What Pegman Saw: A flare in the lens

Image: Google Street View

In the beginning they were just an irritation, like lens flare or a scratched negative.

But he began to see them everywhere in his footage, among the Beng trees of Cambodia, in the dust and scrub of the Golan Heights, studying the murals on the Falls Road.

His hands would shake in the sick red glow of the darkroom as he reached for his magnifier, searching the prints before they dried.

Always the same blond and dark heads, close as if in conversation, the arms round each other, feet in step. Sometimes they were blurred, distant, part hidden behind a lamp post or car, but always the swept back hair, the holiday smiles.

His editor laughed, said they were his signature, better than a monogram. He smiled, nodded, all the while wondering how he’d learn who they were.

Then one dank night driving home on the coast road, he found out.

***

Written for What Pegman Saw, the prompt that uses Google Street View as its jumping off point. This week we are in Cardenas, Cuba.

My story is actually inspired by the Google Street View itself. You see, I kept seeing the same woman and child, in similar poses, arms round each other, presumably tagging along behind the camera operator. I just wondered what if they weren’t known by the photographer? What if their appearance was as much of a surprise to the person who took the images as it was to us?

To learn more about Cambodia, the Golan Heights and the Falls Road, just click

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What Pegman Saw: The one who made it home

 

 

He was one of the displaced after the war, I think.

Just one of thousands forced to flee along the river bank, pushed on by the stink of burning and blood, outpaced by the corpses floating downstream.

I don’t know why he stopped here. Perhaps he finally felt safe. Or he just couldn’t walk anymore.

Did he imagine getting old like this, sleeping on a palette bed by the river, earning a few riel carrying sacks of rice and bales of cane, arthritic joints growing gnarly as kapok tree roots? Nothing to his name other than one set of clothes, a string hammock, a battered water carrier.

As I take his wrist, check for a pulse I won’t find, I think how at peace he looks, how the young man he was still peeks from behind that old man’s death mask.

Perhaps he finally made it home.

 


Written for What Pegman Saw, the writing prompt that uses Google Street View as it’s inspiration. This week we visit Cambodia. See here to join in, share and comment.

Cambodia has had a traumatic past, years of war followed by atrocities committed by the Khmer Rouge. To learn more about the war, see here and see here to read about the reign of Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge.