pictures of a house fire in, what must be, Mobile. The second card started with photographs of a business that was being honored by the Mobile Chamber of Commerce. Those were followed by the wedding pictures. There was one or two pictures of the entrance to The Columns. Those were followed by photos of Ivy Lane.  Baldwin had taken care to take photos of the house as well as the lawn, the band, the bar, the food stations.and One thing the Sheriff noticed was the quality of his work.

Baldwin had taken random shots of the guests eating, drinking, and generally celebrating Kathleen and Jeb's wedding. He had a picture of the table where Mercer, Iris, Haynes, Colleen, and Stella were sitting. Hollis wasn't in the picture, but the Sheriff recognized his seersucker jacket on the back of the chair next to Stella. There was a super photo of Colleen and Haynes under one of the grand oaks sharing a tender moment.

As he scrolled through the photos, the Sheriff saw that the photographer had captured about everything having to do with the reception. There were especially good photos of Kathleen and Jeb and their obvious joy. There was another picture of Iris and Colleen sipping champagne. No surprise, he captured Dixie's 'little show' in detail. The Sheriff laughed to himself. The incident was fairly humorous when seen in the photos. The last shots were those of Kathleen, Jeb, Bunny and Mike - just the 4  newly weds dancing, followed by others joining them on the dance floor.

He had to hand it to Baldwin, his photographs made the evening look magical. The Sheriff transferred copies of all the wedding photos onto the hard drive of his PC. As soon as he made sure the copies were safely on his hard drive, he erased all the wedding pictures from the card, leaving only Baldwins' other photos. He picked up Baldwin's business card Mike has passed on the night before. The Sheriff called Baldwin and told him he had his memory cards for him, anytime he wanted them.

The photographer was surprised to hear from the Sheriff that early in the morning. He thanked him for getting back to him so quickly.

"Well I know as a journalist, your work is time sensitive. If you want, I'll be glad to meet you half way between Gallagher and Mobile."

Baldwin paused, then responded, "I appreciate that, but I can drive over tomorrow morning."

Surprised, the Sheriff asked, "I thought you would want them as soon as possible."

"Oh, I do, I'm just working on another project now. Everything else on the cards can wait." Baldwin thanked the Sheriff again and they rang off.

"Well, so much for my trying to be nice," the Sheriff said to no one as he shook his head. He logged off his PC, put the memory cards into an envelope and dropped it into one of his desk drawers. With nothing else to do, he headed home.

Monday morning when Mike got to the station the Sheriff wanted him to see the wedding photos. He pulled them up on his PC. As Mike scrolled through the files he commented, "He really is super photographer." He paused as he continued to scroll. "You don't notice anything odd with these pictures?"

"No, not really. It wasn't like he was scoping out the house."

Mike laughed, "Not hardly." With that he scrolled back to the first photo. "Yes, there are many pictures of Kathleen and Jeb and the many guests, but a quarter of them are of Dixie's little fight with the cake."

"So, that was an entertaining site."

"Yes, but there are also a fair amount of pictures with Colleen Cantrell in them." Mike scrolled from the beginning, and started counting. Sure enough there were a good quarter of the photos with Colleen somewhere in them."

"Mike, look at her. She is so striking, I can easily see the attraction. I would imagine the camera just finds her in a crowd."

"Could be, but I would have thought a majority of the photos would have been of Kathleen or Jeb or both."

"You may have something here. Let me look at these some more. Jeb knows about the photographer, you think he told Kathleen."

"No, I seriously doubt it. He told me last night that this was something she did not need to know about right now."

"Good, the fewer folks who know about this, the better."

"I agree," Mike commented just as Mary Lou stuck her head in the Sheriff's office to tell the Sheriff someone was on the phone for him.

Mike went to his desk and booted up his PC. He was able to go onto the Station's shared drive and pull up the wedding pictures. He scrolled through the files slowly. 'If Dixie had requested the photographer, one would think he would not have taken so many pictures of cake incident. Obviously, that was not something they would publish in the Society section of the Press Register.' Mike thought to himself.

The pictures of Colleen were even more puzzling. It wasn't like she happened to be in random photos, the shots were from many  different locations on the lawn. And most were focused on Colleen. Mike sat back in his chair. 'What is that all about?'

Meanwhile Dixie got a call from Amy at the Press Register. "Dixie. I am so sorry about the wedding. I know you had spent so much time planning it. And, knowing you," she laughed, "I imagine every detail was carefully taken care of. Oh, I hope there was a reason it was cancelled. Please tell me Kathleen and her fiance didn't breakup."

A bit confused. Dixie asked, "Amy, what are you talking about.?Saturday was truly an unpleasant day but Kathleen and Jeb got married. They just decided to have ceremony in the church here in Gallagher."

 "Well that explains it."


"Why the photographer was not at the wedding. He said he went to The Columns and was told the wedding had been cancelled. Not being able to get any other information, he came back to Mobile."

"Well, I appreciate your sending one anyway. That was not your fault. It's a long story, but I didn't even know they had changed their minds until after the deed was done. With all the commotion, I did not even think to call you."

"Honey, that is not a problem. I'm just sorry that it didn't go as planned."

"The important thing is that they are married and happy. I have to keep that in mind." The ladies spoke for a few minutes about other topics, then rang off.

As she hung up the phone, Dixie was relieved. She had not even thought about the photographer. Thank God, he wasn't there. Dixie had to deal with the humiliation of her actions at Ivy Lane as it was, the last thing she needed was for it to be recorded for posterity.

But all that changed with the next phone call. It was Joan Monroe, a lady who ran in the elite Mobile society crowd. Joan was one of those Dixie had been courting, hoping for an opening to the Mobile society. "Oh, Dixie. I am so sorry, you have to be beside yourself."

"Oh, Joan. I appreciate your calling. But as it turned out Kathleen and Jeb did get married, there was just a 'small' change in plans. You know how young folks today are determined to have it their way."

"Well, I'm glad it all worked out, but that is not what I am calling about." Joan paused. When Dixie didn't say anything Joan added, "I know you and Harrell are going to sue the Afternoon Daily Press for libel. The idea that they would publish 'those' pictures."

Dixie was taken aback. There was no photographer there on Saturday night. "What pictures?"

"Oh, dear, you haven't see them."

"No, I honestly do not know what you are talking about."

"Dixie, there is no doubt that the picture is of you."

"Doing what?"

"Well, it's hard to tell, but it's looks like you are trying to pull over the table the wedding cake was sitting on."

Dixie felt like her life flashed before her eyes. This could not be happening. Weakly she thanked Joan for the call and rang off. Where could she get a copy of the Afternoon Daily Press? Or, did she really want to see what they had published? Kathleen may never speak to her again.

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