The Shriving of Miss Esme Stamp…

Episode 90… A Close Encounter…

Charles continued to wonder at the remarkable colour images that Gabby began to produce, colour chemicals worked well with the new American Ansco film and print paper, costs were high, and as yet Eastman had only pioneered the use of colour slide film known as Kodachrome which had to be sent to a selected laboratory for special treatment. However, and much to everyone’s surprise and delight, public interest was high, and it began to pay off.

That particular Saturday morning had began with the feeling that Celia would cope in the weekend absence of Esme. She was capable and trusted and a valued school friend. It was during the morning that Charles began to see images of others that were foreign to him. The leader of Walthamstow Council had been duly pictured in his official robes, and then the strangeness began as he drove to his next appointment in Wimbledon.

It seemed to be faces and outlines of people he thought he knew, but really did not. Could they be real or just in his mind. He felt threatened when the car took him down a long and winding country road that he had no recollection of. What was happening, had his mind gone completely. He forced his thoughts back to where he must be. But the same menace prevailed in momentary fragments. “I’m in some sort of trance” he told himself. Suddenly,  the car faced a large tree that brought him to a thundering full stop, his head reasted for a few moments on the sterring wheel. Something seemed to cross his right eyes, like a large black blob and beyond this small flashing lights appeared. He staggered from the car, seeing only half images, and made way to a petrol station some half mile down the road. He fell into the arms of a confused attendant, saying ‘Get me an Ambulance, please get me to a Hospital’

‘You have a detached Retina Mr. Hepworth, you will lose your eyesight, if we do not operate right away.’

Charles sat back from the examining eye of the Doctor. ‘Is this life threatening doctor.’ he asked curiously.

‘No,’ replied the specialist firmly. ‘But it is… Eye threatening.’

In those next two days. Celia had found Charles within the confines of the Moorefield’s Eye Hospital and that Monday morning, both Celia and Esme were by his bedside as he opened his eyes.

‘Hi girls,’ he said, with a dried voice. ‘What are you guy’s doing here?’ he chuckled. You are never around when I need you.’

‘You never need us when we’re around.’ Replied Esme with a smile.

Celia looked on and said: ‘ We all need you, very much. We really do. We want you back very soon. After all,’ she added: ‘Who could run such a successful and tight ship.’

Charles felt a gentle sleep was creeping over him.

It was around three or more weeks before his eyesight was proper to him. Esme diligently looked after him along with the recommended mediations given by the Hospital and slowly his eyesight began to improve.

One certain Monday morning arrived and with all the confidence of a fresh new world for Charles.

‘You will be taking your pictures once again.’ Esme said with a determined reassurance. You are here for all of us and that is something that will never change.’

‘You are completely right Esme, and I love you very much for it.’

About Patrick

a photographer, writer and blogger, a studio and press photographer since the mid 1960's, first published writings in 1974
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