The Photographer's Justice by Luke Cresswell

The sun is going down outside the Old Bailey in London as Jack, a chain-smoking reporter, is standing outside the court, waiting for the final verdict on a case of a bishop accused of child abuse. 

“What a mess. It’s bloomin’ obvious the bishop is guilty. It makes the blood boil. If I had a few minutes alone with him, I’d teach him a lesson. I’d cut his balls off and shove them down his throat. They wouldn’t be able to drag me off him. There’s only one way to deal with people like this.” Jack imitates holding and firing a gun. 

So lost in his muttering and smoking, he doesn’t immediately notice a man in a long coat arrive outside the court, carrying a bag. Jack startles at the sight of him as he looks up, seeing the man clearly searching for a place to stand. Jack, eager for company to pass the tedious waiting, approaches him. 

“Alright, lad? You the photographer? Strange case, eh? They say he’s getting off on a technicality. S’pose he’ll say that’s God’s will. Bastard.” 

The man turns to look at Jack with a face that doesn’t seem to comprehend what was said before quickly smiling to conceal the confusion. 

“Oh, I’m sure fate will take care of the old git soon enough. Here, let’s have a drag.” Jack passes his cigarette to the man. 

“I gave these up a long time ago but need a puff when I get stressed,” the man says, taking a drag. “Beautiful weather, eh?” He looks up at the sky rather strangely. Jack briefly mirrors him before taking the cigarette back. 

“What’s got you stressed? You only gotta get a good shot for the front page tomorrow. Stand on that perch thereby the steps. That’ll give you a good view. Nothing to block you there, lad.” 

The man walks up a few steps before responding. “That perch there, you say? Yeah, looks ideal. Definitely make the front page with a shot from there.” 

“Who you work for anyhow?” asks Jack. “Not seen you here before. You new?” “Yeah, I’m new to this. First time doing this,” the man responds quietly, ignoring Jack’s first question. 

Jack moves closer to console the man, reaching out a hand to pat his arm. “You’ll be alright, lad. Just keep a steady hand and take a deep breath before taking the shot. There might be other photographers turning up wanting to take a shot too. Hopefully, the bishop will give me a decent quote. God knows I’ve waited out here long enough.” The man doesn’t seem to hear Jack as he looks up at the sky once more. “Looks like the weather’s turning. Here comes the rain. So, tell me about this bishop. Apparently, there were four children that he abused a couple of decades or so ago.” 

Jack stretches and yawns. “That’s right. Not that there’ll be justice now. He done it twenty year ago, they say, he must have abused plenty since. When I see his face, I feel like hurting him badly. I could throw a punch or two before those cops stop me. He’d deserve it alright, lad.” 

“Oh, there will be justice. He’ll get what he deserves,” responds the man. Jack frowns, getting a little irritated now. “Nah, I told ya, they say he’s getting off on a technicality.” 

The rain is getting heavier. Jack gets nearer to the wall of the building to try and shelter from it. 

The man walks over to the perch and clambers on. “You’re right, this is a great place to get a clear view.” He pulls a gun out of his bag and throws the bag onto the ground. “Keep a steady hand and take a deep breath before taking the shot, eh? I’ll remember that.” 

Jack, shock and fear paralysing his thoughts, takes a step back. “Jesus, what you doin’, lad? You said you were a photographer. Get down before the police—” 

“No, you said I was a photographer. You really ought to listen more. Society needs to listen more. You said it yourself. This bishop will be free today despite abusing four little boys and who knows how many more. You want to punch him? What’s stopping you?” 

Jack looks away, struggling to make eye contact. “I can’t do time; I got my own kids who need me. I don’t want years wasted in prison or—” 

“Exactly. You’ve got a future. I’ve been imprisoned by the past in my own mind for these last twenty years. That bastard’s taken enough years away from me. I can still smell his coffee-stinking breath on me.” 

“But you can have a future, lad. You can leave all this behind you. Don’t throw away what years you have left.” Jack, the anger seeped away, now feels nothing but sorry for the man. The man lets out a long sigh. “Not without justice. I’ve made my choice, you make yours. Will you stop me? Will you warn them I’m waiting? Look, if he’s guilty, he won’t be passing through this door. If he’s found innocent, he will. Either way, he’ll receive justice.” Jack paces, muttering to himself, clearly unsure of what to do next. He pauses as cheers erupt from inside the courthouse. His eyes flit to the entrance, panicking 

now. People are leaving, words such as ‘free’, ‘innocent’ and ‘lies’ reaching his ears. Jack and the man look at each other understandingly. Jack nods before turning his back on the man and walking away. He looks up at the darkening sky as four gunshots sound behind him followed by screams and shouts. 

“Justice,” he whispers. He lights another cigarette and takes the longest drag yet as the rain pours down heavily around him. 

Published in Issue #18

No comments:

Post a Comment