Never Say Never.

Man in Mirror

Integrity is one of those big words you don’t hear much in pubs and whorehouses.

I wasn’t in either of those places so I could use that word if I wanted to, but I didn’t because what I was doing was one of those things that I said I would never do.

But that was back in those early days, back when I had dreams and hope and integrity.

Never say never.

You just feel twice as bad when you end up doing whatever it was that you said you would never do.

When Miles Archer and I started this firm, we vowed that ‘getting the dirt on husbands and wives’ was not our thing.

I said it, and I think Miles had his fingers crossed, because as it turned out, there wasn’t anything that he would not do for a buck.

Miles is no longer with us, in that permanent kind of way, so it’s just me now. I left his name on the door for about a year because I thought it gave the business a look of class.

Bennett and Archer; it had a good ring to it.

Inevitably it became time to move on so an extremely bored young man came and scratched Mile’s name off the glass door and put my full name up in gold leaf. 

Gold leaf gives the business a bit of class.

My receptionist’s name is Velma, and she likes to eat and pay her bills so in the end it was her suggestion that drove me to take the Enselmo case. I say suggestion, but to be more precise I think her exact words were, “You haven’t paid me for three months so if you don’t take the next divorce case that comes along I’m going to sell all the furniture, set fire to the office and tell your girlfriend that you have carnal knowledge of small horses.”

I knew she was kidding because the office furniture wouldn’t raise dick and we don’t have fire insurance, but even so I took the next case that came through the door.

Victor Enselmo sat in front of my desk and made the place look untidy. 

He was carrying a few extra pounds in much the same way as a young elephant would and he chewed his words. He thought his wife was cheating on him and at that moment I began to like his wife. He wanted the usual; times dates places and photographs.

It seemed that Mrs. Enselmo was loaded, and Victor wanted a good chunk of the booty when the case went to court.

There is nothing a jury likes better than a bunch of graphic photographs.

Catching them in the act was way too easy. It was almost as if they wanted to get caught.

Their favourite meeting place was the Hotel Excelsior.

They would meet at the restaurant at about 8 pm; drink, eat and drink some more. They talked until the waiters started to stack the chairs on the tables and then retired to their room.

For some reason, they usually stayed in room 808.

This room didn’t have any windows so there was no way I could get any shots of them in bed without breaking down a door. I didn’t like that idea very much, so Victor was going to have to settle for a shot of them in the restaurant.

It was a classy joint, the sort of place where the guys never took their hats off, and the females drank red wine and smoked French cigarettes. No one got in without cufflinks or pearl earrings — a real classy joint.

I developed the photographs myself in our darkroom. There wasn’t a lot of light in the restaurant, so the negatives were thin. I used a grade five paper in an attempt to bring up the contrast.

They were just photos of a mark, so I didn’t pay much attention to what was going on in the background.

I blew them up nice and big and passed them on to Patrick Jameson.

Patrick is a particularly fine painter, a real artist and his ability to hand colour prints is second to none. Like the rest of us, he is addicted to eating, so he does jobs for me between creating his masterpieces.

It was Patrick who pointed out the guy hiding behind the pillar.

I didn’t notice him on the night. In the shot, you can see him reflected in the mirror, and that would have meant he was behind me.

I must have led him right to them.

It got messy after that and Enselmo stiffed me on the bill, but I paid Patrick, even though I never saw a dime. 

It seemed like the classy thing to do. 



22 thoughts on “Never Say Never.

    • Me too. I only just discovered him. BBC4 did a series called ‘What do artists do all day?’ and he was the subject of one of the episodes……… I was blown away….Norman Rockwell with balls! {sorry about that, don’t know how else to say it}


      • I discovered him a few years ago while browsing art work on eBay, if all places. A talent to be reckoned with, and full if rocks, I mean, balls, lots of laughs. He’s doing good for 62.


  1. I held the negative up to the light and saw what looked like a watermark. But it wasn’t. It was the pale, gossamer outline of Abner Falconi’s murdered wife. She pointed at Falconi where he sat in the bar, as if to say ‘Here’s your man.’ But a court never convicted a man of murder based on ghost testimony. So, I filed the negative under O for outré, and opened a bottle of scotch.


  2. You do have class. You know how much I love your writing. The whole is always a great read but it is your, may I call them the little pieces that make up the whole that I love the most. The way you introduced Valma with her threats and ‘ Carnal knowledge with small horses’ strikes an immediate cord…Wow, that is soooo original, I laughed and loved it.
    Miles ‘no longer with us in that permanent kind of way’…another beautiful turn of phrase and it leads onto the what, how, where etc. but soon flows back into the story.
    Last but not least the nuances pertaining to the picture ‘cuff links and pearl earrings. Oh I do rattle on but I can’t help it with your stories. Thank you again for a good read.


    • i love that you pick up the little stuff, it makes writing these that much more fun.
      most readers don’t say much, which is ok. sometimes there’s not a lot to add, but i do enjoy hearing what people like[and don’t like].
      i’m currently under pressure because one of my loyal readers likes happy endings but, at the moment, they just don’t come out that way.
      bless you for taking the time to comment.


    • Some are mine, some come from the strangest places, some come from fellow WPers, and some, like this one, come from research on other subjects.
      A light goes off inside my head when I see an image that has a story inside it. I store these images and go back to them when I need inspiration.
      I’ve always loved photography, and taught it for a few years back in the 1970s. Being a photographer changes the way you look at the world and I guess ‘the photographer’s eye’ never leaves you.
      I have a friend who stares at a lump of clay and sees what the pieces will be before it is. Ditto for those who stare at a blank piece of canvas.
      In short……. countless hours of searching, and I never get sick of it. Hours of scrolling and up jumps that perfect image….. it never gets old.
      Thank you for taking the time to ask. I was smiling as I typed your reply, remembering how much fun it is.


    • Thanks for the comment. You may read my blog in any direction you so choose. I’m often amazed when I check my stats and find a single read of something from a year ago. I wonder how they found it and why they chose that post to read. I suppose they could get there because of a Google search, but I prefer to think of them wading through mountains of posts until they find ‘the perfect one’. As you can tell, I don’t have enough to do!
      I’m glad you enjoy the ‘picture inspired’ posts. I have done quite a few of them over the last six months. I’ve been a photographer for most of my life and I never get sick of ‘the frozen moment in time’. I often wonder what my photographic subjects were like before I took the shot and naturally, after the shot was taken.


    • When I wrote that bit I thought, ‘No one is going to get that’, but I put it in anyway because it meant something to me……… I should have known that you would get it.
      I enjoyed that last line as well…… sometimes they write themselves, and that’s the best.


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