In my fictional book, Leaving Cleveland, some of my characters are well known. Although I have might of met them, for real, I thought as a fictional writer it would be more interesting to imagine how the conversation would transpire between Izzy, the world famous photographer and the celebrity to make the story more cohesive and create the layers of meaning I was try to achieve.
In this excerpt from Chapter 20 ” Almost Fried at the Y” Izzy is assigned to photograph the famous performance Artist Lori Anderson for Vanity Way. The previous photo shoot of Dustin Hoffman for the magazine Vinyl was a disaster and it looked as if Sam, the protagonist may be out the job.
“Lori is changing into her suit and should be here soon. I need to be in the pool when I photograph her against the tiled wall. I want you to put a ladder in the middle of the pool and set up the strobe.”
I looked at her in panic.
“Izzy, electricity, and water don’t mix. We could get electrocuted if the synch cord hits the water!”
“You’re not going to let that happen!” she instructed.
“I don’t have a suit!”
“That’s not my problem. I’m going to check on Lori in the dressing room and get my suit on and when I get back, I want everything set up and ready to go.”
“I need 20 minutes at least.” I replied.
Izzy looked at her watch. “OK, but no longer.”
I decided to handle the strobe first, realizing I would be wet after I set up the ladder. Of course, the only ladder available was aluminum, which I thought would be a great electrical conductor. Once the strobe light and soft box were in place, I put the strobe pack, containing 800 watts of current, on the rubber paddle boards preventing them from touching the damp floor. I took off my shoes and socks and jumped into the cold chlorinated water. It was the J.C.C. all over again, that same repulsive feeling rushed through my body as I submerged into the water. At least it was the shallow end of the pool.
I had the ladder in the water and the camera back loaded up just when Izzy and Anderson showed up. Anderson was wearing a one-piece red swimsuit and she looked very toned and sharp with her shortly cropped hair. Izzy wore a silver one-piece suit, very electric. I had never seen Izzy in a bathing suit because she dressed exclusively in oversized wrinkled clothing. She had a very full figure.
“So, what’s the plan, Sam?” Izzy asked, looking back at Anderson, and smiling.
I cautiously said, “You stand on the metal ladder, and I will hand you the camera.” I taped the synch chord to the camera body with gaffers to prevent it from falling into the water and killing us all.” They both looked at me a little stunned and an awkward silence proceeded until Izzy cleared her throat and with a commanding voice shouted “OK, let’s do this,” “Lori, I want you to stand against the green tiled wall wearing your hair cap and goggles. We will start there.”©Steven H. Begleiter 2023 excerpt from Leaving Cleveland to be published in 2023